Monthly Archives: December 2012

So…Christmas. Let’s Get Through It Together

It’s coming up to the BIG DAY for kids and families and department stores, not to mention on line industries.  All around me friends, acquaintances and fellow writers fill their blogs and Facebook presences with greetings of the season.  I’m not really feeling the excitement this year and I bet there are a lot of people out there in the same boat.

While preparing a blog for LERA, my local RWA chapter, I reacquainted myself with a lovely piece of writing from my teen years, Desiderata.  I can never read it without hearing it in Leonard Nimoy’s voice…yep I was one of those geeky kids who had the album  Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy which includes the Balled of Bilbo Baggins.  Sigh, wish I had it now!


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

We have a right to be here, and a right to be happy.  Blessings of the season to one and all



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Friday Linky-Links and A Winner

Not that I’m going to be doing links every Friday but it seems like a good day to make suggestions on interesting blogs.  006Especially since the yards are a sheet of ice and the dogs are going goofy.

First off, Kristen Lamb has gone to the silly side in her last two blogs: End of the World as we Know it and Holiday Spirit

These are both put down your coffee before reading posts.  Just want to warn you!

This time of year leads me to wax philosophical, and I’ve gone slightly nuts with chapter blogs.  On LERA I’m recalling that wonderful prose poem I heard when I was young (yeah, I was young at one time!) Desiderata and on the Orange County blog, Does Anybody Care it’s all about grammar rules and what readers really want.

The winner of a Gift Certificate of their choice is TRIX.  I’ve send you a private message

I’ve not yet received any requests to be in a drawing for an e-copy of one of my books.

Have a great weekend and don’t miss an opportunity to say “I Love You.” Except maybe to the cashier at Wal Mart, unless you really do.


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The NEXT Next Big Thing

Yeah, I did a Next Big Thing before the Great Vanilla Extract Creation along with that fabulous Secret Santa Blog Hop.  But I’ve been tagged again, and I really wanted to share the creation of this story. This time the tag was from fellow Black Opal Books author Zrinka Jelic AND Katja Willemsen . I’m going to tell you all about my next book by answering these questions and then to tag more authors about their Next Big Thing. So here I go!
What is the working title of your next book? Right now, it’s Gabriel’s Story, just so I have somewhere to store the files in Word Perfect.
Where did the idea come from for the book? In My Killer My Love , Gabriel is the half brother and nemesis of Mykhael.  He attempts to seduce Kendra and when that fails he tries to kill her.  If you’ve read the book you know what happens to him and as I was writing that scene my maniacal laughter (take THAT you jerk) scared the Salukis.
What genre does your book fall under? Paranormal Erotic Novella
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Ah, the tough question.  Cause Gabriel was disgustingly handsome in MKML and I’m writing him now as hot hot. I know my heroine is big and

From that scene in the glade when Gabriel tried to seduce Kendra.  Who do you think should play him? courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos...

From that scene in the glade when Gabriel tried to seduce Kendra. Who do you think should play him? courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos…

beautiful, so among major players Kate Winslet would be good as long as she keeps up her weight.  I’ve started a Pinterest page: Gabriel’s Story
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  In punishment for betraying his code, an immortal enforcer must learn humility among humans.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m leaning to self publish
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It will probably three months, maybe less if I can get my rear in gear and sit down to write.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? The idea came to fruition during a workshop with Angela Knight. I’m reaching for that wonderful combination of dedication, humor, courage and smoking hot she produces.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I thought killing off Gabriel was a just ending, possibly because he represented so many way too handsome self centered men I’ve dealt with. Then readers started asking for his story, pointing out that love really should be able to “improve” the very worst characters.  And I thought Hmmmm.  The other inspiration was my own imagination going wild when I fed dogs late at night, with the world outside the windows dark and no way to know if anyone is watching.  And again Hmmmmmmm.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Other than the redemption through love idea, my heroine is full bodied and happy with herself.  Plus she’s doing a huge secret favor for a friend, which is how she ends up feeding dogs in a brightly lit room, not knowing who might be watching.
Here are some fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing! First from the Secret Santa Blog Hop:

Haley Whitehall who really gets into her historical fiction!

Christine Morehouse who lives to rock the muses.

And just ’cause I think they’re fabulous, plus they’ve done great Next Big Thing posts

Greta Van Der Rol – Her NBT is a sequel to a great “lost in space, rescued by a hottie” story.  Especially since the hottie in question is a total jerk at first

Doranna Durgin – Her NBT is a Reckoner story but she has so many great ideas swirling around in her head, you really need to keep an eye on her!


