Friday, December 29, 2006

Post-Christmas Chatter

I didn't put up a tree this year, so the picture you see is from one a few years back. Does that make it a recycled tree?'s an artifical, so I guess it is in more ways than one.

And no, that isn't a ghostly image beside's the window. My dining room is quite dark, even in the daytime.

So, why you ask, did I not put up a tree. Well, the simple answer is pure and utter laziness. Dave is going to school full time and working, and I'm busy doing things and running hither, tither and yon...which I'm still looking for on the the navigation system, by the way. I found hither - it's in upstate New York, but tither and yon seem to elude me. - Anyhoo...with Dave working is cute buns into the dirt and me being a raving lunatic with everything else, it just seemed to be a bit overwhelming to put up decorations. Oddly enough, it didn't seem like Christmas this year. I don't know if was because we went sans-Deck la Halls, or if it was because it just Came Upon A Midnight Clear waaaayyyy too soon. Me, I opting for it having come up really quickly this year. Almost taking me by surprise. I would very much like to see 2007 go a little slower (But only the spring and summer months...oh and the fall...Winter can go by a lightspeed for all I care.) Anytime there's a potential for me having to drive in the snow, I would really rather not. I guess growing up in Florida during my young adult years kind of spoiled me for that.

So, my Christmas was loverly, though maybe not as festive looking as in past years. Dave and I had a nice quiet weekend at home. We were both off, which never happens!!! I think in all the years he and I have been together that only happened the year we moved to NJ and both worked bankers hours. My Christmas dinner was a triumph. Our tradition for Christmas dinner is to not have a tradition. Unlike Thanksgiving where it's always turkey, as per protocol, Christmas I like to change it up every year. Usually we have some kind of game bird (ham is reserved for Easter) - this year I decided to make a rib roast. It was so tender and juicey it just melted in your mouth. I was very pleased, because though I am a slamming cook, I have no real luck cooking beef, unless it's in the slow cooker with a pile of veggies. If anyone wants the secret, let me know. I'll be more than happy to impart what I am beginning to believe is 'duh wisdom.' You know what that is, wisdom gained after you slap your forehead and say, 'duh.'

I hope you all have a wonderful second half of the holiday. And much love, laughter, luck and longevity (I would say health, but it doesn't start with an 'L' and I was on a roll there), in the New Year.

Really the health and happiness is implied. So, is success.

Cheers to you!


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Purr-Baby

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas, as we've all noted, is hectic. But it's a great time to be with family, to eat all our favorite foods, to visit friends and to adore our favorite four-legged companions. My purr-baby, Wookie, took the opportunity last year to bask under the tree. Some people say she's seeking the limelight. Me? I think she's staking out the gifts :D

Wookie, in case you're wondering, is renowned for her ability to pull contest names out of a box for me but she's also unequaled in her ability to nap. I've seen this fluffy purr-baby nap through just about anything (though this kitchen remodel we've been undergoing has been fairly traumatic for her) So why would she be so intent on staking out the gifts?

Well, possibly to keep her big 'sister', Zuzu, from grabbing any :D

I think I forgot to mention that the book Linda Wisdom and I wrote for the Triskelion Interludes line is now available. And the cover is HOT! The only problem is that my first name is spelled wrong but, hey, I figure no one will notice because they're staring so hard at the guy's hands :D

Hope you all have a safe and happy New Year!

The week of Christmas Pix!

I hope everyone had a great holiday! Are you all sufficiently recovered from the eating, the unwrapping, the schlepping of gifts to relatives' homes, the caroling [does anyone go caroling anymore?] and the collecting of ripped up wrapping paper to add to the recycling bin.

Whew. Holidays are hard work, before, during and after. This is the week I usually start working on putting all the gifts away - no easy task with two kids whose rooms are already bursting at the seams with toys and clothes and books and video games. 'Tis the season to clean out closets, send a HAZ-MAT team under the beds and locate all those gifts I put away last year that everyone forgot they even had.

The fridge is stuffed with leftovers, the thank-you notes for long-distance gifts have been sent, and now it's time to kick back and rest a bit before ushering out the old year and cranking up the gears to get started on the new.

My favorite Christmas picture this year is this one - my blue sparkled Poinsettia. Why a blue one? Because it's different. I've always been attracted to the unusual, the horse of a different color, so to speak. This caught my eye and I had to have it because it's something you just don't see.

What's your favorite Holiday photo?

We 2 Snowwomen Are?

As part of our holiday cheer, the ladies of Star-Crossed Romance decided to post some of our favorite Christmas pictures. However, I didn't have any that were digital (since they were taken before new fangled cameras or lost to harddrive deaths), so I endeavored to create a couple fun ones this year.

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Can you guess who these two lovely snowwomen are? I'll give you a hint--we used to be known as Tweedledee & Tweedledumb, as well as Thing 1 & Thing 2.
To find the answer, plus a bonus click here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas wishes, contest and giveaway....

Due to the holidays and running around like a beheaded Christmas bird, plus work and deadlines, I've missed several go-rounds for my posts. I'm very sorry. I'll try to be better this coming year. I have to get more organized. Help me Obi-won Kenobi, you're my only hope....

