Check out my fiction -
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Banana Bread Brownies

From Averie Sunshine - go check out her blog. Tasty!
I had a lot of overripe bananas on my counter so I went on a recipe search to find a way to use them up. I came across this one for banana bread brownies on Averie Sunshine's blog. They sound weird and I wasn't sure about the recipe, but I tried it. I now have a favorite thing to do with smooshy banananas. They turned out so moist and fudgy and delicious. The banana flavor is very subtle.

Banana Bread Brownies with Vanilla Caramel Glaze

Of course, I couldn't make them the way they were written. I skipped the glaze (they're rich enough without it), made a double batch (I had FIFTEEN overripe bananas to deal with that day. I squeezed seven into this recipe.). And I didn't have any Greek yogurt, but I did have vanilla regular yogurt. And I mixed it up using my usual methods for mixing banana anything. And I tweaked the sugar and butter down a lot. But oh, were they tasty.

So I had more overripe bananas yesterday. I decided to make more brownies. But, I had no yogurt. At all. And it turns out I had no cocoa either. So I did what I always do: I substituted. And they still turned out moist and fudgy and delicious, just more of a milk chocolate fudgy-goodness.

Here's my version:

Milk Chocolate Banana Bread Brownies

6 - 7 very overripe bananas
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. cream cheese (I used the light Neufchatl variety), softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 large box (5.1 oz) INSTANT chocolate pudding mix
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 c. flour

Peel bananas and dump into the mixing bowl. Add butter, cream cheese, and sugars. Beat until bananas are creamed. Add eggs, vanilla, pudding mix, and baking soda. Beat smooth. Stir in flour.

Spread in greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes, until center is set. Let cool at least an hour before trying to devour. It will be very soft and probably gooey if you try to eat it sooner. It will still be soft and gooey after it cools, just not as much.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Here Comes Another Book

Cold Revenge (book 5) is coming very soon, look for it in early September. Did I mention I had the series completely written before I tried to hook a publisher with book one? All eleven books. My goal is to publish one a month until they're all out there. I've got the rights back on book one, so I'll be retooling that one after book eleven releases. Are you excited yet?

Here's a teaser for book five:

Cold Revenge
When Jerimon shows up at the Phoenix after serving only a year of his prison sentence, Dace knows something is off. But Jasyn welcomes her brother aboard the ship. Tensions are high between them. Add in a shortage of money and two stowaways running from the oppressive practices of the theocratic Sidyatha, and the last thing Dace expected: Jerimon's allegiance to the Targon crime syndicate.