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Secret Santa Blog Hop Final Answer

Secret Santa Blog Hop Day TwoSo I borrowed from daytime television games. Heck, I’ve been borrowing Mr Hot for three days now! We’re coming down to the wire on the fabulous grand prize Secret Santa Blog Hop.  Don’t forget to check out Blog Central for more entries in the drawing for a Kindle Fire.  And don’t forget to be VERY sure your entries are acknowledged!008

On with the final steps for vanilla extract.  We left off with the sliced and cut vanilla beans in their containers, waiting for the Piece de Resistance:  The vodka.

I generally pour with my right hand but I needed that hand to click the camera button (are there any left handed cameras???)  You want to fill up those 010containers so you cover the beans.  Seal up the container, give it a shake, then put it away in a dark place for at least a month.  Pull it out from time to time to give it another shake.  Soon you’ll have rich yummy pure vanilla extract.

You might wonder if this really works, or am I just spinning another fable.  Here’s proof: after less than 24 hours the vodka has begun to pull color (and flavor!) from the vanilla beans.  Sure wish my stories would work that fast!021

If you go into a spate of cooking, or use it up in some other fashion, just add more vodka, rum, cognac, whatever,shake and let it set again for about a week.  In maybe six months you’ll want to pour off the liquid into another container, let the vanilla pods dry, cut them up, and add them to a canister of sugar, for vanilla sugar.  Now doesn’t that sounds just sooo gourmet???

So, for the final QUESTION:  Hmmm, what could it be??? Ah, here you go: In My Killer My Love what was the name of the Overlords who tried to control Mykhael and Kendra?

Just so you know, no one has gotten yesterday’s question right yet. Oops.  Everyone got Baron’s name right!

Since it is the season, and I’m really want to spread the love, if you haven’t read one or either of my books, I’m going to do an e-book gift, in addition to the gift card. Just let me know if you’re interested in being part of that drawing.  You can send a private message to

Don’t forget to hit Blog Hop Central to gather up lots of chances for those prizes, and that’s here: From Tabitha’s blog you can hop out to the other participants, for even more chances.  Just one more day!

Tomorrow (Thursday December 19) I’m going to do another “Next Big Thing,” this time an erotic novella sequel to My Killer My Love.  Stop by and let me know how it’s sounding to you.


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Secret Santa Blog Hop Day Two

Back again for Day Two of the huge blog hop/vanilla extract fun time. And yeah that hot guy is back again.  We get to share him for these three days. And I’ll repeat the ways you can really rack up entries for a chance at that Kindle Fire, once we get to the next step of the Vanilla Extract. I’m going to share the quick way to make extract. If you want to really get into it, you can follow Instructables directions which also include a lot of in depth information along with the intense directions.003

Mine’s a bit easier. Now, extract isn’t usable right away, but once Christmas baking is over with no one does much for a month or so anyway, and it will be ready for Valentine’s day. Some people keep it around to flavor drinks also, if you’re so minded.  You got your glass bottles, right?

004Vanilla beans can be found for a ridiculous price in health food and gourmet stores.  Or you can buy them in bulk on line.  These came from Saffron Imports and are much more reasonably priced. Bit of trivia, the vanilla is a pretty vine, related to orchids, and does best in a jungle atmosphere.  Not so great in New Mexico!

Directions call for a very sharp knife.  For me that means an Xacto knife, especially since we 006have them in excess since Tom used them to cut mats.  Carefully slice lengthwise.  Don’t go all the way through since you want to expose the middle but don’t want to split the bean.  Cut horizontally in two to three places on the bean.  I’m using three beans for each small container since I want to make a nice dark extract…plus I have a LOT of vanilla.  I’m folding the beans into the glass bottles, so there will be room for the lid to close tight once the vodka is added.  You can also use cognac or pretty much any sort of alcohol for an extract. If you use water, you make an infusion, or a really strong tea.

Now, for the Secret Santa part of the blog.  Remember, there are THREE WAYS to get more entries for the drawing. One for following my blog. One for leaving a comment and another for answering my question.

For that special chance, here is tonight’s QUESTION: In My Killer My Love what relationship was Gabriel to Mykhael?

You’ll want to link back to Blog Hop Central to gather up lots of chances for those prizes, and that’s here: From Tabitha’s blog you can hop out to the other participants, for even more chances. There are over forty great writers involved in this hop…I’m finding a lot of new books to read!

I’m going to be drawing a name from those who enter through this blog for a gift card of your choice, whether Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Black Opal Books.  See you tomorrow for the finishing touches on the vanilla extract.


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Secret Santa Blog Hop

Welcome to Mona’s stop on the Secret Santa Blog Hop.  Gotta say, that hot guy is really getting around WHEW!!
Hope he’s not too worn out by the end of the tour.  The grand prize for participation is a Kindle Fire loaded with wonderful books. I’m sharing below how to maximize your chances to win.

