Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Real Neat Blog Award and Giveaway

1. Put the Real Neat Blog Award logo on your blog.
2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you. That would be me. 
3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

GIVEAWAY: I’ll send one commenter one of my eBooks—your choice of book and recipient (if you want it to be a gift).

My questions were asked by Shehanne Moore, historical romance author and blogger extraordinaire. Thanks, Shehanne, for including me.

QUESTION 1 Where do most visits to your blog come from? United States, Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Belarus, Canada—in that order. Surprising!

QUESTION 2 What is your favourite sport? Watching. I’m a great watcher. I watch any number of things, such as birds, dogs, horses, figure skating, stars, the sky, and when I have the opportunity, moving water (the sea, lakes, streams, creeks).

QUESTION 3 What is your favourite quote? I have several, but one especially from John Stuart Mill: Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
There are many from Martin Luther King, Jr. Here's one I'm fond of.

QUESTION 4 What was your favourite class when still at school? English. I’ve always loved reading and it was a natural. I also loved art, but I soon learned I was a small fish in a very large pond.

QUESTION 5 Anything you had wished to have learned earlier? To follow my dreams. I wish I’d persisted early on and not let life dictate what I did, at least not to the extent of putting everything on hold for many years.

QUESTION 6 What musical instrument have you tried to play? There was a brief--very brief--stint with a violin. Now I play CDs. Definitely better for me and everyone in hearing distance.

QUESTION 7 What has been a special moment for you? Finally, finally getting Prime Target published. That one was hard, but I loved it. And listening to my granddaughter singing Vivaldi’s “Laudamus Te” (on left) and the Flower Duet from Delibes’s Lakmé. Seeing my grandson in Beauty and the Beast and as the Gatekeeper in The Wiz.




I’m nominating Leslie Ann Sartor, whose interesting blog is http://anindieadventure.blogspot.com/ She’s the author of an adventure series and the star light, star bright romance novels. Check them out; they’re good stories and a lot of fun.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tradition!


Stollen, traditional Christmas bread

Christmas in my family has, or had, many traditional activities. Some have gone by the wayside as the family dwindled and we who remain are too far apart to celebrate the season together.  So far, two of my characters like to cook, Claire in Cold Comfort and Madeleine in Prime Target. I prefer cooking in winter, and both of those books are set mostly in cold weather—maybe that’s why they like it.

Fudge, the old-fashioned kind
The scents wafting from a busy kitchen bring back many memories. Baking, which started in November with fruitcakes and didn’t end until Christmas dinner, required help from everyone, Daddy included. He beat the fudge, stirred stiff doughs, and did more than his share of the taste-testing.

Mother made plates of treats for all the service people who came to our house, from the mailman to the trash collectors. She made a range of candies and cakes and filled paper plates, which we tied up in red
Brioche, a bit lopsided
or green tissue paper with a bow. They filled the dining room table, and my sisters and I loved giving them out. I did it for many years, but now I’m doing well to make a few things for friends.

I did try my hand at Brioche, a very eggy bread that reminds me of Challah. Really not my favorite. I’m thinking Stollen next and hoping it’s more to my liking. If so, I’ll give some away.

One thing I can’t give up is Cheese Grits on Christmas morning. We’ve had it for as long as I can remember. 

Oh, Cheese Grits!
Share some of your traditional dishes. Good food is always appealing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Blustery Day

In Pooh parlance, this is a blustery day--windy, cold, and damp. The first cold day of the season, and my thoughts turn to chili. But that's for tonight. 
For brunch I decided to try Canadian Bannock, a fried bread kind of thing. The recipe came from  Felicity Kates on shehannemoore's blog. Here's the link:

Made the batter. Very wet.

Made the round thing. Still very wet.


Tried to dump it in the hot skillet in one piece. It ended up in several pieces, but it began frying. 


Tried to turn it over, using two spatulas as suggested. Hmmmm. 


Okay, here it is finished. 



This is tasty but holds a lot of the oil (Canola in my case). I think once will be enough for this. To be honest, the more biscuit-like Scottish bannocks I tried were more to my liking. 



 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Research--the story begins




It’s fall here. It seems late. Colors are not spectacular this year; only a few bright leaves recently appeared on our sugar maple. 
Our sugar maple, just beginning to turn

No freezes in Greenville so far, but the first frost is supposed to arrive later this week. It was enough to get us to the mountains for a day. I’m starting a new book, tentatively titled Shallow Grave, that’s set in a fictitious county in North Carolina, and I’m ready to begin some research. I already have an idea for the cover--cart before the horse?--though it may change many times before the book is finished.

