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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Air conditioning
The invention we can’t live without!

What to you is the greatest invention in human history? The wheel? Sliced bread? Electricity (not exactly an invention)? The light bulb? The list is endless of the various inventions in human history, but only one that helps when the temperatures move beyond 90 degrees, can there be any doubt that our most amazing piece of technology is the air conditioner?

In 1902 Willis Carrier created the Apparatus for Treating Air for a Brooklyn printing company—a break-through that, as it developed and spread over decades, changed the human condition. Today close to 87 percent of U.S. homes have AC, but we’re old enough to remember when it was a luxury.

During heat waves, people barely moved or did anything. You would sit in front of fans of all sorts to try to stay cool. Some even used tubs of ice in front of the fan to blow cooling air. Nights were a sleepless ordeal, with sweat pooling in various places of the body. Then morning came and you had to wash the damp sheets. Did we mention we lived through this? Carrier set us free from such torment with his invention. Why is he not honored with a special day on the calendar?

Air conditioning is not simply a comfort but has now become a part of modern life. Without it keeping people and computers working when the mercury climbs past 90 all activity would slow or even stop. Would computers even operate? Air conditioning has made it possible for millions of people to live in the Sun Belt states that nature intended for lizards, not humans. As the world warms, the demand for AC grows ever greater. Currently consuming 12 percent of U.S. home energy expenditures, some climate change warriors suggest we all wean ourselves from Carrier’s invention. They argue for a return to a more natural way of life. Been there, done that, not going back!

Sorry, we’d give up about everything else before we went back to living without conditioned air. If they come for our AC, as the saying goes, they’ll have to pry it out of our wonderfully cold, dead fingers.

Now, if your AC is working, settle into a comfy chair and check out some of our hot books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The heroine of our book, Son of the Moonless Night, with ten facts about her.

One of the fun things about creating characters is coming up with quirks, personality traits, and interesting tidbits about their personal background. Katrina Romanovski is one of our reader’s favorite characters. We’ve already been asked if she is going to appear in another book. Much to the reader’s dismay, we wouldn’t reveal the answer.

Here are ten interesting facts about Katrina Romanovski, the heroine from our new book, Son of the Moonless Night-The Turning Stone Chronicles, book three.

    1. She is from Transylvania but not Romania. We do solve this mystery in the book.
    2. She hunts paranormals. Hates vampires. And swears by Count Dracula.
    3. She wears a huge Celtic cross as a talisman against vampires.
    4. She not only hunts paranormals, but she’s had her share of paranormal boyfriends. No zombies please, they’re just too creepy.
    5. She is a blonde version of NCIS’s forensic scientist Abby but with a medical degree.
    6. She decided to leave her father’s paranormal hunting business because she was looking for normalcy in her life. Instead she found Owen, the hero of Son of the Moonless Night, a shape shifter.
    7. She is part gypsy, on her father’s side. Her mother is British. Prim-and-proper breeding war with Katrina’s gypsy walk-on-the-wild side. The gypsy usually wins.
    8. She has traveled the USA as an FBI agent but now likes Cleveland, the mistake by the lake.
    9. She loves Italian food but has trouble cooking it, especially when Owen is around.
    10. She spends a lot of time in alleys.

Here is a little more about Katrina from the book:

A crash in the alley stopped Katrina Romanovski mid-stride. Like the October mist swirling in off the lake, her gypsy blood stirred sending her intuition into high gear. Something unnatural was happening.

Go see what’s wrong. She heard her father’s voice as clearly as if he stood next to her.

On the heels of his words came her mother’s pragmatic warning in clipped British tones. You know what curiosity killed. Katrina pushed the ever-present warning aside. Mom never approved of Dad’s supernatural hunts and even less of his drawing her into them.

Pulling the oversized cross she always wore out from under her shirt, Kat looked around for a weapon. Please, not a vampire. I hate vampires! A piece of wood sticking out of the trashcan at the front of the alley caught her eye.

Grabbing it, she broke the end off into a sharp point. The mist-filled air filtered the light from the single bulb over one of the alley doorways. The wind swirled the loose trash around making a quiet approach difficult. Sidestepping the paper, with the stake in one hand and holding the gun she took from her purse in the other hand, she crept into the alley.

