Saturday, December 28, 2013

IN BETWEEN THE HOLIDAYS

I hope Santa brought you everything that was on your list.

I hope you enjoyed the food and family.

The tree is still up and the lights are on.

Leftovers are great to eat. Get creative.

New Year is next. Please have a safe one.

If you go to a party, be careful.

Watch out for those who are driving with too much alcohol.

Have a safe and Happy New Year my friends.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

SHIRLEY MARTIN REMEMBERS KOREA

Hello Shirley,                                                     

Thank you so much for sharing

this small memory with us.

And we have to remember those who could not be home for Christmas this year. Those who are still deployed overseas to keep us safe.





   

 Born and raised during the Depression, I shared a very simple Christmas with my parents and three older brothers. I usually received about three gifts for Christmas, and it never even occurred to me to wonder why I didn't get more. My stocking usually held an orange, and apple, and some nuts.

    Now I'm going to jump ahead a few years to about 1950, during the Korean War. My oldest brother joined the Army about that time and was sent to Korea, where the war was fought under United Nations auspices. My mother got a Christmas package ready and sent it to him, but my mom and dad worried that the package wouldn't get there in time for the holiday.    
 
About that time, the Red Chinese entered the war on the side of North Korea and sent troops across the Chinese border with Korea. This offensive sent the Americans reeling back. And then we worried that my brother might not come home at all. 

    But my brother did come home, safe and sound. And I'm still not sure if he ever got the package. 

 

Shirley Martin

 
 

 I too remember the Korean war. Sad to say I lost a first cousin in that battle.
 
We have had many wars 'police actions' since. Bless all our troops and we pray for their safe return.
Peace on Earth, good will to men would truly be a miracle.
 
 

 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

CATE MASTERS AND HER BLUE CHRISTMAS

Howdy Cate, and Merry Christmas.               

Glad to have you today with your memory of the holiday and your new release.

Tell us.



                      Blue Christmas

 

When I was growing up, Christmas was always a big deal at our house. My dad was a rural mail carrier and would bring home lots of goodies every day that people on his route left for him – cookies, fruitcake (I know, yech, lol),

 
 
even bottles of alcohol. My mom always put out the Elf on a Shelf – the original one. And of course, we always had a tree. My mom’s dream tree was a horrendous aluminum one with all blue balls. Worst. Tree. Ever.

 
 It’s a tradition in my house to visit a tree farm and select a beautiful evergreen. I’m not a tree snob, I don’t have to have a blue spruce or an expensive tree. I do love full, tall ones with sturdy branches that can hold all my ornaments. I’ve been collecting ornaments since the year I married my hubby. That’s thirty-six years’ worth!

In the past few years, I’ve stopped one of the traditions I started when my kids were little. Every holiday, I’d buy a new ornament for each of my three children. I wanted them to be able to someday fill their own Christmas trees with ornaments that held wonderful memories of holidays past. But now they are adults themselves. I have no idea where the time went, but I hope they treasure their collection.

 


 

Blurb

Can Fate give two people a second chance at love? Sierra O’Brien and Carter Grove are about to find out. After an accidental meeting near their hometown of Bliss, Pennsylvania, events from their past reoccur. Will they make the same mistakes and drift apart again?

In Bliss, the inexplicable is an everyday occurrence, and anything is possible—especially during a blue moon.

 

Book video


 
About Cate

 Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at http://catemasters.blogspot.com and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Cate loves to hear from readers! Email her at: cate.masters@gmail.com

 

Catch up to Cate

Blog     Facebook     Goodreads   Amazon

 

 
We love comments. Please leave one
                                                            for us since you stopped by.
 

 

 

 

Key words:  second chances, contemporary romance, Blue Moon series, hometown romance, holiday romance, magical realism, Decadent Publishing

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE BY GINGER SIMPSON--a short story of faith.

Happy Holiday, Ginger. 

So nice to have you back on my blog with the wonderful story you wrote about faith.

I'll step back and let you share the story with our visitors today.



Make a Joyful Noise by Ginger Simpson

Word Count - 1593

Anne Collins curled up in her over-stuffed easy chair and glanced at the daily newspaper. The glass of wine on the end table reflected the crackling fire beyond the hearth. Her workday had prompted her to fill a much larger goblet than normal. If one more person mentioned having a ‘Merry Christmas’, she thought for certain she’d lose control. This year, the yuletide held no reason to celebrate. Her husband, Daniel, lay in the hospital, hanging by a thread. Being festive rated last on her ‘to do’ list.