And a sneak peek:
“Target acquired,” Touk announced. They’d been chasing the ship for the last ten hours through a pocket of the nebulae. Hide and seek in thick dust and radiation fields was a stressful game to play.
Tayvis brought the ship into his sights. It sat at a full stop. No fancy tricks, no last minute weapons fire, nothing; not what he expected.
“On my command,” Darus Venn, the Gunnery Commander, said over the com, “fire to disable if possible.”
“Acknowledged.” Tayvis lined up the ship in his sights then waited, his finger over the firing button.
“That’s strange,” Mryah said on his other side. She and Touk were his spotters, sorting through scans to locate and mark targets.
“What?” Tayvis asked.
“The ship comes up as a registered trader. I'm not picking up any weapons. Shielding reads as standard navigation shields only.”
“It’s supposed to be a smuggler,” Lorien the runner for their team, said. “Good cover, having a real ship id.”
Mryah shook her head. “The beacon checks out.”
“Fire when ready,” Darus’ voice came from the com.
“What’s the name of the ship?” Tayvis asked Mryah.
“Phoenix Rising,” Mryah said, squinting at her screen.
Tayvis hit the lock button, shutting down the weapons. “Hold your fire,” he said into the com to the other three gunnery teams.
The com crackled. “Are you countermanding my orders, Ensign?” Despite a rough start, Darus and Tayvis got along quite well in the two months since Darus was assigned CO for the gun batteries on the Avenger.
“I don’t think you have all the pertinent information, sir,” Tayvis said. “I want your personal authorization to fire on that ship.”
Darus hurried down the narrow corridor to the portside gun station. He crowded past Lorien. “Well?”
“What’s the delay, Commander Venn?” It was Captain Suweya on the com asking this time.
Darus leaned over Tayvis to speak into the com.  “I’m checking on that, sir.”
“It’s Dace’s ship,” Tayvis said.
“You sure about that?” Darus leaned close to the targeting computer, Mryah’s station, to check the readout. “What in blazes is she doing mixed up in this?” He straightened. “Hold your fire, all gunnery teams, repeat, hold your fire!”
“Did I just hear you correctly, Commander Venn?” The captain did not sound pleased.
“Sir, permission to come to the bridge and explain.”
“You’d better, Commander.”
“Lock your station, Tayvis,” Darus ordered. “You’re coming with me.” He looked at the merchant ship hanging in the targeting sights of the Patrol cruiser. “What’s she playing at this time?”
Tayvis had his station locked in record time then followed Darus. The two of them hurried through the ship to the bridge.
“Bet you fifty credits that Lowell’s behind this,” Darus said.
“That’s not a bet,” Tayvis countered, “that’s a certainty.”
“Keep your mouth shut when we get up there,” Darus instructed as they approached the bridge. “Let me do the talking.”
Tayvis didn’t dignify that with any sort of answer.
The door to the bridge slid open. Captain Suweya gave Darus a dark look then switched his attention to Tayvis. “Ensign Tayvis, you refused a direct order. The customary response to that is to space the mutineer. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t toss you out an airlock right now.”
“Because that ship isn’t the smuggler you think,” Tayvis said. “It’s a merchant ship. And I’m sure the crew’s been framed.”
“Commander Venn?” The captain turned to Darus. “You countermanded my order. Why?”
“Because Ensign Tayvis is right, sir. We’ve been led on a fool’s chase.”
The captain studied both of them for a long time. His eyes, a brown so dark it looked black, were cold and hard. “I’ll give you one more chance to explain.”
“That ship, Phoenix Rising,” Darus said, “belongs to my daughter and two very good friends of mine. None of them would get mixed up in smuggling. There’s more to this than you think, Captain.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Mustard Pickles

My mom used to make these incredible mustard pickles. They weren't crunchy, but they were like spreading chunky mustard goodness on hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, vegetables, roast, just about anything. My family has a thing for mustard. One of my brothers used to make himself mustard sandwiches - a slab of bread overflowing with mustard, nothing else. My mom bought mustard by the gallon and still couldn't keep any on hand. So when my neighbor gifted me a huge bowl of giant cucumbers (I can't grow these either, I have a black thumb of death when it comes to plants - see the zucchini muffin post from last week), my first thought was, I can make mustard pickles out of these! Because that's what my mom did when the cucumbers grew overnight from way to small to enormous. She chopped those puppies up and turned them into mustard pickles that we devoured.

This recipe was easy. I didn't have onions on hand so I substituted a couple of fresh jalapeños and banana peppers. My kids don't mind a kick to their mustard. I now have eight jars of mustard pickles waiting in my basement. I haven't tasted them yet, because pickles need time to develop good flavor. **Update - my kids couldn't wait. They pulled out a jar of these pickles after only two weeks (I write the posts several weeks ahead, so I don't get caught with nothing to post) and they were delicious - crispy, crunchy, slightly spicy, with a very mellow mustard flavor.

(The recipe comes from this old pickle recipe book I found at a used book store a few years ago. They just don't make pickle recipe books like this anymore but you can still buy used copies online.)

Mustard Pickles

6 pounds of cucumbers, sliced (use a scale if you have one, it's about 18 medium to large cucumbers)
1 c. finely diced fresh peppers - jalapeños or banana peppers are great (tip - use gloves when handling spicy peppers) (the recipe called for 1 pound of sliced onions, you choose which you'd rather add)
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. pickling salt (this is uniodized so it won't discolor your pickles)
1/2 t. turmeric
2 T. cornstarch
1 t. ginger
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 c. yellow mustard (the prepared stuff, not mustard powder)
3 c. vinegar (5% acidity, white vinegar in the gallon jug is fine)
1 c. water

Scrub the cucumbers thoroughly before slicing. Remove blossom and stem ends. If they are really fat, you may want to slice them into quarters the long way, then into 1/4" slices. Pile the cucumbers in a bowl and set aside.

