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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Author Interview - Christy Dorrity

Please welcome Christy Dorrity to the Far Edge of Normal!
Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

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?
AWAKENING is my debut novel, and it is the first in a series of young adult fantasies based in Celtic mythology. My Book Blogger's Cookbooks are literary cookbooks available on Amazon. I have lots of other ideas floating around, and a few books that are written, that I plan to publish when the time is right, including an early reader series, and some picture books.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
I love to travel, especially with my hubby. We also love to go to the movies and out to dinner. Irish dancing is what keeps me sane--it provides exercise, and a mental break from my job as a writer. I love to cook and I can always be found reading a book.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?
I listen to music when I write, it helps signal to  my brain that it's time to focus. I listen to Pandora radio stations, usually John Schmidt, Celtic Women, or epic movie soundtrack stations. I also love to write to my Irish dance music, or to the Disney Brave soundtrack.

"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?
Hmm, I am not a cat lover, and I'm allergic to cats. But I do love my dog. His name is Nestle'. He is a cocker-spaniel.

Dogs count, too. What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
I've belonged to the national organizations, and I've found most of them lacking in support, with little real value. Instead, I've found great support systems at conferences, and online. I am a part of several groups for Indie writers, and the community in which I live is outstanding in the support that they give to new writers. If I were to give a piece advice about writing, it would be to write it all out, regardless of how it sounds initially. You can go back and fix a crappy copy, but you can't change a blank page.

What writers inspired you to become an author?
When I was young I loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, and I loved anything by Scott O'Dell. I was also very much inspired by Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery--the movie more than the books.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
I'll be doing a book signing at the library in Star Valley, Wyoming on October 17th or 18th, and at the American Fork library on December 7th with a great group of authors.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
I would love to be a pioneer in the Old West. I am certain that I have romanticized that time period in my mind, but there must have been something satisfying about creating your own opportunities in an unexplored land. 

If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?
I would want to have dinner with Rourke and Aunt Avril. They are both such strong characters and so different from each other. I certainly would be nervous about having McKayla's mom, Maggie, over, because she uses magic when she cooks! What would I serve? Chicken Supreme--chicken wrapped in ham, with a sauce over rice.

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
Someday I'm going to travel to Ireland and Irish dance in a pub!

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?

Interesting color choice. Thanks for stopping by, Christy! For the rest of you, go check out her new book - Awakening.

Barnes & Noble:

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities.

After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened. When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy.

A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Cranberry Orange Bread

This is another good recipe from Betty Crocker. This book comes before the days of all recipes are based on a mix or convenience item. If you want to learn to cook from scratch, get your hands on an older cookbook, pre-1985 if possible. They've got the best recipes.

Fall is in the air. It's time for apple cider and doughnuts and spice cakes and holidays. This recipe has a great flavor and is a fun way to use cranberries.

Cranberry Orange Bread

2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 T. grated orange peel
3/4 c. orange juice
1 egg
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped up
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles crumbs. Add orange peel, orange juice, egg and cranberries (and nuts). Stir just until mixed.
Scoop into well-greased loaf pan (regular bread loaf size). Bake at 350° until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60-70 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of the loaf with a spatula, then remove loaf from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Author Interview - Karina Fabian

We've welcomed Karina to the Far Edge of Normal before, but I'm always happy to welcome her back. She's celebrating another new release!

MindOver Psyche by Karina Fabian

Deryl will save their world, if they don’t destroy is mind first.
Deryl isn’t crazy; he’s psychic. Desperate to escape the insane asylum, Deryl teleports to Kanaan, a world of telepaths who regard him as an oracle. But freedom comes at a price. The Kanaan expect their oracle to teach them to use their powers to wage war. Meanwhile, he’s falling in love, but to be with her means to share his psyche, which could drive her insane. Most dangerous of all, he hasn’t escaped the Call of the Master, enemy of the Kanaan, whose telepathic manipulations were why Deryl was committed in the first place. Now, the Master will forge Deryl’s powers into a weapon to kill all he loves or destroy his mind trying.

