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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Graham Sandwiches

Two pictures on Facebook triggered this post:
 Remember playing quicksand as a kid? That's the lovely game where you try to move through the house without touching the floor because the floor is QUICKSAND and you will DIE if you touch it. Yep, good times. And a few broken pieces of furniture and lots of bruises. This is what childhood used to be. Before video games.

And sorry for the bad pun picture. Yeah, breast cancer awareness has even hijacked kid food. I love s'mores but sometimes I just don't want to mess with marshmallows and the microwave. And my kids have usually eaten all the chocolate chips. With my help.

My mom used to make treats using graham crackers and leftover frosting. I adopted this for easy s'mores. Mom used to tuck them into the freezer so they were perfect for hot summer days. No, we didn't have central air conditioning. We had a big old swamp cooler that usually wasn't working right so we either hid in the basement, played outside, or just dealt with the heat. Don't get me wrong. I love my AC but it was a lot easier to tolerate heat when I was younger.

So, here's the recipe, such as it is.

Graham Sandwiches

1 package of your favorite graham crackers - plain, chocolate, cinnamon, whatever you like
1 recipe of these delicious ones if you have the time and inclination to make them, just do it a day or so ahead so they can get all crispy and delicious

1 can thingie of frosting (kind of nasty but sometimes it so easy it's worth it)
1 recipe of your favorite frosting (Try marshmallow frosting or to-die-for frosting or cream cheese frosting or fudgy chocolate frosting or vanilla-rum frosting or meadow cream) (I think I have a frosting addiction)

Anything else you'd like to add - peanut butter, mini M&Ms, coconut, sprinkles, sliced strawberries, etc.

Take the long graham cracker and break it in half to make two squares. Spread one square with frosting. Spread the other square with extras if you want. Put them together to make a sandwich. Stick in a baggie and put it in the freezer.  Repeat until you either run out of graham crackers or frosting. Eat when frozen. Or eat immediately. Repeat until they are all gone. Feel guilty and vow to exercise off all those extra calories. Right after you eat the last one...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let's Play Stump the Checker!

It's been a wild week. Too much to do. We've got two kids getting married in June and I'm working on releasing the last two books in my series on top of still being mom to those at home and doing my school work and holding down two part-time jobs. Very part-time, but still. So if my posts are a little spotty the next few weeks, that's why. Once things settle down a little, or if I get an unexpected free day or two, I'll try to get more posts scheduled.

If you have a recipe you'd like to request, please let me know in the comments. Even if it's a "How do I cook eggplant?" type request. I'm happy to see what I can find for you and share what I've experimented with.

How do you play stump the checker? Easy. Find the weirdest produce item you can and see if the checker knows what it is when it's rung up at the register. You'd be amazed how many people have no clue what those weird veggies are. Most of them are tasty, if you know how to cook them. So please, ask away.

Now for more fun. I'm releasing books 10 and 11 together because they are the conclusion to my SF adventure series. Together, they weigh in at over 300,000 words. That's a lot of words to edit and format. But, they should be coming in the next couple of weeks. I'm almost there...

Sneak peek for book 10:

The Phoenix is deep in syndicate territory and they're out for blood. Lowell's power base is broken and Dace is left unprotected. Jasyn will have to marshal all her resources to rescue Dace from the wrath of her enemies.

Chapter 1

The darkness tasted of stones and the wet that dripped in the subterranean maze, sometimes close enough he could touch it, sometimes so distant it made his throat ache. His universe shrank, encompassing only the wet coldness of stone forever under his fingers. Once he had known light and warmth, hidden in the haze that filled his mind. Now was all that existed, all that ever had existed, all that ever would exist. Now was the cold dark and unending stone.
And her. He shivered at the forbidden thought. She came sometimes, into the darkness. She brought light with her, wrapped around her. She brought quiet words and soft touches. She supplied clear water and the almost forgotten taste of food. She called herself an angel. Her absence was his punishment, clear indication that he was not worthy of her presence.
Living was only a habit, a fading one. He once had a reason, another he was responsible for. He didn't remember who he was supposed to protect or what had gone wrong, only that he had failed.
He huddled against wet stone and scurried through the empty echoing spaces between. He was an animal, locked underground forever. The angel brought aching hope and memories, but doomed him to silent darkness when she withdrew. She came, shining in her white robes, to stroke his face with her hands.
Her touch brought pleasure, agonizing in its intensity. He shouldn't want it, he fought the need. And he lost every time. He needed her light even though he knew at some level her touch would kill him. Eventually.
Her touch unlocked his memories for a brief moment of sanity before her touch took it away again and left him sobbing over his betrayal. He had tried to resist her. He had broken every vow he'd ever made after she touched him. He had tried to hide, but she had found him, her voice scolding and harsh even as her hands gently touched his face. She would always find him no matter where he tried to hide. Not in the maze of rock, and not in his mind.
He wrapped his arms around himself, alone in the darkness, shivering with cold and need. She had stolen everything and left him only the hope that she would come back before he gave in to the shrieking madness creeping through the silent stone. He closed his eyes, seeking artificial darkness he could control. It was the only shred of self he had left. He had no name, no thoughts to call his own, no words, nothing but what she gave him. He kept nothing from her gentle questions and her gentler touch.
Except for a single name that echoed through his dreams.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Rice Fantastic

A friend asked me how to use curry powder. You know, that yellow stuff they sell in the grocery store? Some people tell you not to buy it, and mix your own, but sometimes I just want fast and easy. Plus, I like the way it tastes. I like to add it to rice - 1 or 2 teaspoons in a batch of 2 c. rice and 4 c. water. It turns it yellow and gives it a fun flavor. You can also make tandoori chicken and throw some curry powder into the sauce.