Wash eight pint jars. Leave sitting in a sink full of the hottest water you can stand, steaming is a good sign. Or you can use your dishwasher's heated drying cycle. You want the jars hot and you want to keep them hot.

In a very large pot (at least 2 gallons, I use my giant stew pot/past cooker), mix the sugar, salt, turmeric, cornstarch, ginger, and black pepper. Add the mustard, vinegar, water, and hot peppers. Stir until the lumps are mostly gone. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until mixture boils. Add cucumber slices. Have fun trying to stir it. I ended up lifting the cucumbers up from the bottom with a big scooping spoon thing with holes in it. Bring it back to a boil. Remove from heat. Scoop cucumbers into the jars, packing them up to 1/2 inch below the rim. Pour the liquid in the pot into the jars to finish filling the spaces. (I ended up with about 1/4 c. of sauce left over.) Clean the rims of the jars and top with new, clean lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes if you're at sea level, 20 minutes if you're at my altitude (~5500 ft). Remove the bottles from the boiling water bath and let them stand on the counter until completely cooled. Check the seals before labeling and storing in a cool, dry, dark place. Let them sit for at least two weeks before devouring. For more information on home canning, please check this site out.

Bonus recipe! Because I really want to try this out sometime. I told you about my mustard addiction, didn't I?

Home-Made Mustard

2 1/2 oz. mustard powder
2 T. sugar
2 t. salt
4 T. vinegar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. olive oil
dash tabasco sauce

Mix mustard powder, sugar, and salt. Add remaining ingredients. Blend well. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Excerpt from book 4 - The Kumadai Run

I've been writing lots of stuff lately, just not fiction.

Want to read a review of a book chapter titled "The Architecture of Instructional Design"? It's been rewritten at least a dozen times now. Yeah, I didn't think you would. I found it an interesting topic, but then that's the graduate program I just started.

How about a handout that I created for a Cub Scout Leader Powwow on teaching cubs astronomy? Maybe? Drop me a note and your email address and I'll send you the pdf.

How about a snippet from my book four in my series? Kumadai Run is now available!

Kumadai Run, Chapter 1
If you ever find yourself as crew on a small ship with newlyweds, don’t go.
I winced as another thud sounded against the wall. Jasyn and Clark had been married a little over a month. The first couple of weeks were peaceful, for me, because they were off on their honeymoon. I had the ship to myself.
Things had gone pretty well the week after that. We were headed out of the Cygnus sector and into a part of the Empire where I’d never been. Hopefully, the Targon Syndicate didn’t reach that far. I still had a price on my head.
Another thud sounded against the wall, along with some muffled shouting. I swiveled the pilot’s chair and leaned back to close the door of the cockpit.
I heard more muffled shouting. I didn’t want to know what it was about. I’d made the mistake of getting involved in their first fight, something about socks. I refused to even listen to either of them now. It was their fight, they should resolve it.
Things got ominously quiet. I stared at the streaks of light on the viewscreen and wished we were a lot closer to our destination. We still had at least five days of hyperspace travel.
We were hauling a load of medical equipment and supplies that needed to get to Parrus as soon as possible. The shortest route there, the Kumadai Run, was the trickiest, passing through two active nebulaes and skirting at least one black hole. Most people didn’t even attempt it. We were promised a huge bonus if we could deliver the supplies in less than ten days. Jasyn, the navigator and co-owner, said it wasn’t a problem. I signed the contract.
We were over halfway there and so far the only problems had been between Clark and Jasyn. The ship flew smoothly and the route hadn’t given us problems. Five more days and I could find some excuse to get away from them for a while.
The door slid open. Clark dropped into the copilots seat. I snuck a look at him. His green eyes, normally full of mischief, were angry.
“She locked herself in the cabin again,” he said. “I don’t understand her.”
I stared at my controls and wished he would go away. I didn’t want to be dragged into their fight. I didn’t want them to insist I take sides. He didn’t get my subliminal message.
“Dace, help me. You know her. You tell me why—”
“I don’t know what to tell you to do.”
He sighed heavily and lounged back in his chair. “She’s so unreasonable about things.”
I would have got up and left but there really wasn’t anywhere else to go. He was going to make me part of the argument whether I wanted to be or not.
“She asked me how she looked in that new dress she bought. So I told her and she started throwing things at me.”
I sighed and put my head in my hands.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Ground Turkey Meatballs a la Frances Pauli