Warmth spread throughout the room as the logs on the grate crackled and popped, chasing away the chill brought on by frigid temperatures and two feet of snow outside. Anne grew comfortable and tossed the paper aside. She picked up her white zinfandel and sipped it while reflecting on past holidays.

She always considered her life was full and blessed…until the diagnosis. Daniel never smoked a day in his life. How did he end up with throat cancer? Surely there were plenty of murderers or child molesters God could punish. Why her husband? He was the epitome of everything good.

Tears trickled down her cheeks, and she took a tissue from a nearby box and blotted her face. Hell couldn’t be any worse than watching Daniel waste away, suffering with every breath. The radiation and chemotherapy burned his throat and made it impossible for him to speak.  Seemed an eternity had passed since he flashed that smile she loved so much.


This was the first time in their married life she’d picked out and put up a Christmas tree without him. The anger festering inside made her want to rip it down, burn the gifts, and rant at the Lord for the unfairness, but…

A blast of cold air blew into the room as the door opened. “Hey, Mom, sorry, I’m late, but I stayed after school to finish up a science project.”

A smaller version of her mother, fourteen-year-old Casey slugged inside, stamping her feet on the rug in the foyer to clear the flakes from her boots. Peeling off her coat, she tackled the layer of sweaters beneath. “Boy, it is freezing out there.”

She opened the hall closet and hung everything inside, then turned to her mother with an arched brow. “Do you realize it’s the second week of December and we’re the only house on the block without outside decorations?”

Anne took a sip of wine to hide a grimace. “I know, dear. I just haven’t been in the mood this year.” She looked at her daughter and sighed. Casey was the only reason Anne hadn’t cracked under the stress.

Casey crossed the room and perched on the chair’s arm. “I can help put up the lights, Mom. All we need is a ladder. Dad left the little hooks up from last year.”

Anne shook her head. “We’ll do just fine without lights, Casey. Besides…” She stared into her lap, her eyes blurred with unbidden tears.

“Dad’s going to get better and come home, so why are you acting like he’s gone?” Casey stood and pulled her lips into pout. “You know how much he enjoys the holidays.” Her chocolate eyes glistened in the firelight, her tone demanded an answer.

Anne rose, walked to the mantle and picked up a filigreed picture frame. Looking upon Daniel’s smiling face sent pain stabbing at her heart. The photograph had been taken the year they went to Maui. Now thin and gaunt, he barely resembled the man she saw. It’d been weeks since he’d even acknowledged her presence in the hospital room.

She put the photo back and turned to her daughter. “Casey, I just can’t muster up any Christmas spirit. Your dad isn’t doing very well and I don’t feel very festive.” She returned to her chair and downed the rest of her wine, hoping it would numb her worried mind.

Casey peered down at her. “I know if Dad was standing here, he’d be disappointed that you’ve lost faith. Why have we gone to church all these years if you can’t trust God to take care of things?” She spun and stomped out of the room.

Anne pondered the question. Why couldn’t she trust God? The answer was easy. He’d allowed Dan to get sick in the first place. She stood and wandered into the kitchen, her wine glass in hand. After pouring a re-fill, she gazed out the window over the sink at the drifts of snow in the backyard. The old tire swing Casey used to love still hung from a giant branch now devoid of leaves. The setting sun was lost behind a gray wintry haze, and everything looked frozen. While her mind questioned God’s motives, Anne watched until the last trace of daylight disappeared and darkness fell.

She picked up her goblet and started to turn from the window, but a flash of light caught her eye. Too bright at first, it soon softened, and Anne blinked in disbelief.

The shimmering outline of an angel, dressed all in white, appeared just outside the glass. A glowing halo shone brightly above her head, and the assuring smile on her face sent a peaceful feeling coursing through Anne’s body.


The entity raised her arms, and as if by magic, an orb of light floated from her hands and rose into the heavens. Anne’s gaze followed the star’s trail as it climbed higher, illuminating the yard, the trees, the swing, and the old storage shed in the corner where Dan kept the gardening tools. Anne thought to call her daughter to witness the scene, but couldn’t find the voice to do it. She stood rooted to the spot, her eyes fixed on the wonder outside.