Anyhoo, in release news. My alter-ego Kathleen Scott has a new title out this month in Secrets Volume 17: Erotic Nights. The novella is "Fatal Error" and is about a dystopian future USA, controlled by the designs of a meglomanic supercomputer gone sentient. Here's a taste of the action.

Fatal Error by Kathleen Scott


Jesse Storm, must make amends to humanity by destroying the computer program he helped design that has taken the country and government hostage, while trying to protect the woman he has loved in secret for nearly a decade. Soran Roberts, a federal accountant, has become increasingly annoyed by the government’s strong-arm control of the citizenry. Though the secret crush she had on Jesse Storm in college was unrequited, she will never forget his intensity. When their paths cross again the passion that always simmered below the surface of their relationship boils over and threatens to burn them alive while they fight to save the country.

Set up:

Jesse had just finished downloading the virus into the computer’s mainframe to take it off line and hopefully give control of the country back to the people. He didn’t count on Soran’s unwitting cooperation or the chance to steal her personal keyboard that is a direct link to the computer’s gray matter and imprinted with Soran’s fingerprint recognition. With the keyboard, he and the other members of his group will have a better chance of activating the virus. But first they have to make it back to the warehouse.


Jesse held her hand as they moved through the oppressive night. They needed to get across town to the wharf, but with the amount of police out and about it was not an easy task. Then there was Soran’s outfit.
By now, all the police in the area had been sent pictures of them. While his dark t-shirt and utility pants wouldn’t stand out in any crowd, that short skirt and peek-a-boo shirt of hers were sure to get her noticed quickly.
He couldn’t take her into any well-lit places, and they needed to avoid all public transportation, like the sky trams. That left cabs, and hoofing it across town. He didn’t really relish the idea of making her walk across town in bare feet either. No telling what kind of funky disease she’d end up with then.
“Come on, babe. We need to get to the waterfront.”
“We can take my glider.”
Figured she’d have a nice piece of personal transportation. He shook his head. “It’s registered. They’re looking for us, and you should have no doubt they already know everything about you, including the registration on your glider.”
“What about the underground? There’s a subway tunnel somewhere around here, isn’t there?”
Taking her to the underground held about as much appeal for Jesse as his memory of watching her suck face with the jerk she dated for a short while in college. When the city transportation department had gone bankrupt forty years ago, they had closed the subway lines in order to save money. They had never reopened and had become a haven for the city’s homeless population. “Not an option.”
“Can you jack a trike?” She asked leading him down another alley.
The trike she referred to was the three-thruster equivalent of an old three-wheeled conveyance, or tricycle. They were a cheaper form of personal transportation that required very little in way of upkeep. They were also very easy to jack. Jesse didn’t know if he felt insulted by her insinuation that it may not be a skill he possessed.
“I can jack one. Where is it?”
“There.” She pointed to the back entrance of an Asian restaurant. The trike had a sign on it that read: Lucky Fong’s Take Out. Poor Fong wouldn’t be too lucky tonight.
A blaze of flashing lights trapped them in their spot.
The police glider cruised at the second floor level. Another one followed at street level. The police were beginning to sweep the area for them. The past six months had seen an overwhelming increase in the number of police guarding the streets. The Restoration Brigade had speculated how there came to be so many new cops in such a short time, but hadn’t come to any conclusions. But whatever the reason for the increased police presence, Jesse needed to make short work of the trike, and without Soran standing over him, distracting him with her warm breath down his back.
“Wait here. I’ll go jack the trike and come for you. The cops are looking for two people, not one. If they see me by the trike they won’t be as suspicious.”
“No, you’ll ditch me now that we’re out of the building.”
Who was she kidding? “Not a chance.” He crushed his mouth to hers to reestablish his intent.
Her mouth opened and she slid her tongue against his. Electricity burned his nerve endings, fusing his rigid body to hers. This wasn’t serving the cause; it was only serving his selfish need. And for all he didn’t show it this night, his main goal in life had been to not selfishly bring Soran to him. But that plan had shattered the moment he saw her again.
He pulled away from her. “Stay here.”
She nodded and made no other comment.
The way appeared clear. In the crosswalk he could see the flashing lights from the police vehicles bouncing off the slick facades of the buildings. Even at night, crowds began to gather outside the Complex, curiosity pushing their fears of government aside. Jesse smiled in satisfaction. The more people roaming the streets, the less chance they had of being caught.
He moved quickly to the trike. A quick survey of the vehicle showed it was an older model, but well maintained. The door locks were disengaged, so it would only take a moment to reconfigure the programming and start the engine and thrusters.
Five minutes later he pulled into the alley where Soran waited for him leaned up against a building, the keyboard tucked up against her body.
He idled the trike and held out his hand to help her on board. She leaned forward, tucking the keyboard between them and placing her arms tight around his waist.
The sore ribs still ached, but to have Soran so close he could stand a little discomfort. It would have been better had she not put the keyboard between them and he could have felt her breasts rubbing against his back. Jesse dismissed the horny thoughts and hit the button to pull the doors down around them. “Hold on, babe. These things may be small, but they rocket.”
A cheap thrill moved through him as she tightened her arms as he released the idle and they shot forward through the streets.
Pride screamed through him. Twice tonight he’d gotten away due to Soran’s quick thinking. She would definitely be an asset to the organization. If she decided to stay with him. It was a far cry from saving one’s self against immediate threat, to helping to overthrow the government.