My good friend and excellent storyteller, Frances Pauli, just released another book. I got the privilege of helping her edit this book, which means I read the manuscript and told her what needed fixed. The list was really short. This is a great book.

Frances is also a busy mom, and since this is recipe Thursday, I asked her to share one of her fast and easy specials with us. Enjoy her version of turkey meatballs. And while you're enjoying the meatballs, read her book!

Turkey Meatballs a la Frances Pauli

1 lb. ground turkey
1 c. crushed Saltine crackers (this is great therapy for bad moods, crush the living daylights out of those crackers!)
1 t. onion powder, or to taste (but please don't eat raw turkey, if you like onions put a bunch in, if you don't, put a lot less in)
1 t. garlic flakes, or to taste (see the onion powder note)
dash soy sauce

Mix everything together. Shape into balls. Fry in hot oil until outside is golden brown and the inside isn't pink. Season with more soy sauce and serve with rice. Add a big green salad and you've got a nutritious delicious dinner.

Dogs of War

A modern day accountant with a level head and her feet firmly planted in ordinary reality, Genevieve doesn’t believe in past lives, demons or true love. All of which seems like a perfectly practical approach to life until the thing that killed her in World War One decides it’s time to try again…

Genevieve Oliver doesn’t break the law. She doesn’t take risks, and she definitely doesn’t believe in anything weird. So getting pulled over for speeding on the way to pick up her new dog wasn’t exactly on her to do list. Even more surprising, the cop who shows up at her window seems familiar. She’s never seen him before, and yet, just looking at the man makes her want to cry. But Viv has her head on straight. She shakes off the encounter and heads to the dog breeder only to have an old magazine photo trigger a full blown, past life flashback. Not only do the soldiers in the picture look like her and her mysterious cop, she remembers them, a memory that holds as much danger as it does passion.

Now Viv is bouncing between two lives and being stalked by something evil in both of them. As the love story of two soldiers unfolds, her own heart opens for a man who may not even be available. Not that she has time to worry about minor details. If she can’t figure out the demon’s identity fast, Viv could lose more than just her life. She could lose everything she never believed in.