The heavenly creature floated a few feet above the ground and gestured toward the sky. The gray haze was gone and a canopy of stars twinkled above. One stood out above the rest, sending a blaze of light flashing to the ground. In the snowdrift just beyond the trees, Anne beheld another wonder. Unveiled one letter at a time, an invisible hand seemed to etch the glowing word ‘believe’ into the blanket of white. Anne gasped, trying to call out for Casey, but the image, along with the angel, vanished as quickly as they’d appeared. The stars still twinkled brightly overhead, but the yard turned dark again.  Her mouth agape, Anne marveled at lightness in her heart.


***

Casey sat at the desk in her room. Christmas music played softly on her radio, and she struggled to concentrate on her homework.  How could she possibly focus on school when things at home were so depressing? She couldn’t bear to think of life without her dad, and it hurt that her mother had all but given up on his getting better.

With a sigh, Casey stood and walked to the bookshelf across the room. She searched the shelves until she found her Bible. She thumbed through the index, looking for verses pertaining to hope and found Proverbs 3:3-4. Turning to the passage, she read:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

She’d barely finished when she heard a strange noise coming from downstairs—a heavy thumping sound. Her put her Bible back in its place and tilted her ear to listen. She heard it again. Casey opened her door and the sound became louder. “Mom, what is that,” she called out.

When she received no answer, Casey went to investigate. The noise had stopped but she couldn’t find her mom. She walked through the entire house only to find it empty. A half-filled wine glass sat near the easy chair, but no sight of her mother.

The thumping began again—close and right outside. The porch light cast a strange-looking shadow on the front window. Casey grasped the knob and opened the door just a crack. She saw a ladder and a pair of legs from the knees down. She recognized the fur-lined boots.

“Mom, what are you doing up there?” Casey walked to the edge of the porch and peered up.

Bundled against the weather, her mother hammered at the wooden eave. “I’m putting up Christmas lights. Some of the hooks are loose and I’m tightening them. How about if you get a coat on and check the bulbs in the next strand while I finish hanging these.”



“But… I thought…” Forgetting the cold, Casey picked up a coiled cord and began unraveling it.

“I know, I know. I lost faith for a while,” her mother glanced down and nodded,” but for some strange reason, I’ve found it again. I have a strong feeling that Dad is coming home and we need to be ready.”

Casey smiled up at her mother. “Let me get my coat and I’ll be right back. Tomorrow we can put up the manger scene in the yard.”

“Good idea.” Anne went back to pounding.

Casey paused for a moment and looked to heaven. Her mind wandered to her last week's Sunday School lesson. Make A Joyful Noise Unto the Lord - Psalm 100. "Who would've thought hammering could qualify?" she muttered, then smiled.  Humming “Silent Night,” she headed for the coat closet.  For the first time in weeks, she enjoyed feeling a sense of peace that magnified the joy of the holiday.  Faith would bind their family together; love would sustain them.
 
Ginger has written many novels, all great reads. Visit her page here at AMAZON and treat yourself to another wonderful story for the holidays.

We love comments. Since you dropped by, leave us a hello.
 

 
 
 
                                


 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE! COMING SOON!

With a little bit of luck, Tales of a Texas Boy is now available as an audio book. I started this process at the end of October. I learned about http://ACX.COM, Amazon's audio book division. Like Kindle and CreateSpace, Amazon is determined to take over books in every way, shape, and form. You can read books on your computer, smart phone, e-reader, or even a good ol' paperback. With audio books, you're able to listen to books on all those (except the paperback) and even have the narration waft in from the cloud to your ears.

Anyway, I entered the info on the book and posted a couple of pages of text. Within a day, Baarns Narration and VO upload a sample narration of my script. Love at first listen? Yup. We made a deal and (as I write this in November), we're looking at TALES OF A TEXAS BOY being available at audio.com and Amazon by today. If it's earlier than today, then so much the better. I'll post a link when the book is available.

Alas, the audio book isn't quite ready for production. One more pass through by the producer, Don Baarns, we should be in business. In the meantime, here's the new book trailer to keep you entertained.



Monday, December 9, 2013

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY--A MAGIC CHRISTMAS BY VICTORIA CHATHAM




Welcome Victoria,                                         
                                                                

Thank you so much for sharing this adorable Santa memory with us. Your dad sounds like quite the clever and inventive man.

Take it away.



CHRISTMAS MAGIC
 
Victoria Chatham
 We decided to spend Christmas at my parents’ house which caused great consternation amongst my three young children.

