Monday, August 29, 2011

Darlin' Druid by Lyn Horner

I don't usually post videos done to represent the work of others, but I finished reading Darlin' Druid while in the hospital.  Lyn has done a fine job of showing an amazing story with lots of twists and turns, vivid romance and sexual allure, along with characters you'll come to love and hate.  I was very impressed and highly recommend her book, which I'm sure, if you're like me, you'll be happy to know is part of the Texas Druid Series.

I was going to write a summary review, but the person who did the trailer for Ms. Horner did such a fine job of capturing the essence of the story, I decided to post it here today.  Do yourself a favor and check out Amazon for your own copy.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blog HopThursday

This is me, enjoying Blog Hop Thursday from An Alternative Read.  If you haven't discovered this lively group, I encourage you to check them out.  Sassy Brit has some fantastic ideas and she shares them.  Here's how it works:

A - Answer the weekly question on your own blog and publish it on Thursday.
L - Leave YOUR DIRECT blog post LINK on the Linky Tools Blog Hop Listing (found on An Alternative Read's blog). 
T - THURSDAYS Take a hop around the rest of the participants' blogs! 



This week's question:

Do you have a secret 'muse' or 'inspiration', one which you would be a little embarrassed about admitting when interviewed about your book (or future book!) or that you feel may affect people's perception of your book? Question provided by affiliate author David M. Brown   

Well, David, if you knew me, then you would know there is nothing secret about me.  My life is an open book and in the past decade of being an author and featured in countless interviews, I've probably revealed every aspect of my life.  I'm definitely not the futuristic type and I doubt anyone would read books stirred by the video games I watch my grandson play, unless they are into Lego Star Wars, Lego Cars, or Lego anything.  *smile*  I never know what type of book is going to be in my future because all but two of them have been totally created and driven by characters who pop into my head with a story to tell.  Who knows...maybe one day someone with a futuristic tale just might show up.  Wouldn't that be a switch?  Thanks for the interesting question.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love Westerns?

If you're like me and find delight in reading about the old west, the please mark you calendars and join me in September, right here on Dishin' It Out.  I've put out a call for my fellow Western Historical Authors to join me September 5-16th for a special theme blog-a-thon.  Put on your Stetson, spurs, and saddle up.  We're going to have a great time.

If you happen to be a "western" author and would like to join in, please leave a comment here or email me.  The more the merrier. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome, Kevin Craig


Why YA?


I’ve been writing young adult fiction for a while now. Summer on Fire was actually my first attempt. I started writing it for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2003. But after penning most of my first YA, I took a turn into the adult literary novel…and stayed there for several years. Not only did I stay there, I also shelved Summer on Fire unfinished. I found I wanted to write novels with young protagonists dealing with dysfunctional families and handling adult situations. So, though I continued to write from the perspective of young adult first person narrators, I took them into adult situations that just were not age appropriate for YA literature.

I don’t know how I came back to YA…and back to my shelved novel that eventually became published by MuseItUp Publishing. But I think it had something to do with following my reading preferences. A couple of years ago I decided I missed reading young adult fiction, so I dove back into it. I discovered I still loved it as much as I ever did. The more I read, the more I wanted to write for this market. The more I considered writing for the market, the more I wanted to dust off Summer on Fire and revisit it.

This is where my critique group came in handy! At the time, I hosted a once-a-month critique group in my home. There were eight of us. That meant seven sets of eyes to examine my unfinished shelved YA novel and give me feedback on it. They were extremely helpful. Along with pointing out some things that needed to be tweaked to improve upon Summer on Fire, they also urged me to forge ahead and get it submission ready. In other words, they liked it. I was told that YA was my market and that my voice was best suited for it. And since I never trusted my own opinion of my writing abilities, I decided to listen to my critique group. I simply moved forward with the story, and later with a series of edits based on the feedback I received from my circle.

So though I always knew I loved YA, and I felt most comfortable writing for this market, I never quite trusted my ability to do so. I have to thank my writing group for pushing me through the door. For insisting that Summer on Fire was worthy of publication in the YA market. Sometimes you need a little nudge to get to the place you feel most comfortable being in. That place for me, as a writer, is the YA market. I’m so glad I received that push. Without it, Summer on Fire would probably still be gathering dust. And the encouragement I received from my group to continue to write for this market helped me to complete my second YA novel, the contemporary/paranormal Half Dead & Fully Broken, which is now in the hands of my agent.

When a writer follows their bliss as a reader, they should realize that their writing bliss might just fall into that same place. It took me a while to realize I should write what I read, but once I discovered it there was no turning back. “Write what you know” was discarded for the more appropriate, “Write what you love”. And that’s why I write YA.




PRAISE FOR SUMMER ON FIRE:

“This book was absolutely fantastic. I can already see that this will be making the round among family and friends. It tells a great story and for many that I know, it will likely evoke memories of a different time because of the wonderful attention to detail. I’m very glad to have had the chance to read this.”

“Really, I just loved everything about this novel. Summer on Fire is a great summer read, and I couldn’t put it down.”

“The story is very visual and painted a vivid picture of the characters and locations. It also has a great message about loyalty, friendship and contrition without being obvious or preachy. I’ll be recommending this to both my teenage children! Great job, Kevin! I can’t wait to read the next one.”


