Free Read Monday

Every Monday and Saturday in October, I’m going to post a snippet from Inheriting a Curse at the end of the month, the entire novella will be available as a free download. All snippets will be ‘g’ rated (no swearing or sex) BUT the novella will have some hot scenes.

Blurb:

Recently Katie Alstrom’s life had been one bad event followed by another so when she received a letter from a lawyer saying she’d inherited a house on ten acres of woods in a remote part of Oregon, she thought her luck had changed. She packed up all her belongings and left the city to peruse her dream of being a full-time writer.

Only when she arrives, she finds her dream house is something out a horror movie complete with seven gargoyles under a curse.

Ashton has spent the last five hundred years as a gargoyle. The moment Katie steps into the house, he begins to wake. His only desire is to kill Katie in a slow painful way as retribution for placing him and his six warriors under the curse. Yet to break the curse, he must trust Katie.

Pax, Ashton’s loyal friend and second in command, must make his friend see reason before the end of the month, October 31 or they all will be condemned to spend the rest of eternity as gargoyles. As the days fly by, Pax finds himself faced with a bigger problem, he’s the one falling in love with Katie and the thought of Ashton touching her makes his blood boil.

Chapter 1

Katie Alstrom stood, frozen, unable to make any of her muscles move. Her brain was too busy screaming NO to relay the necessary messages to her nerves that would have her running away. Matter of fact, it was a struggle to breathe. In and out, she told herself. Forcing the cold September air into her lungs. Tears rolled her cheeks. She hated to cry. She never cried, yet here she stood in front of a complete stranger, bawling.

“Are you alright, Ms. Alstrom?” The town’s clerk asked. “Well, here are the keys.” She forced them into Katie’s hand before she could reply. “Welcome to Hapsville.”

By the time Katie could turn to ask the woman about local hotels she could stay at, the woman’s car was disappearing down the long drive. Katie turned back to the house. She was fairly positive the Adam’s family would have found the place too creepy to stay in. Three large gargoyles were perched above dormers. Another loomed over the door and two more resided on the ground next to the stairs. And a massive one with wings stretched wide and hideous snarl at hate on it’s face sat on the chimney.

Her inheritance from an aunt she’d never heard of. The place she was going make her dreams come true. She should have known her luck hadn’t changed. After being let go from her job and dumped by her boyfriend, she’d thought inheriting the house had been a shift in karma.

“I must have been a serial killer of puppies in a previous life,” she whispered. The only explanation she had for being on the receiving end of such awful karma. She really wanted to follow the clerk but she had nowhere else to go. A muffled bark, forced her attention away from the house to her car. Gillian barked and clawed at the window.

She’d found the dog three years ago, abandoned in the alley behind the apartment complex where she’d lived. He’d been a cute small puppy, she’d taken home cleaned up and cuddled. Now he was a hundred and five-pound bed hog. Sighing, she walked toward the car. She’d terminated her lease thinking this would be the start over, she needed to become a full time writer.

Opening the car door, Gillian leapt out and raced toward a squirrel. The squirrel scurried up a tree and sat on a bare branch chattering an endless string of taunts.

(skipping ahead to the end of the chapter)

“Are you sure, she’s the one?” A harsh male voice whispered.

Gillian growled and pressed against Katie’s legs confirming the whispers weren’t in her head. She’d hoped the voice had been a hallucination caused by exhaustion. No such luck.

“I’m positive. You dare to doubt me?” A woman’s voice retorted.

Flinging the blankets back, Katie swung her legs off the bed. “Come on let’s see who our house guest are.”

As she stood, a roar tore through the night making the windows rattle and the floor shake.

“I told you, she’s the one.” The woman’s voice now held a smugness to it. “Now, the trick is keeping him from killing her.”

Advertisements

Writer’s Wednesday

To continue with the on-going project of re-purposing a magazine to a story idea, I used the next pages (which mean to date, I’ve only skipped one page). Have the creative challenge has become how to use the pages in my story.

Since I haven’t done a lot with character developing, I focused on that this week.