A roar echoed against the buildings, the sound nearly sending her running. That roar wasn’t a vampire. It sounded more like an animal. Kat inched closer. In the yellow pool of light from the back door of the building, a black bear, over seven feet tall, reared on its back legs and swung its paw at the man standing at the edge of the light. He crashed to the ground, shirt torn open from the slashing claws. Blood covered the fabric, and he clasped his left hand over his shoulder to stem the flow. The bear bent toward him, teeth bared in a smile. A wicked smile.

Kat aimed her gun, but before she could pull the trigger, a shot rang out. The flash of gunpowder lit the face of the injured man. The blast reverberated against the buildings. With an enraged bellow, the bear staggered backward against the wall. Shaking his head, the animal dropped to all four paws. Weaving like a drunk, he lumbered toward his attacker. The man took aim again, shooting the animal between the eyes. Animal and human collapsed on the dirty, littered pavement.

As she started to move forward, Kat’s gypsy senses crawled over her skin like angry red ants. As she slipped back into the shadows, the bear shed fur. Changing size. Then, finally, turning into a man.

Shape shifters. Her stake wasn’t any good against them, and her bullets weren’t silver. This one appeared dead anyway. Had the wounded man seen the shift? Tossing the stake aside, she paused by the shifter and quickly moved to the wounded man. Out cold. Still human.

When she touched him, his eyelids fluttered open. “Did I get it?”

“What?”

“The bear.”

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our kitchen with an avocado pudding recipe from Catherine.

I (Catherine) have recently discovered avocado puddings. Never heard of them? Well, apparently they are full of good fats, loads of fiber, have a low glycemic index (which is important for those watching their carbs, and they can be made without dairy products, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant). They have the creaminess of instant puddings without the unnatural ingredients that comes in that box. The extra bonus of avocado puddings–they taste good. The kiddos will never know they are eating something good for them. So far I’ve experimented with chocolate, which was super chocolatey and not as sweet as it could have been since I skipped a lot of the sugar. I like to see how low-sugar I can possibly go.

I love pumpkin. Donald not so much. The other day I got a pumpkin craving so I decided to play with avocadoes and pumpkin. This newest culinary invention is a Ginger Pumpkin pudding. I liked it, so I decided to share the recipe. Now I won’t guarantee this recipe that makes 4 servings is low calorie, but there is quite a bit of fiber in it to help offset some of the carbs.

Avocado Ginger Pumpkin Pudding

    1 ripe avocado
    ¾ cup canned pumpkin
    1 ½ – 2 cups vanilla flavored yogurt, divided.
    ½ tsp. lemon juice
    1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    8 small gingerbread cookies, crushed, with 4 tsp. reserved
    Canned whipped cream or make your own
    4 tbsp. shaved chocolate, from a candy bar

Cut avocado in half, discarding pit and skin. Put flesh in a food processer and blend until smooth.

Add pumpkin, and ½ of yogurt, lemon juice and spices to avocado and blend until well mixed.

Spoon remaining yogurt into small glass dessert cups, filling cups about ½ full. Spread evenly in cup.

Spoon pumpkin mixture over the yogurt, spreading evenly.

Cover dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap onto the top of the pudding.

Chill.

When ready to serve, top the pudding with the crushed gingerbread cookies, sprinkling evenly on top of pudding.

Add a dollop of whipped cream to top of pudding. Sprinkle reserved cookies and shaved chocolate on whipped cream.

Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the dessert to chill, check out The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicle series.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity

If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

BUY LINKS

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Scary Things or Imagination

Years ago a teaser news story from Huffington Post popped up in Catherine’s email about a mysterious “star jelly” found in the RSPB Ham Wall nature reserve in Somerset, England. Being paranormal buffs (which, for us, includes sci-fi), naturally, Catherine looked up the article. There are a lot of theories out there, but not much positive proof about what this substance is. Some people postulate that the jelly is slime mold, a form of cyanobacteria, the remains of regurgitated amphibians, or frog spawn. Personally, all of the above are too ordinary. As paranormal fans, we like the more supernatural of the explanations that says the “star jelly” is related to the sighting of a strange meteor like object seen over the reserve last week—an extraterrestrial substance dropped to earth from the meteor shower.