Quiz Questions:

1. Where is the warehouse located that Jesse and Soran are trying to get to?

2. Why doesn't Jesse want to take Soran's glider across town?

3. What is the underground?

4. Who is Lucky Fong?

Enter to win by sending answers directly to my email by going to ,or by clicking on my book cover of Immorati and going through my website to my email or blog. Or feel free to add them to the comments at the end of the post.

Have a safe and happy holidays to you and yours.


Christmas contest & wishes

Firstly, I have a new release out this month, Love's Beguiling Healer. It's been released by Wings ePress in ebook and trade paperback format and is available right now.

For a little taste of it, here's an excerpt:

And, stars, he tasted her instead. His rough tongue slid across her lower lip in a smooth glide, rasping gently. Her knees started to shake, and she blindly sought out the rail behind her with her own hands, gripping onto the smooth marble tightly for support.
Then he licked her top lip, with the same rasping gentleness.
“We shouldn’t--” she began hoarsely, only to halt as a warning growl rumbled from him.
Tensely he waited until she stilled, then he trailed his tongue back to the center of her lips, playing the tip along the little bow on the middle of her top lip. Dipping his tongue down a little, he found the very center of where her lips met.
Heart thundering, Tera started to open her lips, eager for his kiss.
He nipped her.
Tera jumped and jerked her head back. Her bottom lip tingled. It didn’t pain, but she could feel the imprint of his sharp teeth in the tender flesh. Shocked, she stared up at him. “You bit me!”
“So? You bit me!” Reaching up incredulously, she touched her lip.
“I’m a carnivore.” His teeth flashed with a white sharpness in the gloom. “What did you expect?”
“I’m not a piece of meat, damn it!”
“And yet you’re so tasty.”
For a Felys, his smile was very wolfish.
Eyes narrowed, Tera placed her hands on his chest and shoved hard.
Illam only leaned further into her.
“I’ll scream,” she threatened.
“Go ahead,” he taunted.
“Don’t play games with me, Illam!”
“But I want to play with you, healer.” His breath was warm on her face, the faint hint of spice within it. “I find I suddenly want to play with you very much.”


The hero is one of a Felys species (feline-type) while the heroine is an Argon healer apprentice. Both of very sensual, sexy races.

To win an ebook copy of this latest release (book 11 in the Heart & Soul series), go to my website and find the Heart & Soul book page, then list the titles available now. Then send your list to me at and I will put you in the draw!

Because I am late with this *sheepish grin* the contest won't close until the 30th Dec 2006.

And now - I want to wish you all a very safe and Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year. May it be filled with love, kindness and happiness - and good reading!

Angela *who is having salad and cold meat for Christmas lunch as it is summer Down Under and HOT!*

The Air Up There

They say people go a little nuts around the holidays, and they--whoever they are--are right. In my little town in the middle of cornfield, USA, the criminals are even getting into the spirit of things. Our town has been inflicted with a rash of crimes perpetuated by a group of individuals known somewhat unoriginally as the "Blowup Santa Bandits." Their crimes are, as you might guess, making off with the neighborhood's blow-up santas.

Ordinarily, I would find this funny for the sheer absurdity of it. I'm fairly sure the bandits are high school kids and the banditry is simple prankery. It's more of a nuisance than anything else, especially because those damn santas ain't cheap. My neighbor has a plethora of blow up holiday items, all of whom have remained, like the stars, in their proper orbits around their yard.

Consequently, that places my neighbor under suspicion. And it falls to me, as the material witness (because this is Suburbia, and everybody spies on their neighbors), to confirm or deny the legitimate existence of said inflatables to a number of amateur detectives making the rounds of the neighborhood. Am I friends with said neighbor? Do I know how long said inflatables have resided in the house next door? Where does she keep them stored (a question I have myself, since they have a small garage, but hey--I get creative with the storage, too)? Does she covet inflatables?

I think that one year, I just might join the inflatable molestation crew. I think I might don a nice black Christmas Ninja outfit and strap a tank of helium onto my back, and sneak around, filling everyone's hot-air ho-ho-hos with helium and sawing through their cords so that there's barely a thread holding them down. And then I'll sit on my rooftop with a plastic santa set (because it's the kind of kitsch I can get behind) and a hot Kahlua, and watch as a good gust of wind liberates the blow-up population of my town and they all fly skyward, free to frolic with one another without the tethers placed upon them by their earthly masters, as nature intended.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santas + Gifts=Christmas

Well, it seems I’m on a different wavelength than everyone else again! For my participation this week, I decided to write a holiday snippet and have anyone who wants to participate fill in the equation:

(number of santa(s)) + (number of gift(s)) = (number of Christmas(es))

The 2nd and 5th people who comment here with the correct answer will win this beautiful star photo frame! (Hunk not included).

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For everyone else that doesn’t fall on the lucky number, I’ll pull a random name from my Santa hat. So get to reading, time’s a wasting until the cut off on Christmas Eve! And as always, I hope you enjoy the story!
A whole week off. That was a miracle in itself. She pulled into the parking lot of the local mall, her eyes scanning the rows that filled the space for miles. As she sat trapped, waiting behind one lucky shopper, she read the lighted marquee that flashed pertinent events during December.

