Monday, 27 July 2015

S'Mores Please! Maple-Planked Stuffed S’Mores…Mmmm

Sticky, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth heaven. I’m talking about S’Mores – one of the mainstays of camping and a first choice with kids around the campfire. Here’s an easy-peasy treat that takes five minutes to prep, fifteen minutes to make, and serves eight. And guess what? No campfire is required. You can create this treat in the comfort of your own back yard with your barbecue.

What You Need:
8 jumbo marshmallows
16 milk chocolate squares
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup of crumbled honey graham wafers (about 3) spread on a plate, plus 16 whole wafers for serving
Maple grilling plank, soaked in water for 2 hours

What You Do: Preheat barbecue to medium.

MAKE a slit in the middle of each marshmallow end. Stuff each marshmallow with 2 squares of chocolate (one in each end), hiding chocolate inside. Lightly brush stuffed marshmallows with butter and roll in graham crumb to coat evenly.

GRILL soaked plank for 2 to 3 minutes on each side (to help intensify smoky flavor and prevent warping). Once plank begins to smoke and crackle, place prepared marshmallows on top and close barbecue lid. Bake for 3 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted and slightly gooey. 

REMOVE plank from barbecue and set on metal pan. Serve marshmallows directly on plank with whole wafers for scooping and sandwiching.

ADDED BONUS – if you feel adventurous you can spread smooth peanut butter over the milk chocolate squares before stuffing it into the marshmallow. Trust me—it will make a peanut butter cup blush. Oh, and make sure you have plenty of napkins or wipes on hand. Enjoy!

While you're waiting for your S'Mores to cook, why not think about taking a trip to Atlantis this August via the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series...

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

To read an excerpt from Legend of the Timekeepers please click HERE.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

YA Book Blog Tour: She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J.M. Walker...

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Elizabeth J.M. Walker's 
Young Adult Fantasy Novel ~

She Dreamed of Dragons!!

Follow the tour to read exclusive excerpts, guest posts, reviews, and spotlights.

Could a dragon mage be the next ruler of the magical kingdom of Dorlith?


Title: She Dreamed of Dragons

Author Name:  Elizabeth J.M. Walker

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy

Length: Approx. 234 pages

Ebook ISBN:  978-0-9947490-6-2
Print ISBN:  978-0-9947490-5-5

Release Date: July 17, 2015

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

This is a re-release tour.  Book previously published through a different publishing company.


Favourite Familiars in Books and Movies

As an animal lover I’ve always enjoyed when familiars pop up in fantasy books and movies. In She Dreamed of Dragons all of the witches and wizards have cat familiars. One of the cats in the book, Fenton’s cat Smokey, is modeled after my own cat Smokey, who I enjoyed the company of for eighteen years.

1. Lyra’s Daemon Pan from His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
The daemons in His Dark Materials are one of the most interesting familiars I’ve come across. I love that since Lyra is a child, her daemon has not yet chosen its true form and can change into different animals, ranging from a moth to an eagle.

2. Alanna’s Cat Faithful from The Song of the Lioness Quartet  byTamora Pierce
Alanna doesn’t meet Faithful the cat until the second book in this quartet, but they quickly form a tight bond. Alanna and Faithful can communicate to each other, but to outsiders Faithful’s speech just sounds like the common meows an ordinary cat would make.

3. Fire’s Horse Small from Fire by Kristin Cashore
Fire is a young woman with extreme beauty because of her exotic heritage of being half-human and half-“monster” – which in Cashore’s novel are beautiful, terrifying creatures who can control minds. For these reasons Fire finds it difficult to have normal relationships with humans, but finds a special friendship with a very ordinary horse named Small.

4. Rapunzel’s Chameleon Pascal from Tangled (movie)
Rapunzel’s little chameleon is both cute and comedic. I love little reptiles, so thoroughly enjoyed this interesting take on the companion animal.

5. Nausicaa’s Fox-Squirrel Teto from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (movie)
I love both squirrels and foxes and this is a little cartoon version of a fox-squirrel! Teto is tiny, often tucked into Nausicaa’s shirt, but a great little companion that sticks with Nausicaa during her adventures.

About She Dreamed of Dragons:

Trina is a fifteen-year-old dragon mage in a kingdom ruled by witches and wizards – the same people who have brought dragons and other magical creatures near extinction. Trina can barely control her fire powers and is desperate for an apprenticeship, but finding a fellow dragon mage to be her teacher is proving more difficult than coming across an actual dragon.