This isn’t the first time “star jelly” has been found. Records dating back to the 14th century mention finding this gelatinous material after meteor showers. It’s been called star jelly, astral jelly, star rot, star shot and astromyxin. Non-paranormal believers say it’s coincidental that people find star jelly after meteor showers. Curiosity about finding a meteor rock leads them to places they wouldn’t normally go, and they find the substance, which has been there all along. In other words, they want to believe it’s this baffling substance from outer space.

Star jelly has been a part of several fiction stories. Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Talisman, H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Colour of Space, and Rick Yancy’s book The Isle of Blood all make mention star jelly.

Hollywood picked up on the paranormal possibility of this unusual substance after a 6-foot diameter, 1-foot high mass of star jelly was found by policemen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950. This discovery inspired the horror movie The Blob (1958) which was the one horror story that Catherine saw as a child that scared her witless. For some reason, vampires and werewolves weren’t as terrifying to her as this big red, quivering mass of jelly. Perhaps it was because the blob consumed you, or perhaps it was because there was no way to stop it. There was no hope of reprieve from its touch, no time of day you were safe from it. Eventually the townspeople found that cold stopped the blob, after it had consumed a diner and most of the town. While they hauled the scary mass off to the Arctic to permanently freeze it, the story left the viewer with a cliffhanging ending, wondering if the cold would really kill it. In a 1972 sequel Beware the Blog, a technician brings back a specimen of the gelatinous substance from the Arctic, and the monster starts a new rampage on mankind, renewing Catherine’s terror. She did not see that movie even though it was a parody.

Other star jelly inspired movies include a remake of the The Blog (1988) which had a biological warfare twist; and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) which had gelatinous creatures falling to earth and growing seed pods that held alien life forms.

So what’s the writing point, you ask, of this discourse on what viewers today would NOT call a scary substance or a scary story?

Imagination.

There is nothing on earth, in outer space, or in the paranormal realm that we can’t reimagine into a story. From today’s or yesterday’s news to ancient Greek legends to ghost stories to bizarre phenomena there is a nugget of a story in every item. You just have to be open to seeing it and willing to tread on new ground.

Catherine already has a new idea bubbling in the background about “star jelly.” She’s just not sure she can write about a relative of the blob and still sleep at night. Her cell phone vibrated in her pocket while watching the Youtube trailer on The Blob and she nearly jumped out of her desk chair. The blob still scares her.

Maybe a gelatinous vampire would be a safer choice.

What new ideas can you imagine from star jelly or another interesting news story?

If this piques your interest, then settle into a comfy chair and check out our books on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Emma Lane who shares with us her recipe for tomato gravy.

I’m a displaced Georgia Peach living in Western New York and hardly ever saying “y’all” anymore. But I must share a delicious recipe from my past that my family and I still enjoy often.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat. I warn you though, there are as many recipe variations for this gravy as the imagination can handle. The same is true for its uses. My hubby likes to whip up tomato gravy from the drippings of bacon or sausages. From there the choices to use this amazing gravy are many: over meat loaf, over fresh biscuits, over meat such as pork chops, southern fried steak, etc. I love mine over rice or grits. Another version is a favorite that’s a quickie made from V8 juice.

Here is a sample of one of the many ways to create one of the secrets of Southern Cooking. Feel free to improvise and create your own version and favorite.

TOMATO GRAVY
2 tomatoes or 1 can stewed tomatoes
2 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. bacon or sausage drippings
1 cup water or milk
½ tsp. sugar
Salt and/or pepper to taste
2 green onions, chopped fine for garnish
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped for garnish

Optional Ingredients
Dash of garlic powder or onion powder

Peel and chop tomatoes, set aside.

Measure flour to exact number of drippings, tablespoon to tablespoon, Add to hot drippings in stovetop skillet. Stir well to make a paste or roux. Cook on medium heat until thickened.

Add chopped tomatoes or chopped stewed tomatoes with juice, stir frequently.

Slowly add small amount of milk or water and thin to desired consistency. If you add milk to your tomato soup, you’ll no doubt prefer your gravy that way as well.

Add sugar, salt and/or pepper, and any of the optional ingredients. Heat through. Pour gravy into a serving bowl. Cascade garnish over the top and serve.