About Summer on Fire:
Zach Carson is a loyal friend. But is loyalty enough to keep best friends together when one of them sets fire to the rural barn they use as the local hangout? Zach, Jeff Barsell and Arnie Wilson struggle to pick up the pieces when news spreads that a body was discovered in the burnt out shell of the neighbouring home. When the word murder is used by the local police, the stakes grow even higher. When the police start searching for their most likely suspect—none other than Jeff’s older brother, and nemesis, Marty Barsell—the boys decide to join forces and come up with a way to prove his innocence. But just how innocent is Marty Barsell? When Marty admits to being at the scene of the crime, the three friends enlist the help of Zach’s annoying sister, Sherry, as well as the sympathetic town eccentric, Ms. Halverton. But can they keep it together long enough to save Marty, and themselves, from imminent catastrophe? Summer on Fire is the story of friendships, and the lines we are asked to cross in order to keep them.

Kevin’s Website: www.kevintcraig.com

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome, Lindsay Below to YA week!


Lurkers by Lindsay Below

I’m a bit of a nerd, in that I love to learn. I choose books based on entertainment value, but those which also offer a bit of knowledge I didn’t know (such as a historical book in a time period I’m not intimate with) get fast-tracked to the front of my TBR pile.

So is it any surprise that when I sat down to write Lurkers, I added real science into the plot?

Before you roll your eyes and exit the page, let me assure you that it’s worked seamlessly into the plot. I promise, it’s nothing like Moby Dick, with dissertations on the anatomy of leviathans every second chapter. In fact, the science in Lurkers is pivotal to the plot. Why? Because the book is a science fiction.

If you’re thinking of space ships and laser guns, I’m sorry to disappoint you (although Jackson does, at one point, invent a laser gun). This is a looser definition of science-fiction… or perhaps you could say a stricter one. You see, the entire plot is predicated on a made-up chemical reaction which happened in Earth’s atmosphere. The result: that everyone over eighteen “disappeared” into thin air. This reaction also left some clues, for Jackson Sullivan, a 15-year-old genius, and his not-so-sidekick Kayla to figure out. Below is a never-before-seen excerpt showing some of the science incorporated into the book.

If you’re a lover of science like myself, please visit me at http://lbelow.blogspot.com. This month, I’m hosting an August Science Fest, where I not only discuss the science behind Lurkers, but also host many interesting guests talking about a myriad of other scientific topics. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

If you like your fiction mixed with a bit of science, learn more about Lurkers at http://bit.ly/LurkersBook. It’s available in both print and ebook! Or you can download the Teacher’s Guide, dissecting all the science and other facts incorporated into the book, for free at http://bit.ly/LurkersForTeachers.

Tell me, are you a science geek like me?

Read on for the promised excerpt:


Lurkers Blurb:

To say Kayla is bad at science would be a colossal understatement. So why does she carry the responsibility to figure out what went wrong? In the blink of an eye, everything she knows has changed. Her parents -- along with the rest of the adults in Toronto -- have disappeared, leaving her saddled with her whiny little brother.

Luckily, she meets Jackson Sullivan, a fifteen-year-old scientific genius bent on finding out what happened. But he wants her help. How is she supposed to help sort out all this science stuff when she can barely pass her tenth grade science class?

As Jackson’s sidekick? Not in a million years.


Lurkers Excerpt:

Jackson bent over his worktable, examining two devices at the far end. He glanced up as she stepped fully into the basement and waved her over. “Come here. Let me show you something.”

He lifted one of the devices. “These are Geiger counters.” He pointed to the dial he held. She couldn’t understand it at all. The name was vaguely familiar, but nothing else rang a bell. She waited for him to continue. He adjusted his glasses. “They measure radiation—gamma rays, beta rays, alpha rays.” He shot a glance at her, and when he saw that she didn’t understand, he sighed. Clearly, he knew what he was talking about. She struggled to get a good mark on her tenth grade science tests; he could probably teach the course. “You don’t know what those are,” he muttered.

It was true, she didn’t. She waited for him to explain, but from his tone, she was a little more on guard.

“Well, the sun gives off a lot of them. Too much of the bad sort of rays gives you cancer—but that’s UV radiation, not decay radiation, so it doesn’t matter. Point is, look at that.” He tapped the device. “It’s gone crazy since just about midnight last night. And the ‘earthquake’—I’m sure you felt it—”

She nodded, even though he wasn’t really looking at her.

“Well, first of all, I’m not so sure that’s what happened. I was halfway down the stairs when I felt it, and by the time I reached the floor, it didn’t feel like the ground was shaking—but anyway, it measured 4.1 on the Richter scale. I recorded the measurements over there,” he said, flapping his hand to his computer desk.

She sighed in relief the moment he said the word Richter. At least she knew what that was. It measured earthquakes. But...to be honest, she didn’t know how it worked. It could be a measurement out of five, or it could be out of a hundred. Josh was still inspecting the toy cars. He didn’t seem to care about what Jackson was saying.

She turned back to him, cringing even as she asked the question. “Is that bad?”

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “Oh my....” He let out his breath, slowly, as if he was praying for patience. She balled her fists. She wasn’t that stupid. She still managed to get good grades in most subjects, but science was her sore spot.

When Jackson met her gaze again, he explained calmly, as if she was two years old, “It’s not the biggest earthquake ever recorded—that was 9.5 in Chile, 1960—but it’s about the size of a small atomic bomb going off.”

Kayla thought she felt her heart stop beating for a moment. Then it started again with a vengeance, throbbing in her ears until she nearly winced. She swallowed. “An a-atomic bomb? Why aren’t we all dead?”

Even Josh raised his head, his eyes wide.

“No, no, no, no.” Jackson pinched the bridge of his nose. “I said it was comparable to an atomic bomb. An atomic bomb didn’t go off.” Josh returned to what he was doing, clearly losing interest in the conversation. Jackson continued, “The ‘earthquake’ we felt was about the size of the earthquake we would feel if a small atomic bomb was detonated underground.

