Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Retreat, Sunsets and Ducks

Good morning, Muse Friends!

So. A couple of months ago, I planned to run away from home for a week and do nothing but write. Sometimes that's the only way to get anything done.

As of this writing, I'm finally on the retreat to finish my next book, Perfect Match. But, the week almost didn't happen. The past week everything cropped up taking time from organizing home and packing, etc., but by Thursday everything fell into place. I was ready to roll. Happy, happy. Friday at noon, I'd be on my way to a gorgeous place by the lake in the country. Yes!

I thought.

Around 1am Friday morning, I shut down the computer and went to bed. Later that morning, I started to pack the computer, but thought I'd check email first. Thank goodness I did. Surprise! Computer wouldn’t power on. Nothing. I panicked. I had a few hours left to make it to the condo for check-in.

I rushed to drop off the (less than a year old) computer for repair The mother-board had gone bye-bye. Most likely happened when I spilled coke on the keyboard at the end of 2011. The keyboard was replaced, but nothing else. No idea why the mother-board took so long to croak. I had no choice but to pull out the plastic for another computer. Okay, wouldn't this be fun? I did get a great deal though. One blessing.

Okay. I've shopped, settled in by the lake and ready to write. After waiting for tons of update downloads, installations and computer restarts, around 2 in the morning, I was beat. I pulled up the manuscript anyway and made some progress.

Internet connection was sporadic, and by late Saturday afternoon, I'd managed to send a couple of emails. Connection dropped again. Finally after 5pm on Monday the net seemed to hold. Crossing fingers here.

My withdrawals from the net reminded me of how we're so tied to technology, functioning without it presents a wide range of issues. I had enough ups and downs in a week to fill a chapter. Yes, I'm serious. But who would care? No one except me. I took it it all in stride…what else could I do?

Country sunsets over the water are amazing. I'm having morning coffee on the deck, watching the ducks fly in, listening to the water lap the shore and waiting on the muse. Taking lots of photos and hope to share when I get back.

Wish you were here!
If you get a chance, please click on the title to check out A SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS and a Short Story, A MATTER OF TASTE. Thanks so much.

Now, I hope you enjoy the short excerpt of PERFECT MATCH, due out the end of February or the first week in March.

Cali moved to the saddle and ran a finger over her initials carved into the supple leather.
"He kept it," she whispered. "Through all the years. My father kept the saddle."
Cali swallowed back the tears and refused to cry for things that might have been, but when Trace reached for her, her reserve failed.
In an instant Trace closed the gap between them. For a moment he said nothing, and when she didn't resist he draped an arm around her shoulder and drew her close.
Tears she'd bottled inside, slid down her cheeks at his display of gentleness.
"It's all right. I'm here," he murmured. "You've had a lot to deal with. Coming home brings it all back. And the interesting last couple of days doesn't help."
She hesitated and wanted to pull away, but it felt so good to be held. To have someone care. In the warmth of his embrace she found encouragement and hope. Hope, that men weren't all bad or deceitful.
Gentle fingertips lifted her chin.
I'm not ready for this. "Trace, don't." She voiced one thing, but, never wanted him to let go.
Warm breath wafted like a caress across her eyelids, the tip of her nose, then brushed across her damp cheeks.
Their eyes held until his trailed slow and deliberate across her face. His grip was strong as he slipped a hand at the nape of her neck and pulled her to him.
No longer in control of a rational thought, waves of heat curled in the pit of her stomach as their lips met. The kiss was painfully tender. Cali wrapped her arms around his waist and allowed him to draw her closer.
When the kiss deepened, he crushed her to him so tightly she felt her bones ache. Heated breath came in ragged bursts as he nuzzled her neck, filled with hunger.
She knew she should stop him, but nothing mattered except the moment. Finally, with difficulty she withdrew and wrapped her arms tight about her waist.
"Why did you do that? Why did I let you do that? I have no idea what I was thinking."
Trace's hand rested on the small of her back. "I've wanted to kiss you since we met," his voice calm, his gaze teasing. "You're an irresistible woman, Cali Weston."
Unable to deny she'd wanted him to kiss her as much as he professed, she stood firm but stepped out of arms reach.
"That was much more than a friendly kiss, Trace."
He lifted a brow and moved closer, his blue eyes bold with desire. "It wasn't meant to be friendly."
"God, but you're arrogant."
"You needed kissing."
She lifted her shoulders, frowned and found her feet wouldn't move. "And you decided you were the man to do it? Don't be so egotistical."
Trace reached out and undid the ribbon in her hair, let it flutter to the floor, then gathered her hair around her face. He pulled her to him with a fierceness matched by her own.
His breath came hot and quick on her cheek, her ears, and her throat. Hesitant to give in, she fought against the mounting desire Trace kindled.
"Trace, please. Don't do this. You caught me in a weakened moment. And...and you have no idea of my needs."
With his fingers tangled in her hair's silky mass, Trace leaned forward, his face a whisper away, to kiss her once more. "Then it's time I found out."