The V8 Recipe is simple. Add one heaping tablespoon of flour to cold juice. Stir to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness. Add a bit of salt and pepper. It hardly needs additional for extra flavor, but you will find your own preferences as you sample. Enjoy.

It brings out the delicious taste if you say “y’all” three times before you eat. Yes, ma’am!
Y’all come back now. 😊

Here is a peek at my latest cozy mystery for your reading enjoyment.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Sloane Taylor

My friend Vickie was a marvelous cook, but she never measured her ingredients. A handful of this a pinch of that was her method. And every dish was delicious. Vickie actually created this recipe, but left it to me for amounts. After years of indulging myself, I decided this one was the best.

If you are inclined to fill out the menu, sautéed chicken breasts and a tomato salad go nicely with this dish.

Burnt Butter & Sage Pasta

2 cups curly pasta

8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, room temperature

6 – 10 sage leaves

Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside while you make the sauce.

Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.

Add sage. Allow butter to brown. Watch carefully and stir often as once this starts to brown it changes quickly. Cook until butter reaches a medium caramel color. Remove sage leaves and discard.

Stir in pasta. Be sure to coat noodles well. Heat through.

Serve with plenty of Parmesan cheese.

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

Sloane
Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.
To learn more about Taylor go to her website. Stay in touch on Blogger, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available on Amazon.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The multi-talented Author/Artist Linda Lee Greene who brings us her latest

My friend Carol called me a few mornings ago to tell me she loved my latest two books. I had given her paperback copies of them for Christmas. During the conversation, she mentioned that she and Dick, her husband, were going to attend their grandson’s 16th birthday party later in the day. She was making deviled eggs to take along. I said to her, “You’ve given me an idea of a way to use some of the three cartons of eggs stacked up in my refrigerator.” Why I had three cartons of eggs in my refrigerator is another story I will not go into at this time. “Tell me your recipe,” I begged, making the excuse that it had been so long since I had made them that I simply forgot how to do it. Truth to tell, I am paranoid about boiling eggs. It is the reason I have avoided doing it for a coon’s age. And a further truth to tell is that I don’t know that I ever had made deviled eggs, again for the simple reason that boiling eggs terrifies me. I fibbed to her about it though, because no self-respecting female, if she wishes to remain a member in good standing of my particular circle of girlfriends, would ever admit to never having made deviled eggs. Such a thing is positively antithetical to the group’s creed.

Ever enthusiastic about sharing her recipes with any interested party, Carol spilled forth, “Oh! Well, you have to make my recipe. Actually, it’s my mom’s recipe. Anyway, you will love it. But after you boil the eggs, let them sit in the hot water for a few minutes. And then put them in cold water to cool down before you peel them.” She rattled off the actual recipe. We hung up, and I hurried to my kitchen.

Carol’s recipe calls for mayonnaise, cane sugar, and white vinegar. I knew right away I would have to substitute those ingredients to make the recipe Keto-with-a-kick-friendly. First though, I had to tackle hard-boiling the eggs. I’ll call Karen and ask her, I whispered in my mind. My friend Karen almost always answers her phone right away. “Quick question! How long do you boil eggs for deviled eggs? It’s been so long since I’ve done it, I forget,” I lied and then pumped Karen as soon as she said, “Hello”. “I boil mine for ten minutes,” she responded. I believed her, because Karen makes deviled eggs rather often. Karen’s membership in our circle is never in jeopardy. “Thanks. I’ll call you later,” I said and hung up.

I placed a dozen eggs in a pan, covered them with cold water, and set the pan over high heat for ten minutes. And as instructed by Carol, I turned off the flame and let them sit in the hot bath for about five more minutes. I poured them into a colander and then returned them to the pan, covering them with cold water. After about ten minutes, I decided to start peeling the shells off them. I cracked the shell all around an egg and held it under the faucet of cold running water. That darn egg just would not give up its shell. Memories of other failed attempts to peel hard-boiled eggs flooded my mind. An angel of boiling eggs felt sorry for me I guess and whispered in my ear, “Eggs have to be pretty darn cold before they will let you peel them nicely. Put them back in another cold bath, and be patient!” I did as I was told, but not exactly as I was told, apparently, because my second attempt at peeling them was almost as failed as the first. “Okay, I guess you need another cold bath.” I was speaking out loud to the eggs by then. I drained the water of the second cold bath and filled the pan with a third cold bath. That time, I waited a good long time until those darn eggs were good and cold. And wallah! They finally let me peel them.