Then there’s the Royal Tourney – a competition presented by the Queen to find a successor to the throne. Trina heads to the competition in the hopes of sparking some interest in the mage society and earning herself an apprenticeship.

She never intended to be a frontrunner in the competition.

She never meant to catch the attention of the evil witch trying to take over the throne.

She never expected to fall for a wizard.

Now Trina must face tough decisions about who she is and who she could become. Trina must ask herself: Can she really win the Royal Tourney?

Purchase Links:

Amazon Kindle - US -

Amazon Paperback - US -

Mirror World Publishing -

Barnes & Noble -


Meet the Author:

Elizabeth J. M. Walker lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She has always loved books and writing. As a teen she discovered zines, which inspired her to publish her own litzine of odd fairy tales for over a decade.

She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel.

Connect with her on her website:

Follow the Tour - Schedule Posted at the Following Link:

Monday, 20 July 2015

3 Hats an Author Needs to Wear to Succeed…

Honestly, if I knew that it would take over fifteen years to become a published author I would have thought long and hard about whether I should go down that road less traveled. But I did. And the truth is that you can’t buy this experience. You digest it. You absorb it. You bleed it.

What I’ve learned in those fifteen plus years is worth more to me than any university degree I could ever earn. The skill of actually writing and crafting a book is such a process that it takes years to glean, and once completed no one can take that feeling of accomplishment away from you. NO. ONE. I’ve also learned that a writer must wear three different hats if he or she wants to succeed in this crazy writing business.

Hat #1: Asks what I am skilled at doing? I imagine this hat like a hard hat you’d wear at a construction site. This is information that you and you alone must discern. Use your natural abilities or skills that will serve you in your writing business. Good at blogging? Do it! Great at sharing information to help others achieve their dreams as well as your own dreams? Go for it! We can’t be good at everything. We just can’t! Understanding where your skills lie will help you tremendously when you seek publication or if you decide to go it alone.

Hat #2: Asks what do I enjoy doing? Yay! This is a fun hat! I imagine this hat looks like a jester’s cap with bells. Do what you love, love what you do. These are the tasks that you find rewarding. Plan a novel. Plan a whole book series. Write that first draft. Only you know what makes your heart beat faster and brings you joy, and once you figure that out then as cliché as this sounds, the world is your oyster.

Hat #3: Asks what can I uniquely contribute? This is a more serious hat for me—a fedora perhaps—business-like and serious. Do you want to write something of value to share with the world? Or just with family and friends? Will your books be useful (read: sell) in the marketplace? Do you have a business plan mapped out and ready to go to take your readers on fantastic journeys? In the end, it’s all up to you to determine what you can give, and how you want to go about doing it.

In dreams, hats represent the attitudes you show others most, your mental outlook, your various jobs, talents, personalities, and aspects of yourself. Hats reveal how you cover up or display what you really think or how you protect your ideas. So what kind of hats do you think you’d wear to succeed in the publishing business? Love to read your comments! Cheers!

Now, where did I put my jester’s cap…   

Monday, 13 July 2015

A Legendary Campfire Recipe...

In my upcoming release, Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series—my adolescent characters Lilith, her BFF She-Aba, and an annoying goat-herder named Tau are transported from the ‘Black Land’ through the seventh Arch of Atlantis, and travel back in time to Atlantis one hundred years before the continent’s final destruction. There, Tau finds that he has an insatiable taste for a strange, long yellow fruit he’s never seen before. Fortunately for us, this long yellow fruit—a.k.a. bananas—are readily available at our local markets, and used in some wicked-awesome recipes. The following recipe is great for families to bond over at campsites or even in their own backyards:

Campfire Peanut Butter-Banana Boat S’Mores

4 bananas, unpeeled
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
4 graham wafers, coarsely chopped
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup miniature marshmallows

HEAT barbeque to medium-high heat. If doing on campfire, make sure you have a grill over the pit and the fire has died down to coals.

MAKE deep lengthwise cuts along inside curve of each banana. Be careful not to cut through to opposite side. Place bananas on centers of 4 large heavy duty foil sheets.

OPEN bananas gently and spread evenly with peanut butter. Top with chopped wafers, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Fold foil to make 4 packets.

GRILL, filled-sides up, 8-10 minutes or until heated through. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packets.

TOO RAINY FOR THE BBQ? No problemo. Make it in the oven. Fill bananas and wrap in foil as directed. Bank in 350°F oven 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.