It also gives a lot of flavor and color to this dish. Next time you want rice to be a whole lot more than just rice, try this one out.

Rice Fantastic

2 T. butter
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 c. celery, sliced thin
1 tart apple, peeled and chopped small
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. raisins
1/4 c. dried cranberries
2 c. white rice
4 c. hot water
1 t. salt
1 T. curry powder
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted

Melt butter in heavy 3 quart saucepan. Sauté onion and celery until translucent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except toasted almonds. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender. Tilt lid to let steam escape. Let rice sit for about ten minutes. Fluff with a fork, stirring well to mix all ingredients. Garnish with toasted almonds.

To toast almonds: Heat a small skillet on medium high. Add almonds and stir constantly for about five minutes, just until almonds begin to brown. Spread almonds onto paper towels to cool.

Monday, May 19, 2014

And Another Release

Book 9 is now live!

Check out An Indecent Proposal - Dace faces her most challenging enemy yet: Linas-Drias high society ladies. The claws are out after the second most eligible bachelor in the Empire announces his engagement to Dace. It might have helped if he'd asked her first. And if Lowell had remembered to tell Dace that Tayvis was very much alive and waiting for her. But her engagement to the Second Speaker, Vance, is a golden opportunity for her to spy out the real traitors trying to tear apart the Empire. When her sham engagement starts becoming all too real, Dace is in too deep to escape.

Look for the print version in a couple of weeks on Amazon

And if you haven't tried the series yet, go get book 1, Nexus Point, for FREE.
Coupon code: AA47G

Nexus Point - a beginning, the origin point.
With a single flap of a butterfly's wing, a massive typhoon is born. Within a single moment, a single chance encounter, lie the seeds of destruction or salvation.
Dace only wants enough freedom to fly her merchant ship where the trade takes her. But fate and circumstance conspire otherwise. Trapped on a primitive planet, hunted by drug smugglers and betrayed by her crew, Dace's only hope of survival is the Patrol agent trying to kill her.
Here begins the Fall of the Altairan Empire.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Recipe: Camping Beans

My kids have it memorized. I live with teenage males. Serve beans and be prepared to hear the fart jokes. But beans and camping go together. Canned pork'n'beans make it easy. With just a few extra ingredients and some buns or rice to serve it over, it makes a full meal that is pretty tasty. Add a piece of fresh fruit for dessert and it's balanced, too.

Camping Beans

2 16 oz cans pork'n'beans
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
2 T. prepared mustard
8 hot dogs (fully cooked variety), cut into chunks

Stir everything together in a saucepan. Cook until hot and bubbly. Serve over rice or buns, or just in a bowl.

Extras (serve on top or cook into it):
chopped bell peppers
chopped green onions or sweet onions
pickle relish
shredded cheese
Fritos corn chips

Serves 4-8 people, depending on big and/or hungry they are and how much rice or buns you have to serve with it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Short and Sweet

Just for fun and giggles, I'm going to share very short fiction with you. Enjoy!

There were four of them, and each was exactly like the other. in their snowy stillness  Their unnatural sameness sent a chill down Marinda’s spine.  She reached into her bag for something to throw at them. If she hit one, would the other three react? After a few seconds’ rummaging, she found the perfect projectile.
The bottle of vodka had been in her bag for a week, ever since her spate of self-loathing over breaking up with Trevor, her boyfriend of three days. She patted her coat pocket. Yes, she still had her lighter. She needed something absorbent, though to complete the malatov cocktail.
She crouched, setting the bottle and her lighter in front of her on the ice-caked sidewalk. Her hand fumbled in her bag while she stared her enemy in his dark eyes. The four of them waited, uncanny in their stillness. Four identical sets of eyes, four evil faces. She shivered.
There! Her hand closed around a tampon. Not the classiest wick, but it should work nicely. She popped the stopper from the bottle and jammed the tampon into the neck, sloshing the alcohol inside. The tampon swelled as the icy liquid crept through its fibers.
“Eat this!” Marinda flicked her lighter, setting the tampon ablaze. She hurled the bottle at her enemies. Flames exploded across the snowy yard, obliterating the identical quadruplets.

Marinda brushed snow from her bag, slinging it over her shoulder. She always had hated snowmen.

Stay tuned for more next week...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Mountain Man Breakfast

Here's another camping recipe. This one is a favorite of our scout groups. Feel free to mix it up and change out whatever you want with it. The idea is for a very filling, easy to cook, one pot breakfast. Just be sure you have plenty of salsa and ketchup to go with it.

