Monday, 31 July 2017

Guest Post: Romance Author Sloane Taylor Serves Up A Long Weekend Summer Feast...

Time to resurrect a Taylor family favorite, a long weekend feast everyone loves. We make the main meal, but friends and relatives arrive with appetizers, desserts, and the perfect adult beverages for all to enjoy. Below is our menu complete with recipes to serve on your next summer long weekend:

Barbecued Pork Ribs

Pork ribs, plan 1 slab for 2 people if you make all this food
Beer
Chicken stock
Barbecue sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s is my favorite

PREHEAT oven to 325°F

PLACE ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour in about a half inch of stock and the same amount of beer. Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake 1 – 1½ hours. You want the meat tender but not falling off the bone.

CAREFULLY remove ribs from pan to a cookie sheet. Discard cooking liquid. Spread barbecue sauce over ribs.

HEAT grill to medium. Carefully rub vegetable or olive oil onto the grates. Lay ribs on grate and grill 10-15 minutes turning once and basting with plenty of sauce.

Photo by tiverylucky
Hamburgers Sloane Style

Ground chuck about ¼ pound per adult
Ground sirloin about ¼ per two adults
Worcestershire Sauce
1 dash per adult
1 egg per
1 ½ pounds meat
chives snipped, fresh or jarred

BEAT egg lightly in a small bowl. Combine the meat, Worcestershire Sauce, and handful of chives into a mixing bowl. When the mixture is well combined, break off clumps of the meat and form balls. Set them onto waxed paper, then cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Use a cake plate or large soup bowl to press the meat into a patty the thickness you like. Refrigerate until ready to grill.

ON medium heat, cook patties until they are done to your preference. Be sure to turn only once.

USE any type roll that suits your fancy. Dress the burgers with ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato. You can also add cheese for the topping. If you do, then lay it over the burger a minute or two before the end of the cooking time.

My Mom’s Potato Salad

1 medium red potato per person
1 hardboiled egg for every 2 potatoes used
1 celery stalk for every 3 potatoes, chopped small
½ medium onion for every 3 potatoes chopped small
Pepper
Real Mayonnaise – NO substitutes

BOIL the potatoes in their jackets until fork tender. Remove from pot as they are done and allow to cool. While the potatoes are cooking, lay the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and place a lid on the pan. Bring to a full boil, then shut off the heat and allow to sit on the burner for 8 minutes. Peel, then slice in half widthwise and lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces. Set aside covered with plastic wrap or a paper towel to eliminate drying out.

COMBINE celery and onion in a large bowl. Grind in a healthy amount of fresh pepper. Stir in several large spoonfuls of mayonnaise. You have to gauge by the number of potatoes you use. Add eggs. Mix well.

SCRAPE the skins off the potatoes. Slice in half widthwise then lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces. Add two at a time to the mayo blend and mix well. Continue until all the potatoes are added. Check the salad for dryness. It should be moist but not swimming in mayo. Add mayo as needed. Taste for seasoning. You may need more celery and onion.

FOLD into a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Baked Beans

1 small can Bush’s Honey Baked Beans
1 small can Bush’s Homestyle Baked Beans
2 tbsp. dried mustard
2 tbsp. maple syrup - optional 2 strips bacon

PREHEAT oven to 325°.

POUR beans into a metal loaf pan or oven safe dish. Stir in mustard and syrup. Lay bacon strips on top. Bake in the center of the oven uncovered for 45 minutes or until desired consistency.

To cook on the grill:

HEAT grill to medium.

PREPARE as above, then place pan on top rack. Cook about 45 minutes or until desired consistency.

TO SERVE – discard bacon.

Sweet Corn on the Grill

1 ear fresh corn per person – do not remove husk
Water
Butter or margarine
Salt

POUR cool water into a container large enough to hold the sweet corn. Soak corn still in its husk at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours.

SET grill on medium high. Remove corn from the water and lay the ears on the grill. Roast until the husk is brown on that side, then turn and repeat the process. Total cooking time is about 20 – 25 minutes.

