Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dairy free lemon bars vanished. Residents baffled.

Last night I told my youngest I knew he'd been raiding my private stash of nuts, which he's always denied. As a mom, I KNOW. It's the eyes in the back of my head and the radar ears. I told him I knew, because his siblings hate pecan unless it's in pie, and the eldest won't even touch crunchy peanut butter.

Crime detection is easy when you only have three kids.

Anyway, he said: No way! When I steal nuts, it's always the cashews.

And then he realized what he'd admitted. I'm still laughing.

I also made lemon bars last night, a recipe that I hadn't attempted because of the massive amounts of butter and cream called for. I couldn't bear the disappointment.

However, two years of dairy and gluten free baking have left me with mad skills. Not only were they excellent, they vanished. Poof! I'd suspect goblins, except for the gleam in my husband's eye.

Lemon Bars 
I was scared to try these because of the massive amounts of butter in the original recipe, but two years of GFCF baking left me with mad skills. My family was thrilled.


1 ¼ c GF flour mix
½ c powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla
½ c light olive oil or canola

1. Mix dry stuff. Add wet stuff and stir until combined. For best results, chill dough 90 min to hydrate, but it’s optional.
2. Pat in a 9x9, foil lined pan and bake at 350 F for 20 min, or until slightly browned.

While that’s baking, work on the filling:


4 eggs
1 c + 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 c lemon juice (bottled is fine)
¼ c fresh zest or 1 tbsp dried*
3 tbsp milk of choice*
2 tbsp light olive oil or canola
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chocolate extract

1. Place everything in a pan. Heat on medium, stirring until slightly thickened (will begin to steam a bit). Strain the filling with a fine mesh strainer to remove bits of peel and globs of egg. Pour over the hot crust and bake 10 to 15 min until filling giggles slightly when the pan is gently shaken. Remove from the oven and cool (an inverted cupcake pan works great).
2. When it’s completely cool, use the foil to lift the bars from the pan so you can slice the bars into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

*I used a heaping spoonful of preserved, salted lemon, which I keep in jars in the fridge for awesome lemon-garlic chicken. Simply whirl washed, chopped lemons in a food processor with a generous amount of salt and store in jars in the fridge. It naturally ferments and softens the flavor, making this an awesome seasoning. Also great in hummus.
*I used coconut milk

The cornstarch helps firm the filling and helps keep the eggs from curdling. Oil provides rich mouth feel, vanilla and chocolate provide “buttery” richness.

Snippet: heat her up

Breaker has been driving me crazy. It took a couple of days, but I finally realized why the book stalled.

Silly dragons.

In other news, Bramble Burn is out today! Positive reviews really drive sales, so if you get a chance, please leave one at the place you bought the book. God bless you sister! Unless you're a mister...

Clearly, I haven't had enough coffee if I'm breaking out in rhyme. Enjoy the snippet.


This is a snippet from Breaker's Ruin, book 2 of the Convergence Series and a work in progress. Book one of the series, Bramble Burn, is available wherever ebooks are sold.

Argh! “You don’t count,” she snapped. “I’m going to bed. You can let yourself out.”
Breaker sat in an overstuffed chair. He wouldn’t mind following her and pursing the conversation, but Luke needed watching. He seemed fine now, but drugs sometimes had unpredictable side effects. It wouldn’t do for him to transform and wreck his sister’s home. “Hot tempered, isn’t she?”
Luke snorted. “She needs to get married. Dad and I keep introducing her to suitable drakes, and she keeps running. I wish you luck.”
“Do you? She’s your sister.” The young drake seemed nice enough, but he had to wonder at his motives. Was he ambitious?
Luke fixed dilated eyes on him. “I’m drugged, not stupid. I want my sister to live a long time, and of course, choosing a dragon is the only sane thing to do. Why would she mate a human and choose a human lifespan, when she could live for hundreds or thousands of years?”
“Love?” Not that he was motivated by love, but surely Luke was young enough to be romantic.
Luke grunted. “My dad is ancient and my mom is human. I want my sister to live so I have family, but there’s no reason she can’t fall for a dragon.”
“Not a romantic, I see. You definitely take after your father. He’s a cool planner, too.” He watched closely to gauge Luke’s reaction.
Luke scowled. “My dad’s a good guy. He’s just…old. Stuffy.” He chewed on that. “Absentminded unless a danger is right under his nose.”
“He’s also been an advisor to three kings, an ambassador and a warrior. He’s outlived all of his generation. I’m glad he made certain to preserve his bloodline, but doesn’t seem to have shared much of his personal history. I could loan you a biography, if you like. I have one of the most accurate ones.”
“There’s more than one?” Luke asked, surprised.
“He’s famous, one of our treasures. I’ll have it delivered.” Daisy might not realize, but any drake would think it an honor to marry Malcolm’s adopted daughter. The fact that she was one of the rare elf hybrids with the gene to become a dragon only made her more attractive. Even if she hadn’t been lusciously plump and pretty, she’d have a flock of suitors.