She’d messed up the search. The article had it wrong, she was certain. The soldiers and dogs in her photo were French. They had to be. Plus, searching for Belgian dog soldiers hadn’t netted her a thing. She’d also tried Red Cross dogs, but came up with far too many pages to sort, even when she specified images only. Most of the shots she found were contemporary, rescue dogs from recent disasters and modern warfare.
Tonight, she’d try France.
First, she had a puppy to get to know. Paula recommended letting her girl settle in the first night, and she’d managed to resist the urge to smother the poor thing. She’d carried the pup out into the backyard three times during the night, and resisted bringing her into bed the few times she whined, but otherwise she’d done her best to respect the dog’s privacy. Now, however, they needed to get going on that bonding, and the way Viv saw it, her pup needed a name.
She parked herself, cross-legged, in the center of the living room floor with a tub of liver treats in her lap. The pup lay in the kennel doorway, paws crossed and ears up. She’d squirreled half the squeaky toys into the bed, buried a few in the couch cushions, and currently held her favorite between needle sharp puppy teeth. She eyed Viv suspiciously and bit down until the toy squealed.
Her skin color leaned toward copper, with a few scattered light spots under her neck and chest. It was much softer than Tortugas, like chamois. Viv had discovered as much during the brief contact taking the little girl out for her runs, but aside from the rare tentative sniff, the dog hadn’t shown any interest in letting her touch it otherwise.
The liver treat had her attention though. Viv held it forward and waited while the black nose twitched. The toy squeaked one last time and then dropped to the hardwood. Both front paws reached, and a low whine came from the pup’s throat. Her tail thumped against the blankets, and she scooted forward on her belly. Just like Champ did on the barbed wire course.
Ice slid down Viv’s spine. The liver dropped from her fingers, and she fumbled for it with a racing heart. Just like Champion. Where the hell had that come from? She held the treat out again, but as the pup belly-crawled across the floor, she saw a black face, one with feathery hair and both ears erect and listening. And coils of spiked wire just above the mud.
“It’s okay,” Viv crooned. “You can do it.” She had to stop herself from saying, boy. This pup was younger, and scared. She had no hair and she wanted a treat, not a medal. A slow inhale, a moment of calm, and Viv knew that. She sat on her living room floor in 2013. Not France, no war, and no LePiu looking over her shoulder. Where had that name just come from?
“Here girl, come on,” she whispered, and half hoped for the images to return. She wanted to know about them—about Champ and Pieter and Marcel. And LePiu.
She’d wanted this dog for years. This dog. The beautiful, soft little nudist creeping across the room—so close now she could feel the puppy breath on her fingers. She held perfectly still and looked into the watery brown eyes. This dog. But Champion had looked at him like that.
Viv saw it. He lay on his side in the mud, and the unnatural pose alone was enough to tell him he’d fallen, that he’d suffered a wound. The pain just finalized that verdict. It spread like a cold ache through his midsection. He reached the one arm out, and saw his own fingers stretching toward the dog. Champion. The enemy hadn’t noted Champ yet, and the black dog crept like a shadow toward his pistol. It lay inches beyond his fingertips. Come on, Champ. A few more feet.
Someone rolled him over. Fire tore outward from the wound, but it wasn’t nearly so horrible as the face snarling inches from his own. The skin stretched tight over prominent bones, and the eyes were two huge sockets, black pits filled with nothing.
Viv screamed. The puppy exploded away from her, all claws and scrambling for purchase on the wood. The tub of treats flew to the side, and all she saw was the sparsely haired tail disappearing behind her couch. Her heart banged against her ribs. The eyes of whatever thing she’d seen still glared at her. She could see them through her living room. They burned into the back of her mind and refused to go away.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Author Interview - Magnolia Belle

Please give a warm welcome to author Magnolia Belle!

My pen name "Magnolia Belle" came from a dream of one day owning a riverboat that offered dinner, sultry jazz and hot R&B while floating down the Mississippi. Realizing I didn't have the millions it'd take to get that dream off the ground, I took the name to write under. I figured it'd be one hard to forget. Plus, it's as southern as I am.
I live in Texas with my husband and our 'pack' of fuzzy children (aka dogs). Before that, I grew up in a military family and lived all across the US and in the Orient. In 1977, I got married and in 1978 I graduated with a degree in Accounting from Tarleton State University. Yeah, I know. BIG leap from accountant to novelist.  As editor of the University paper, I won first place in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association Editorial competition in 1977. I was also a member of "Who's Who Among Colleges and Universities" in 1977-78, and graduated with high honors. A singer/songwriter and guitarist, I played with a band in the 1980s that made 3 albums.
I started my company, "Black Wolf Books" in 2005 as a venue to publish and sell my work. The name "Black Wolf" comes from the first series of 5 novels I've written (and am still working on).
My heritage includes at least two Indian nations, one on my mother's side and the Iroquois on my father's. Because of that, I write about American Indians with great respect. I also spend inordinate amounts of time in researching history, facts and personalities in the era they are presented.  Historical events and documentation (such as treaties) are cited in my novels, so readers can see what really happened.
My characters become very real to me, and I often find myself not writing, but rather taking dictation as they tell me their stories. That's also why I tend to write in series of novels. My characters are a gabby bunch!

How can we find you?
Linked In

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?
I prefer writing historical fiction.  I began with Texas history, homesteaders and American Indians.  I love researching and writing about the plains tribes. My favorite book is always the latest one. That one, Lady Gwendolyn" is a departure for me, in that I've branched out to write about England and Scotland in the 12th century. And, again, I loved doing the research.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
I am a homebody, and stay quiet. I love watching cooking shows and spoiling my dogs rotten. I used to enjoy dress design and sewing.  Favorite TV shows - I really enjoy "Castle".

