Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Deb Vanasse, author and former English teacher

This is a book from one of my former English teachers, Deb Vanasse. She still lives in Alaska, but used to teach high school at North Pole High, among other places. She currently lives in Eagle River, close to Anchorage, AK. It's because of teachers like her that I'm able to do what I do. Hats off to teachers, who manage to make some of us literate despite politics and bureaucrats.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marketing jitters

I've very reluctantly been looking into marketing. I'm very uncomfortable with the whole process. I'd like people to read my book, like it and pass the word and grow readership that way. I don't want to do email lists, etc. Still, it might be good for me to look into it. I just don't want to be so stressed and focused over it that I can't write.

Today, for instance, has been a crummy writing day. Between the teens and feeling rather off, I've got little done. I might knock off and cook something, read a book, whatever. I need a change of pace.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rowen & Gold Cover

New cover for Rowen & Gold. No release date yet, but I'll post a snippet soon.


We pulled the carpet out of my office yesterday. After looking at the concrete, we decided it's better to continue the wood from the living area instead of paint it. Didn't tell John what I was up to, but he took it rather well. We'd been planning on it, but he didn't expect it to happen so soon.

Have finally harnessed the kids destructive potential; kept them motivated by saying it was a surprise for dad and making them feel like they were doing something vaguely naughty. Heh.

Had to move my bookshelves into the living room temporarily. Even though I've kept my collection pared down with the Nook, two shelves is a lot of books to move. I may have to see if I can donate some.

Crazy windstorm yesterday. Zero to sixty in a minute, clouds of dust, driving rain, hail, then it was over. Couldn't have lasted longer than 20 min, and John got home on his motorcycle just as it started.

Need to write today; there's a reason I didn't go into construction.

I've also redone the cover for Iron & Hemlock. It needed a redesign to tie it with Rowen & Gold, and this is an easy one to replicate. It's different from anything I've seen before, but fun. I really enjoy cover art.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Release date for Gargoyles in the Attic

I'm working on R&G now and will get to GITA edits later today. I'm going to release it August 1.

Gargoyle Howl is more interested in bacon than candy, but he finds a sweet thing in chocolatier Fiona Creed. Can he charm her human parents, or will his romance turn sour?

A short story set in the world of Iron & Hemlock.
16,000 words

Snippet: Do we get to kill something?

“Who’s the girl? Do we get to kill something?” Lance, a thin purple youngster settled into a tree and surveyed the dead hounds with interest.
“Our guest,” Sage supplied, gesturing for Rook to collect her. “Gently now. Round up the horse for me, lads, and no, you can’t eat it. Feel free to dine on the hellhounds if you see them, though.”
“Don’t get excited; they don’t taste good,” Vic cautioned. He carefully picked up the girl and launched with a sweep of his wings, the owl escorting them.
The estate spread out before them, acres of woods surrounded by a high wall. It was interesting that Mrs. James hadn’t encountered a wall on her sojourn onto their land, but he suspected the house might have something to do with that. Much like a woman, the house had a mind of its own. Hardly surprising, as once it had been a woman. Perhaps she’d decided she’d like more company.
The graveled drive wound a quarter mile to the Gothic style house. He could see she’d added some interesting arches and a round tower; he could only speculate what that would look like on the inside. Recently he’d found his room had moved up an entire floor, though the house had thoughtfully added indoor plumbing and a private bath. He hadn’t minded the improvement.
He angled toward the balcony he shared with the guestroom next door; not that they had a surfeit of guests, but the house liked to stay busy and added the room last month. It made for an easy landing as Vicious swooped down and perched on the rail. Assuming his human form, Sage took the woman and carried her into the guest room as the house thoughtfully opened the French doors for him. “See if Jordan is available,” he advised the gargoyle. “She’ll be very helpful here.”
Though it was night, his owl’s vision could see that the room was done in blue and yellow, with comfortable leather furniture piled with pillows. He crossed the hardwood floor, his feet muffled by the large floral patterned rug. A practical man, he felt little compunction about stripping his guest down to her chemise before laying her on the sheets.
The house thoughtfully turned up the gaslights as he searched for injuries, using the sheet to preserve her modesty. She had a curvy figure, generously padded in all the best places, and Irish features. Her dark red hair was still bound and pinned, and he wondered if it hurt. Just in case, he slipped the pins free.