In Mind Over Mind, you had a romance between Joshua and Sachiko.  Will we see more of that in Mind Over Psyche?
No.  It’s Deryl’s turn to fall in love, and it will be a very different experience from Joshua’s.  For one, Tasmae is an alien.  Kanaan mate for life and when they meet their soul mate, it’s usually a compulsion.  They know, on a biological and telepathic level, that this is their soul mate, and they figure out the rest later.  Of course, Deryl being human makes things a little confusing for both him and Tasmae.  There’s more danger involved, as one or the other could drive each other insane in the literal sense.  Kanaan bonding is more than joining hearts or bodies.  They link minds.  Readers of Mind Over Mind know that’s traumatic enough for Deryl even with limited human contact.  What’s worse, however, is that Tasmae is under the psychic influence of her ancestor’s memories—her ancestor who had gone mad.  Add to that the fact that some of the Kanaan close to Tasmae see Deryl as a threat, not an oracle, and you can understand why Joshua is really worries about Deryl and Tasmae ever having the chance to be alone together.
Joshua practices a form of psychiatry called neuro linguistic programming.  He used it extensively in Mind Over Mind.  Will he use it in Mind Over Psyche?
Some, but it really doesn’t work with aliens.  He will, however, save a child’s life with it, and will use some techniques to help Deryl and Tasmae out of danger.  This book, he also gets to exercise his musical talents.
What is your favorite scene?
Tasmae is deeply under the influence of her ancestor’s memories and the pain and confusion have made her violent.  They’re causing Deryl pain a well, and he begs Joshua to help her.  He’s a psychiatric prodigy, right?  Never mind that he’s 19, an intern, has no drugs or orderlies as backup and oh, yeah, is dealing with aliens.  I loved imagining what Joshua, Deryl, and especially Tasmae were thinking and doing.  Crazy can be a lot of fun…when it’s not real.

What’s the challenge in writing about a psychic people?
They don’t communicate just in words, but also images, emotions, and simple knowing.  For example, why have a name for a person when you can pass on the knowledge of who that person is?  Ditto for places.  However, to reach a reader, I have to use words.  No one wants to read “the captain of the Kanaan guard” ten times a page, so some characters needed names, and I needed a reason for them to have one.  In the end, humans and the Barin (who also have verbal language) name certain things.  This will be fun in Mind Over All, because Joshua will joking name a young boy who clings to him, “Axel,” and it sticks, to Sachiko’s ire.
Also, with no written language, there needs to be a way to preserve history.  This is vital in Mind Over Psyche, as memories are stored in psychic plants.  You experience things as the person experienced them—no sanitizing, no skimming, no skipping the yucky parts (unless the plant allows it.)
Tell us about the everyn.  They’re more than just small dragons, right?
Oh, yes.  The everyn are part of the sentient animals species called Bondfriends.  They have a symbiotic psychic relationship with certain Kanaan (also called Bondfriends).  Without this psychic bonding, an everyn reverts to a fully animal state, while a Kanaan will ignore their physical state until they die before they reach puberty.  Bondfriends life separate from “regular” Kanaan, who don’t’ really understand their psychic relationship.  Also, because they are an animal/person mind, so to speak, they are a bit wilder than the Kanaan.

Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for sharing, Karina! For the rest of you, what are you waiting for? Go get a copy today.

Friday, September 20, 2013

SFR Brigade Presents... Cold Revenge

Check out the great story snippets from other SFR Brigade authors.

Here's my contribution - a snippet from Cold Revenge, book 5 in the Fall of the Altairan Empire. And as a bonus, I'm giving away copies of Nexus Point, book 1. Use coupon code AA47G.

I opened my eyes with an effort of will. Everything from my shoulders down screamed with pain. My knee wouldn’t bend. If I took shallow breaths my ribs didn’t creak and protest. I wrapped my arms around my stomach and looked up.
Sitting at my table, drinking from my mug, was an older man. He had an air of suave gentility that didn’t fool me for a second. He looked over at me and smiled.
"Take the ship up," he said to someone behind me in the cockpit.
I turned my head with an effort that sent more pain through my middle. Three people I didn’t recognize were in the cockpit. The engines throbbed in time with my knee. They were flying my ship. Rage overcame pain. I got up and threw myself at the man in the navigator’s seat.
The thugs dragged me back and beat me some more.
When I could think again, I was back on the bench and the ship was well on its way to the jump point. The man at the table was still sipping from my mug and watching me with a cold and toothy smile.
"That was stupid, Captain," he said.
"Where are the rest of the crew?"
"Safe enough. For now."
"Where are they?" I started to stand and but thought better of it when the thug nearest me stepped closer and raised his fist.
"Your concern is most touching. Show her," he said to the thug nearest the cabin doors.
The man opened Jerimon’s cabin door. The thug looming over me jerked me to my feet and dragged me across the lounge to look inside the cabin. Clark and Jasyn sat on one bunk, Ginni held Habim’s hands as they sat on the other bunk. The cabin door slid shut. The thug dragged me across the lounge and dumped me on the bench.
"Where’s Jerimon?" I said through teeth gritted against screaming in pain.
The man smiled, stretching his thin lips wider.
I turned quickly and looked back in the cockpit. Jerimon sat in the pilot’s chair, my chair, he was flying my ship. I was going to kill him, slowly and painfully. Just not right then.
"Who are you and what do you want?" I flung it at the man like a challenge.
"You know who I am, if you think hard enough," the man said. "You cost me fortunes, Dace. I’m here for revenge."
I scrounged desperately through my memories. Who could he be? The list of enemies I’d managed to accumulate was depressingly long. And those were only the ones that I knew. How many more did I have that I didn’t know about?
"Don’t tell me you have no idea who I am," he said and frowned. I preferred that to his false smile. "Does the name Belliff mean anything to you?"
My heart sank. The Targon Syndicate had finally caught up to me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Banana Bread Take 2