Thinking of her scent made his eyes narrow in remembered lust. She smelled like sex in a pine forest on a bed of wintergreen, cool and clean. The distinctive changeling smell made him want to heat her up.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vanicream sensitive lotion

Product Details

For readers dealing with allergies, this is the only lotion I've found that I don't react to, and I've tried ALL of the "sensitive" lotions in my Walmart. They make a sunscreen, too. Super grateful. 
Click the pic to go to Amazon.

So Delicious ice cream

Mocha Almond Fudge
This stuff is awesome! My local Walmart is carrying the whole So Delicious ice cream line now, and I'm thrilled! Finally, tasty ice cream again. God bless 'em.

Friday, April 24, 2015

ergonomic writer

This last round of edits convinced me to buy an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. It was less than $40 on Amazon, and I need it if my hands and wrists are going to hold up to heavy computer work. After all, I already have the ergonomic chair, which is awesome, and the exercise ball, which I alternate with. I'd rather spend time sitting at my desk when possible over sitting in the recliner with my laptop on a pillow. It was fairly comfortable, but not as good for me.

Today I'm working on Breaker's Ruin, and I'm on pg 46. I hope to release it by late summer.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Poop like a python

Squatty Potty! I laughed until I cried. My daughter almost died. My husband says no, but I want to go!

Squatty Potty Ecco Toilet Stool, White, 9 Inch

This changes everything. Well, okay... just pooping.November 6, 2013
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This review is from: Squatty Potty Ecco Toilet Stool, White, 9 Inch (Health and Beauty)
I gingerly climbed on top of the plastic contraption now ringing my porcelain throne. It soon became apparent that I couldn't keep my britches at my ankles as I normally did. No, they had to go entirely, along with my underthings. And if there is anything more ridiculous on this planet than the sight of a human man wearing a t-shirt and nothing else, I have yet to experience it. So in the interest of saving myself this unfortunate view, I doffed the shirt as well. Now entirely naked, I again attempted to step onto the device. I was unsure, but it seemed to hold. I settled down to the seat, with only the extremities of my posterior touching. My knees were up at my chest. This, plus my complete nakedness, felt very primal. It felt third-world and adventurous. It felt... RIGHT. I concentrated on the task at hand. I had felt a slight urge to go, and had been eager to try out the new purchase. I had been intrigued by the promise that my business would henceforth require substantially less effort on my part, because of the wild beast–man position it forced upon me. But I was still skeptical. It sounded too good to be true. Surely the difference couldn't be that dras— HOLY HELL I'M POOPING.

Well, let me clarify. It wasn’t so much that I was dropping a deuce. Oh, it was being dropped; that much was undeniable. But I couldn't really claim agency on said descent. Gravity was doing the work. I was merely the meaty husk from which it made its hasty escape. Used to more of a segmented approach to waste disposal, I was quite surprised that the creature making its egress from my nethers had more the appearance of a python. Smooth, and consistent in width, it coiled luxuriously in a pool of toilet water that is (or at least was) cleaner than the water that most of the people on this planet drink. As it continued to coil, my emotional state flowed from one of surprise, to horror, to amazement, and then again to horror as the snake coiled higher and higher, like soft serve ice cream at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. It was now surfacing above the water line. But still, the snake showed no signs that it was anywhere near finished with its journey. In a panic, I pawed at the flusher. The poor toilet strained, but eventually sent things on their way. But I wasn’t done yet. As the toilet flushed the waste away, more came to replace it. As the flush subsided, the coil started anew. And then I was done. I tried to catch my breath as the toilet flushed a second time. I felt my liver shift and expand, unsure what to do with all the extra space now afforded to it. I cleaned up and stood, almost dizzy after the affair. “Wow. A+++”, I thought to myself. “Would poop again.”

