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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Halloween Special

It's a tradition every Halloween to serve a big pot of hot and satisfying Eyeball Soup. I've done this with coconut milk to make a dairy-free version and it's very tasty, too. I like to serve it as an early dinner because then I know my kids have had something healthy and not-sweet that they like.

Eyeball Soup was my first professional publication. It was featured in a Taste of Home's Holiday Celebrations Cookbook. I was paid with a copy of the cookbook.

Eyeball Soup

What traditions and fun food do you like to serve your little ghosts and goblins? Please share your recipes. I'd love to spotlight some of you. And if you have favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas dishes, I'd love those, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Author Guest Post - Voss Foster

Please welcome Voss Foster to the Far Edge of Normal. He's got a new book to tell you about, and it involves a trip to the circus! Grab some popcorn and those nasty marshmallow peanut things, and sit right down for a ringside seat.

Zirkua Fantastic has been steadily running since 1753, amazing its patrons with acts of otherworldly skill and prowess. But that talent comes at a steep price: each artist must give a year of his or her life to the circus. None of them know why, only that the circus' owners will go to whatever lengths are necessary to ensure it. Toby, the hoop dancer at Zirkua Fantastic and son of one of the owners, is content with his life: he enjoys performing and Zirkua's wandering life, and even has a boyfriend among the circus' hawkers. But when a new artist arrives, bringing with him a strange flask and a number of odd occurrences, Toby falls face-first into the truth behind the circus: Its contracts bind King Jester, the immortal embodiment of chaos.

Zirkua's performances and contracts have held King Jester prisoner for centuries, but now something's amiss. King Jester's sister, Dragon, has escaped her own bonds and is working to free her brother, and his power is growing. If he is loosed on the world, it will mean the worst war in human history and the end of civilization... unless Zirkua Fantastic can find a way to stop him.
From Voss:
One of the first things I think of when I think about circuses and carnivals is the vendors. Games, foodstuffs, souvenirs. Any circus or carnival worth going to, in my experience, will have vendors. Even the big, fancy troupes like Cirque du Soleil sell you things (things that I've bought… expensive things that I've bought… I swear, it was worth it…). So of course, when I crafted Zirkua Fantastic, I had to include hawkers' corridor.

But there's more to it than that, for me. I admit to having a minor obsession with hawker culture. Two of my bucket list locations are Singapore, to visit a big hawker center, and La Paz, to go to the Mercado de Brujas (Witches' Market). Something about tiny, specialty shops clustered together like that, half business, half life form, appeals to me in a very real way. Probably also why I love malls.

But I also knew, from the very beginning, that hawkers' corridor, had to be a separate entity, a totally human experience. I almost imagined it, at its inception, as something that had to form simply because of the attractive power of magic. People would inevitably follow, and some of those people would inevitably have some sort of artisan skill.

Once I had that, I knew Marley had to be a hawker. It just made sense.

Thanks, Voss. If you want to check out Zirkua Fantastic, here's the link.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my version of the Almond Joy Cookies making the Pinterest rounds. I love the flavors and the way they blend together. If you're looking for a new twist on chocolate chip cookies, give this one a try.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
4 eggs (use just 3 if they're jumbo or large)
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. coconut extract
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
4 1/2 c. flour (I use half whole wheat)
1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
2 c. chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat until very creamy and smooth, at least 3 minutes. Stir in flour, coconut, and chocolate chips. Scoop onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes, until barely browned and set.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Movie Star Meme

It's a thing with authors. We dream of our books being made into movies. And we pick out our dream cast. I've had a hard time with my series but I finally found my first cast member.

Are you ready for this?
Tayvis could be played by Victor Webster. Mm hm. He's perfect. I need a poster of him for my writing office wall...
Victor Webster Picture

Monday, October 21, 2013

They're Playing Our Song

Sorry for those of you who were hoping for a sappy romantic moment here. This is about theme songs for my books. As I write, I listen to music. It drowns out the sounds of screaming children and Nintendo games and all the other distractions. Like the house catching fire or the kids chopping up furniture with chainsaws. (No, those didn't happen. But I do have a "writing sign" for my bedroom door that reads, If there isn't blood, bones, or open flames, DO NOT KNOCK!. It mostly worked.)

So just for fun, here's a list of songs that became theme songs for the books in my series. I have no idea why some songs stick with certain books, but they were my go-to song for that book. Listening to them set the mood and got me ready to write.

If you want to check out the whole series, at least all the ones in print so far, go here.