Open from this to that. It was 6:45 p.m., 53 degrees. A new store was opening two weeks before Christmas, and would be running Christmas specials through the holidays. Santa was in court at the Palace from morning til night.

She felt sorry for him, but hoped she could detour around the crowds when she got inside. Obviously she’d have to be luckier than she was out here. Christmas was a great time, but the rat race could kill you. Kind of like her job, she thought with a grimace. But she didn’t have to worry about that for another five days.

Suddenly a bit of luck crossed her path and a spot opened up. Overjoyed she whipped her car in it and hopped out. Shopping here I come. Christmas was the best excuse for a buying binge, and little did her husband know that she’d borrowed one of his cards. A sly grin curved her lips, but she’d only use it in an emergency. Like that pair of shoes she’d been eyeing for a month.

Her steps sounded on the pavement as she took in the hustle around her. She’d never seen so many people! Or Santas for that matter. There was a Santa collecting money for the Salvation army, a Santa serving coffee at the book shop cafe, a Santa flag strapped to the front of a truck. As far as she could, Alamance’s stores wouldn’t be able to say it was a bad Christmas rush this year.

She dropped a few coins in Santa’s pot and stepped through the door to find Christmas music flooding the halls and lights everywhere. I’ve been away for too long. She took her Christmas list out of her pocket. Five presents left to find, but two were gonna be doozies. Her dad was always a pain to shop for, and as for her daughter’s new boyfriend she hadn’t a clue. She’d just have to hope inspiration hit her…fast!

Hallmark was her first stop to pick up a tiny, collectible figurine for her mom. The perfect, if boring choice, would make her smile. She remembered Christmas last year when she’d opened her gift from her mom. It was small, but heart felt. For this holiday that’s what was supposed to matter most, and she knew her mom would treasure the little girl she held in her hand, because she never allowed herself a treat since finances were so tight. Brainstorming another scheme, she wondered it Santa really was as clever.

With a half dozen Christmas cards, 16 Christmas napkins, and a roll of ribbon she was out of the first store bearing Santa as her shopping logo too. The large red bags everyone was totting plastered with his face. Glowing red cheeks, and a poofy white beard, but there was also that little hint of something extra. As if this Santa had a secret. She knew she did.

An hour later her cheer hadn’t faded, but some of the parents tending their children had grown tired of the constant chatter and noise of being stuck amid more than a few dozens little people clammering for a chance to tell Santa exactly what they wanted. She heard one boy repeating over and over, “I want Santa to bring me a bike, and a train, and a new Sega game! Do you think Santa will do that mom?” His mom looked down at him, and said something she’d liked repeated a hundred times so far this Christmas. “Of course dear, you’ve been a good boy.” Another little girl further back, sat patiently on the lip of a planter, her big, blue eyes taking in the Christmas sights around her. When her mom motioned that it was her turn she jumped up, took one look at Santa, and ran away crying.

It really wasn’t funny, but it happened, she thought recalling her own daughter’s first look at Saint Nick. She’s been two and had pretended to be so brave, but the moment she’d stepped up on the podium where he sat, she’d hightailed it. It had taken ten minutes to calm her down.

Hadn’t she said she was going to avoid this? She moved around the outskirts of weary men waiting, their eyes glazed over. She knew what they were thinking—how did they do it?

Christmas was an eye opening experience, especially when window-shopping for that “perfect” Christmas...thing. She kinda knew what it was, but if a salesman asked her what she needed, she’d have to say, “It’s...well, it’s...I guess I’m just looking.” Christmas was all about that and wishing for things you couldn’t have. That was part of the magic. Sharing the memories, the Santa tales of hopes and dreams from years past, or just those funny once in a lifetime things that you’d never expected to happen in a million years.

She saw it—the last item she needed to finish her Christmas quest! A sweater in green she knew her daughter would find “hot” on her special someone. Not only was it the exact size, and a nice price, it was a Christmas color to boot! Things were definitely looking up. With all of her Christmas shopping done, she’d have a chance enjoy the times she treasured most.

One her way back down the mall, passing people who were in it for the long hall, she couldn’t help being a little relieved. Giddy even on some level, which was an emotion she hadn’t felt in years. Seeing that the line to Santa had shortened, she zipped in behind the last mother and daughter couple. The little girl, with dark hair and a baby doll under one arm looked up at her questioningly, her thumb in her mouth. She smiled at the little girl, and surprisingly got one in return. Then came the shy question, “What do you want Santa to bring you?” Thinking, she said the first thing that came to mind, which had been there all night. “That my family gets what they want most.”

When her time came, she stepped up beside Santa and met his look for the child she was supposed to have with a grin. “Do you mind?” She gestured from herself to his lap. He turned redder than the color of his suit, then he remembered who he was and chortled, “Of course. Ho, ho, ho.” She took her place, posed for the keepsake picture and then answered the question that he asked everyone. “For my family to know how much I love them, and...” she accepted the picture from Santa’s elf, “this picture for my mom who showed me what Christmas is all about.”
If you're concerned I won't be able to track you down through Blogger, feel free to send a copy of your comment along with your snail mail address to me at, or simply enter your information using the form on my contest page at

Monday, December 18, 2006

Contest Week - Win some stuff!

Welcome to contest week here at StarCrossed!