How would Santa know where they were? And, because Gran and Gramp didn’t have a proper fireplace, how would he get down the chimney? Assured by me and their father that Santa always knew where good boys and girls were and being so magic could get down ANY chimney, we set off.


The children reviewed the offending fireplace, a circa 1970 coal-effect three-bar electric fire set into a tiled surround with a small hearth, still unconvinced that anything good could possibly come from this defection from the norm. My Dad, however, had a grand scheme.
 
On Christmas Eve the children watched him roll out a sheet of paper on the hearth, set on it a glass of milk and a cookie for Santa and a dish of coloured sugar strands, those used to decorate cakes, for Santa’s fairy helpers, and assured three still disbelieving children they would see for themselves the following morning that Santa could, indeed, get down any chimney.
 
Once the children settled down and finally fell asleep, he set to work. Taking out his whittling knife and a circular eraser, the like of which I never saw before or since, he carved tiny foot prints around the outside edge of the eraser. Next, he took his hiking boots outside to the site of his garden bonfire and pressed the heavy-treaded soles into the ground, coating them with a mixture of dirt, soot and ashes. The boots were then marched over the paper, looking for all the world as if Santa just stepped out of the chimney and walked across the hearth to sample his treats.
 

The little carved eraser wheel received the same treatment. Dad whizzed the wheel this way and that across the paper, running his gadget between Santa’s footprints before finally scattering some of the sugar strands across the paper, off the hearth and onto the carpet. Messy fairies! He ate the rest of the strands, along with the cookie out of which he took just one bite and left the rest crumbled beside the glass, now drained of its contents.  
 

Christmas morning dawned bright and clear, and far too early for the adults in the house but we had to get up and follow the children downstairs. They pushed open the door – and fell silent. They ignored the massive stack of gifts making the room look like Aladdin’s cave and made their way to the hearth. They pointed out the fairy footprints and the scattered sugar strands,   Santa’s big boot print, the empty glass and the cookie crumbs. Wide-eyed with wonder, they all began talking at once, thrilled that Santa really had found them. 