I posted a recipe for banana bread a few weeks back. It tended to turn out dry and crumbly, so I went hunting for a different one. Here's one from an old Betty Crocker recipe book that is usually pretty good.

Banana Bread

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. very ripe bananas (3-5 medium)
2 eggs
1/3 c. water or milk
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, ground cloves or any combination (optional)
1 2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. raisins, craisins, or other dried chopped fruit (totally optional)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional - I never put them in but then I don't like nuts in my bread)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional but tasty)

Cream butter and sugar. Add bananas. Beat until smooth. Add eggs, water, baking soda, salt, and baking powder (and spices if you choose to use them). Mix well. Stir in flour (nuts and fruits if you desire) by hand just until mixed. Pour into one large, well-greased loaf pan or two medium, well-greased loaf pans, or four small, well-greased loaf pans. I usually just spray the with non-stick spray and use non-stick or glass loaf pans. Scoop the batter into the pan(s). Sprinkle with chocolate chips if desired.

Bake at 350° for 45-75 minutes, depending on size of loaf pan. A toothpick inserted into the bread should come out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the sides of the loaf with a spatula, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a baking rack.

Tip: If you want really moist banana bread, let it cool most of the way then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight. Keep it wrapped in the fridge when not devouring it.

This is really tasty with cream cheese spread.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Author Interview - Starla Huchton

Please welcome Starla Huchton to the Far Edge of Normal!
Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer's Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla's voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrated several of their projects, including three books in The Emperor's Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec finalist badge), and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven was her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton. Nemesis is the second in the Endure series.

How can we find you?

Facebook Author Page
Goodreads Author Page

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?
Speculative fiction is where my heart lies as far as writing goes. I'm not sure I could write anything Contemporary or literary if I tried. My brain likes to go places I haven't been before; alternate timelines, magical realities, a future living under the ocean… anywhere but the here and now. Really, it's hard for me to pick a favorite thing I've written, as that changes depending on whatever I'm working on at the moment. I'm currently writing a New Adult Superhero Romance (I'm so obsessed with this idea it's ridiculous!), so that's my favorite right now.

What people will see from me in the very near future are more books in my Endure series, however. This is New Adult Science Fiction Romance set about 40 years from now on an underwater UN research station/military outpost. The first in this series, Maven, was released June 3rd, with the second, Nemesis, going live on August 26th. The third will drop in November, and the final installment hits virtual shelves in February 2014. It's a rapid fire series, but don't confuse that with being rushed. I had three books written before I the first ever went live. :)

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
When I'm not chasing after my 3 kids or black lab, which is not often given my deployed husband, I design book covers, freelance. I was doing some audiobook and podcast narration, but life is pushing me in other directions so I'm stepping away from doing much of that anymore. Really, my favorite thing in the world is writing, and there's little else I'd rather be doing. Movies and TV are really far down on my list of activities, as I have so many other things going on, but I'm a big Doctor Who and Game of Thrones fan. With all of the creative projects I'm already involved in, there isn't much room for hobbies. I figure, if you're not doing what you love, find a way to do that instead. I'm lucky in that my husband's job provides well for us, and allows me the freedom to pursue my goals. There's nothing more valuable to a writer than a supportive spouse and family!

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?
I find inspiration everywhere, really. Driving in the car seems to be my big idea place these days. I think it's because when I'm driving I can tune out the noise of the all the other stuff in life and the ideas have room to breathe. This is helped a great deal when I put on my Pandora stations where the songs remind me of scenes or conjure new ones in whatever I'm working on. Every song tells a story, and it's incredibly easy for me to take the ideas presented in the music and incorporate them into my own written work.