TO SERVE - peel back the husks. Roll the ears in butter or margarine, then sprinkle on a touch of salt, and enjoy!

Photo by khumthong
Snazzy Sliced Tomatoes

1 tomato per two people
Red wine vinegar
Garlic powder or fresh garlic minced
Fresh or dried chives

PREPARE this dish about an hour or so before serving.

SLICE tomatoes ½” thick and arrange on a serving plate.

DRIZZLE vinegar over the tomatoes, then dust with garlic powder or fresh garlic.

SPRINKLE plenty of chives across the top.

SET on the counter away from sun or heat to flavor through.

Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Summer Holiday ~ Sloane


Award-winning author Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and and good food are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes romances that takes you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives. Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Studly, her mate for life, and Sloane now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from city life. She is also an avid cook.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website . Check out her blog for more tasty recipes. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Welcome to the Magical World of Fairy Falls…

When I ‘built’ the mythical town of Fairy Falls over ten years ago, I drew from all of my childhood and adult experiences from vacationing and living in cottage country. When you think of a small, northern tourist town, what emotional cord does it strike? Vacationing with the family when you were young? Visiting your grandparents at their cottage? Camping in the backwoods with your friends? Whatever vision you conjure, I’m sure you have plenty of happy memories of that special place. That’s the basis of creating the town of Fairy Falls. I wanted to give my teen psychic mystery book series a nostalgic feeling coupled with a sense of adventure and…wait for it…the supernatural. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expected the unexpected.

Fairy Falls has always been a magical place, but for some reason it seems to be a haven for those with psychic abilities. In Lost and Found, the animals at the Fairy Falls Animal Shelter need a champion to save their shelter, and find one in rebellious Meagan Walsh, who’s a bona fide telepathic animal communicator. There are others with different psychic powers who have been (or will be) drawn to Fairy Falls, not to hide, but feel that they have been forced here by circumstances beyond their control. Or could it be a matter of serendipity that has brought them to this small, tourist town?

Fairy Falls is like any small town with a mayor, deputy mayor, and a selection of town counsellors. At the moment, Mike MacGregor is at the helm as this town’s mayor. Unfortunately, Mayor MacGregor is in mourning with the loss of his wife, Joy, who sat on as one of the counsellors for Fairy Falls. She was viciously attacked and murdered, and her killer is still at large. These characters are featured in the next installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, Blackflies and Blueberries.

There are four long weekends during the summer months, and Fairy Falls relies on these holidays to
Fairy Falls Festival
boost their economy enough to keep the town running all year round. The first long weekend is in May where firework celebrations dominate the skies. The second is at the beginning of July which includes more fireworks, street parties, and begins the farmers’ market season. The long weekend in August falls on the first Monday of the month, and is one of the busiest times of the year for Fairy Falls. Festivals are usually held during this long weekend, with the bathtub races in the Vista River as the highlight. 
The fourth is usually on the first weekend of September, when Fairy Falls hosts their famous fall fair which includes concerts, carnival rides, and a smash-up car derby. A word of caution: make sure you book a hotel/motel room or campsite early if you plan to come during these long weekends!

Lacrosse is very popular in Fairy Falls. Even the local high school has a winning team that’s hard to beat. Summer swells in population with the tourists and cottagers, so fishing, boating, water skiing, and tubing are favorite sports and past times. In the long winter months, hockey is the staple along with curling, as well as snowmobiling across the network of frozen lakes and trails. And believe me, you’d better have a sport or hobby to keep you busy during a Fairy Falls winter, because sometimes the ice doesn’t come off the lakes until May. Brrrr!

Downtown Fairy Falls
So what would I recommend tourists see or do in Fairy Falls? When we used to live in cottage country, we’d visit the local bakery in the tiny town five minutes south of us. The smell of fresh baking does something to a body. Sometimes it takes you back to when life was simpler. The downtown core of Fairy Falls hosts such a bakery, and is situated so you can sit at one of the ample tables beside the Vista River and enjoy your sweet treat, while watching the boats slowly putt by. Or better yet, book a boat tour to go on a three-hour cruise that takes you through a lock system, and into Blueberry Lake. Don’t forget to wave at Gertie Ellis if you catch a glimpse of her on the shoreline while she’s inspecting her blueberry bushes.