 
I’m not sure who enjoyed that Christmas the most but, even after my children were old enough to handle the truth about Santa, they never forgot the magic of it. Thanks, Dad. 
 ~~~
Thanks to dad, Santa didn't miss them after all. A treasured memory, I'm sure.
 
Books by Victoria can be found HERE
Don't miss any, Victoris is a wondeful storyteller.
Do you have a Christmas memory?
Or do you just want to say hello to Victoria?
We love comments. Please leave one for us.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, December 6, 2013

DENISE VERRICO EXPOUNDS ON ELVES

ELVES - FOLKLORE AND LITERATURE

With the Christmas season upon us, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the folkore and literature surrounding elves.

In folklore, elves are usually extraordinarily long lived or immortal beings that often possess magical powers. They’ve become common fixtures in fantasy literature, entertainment and popular culture.

 We’ve seen them in commercials baking cookies in hollow trees, in film and fantasy literature as badass warriors, on TV as would-be dentists and even as video game characters. But where did the legends of these beings spring from?

In Folklore, the term elf and fairy are generally interchangeable. The word elf comes from the Germanic languages (aelf) whereas fairy derives from Latin (fata). Elves and fairies are generally thought of as nature spirits and stories of them are found all over the world. They are also referred to by the terms faery, fairie, fay, fae, Wee Folk, Good Folk, People of Peace or the Fair Folk.

The elves that we are familiar with in fantasy and pop culture stem from the folkloric traditions and mythology of the Germanic and Norse peoples as well as the Celts.

The Norse believed that there were both “light” and “dark” elves, the first a benevolent, shining race of beings and the latter as malevolent creatures bent on harming humans. Stories of the two races of elves appeared in the Prose Edda, but it is unclear whether the distinction between the two types was a creation of the author or a result of the importation of the Christian belief in angels.

J. R. R.Tolkien was influenced by the Norse concept of elves when he created Middle Earth. The light elves of Norse myth inspired the elegant, mysterious inhabitants of Lothlorien and Rivendell, where the dark elves became the orcs. The word orc is derived from the Latin term for monster (orcus), which is also the root of the name of the Killer Whale (orca) and the term ogre.

Tolkien was not a fan of industrialization. He was repelled by the harshness of his experiences during WWI and romanticized the “simple life” of an earlier age. But he wasn’t the first to do so.

In the Victorian age, many adults became caught up in a “fairy craze”, which some scholars believe was partly influenced by the Industrial Revolution. Fairy paintings and stories of the time were rich in nostalgia for a vanishing way of life. The Pre–Raphaelite school of art, in particular, depicted pastoral and woodland scenes from romance, legend and myth, many of which featured elves and fairies.

In Celtic mythology, fae fall into two categories derived from Scottish folklore: the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. Seelie are the benevolent fae and unseelie malevolent. The term seelie is thought to be the origin of the English word “silly”. The Seelie court and unseely court fae are similar to the Norse division between light and dark elves. Later, William Butler Yeats, in Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, divided the fae into Trooping Fairies and Solitary Fairies. The Celtic tradition includes many fairy-type creatures, from pixies and brownies to ogres and giants.

Baobhan sith (pronounced baa'-van shee) are femme fatales found in Scottish Gaelic oral tradition. These siren-like creatures waylay male travelers and insist they dance with them. They are similar to Banshees and the Rusalka and Wila of Eastern Europe as well as the sirens of ancient greece. Wila is sometimes spelled as Veela. Fleur Delacourt in Harry Potter is part Veela.

Folkloric and mythological traditions throughout the world feature their own versions of elves and fae. In classical myths we find nymphs, fauns and satyrs.

Dryads are a type a nymph, considered to be the souls of trees. In The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, dryads fight alongside Aslan and the Pevensie Children. A Dryad named Juniper appears in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

So how did elves become bound up in the Santa Claus legend? Elves have long been associated with Scandinavian and German gift-giving customs, but much of the belief in the USA surrounding Jolly Old St, Nick has evolved largely out of popular culture and advertising.

Back in the sixties, my family used to have a plastic elf who allegedly reported back to Santa when we kids were naughty. Imagine my surprise when I learned of that there is a book now called The Elf on the Shelf. And I thought my Dad invented the custom. Talk about your zeitgeist. Or is that zeitalp? Did all parents get the same idea about these creepy plastic and felt figures at the same time? Not my favorite custom surrounding elves.

It’s not really clear where and when Santa’s elf army cobbled their way into the mythos. Perhaps, like many Christmas customs we observe today, the presence of benevolent elves is a reminder of an earlier time, when people drew together in the shortest days of the year and feasted and made merry in hopes of dispelling the cold and gloom of winter.

So, Happy Holidays, whatever holidays you celebrate and don’t forget to leave some cookies for Santa and a little something for the elves to boot—just in case they happen plotting some mischief against you.

* * *

Denise Verrico is the author of "The Immortyls" series, a blend of science fiction and urban magic. Check her websites for more information about her books. Also, catch a great deal on "Annals of the Immortals" now available on Amazon for only 99 cents. Isn't that a terrific cover?