Nexus Point was written mostly to Air Supply. Don't ask me why. I had to laugh when I'd finish writing a very intense fight scene and realize my CD player was playing, "I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you..."

But the big song for the book was this one - Air Supply's 'I Can Wait Forever'

Priestess of the Eggstone had The Alan Parsons Project as its backup singers, especially these two songs:

Damned If I Do

Don't Answer Me

I was going through a Josh Groban phase when I wrote Poisoned Pawn. I fell in love with this song and played it over and over and over...

Remember When it Rained

Kumadai Run didn't really have any theme songs, at least nothing that stood out. I listened to a lot of Elvis love songs and heavy metal, though. And ate way too much chocolate. There is one scene at the end that has its own theme song, though. If you've read the book, I think you can figure it out.

Josh Groban's When You Say You Love Me 

Cold Revenge was one of those that no single song jumps out at me, but this is good one for it. (I seem to have a thing for sappy love songs when I'm writing, which makes little sense. My books are NOT sappy romance.)

Chicago, We Can Last Forever

Here's a teaser for the rest of the series:

Book 6 - Jericho Falling - Laura Branigan, Ti Amo
Book 7 - Obsidian Tears - Our Farewell
Book 8 - Chain of Secrets - Midnight in Moscow, Fly
Book 9 - An Indecent Proposal - Solitaire
Book 10 - Phoenix in Flames - Ride Forever
Book 11 - Redemption - Amazing Grace

Are you excited to read them? I'm excited to get the books out!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Sweet Potato Cookie Cake

I was bored. And I had some leftovers in the fridge. So I messed around in the kitchen and came up with these. They turned out surprisingly tasty.

Sweet Potato Cookie Cakes

1/3 c. softened butter
2 large eggs
1 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes or yams
1 yellow cake mix
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg

Beat butter, eggs, and sweet potatoes until creamy and smooth. Add dry cake mix and spices. Stir until mixed. Don't worry about a few lumps, they'll cook out. Grease two pie plates. Spread half of the batter in each pan. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and center is set.

Serve warm or cold. Whipped cream cheese is delicious with these. Or try meadow cream.

I thought I'd posted this recipe, but apparently I haven't. Meadow Cream was inspired by Brian Jacques' description of massive feasts in his Redwall books. It's tasty on pancakes, waffles, toast, fresh bread, muffins, cake, banana bread, brownies, bacon....

Meadow Cream

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. honey

Cream everything together. Keep beating until very silky smooth and fluffy. Use as a spread or frosting or just eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon. Makes about 2 cups. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Author Interview - Cami Checketts

Please welcome Cami Checketts to the Far Edge of Normal!
Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She’s never been happier.
Please refer to her website – for more information about her books.

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 love to write clean romantic suspense with a side of comedy (not sure that’s a genre).
I love all my books so much, but I’m always most in love with the book I’m working on right now. Blog This is a favorite because the heroine is so brave and passionate about what she does. 
I’m working on the fourth book in the Dead Running series and the sequel to Poison Me.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
I’m a mother of four, so relaxation doesn’t happen much. I love to do anything outside: run, bike, swim, hike. Duck Dynasty is my favorite show, my boys know the only way to get me to watch tv is to say they have a Duck Dynasty recorded. 

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to music, and do you want to share your playlist?
I have nightmares that start the juices flowing, then I keep them going with daydreams while I run. My background noise is a lacrosse game outside or a wrestling match in my living room. I really should give some music a try!

"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?
Haha! My boys are begging for kittens, but my husband is severely allergic. I guess I cannot be a true writer.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
A fabulous critique group is the most important group a writer can have. I’ve found critique partners through local writer’s groups as well as online.
Just the usual: work hard and don’t give up!

What writers inspired you to become an author?
Richard Paul Evans. His writing is beautiful, but his marketing and work ethic are just as inspiring.

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
Europe. France and Italy would be the top picks, but I want to experience it all.

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

Thanks for stopping by, Cami!
Please check out her new book, Blog This! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Will protecting children throughout the world cost Natasha her own family?
Devastated by the loss of her brother, Natasha Senecot works to expose the dangers of Matthew Chrysler’s violent video games, succeeding in bankrupting and humiliating him.
Chrysler retaliates and sends a hit man after her. Natasha is forced to fake her own death to protect her children, but after witnessing another tragedy, Natasha won’t hide any longer.
In a race against time, can Natasha expose Matthew Chrysler before his assassin murders her family and shatters her world?