Monday, February 27, 2012

More Than Meets The Eye

There’s more to vampires than meet the eye –even if the vamp is a delicious eye candy like Alex in Bound by Blood.
Historically, vampires were portrayed as rotting corpses living off the blood of others. The romanticized and sophisticated vampire we see in most modern day works, first appeared in John Polidori’s  novella, The vampyre, published in 1819. Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, came about much later, 1897, but it forms the basis for modern vampire fiction.

Modern vampires, particularly those portrayed on television and movies, have evolved somewhat. From Nick, in Nick at Night, to Angel, the vampire with a soul, in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, to Mick, in Moonlight, they have each brought similar new traits to vampire lore, and twists on the old. Then there are Interview with a Vampire, The Vampire Diaries, and the Twilight series. Each of these books feature vampires – good and bad, and are given more human tendencies than the earliest vampires who were closer to monster than human.

Some lore includes that vampires cannot enter churches, nor can they enter a building unless invited in. They are harmed by crucifixes and deterred by garlic, and can be killed by a wooden stake through the heart. Modern vampire writers take many of those myths and rework them to fit their vampires. In both of my vampire books, Bound by Blood and Soul Guardian, vampires still need to be invited into private homes, but are free to enter public places. That is pretty common with all modern vampires. However, my vampires can also enter churches, but they cannot cross the sanctuary without some consequence. As Lucien, in Soul Guardian, so aptly puts it, the crucifix may or may not hinder some vampires; “Most of the amulet’s power comes from a person’s belief in it, not the amulet itself. If your faith is in the cross, and it is unshakable, it will work for you.”

While some vampires revel in their roles, others do not, but accept it as their lifestyle. There are plenty of both types in Soul Guardian and Bound by Blood.

If you would like to read more on the origins of vampires, you might want to check project Guttenberg for copies of The Vampyre and Dracula.  Project Guttenberg offers over 38.000 free ebooks. If you are not familiar with them, I encourage you to check them out. It’s a truly admirable project.

To find Dracula on Project Gutenberg,
The Vampyre can be found at 

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 24, 2012


Thank you all (yep, there's my y'all again) for taking part in our Mardi Gras Party. I hope you gathered armloads of free books and ate yourself sick on Jambalaya, Gumbo and King Cake. I hope you didn't flash anyone to get all those beads. And I sincerely hope you didn't get too rowdy and get yourself thrown in jail. Now that would be a shame. 

Tara and I were thrilled to see all the free downloads coming in on BOUND BY BLOOD and ON ICE. We were kind of stunned to see that readers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy were downloading them as well as our friends in the UK. For me, other than a few sales in Germany, this was a first. What an exciting time for a writer.

Carol has gone for a week-long writing retreat, but she promised to check in with us on Wednesday. Tara and I will be toiling away at our own keyboards this weekend, but we have another adventure to share with you tomorrow. Did you think we would forget about you?

From 10am-2pm EST Saturday, we will be holding a chat on Coffee Time Romance. Our chat will be all about our western novels. Tara has written a whole slew, but I only have two contemporary westerns and they are as different as night and day. BADLANDS is a romantic suspense about a Houston doctor who inherits a great big ranch in the Texas Panhandle. She also inherits a murder mystery and a hunky neighboring rancher. PAINTED LADY is a romantic comedy about a Texas Hill Country rancher and a quirky artist. I'll let Tara tell you a little about the books she is featuring. 

You know we are very generous with sending our books straight into your hands, so log on to the chat and grab some more books. We love it when you read us.    

Join the Coffee Time loop for the live chat and select individual email. The chat will come right to your email, you can respond and ask questions as we go along. If you want to unsubscribe right after, that's okay too. 
Yahoo Chatters Group (Rated PG) eLoop -

This is the Permalink for BADLANDS (Just paste into your browser and it will take you to the right page if you want to check it out before the chat. 
This is the Permalink for PAINTED LADY

Hope to see you on the chat tomorrow. We have excerpts and give-aways every hour. Come join us. We'll be expecting you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woo Hoo! Mardi Gras Winner!

The Grand Prize winner of our Mardi Gras Blast is Pam F.
J.D. is still dealing with a fried modem, but she plans to be back on line soon.

So glad you all partied with us! Hope to see you around the blog as we start our regular posting schedule on Monday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Grand Prize

Hey, we didn't forget about anyone.  And there's still time (until midnight EST) to leave a comment or just your name and email.
However, J.D. is having major technical problems, and she is the only one who can check if anyone responded through her web page contact. For that reason, we will be announcing the winner tomorrow and will be in contact.  Sorry for the delay!

Let the good times roll...

Welcome to our Mardi Gras Party. Come on in and help yourself to some good old Cajun style cooking and have a big old helping of King Cake.