DENISE: THANKS FOR ALL THE GREAT INFORMATION ON ELVES. TERRIFIC TOPIC FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY BY ROSEANNE DOWELL

Hello Roseanne, and a Merry Christmas to you.

Thanks so much for stopping by to share one of your favorite Chrismas memories with us.

You take the easy chair by the tree and settle back with a nice cup of hot choclate  

  and tell us about your special memory.


Well, I’ve often said, there are so many memories from my past. Heck, when you get to be my age, there are tons of them. Besides all the ones from my childhood, there are ones from my early marriage, ones with my children and grandchildren, and now I’ll begin some with my great grandchildren. So which ones to write about? It’s a hard decision, but I’ll start from my childhood.


 
I remember growing up and my mother baking Christmas cookies beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

 
Oh the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen. Of course we got to help. Later in December, she baked poppy seed and nut rolls and eventually the little bread balls, we called balbaki, we used for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

On December 5th, we put our stockings out to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th. In the morning the stockings were filled with apples, oranges, and small toys or combs and hair barrettes,  sometimes a harmonica or jacks. 


We usually put our tree up around that time also. Maybe that’s why Christmas is my favorite holiday. My parents, especially my mom made it special. It wasn’t just a day, Christmas was a season, beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

My older brothers and sister were great about looking for gifts when my parents weren’t home. They often found them, also. I remember one year, we had a sleeper couch with storage for blankets and pillows underneath. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my brothers and sister decided to open it when my parents were out for an evening. Lo and behold, they found a magnetic football game. We played for an hour or so, then my brothers packed it back in the box and put it back in the couch just the way they found it. I don’t know if my parents suspected or knew they found it.

Hubby and I got married November 24, 1962. We rented a two bedroom double with access to the attic. I stored some Christmas stuff up stairs, but I often used the steps for packages after I went Christmas shopping.  It was easier than going all the way up.
Just before Christmas, hubby lost his wedding ring.     
We were both upset and I thought about buying him another one, but I really couldn’t afford it. He’d have to go ringless until I could replace it.

One day, I pulled my packages out to begin wrapping.


Lo and behold in one of them, I found hubby’s wedding ring. I guess some kids never grow up and snoop even as adults. I almost wrapped it up for him, but I couldn’t hold a secret that long. Besides, I wanted to pick on him about snooping, so I gave it to him that night.

I had a great time when he asked where I found it. I still tease him about it from time to time.                                                            


What a cute memory. I think there is a short story in there somewhere. lol.
Speaking of stories, please share you latest with us.




All in the Family by Roseanne Dowell
 
Taking over the police chief’s job in her hometown should have been easy for Callie Johnson. At least that's what she thought. After working in a big city, small town crime would be a breeze. What a surprise when she arrives to find her grandmother, the judge, accused of murder. As if that wasn't enough she’s attacked while walking to her car. Between criminal investigations, her nutty family’s antics and her Aunt Beatrice Lulu's matchmaking, Callie definitely has her work cut out for her. Will her grandmother be exonerated? Can Callie ward off her aunt’s unsuitable suitors? What other surprises were in store for her? More importantly, can she find the person who attacked her?
You can find the novel Here


Thank you again, Roseanne, for sharing with us today.
Folks, visit Roseanne's page to see more of her great books. I've enjoyed many of them.  Please go to Amazon Page  You won't be sorry.


Now, we do like comments, Readers, so please leave one for us today so we can do the happy dance with Santa and his reindeer. 

                    

 
 
 





 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

CONDA DOUGLAS HAS A GIVEAWAY AND SPECIAL RECIPE TODAY.

Welcome, Conda.                                                   


Wow, you have some nice  treats
for us today.

Read on, folks, this recipe is one I'm trying for the holidays.



Hi all, I'm Conda, author of all sorts of things. It's great being on Lorrie's blog, thank you Lorrie! And I have a couple of things for you all, a giveaway and a recipe.

 

First, my romance short story The Bridesmaid Wore Stains is just released. In The Bridesmaid Wore Stains, Katherine falls all over herself hiding her klutziness from her new guy. Will she spill her secret along with everything else?
 
 
 
AND: in honor of this new release, I'm giving away an eBook copy of my short story romance, A Crispy Rice Christmas—just in time for a fun Christmas read! Just comment to be entered for your free copy.
 
 
 
A Crispy Rice Christmas was inspired by my mom's inability to cook, but I love to cook as well as write. So here's a crispy rice cereal bar recipe from my cookbook The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook, with a little bit about one of the characters in my tween fantasy Mall Fairies series. The first of the trilogy, The Mall Fairies: Exile, is out now with the second, The Mall Fairies: War, to be released spring/summer 2014.
 
POUT'S CRISPY RICE CEREAL BARS
 