I'm going to start off by announcing the winner of my chat contest at Novelspotters yesterday. Thanks to everyone who dropped by with a comment or question!

The winner of a free download of The Adventures of Molten Man, No. 1, my latest release from Amber Quill Press is:

Tessa Bamberg!

Congratulations, Tessa!

Don't be disappointed if you didn't attend the chat because my holiday contest is still going on. You've got two more days to enter. It's easy:

For details visit my blog

or my website contest page:
The winner of my holiday contest will be announced on December 20th!

Contest - Win a copy of Heartstone!

This is contest week for Star-Crossed Romance which is kind of cool because it allows our readers the opportunity to get something for themselves. I've got a contest for members of my newsgroup going right now. You can join my newsgroup by sending a blank email to

Then read Heartstone to answer the following questions:
A. What is the name of the physician who treats Keriam’s ex-fiancĂ© Marc Cooper?
B. What insect is suspected of curing Marc of his Gawan Infestation?

Send your answers to by December 31. One name will be drawn to win an assortment of my signature items AND a $25.00 gift certificate from Amazon. com. Members of my newsgroup are also eligible to receive a 2007 Date Book/pen (you can see the details on my website There's no chatter there--it's simply a newsletter that will come out once a month or less (sometimes I get super busy at the day job and just run out of time to do much of anything else).

For the contest I'll be offering this week exclusively for readers of this blog, let's make it easy (we're all already stressed enough for the holiday. right? :D ) and tie it in to last week's theme. My dh wants an old fashioned peanut butter cookie. I need a recipe. (You may have noticed from last week, all my recipes have chocolate in or on them--that's not what he wants so this time no chocolate, please. Gawd, can't believe I said that!!!) Anyway, email your favorite old fashioned peanut butter cookie recipe to me at All the names will go in a box and my purr-baby Wookie will select the winner of Heartstone (pdf format only)

Contest deadline will be December 23 so don't delay! :D

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Join us for a chat today!

Today Jennifer and Bernadette will be chatting at Novelspotters from 1:00 to 1:30 PM.

They’ll be discussing new and upcoming releases with Amber Quill Press and giving away a free download of The Adventures of Molten Man! Drop by and say hello!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Season's Beatings

I've been around the blogs, doing my part over at SEx - the Liquid Silver blog, and at my own blog, and I'm reading all the warm holiday reminisces, the great frothing-forth of joy and goodwill towards all, and various and sundry merriments and cheers, and well...

I'm buckin' the system.

Christmas Crazies, Hanukkah Headaches, and Yuletide Yahoos. Whether they're people--you know and love, or you don't know and wish would go away--situations, or responsibilities, there are more reasons to grit your teeth over the holidays than there are all the gifts of the twelve days of Christmas--even that stupid partridge. Because honestly, I've been staring at reindeer since Oc-friggin-tober and my holiday cheer has a half-life of about two weeks. My bells are already jingled by the time the radio stations go to "all Xmas-all the time," and by the time December rolls around, I'm more than a little red-and-green shell-shocked.

I'm sick of looking at representations of fat men in red fuzzy suits. I mean, outside of an anime convention or a very specialized type of kink, pretty damn scary. Fat men wearing red who break into houses and leave unattended, strange-looking packages under trees. People who put trees inside their houses expressly for the purposes of inviting said housebreaker inside and allowing him to eat their food and drink their milk. I think I'd rather stick with the security of knowing some strange fetishist with a high risk of heart-disease won't be pawing through my stuff and letting his reindeer do unspeakable things to my lawn. Or my roof, if that poem is to be believed.

So here's a big shout-out to all you fellow Grinches out there. My heart's three sizes too small because it's making room for my tummy tuck. Because in order to avoid all those holiday headaches, I have to medicate myself, and the best way to do that is through chocolate. With peanut butter, preferably.


  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening

  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar with hands to form a smooth stiff dough. Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate.

  3. Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.

  4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Treat to Follow...Hopefully!

I’ve always been a giver, and thought if I had more than someone else I ought to share. That’s the way I was raised, and I never want to forget the gems of wisdom my grandparents gifted me with…though I haven’t been able to talk my Grandmaw into parting with her infamous fudge recipe. *grin* (There is still hope for my mom’s chocolate oatmeal cookies. If I unlock the secret, I’ll post a follow up comment tonight!)

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All this talk about treats made me wonder, do you like little ones spread out or big ones?

If you’re looking for a nifty, but simple gift, consider this idea I came up with to help a friend. She’d drawn a name for Secret Santa, but had no clue what to surprise the woman with for five days. The only thing we knew was that she liked food. My brainstorm was to use printed recipes paired with a Christmas carol plus a small token in relation. For example: We Wish You A Merry Christmas with a recipe for Figgy Pudding and a cup (of good cheer). All we had to do was find a website with the song lyrics, Google recipes and pick up Christmas themed items at the local Dollar Store.

I also had the smashing idea to do a treasure hunt for my twin based on our favorite movie at the time—Ever After. I’d created the perfect clues, gotten all my little gifts to hide, and then…we had a blizzard. But I prevailed and even strung up Dollar Store white lights around all the trees in the backyard. Unfortunately it didn’t dawn on me that I needed a plug, so I had to use a few dropcords rigged up in a row from the house.