A couple of them were a little stubborn, though. They looked like pallid orbs of Swiss cheese by the time I finished manhandling them. There was no way they would show well on the plate. I sprinkled them with a little salt and scarfed them down for my lunch. 😊

Keto-with-a-Kick Deviled Eggs

12 eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise made with olive oil

¼ cup spicy brown mustard

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 packet (o.o7 oz) Stevia (sugar substitute)

Salt and pepper to taste

Your favorite spices, optional

Minced capers for more kick, optional

Boil eggs and peel them as instructed above. Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Scoop out yolks then place in a mixing bowl.

Arrange whites onto a plate.

Mash yolks with a fork then add mayo, mustard, vinegar, Stevia, salt, pepper, and optional spices.

Spoon mixture into whites and enjoy!

Here’s a peek at multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene’s latest book, Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey. It is a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance. The story unfolds as ex-pat American Nicholas Plato journeys into parts unknown, both within himself and his adopted home of Sydney, Australia. In the end, the odyssey reveals to him his true purpose for living. The novella is available in eBook and paperback.

Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter,’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter?

Although they are as mismatched as two persons can be, a strangely inevitable friendship takes hold between them. It is a relationship that can only be directed by an unseen hand bent on setting Nicholas on a mystifying voyage of self-discovery and Potter on revelations of universal certainties.

A blend of visionary and inspirational fiction, and a touch of romance, this is a tale of Nicholas’ journey into parts unknown, both within his adopted home and himself, a quest that in the end leads him to his true purpose for living.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The charming Sharon Ledwith brings us her latest find from researching history plus a delicious recipe.

Y’all ready to set the flo’? Say what? Not sure what I’m talking about? You’re not alone. I had no idea what “set the flo’” meant until digging into the research I needed to bring readers into my point-of-view character Drake Bailey’s world in the third book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series. Set in 1855, during the antebellum period in Georgia, Drake discovers that it’s not the best place for an African American time traveler, but he endures and lives to tell his tale.

Plantation slaves in the deep south of America weren’t given many pleasures in their hard lives. Author Julius Lester sums it up beautifully when he wrote in his book, To Be A Slave, “The prayer meetings, the parties, and the holidays did not make being a slave pleasurable. Nothing could do that, but whatever pleasure the slave was able to provide for himself was a remarkable testimony to the ability to retain humanity under the most inhuman conditions.” One of those small pleasures was to set the flo’ or set de flo’—a dance style competition—where the best couple or single dancer won a cake through their creative jig.

In The Last Timekeeper and the Noble Slave, I wrote a cakewalk scene during the slaves’ Good Friday celebration. My interpretation of a set the flo’ dancing contest involves an elder slave drawing a circle on the dirt floor with a charred corn cob. The rules require the dancers not to step outside the circle or they’ll be disqualified. Next, the fiddler would call out to begin the competition. Since I had slave couples compete, the man and woman would bow to one another, then the woman placed her foot on her partner’s knee, so he could tie her shoelace. Traditional cakewalk dance contests had the woman put her hands on her hips while the man rolls his eyes and grins before they started dancing. I combined both techniques to break the tension and create the necessary humor in the scene.

Strutting was an element always present in set the flo’ dancing, and there were different styles, such as water dances. As you may have guessed, this jig demanded the dancer keep a glass or pail of water on his or her head and see how many kinds of steps they could make without spilling the water. Um, no thanks. Already dressed in their best clothes, why tempt fate? The fluid and graceful steps of the dance may have given rise to the colloquialism that something accomplished with ease is a ‘cakewalk’, but the life of a slave was far from that.

However, there is an interesting element with the history of this dance. A firsthand account from ex-slaves interviewed during the 1930’s shares that the cakewalk was meant to covertly mock their owners without getting punished, through the signals and expression of dance. Now that’s what I call getting their just desserts!