Kayla’s brow furrowed as she thought about it. Finally, she shook her head. “I don’t get it. What happened?”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome, Kim Baccellia to YA Week


YA Summer Finds

Not only do I write YA novels but I love to read the books too.  I call it research.  So yes, I end up immersing myself in the YA market by not only reading books but watching TV programs.  I thought I’d share some finds I’ve found so far this summer. 

TV Shows


NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING


Loving this fantasy of a girl who finds out after she is killed that she isn’t human after all.  Problem is there’s others that want her to stay dead permanently.  If that’s not bad enough she finds she can never kiss a human or they die.  She’s assigned protectors who look after her, including the arrogant cutie that falls for her.  But the one guy she really wants just happens to have his own secret.  Chloe is adorable and very likeable.  A must watch series.





TEEN WOLF


This series is nothing like the 80s movie with Michael Fox.  This teen is bitten by an Alpha wolf which turns him into a werewolf.  He’s crushing on the new girl at his school but any intense emotions turn him into a werewolf. Not a good combo. The new girl’s family has a secret that just happens to include being werewolf slayers.  Last week’s episode had me on the edge of my seat!


THE LYING GAME


Want to check out this series which is by the author who also wrote PRETTY LITTLE LIARS.  A girl finds out she has a twin who wants to switch places with her.  Then all heck breaks loose.


Books

SOLSTICE


Think dystopia meets the Greek Underworld.  I can’t say enough great things about this book that has two hotties that sizzle on the page. Both are gorgeous and trying to get the attention of Piper. Don’t you wish you had that problem?  Loved this book and what’s great about this is it’s an ebook and available for $2.99!











ULTRAVIOLET


This story combines a girl with a sensory issue with a paranormal/Sci-Fi element which works.  I love the rich details that bring Alison’s world to life.













LUMINOUS

Someone suggested I read this book.  I love the Latina protagonist who’s strong and confident even after she sheds her skin.  This is a surreal fantasy with beautifully written passages.  A must read.









And if you love paranormals with a twist check out my own book: CROSSED OUT


It’s now available at Fictionwise:
http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b124691/Crossed-Out/Kim-Baccellia/?si=0

Anyone else know of any other YA finds from this summer?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who Is Jennifer Taylor?

My guest today, Barbara Ehrentreu, was a no-show, but I suspect it's because her hubby has been ill and she has her hands full.  I've taken the liberty of "hijacking" information from another site so you'll not miss out on her wonderful new YA release, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor.


  

Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was inspired by Paula Danziger. Barbara is a NY Literature Examiner for Examiner.com with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com/, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children's story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She writes book reviews for Authorlink.com. and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

Carolyn Samuels’ freshman year becomes a series of lies to cover Jennifer Taylor’s terrible secret in return for popularity.

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a Math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain.With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky Junior quarterback Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. After Jennifer’s the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to sleep over to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and become popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is offered at Muse It Up Publishing.  Pick up your copy today.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Welcome YA Author, Jo Ramsey


Writing young adult fiction isn’t easy. I’ve heard from people who believe it’s easier than writing “real” fiction, or who think that it’s simple because “you’re writing for kids.”
Wrong!
First of all, young adult is real fiction. I’ve read young adult novels with plots much more complicated than what I’ve seen in adult fiction. Some books deal with issues that adult fiction doesn’t touch. And as for writing being simple because it’s for kids? Trust me, teenagers don’t want “simple.” They want something realistic and authentic. They’re looking for stories that catch their attention and keep it, and for characters that sound like real teenagers even if they’re being written by a forty-one-year-old.
I’ve seen some authors of adult fiction say that they plan to write a young adult novel, and that it won’t be hard because they just have to make the characters younger than the ones they usually write. Wrong again. Teenagers are more than just “younger than adults.” Their brains work completely differently from adult brain. (I’m not just saying that; it’s science.) They have their own subcultures that may or may not have anything to do with the adults around them. They talk and think differently from adults, and if you take an adult character and say he’s fifteen just so you can call your book young adult, teens will notice. And they won’t be happy about it.
I’ve been writing young adult fiction since I was a young adult myself. I wrote my first book-length manuscript—longhand in a spiral notebook; I didn’t even own a typewriter at that point, and this was before computers were widely available—at age twelve, and wrote nineteen more from then until I graduated from college. I haven’t forgotten what being a teenager is like, but that doesn’t mean I rely on my own memory to create convincing young adult characters.
I taught in high schools for a number of years, which gave me an opportunity to observe teens in the wild, so to speak. And now, even though I no longer teach, I have a 16-year-old daughter, and she and her friends are more than happy to give me “teen tips”, and to tell me when my characters just aren’t cutting it.
Not all of my characters are typical teenagers, though. Jonah Leighton, one of the main characters in my Reality Shift series, is a sixteen-year-old boy chronologically, but he talks and thinks like a centuries-old guru. He’s what you might call an “old soul.” But that’s part of his character, and the teens who have given me feedback on him like him better than “normal teen” Shanna Bailey, the other main character. They don’t mind that Jonah doesn’t sound like a typical teen because he isn’t supposed to, and because that’s a consistent part of him.
If you’re curious about how well I do in writing books for young adults that young adults will actually enjoy, please check out my Reality Shift series and my series The Dark Lines, both urban fantasy series available from Jupiter Gardens Press. http://www.jupitergardens.com. Currently books one through four of Reality Shift are out. Book one of The Dark Lines is out, with book two coming in September.
To find out more about me, including my Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube links, check out my website at http://www.joramsey.com.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