Are you wondering what the super-duper prize at the end was? A book I’d polished off only a week before called Two Desperate Women, One Single Man & the Wedding of A Century starring, you guessed it, my sister who played a dog groomer/girlfriend of an FBI agent being stalked by a serial killer. My twin and I trudged through the snow side-by-side and shivered in the freezing cold as she deciphered clues, but she ended up getting her Happily Ever After.

What is the best treat you’ve ever gotten—big or small?

I’d have to say one that still stands out for me was an original Optimus Prime Transformer, which my then single mom threatened to do bodily harm over if I snooped. Of course, my twin and I found it and Megatron hidden in the back of her closet. When my bf found out, he began to covet Optimus as one of my assets. *grin*

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Treats - Lamingtons - An Aussie Classic

Here's my holiday treat from Down Under. Lamingtons are small squares of sponge cake dipped in melted chocolate and coated in desiccated coconut. I made tons of these when I was a kid for school fetes and on those long summer days when I loved to bake and had oodles of time to do it. Enjoy! :)

3 eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup cornflour
15g (1/2oz) butter (softened)
3 tablespoons hot water

Beat eggs until thick and creamy and gradually add the sugar, beating until the sugar is completely dissolved. Fold in sifted SR flour and cornflour, then combined water and butter. Pour mixture into prepared square tins 18cm x 28cm (7in x 11in).

Bake in moderate oven for approximately 30 mins Let cake stand in pan for 5 min before turning out onto wire rack.

3 cups desiccated coconut
500g (1lb) icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
(extra cocoa can be added, according to taste)
15g (1/2oz) butter
1/2 cup milk

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into heatproof bowl. Stir in butter and milk.
Stir over a pan of hot water until icing is smooth and glossy.

Trim brown top and sides from cake (the sponge cake is easier to handle if made the day before) and cut into 16 even pieces. Holding each piece on a fork, dip each cake into icing. Hold over bowl a few minutes to drain off excess chocolate. Toss in coconut or sprinkle to coat. Place on oven tray to set.

Recipe is courtesy of

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Treats - Critters - Easy Chocolate Fudge

Since Lynda started it, I had to add another chocolate recipe to the mix today. After all, what are the holidays without lots of sweets?

This recipe is my all time favorite because it’s so fast and easy. For quick gift ideas, I’ve filled up candy dishes, fancy boxes and even painted flower pots with homemade fudge and gotten raves about it!

You’ll need:

1 14oz. Can of sweetened, condensed milk
3 6oz. Packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips [also works with flavored chips and white chocolate chips too!]

½ cup butter
1/8 tsp. Salt
2 cups pecan or walnut halves [optional]
2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Place chips in a large microwave safe bowl. In a separate bowl, melt butter in the microwave [about 1-2 minutes on high]. Pour over chips and add sweetened condensed milk. Stir well. Chips will begin to melt. When blended, place in microwave for one minute. Stir again. Repeat just until chocolate is melted, using one-minute intervals only.
Add vanilla and nuts and stir well.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper and store in refrigerator for several hours to harden.

Holiday Treats -- Super Gooey Chocolate Drops

First I've a bit of promo work to do, hope you all don't mind. Tomorrow Dec 12, Chatting with Joyfully Reviewed will host a bunch of us Triskelion authors. I'll be popping in and out as much as I can. Then on Friday, we're having Freaky, Futuristic Friday on the Triskelion Book and Fever loops. We've got some terrific authors lined up (ahem, me included :D), contests and excerpts. So if you can, you ought to try to be there. (Email me if you need instructions on how to join the loops)

This week, we're talking about Holiday Treats, one of the fabulous ideas from Jennifer (who I think will also be posting today.) I'll be sharing a recipe I just discovered so read on for the details :D

Christmas is the time of year that we all want to make memories for our families. And often those memories involve food: Roast turkeys or hams, sweet potatoes, green bean casseroles. And we often top it off with a sumptious dessert.

But, truth be told, my family prefers fresh baked cookies or sweetbreads (Santa does like his eggnog and cookies, you know) And every year I turn into 'Betty Crocker' and fire up the oven. I have to admit I adore the smell of cookies or breads fresh from the oven, the warm, sweet aroma wafting all through the house. And I can always tell when I've got a winner (ahem, anything short of burned is a winner according to my family of 'Cookie Monsters') when I see them dancing impatiently beside the stove waiting for the first still warm cookie, LOL

I'm diabetic but I'll allow myself to have one cookie if it's just a tiny bit scorched (my favorite kind :D) After that, it's all for the dear husband and darling daughter. Their eyes grow wide with delight when they see the dozens and dozens of cookies (I do a variety--peanut butter, sugar cookies, rum balls, nut cookies--and none of them ever get turned down.

But I'm a chocoholic from way back and, as members of my newsgroup are aware, it isn't dessert, or a treat, unless it has chocolate :D So if I'm going to share a recipe here in honor of our theme week, it's going to have chocolate. I'll confess right now I just got this recipe from The Food Networks 12 Days of Cookies but I plan on trying it out as soon as my kitchen remodel is finished. If you make it, be sure to let me know how you like it. Oh, and if you a good chocolate recipe, you can share that too :D

Super Gooey Chocolate Drops

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Scharffen Berger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 ounces (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup dried cherries (optional)

Position racks in the lower and upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (If you don't have 3 pans, simply cool the pan between batches.)