This is a definite family pleaser where the melty marshmallow classic meets the banana split in this ooey-gooey dessert that cooks in the peel. Too bad Tau couldn’t sample this yummy dish. But allow me to offer you a sample of what to expect in my newest time travel romp Legend of the Timekeepers set to be re-released this August 1st through Mirror World Publishing.

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her new-found friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

If you haven’t already checked out my young adult time travel read, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, here’s the blurb…

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. 

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

Monday, 6 July 2015

You’re Practically Grown Up…NOT!

Eighth-graders frequently seem confused about how grown up they are. And do you blame them? Not me. Twelve to fourteen-year-olds pay adult admission, and are about to make the giant leap into high school, yet they’re not allowed to drive or work. Bummer. Girls, already on the road in developing the forms and functions of grown women, deal with parents who one moment scold, “You’re practically grown up!” and then awhile later become hysterical when their princess ASKS about the ins and outs of dating. Boys, with their physical and sexual maturity just beginning to awaken, are suddenly surrounded by a horde of newly attractive and unnervingly gigantic girls. Yikes!

Most eighth-graders concerns are related to friends, family, and school. Honestly, it’s a social media nightmare at times. Are they going to be embarrassed? Will their BFF still be their friend tomorrow? Does he like me like me, or just like me? You get the drift.

So as a writer, how do you connect with such a tough audience, who’s not quite grown up, yet feel that all systems are go and are ready to wear bigger shoes? One way is to hook into their characteristics, and extract a much needed trait or a combination of traits to make your characters feel authentic to your readers. In order to do this, we need to take a look at what makes an eighth-grader tick.

Here are Eight 8th Grader Characteristics:

1. Can be touchy, and express anger easily.

2. Music is increasingly important to them, as is technology and the latest got-to-have gadget.

3. Sarcasm is a prevalent quality. (I use that one a lot!)

4. As their self-concept develops, they can be withdrawn or prone to challenging others. They struggle with a sense of identity.

5. Abstract reasoning skills are strengthening and expanding. 

6. May test limits and rules, but also develop ideals and choose role models.

7. Skin problems may be emerging, boys’ voices are changing, and girls are menstruating. Personal hygiene and self-confidence become issues.

8. May begin to experiment with sex and substances.

Remember, readers this age are looking for escape, to experience things they can’t in their own lives. Being attuned to how they think, and what they’re feeling is a step in the right direction to creating a story that will keep this age group turning page after page of your latest tween read!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Welcome to Atlantis…We’ve been expecting YOU!

Sweet Treats at my Book Launch
Hey everyone! I’m fresh off a seven day book blog tour and book launch, and want to express how grateful I am for all the support and kindness I’ve received in the last two weeks from family, friends, fellow authors, readers, and my publisher! I’ve had three incredible reviews ranging from 4 to 5 stars. Not bad for a re-release! If you’ve missed any of the reviews, check them out at BOOKAHOLIC FIX, BOOK BABBLE, and AUTHOR SANDRA LOVE. Thanks again to Amber Marr of Sapphyria’s Book Promotions for helping me garner those reviews and reaching new readers.

During the midst of all the craziness of launching a book, my new publishers at Mirror World Publishing, Justine and Murandy decided I should flex my acting wings and make a cameo appearance in the book trailer Murandy produced. Um. Who? Me act? Although it was fun, I think I’ll stick to writing and let the professionals handle the next book trailer. Kudos go to Brieanne, the young actress who shared the spotlight with me!

See what you think:

Okay, you can stop laughing now. No really. Stop…or I’ll send you to Atlantis. Wink. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

In the Limelight with YA Author Melanie Hooyenga…

I want to thank and welcome fantastic young adult author, Melanie Hooyenga for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Melanie’s last book in her Flicker Effect Trilogy, Faded can be purchased from Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: For a chance to win an ebook bundle of the Flicker Effect Trilogy please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview rolling…

How long have you been writing, Melanie?

I first started writing in middle school and wrote a lot of overly-emotional poems, songs, and short stories (didn’t we all?). I stopped writing creatively when I graduated from college and didn’t pick it back up again until I was in my 30s, while living in Mexico. When I was getting ready to move, a coworker said, “Now you can write the great American novel!” I think he was half-joking, but it’s what got me back to writing. It’s been eight years and I haven’t stopped since.

I believe we’re kindred spirits since I didn’t start writing until I was in my 30s too! 
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Faded?