“Very well,” my bowels seemed to answer, “let’s have another go!”

“Surely you’re joking”, I thought, scrambling to once again work myself into proper Tarzanic stance. There couldn’t possibly be anything left inside of me. I genuinely began to worry that what would come out next might be some vital organ, brought to a freedom-seeking frenzy by all the commotion. But no, it was yet another perfectly formed tube of human excrement. I sat, mouth agape, as number two (round two) breached the water line and came to a graceful finish, leaving an improbable conical shape below me. As I flushed the toilet for the third time in what had astoundingly only been about 70 seconds I wondered if life would ever be the same again.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

After three freakishly LONG days, I got BB edited and uploaded. It will be available April 30, wherever ebooks are sold.

If you've ever edited 95 k on a deadline, you know what it feels like to have your eyeballs melt out of your sockets. Next time, I'll know that I need more time.

Due to pollen allergies, I have to view my yard mostly from the windows, but it looks great! Flowering fruit trees, daffodils and tulips perk me right up. We have quail in the backyard and birds enjoy our stone birdbaths and bird feeders. I have tomato and pepper starts in the windows and we've got a couple of peanuts for my youngest and I to experiment with. I still have to navigate pine pollen season, but after that I can play in the garden to my heart's content.

To combat the allergies, I've been taking lots of vitamin C (huge help, esp. with anemia), taking dairy free probiotics and experimenting with homemade miso (delicious).

The miso is made with red beans and rice and was cultivated using koji (rice cultured with special fungi) I ordered from Japan via Amazon. It took a month to get here, but I wasn't in a hurry and it was only $12 bucks. Now I have a half gallon of tasty miso bubbling on my counter, and I do think it's helping with overall energy. I heat rice or noodles and stir in a spoonful of miso for lunch, and its surprisingly filling.

Cooking with cultures is fun!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Today is not a good day. I have allergies, a virus and various frustrations. This is no time to be a special snowflake; I have edits. It will all be worth it. I'm so close, I can almost taste the celebration wine.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wake with a scream

My youngest (now 15) used to have night terrors. I'd wake in the wee hours with something breathing on my face and scream, which made my husband wake with a yell and caused my son to cry.

We quickly learned that he couldn't be  woken or reasoned with, and he never remembered the episodes in the morning. Simply cuddling with him (we had a full size bed, not even a queen at the time, so no room) or taking him back to bed didn't work, because he'd quickly wander back. He didn't seem to hear us when we talked, so I'd cuddle him in his bed until he drooped off. This went on at least once a year until he was about 12.

Last night, I woke to someone violently shaking me (well, it felt violent, since I've been having trouble sleeping and had just dropped off).

"Mom! I'm hot and I have a fever. I need some medicine!" I might be muddled on the exact words, but it was o-dark-thirty.

Thankfully, my husband woke up and took care of it, but it's amazing that no matter how the bed is positioned, the kids always come to me. If I was more of a morning person, I'd be flattered. As it is, I'm nursing a cup of coffee and fighting off the fever my kid brought home. I have edits and a deadline, and no time for viral fog.

Also, my daughter (16) just got her driver's permit and is taking driver's ed. Eep! Thankfully, my husband enjoys teaching them how to drive, and we have a beater car dedicated to the task. One more round of driver's ed for my youngest after that and we're done.

Okay, gotta give Breaker some just desserts. Back to dragons.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How I decide what to write next

I'm highly visual. I wasn't going to start a new series; I had perfectly good series that needed following up. Unfortunately, my brain decided otherwise. I started having daydreams about a giant tree, which became (crude) comic book panels. My storyboard then required typing...and Bramble Burn was born.

Daydreams are my method for story building. I can't daydream if I'm stressed, so no creative writing gets done. That's when I do formatting, website update and humdrum stuff. I have to be excited to spend months writing a story, and I can't force it. Only strong daydreams, the ones that really grip me, get written; I let the other ones go.