Put the butter and the unsweetened and semisweet chocolates in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 75 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir and heat again until melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)

Stir the light brown and granulated sugars and vanilla into the chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat vigorously until thick and glossy.

In another bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks and dried cherries, if using.

Drop the batter in heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets--a small ice cream scoop is ideal for this. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart. Bake until the cookies set but are soft and fudgy on the inside, 12 to 15 minutes.

Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas shopping

This morning Mum and I went downtown to finish off most of the Christmas shopping. Fortunately, the side of town we went to was rather quiet, as most of the action on a Saturday morning is at the Northgate Shopping Center, away from the mall.

The only places I heard Christmas music, or saw any decorations, was in the cheap shops. You know the ones? King Kong, 2 Buck Shop, Red Dot. How sad is that? I LOVE Christmas music at Christmas. I would have thought the big shops would have been playing Christmas music and having the deco up...

Anyway, I've decided Chritsmas is what you make it. We have our Christmas music playing, and Mum is going to decorate the house as usual. The cats will help her and I'll enjoy the entertainment of that, I can tell you!

And have you seen the ebooks and trade paperback books out that have a Christmas theme? Trsikelion have a few, that much I know. I think it would be awesome to give romance books with a Christmas theme to a bookworm for Christmas. Awesome! Do a search on Christmas books at the different ebook and trade paperback publishers and see what you come up with!

I LOVE getting books for Christmas. Well, I love getting books anytime, so...LOL

So if you're wondering what to get some people for Christmas, why not introduce them to an ebook? You can open up a whole new world to them! There are so many historical, horror, romances in different genres, YA, mystery - almost everything available!

Speaking of which, I've been catching up on my own reading since finishing my last WIP. Now I find myself looking at my list of other books I want to write and debating debating debating...LOL

So many books to read, so many to write - and so little time to do all!


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Loss of an Editor

I got an email today that shook my little corner of the world. One of my favorite editors wrote me to say she was leaving my publisher. (No, I am not going to reveal either name or publisher because I don't know if she's made this information public yet.) - I understand that people move around, change places or decided to take a different direction, but this is a person who loved my work, and raved about it when she read it...I much more positive of a response can you get?

Saying I'm sorry to see her go is an understatement - I'm devestated. She is both easy going and wondeful to work with. A real dream editor. What if the other editors there don't like my work? Well, contractually that means little since they have first dibs, but ultimately if they pass on the work, I can send elsewhere. So I'm not totally out if they do turn it down. But I love this publisher so I want to continue submitting to them...not that I won't...this is coming out in a jumbled emotional tidalwave. What I'm saying is...I hate to see her go, but when I first submitted to the publisher in '05, I didn't know a soul there and I still sold to them, so does it really change anything? Hopefully not. Though I already write for them, I could still get rejected on subsequent work, as each piece must stand on its own merit. And now I have no clue who is going to handle the paranormal and futuristic pieces. ughhhhhh...

I know this happens frequently in the writing business, and we have to suck it up and deal, keep our chins up and continue to trudge along. At least I'm not an orphan, like I've read happens to some writers when their publishers close entire lines and they are having to find other places to publish. Now that would be truly devestating. Heartbreaking.

And yet I continue to write. I continue to submit. I continue to strive for that ultimate goal: name recognition and a loyal fan base.

I wish much good luck and fortune to my editor in her new path, whatever it may be. To the rest of you, I ask: has this ever happened to you and what did you do?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Season of Avarice

When I opened my mailbox today, I found the usual assortment of junk, garbage in envelopes, ad circulars, hey! a royalty check, woohoo!, and...this big, glossy, sharp-looking magazine with a hunky asian guy on the cover. Okay, so maybe he might not be dressed in a thong and flexing his muscles, but he was wearing a nice suit and had a twinkle in his eye that made the romance writer in me wonder what the story was (and the erotica writer in me wonder if he was going commando under that suit, and where his tattoos are). So I open the magazine, figuring it's probably the neighbors' since we don't subscribe to any magazines as part of the great Household Paper Reduction Act of 2002.

It's a hi-gloss production. Full of beautiful spreads of hi-definition TVs, flat-screen, wall-mounted home theater setups (with that mustard-paint and dark cherry wood stain combination that just screams to me "Homearama" - maybe because I first saw it at a Homearama house and everybody and their brother has copied it since then), and shirt-pocket sized gadgets that do everything but make coffee (because nobody wants coffee with man-boob in it).

Well, my eyes they did alight upon a technological wonder that melted away my scorn of the Season of Avarice under the bright laser-hot technology of eInk displays and had me doing Michael Douglas impersonations--rubbing my hands and cackling, "Greed is Goooooood!"

I remember reading about eInk several years ago. It was vapor-ware at the time, yet it made its way into my subcoscious enough so that I used a form of it for the Newssheet technology in my futuristic in the "A Witch In Time" Anthology. But to have it here, and able to be held in my hot little hands in the form of the Sony EReader... 'scuse me for a moment while I go have a minute to my own g33k self.

I mean, the thing reads friggin' manga! Meeble.

Yes, I'm ignoring for the moment the necessity of downloading and buying from the Sony Connect store, or the fact that I hear it's not so hot with the PDFs. I want one. But alas, it's not to be. At least not until the pricetag takes a nosedive and the in-house technology consultant gives a green light.