I used to write with music, primarily movie scores and video game soundtracks, as anything with lyrics distracts me from my own words. Really, I prefer silence, but when I have to cover up the sounds around me I'll put on Helen Jane Long, Cirque du Soleil's Varekai, or one of the video game soundtracks (Minecraft has been especially prevalent in my writing playlist of late, as has Contingency, Braid, and Skyrim). If I'm stuck in a scene, I try to find something that enhances the mood I'm trying to create, otherwise I keep it fairly ambient and neutral.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
"Becoming" a writer is the wrong word here, I think. A person either writes or they don't. The best way to get started in almost anything is to do it. I feel the same way about the term "aspiring author", you either write or you don't. Some disagree with me, but that's my personal opinion.

If you're talking about where you go once you've begun, well, that's a bit different. If you're just starting out, I think it's better to find a group of other writers you can ask questions of or get advice from or bounce ideas off of. In the digital age, it's easier than ever to find like-minded folks. National Novel Writing Month is a great program for those who need that extra push to get going. It's what finally got me doing what I'd wanted to do since I was about eight years old: write books. NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge where your "competition" is also your cheering section. With the forums on the website and their Facebook page and twitter account, it's super easy to connect with others in the same boat as you. Not only will it introduce you to other writers, but you can get yourself into the habit of writing every day, which is really the best advice I can give anyone. Write. Every day, if you can, allowing for life. Even if it's only for 15 minutes, grab it.  

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Red. Always red. I love red. A world without red is a world I don't want to live in.

Describe your dream writing spot.
One without children in it. LOL. I don't really require much. Given my proclivity towards bathroom writing on my phone… yeah. I'm not picky.

Thanks for stopping by, Starla! Good luck with your new release. For my readers, Starla cautions that these romance books are intended for ages 18+.

Maven (The Endure series, book 1)

"How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?"

Barnes & Noble:

Nemesis (The Endure series, book 2)

"Tech genius Daniel Brewer isn't the only one with a romantic history. Already weighed down with the impossible problem of the Maven Initiative's plans for world domination and disaster, Dr. Lydia Ashley is finding it more and more difficult to keep things in balance. With an old flame reappearing and the schemes of a vindictive new rival thrown into the mix, her hopes for a life with Daniel may be on the brink of annihilation.

When Lydia's past is brought to light, one big secret could destroy everything."


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Anise Shortbread, Take 2

I just realized I posted a version of this recipe back in April. It makes a bar cookie, though. This version makes individual cookies. Plus, check out the eggnog shortbread version at the end of the post.

This recipe ties in with a blog post over on Pauline Baird Jones' blog. I didn't want to lose track of this one so I'm posting it here, too. But check out Pauline's blog. It's a lot of fun. The story behind this recipe is up on her blog.

This isn't a true shortbread. True shortbread is butter, sugar, and flour. It's a difficult cookie to get to turn out. Adding some flavorings and an egg makes this shortbread easier to handle.

Anise Shortbread

1 c. butter (use the real stuff for this recipe)
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. anise extract
2 t. anise seed
1 c. whole wheat flour (finely ground or pastry flour if you can get it)
2 c. all-purpose flour

Put the butter in your mixing bowl and let it sit out for 2-3 hours to soften. Don't soften it in the microwave for this recipe.

Whip the butter with the mixer for 1 - 2 minutes. Add sugar. Cream for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, anise extract, and anise seed. Cream for 2 - 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Beat for another minute.

Gently stir in the flours until you have a soft dough. Shape it into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Use a glass to gently flatten each cookie. If it sticks to the dough, you can dip it in sugar before pressing each cookie flat.

Bake for 9-14 minutes in a 350° oven (9-10 if you like it soft like a sugar cookie, 13-14 if you like it crispier). Let cool on the cookie sheet before eating. If you can let them sit for a day or two, the anise flavors intensifies. Store in a loosely covered container.

Eggnog Shortbread

Make as directed EXCEPT- Omit anise flavoring and anise seed, instead stir in 1 t. ground nutmeg and 1 t. rum flavoring when you add the egg.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Author Interview - Wendy Knight

Please welcome Wendy Knight to the Far Edge of Normal!
Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S.
You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.


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 write young adult urban fantasy. I've dabbled in other genres but none are as fun! I've written three books in the Fate on Fire series- Feudlings (book 1), Feudlings in Sight (a short story), and Feudlings in Flames (book 2). I also have a series about battle unicorns coming out in October. I don't have a favorite. I love them all!