From the very first chapter, Blog This grabs your gut and your heart with surprising action and touching moments.  Cami Checketts blends suspense, humor, and good clean romance into a story that will stick with you.
~Daniel Coleman, Author of Gifts and Consequences

Loved it.  Loved it.  Loved it.  Have read all of Cami’s books but Blog This is on the top of my list.  Read it twice and enjoyed it just as much the second time.  Just when you think you know what is going to happen you’re led into a different direction. Had a hard time putting the book down and was anxious to see how it was going to end.
~Elsa Akinason

Thursday, October 10, 2013

News Flash!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled recipe to bring you breaking news...

Jericho Falling (The Fall of the Altairan Empire book 6) is now available on Kindle!

A mysterious stranger with no memories claims help from Dace. But he wants more than her sympathy. The dark secrets hidden in his mind threaten to destroy everything and everyone Dace has come to love.

Despite graduate school and children and work and life, I managed to get it edited and rewritten and a cover designed and all the rest and now you can read it. (The print version will take another two weeks to get formatting and proofing done.)

And if you haven't started the series yet, what are you waiting for? Pick up book 1, Nexus Point, for FREE - use coupon code AA47G at

We return you to your regularly scheduled recipe Thursday...

Thursday Recipe - Dry Onion Soup Mix

I've got a lot of freeze-dried onions, as in several gallon cans worth. They're getting pretty old. I don't like using them as onions in recipes because they just don't taste the same. So I've been scouring the internet looking for recipes that use dried onions.

I came across one for an onion soup mix, like the packet kind you can buy. I never buy it mostly because it has MSG and other chemicals that I can't tolerate so I'm not sure how to even use it. I mixed up a batch, thinking I could use it as a seasoning mix. It was tasty, but it needed some refining.

Here's my final version. Feel free to tweak it if you want. A bit of beef bouillon powder would give it more of the commercial mix flavor. I'm not trying it because I have yet to find a dried beef bouillon without MSG. If you know of a brand, please let me know.

Dry Onion Soup Mix

2/3 c. dried minced onion
1 T. dried parsley flakes
2 t. turmeric
2 t. salt (sea salt if desired)
1 t. celery seed
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. smoked paprika

Place all ingredients in a small food processor or blender container. Mix until most of the chunks are very small and the spices are blended.

Store in a tightly covered container. Use as a seasoning mix for soups, sauces, and meats.

I put a teaspoon or so into my cheese sauce. It was the best cheese sauce I've ever made.

(I thought I'd posted this recipe, and I have as mac'n'cheese, but not by itself, so here goes.)

Cheese Sauce

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 t. onion soup mix
4 c. milk
3 c. shredded cheese (I like to use a mix of parmesan, monterey jack, and sharp cheddar)

Melt butter in a medium to large saucepan. Stir in flour and soup mix. Whisk over medium heat until bubbly. Stir in milk 1 c. at a time, whisking smooth after each addition. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce comes to a full boil. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.

Stay tuned for other ways to use this mix - dips, meatloafs, chicken, casseroles, soups...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Author Interview - Maria Savva

Please welcome Maria Savva back to the Far Edge of Normal. She's been here before, but she's always worth inviting back. Maria writes some of the most twisted, bizarre, and yet gentle suspense stories I've ever read. She's celebrating the release of "3", a new collection of three short works. (She's British, so I'm letting her British spelling stay. Besides, I love the British spellings.)

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 in a variety of genres. It really depends what I’m inspired by. For example, I was inspired to write my thriller, “Haunted”, when I heard a snippet on the news about a crime. I mostly write drama, with the most recurrent themes being: love, regret, dreams, relationships, secrets, lies, etc.

My stories are always inspired in some way by real life, although the actual stories are always fictional. I have published 5 novels and 5 collections of short stories.

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?
My favourite way to relax is listening to music, watching a good film, or reading a good book. I also like live music. I don’t watch much TV, but usually always try to catch EastEnders, as well as things like The Apprentice, Masterchef, and The Voice. My favourite movies include, “Shirley Valentine”, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, and “Along Came Polly”. I also like painting and drawing when I get time.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?
Although I don’t listen to music when I write (find it too distracting), music is probably the thing that helped inspire me to look for my own creative outlet. I’ve always been a music fan. As a teenager I had to have the weekly music mag, I knew the top 40 off by heart and could tell you who had gone up or down in the charts. I was obsessed. I used to make up songs on my Casio organ and record them on my tape recorder. It was my first venture into creativity. Then I discovered live music and have never stopped craving live music concerts. I find that music helps to take me to that place inside myself where I can find inspiration to write. The first things I wrote were song lyrics and I have a bunch of them at home that will probably never see the light of day. I listen to all types of music. My favourite type of music is heavy metal and rock.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one?
I grew up with cats, and I absolutely love them. I will probably be the typical crazy cat lady when I’m older with lots of cats in my house. Many cats inspire fiction; just looking at the amount of cats that appear as characters in books, we can see this. Cats are independent. They live their own lives on the whole, coming and going from the house to eat or sleep. This in itself makes you start wondering what they get up to when they’re out and about. Many stories have been written over the years just trying to work out what makes cats tick. They are fascinating animals. They have a sixth sense, and that kind of mystical quality is at the essence of any good fantasy or speculative fiction.  A rather mysterious and spooky cat appears in The Dream, my fantasy novel.