Until then, I'll content myself with the guy on the cover.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Show Miis

If any of you out there have the grand thing called Wii, you know what I'm talking about when I refer to Miis. For those of you that don't, they are little electronic characters based on the player which can be programmed pretty darn close to the real thing. You can set height, weight, hair color, eye color, lip shape, age marks, makeup, etc.

Maybe it's this lingering head cold I got from waiting 3 hours in the freezing weather to nab one, but I had the trippy idea of making my characters into a menagerie of Miis. I asked my boyfriend, whose property the Wii is, and he looked at me if I really had lost my mind. So while he was in his office, I booted that baby up and proceeded to play Frankenstein. Mwahaha!

After about twenty minutes, I had my main cast of characters following random Wii programming as the Shandars bowed when they popped on the screen, Zara and Awyn went head to head, and CHIRI decided to check all the other Miis out. Of course CHIRI isn't a metallic box as she appears in most of TIES OF VALOR. I made her as she pictured herself--blonde and bodacious with the addition of a beauty mark. While I sat there watching her walk about, I thought hmmm...what would the sentient computer do with a body?

At first it felt weird to see my characters plodding around in the Plaza, or even meandering with others in a Parade, but picture the coolness of seeing them pop up as players on my Wii Baseball team! I mean how awesome is it to have your movements translate to Mii characters inside games when they'd previously existed only in your imagination?

Kooky is exactly what my boyfriend thought when I showed him my masterpieces. He started laughing, his belly shaking, and wouldn't tell me WHY it was so funny. What do you think--cool or crazy? And if you want me to share them with you in Wii universe, I'll figure out a way to beam TIES OF VALOR's Who's Who to you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Discipline and the Writer

I've just taken a month off writing and am now blinking at my list of projects as I decide which one to start on next. Wisdom dictates I ease back in with the one I know will be easiest or more fun to write, but they're all stories I've been planning for a while and am itching to write. What happens when you take personal time, however, is that your writing muscle seems to atrophy. Much like exercising, you have to go through the aches and pains, the stops and starts, all over again. The flow seems to dry up.

It seems when you sign up to the writing gig you're taking on a lifestyle. Writing is a way of life. It seems that those who write religiously every day are those that seem to be more prolific, whereas those who take breaks seem to find it harder to climb back on the writing horse again. The procrastination bug seems to bite them hard, the blank page seems impossible to fill, and disaster and despair looms as the resulting fear blocks any creativity.

I've always been fascinated by prolific writers who can write up to 9 or 10 full novels a year with relative ease. I've pored over their working methods, thinking to emulate them if I just found out their 'secret'. It seems to be bum in seat however for x number of hours a day. Nothing mysterious about that, just an iron will that enforces a strict discipline. Came rain or shine, they're tapping away at their keyboard. Ideas seem never-ending to these writers, the words seem to flow, characters appear and interact, the story ends - and on to the next book.

Apart from the discipline, a great number of them seem to write with their internal completely switched off. The first draft is written fast and furiously, just getting it all down. Editing is reserved for the second and future drafts. I've noted a number of modern prolific authors who do this: Nora Roberts/JD Robb and Lyn Viehl (who explains this method in her ebook The Way of the Cheetah), and other-era writers such as Barbara Cartland, Enid Blyton, Georges Simenon and John Creasey - who all vie for the title of the most prolific author ever with up to 600 titles on their resumes.

I think you need to be a little bit driven to reach these dizzy heights in production, however. While I long to be amongst their number for sheer volume I haven't the discipline or, I suspect, the Type A personality necessary to achieve it. I'm fascinated by what motivates them, however. I can't imagine it's just the money. Most of them were wealthy well before their deaths, and their output barely suffered afterwards. So what do you think would motivate someone to achieve this kind of production?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winding Up the Year

It’s that time again. December is here [though you wouldn’t know it in Northern NJ where the weather feels more like spring today], and there’s so much to do before the year is over.

My TO DO list is overflowing with chores: clean the house really good [that one’s always on there], finish Christmas shopping [I start in October usually], wrap the presents, write out Christmas cards, finish my WIPs, bake some goes on and on.

What’s on your TO DO list this time of year? Do you go into overdrive mode like I do? I try to cram as much as I can into each day. I keep lists, stack things up on my desk that need to be done so I’ll remember to go through them, jot notes on my calendar and generally run around like a nut.

Oddly, I don’t mind it. There’s something about the holidays that energize me. Come January, I’m like a clock in the Dali painting, and I’m quite content just to drape myself over the nearest piece of furniture and ruminate on all I’ve accomplished in December.

I know people who are the opposite. They drag through the holidays, stressed by all the activity, then bounce back into the swing of things at New Years ready to start the calendar from the beginning again. Which one are you?

Here’s a few things to add to your TO DO list [in case it’s looking a little sparse]

Hop over to Two Voices and check out my new contest. It’s easy to enter!

Scroll down and read Lynda’s post from yesterday. She has some great excerpts from her book, Heartstone!

Keep coming back to Star Crossed in December and check out our upcoming Holiday Treats Week, our Contest Week, our Christmas Photo Week and our New Year’s Resolution Week!

Buy more books. You can never have enough stuff to read.