The Jester Burger
Other draws to this tourist haven include The Court Jester, the local bar and grill, serving up down-home, mouth-watering food that you can’t get anywhere else. I suggest you try their Jester Burger, topped with a slice of Canadian back bacon and pepper jack cheese, and piled high with onions, garlic, and mushrooms, all fresh from the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market. Add a pint of locally brewed Blackfly beer, and this meal will bring tears of joy to your eyes! Sit on the patio and enjoy the view of the Vista River where it may transport you to back to those good old days, and happy childhood memories. Oh, and make sure you don’t forget to stop by the Fairy Falls Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to score a deal from one of the crafters, produce, or food stands. Tell them Sharon sent you…

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Dunkirk Spirit: A Lesson from History By Carol Browne...


Let me begin by setting the scene …

The summer of 1940 finds the beaches around Dunkirk, France filled with hundreds of thousands of British troops trapped and with no hope of escape. Behind them is the vastly superior German army with its engines of war. Before them lies the cruel sea. Above them the relentless strafing of enemy aircraft.

Despite overwhelming odds, the men of the British Expeditionary Force and their Belgian and French allies fight to defend their positions but, with all escape routes blocked, a desperate retreat to the beaches and harbour at Dunkirk is the only option left.
The only thing these men want is to get to England, home, and safety. They placed their faith in the navy. Operation Dynamo has been set in motion to evacuate them, even though the transport ships and destroyers can only expect to have enough time to rescue about 30,000 troops. But soon, repeated attacks from the enemy’s aircraft block the harbour with sinking ships. The soldiers must be evacuated from the beaches. How is this possible in such shallow water?

What happened next will leave a permanent impression upon the British psyche, for when the call went out that small boats were needed to rescue the troops, a motley fleet of plucky ‘little ships’ chug its way across the Channel to bring the warriors home. They are motor boats, trawlers, paddle steamers, fishing smacks, lifeboats, barges, and other shallow-draught vessels. The majority of them are privately owned. Many are taken across by naval personnel, but an equal number are crewed by their owners and other civilians eager to stand by their country during its darkest hour.

Braving the combined onslaughts of the German army and air force, these civilians risk their lives again and again to take troops from the beaches and ferry them to the destroyers waiting in deeper water. Some of these boats will take thousands of men all the way back to England. Thanks to their efforts, a total catastrophe will be averted. It will be described by Winston Churchill as a “miracle of deliverance” and what takes place at Dunkirk from May 27th to June 4th, 1940, will live in the hearts and minds of the British people for many generations to come. At a time when Great Britain faces certain invasion, recovering over a third of a million troops has turned defeat into victory. The phrase “the Dunkirk spirit” is born.
****
The Dunkirk spirit. This is a phrase I have heard many times during my life. If you are British, it needs no explanation and yet as the event that created it moves further back in time, I fear that new generations would have no knowledge of it and an important part of my country’s heritage will be lost. I am delighted, therefore, to see that a new movie about Dunkirk is to release this summer. Not only will people much younger than me know about the Dunkirk spirit, but so will people of other countries, and a valuable historical lesson will continue to inspire us all.

What is the lesson? During these uncertain and divisive times, it resonates as much as ever. It shows us what we can achieve when we cooperate. It demonstrates how brave and selfless ordinary folk can be. We are all capable of far more than we know and when individuals work together for the common good, the tide will turn, and even in the most hopeless and desperate of situations, defeat can be transformed into victory. Because the Dunkirk spirit is the human spirit at its best and nothing can stand in its way.

Sharon here to bring you another true story of strength from the same war. Amazing what people can survive when they have spirit.


It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience. Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbr├╝ck Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links Dilliebooks - Amazon UK - Amazon US

Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Ready to learn more from those plucky Brits? Here's the official movie trailer for Dunkirk, released July 21, 2017:

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Cover Reveal: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman...


The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......