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
Let's see...I love Disney movies. I love football-to watch and to play. Scooby Doo is like my all-time favorite. I think maybe I forgot to grow up at some point. I love my cartoons!

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
I don't know about specific organizations. I'm not a member of any. BUT I do strongly suggest having a critique group, or a support group of other writers. I would be lost without my writer friends! We chat, brainstorm, cry, encourage. It's sooo invaluable.

What writers inspired you to become an author?
Walter Farley, the author of the Black Stallion books, is the reason I started writing. I loved those books so much! When I finished the series, I was devastated, so I started writing my own. I was only, like, ten. But still.

More modern, my writing idol is Cassandra Clare. I love her books. And, of course, J.K. Rowling. She's my very favorite ever.

I loved the Black Stallion, too. I wanted a horse so bad, until I found out how much work they really are. And the smell! If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
I would go back to ancient Greece. I wonder if I could write that trip off as research…

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
Africa. I’ve been obsessed with it since I was tiny.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Red. No, black. No…Red. Yes, red.

Red is a great choice. Describe your dream writing spot.
On a balcony overlooking the ocean, so I can hear the waves while I write. And that’s all-just the waves. No sirens, no screaming children (lets pretend they’re sleeping peacefully in the background), no barking dogs. Just the waves. Also, there would be pillows. Lots of pillows.

I think you just described my dream writing spot. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy, and best of luck with your writing!
Check out her book, Feudlings in Flames - 
Astraea Press
Barnes and Noble  

Ari thought being in love with her prophesied nemesis sucked. But being responsible for her best friend's kidnapping? It sucks worse.

Ari and Shane thought they’d beaten Fate and ended the three-hundred year war plaguing their people. They thought love had won. But they were so, so wrong.

Instead of graduating high school like the normals, they’re in a battle to save Charity – Shane’s cousin, Ari's best friend, and the seer who might hold the key to ending the war for good. To do that, they’re forced to accept help from a boy they aren’t even sure they can trust. He’s powerful and knows spells even Ari’s never heard of, but he’s also secretive and has a past he’s determined to keep hidden . Add to that the fact that he has his sights set on Ari, and Shane would rather do without his help.

Ari has bigger problems than mysterious boys and their strange powers. The powerful Edren Family is hunting her brother, and she can't very well save him or Charity while they’re constantly being attacked by her own people. To stop the raids, she has to take the fight to them. But if she starts hunting the family that raised her, what kind of monster will she be?

Fate still waits for the death of one by the hand of the other.

"No no, Hunter, it curves this way." Ari stood back, watching with a frown, and then jumped back in. "Imagine in your mind what you want the spell to do. Tie your emotions to your spells."
Shane watched her guide Hunter and tried again on his own. "Close, Shane, but like this," Ari reached out, holding his hand as she led him through the motion. He felt the flames racing through his blood react to her touch and sparks flew from his fingers, igniting the spell. It hung, burning, in the air, a bright blue curlicue thing. "Perfect," she whispered, still holding on to his hand.
  "Maybe, but does it work?" Tristan's voice was flat and uninterested, but Shane could hear the animosity running under the words.
"We don't have any targets set out. He can't test it." Ari shook her head, and still holding Shane's hand, made a quick swiping motion through the spell, dissipating it. "Try again." She let go of his hand and stepped back, watching expectantly.
Shane tried, once, twice, and three times. He couldn't get it quite right, but neither could Hunter, which made him feel better, and Tristan wasn't even trying.
"It's okay if you can't do it, Shane. There are a lot of other powerful spells she uses that will be much easier for you to master," Will said.
Ari vehemently shook her head. "No. He can do it. Just give him a minute!"
Shane kept his attention focused on the spell in front of him, but he couldn't stop his grin.
Ari believed in him.
He burned the spell into the air again, trying to replicate the one Ari had drawn, but it fizzled into a mass of smoke. The spell had to ignite to actually do anything. He groaned in frustration, tipping his head sideways to look at Ari. "What am I doing wrong?"
She bit her lip, studying him for several seconds. "When you did it the first time, what were you thinking?"
Shane paused, dropping his hand that was still poised in the air. "Umm… I was thinking we were gonna die and I had seen you throw that spell so I knew it was possible. It just happened."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Quick Dill Pickles

Yep, more pickles. I love neighbors who can grow veggies and make up for my black thumbs. These are super easy to put together and customize, plus you can use those cucumbers that got too big for most pickle recipes. If the seeds are hard and nasty, just quarter the cucumbers and cut out the seeds.