  

I had planned to share more of Searchers with you, but because I'm hosting Young Adult authors for the next few days, I'm kicking off the event with six sentences from my own, Shortcomings.  Yesterday, I visited a "Safe Home" for women and children and spoke with one of the counselors there.  Because my grandson, Spencer, is autistic, bullying and mistreatment have become topics of great interest.  I'm planning to use the study guide I created for my book to talk to middle and high school students, and if I can stop one person from being abused, then I will have accomplished something special.  If I could go back in time and do things differently when I was a young person, I would flash back in the blink of an eye.  I'm haunted by the young man who rode my same bus...the person who committed suicide because he was bullied every day.  It was easy to turn a blind eye to avoid becoming a target myself, but I often wonder if I had spoken up, moved over and let him share my seat, or just given him a smile, if things might have been different. Maybe if  we thought about what we said before we said it, someone's ego might not suffer.  In proof, I offer the first six from Shortcomings:


“Hey, gimpy, wanna race. Amidst a gathering of her groupies, pep squad captain, Sally Rogers, yelled at Cindy Johnson from across the street. Sally fanned her shoulder-length auburn hair back from her face and stood with one hand on her curvy hip. If you win, maybe Ill buy you something new to wear.
Her taunting tone ate at Cindy, but she refused to respond. Sagging against the tree at the bottom of the hill leading home, she wished she could sprint the distance to escape the piercing stares and haunting laughter. 

You can join in the fun of Six Sentence Sunday by clicking the link and finding the names and urls to more participating authors.  There's a bunch of 'em.   Oh, and if you like what you read, Shortcomings is available from Muse it Up Publishing or on Amazon.com.  Although it's advertised as Young Adult, it's suitable reading for all ages, and I believe the message it delivers is important.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writing is a Learning Journey

I started my writing journey in 2002 and my first novel was published in 2003.  I thought it was awesome, but several years later, after many editing sessions and learning through critique groups and on-line classes, I shuddered when I read the finished product and realized the amateur mistakes I'd made.  Luckily, when my contract expired, I took my rights back and reworked the book, improving it.  Is it perfect?  No.  I still find things I wish I would have known and changed, but every book I write is better than its predecessor.

I highly recommend critique groups to help you hone your work and reviewing the writing of others has helped me immensely.  No, I'm not a know-it-all, but I sure recognize problem areas in books, and often wonder why their editors didn't suggest changes.  One I'm reading right now has me scratching my head over that very thing.  The story is very interesting and the author writes with great descriptions, but because I read with an editorial eye, I can't get past what I consider problem areas. 

Several would disagree with me, but one publisher limits the amount of "internal" thoughts an author can use, and I understand why.  My first manuscript was fraught with them, but when i re-read the book, I realized switching from third to first person on a regular basis pulls the reader out of the story.  My preference is to have the internal thoughts posed as questions for the reader to ponder.  See which you prefer:

 I thought he was going to kiss me.  He's good with the girls, and I think he likes me, but he does seem worried about something.

 Her heart raced with hope he'd kiss he but he didn't. She earned only brief hug on his way out the door.  He'd been so good with the girls and acted as though he truly liked her, but he seemed preoccupied. Should she worry?

IMHO, the flow is much smoother.

A second pet peeve for me is using unnecessary adverbs.  Why not just use stronger verbs?  For example: She ate her pancakes hungrily.  How about she devoured her pancakes?  Or...The dog barked viciously.  I'd prefer to have you show me the vicious dog.  The dog bared his teeth and growled deep in his throat.  The fur on his back stood on end.  Better?

My most recent lesson learned deals with eliminating needless verbiage and insulting the reader's intelligence. *smile*  If we, as authors, do our job, we put the reader into the character's POV, therefore it's unnecessary to continually indicate who watched, felt, sensed, saw, etc.  Example:  She watched him pour a drink.   If we've been in her POV, then it stands to reason she's watching what he does, so he can just pour a drink.  He meandered to the bar and poured himself a drink.  Another example:  She felt the cold air on her bare arms.  How about showing the reader?  Goosebumps peppered her bare arms.  She embraced herself against the cold air.

There's a rule in writing called RUE=resist the urge to explain.  Readers are intelligent and little things like "to him, at her, for him" are easily figured out. Example:  He read the article aloud to her.  If they are the only two in the room and he's reading aloud, then I think you get my drift.  Seems petty, but these are the things that jump out at me.

 I learned to eliminate"that" from many sentences because it's unneeded.  He knew that she would feel insulted.  He knew she would feel insulted, or even better, if at all possible, eliminate the "he knew."  Of course, she'd feel insulted if he...  Put the reader into the story and let him/her figure it out.  It shouldn't be difficult. 

Word echoes show laziness.  Instead of using the same word over and over, consult your thesaurus and find something different.  No one likes redundancy.  Of course sometimes, using the same word over again is used for dramatic effect, and that's perfectly okay.

I've listed a few problem areas here.  Feel free to list your pet peeves in the comment area.  This is all about learning, and good authors never stop.  Teach me something new so I can pull out the rest of my hair.  :)


  


Friday, August 12, 2011

Donuts, Anyone? How About Love Delivery?


Title: Love Delivery
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Author: Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Hi everyone, my name is Ann. I’m the main character in Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz’s contemporary romance, Love Delivery.