Pout, the teenage fairy with the protruding lower lip, believes he is totally, awesomely Goth. He affects to wear all black, with usually a press-on tattoo of a skull or a bat on his skinny pale white chest. No way would he ever want anyone to know that his favorite cookies are crispy rice cereal bars. He's loved them since he was a tiny Toddle Wing, marshmallows and rice cereal, yum! The only one who knows is his mom, and she won't tell, because she bribes him with a cookie to wash those silly tattoos off.
 
Basic Recipe:
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 16 ounce bag of marshmallows (fresh mini marshmallows work best)
 
In a large saucepan, heat the butter on medium heat until it melts. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until marshmallows all melt. Remove from heat. Add crispy rice cereal and stir well. Using a greased spatula, spread mixture in a buttered 15 X 10 inch pan. Cut into bars when cooled.

Okay, now for the variations:
 
Add vanilla or rum or orange or lemon extract, a teaspoon or two to the melted marshmallows and stir well for rum bars or lemon bars—well, you get the idea.
Add a cup of nuts, or raisins or any dried fruit, or a cup of chocolate bits (or a third a cup of each!).
Add any spices you like, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, or cardamom.
Add mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or
Add 1/3 cup of cocoa for chocolate bars.
Or be daring and try adding a bit of cayenne pepper and hot sauce to the cocoa! Strange but good if you like it weird and spicy!
 
 
Links:
 
 
 
I'd love to answer any of your questions, about, well, anything! Except perhaps about the meaning of—um—anything! Ask away! 
 
                     
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

THE PROLIFIC DEB STOVER WITH A SPECIAL STORY

Welcome to Flowers and Thorns, Deb. 

So wonderful of you to visit during this busy holiday week.

Please tell us about family and your new book to be released soon.




Family is about more than blood or DNA or genetics. It's about love. The bonds that make a family stay together through the trials and tribulations life throws at us are far more complicated--yet simple--than birthright. 
 
 

MAID MARIAN AND THE LAWMAN is a story about unconditional love, which is what my special children and my late husband have taught me. It doesn't matter what we look like, whose eyes we have, what color our skin is, or what our IQ is. All that matters is love, dedication, loyalty, and honor.

 

I hope you enjoy this special story as much as I have enjoyed my special family.

 

Barbi, Bonnie and Ben--this one is for you and your daddy. Love, Mom.

 

#

 

Prologue

Southern Kansas—1888

The relentless north wind sliced through Mary Goode’s threadbare coat as she trudged along the narrow trail. An image flashed through her mind of a warm fire and sweet tea with hot milk. Ah, but England was a far better place than this godforsaken land, where parents died of mysterious fevers and left their children homeless orphans.

Tears pricked her eyes, but she blinked them into submission. Now was not the time, and if all went as planned, she would never succumb to tears again. Crying was for children, and fate had decreed that at thirteen, Mary was no longer a child.

Huge snowflakes floated down from the blue-black canopy until whiteness nearly obliterated the dark sky. She paused and pulled her coat closer, wishing she still had the warm muffler her mother had knitted last winter. Alas, her guardians had taken everything.

Including Robin.

Her breath caught in her throat at the thought of seeing her brother again. Soon, she promised herself. Very soon.

Turning her face into the wind, she continued her journey, pausing at the top of a slight hill. She tucked a stray curl beneath her hood and blinked several times. At last, the massive brick and stone structure came into view.

God, please let him still be here.

Three months had passed since their parents’ deaths, when the sheriff had taken her brother to this dreadful place. Though they called it an asylum, in truth it was a prison where people like Robin were locked away until they died and were no longer a burden to anyone.

Mary would never forget that horrible day when they’d dragged Robin from her side. Weak from the same fever that had killed their parents, she’d been unable to run away and hide her brother. But now she was strong, and she would take Robin across the border to Indian Territory, where they would hide until their grandfather came for them.

What horrible things might these people have done to her smiling brother, whose laughter brightened even the most dreary days? Her mother had often called him one of God’s special angels, and their father had raised Robin with patience and love. Not once could Mary recall having heard her father refuse to read his son the same bedtime story. Every night until that horrible fever had rendered their father unconscious, he had read from The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Of course it was also his favorite, which was why Lawrence Goode’s only son bore the name Robin.


Mary knew the entire story by heart, though she no longer had the book. That, along with everything else she’d loved, was gone. But no one could take her memories. Those were hers to cherish, and soon she would have her brother to share them.

She blinked, certain no one in this place had ever read Robin his favorite bedtime story. She would recite it to him herself once they were safe, but first she had to find him. “Please, God, make it so,” she whispered into the snowy night. “Please.”


Her mother’s last words echoed through Mary’s mind, as they often did. Look after your brother, Mary. He will always be a child.

Mary stumbled and her throat worked convulsively, her vision blurred. I will not cry. She drew a shuddering breath; the icy air cleansed her lungs and purged her mind.