She’d darkened her brows and her lips were a pretty burgundy, and she wore a light dust of powder that failed to hide a faint dust of freckles on her cute nose. He tried to remain unruffled as he examined a nasty bruise on her side, wondering if she’d managed to crack some ribs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

100 degrees and all is well

I told my kids they can only talk to me when I leave the computer, so my youngest ambushes me with the urgent question of how old our dog is. Then my daughter wants me to decide which clothes she's allowed to donate. Nobody is satisfied when I say I'll look into it later, but I'm in a creative daze and they'll have to deal with it.

My oldest is plugging away at Unity. It's a challenging game program and he doesn't do well with manuals, so I set him up with YouTube tutorials. It's working and he's happy.

My youngest had learned how to use clippers on our terrier mix and it saves us money, so that's cool. Kids are making chocolate sorbet mix, which we all love. It's going to be 100 again today, so I'm gulping iced tea. The Army Corp of Engineers did a study proving that coffee and caffeine aren't dehydrating, so ha! Seems to work for me.

We've arrived. We're in that sweet spot, the place where family is well and happy, summer is golden and butterflies and honeybees grace our garden. We have bills, but we can pay them. Things break, but we can replace or fix them. We laugh at dinner while sharing delicious garden veggies and admiring a vase of our roses. If I'm ever tempted to earn more or do more, I need to remember this time.

You can't buy a happy home, but you can grow it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Snippet: Rowen & Gold

Rowen & Gold

Super-duper book blurb here.
XXX words

Chapter 1

Sonja gave Julius his head, smiling as he put on a burst of speed. Her father-in-law would say it was foolhardy to let him race over the wet meadow, but it was only a short run. Besides, she was fleeing everything to do with her in-laws that afternoon; she didn’t need his disapproving voice in the back of her head. He didn’t like her riding astride, didn’t care for the big gelding her husband had given her…didn’t like her, period.
Julius cleared the stone fence and thundered down the lane. Damon had understood her love for horses, the freedom she felt in the saddle. He’d bought the blue roan for her as a wedding gift, knowing the beast would provide the solace sadly lacking in his father’s house.
The sky looked ready to unleash at any moment, but it had been raining all week and she was tired of being indoors. She slowed to a trot and took the seldom used track that ran between her father-in-law’s and Lord Griffin’s properties. Fending off overgrown hemlock, she made a note to ask her father-in-law to send someone to deal with clearing the brush. He might even do it, especially if he thought it would get her out more often.
It wasn’t as if she didn’t wish to socialize, but disgraced widows were not popular guests for tea.
A keening cry came from somewhere nearby, making Julius shy. Sonja glanced uneasily at the misty trees. She hadn’t heard of any wild animals roaming the countryside, but a pack of loose dogs could cause all manner of havoc. Caution might be best.
A strange whooping call sounded as she wheeled Julius and he balked, backing away from the trail home. Ignoring her coaxing, he whirled around and charged into Lord Griffin’s woods.
Julius was smart, but he was just a horse. She guided him as best she could, trying to persuade him to circle around. A call sounded, closer this time, and Julius put on a fresh burst of speed. She flattened herself to his back and held on, terrified of being swept off. Her hat flew off, victim of a branch that raked her face. He jumped a log and landed roughly, jostling her off balance.
Suddenly something huge swooped down from the sky, diving directly for them. She got an impression of angel wings before Julius shied, throwing her from the saddle…and it was lights out for Sonja.