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday…. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the last blow out of festivities before Lenten fasting. We have lots of goodies, and not one of them will add a smidge to your waistline. How cool is that?

How does this work?
We can’t send you around Bourbon Street from shop to shop but we can send you to our three sites to pick up more free goodies.

While you’re here, make sure you get the free downloads from Amazon.

Next: Visit all 3 author websites to pick up a total of 4 more free book downloads and leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for our grand prize.

Before you take off to gather your loot, make sure to check out some great recipes here and leave a comment to have yet another chance to win the Mardi Gras Blast Grand Prize.

And check back to see what else we're throwing at you...It might be beads...It might not...
Laissez les bon temps rouler !

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo

There isn't anything better than a heaping bowl of Gumbo. Takes me back to New Orleans with every bite. Enjoy! Carol DeVaney

Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo

1 1/2 pounds raw, whole, head-on medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp

2 quarts water

1 ½ cups onion

½ cup diced green peppers

¾ cup diced celery

2 ½ tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup seeded diced tomato

1 tablespoon salt or to taste

¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch pieces and browned

1 tablespoon file powder

Brown Roux Total prep and cook time 35 min.


1 cup vegetable oil

¾ cup white flour

¼ cup wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper
Add salt and pepper to taste


Add oil in large, heavy sauté skillet. Bring oil to smoking hot, careful not to burn, add flour carefully, whisk oil and flour together – immediately decrease heat to lowest setting. Add salt and pepper. Constantly stir for 30  minutes or until the color is dark brown. Remove from heat. Set aside.


While roux is browning, remove and save shrimp heads and shells. Devein the shrimp. Place shrimp in refrigerator. Place shrimp heads, shells and water in 4-6 quart pan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, simmer for about 1 hour, or until liquid reduces to 1 quart. Remove from heat, strain liquid. Discard all solids.

Turn off heat and add in sausage and shrimp. Stir. Add the file powder, stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10-15 min. Serve over rice.
J.D.'s Creole Shrimp Jambalaya
I developed this recipe when I found myself with a bonanza
batch of shrimp and a small freezer. How many can you eat?

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 celery ribs with tops, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can tomatoes and 3 cans tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large bay leaf
1 ring smoked sausage, sliced
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

Sauté onion, green pepper, celery and garlic in oil till tender. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, 1 tomato sauce can of water and sliced sausage. Add seasonings and simmer 15 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve over cooked rice.

Tara's King's Cake

Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday! The day that winds up the official Carnival season that started in January. It's not too late to whip up a cake now and enjoy a slice with the great reading material you can download.

The official day for the beginning of the Carnival season is Twelfth Night -- twelve days after Christmas. In European countries, the coming of the Wise Men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated on Epiphany, or Twelfth Night. People would gather to exchange gifts and celebrate. One of the most popular customs was the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings -- A King’s Cake. The Europeans hid a bean in the cake, and the person receiving the bean must portray one of the kings. Latin Americans put a small figure inside the cake representing the Christ Child. Good fortune awaits the lucky person who gets the figure. In Louisiana, they want to make sure the celebration continues year after year. If you find the baby in the King’s Cake, you are responsible for next year’s King’s Cake.  

The traditional King’s Cake is a biroche style coffee cake made in a circular shape, representing a crown, and is decorated with a sugar icing and colored sugar sprinkles in the Mardi Gras colors of purple (for justice), green (for faith), and gold (for power).

This cake should not be prepared or served before Twelfth Night (January 6) or after Mardi Gras day!

King’s Cake

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (orange rind works fine!)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Cinnamon (depends on taste)
  • 1 King Cake Baby (or dried bean, or pecan half)
Preheat the oven 350 degrees when you set cake to raise.
Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg lemon (or orange) rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.
Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch down dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a large rectangle, about 30 inches long. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. (preheat oven)
Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. Drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.
  • 3 Cups Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 - 6 Tbsp water.

Combine sugar, lemon juice and 3 Tbsp. water. Mix until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water, little at time, until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle colored sugars in individual rows, consisting of about 2 rows, of green, purple and yellow.

The cake is served in 2” - 3” pieces

Friday, February 17, 2012

Come right on in and make yourself at home...

Welcome to the brand spankin' new blog, hosted by Tara Manderino, Carol Devaney and myself, J.D. Faver. We are authors who have become close friends over many years of writing, taking classes, workshops, chats and projects. We always pull together, whether sharing joys or sorrows. We all live in small communities near big cities. Tara lives in Pennsylvania and Carol is in Georgia, while I'm in the great state of Texas...Yeah, I know. I'm trying to work on my humility.
We write in different genres, and in the same. Carol and I write contemporary and Tara is all over the place, writing historicals and Regencies, paranormals and contemporary.
Our purpose for inviting you here is to entertain you, to share some brilliant insights and to shower you with goodies in the way of our contests and other events.
So put your feet up and sit a spell. We're here for the long haul.