Dill is really easy to grow. It's called a weed for a reason. It makes a really decorative plant. It's lacy and tall and has fun seed heads. Wait until the seed is fully formed before picking and harvesting the seed heads. The lacy leaves can be picked and used fresh or picked and dried anytime.

And as always, a warning about home canning. Make sure you know what you're doing or you could give you family something nasty like botulism. I stick mostly with jams, jellies, and pickles because they have the least chance of spoiling. Make sure your jars and equipment are very clean, sterilize in your dishwasher if you can. Scrub the vegetables really well. Don't try canning with grocery store produce, most of it has been treated with chemicals and things that might affect the end product. Buy good produce from a farmer's market or roadside stand or grow it yourself. It's pretty easy to grow most vegetables, unless you have black thumbs like me.

For more information on home canning, check out the USDA website.

Quick-Pack Dill Pickles

Wash and slice enough cucumbers to fill 8 pint jars. Pack them in tightly.
1/2 t. dill seed PER JAR
1/2 t. dried dill weed PER JAR
OR one full seed head of dill PER JAR

Mix the following in a large saucepan:
6 T. pickling salt
3 c. vinegar (white 5% acidity)
3 c. water

Bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over the cucumbers in each jar, filling them to within half inch of the top. Clean the rims of the jars and cover with a new lid. Screw on the ring and tighten.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (for pint jars) at sea level, 20 minutes at my altitude (~5500 ft). Let cool completely. Check the seal, then store in a cool, dark location for at least two weeks before eating.


Store the jars in the fridge for a week, then open and eat. They'll keep for a month or two in the fridge.

Spicy Dill - add 1/4 t. peppercorns and 1/4 t. red pepper flakes to each jar before adding the hot liquid.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Author Interview - Angie Lofthouse

Please welcome Angie Lofthouse! She went to college with every intention of becoming a particle physicist, but through a series of misadventures, found herself studying Shakespeare instead. After college she combined her love of science and her love of words into a science fiction writing career.

Her short stories have appeared in numerous online and print magazines. Her sci-fi adventure novel, Defenders of the Covenant, was released in 2012.

She lives in a little canyon in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains with her family of writers, artists, singers, composers, illustrators and musicians.

Find her at these places:

Amazon Page

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 write science fiction and fantasy, both novels and short stories. I love exploring new worlds and new ideas. I try to make everything I write both entertaining and uplifting. My latest release is a collection of short stories called Ripped and Other Adventures. My favorite story in there is probably "Among the Silent Stars." It's the story of a deaf girl on a newly colonized planet.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
My other passion besides writing is music, particularly singing. I have been in the Musettes Ladies Chorus for ten years now. I also play the guitar, and I can manage a few hymns on the piano. I love music of all kinds. My hubby and children are musicians too, so music is a huge part of my life.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to music, and do you want to share your playlist?
Oh, I definitely write to music! (See above) I don't have a specific playlist for it. I listen to whatever strikes my fancy be it jazz, rock, classical, new age, pop, religious, or whatever I'm in the mood for.

"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 do have cats. And a seemingly endless supply of kittens. But they are not allowed in the house!

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
The Facebook group Authors Think Tank has been a great resource. It's always good to attend any writing conferences in your area. That's a great way to meet fellow authors who live close to you. As for writing advice, my best advice has always been to write what you love, believe in your dreams, and never, ever give up!

What writers inspired you to become an author?
Orson Scott Card, Dave Wolverton/Farland, Madeline L'Engle, Connie Willis, Julie Czerneda, to name a few.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
Here's a little secret. My short story collection will be free on Amazon Sept. 10-14 in celebration of "birthday week." (I, my daughter, and my husband all have birthdays in those five days!)

Sounds like a very busy week. If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
Honestly, I think I'd rather see the future than visit the past.

If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?
I'd choose Hannah and Derek, from my novel Defenders of the Covenant. Hannah's very musically oriented, just like me, and Derek is a nerdy fighter pilot and just all around awesome. I would serve them chili dogs with my own award-winning chili recipe. I don't think they've eaten chili dogs before. Plus something really chocolaty for dessert.

I'm going to have to pry that recipe out of you one of these days. If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
I would seriously love to stand on the moon and look down on earth. I'd also like to visit London.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Well, it would have to be something bright. I guess I'd go with purple!

Purple is an excellent choice. Thanks for stopping by, Angie! And best of luck with your writing.