The enormous white owl dove for the black hound. The hound snapped at the horse’s hamstring and got a hoof in the face. The beast snarled with saber teeth too big for its mouth and crouched, ready to spring. It yelped as dagger-sharp talons dug into its back, severing its spine. The owl tossed it aside to writhe uselessly on the ground as it dove at the pack, herding them away from the woman lying on the ground. He hoped she wasn’t dead, but he didn’t have time to check.
The owl back winging to avoid the rabid jaws of another beast. It would be easier if he could gain some air, but he couldn’t leave the girl in reach of the dogs, couldn’t safely pick her up and fly.
“Save some for me!” A sleek blue gargoyle with black hair swooped in, raking the pack with his vicious clawed feet. He landed on a hellhound and ripped into it with his talons, biting through the thick neck with wicked teeth. “Yuck! These things do not taste like chicken,” he spat with disgust, leaping off the now gurgling dog.
“Can you think of something other than dinner?” The owl demanded.
“Like lunch?” Vicious gouged a hound’s eye out. With a howl of defeat, the hounds retreated, running for the shelter of the foggy woods. He watched to make certain they weren’t coming back.
The owl shifted form, becoming a man. His immaculate white suit matched his precisely cut, shoulder length white hair, and he examined the woman with shrewd golden eyes. He ran his hands over her gently, searching for damage. “Other than this bruise on her temple, I can’t see any obvious damage. We need to take her home.” He meant their home, of course. Sage recognized their neighbor Mrs. James, but there was no question of delivering her to her home via gargoyle. It would be much faster to fly her to their home.
The sound of large wings heralded the arrival of two other gargoyles. Howl, a wolf-like, gray gargoyle landed with a pounce. “Did you know there’s a horse running loose?” He caught sight of the woman and cocked his head. “Oh.”

21st Aniversary

Gabby woke this morning complaining of chills and body aches; we're either passing around a cold or catching a surprising number of them.

My eldest turned 17 yesterday, so John took the kids to the Golden Coral. I'm too allergic to hang out in places with milk vapers, etc., and I don't even LIKE GC, but I hated to miss out on his birthday dinner. I fought the blues by buying shrimp, wine and Cocoa Pebbles then watching a cooking show while texting John. John's not into GC either, so it was nice to be reminded that I wasn't missing anything. Also, we're going to lunch at Central Foods soon, and that's hard to bet.

Today is our 21st anniversary, and he left me a love letter complete with stick figure family and pets. I love that man.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Working on Rowan and Gold today, Sage's story. The van is in the body shop, because my teen scraped the passenger side on a pillar. I was in it at the time (he only has a permit) and was able to save the rear view mirror. Thankfully, it's only two years old and after the $500 deductible, insurance covers it.

I didn't yell, because he already felt bad. However, we're not in a hurry to let him get his licence quite yet. Besides doubling our insurance, he's not confident enough yet. He can take all the time he needs...while driving the practice car.

Holding on to our knickers, because our daughter will get her permit this fall, and our youngest next year. I don't even know what boredom is anymore.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

GITA done!

Finished Gargoyles in the Attic and sent it to Judy!

Gargoyles ITA almost done, chocolate mochi cake

I'm working on the end of GITA today.

Also, I feel like a rock star in the kitchen again. I had to fight off poachers with a wooden spoon when they caught sight of my pretty little cakes. I have a stash in the freezer for the times I feel bummed when I someone is munching on a doughnut or Twinkie. Once you've had these, processed snack foods simply don't satisfy.

The sweet rice flour makes the cake firm and springy, which is great for petit fours (mine are the size of square cupcake, because I don't do tiny food).

Adapted from Kumquat

Chocolate Mochi Cakes

1             cups (about 325 grams) sweet rice flour (mochiko)
1 c          white rice flour
1 3/4       cups sugar
1/4 c       cocoa powder
1/2          tablespoon baking soda
13 oz (1 can) canned unsweetened coconut milk
2             large eggs
1/2          tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4          cup olive oil

* GFCFSF chocolate melted with a bit of coconut or almond milk
* Jelly or jam of choice, marshmallow cream, pudding, etc.
* Whole cashews, almonds, coconut shreds, crushed nuts, cherries, mint leaves, etc. to garnish.

Preheat oven to 375°. Line the bottom and two sides an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the side or the pan. Spray with cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. In another bowl combine coconut milk, eggs, vanilla and coconut oil. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir until well-combined. 

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until cake is done when tested with a pick and sides are beginning to harden a bit. (over-baking is preferable to under-baking with this cake. under-baking produces an excessively gummy cake.) Allow cake to cool completely.

Cut cake into 16 (2-inch) squares. Split in half, fill with jelly, resemble. Place on cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap (I reused my baking foil) with a wire rack on top to catch drips. Freeze 25 min. Remove with fridge, top with melted chocolate and garnish (freezing firms the topping faster). Store in fridge or freezer.

These are even better the next day. Have fun!