Mountain Man Breakfast

(This will feed seven or eight normal people or four boy scouts)

1 lb bacon or sausage
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
1 lb frozen hash brown potatoes
6 eggs
2 c. shredded cheese

In a large dutch oven, cook bacon or sausage until well done. Remove and set aside. Saute onion and bell peppers in the leftover grease. Add potatoes. Cook and stir until potatoes are lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Crack eggs into the hot dutch oven. Scramble as they cook. Once they are almost done, add potato mixture. Stir together and remove from the heat. Crumble bacon and stir in. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic salt, etc. Stir in cheese. Cover and set aside for five minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with salsa and/or ketchup.

Feel free to add other veggies, meats, etc. Whatever you enjoy for breakfast, although cocoa puffs might be a little much.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Drumroll, please.

Book 8 of the Fall of the Altairan Empire - Chain of Secrets - is now available!

Smashwords (all ebook formats)

Print copies will be available very soon on Amazon and Createspace. I'm just waiting on the final proof.

Check out the full series at

Here's a teaser for you:

Chapter 1

"You're headed for the border?" The freighter captain shook his head. "No one wants to get close to the border, especially not near Tebros. My advice is to find a berth and work the Federation territories. Don't mess with the Empire at all. It's not a good place for a spacer right now."
Tayvis pasted a smile on his face. The man was drunk, true, but he was only repeating what Tayvis had heard in every bar on the last six worlds. The Empire was crumbling at the edges and rotten at the center. The Federation grew exponentially as it drew in discontented frontier and fringe worlds. But Dace was somewhere in the Empire, too close to Lowell. "Thanks for the advice. I still need to get to Tebros."
"You'd be better off heading out farther. Lots of new territories opening up. I heard about one not long ago. Trythia, I think? Big Patrol action, but they ran back across the border with their tails between their legs."
Tayvis squelched the urge to pummel the man as he let the crowd pull him away from the bar. It wasn't the first rumor he'd heard about Trythia, told by those with no real knowledge or experience. The memories still hurt. Lowell had pulled the Patrol and run, taking Dace with him. And leaving Tayvis behind. He still wondered why.
He stepped outside the bar into the planet's night. A sultry breeze ruffled his hair. He studied the ships on the landing field, wondering if any of them were headed closer to Tebros and the border. Maybe he should have stuck with Will and the ragged assortment of ships that constituted the Federation fleet. It would have added months to his travel time, though.
He shoved his hands into the pockets of his shipsuit as he wove through the late-night crowds around the port bars. One of the ships had to be headed the direction he wanted to go. Time was passing and the situation in the Empire would only get worse.
Lowell had Dace. Who knew what he'd sent her into this time.

Chapter 2

I shifted a bale of cargo, shoving it onto the trolley which I pushed across the landing field towards the warehouse. It was raining, a thin drizzle I remembered all too well from winters growing up in the orphanage. I was back on Tivor.
Six weeks hadn't been near long enough to dull the pain. Tayvis, the one man I really loved, the person I knew better than any other, the anchor in my life for the last three and a half years, was gone. The pain helped in some ways. I didn't care if I died on this assignment.
Lowell had sent me here. He said he needed me, and no one else. I was the only one who could do what needed to be done. I still wasn't sure why. What had my mother done that only I could undo?
The wheels squeaked on the trolley squeaked as I shoved it across the cracked plascrete. The plan was for me to hide in the warehouse until everyone from the ship had left. Lowell had a contact in the capital city, he hoped. He hadn't heard from the man for several months. If his contact was there, he would let me out and hide me until I had the right papers and could start looking for the secrets my mother had left behind.
I had three months to push things over the edge into chaos. I wondered again if Lowell really knew what he was asking me to do.

I'd done it before, in less time, with less support. Lowell was confident I could do it here. He tried to tell me not to die doing it. I told him I wouldn't care if I did, right before I walked out of his ship to board the freighter that brought me back to Tivor.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Banana Boats

This is another fun campfire recipe. Not my favorite, but it's traditional to make these around the campfire. They're like s'mores, except without the graham crackers and with bananas.

Banana Boats

Ripe bananas, just the yellow ones, not the real squishy ones
mini marshmallows
chocolate chips
peanut butter

Take a nice banana. Split it through the skin, but don't peel it. Stuff the banana with peanut butter, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Push the banana back together, pulling the skin as closed as you can. Wrap the banana in aluminum foil.

Now for the fun part - cooking it.
Fire - put the foil-wrapped banana in the fire for two or three minutes, just long enough to warm up the banana and melt the marshmallows and chocolate. Remove it from the fire, let it cool just for a minute, then eat it right out of the skin.

Grill - cook the banana on the grill for two or three minutes, just enough to warm it up and turn it into a gooey mess. Eat it from the skin after it cools just a little. Add ice cream if you like.

Oven - bake at 350° for about five to ten minutes, just long enough to get the banana hot through.