About the Book:

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Mirror World Publishing eBook Pre-Order Link:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback Pre-Order Link:

Amazon Pre-Order Link:  
http://amzn.to/2tpdL2x

Visit the Tour Hosts:
http://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/07/cover-reveal-spellhaven-by-sandra.html
Meet the Author:



Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with the Author:

Sandra’s Website:
https://sandraunermanwriter.com/

Sandra’s Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Unerman/e/B0034NS9VM

Goodreads Author Page:


Monday, 10 July 2017

Get Cozy this Summer with A Cause for Murder by HL Carpenter...

Our ladies are back with flair and a whole lot of pizzazz as they break out and embrace a new writing challenge in a new genre - Cozy Mystery. A Cause for Murder is entertaining and engrossing. I do hope this is just the first book in a long series.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.

Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.
The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT

It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.
The problem –

"I know what you’re thinking, Em," Arnie said.

"Do you?" She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

"Sure." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool."

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she'd been thinking about Jo?

"I’ll tell you how," he said. "Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her."

"I am not thinking about – Murdered?" The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. "By Todd?" 

"Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed."

"Arnie." Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. "The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning."

"Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used." Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, "Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics."

"They’re wrong."

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Monday, 3 July 2017

There’s no place like Canada…and Fairy Falls…

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! I have so many happy memories living in Canada, and I’m proud to call myself Canadian, though truth be told, I was born in Illinois, USA, so I’m what you call a dual citizen. Not fun around tax season, but that’s another blog post. Still, my heart and soul belongs in Canada, and now that we’ve passed our milestone 150th birthday (I was also around for the 100th birthday!), I want to share why I’ve set my new teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls in beautiful Canadian cottage country.
It began with what I knew based on the area where I was located at the time to create the fictional tourist town of Fairy Falls. You see, for over eleven years we lived on a small/medium-sized lake in the heart of cottage country. So I took in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, emotions, and feelings of this beautiful place, and added the challenges and obstacles of what it would be like for an uprooted teenager possessing a psychic ability to adjust to the day-to-day living in Fairy Falls. Meagan Walsh, the protagonist from Lost and Found tells us what she thinks of Fairy Falls right off the bat: “This town sucks!”, and she goes on to describe it as ‘a small, boring northern tourist town’. If only Meagan knew what life had planned for her in this magical place!
Indeed, Fairy Falls could be any small tourist town that you may have visited during your youth (or adulthood) that invokes happy memories and simpler times. I wanted these feelings to emerge for the reader, and make my characters realize that there truly is no place like Fairy Falls. The town itself hosts a number of stores, services, and inhabitants that you’d be familiar with when visiting any small, tourist town. There’s a real estate office, a general store, a combined pizza shop and laundromat, a small theatre, a coffee shop where the locals hang out, a restaurant and bar (where tourists hang out), a marina, an arena, schools, the police and fire stations, town hall, a handful of churches, and of course the animal shelter.

I actually envisioned Fairy Falls from what I remembered of a tourist town during the early 1970s, while we were visiting our neighbor’s cottage. This town has since grown, but some small cottage towns never grew much, and when major highways were built to take on more traffic, these towns were bypassed, and much of their economy suffered. Call it the pros and cons of progress, but I think much of the innocence was lost to those quaint, tourist towns when change was forced upon them.

I didn’t want to lose that ‘small, tourist town feeling’ when I created Fairy Falls. True, change is good, but there’s something about going to a tourist town and connecting with the people living there that somehow leaves you feeling better than you did before you arrived. I also wanted to be realistic in the fact that growth is a necessary part of life, and Fairy Falls will have to deal with all kinds of challenges that will create conflict and divide the residents, believing that they are doing what’s best for their hometown.

The psychic teenagers in each of my stand-alone books in the Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series will have their fair share of adversity and prejudice to deal with. They truly believe they’ve arrived in a place so foreign, so backward, that they try so hard to find a way to leave, only to realize in the end that Fairy Falls has been waiting for them to finally come home to themselves. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

Have you ever visited a small town while on vacation and felt at home there for some reason? Do you still think about a tourist town that continues to create happy memories for you? Would love to read your comment. Cheers, and as always, thank you for reading my blog!