IMAG0038

For Marchesa – of course I left the eyes because that’s a basic element for my story. When the characters aren’t formed clearly in my head, I’ll often pick a random birth date and use the traits of that horoscope. I picked one thing to link her and Samuel – an interest – they both like Don Knott’s movies – the reason for those pictures and they are both seeking a relic – the map. Her favorite food is chili cheese fries with an egg on top. Born to Die – a Lana Del Ray song goes with the theme of her character and will be on the playlist. I just found the black rose card and will incorporate that somehow. I placed my items around the page to leave ‘words’ I thought added to her character. IMAG0041

For Samuel – must is the same as Marchesa. The motorcycle is the type of bike he rides. He loves hot dogs…. all kinds of hot doges. I’m using the moral on the Queen of Hearts card as his character growth.

What are some of the ways you develop your characters?

Thirsty and Tasty Thursday

Summer is almost done 😥 Actually for me it is. I went back to the crazy day job on Monday…

But never fear this week’s Thirsty and Tasty is features some summer yumminess…. Blueberries.

 

This is actually one of favorite summer drinks and I can’t believe I have done it on T&T before. It’s light. It’s refreshing. It has blueberries. And Rum – 2 flavors. So what’s not to like?

 

What you need:

  • 2 lemon slices
  • 8 blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 part light rum
  • 2 parts coconut rum

What you do:

  1. In a rocks glass or cocktail shaker, muddle the lemon slices, blueberries and brown sugar together. Pour into a tom collins glass, then fill the glass with ice. Pour the rum over the ice.
  2. Garnish with additional blueberries and a wedge of lemon.

 

While I love love love this cake, I don’t make it as often as I want because… well because… I eat it – A LOT of it.

 

What you need for the Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • For the topping
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 cup toasted flake coconut
  • What you do:
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl; set aside. Toss the blueberries in a little of the flour mixture until coated; set aside.
  3. Beat the shortening and 1 cup sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the floured blueberries, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour the batter into prepared pan.
  4. To make the topping, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and the cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until no small pieces of butter remain. Stir in the toasted coconut, then sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tourist Tuesday

Last week I featured a charming little park in the middle of downtown where I live. It has lovely flowers, soothing fountains, red brick paths, and a charming gazebo. A place for romance – or – murder :-O

This week, I’m going to share a few other local things that spark my muse.

Welcome to my neighborhood….

Where there are ….

Things that go nowhere…

Things that lurk in the fog…

Things abandoned in the woods…

And a red waterfall….

What do you see in my neighborhood, I’d love to hear

 

 

Tasty and Thirsty Thursday

This week’s tasty and thirsty is featuring bananas… I’m on the last week before returning to the crazy job so things are just a bananas anyway so I thought I should enjoy the actually fruit.

The martini – Spank the Monkey – just because I had soooo much fun telling my kids that me and hubby were going to Spank the Monkey…. my kids are very much of the mind set that a wild time for hubby and me is playing a game of checkers.

Anyway back to the martini. I had to play with the ratios a lot in this drink for some reason so all three flavors could be detected. It’s made with coconut vodka, pineapple vodka, and banana cream rum.

In a martini shaker with several cubes of ice add 1 part pineapple vodka, 1 1/2 part coconut vodka, and 2 parts banana cream rum. Then do the crazy monkey dance to blend. Pour into martini glass and ENJOY…

IMAG0232

For the banana tasty part, I’m sharing my recipe for banana bread using banana beer. I’ve shared this before a couple of years ago but it really is good and I’m not sure if there is a time that banana bread just does make everything better. I’m planning on trying the banana bread waffles that has been showing up on my timeline this weekend.

 

banana-beer

This is also really good in chocolate chip cookies

Banana Beer Bread

What you need:

1¾ cups all ­purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

1¼ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup walnuts, chopped

¾ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3 medium bananas, mashed

⅓ cup melted butter

¼ cup beer (highly recommend Wells Banana Bread Beer)

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the bananas, butter and beer. Fold the wet mixture into the dry, combining until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared load pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until awooden toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean and the top is golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 5­10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.

 

What is your favorite banana recipe?