You'd get along well at my house, then. We're Castle fans, and we watch way too many cooking shows, too. And spoiling the dogs. What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist? 
I love listening to instrumental music when I write. It needs to suit the time period, though. For Lady Gwendolyn, I listened to Celtic music, and especially enjoyed the CDs by John Mock.  "Celtic Portraits" and "Celtic Highlands" are in my player now.  When I work on my Black Wolf series (modern day romance/adventure), I listen to R&B.

I'm going to have to check out that Celtic music. I've got a weakness for it. "All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet? 
I've never had a cat that writes fantasy or speculative fiction.  Ha!  I have three dogs, though, and can't imagine our home without them.

I keep waiting for my cat to write something intelligible. I might need a cat-language keyboard first, though. What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
Organizations?  Not really.  I'd recommend that new authors find forums of other writers.  There is so much collective wisdom and experience in them, they can be beneficial.

What writers inspired you to become an author? 
I loved "Ivanhoe" when I was a girl.  So, Sir Walter Scott comes to mind.  I also accidentally discovered Pushkin while rummaging through my high school library.  I love his work.

Another Ivanhoe fan? What are the odds. I loved that book, too. Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention? 
I'm trying to book fairs for this fall in north and central Texas, but don't have anything slated right now.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit? 
I'd like to visit medieval Europe, on the condition I could bring modern day conveniences (i.e. toilet paper!)

I'd never time travel without a giant room full of toilet paper and chocolate. If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?
I think it would be Beowyn, English Captain of the Guard for Lord Hampton.  (I have a secret crush on him.)  What to serve...?  Let's see.  Probably a big ol' Texas barbeque.  He'd be familiar with roasted meat and baked beans.  The stuffed jalapenos might be a conversation starter, as in "Gaahhh!  Are you trying to kill me?  Where's the ale!!"

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go? 
I've been all over the US, and, as a military dependent, lived in the Orient a few times, so I think I'd like to cross the Atlantic.  Maybe go to Ireland and Scotland to see where some of my ancestors lived.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice? 
Rose.  It's cheerful and a friendly color.

Describe your dream writing spot. 
In front of a huge bay window looking on the Rocky Mountains.  Coffee pot close at hand and NO TV anywhere close.  Killer stereo system in place, too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Zucchini Muffins

It's that time of year again. No not Christmas or back-to-school. Zucchini drive-by season! Lock your car windows! Hide behind closed drapes! Keep your children indoors! Monster zucchini have been seen in YOUR neighborhood!

I don't mind zucchini season. I can't grow the stuff. I know, zucchini is a weed. ANYONE can grow zucchini. Not me. Every time I plant it, it dies. I have a black thumb of death when it comes to plants. Except for one African violet that thrives on neglect and a mutant Christmas cactus. My yard is green because we let the weeds fill in the bare spots. And my kids take care of the yard, not me. My daughter plants the garden because any seed she touches will sprout and become a beautiful, healthy plant.

So I gratefully accept those baseball bat sized zucchinis and enjoy them. I've made two giant batches of these muffins in the last week. Most of them landed in the freezer for packing in lunches in two weeks, because yes, it is back-to-school season, too. These are moist and tasty, packed with vegetable goodness, low in fat, and lower in sugar than most recipes. Try them out. They're easy and good for you.

Healthy Zucchini Muffins (based loosely on a Betty Crocker recipe)

1/3 c. softened butter
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. milk or milk substitute
3 1/2 c. grated zucchini
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. oatmeal

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and milk. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add flour, oatmeal, and zucchini. Stir just until mixed.

Line 24-36 muffin cups with paper liners. Scoop batter into each cup, filling each one about 2/3 full. (I used an ice cream scoop - perfect size and very little mess!) Bake at 350° for 18 - 22 minutes, until muffins are set and lightly browned on the edges or until a toothpick comes out clean. They will be moist and a little bit gooey. Let cool IN THE TINS for at least 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy with cream cheese or butter or just plain.
Wrap well and freeze for up to three months.