While I wouldn’t say life has been good to me, I am divorced after all, I can’t complain.  I live alone with my cat, Mittens, and I work a short bus ride away from my apartment at a great little independent donut shop.  I’m the day manager, so I start really early.  I have to make sure all the fresh-made donuts are in the trays and fresh coffee is ready for the first customers of the day.

I don’t exactly consider myself gorgeous, what with my pear-shaped body and all, but I get by.  There is a real hunk of a delivery guy, Tom, who comes to the shop on a regular basis. He and I talk and joke a lot.  Sometimes I think he feels like I’m the little sister he never had.  Still…

Guess you’ll have to read Love Delivery to see where my life takes me.

Today, though, I want to share one of the baker’s recipes for making donuts.  First, the ingredients:

2 packages of active dry yeast (or if you use the jar, check the label for the equivalent amount)
¼ cup warm water (around 105 to 115 degrees)
1 ½ cup lukewarm milk…  I like who milk best.
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter (or shortening, but I love butter)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart of safflower or peanut oil for frying (Olive oil can’t handle the really high heat you need to fry the donuts)

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir gently, and let sit about 5 minutes.

Put the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, butter, and two cups of flour into a large mixing bowl.  I like to use my heavy-duty mixer.  Mix at a low speed for about two minutes.  Continue mixing at the low speed and slowly add ½ cup of flour at a time until the batter pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  If you’re using a mixer with a dough hook, switch to the dough hook.  If not, remove the batter from the bowl.  Knead for five minutes, either with dough hook or by hand on a floured surface.  Put the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover with a linen towel, and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until double in bulk.

Remove from bowl.  Put on floured surface.  Roll to ½ inch thick.  Using either a glass dusted on the edge with flour or a donut cutter, cut circles from the dough.  If you use the glass, you will need to cut out the center, or depress with your thumb or a spoon.

Now you’re ready to fry.

Use a large pot.  Put in the quart of oil.  The oil needs to be deep enough that your batter will be covered.  Place the pan over high heat and bring to 325 degrees F.  Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.  Lower the heat and maintain 325 degrees.  If the temperature drops, raise the heat a bit.

When the oil is ready, use a long-handled slotted spoon to immerse the donuts, one at a time, into the oil.  Be sure you don’t crowd the pot.  When they turn golden brown, they’re ready.  Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to cool.

While they are still slightly warm, roll in confectionary sugar, dip in melted chocolate, or drizzle with icing.  You can also add sprinkles.

I know donuts aren’t very healthy, so I don’t eat them very often.  Working in the donut shop, I quickly learned I don’t want to eat too many.  Amazing how those extra pounds seem to gather around my hips when I indulge my sweet tooth.

Be sure to leave your name and email address to be entered into a drawing for a free short romantic story.

For those who would like to follow Penny's tour, here's the schedule:


LOVE DELIVERY BLOG TOUR – Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, MuseItUp Publishing
July 29 -- Lin Holmes, http://linsownblog.blogspot.com/ 
August 12 – Ginger Simpson, http://mizging.blogspot.com/ 
August 13 -- Elaine Cantrell, http://elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/
August 14 -- Janie Franz, http://janiefranz.wordpress.com/ 
August 15 -- Joanne Tropello, http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/blog.html
August 16 -- Long and Short Reviews, http://www.longandshortreviews.com
August 17 -- Nicola Sheridan, http://www.magicalgains.blogspot.com/  
Long and Short Reviews: http://www.longandshortreviews.com chatting on their forum
August 18 -- Su Halfwerk, http://www.suhalfwerk.blogspot.com   
August 19 -- Lin Holmes, http://linsownblog.blogspot.com/  
August 20 -- Janice Seagraves, http://ladyjanice.blogspot.com/  
August 21 -- Joylene Butler, http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/
August 22 -- Roseanne Dowell, http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com/  
August 23 -- Tina Donahue, http://www.tinadonahue.com/blog/
August 25 -- Marva Dasef, http://mgddasef.blogspot.com/
August 29 -- P.L. Parker, http://www.plparker.blogspot.com 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bloghopping Day - Cat fight between Eras

Question for Thursday's Blog Hop:  What does the Great American novel mean to me:

I suppose when I think of that term, the names of books written ages ago come to mind--names that have been drilled into my head, and most I didn't even enjoy except for Gone with the Wind.  I think it's the Great American novel concept that stirred most of us to try to write something better--something to replace Catcher in the Rye.  OMG...I hated that book in high school.  *lol*  So...excuse me while I talk about one of my own Great American novels.  *lol*  Put on your thinking cap.

Imagine minding your own business then finding you'd been propelled through time, awaken in a body that isn't yours, and come face-to-face with a handsome man who calls you darling and assumes you're his wife.  Besides dealing with all the radical differences presented by being in a time and place strange to you, you now have to try to convince this so-called 'husband" that you aren't who he believes you to be.

Mariah, a pioneer wife from the 1880 Colorado Territory, awakens in a modern day hospital, hooked to machines that beep and buzz and is confused by all the strange gadgets surrounding her:  A bed that goes up and down at the touch of a finger, the woman who keeps pressing a flat disk on the inside of her arm while pumping the air out of her veins, that strange black box hanging in the corner that someone calls a TV.  What has happened?

Taylor, a modern-day, feisty female attorney, regains consciousness in a bedroom straight out of Bonanza.  Why can't the stranger who keeps calling her "honey" steer her to the nearest phone so she can call taxi?  More so, why does he pretend he doesn't even understand what she means.  And who dressed her in such horribly passe clothing?  The last thing she remembers is driving her Lexus to work.