Writer’s Wednesday

I’m still working on pre-writing/brain storming for my story – Love Blinds – yup got a title 🙂 This week, I added a snapshot of a scene that sets the relationship between Marchesa (the heroine) and Derek (her demon handler – bad guy). Samuel (hero) has just asked her to go away with him. He’s hoping if he can get Marchesa to himself for a few days he can make see it’s possible to leave. Only Derek shows up…and wham…

This is in the beginning of the story before Samuel realizes the depth of the hold Derek has on Marchesa. The scene is also to give the reader a clear understanding of why she isn’t just leaving with Samuel. That she’s not too stupid to live but the stakes are HIGH…

IMAG0234

This add was the next in the magazine. I like “A new way to Face (clearly I added every day). As Samuel is offering her this by ‘just letting go’ and ‘coming to a beach all our own’ Eye’s across the top are just something I had in my bag of goodies and since eyes are the key theme and have been featured on all the pages up to this…I added them. I wrote the snapshot on the bird paper as a challenge of a way to add them to the scene.

IMAG0235

I did remove three pages to get to the second page of this week’s prompt. I liked this because again her eyes are a focus. I also like the A fragrance to seduce the senses at the bottom under my add. I feel this needs more but as right now I’m not sure what… 

So far I’ve enjoyed this form of brain storming, it has led to some interesting twist in the development.

What are some unique brain storming/pre-writing things you have done?

Writer’s Wednesday

I’m continuing my using/recycling a magazine into a writing prompt. Last week was vague as I just started to brain storm but this week I felt the story coming together some what. I came up with the character’s names. I narrowed the premise down a bit… Samuel(my hero) is catching Marchesa (my heroine). She’s running because she can’t trust Samuel enough to risk her daughter’s life. I haven’t really found an angle with Marchesa’s eyes that I’m thrilled with yet…

IMAG0210 (1)

There is a secret obsession which I haven’t developed yet but I fell in love with the idea… the rest I’ve talked about

IMAG0211

Time is going to be a major factor in this story. Marchesa’s time is running out… why I haven’t developed yet but she’s desperate…. she needs to make sure her daughter is safe and she bring herself to trust Samuel.

These pages followed the those of last week. Next week my goal is to do 4 pages of prompts. Now that I’ve developed some basic blocks, I’m excited to continue to use this as food for my plot bunny.

Tasty Thursday

This week I’m still on my strawberry kick. Michigan has awesome strawberries but they are only available for a couple of weeks so I try to do as much as possible with them during that time.

I have another jam recipe. (Check out last weeks Tasty Thursday for Strawberry Coconut Rum jam). Strawberry Rhubarb is one of my favorite combos add pineapple and I’m close to heaven. This recipe is also a favorite for those who don’t want to use a pectin product or ‘mess’ with the ‘canning’ process.

The pancake recipe is a my families favorite – hands down. I make it every fourth of July and several other times through out the summer. I’ve never done it with frozen fruit in the sauce, I’m sure it would be fine just a little watery. But are some recipes that I like to do only at certain times and this is one I reserve just for the summer months.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pineapple Jam

What you need:

  • 1 – 20 ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 10 cups rhubarb, fresh
  • 10 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 – 3 ounce packages strawberry Jello
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup pineapple flavored rum

What you do:

  1. In a saucepan, combine fresh rhubarb, sugar and water.
  2. Bring mixture to a low boil and boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add (drained) crushed pineapple and strawberry Jello to mixture.
  4. Return to heat and cook on a low boil for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and immediately pour into hot, sterilized canning jars.
  6. Place canning lids and rings on jars and allow jars to cool to room temperature.
  7. Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with lemon curd blueberry strawberry sauce

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Butter, for griddle
  • 1 (11-ounce) jar prepared lemon curd
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries – washed
  • 1 ½ cup fresh strawberries – sliced thinly

 

What you do:

  1. Preheat a nonstick griddle.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk together the cheese, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  5. Brush the hot griddle with butter. For each pancake, pour approximately 1/4 cup measure of the batter on the griddle and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Repeat until no batter remains.
  6. Empty the contents of the lemon curd into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Add fresh blueberries and strawberries. Heat 2 more minutes.  Drizzle a few tablespoons of the curd mixture over the pancakes.