I can't seem to visualize a series beyond three or four books. I get bored. This isn't a bad thing, as new and exciting worlds emerge. Writing is my version of play, and it's a pleasure to bring readers along for the ride.

So word of warning: you might fall in love with a character. You may be beset with insatiable curiosity about their story. My suggestion: fan fiction. Go for it, make your own HEA for your favorites! Explore your artistic talents. Cosplay.

Now that you're busy, I'm going to sneak away and get back to writing...

Little slice of Japan

I ordered koji rice from Japan via Amazon so I can make miso without soy, b/c I'm allergic. Any bean works. South River Miso sells good stuff, but it's cheaper to make my own, and I like adventure! No doubt I'll put moldy food in a book soon.

Love Asian food, so soy sauce is a must. Coconut aminos work, but not quite the same, and $6 per little bottle is outrageous.

That, and I'm stuck indoors with stupid pollen, so kitchen chemistry to the rescue! I love food science. Acids and bases and emulsions thrill me!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Snippet from Breaker's Ruin: He's a good catch

This is a snippet from Breaker's Ruin, book 2 of the Convergence Series and a work in progress. Book one of the series, Bramble Burn, will be released April 30.

“Of course he’s old,” Luke groused. “How did you not know that? Only old dragons are white. Bleached, they say.” His head flopped on the couch as he exhaled smoke. “That’s why he acts like a grumpy old man.”
“They pale with age,” Breaker assured her, one eye on Luke. “I’d better stay until he sobers. Do you have tea?” Dragons loved firethorn tea with a mad love, and it was good for the fire organs. Every dragon household stocked it.
“Right. I’ll get you both a cup.” She rattled around the kitchen, conscious of how bizarre it was to have Verbreaker, the Skylord’s son and right hand, in her living room. Not that she usually thought of him like that. In fact, he was a frequent visitor to Bramble Burn, and she’d known him long enough to think of him as a dangerous pest. He said he came for the spectacular monster hunting in the park, but he’d made no secret of his interest in her.
The jerk.
It made her mad every time she thought about it. Sure, she was cute and curvy, if a bit plump for current fashion, but he could do better. He could have a dragon female if he chose; he simply thought he’d have a better shot of hatchlings with her.
She smacked a cup on the counter harder than she’d intended. She got it. He was a dragon and she was a changeling. Dragons couldn’t reproduce easily and females were rare. Daisy had a gene that would solve his need for an heir. There was no other reason for him to pursue a lowly biologist.
The cold logic of his plan hurt, but it was so typical of dragons. Brilliant creatures, they were sly, long range planners. While they were fiercely protective of those they loved, trust came slowly.
Malcolm had been like that with her mother. Fire in courtship, ice once married, the saying went. Dragons married human women to have offspring, which were always born dragons-in-human-form. They kept their vows for the length of the mother’s life, but humans didn’t live long, not when compared to a dragon.
She muttered to herself.
“What’s not fair?” Breaker joined her at the kitchen counter and accepted tea for Luke and himself. “Thank you.”
“Dragon lifespan,” she groused, deciding to leave the tea things out. They could make more if they liked while she went to bed.
Breaker handed Luke his cup and smiled slyly. “You could live as long if you wished.”
“You could,” Luke echoed with sudden enthusiasm, twisting around to look at her. “You should take Breaker. He’s a good catch.”
“You’re drugged! You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she retorted. “Aren’t you supposed to snarl that no one is good enough for me? It’s what you do.” Malcolm didn’t even need to growl. He stared at any male who presumed to talk to her with chilling intent, nipping any potential flirting in the bud. Luke was as bad, terrifying her dates until word got out at collage that her dragon family would devour anyone who looked at her.
Graduation hadn’t improved the pool of eligible bachelors, because the drakes they’d introduced her to left her cold.
If she died unmarried, it wouldn’t be a surprise.
“That’s because you’re not smart enough to date a dragon,” Luke said reasonably.
“Maybe I don’t like dragons,” she griped. Breaker looked like he was enjoying their sibling squabble, and it made her grumpy. He didn’t need any more insight into her life.
“You like them,” Luke said confidently.
Stupid arrogant drake. “Maybe I don’t trust them,” she replied with false sweetness.
Breaker spread his arms. “Deadliest thing in the sky, and you let me into your living room.”