Here's a peek at an interview I posted some months ago:


Today, through the power of the pen…okay, the computer keyboard, I’ve been able to bring together my two heroines from Sisters in Time.  I thought it might be interesting to the readers of this time-travel to hear from each lady personally about her thoughts on waking up in a new and strange era.  We’ll start first with Mariah Cassidy, our pioneer wife and mother of two children then go to our modern-day attorney, Taylor Morgan.

Ginger:  “Good Morning Mariah.  It’s very nice to have you here.  A reader can only imagine how strange it was to start off on a trip to town for supplies and awaken in another time and place. Tell us how you felt about it.”

Mariah: *runs her hand down her long gingham skirt and sits a little straighter on her stool.  “It’s very nice to be here, although it does bring back some frightening moments.  *glances around at all the equipment and leans back to study the cylinder-like mike.*

Ginger:  “Tell us a little about what happened the morning you woke up in 20th century Colorado.”

Mariah:  “There isn’t much I recall except packing a lunch for the trip and waiting for Frank to bring the wagon around.  The children and I had already done most of the chores indoors and were ready to go.” *sighs*

Ginger:  “Go on….”

Mariah:  “The last thing I remember is stopping next to a boulder so our son could… well you know.  A nest of rattlesnakes spooked the team and I reckon I was thrown off the wagon seat and hit my head. Frank did the best he could to manage the horses—”

Ginger:  “I’m sure it was a frightening moment for everyone, but tell us how you felt when you opened your eyes for the first time after the accident.”

Mariah:  *grasps her throat* “Scared.  There I was in some big ol’ bed, in a room filled with strange contraptions—like in here. *gestures to speakers and control panel* “I had a tube in my throat, couldn’t talk, and a man I didn’t recognize at all sat by my bedside constantly and called me Taylor.  I swear, you don’t have any idea how exasperating it is not to be able to speak.  I had no idea then who Taylor was or why he thought I was her.”  *turns and smiles at Taylor, seated next to her*

Taylor:  “Well it wasn’t any picnic waking up in your archaic bedroom with your pesky husband bugging me, either.”

Mariah:  “Pesky?”

Taylor: “Yes, pesky.  The man wouldn’t take my word that I wasn’t his wife.  And how you lived back then with no cell phones, hair dryers or nail salons, I have no idea.  *Bends her knuckles and examines her manicure*

Mariah:  *swivels on her stool* “Your husband was insistent, too.  I must have told him a thousand times my name wasn’t Taylor.  It wasn’t bad enough that I had to be in a hospital for such a long time, I couldn’t believe the… the tacky clothes he brought and actually expected me to wear them to your house.  I have doilies that cover more.

Taylor:  “You wouldn’t know style if it was forced on you…and it was.  Those things hanging in your… your armoire are a far cry from New York’s fashion center.  I couldn’t tell the difference between your daytime and nighttime wardrobe.”

Ginger:  “Ladies, ladies, we’re getting off track here.  Let’s get back to the interview.  Taylor, tell us about your first impression… in a kind way if you don’t mind.

Taylor:  “Can you imagine landing in a space in time where words like taxi, phone, radio, and Lexus don’t make any sense?  I felt like I came from Mars and spoke a totally different language.  Frank, Miss Priss’ husband, got frustrated with me.  How is that my problem?”

Ginger:  “It must be alarming to wake up in a place totally strange and then have to be without the usual comforts.”

Mariah: “It’s equally as frightening to wake up in a place full of gadgets you know nothing about.  I almost fainted when the basin in Taylor’s kitchen growled at me.  And I had no idea that ice boxes had come so far.  Frozen meat, sodas, and that little device that opened cans all on its own?  My goodness. Who could ever imagine such wonders. *Stops and smiles* I tell you what though; I’ll never be able to describe the thrill of flying.

Ginger:  “That’s right.  You flew in an airplane, didn’t you?”

Mariah: “Yes, David arranged for me to have that most wonderful experience.

Taylor:  *Her face red, her jaw tense*  “What other wonderful experiences else did David arrange for you?  Did you sleep with my husband?

Mariah:  *Lowers her gaze* “Not of my own will.  Remember, he kept insisting I was you.  *turns accusing eyes to Taylor*  “Well, you slept with my husband!”

Taylor:  “It’s not my fault.” *Hands on hips*

Mariah:  “Then whose fault is it?”

Taylor:  “I didn’t write the story, Ginger did. I was on my way to work, minding my own business when she dragged me into her plot.  It’s her fault.”

Mariah:  “Yeah, it is her fault.  Frank never would have thought of sleeping with someone else. We were perfectly happy until she dreamed up this combination time-travel historical. *cast a stony gaze at Ginger*

Ginger:  *checks her watch*.  “Oh dear, we’ve suddenly run out of time.  This has been very interesting, but we’ll have to say goodbye for now.  All I can say in closing is Sisters in Time is available now.  Visit http://www.eternalpress.biz or amazon.com.  Thanks for joining us.  I’ll be back next time with a book that features only one heroine.

P.S.  Don't have any idea why more authors aren't participating in the blog hop.  It happens every Thursday and all you have to do is put your name on the "linky tool" on the site.  Find the site link in the first sentence of this post, then go and add your blog.  Answer the question of the day, then do whatever else you'd like.  Sassy Brit puts a lot of effort into helping us promote our work.  Don't let it go to waste, especially when it's free.  *smile*

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Odessa Clay from Odessa

Here's the mental image:  You're young, motherless, and live with your father in a town that's becoming all too crowded with outlaws and other undesirables.  Your father wants more for you, so he sells the family home and the two of you set off for Phoenix to find your only surviving relative--Aunt Susan, your late mother's sister.  Pa has marriage on his mind for you one day soon, but the idea disgusts you. Image traveling via buckboard through the heat of the desert, only to find yourself alone and frightened beyond belief.  Here's the first chapter:

Odessa Arizona Territory 1880
Chapter One

Odessa Clay struggled to lift the overturned wagon off her fa- ther. Her muscles burned and splinters dug into her palms, but Papa’s ashen face and eyes squinting with pain inspired her deter- mination. She bit her bottom lip and struggled to stay calm.