Stealthily, she crept around the building, searching for a window without bars. There had to be a way for her to get inside to Robin. Soft light streamed through a ground-floor window, spilling onto the freshly fallen snow in a square of gold. Peering into the room, she determined it was the kitchen and, more importantly, unoccupied.


She widened her stance and gripped the window, easing it open very slowly. The old wood creaked and her heart pressed against her throat, a tight fist of trepidation.


And hope.


Within a matter of moments, she was inside. At first, she thought to leave the window open to aid their escape, but in this weather that would surely draw unwanted attention. 
After closing the window, she rubbed her arms, savoring the kitchen’s warmth. Without knowing where in this huge building she might find her brother, she resigned herself to searching every room on every floor if necessary. A narrow staircase drew her attention, and she decided upstairs made the most sense this time of night.

 

Her eyes readjusted to the darkness by the time she reached the next floor. She stood with her back pressed against the wall, waiting and wondering, listening to her heart pummel her ribs and echo through her head.
A lone lamp burned at the far end of the hall, and she inched along the wall until she came to the first closed door. With sweaty fingers, she turned the handle and peered inside. A lamp burned near the window, illuminating the room enough for her to see several cage-like iron cribs lined up against the far wall. Most of them were occupied by small bundles.


Oh, dear God. She held her breath and her throat burned with the need to vent her rage at this injustice. If she were rich, she’d take all the babies home and raise them herself. With a shudder and a powerful sense of futility, she left the room and proceeded to the next door.


On the fourth floor, she noted one door slightly ajar with light overflowing into the hall. She heard someone talking from inside, though the words were muffled. Still, something about the voice’s inflection and tone beckoned her.


Holding her breath, she peered through the open door. Joy surged through her when she recognized Robin sitting cross-legged on a narrow bed near the window. He clearly didn’t see or hear her as she stepped into the room, for he continued moving his hands and talking excitedly, reciting his favorite story.


He remembers. Mary’s determination renewed itself. She would find a way to take Robin away from here, to a place where they could live together again as brother and sister. Though he was six years her senior, he would always be her little brother in so many ways.


Her eyes blurred as she searched the stark room until her gaze came to rest on two men seated on the floor near Robin’s bed. They were staring up at him, hanging on his every word. One of them was very tall and dark, obviously an Indian. The other man was the complete opposite, and she knew if he stood he wouldn’t even reach her shoulder. She’d seen a man like him once—a midget, her father had called him.
At first, she remained in the shadows near the door, wondering if the men would try to stop her. But the expressions on their faces told her of the trust and adoration they obviously felt for her brother.
Robin continued the story, pronouncing some words in ways she knew most people wouldn’t understand. However, Robin’s audience, whoever they were, obviously understood.
Knowing she could delay no longer, Mary stepped into the lamplight. “Robin,” she said quietly. “It’s me, Ma—”


Robin leapt to his feet and rushed into her arms. “Maid Marian,” he whispered.


Hearing her father’s pet name for her made Mary’s heart flutter. “Yes, Robin. I’ve come for you.” She cast a furtive glance at the men, who now rose.


“This is Little John,” he indicated the towering Indian, “and that’s Friar Tuck.” He patted the smaller man on the shoulder.


Mary swallowed hard. “How nice. I’m pleased to meet you both.” She looked at her brother again. “We must hurry, Robin.”


“All right.” Obediently, he went to the corner and pulled on an old coat, several sizes too large. “Make haste, men.”


As Mary stared in surprise, the mismatched pair imitated Robin’s actions. The small man donned a coat far too large for his short frame, while the Indian wrapped a blanket around his shoulders.


“We go,” Little John said.


Friar Tuck put a fist on one hip and glowered up at Mary. “You’re but a child,” he said, shaking his finger at her. “But that’s all right, Maid Marian. I shall take care of you all.”


Mary realized that if she refused to allow the men to accompany them, they might alert the staff to Robin’s escape. “Very well then, follow me.”


“Where we going?” Robin asked, his eyes wide and filled with unconditional trust.


Praying for a miracle, Mary reached up to push a stray dark curl from her brother’s brow. With a smile, she said, “Why, to Sherwood Forest, of course.”


 
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1989: Front: Barbi Stover Carr. In arms Ben Stover. Standing, Dave Stover. In backpack, Bonnie Stover (our Sunshine).
 
 
Bio:
Once upon a time, Deb Stover wanted to be Lois Lane, until she discovered Clark Kent is a fraud and there is no Superman. Since publication of her first novel in 1995, Stover has received dozens of awards for her work, and published twenty titles, including including contributions to anthologies. Her work has been published internationally in several formats and languages.
 
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Deb and her family have called five states home over the years, but recently she made the choice to follow the Yellow Brick Road back to her roots. There’s no place like home, after all, and there’s always another story to tell.
 
Her next scheduled release is MAID MARIAN AND THE LAWMAN in December 2013 from Bellbridge Books. www.debstover.com
 
May all your days include a bit of magic!                                     
 
 
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