Faded is the third book in my trilogy, the Flicker Effect, so I’ll answer this about the first book, Flicker. You know how when you’re driving on a sunny day, the sun filters through the trees and makes a strobe-like effect? Well that really messes with my eyes, to the point where I have to shield them in order to keep them open (and watching the road!). I experienced it while driving to see my gramma in the hospital in December 2009 and wondered, “what if there was a girl who when this happens, she goes back to yesterday?” The rest, as they say, is history.
I was working on another (unpublished) novel at the time so didn’t start writing Flicker until NaNoWriMo in 2010. When I first wrote it I didn’t plan for it to be a trilogy, but when I realized it had the potential for a series (plus series are very popular in YA) I wrote a one-page synopsis for Fracture and Faded. So while I didn’t write Faded until 2014, I knew how the series would end way back in 2012.

Great foresight, Melanie! What sets Faded apart from other books/series in the same genre?

Parents are often an after-thought in YA -- which makes sense since the story is about the teens -- but when parents ARE present, they’re often cruel, detached, or uncaring. Especially the fathers. That’s why I decided to make the dad in my series the most important person in Biz’s life. I wanted to show that even kids with loving, involved parents have very real struggles and face life-changing issues.

True that! Teen readers need those kinds of stories. As a YA author, what is your writing process?

I don’t have a set process for the actual writing, but I do for plotting and outlining. Writers are split between outliners and pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants), and I am firmly in the outliners camp. I cannot write a novel unless I know how it’s going to end. I don’t need to know all the in-between stuff, but it helps me to know what I’m writing towards. My outline is basically a sentence or two describing what happens in each chapter, so there’s a lot of freedom to change things along the way.

As for the actual writing, I aim for 1000 words per day, but if I only have time for 500, then I only write 500. I have a full-time day-job so I try to concentrate on moving the story forward rather than getting hung up on the numbers. When I’m on a roll, I can write 1000 words in 45-60 minutes, but as all writers know, some days the words just refuse to come.

Oh, I’ve had plenty of those days! How long did it take for you to start and finish Faded?

I wrote the synopsis for Faded in 2012, then outlined it at the beginning of 2014, but I didn’t start writing until the summer of 2014 because I was getting Fracture ready for publication. I finished the first draft on New Year’s Day and edited for five months. So start to finish was about a year, but the plotting had already happened.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Melanie?

There are two things I tell writers who are just starting out: try to write every day and set very low word-count goals. When I wrote my first novel I was in a group that had to write 100 words per day. 100 words is nothing. It’s barely a paragraph. Because it’s so short, it’s really hard to make excuses not to write it, and more times than not, once you’ve started, you keep going. And if you don’t, you’ve written 100 words and progressed the story. The worst thing for me is to go several days knowing I’m STILL on the same passage where I last left off. As you write more, you’ll learn what works best for you.

I think it’s important to read a lot in the genre that you write. That doesn’t mean you can’t read other genres, too, but you need to know what works, what doesn’t, and why. It also helps to eavesdrop on teenagers when you have the chance. ;)
Finally, just keep writing! This is a very solitary endeavor and it’s easy to let self-doubt take over, but there’s nothing like the feeling when you type ‘The End’.

Sage advice! What’s next for Melanie Hooyenga the author?

I’m glad you asked! I’m writing a new book that’s more light-hearted, romantic, and (hopefully) funny. Biz (from the Flicker Effect) is very sarcastic and tough on herself, so I have to remind myself to let this new character experience her emotions and wear her heart on her sleeve.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

The first thing that popped into my head was ancient Greece, but I think that’s because I’m craving feta cheese and kalamata olives. If I could go anywhere, I think I’d like to be around when women fought for the right to vote. I recently went through papers I wrote in high school and was surprised to see how strongly I felt about women’s rights. It’s always been an important issue for me, but I wrote a term paper on Title IX and a satire piece where, among other things, men weren’t allowed to speak until women had finished their thoughts. I think it would be inspiring to live in a time when women fought so passionately for a right we now take for granted.

Blurb for Faded:

Biz didn’t think life could get worse after the tragic events that surrounded her last flicker, but when she accidentally flickers on her eighteenth birthday after doing shots of vodka—she’s forced to face the consequences of her actions in a way she never imagined.

When an anonymous email threatens to reveal her secret, Biz must decide if flickering is all it’s cracked up to be, or if she needs to stop. Forever.

Book links:

Author Bio:

Melanie Hooyenga first started writing as a teenager and finds she still relates best to that age group. She has lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan with her husband Jeremy. When not at her day job as a graphic designer, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with Jeremy.

Connect with Melanie:

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