“God, please help me,” she muttered through clenched teeth, as she pushed, shoved, and lifted with every ounce of strength she had left. The veins in the backs of her hands bulged, but the wagon didn’t budge. At one hundred pounds and barely five feet tall, she proved no match for solid wood. Her chest heaved and each breath took effort. She brushed sweat-dampened hair from her brow and knelt. All her struggling had only succeeded in set- ting the left rear wheel into a slow spin and creating an eerie whirring in the silence.

“Hold on, Papa. I’ll find some way to help you.” Her nails bit into her fisted palms.
His pale features contorted, and fear clutched her heart. She rose and stared up and down the trail. Nothing stirred except the hot wind that whipped her long hair into tangles and sent a dust funnel swirling in the distance.

Turning her attention back to her father, she again attempted to lift the wagon’s cumbersome weight and failed.

“Can anyone hear me?” She screamed the words as she searched the trail again.

The dirt road unfurled like a brown ribbon between the ex- panse of cactus and sagebrush. Odessa, refusing to let her father see her hopelessness, blinked back tears. Anger heated her blood. This was all her fault. First her mother died giving birth, and now her father was dying because of her. He wanted her to have a woman’s influence in her life—have more opportunities. Their trip had gone smoothly until Papa failed to see a treacherous spot in the trail in time for the team to avoid it. The same wheel that spun now had been the one that slipped into a ragged rut and tipped the wagon over. She’d jumped clear, but her father remained pinned beneath the sideboard from the waist down. The accident snapped the harness rigging, and the animals ran off. What she wouldn’t give for one to wander back right now.

She rushed to the other side and pulled with all her might on the front wheel. Praying for strength, she gritted her teeth and tugged until splinters from the prickly-wooded spoke tore into her flesh. There was nothing she could do. The wagon wouldn’t shift.

Something stung above her left eye and she swiped her knuck- les across the spot. Blood mixed with the dirt on her hand and created rust-colored mud. She wiped the stain on her sleeve and scanned the area for something to use for leverage. Her father had often lifted things by using a piece of wood or a log from a fallen tree. She hitched up her skirt and traipsed through sparse knee- high weeds, praying to find something—anything.

“Stay with me, Papa, I’m looking.” She cast another hopeful glance at the trail. Still no one in sight. Why had they decided to make this wretched trip to Phoenix? Just because Aunt Susan lived there? Odessa’s stomach churned with fear and her mind spun in a hundred directions. What if she couldn’t get Papa out?

She spied nothing but rocks, boulders and a broken saguaro arm too rotten to use. Her shoulders sagged as she returned emp- ty handed to the wagon. Her father’s face appeared even more ashen and his breathing ragged. A scarlet pool colored the dirt beneath him. She hunkered beside him and took his hand. Why had God let this happen?

Before she found her voice, his eyes fluttered open. “Don’t fret, Dessie. I’m not afraid to die. Your Ma is waiting for me.” His weak voice faded into a cough then his face puckered into a grimace. He licked his lips.

“Do you want water, Papa?” She swiveled to fetch the canteen, but he grabbed her arm.

“No.” He took a shallow breath. “I’m worried about you, dar- lin’. Find your Aunt Susan and let her know what happened. She’ll take care of you.” He moaned and swallowed hard. “All I know is she’s somewhere close to Phoenix. Tell her I’m sor...."

Odessa squeezed his hand. “Don’t leave me, Papa.”

His hand slackened in hers, and a final breath escaped his already blue lips. She remembered the distinct death rattle from when her grandmother passed away a few months back. Odessa collapsed across her father and wept. The day had started out with such excitement, and now she’d become an orphan. Being alone in the middle of nowhere magnified the pain of her loss. Was she destined to die too?

She sat up and gazed through blurred eyes at her father’s face. Her chest ached as though someone embedded a knife within her heart. If not for the smudges of blood and dirt on Papa’s cheeks, he almost appeared to be sleeping. In a way he was. The eternal sleep of the angels. She splayed her fingers through his hair and sobbed. “Please wake up. I don’t want to be alone.”

Numb and disbelieving, she stared into space. Her thoughts drifted back to the conversation she’d had with Papa about this trip. His deep voice still rang as clear in her mind.

“Dessie, you deserve more than Tucson has to offer. This place has grown too dangerous.”
The neighboring mining sites, rich with silver ore, attracted a less desirable crowd. More and more wanted outlaws roamed the streets, cocky and almost daring anyone to draw down on them. The town grew, but the environment became more dangerous, and Papa wanted to move to a place where Odessa could get an education and perhaps find a suitable husband. At seventeen, the thought of marriage made her queasy.

“But, Papa, I like living here,” she’d argued. “Momma, Granny and Grandpa are all buried in the church cemetery. We can’t just pack up and leave them.”

“Darlin’, where they’re at is a much better place, believe me. Besides, your Ma wouldn’t want you raised in this God-forsaken place. This town wasn’t like this when we first came here. The population is being overrun with gunslingers and fallen women. It’s not fittin’ for a girl your age not to be able to walk down Main Street and be safe.”