Many of the trees there are already bare, but patches of vivid golds and reds still caused us to pull out the cameras. The scenery in western North Carolina always interests me. It’s a land of steep rock faces, streams and waterfalls, and fertile valleys.

Maybe hay under protective cover
 Old barns with their mellow colors or weathered wood and often defunct equipment tell stories of their own. Near one, the bay of hounds from an array of small dog houses tracked our progress. 

A pulled-pork lunch on the patio at Hubba Hubba, a smokehouse in Flat Rock, kept us going all day. I should have taken a picture of the food, but I did get the pink Mandevilla growing up a stone chimney.

An excellent day outside—perfect weather, gorgeous scenery, and lots of information and ideas. I need to go back and talk to some of the law enforcement people in the area, but I have much to go on with.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scottish Shortbread recipe



I'm posting this by request. It's truly scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. The recipe was given to me by my husband's cousin Mary, a delightful Scottish lady.

MARY AKEHURST’S SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD

Yield:  1/2 cookie sheet

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
2 tablespoons rice flour (or very fine flour)
1/2 cup fruit sugar (very fine sugar)
2 cups flour

Double the amount for a large cookie sheet or just spread over half the sheet. Don’t spread the dough thinly. It should be fairly thick.

Beat butter until creamy. Add flour and work in well. Add sugar and rice flour and work in well. Knead with hands for a minute or two. Then pat into the tin. (I used flour on my hands and on a knife—otherwise the dough sticks to everything.) Mark with tines of a fork. (I had enough trouble without doing that.)

You can also roll mixture out and cut into shapes or leave it whole.
Bake at 275 degrees for about an hour. Small cookies take much less time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Time of Death

Thanks to all who downloaded and helped with my promotion. I appreciated it!
Alex, the artist. After a tree falls on her house, she joins her aunt on an unspoiled island, but something wakens her family psychic streak. She draws eerily accurate scenes of violence, but she knows nothing about them.
Connor, the prosecutor. He’s building a case against a drug lord one piece of evidence at a time. For him it’s personal, and he can’t risk a relationship with a witness, especially a psychic who’ll blow his case out of the water. 
Rollins, the killer. He’s a cog in a much bigger wheel, and the witness to his acts of violence threatens his operation and his life. He’ll do anything to see that doesn’t happen.
When violence is near, Alex is compelled to draw the scene. While she relaxes on an unspoiled island near Charleston, South Carolina, violence disrupts the tranquil scene when a dead man takes shape on her sketch pad. She knows nothing about the man, but the killer believes she witnessed the murder and sets his sights on Alex. After seeing her drawing, the police think she's involved, and the prosecutor fears a psychic witness will destroy his case. Now, with danger at every turn, she must uncover a killer before he destroys her and her loved ones.

Excerpt
Ace Basin, near Charleston, SC. Dave Allen Photo
Alex smoothed the paper on her board and took a number 2 stick of Payne’s gray from the box, gazing toward the water. The bleached skeleton of a tree lay on its side, smooth and ghostly in the fog. Thin light from the morning sun touched the trunk, giving it a shimmering, ethereal glow. She began drawing, selecting pastels without conscious thought. She worked steadily, intent on capturing the scene before her.
When she was satisfied, she replaced the used sheet with a fresh one and shifted so she could see the old pier. The last wisps of mist hung there, creating the image of a translucent walkway floating above the water. The fog hid the broken board—senseless violence. She sketched without thought, her hand moving automatically over the paper. The pier faded from her vision as her fingers flew. A face, swollen and distorted, took shape under the charcoal.
She blinked, startled by what she’d done. Not the mist-shrouded wooden structure, but a dead face. The face that belonged to yesterday’s body, so misshapen she couldn’t tell if she’d ever seen it. Shaken, she ripped the paper off her board and crammed it into her bag. Later she’d examine it, think about what she’d drawn. Now she wanted only to get away. She packed her materials and hurried from the cove, heading toward Chicora’s breezier ocean side to clear the images from her mind, to concentrate on happier things.
P.S. I've turned comments on again, but spam is overwhelming so I've resorted to the dreaded Captcha Codes. Sorry. I wish there were a better way.