My favorite Christmas tradition has been hand made gifts.  Some years it’s trays of cookies, or maybe artwork on mugs.  This year it’s going to be home made vanilla extract.  The ingredients are super simple: vanilla beans and vodka.  I’ll share the procedure tomorrow…get some nice glass containers, enough to hold about 1/2 cup each.

There are THREE WAYS to get more entries for the drawing. One for following my blog. One for leaving a comment and another for answering my question.

For that first chance, here is tonight’s QUESTION

I’ve been involved in purebred dogs for over forty years and since tonight (12/16) is the finale of the AKC Invitational Show in Florida, my first question is going to be dog related.  But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a dog person to answer.

Question for December 17: What was Bethany’s dog’s name in Teach Me To Forget?

I’ll be posting something new every day so you can hop back over here for a couple more chances to win the Kindle loaded with books and/or a great gift card.  You’ll want to link back to Blog Hop Central to gather up lots of chances for those prizes, and that’s here:

For those who haven’t been following my blog this last year, this is my first year without my husband Tom. Last Christmas his hospital bed was in the middle of the living room, and he was able to spend his final days surrounded by our love.  To heck with fancy gifts, hug those who love you and forgive those who can’t.


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All I Want for Christmas is…

For once in my life, I have no answer to that silly question.  I have my front teeth, at least at this particular moment. I have friends and family who love me, most of the time sufficiently but not too much.  I have a fabulous employer who 008has stuck with me through thick, thin, and near disaster. I have my health, my dogs, a roof over my head, protection from the storms.

I don’t have my husband of nearly twenty-five years. That ended last January and I’m facing my first Christmas in a long time alone.  Alone isn’t such a bad thing, especially for someone who has more than once been alone in large crowds.

But enough of the downer post.  What I want for Christmas, other than World Peace (I am such a fan of Miss Congeniality!) is the opportunity to read and share really wonderful books in a wide range of genre and style.  In the last several days, instead of writing on a paranormal erotic novella, a first for me, I’ve read an Urban Fantasy, a m/m romance, a semi classic, and an historical.  All slightly off beat, all delightful.

So now you’re wondering about what books have captured my admittedly off beat interest?  So glad you asked. The Urban Fantasy is Doranna Durgin’s Kodiak Chained; the m/m romance (that’s male/male for the more innocent!) is Tara Lain’s delightful Snow Balls, the semi classic is The Cowboy and the Cossack (recommended by a friend at least a year ago but not read until now…sorry, Susan!) and the historical romance is Tessa Dare’s The Scandalous Dissolute No-Good Mr. Wright.  Yes, it is as much fun as the title implies.

As for my own writing, instead of the Romantic Suspense requested by a publisher, or the halfway done then abandoned NaNo book, I’m plotting out the story of Gabriel, from My Killer My Love.  Turns out he didn’t die when he tried to hurt Kendra and Mykhael.  But the Atrahasis are really, really mad at him, and he has to live among humans for a while.  Poor guy.




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How Do We Handle Rejection and Keep on Pressing? And other Linky Links

Krsiten Lamb came up with another awesome blog, and this one applies to so many aspects of our lives.

How Do We Handle Rejection and Keep on Pressing?.

To pair with Kristen’s bottom kicking advice, there’s one from Skinny Artist, Five Fears That Can Destroy An Artist

Among them Self Doubt (oooh, good one!)  And if that doesn’t put you into a let’s take on the world mood, then how about low carb shortbread?  I kid you not, this is an amazing snack, and so simple to make.  The first time I made it I followed the recipe but ignored the directions. It was okay but, eh, I could do without it.  Well, when all else fails, do try to read the directions!!  It’s from The Low Carb, Whole Food, Gluten Free Foodie, a new favorite recipe site for me

Some of the amazing LERA authors

Some of the amazing LERA authors


And very generous members

And very generous members

low carb shortbread  Lots of yummy pictures with the recipe!  I made these for the LERA Christmas Party, Tip Share, and Present Exchange/Stealing.

I’ll be sharing more recipes and tips this season, but for now, remember to hug those you love, and forgive those who can’t love you. It’s their loss.

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The Day I Started to Grow Up

I admit, I led a pretty sheltered life as a kid.  My father was in the Navy, but we didn’t move much, and when we did, they chose neighborhoods with good schools, even if that meant my father had to commute further when he wasn’t at a more remote location.  Certainly my History teachers drilled me in the reasons for and results of warfare. I understood about the draft, being of the Viet Nam era, and about sacrifices and losses in war, in fact I wrote a term paper on the letters home from my father’s younger brother, who died in Korea.  My last year in high school we were based in Japan, where I was up close and personal with the injuries and losses.  Still as more of an observer than a participant.