“But where will you work, Papa?”

“I’m sick of mining and I can’t afford cattle to start a ranch. I can find something in Phoenix. Hear tell the Phoenix-Maricopa Railroad is about to start. There’s bound to be something I can do. Don’t you worry your pretty little head, I’ll take care of us.”
So the decision was made.

Slumped beside her father’s still form, she lapsed into another crying fit, wishing she’d argued more for staying in Tucson. When she had no more tears to shed, she took stock of her predicament. She could not afford to waste what was left of the daylight.
Her only choice was to leave and hope some kind soul would come along and bury Papa. There was no more she could do. Determination to see her eighteenth birthday built within her breast. Dying wasn’t an option, but living was. If indeed her time to pass had come, she wasn’t going willingly.

Should she sit and wait for help to come? What were the chanc- es? Granny always told her an idle mind was the devil’s workshop. Odessa wasn’t about to tempt fate.

Unlike their few belongings which were strewn about, Papa’s rifle, the food they’d packed for the trip and two filled canteens were somewhere beneath the wagon. Odessa wriggled under the bed and crawled toward the front. Cactus thorns poked through her clothing and pebbles and stones scratched her legs, but she found the things she needed. Inching backwards with them in tow, she made her way out from under the overturned rig and, ris- ing to her knees, inhaled the fresh air. Her fingers held tight to the pouch holding the few spare bullets Papa had brought.

Pondering her options, she muttered an oath. She wouldn’t have minded if they’d stayed in the town where she’d been raised. Tucson had grown in the past year, with another general store, a new boarding house, and two laundries operated by Chinese men in silken suits and funny little hats. But her father saw danger she didn’t. “Oh, Papa,” she groaned. “You didn’t have to die because of me.” A lump formed in her throat.

She stood, purposely avoiding the other side of the wagon and his body, and bent to pick up the lap blanket normally kept stored beneath the seat. After shaking the dirt and thistles from the cov- er, she folded the material across her arm. Although the late April day grew hotter, desert nights were often cold and unpredictable. Flash floods were common, and even an occasional snow flurry wasn’t an odd sight on the higher plains.

The thought of being alone at night raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Predators filled this barren land and she had no desire to become a meal for one. Something rustled through the nearby scrub brush. She jumped, but sighed when she heard nothing further. At least if she remained with the wagon, she’d have some sort of shelter and could start fresh in the morning. She’d spent the night with Granny’s lifeless body in the house, so
being with Papa was the lesser of her concerns. He loved her in life, and death wouldn’t change that. Perhaps he’d watch over her and keep her safe.

Odessa propped the rifle against the wagon, hung the can- teens and pouch from a wheel hub and spread the blanket by the tailgate. Her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Papa had planned to stop for an early dinner in a good place to camp for the night, but the trip hadn’t lasted that far.

She dropped to the ground, tucked her skirt around her legs, and pulled a sandwich wrapped in a blue-checkered cloth from the basket. The thought that Papa lay only a few feet away stole the taste from the ham and brought tears to her eyes again. While she chewed, she watched the bright orange sun sink lower in the western sky. Her heart hammered with dread of the coming night.

The temperature dipped along with the sunlight. The air grew cold and raised goose bumps on Odessa’s arms. She kept vigil at the end of the wagon and snuggled beneath her blanket. A golden slice of moonlight hovered above. The outline of the nearby sagua- ros took on a human appearance. Arms and legs and faces masked by darkness. She shivered as a coyote howled in the distance.

Before long, another desert dog launched into a hair-raising cry, only to be answered by yet another. This one sounded too close. Letting go of the blanket, Odessa reached for the carbine and pulled the weapon across her lap. She’d never shot at anything other than a bottle on a tree stump, but having the rifle slowed her racing heart.

Her gaze scanned the shadows for movement. An occasional rustling indicated something small skittering about, but that didn’t frighten her as much as the continued yowling that grew nearer. Her rigid shoulders ached and her eyes blurred from star- ing. Despite only muted moonlight, being so exposed made her uncomfortable.

What if the remaining food attracted the coyotes? Odessa pushed the basket back beneath the wagon then realized a dead body was more likely to attract scavengers than her meager fare. Feeling foolish, she stood and gathered her canteens, then lay on the dusty ground and inched her way back beneath the tailgate, pulling the rifle in with her. There was not room enough to spread the blanket, and despite the stickers and pebbles poking at her, she’d much prefer the discomfort to the sharp teeth of a hungry animal.

On her stomach and clutching her weapon, Odessa peered into the darkness. She focused on happier times when Granny was still alive and had told stories of her own childhood. Most of them were tall tales, but what she wouldn’t give to be back next to the hearth and a roaring fire, listening to those yarns. Her favorite had always been about the ghost who lived in the pasture, but the fright Granny inspired by telling her spirit story was noth- ing compared to the lump of terror building in Odessa’s belly. She never realized the night held so many strange noises.

For what seemed like hours, she struggled to stay awake. The day had taken its toll and her eyelids drooped. Her head sagged to the ground. Inhaling dust, she sneezed, and tugged the blanket up between her cheek and the dirt. She settled once more and hoped sleep would come at last.

Somewhere between dozing and consciousness, an angry growl yanked her awake. A pair of glowing yellow eyes stared at her from outside her shelter. Her heart pounded like hooves against the dirt, her breath caught in her throat. Death was but inches away and she couldn’t move.

Want to read more?  Odessa, my latest historical release is available though Eternal Press or in print and download at Amazon.com.

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