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
The most important advice I can give is just keep on writing. The only way you can improve as a writer is to write more. That is not to say that you should publish everything you write. Another important piece of advice is that you should always make sure you get feedback on your writing. The best place to do that when you’re starting out and have no real idea what your writing is like, is to go to a literary consultancy, like Cornerstones, or TLC, in the UK. In the US and other countries I am sure that similar services exist. Basically, they provide manuscript assessments by professional editors. I got help from Cornerstones for 2 of my novels when I was at the start of my writing career, and it helped enormously. The feedback from editors helps you to improve your writing. As writers we are always learning. There is not a writer alive that knows it all. I am learning new things every day. You have to write the not so good stuff so that you can get criticism, improve your skills, and then go on to write better and better stuff. Another tip is to edit another author’s manuscript. I did this for a fellow writer and by doing so I learnt a lot about the mistakes people make. I continue to help with editing and beta reading of my fellow authors’ books whenever I can, as I believe this helps to sharpen my own writing skills.
Remember that not everyone will be a fan of your writing. There are harsh critics who can easily make a writer feel that he/she is not good enough. Never let them bring you down. It takes a lot of guts to write something from your soul and let it out into the world where it can be criticised and in some cases totally ripped apart. Writers are often sensitive creatures, so please make sure you find a way to separate yourself from your book. It’s difficult, and any criticism will always make you feel like giving up. It’s not an easy choice to become a writer. Writing a novel is hard work. You need to be sure that you have enough time to devote to your writing if are really serious about it.

What writers inspired you to become an author?
Probably every writer I have ever read. As a child I was obsessed with C S Lewis’s children’s books, and I loved Alice in Wonderland, Swallows and Amazons, The Famous Five. Then I went on in my teens to read all the Mills and Boons book available at the time; in fact I remember being frustrated that I had read them all and there were no more to read! Then I went on to read chick lit, like Marian Keyes and Maeve Binchy. In my late teens I went through a phase where I read horror like James Herbert. In my early twenties, I discovered some other of my favourites, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Every book I read inspired me in some way to want to write. I think a turning point was when I read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It is written in such a simple style, like a fable, but it has such a deep meaning. It really motivated me to try to write a book that could speak to so many people, and be potentially life-changing. I’m not sure I’ve accomplished that yet, but with each book I write I am getting closer to it.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

The release of my latest book ‘3’. It is now available on Kindle and will soon be available in paperback on It takes a while for the paperback version to filter through to Amazon & B&N, but it will hopefully be on those sites, and other online retailers soon.

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?
Australia. I’ve always wanted to visit but never have. I have relatives and friends over there, so it would be great to go there.

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

Probably bright pink because whenever I wear pink I’m always getting compliments on how much the colour suits me.

Describe your dream writing spot.
A house on a mountain with a sea view.

Thanks so much for stopping by. It's always a pleasure to chat with you, Maria. For the rest of you, go check out her books.
Maria is a huge part of BestsellerBound, too. It's a wonderful community of writers and readers who love good stories, in whatever genre and however they've been published. They're always open to new members.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Recipe - Hot Fudge Sauce

Yeah, I'm busy. Too much going on. But I had two baseball-bat zucchini that needed used, so I made zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini cake. The cake turned out on the dry side, though (need to tweak that recipe), so I made hot fudge sauce to top it. It's not the creamiest, probably because I used powdered milk and 2% instead of evaporated milk, but hey, you use what you've got. It's still a tasty recipe and it's fast.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. powdered milk
1 c. milk
2 c. chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla
12 oz. container of marshmallow creme

Mix sugar and powdered milk in a medium saucepan. Stir in milk. Whisk to remove any lumps. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Stir in marshmallow creme. Serve hot.

Once it cools, it's great to mix in with yogurt or just use as a thick chocolate sauce.