When we returned to the States, we went through Hawaii and of course we hit the “attractions,” which included the Arizona Memorial, and the “Punchbowl” National Cemetery.  Faced with row upon row upon row of graves, stretching from one end of the dead volcano to the other, I finally realized the true cost of war, and was forever changed.  At the Arizona, I didn’t read the names or the history, I simply stood looking into the water, and felt the weight of all those who had died that morning.

After that, we visited all the places my parents had wanted to see, including Little Big Horn.  This was long before the earthquake that revealed so many secrets.  I didn’t see much more than a large empty field.  But I felt again the echoes of so many dead, for such incomprehensible reasons.

hWe all know war is hell.  Sometimes war may seem to be a necessity, and perhaps sometimes it is.  But how, in an era of what we believe is increased understanding, we can continue to believe tearing apart the lives and souls of young people will provide a long  term solution to any problem, escapes me. I’m told I’m too much of an idealist. I only know I looked out across those acres of ground level markers, and wept for lives cut short, hopes never realized, futures never lived.  And wondered how civilized we had truly become.



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Chocolate Lump Cookies, Oh My

There are so many wonderful Christmas cookies, and I’ve made many of them.  But the one that says Holidays to my family is the Chocolate Lump Cookie.  Not to be confused with chocolate chip in its many fabulous forms.  Chocolate Lump, withe the chocolate part coming from thick bars of milk chocolate.  Even when we lived in Japan, we managed to find the right thickness and consistency of milk chocolate to make the perfect cookie.

I’m not sure where the recipe originated. Both my parents made the cookies, and neither one played around much with recipes.  Most likely my father’s Wisconsin family came up with the original, and my parents never changed it.  But why change what is darned near perfect?

The chocolate is of course the main component.  For a while I was buying those ten pound (yep, ten POUND) bars of Ghiradelli chocolate for myself and also for family members who did not have a Trader Joe’s nearby

Ten POUNDS of milk chocolate. Yummm

Ten POUNDS of milk chocolate. Yummm

Each of use would then chop the thick bar into chunks no bigger than half an inch. Considering the bar was more than an inch thick, that was a LOT of chopping.  But worth it since the flavor was really spectacular.  And it was just once a year.

Then came the year I went into TJs and they didn’t have the Ghiradelli.  Nor were they planning to carry it again. I shared this, sadly, with my family, sending them into a mad fury of hunting out the ultimate thick milk chocolate. Until my brother in Texas pointed us toward large bars from one of the standard US chocolate manufacturers…the one with a town named after it.  Yeah, them.  He said his cookies came out pretty darned good.


Trader Joe's Pound Plus

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus

Then a perusal of the TJs shelves netted me a new and wondrous discovery—the “Pound Plus,” a 17.6 ounce bar of yummy goodness.  Even better, it comes scored for easy breaking. How cool is that? Even better, by treating this bar as a regular pound of chocolate you automatically overload your cookie.  Ahhh, bliss.

I found chilling the bar a bit made it easy to bang on the counter prior to chopping into lumps, shortening the prep time even more. The shorter the prep time, the sooner you can indulge.

Mind you, I haven’t made these cookies since I went cold turkey low carb last year, and I don’t know that I have the will power necessary to bake them and not gorge myself.  Not yet anyway. But I can certainly share the recipe with you, even if I’m limiting myself to low carb shortbread.  Which, incidentally, is pretty darned good!

So, Chocolate Lump Cookies: Measure 3 cups flour, then sift.  Add 1 tsp each Baking Powder and Baking Soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Set aside. Cream 1 cup Shortening (not butter, you want a very mild batter so you can really promote the chocolate) with 3/4 cup White Sugar and 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar.  Add in 1 tsp Vanilla and 3 Eggs.  Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients, and 3 Tbsp Hot Water. Then mix in 1.5 pounds Milk Chocolate, chunked, and 1 cup Pecans (you can add more pecans, I often do).  Bake at 325-350F for about 15 minutes.  The chocolate can burn if you’re not careful, which means you’ll have to keep those cookies at home, such a sacrifice.
These cookies freeze extremely well, and taste really good ice cold.  Enjoy!

And for even more exciting cookie recipes:
Autumn Jordon
Heather Hiestand
Jane Wakely
Karen McCullough
Laurie London
Lily Rede
Tawny Weber
Vanessa Kelly

I’m told some of the original links are incorrect, here are the correct ones. Abject apologies!


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