Luke snickered.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

pre-order panic

So I’m checking email, making a chore list and battling a bit o’ stuffy head from allergies, and I see that Amazon helpfully sent me this:

Thank you for making your book Bramble Burn available for pre-order.
We see that you have not yet submitted the final version of the book file. Please remember you are required to provide the final file by 04/20/2015. Maintaining a positive customer experience is important, and delivering your book on schedule is required to retain access to pre-order. If you do not upload the final version of your book on time, your pre-order will be cancelled and customers will be notified that you did not publish your book. Also, you will lose pre-order access for one year.

And I think, panic! What if I break an arm, or someone dies, or it rains turtles?! This is why I don’t like pre-orders! I'm only one person, and I have no backup plan. Run about, wave arms.

And then I think, you know, if it’s such a problem, discipline yourself to get the book edited and sit on it so it can pre-order properly. Mark Coker (Smashwords) swears that it drives sales, and that's important.

This is were I lecture my daughter (who says she's going to write books like Mom, and is working on practice graphic novels daily) on the importance of business sense. Artists are selling a product, and we can't afford to be special snowflakes, too delicate for the real world. Whatever she ends up doing, she'd need to understand contracts, deadlines and editing, and possibly how to work with other freelancers as a team. She'll need an understanding of budgets, royalties and taxes, and she'll need to be able to evaluate suggestions to see what improves the work and what doesn't.

It's not enough to be an excellent artist, although that is wonderful and fulfilling. It's about having the determination to wash, rinse, repeat. That's what separates a hobby from a profession.
My fruit trees are alive, with only a bit of browning on the very tips of one or two almond blossoms. Fist pump! I'm in business, baby.

My youngest son (14) has red, swollen eyes from pollen, but salt water rinses have been very helpful in reducing it, so now he doesn't look like he's been in a brawl.

Just heard that my sister in law's whole family has gone gluten & dairy free because her kids are sensitive. Since they're visiting for a week in the fall, that will help a LOT. I like to hug the kids in my family without reaching for my epi-pen because they're covered in milk. Talk about conflicted--cute baby cuddle vs. anaphyaxis.

My son wants to learn coding, and guess what? Youtube has videos on it. Best library ever...used properly.

Monday, April 6, 2015

It's snowing on my blooming fruit trees! Thankfully it's melting as it hits the ground and it's not that cold. I've been spraying the frost off them before the sun hits the past few mornings and praying. I've got honeycrisp apples, pears, plum, cherry, kiwi, blueberries, a delicious nectarine and a dwarf peach, so I'm pray I get fruit this year.

The rhubarb I know will live; that stuff thrives even in Alaska.

Easter was nice. I enjoyed cooking. Walmart sells chocolate crosses and mazes, so we go the kids some; even teens like Easter gifts.

My husband is hot for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, so we're "living like no one else so that later, we can live like no one else". Cracking his ribs and lacerating his spleen really made an impression on him, and he's determined to make sure I'm taken care of if something happens to him. I'm very proud of him.

Of course, now this means that the budget is king, and it's a change to see him with a calculator at the store, making sure we stay on budget. He religiously brown bags it now, and it's amazing to see how much he saves by not buying junk food.

Side note on the junk food: by switching from soda to pure fruit juice and cutting down on sugar, his high blood pressure is now normal and he has more energy. Nice, huh? He takes it in his thermos at work.

He's never been bad about it, but he's never put his mind to saving, either. There's a big difference.

God can do amazing things. Believe me, no amount of talking on part could ever have gotten him this excited about this. I reinforces my belief that people will change when they're good and ready and not a moment sooner.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Pollen hit. Breathing's fine, but the eyes! At least I'm getting work done.

Roast chicken for Sunday dinner, maybe game hens, deviled eggs, green bean casserole. Lemon and pecan pie were requested.

Spaghetti squash and Brussels sprouts were strictly forbidden.

I'd post a snippet, but that would contain spoilers. Instead I'll say that Breaker's Ruin is at 30 pgs.

Each book is different. This one has tossed lots of plot twists at me, and I've finally settled on one, thankfully. I was feeling guilty about browsing pintrest while I debated.