I’d love to hear of some your seasonal favorites.

Writer’s Wednesday

Today I’m going to start a new series for Writer’s Wednesday on writing prompts…I know some writers use prompts daily to ‘start’ the juices. I’m not that but I do occasionally like to do prompts, mostly when I’m ‘stuck’. I use the prompt as a free writing tool to let my mind wander (like it doesn’t do it enough on it’s own that I need to encourage this behavior).

The series I’m doing is how to turn a magazine into a writer’s prompt journal. I came up with the idea last week as I sat at the beach relaxing and thumbing through the pages of the latest InStyle magazine. I often use magazines to make story boards/pages for a story I’m working on but I realized a lot of the pages sparked different ideas. For example, here is the second page of the magazine….

IMAG0191

I used both pages for this prompt

IMAG0193

I added the admit one ticket I had in my storyboard stash

 

IMAG0196

She’s going to be my focus for these prompts…

 

 

 

My plan is to focus on the same character through out the magazine. I don’t know her name yet (I struggle with names) but I do know that

  • she has a daughter – one of the phases above the admit one ticket is… she lures men to their death to protect her daughter. I’m not sure what that means exactly.
  • I know her eyes are going to have something to do with the story…
  • My hero is aware of the stakes because one of the lines in my free writing is…He has one chance to save her … 

I’m going to definitely use the next two pages and I plan on doing those this week so make sure to check back to see how the prompts are going.

Do you use writing prompts? If so what kind are they and when?

 

Tasty and Thirsty Thursday

This week’s Thirsty and Tasty features one of my summer favorites – strawberries. While, I’m a vodka girl at heart, rum enhances the tones of strawberries to entirely new level of yumminess.

For the thirsty portion… this is the lovechild of a wild night of ‘romance’ between a rum runner and daiquiri on a Caribbean beach 😉

 DSCN3609

You’ll Need…

1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups strawberries

2 cups spice rum (Caribbean rum)
1 cup coconut rum
2 cups pineapple rum
Orange juice or soda (depending on your preference)
Soak the strawberries in the coconut and pineapple rum overnight. The day you are serving, mix in the spice rum. Add the juice or soda at the time of serving.
For the tasty portion is a jelly I love – I mean will pick an English Muffin over a doughnut if I can have this sort of love.  While, I know few people still can because the stuff in the store is close to the homemade stuff without the gross sticky mess…. But this is unique and sooooo soooo tasty that it’s worth the mess.

DSCN3610

You’ll need:
2lbs 3oz strawberries
1/3 cup water
½ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
3 tablespoons powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons coconut rum

 

What you’ll do:
Wash, hull and chop strawberries. Place strawberries and water into a large pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until very soft and ready to puree. Puree in a blender, food processor or in the pan using an immersion blender or mash to leave chunks if you like! I’m a chunky girl 😉

Cover jars with water and bring to a boil, boiling for 10 minutes while you prepare the jam. Once the time is up, turn the heat off and leave jars in canner until ready to fill with hot jam.

 

Whisk lemon juice and pectin into strawberry puree. Bring to a boil over high heat and then add the sugar all at once. Bring to a rolling boil (will foam a lot, and you cannot stir it down) and keep at a rolling boil for 1 minute. Then turn the heat off and whisk in the coconut rum. Bottle the jam immediately into hot jars.

While you are boiling the jam, place the lids into a pan of previously boiling water. Do not simmer or boil, just let the lids heat through in the few minutes while you make the preserve and then fill the jars, removing the lids from the water when you are ready to place them onto the jars to seal.

 

Immediately spoon the hot jam into hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch (0.5cm) headspace. Remove bubbles, wipe rims and seal.

 

Process sealed jars of jam in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes (start timer once water returns to a full boil). When time is up, turn heat off and rest jars in water for 5 minutes before placing onto a towel-covered bench overnight to cool.

 

Check jars have sealed before labelling and storing in a cool, dry and dark place for up to 12 months (I’ve never had a batch last that long). Jar lids should not flex up nor down when pressed.