Speaking of desserts…

What’s better than a 12-slice cheesecake to serve at your next family gathering or function? Getting to choose a mini version of your favorite cheesecake and indulge without the guilt of having a large piece. Enter Cheesecake Shots…

Cheesecake Shots

1 cup Graham Crumbs

¼ cup butter, melted

2 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) Brick Cream Cheese, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

½ cup sour cream

Suggested Toppings

⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping and 1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 can of cherry or blueberry pie filling

⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping and pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Mix crumbs and butter; press into bottom of 12-count muffin pan (1 tablespoon in each cup).

Beat cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until well blended.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour a ¼ cup of mixture over crust in each cup.

Bake 18 – 22 minutes or until center is almost set. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Depending on what you choose for a topping: spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving and garnish with chopped chocolate or pecan halves, or add a dollop of your favorite pie filling, and enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake shots to set in the fridge, here’s a taste of The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave available for purchase on all your online bookstores.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders.

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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The charming Helen Carpenter who brings us her guaranteed recipe to satisfy the demands of your sweet tooth.

You may want to double the batch then freeze the extra for the next time the sweet craving gremlin attacks you.

Mini Brownies
Non-stick spray
12-cup mini muffin pan
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup flour
1 egg
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Place chocolate chips and butter in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes at 50% power. Stir until smooth. (Your microwave may take up to a minute longer. Just beware that chocolate chips will retain their shape even when melted, and if you nuke them too long, they’ll burn. Not that we would know from personal experience or anything.)

Mix cocoa and molasses into the melted chocolate. (What? You don’t have molasses? Okay. Use a tablespoon of water instead.)

Add vanilla, flour, and egg, and mix well. Add sugars and mix well.

Spray muffin pan with cooking spray, then spoon the batter into the cups, dividing evenly.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Tops of brownies will be puffy. (Don’t overcook or the brownies will be too dry. That’s what we’ve heard, anyway.)

Cool ten minutes, then transfer brownies from the muffin pan to wire racks. The puffy tops will flatten as the brownies cool (So the instructions say. We’ve never actually waited that long.).

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. The Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-if, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A meal recipe from Janis Lane aka Emma Lane who brings us her easy to prepare Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce.

Nothing tastes better at Easter then baked ham. Therefore, this is the perfect time of the year to share one of my favorite meals with you. The recipes are easy to prepare and are a wonderful combination of flavors that will have your family and friends asking for seconds.

Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce

1 ham (Cured) bone in or out by choice

Whole cloves

1 can pineapple rings, reserve juice

Water

1 or 2 dashes of bourbon or white wine, optional

Maraschino cherries to decorate, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Score ham ⅛ inch deep. Place 1 clove in each square. Use a toothpick to hang pineapple rings around the ham. Don’t forget the sides!

Cover bottom of a large pan with ¼ inch of water, also bourbon or wine if you’re using it.

Add ham then cover with aluminum foil to avoid drying out. Remove foil twenty minutes before serving.

Cook 10 minutes per pound or until warmed through. Check often to avoid over cooking.

Insert cherries into pineapple rings at serving time.

Spicy Southern Raisin Sauce

2 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1 pinch salt

⅓ cup dried raisons

¼ cup water

1 pinch powered cloves

⅛ tsp. powdered cinnamon

3 tbsp. vinegar

1 tbsp. butter

Mix flour, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Add raisins and water. Simmer a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add spices, vinegar, and butter; blend well. Ready to serve over ham slices.

Cut pineapple rings in half. Add pineapple and cherries to the ham platter when you serve.

Acorn Squash

¼ squash per person

1 tsp. butter per squash quarter, softened

1 heaping tsp. brown sugar per squash quarter

Reserved pineapple juice

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Mix butter, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons pineapple juice in a small bowl.

Microwave squash or bake in the oven until tender. This can be done earlier in the day. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Quarter and arrange in ovenproof casserole dish.

Add brown sugar mix to center of each quartered squash slice. Warm on low heat in oven until ready to serve.

Marinated Raw Asparagus

3 spears per person

1 bottle spicy Italian salad dressing

Wash asparagus and place in casserole dish. Cover spears with spicy Italian salad dressing or your favorite type. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove spears from dressing then set on decretive platter. Use tongs to serve.

Here is a peek at my latest cozy mystery for your reading enjoyment.

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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