My (tripled) batches made about 7 dozen muffins, so you should get at least 24 per batch. If you scoop them smaller, you will get up to 36.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Author Interview - Diantha Jones

Please welcome Diantha Jones to The Far Edge of Normal! She was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries. 

The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Invasion (An Alien Romance) is her first title released under this pen name. Future releases under A. Star include, the Love & Steampunk series, the Purr, Inc. stories, and more.

Find her at or on Twitter or on Facebook.

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?
Well, I would call myself a young adult fantasy writer, but I have more adult books coming down the pipeline than YA! But for now, we'll stick with the former title. My fave so far is the Oracle of Delphi series, but I'm quickly falling in love with my upcoming New Adult series Love & Steampunk. Can't wait to share it with readers!

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
I love to read, of course, and usually have several books going at one time. I also love TV and movies. So much that I have a meme that I do on my site called “Show N' Read Saturday” where I compare books to TV shows/movies!

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?
People will call me insane, but this writer here HATES CATS. I don't like them at all. I actually don't have any pets, but if I did, it would be a dog. A rottweiler possibly. But a cat? Never.

If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?
I'd probably choose a god, like Apollo or Aphrodite. Of course, I'd serve nectar and ambrosia...for them. I'd have fried chicken with potatoes and green bean casserole. Ooh! And sweet tea...I sound so fat right now.

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
On Earth, definitely Australia. It's one of those bucket list things. Gotta get there before I die.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Black. I practically where it all the time now.

Describe your dream writing spot.
A cabin in the woods. During winter. Ah, yes. Sounds amazing.

Along with her visit her and her book tour, Diantha is offering some fun prizes.

Prophecy of Solstice's End Amazon link
Prophecy of Solstice's End B&N link

Friday, August 2, 2013


Can I have a drumroll, please?

Book 4 in my series is now live for the Kindle!

Dace is up to her neck in new problems. Jasyn and Clark can't seem to get along and the route they're flying is like the Bermuda triangle - ships disappear without a trace. But Jasyn is certain they can handle the dangers and the payoff promises to be big.

Until they receive a distress call and trigger a five-hundred-year-old trap.

Buy it now on Kindle.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Nacho Jalapeño Rings

I've got a great neighbor who gave me a pile of fresh jalapeño peppers from her garden. These dark green beauties are now in bottles, waiting to top piles of corn chips smothered in melted cheese. Bottling them was super easy and didn't take long at all.

A couple of tips to make life easier when working with spicy peppers: USE GLOVES. Seriously. Get some disposable food handling gloves and USE GLOVES. Then, don't touch your face with the gloves or your hands until after you discard the gloves and WASH YOUR HANDS. Even then, my skin was burning for several hours after doing the peppers. The capsaicin in the peppers is what makes them spicy and since it's oil based, it lingers. For a long time. So be careful when working with fresh hot peppers.

(This is my take on a recipe I found on

Small-Batch Pickled Jalapeños

Makes 1 pint

10-12 fresh jalapeño peppers, or about 2 c. of sliced pepper rings
Tip: If you want them milder, take the time to remove and discard the seeds
1 1/4 c. white vinegar (5% acidity if you're planning on canning these)
1/2 t. pickling salt (this is un-iodized salt, regular table salt has iodine added and it will discolor the pickles)
1 t. white sugar

Pack jalapeño slices into a clean and hot pint glass jar. (Or use 2 1/2 pint jars, or 4 half-cup jars, or an old mayonnaise jar if you aren't going to seal it).

Bring vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour carefully over the pepper rings, leaving 1/2 headspace (basically room for the filling to expand while processing, I usually fill the jar to about 1/2 inch below the rim).

If you are not canning the peppers, cover and refrigerate for up to a month. Let sit for at least 2 days before eating so they can pickle.

If you are canning, clean the rim of the jar and cover with a clean lid and ring. Process in a water bath for ten minutes at sea level, twenty minutes where I live at 5500 feet above sea level. Remove from the boiling water bath and let cool completely. Check the seal before storing.

If you want tips on how to can, this is a great site.