Friday, May 30, 2014

Last Friday of the Month Recipe ~ Santa Fe Casserole & Meet Author Andrea R. Cooper

Okay, anything Mexican, New Mexican, close to Mexican food is going straight to my heart (not hips, you notice I said) so I can't wait to try this new recipe from Andrea R. Cooper.  

And keep reading, we have an excerpt from her novel Cursed in Shadow Book 1.5 Legends of Oblivion series.

Santa Fe Casserole

This is my favorite recipe because it is spicy, cheesy, and versatile.

1 lb Ground Beef (sirloin or round)
1 cup of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of flour
1 package of Taco Seasoning
1 can sliced or diced jalapeños
1 can sliced or diced green chilies (mild to hot, whichever you can handle)
4oz of sour cream
1 package of Fritos Scoops
Grated Monterrey Pepper Jack Cheese or Cheddar (as much or as little as you like)
Options: mix 1/2lb of beef with 1/2lb ground turkey. Add diced tomatoes or red bell pepper, (we even mixed sweet potatoes with the turkey meat once and it was still yummy). This is a very forgiving recipe and allows for lots of variations.

Brown meat. While the meat is cooking, heat up the chicken broth in a separate container, add the flour and whisk until all the flour is dissolved. When the meat is no longer pink, drain the fat. Return to pan, add the taco seasoning, jalapeños and green chilies. Stir in the chicken broth with the flour mixed in to the meat. Add the sour cream and simmer on low for 20 mins.

In the meantime, take a casserole dish and place a layer of the Fritos chips on the bottom.
Grate the cheese.
Add a layer of cheese to the Fritos in the dish.

After the meat mixture has simmered, add a layer of it on top of the chips and cheese. Then lay another layer of the chips, cheese, and meat again until no more of the meat mixture remains (The last of the meat mixture will not have chips on top of it in the dish, the chips are only for the bottom and middle layers). Then top with cheese (include the tomatoes and/or bell peppers here if using them).

So the final layer will have chips, cheese, last of the meat mixture, more cheese and any extras (i.e. tomatoes).

Bake uncovered for 15-20 mins at 250 degrees or until cheese is melted and it is heated throughout.


Cursed in Shadow is the continuation of The Garnet Dagger, Book 1 Legends of Oblivion series. This novelette bridges Book 1 and Son of Dragons, Book 2. 

After defeating the Warloc, Brock, the Elvin Vampyre, takes Celeste to Tamlon to search the prophecies of the four and the Son of Dragons. However, the Elvin city is not safe, even for his witch. 

The Warloc’s protégé is bent on his physical return to the living. Her necromancy brings forth Brock’s first victim and more. 

Brock and Celeste must defeat prejudice and power to continue their journey and find Brock’s twin sister, Mirhana.

When I rose, the two guards sidestepped away. Nay, they would not gamble their lives again by being within my reach.

Thankfully, since rescuing Celeste from the oak cave had taken all night, Shadowdancer was rested for the ride back to Tamlon.

With Celeste’s wounds slathered with yarroway and other healing plants, she mounted. Then Emillya climbed up behind her.

At least one Elvin besides me did not hate humans. If Emillya didn’t like humans, or Celeste for that matter, she wouldn’t speak to her much less ride on a horse with her. I ran alongside them while Celeste and Emillya talked. One guard raced on the opposite side of Shadowdancer, the other in front. And it appeared the horse gave the Elvin a race.

The Elvin were considerate enough to let Shadowdancer canter or walk whenever he tired. How they understood that running the horse too long too fast would be the end of him I do not know. There have never been horses in Elvin lands for as long as I can remember.

We all took turns getting Celeste to talk to us about her cave adventure; she must stay awake awhile longer, even though we could all see she fought to keep her eyes open.

“As soon as you’ve rested,” Emillya told her, glowering at my constant interruptions to translate, “you need to view the prophecies of the four. Nivel gave me instructions when he left with Brock. The library vaults await unchanged. He told me you’d come back after banishing the Warloc to the underworld.

“Hopefully, Brock hasn’t caused unrealized damage by the oak magic trapping you.”
I nearly stumbled at her words. How was I to know snares waited to spring upon humans in our land? Our kind was immune.

Just as I opened my mouth to voice my argument, Celeste smiled at me. Her grey eyes held a glimmer of her merriment, and my frown eased.

With a chuckle, I turned back to the path. Celeste was safe now. And that was all that mattered.

“We’ll make camp at dark.” Emillya patted Shadowdancer’s rump. “Should make Tamlon soon. It’s a fine horse—any other I fear would take us three or four nights to return.”

“That reminds me.” I said. “How did you get to the labyrinth so soon? The journey from Tamlon is longer than the time of Celeste’s entrapment.”

“We have a secret path Nivel created. It’s ancient magic and travels Elvin here within an hour.”

“Then let’s take this path back.” Celeste said.

“It’s only for Elvin. The magic would crush a human and perhaps even a horse.”

“Perhaps your magic needs to be altered now.” Celeste smiled.

“Indeed.” Emillya answered. “I’ll mention the request to the elders.”

When we arrived in Tamlon, I hoped to show Celeste the wonders of my land. And bask in the sun naked with her.

After the others slept, I laid down beside Celeste. She turned and snuggled her head under my chin. “Your language is so beautiful. Almost like music with its rhythms and melody.”

My hand traced circles up and down her back. “Emir voulan sptrea.”

“What does that mean?”

I eased her chin up and she looked into my eyes. “We are one heart.” I kissed her and relished in the sweetness of her mouth for we could do little else with company.

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Bio: Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrea has always created characters and stories. But it wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she started writing novels.

What happened that ignited the writing flame in her fingers? Divorced, and disillusioned by love songs and stories. They exaggerate. She thought. Love and Romance are not like that in the real world. Then she met her husband and realized, yes love and romance are exactly like the songs and stories say. She is now a happy wife, and a mom to three kids (two boys and a girl).

Andrea writes paranormal and historical romance. When not writing or reading, one may find Andrea dancing in Zumba.

She believes in the power of change and counting each moment as a blessing. But most importantly, she believes in love.

Cursed in Shadow Book Trailer:

Find Andrea:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meet George the Basset Hound In Mindy Mymudes Mid-Grade Book ~ George Knows

I gotta tell you, this is a different kind of excerpt.  You get to know George, the Basset Hound, it's his story!!  So read on, and meet George.  Oh, and yes, Mindy Mymudes, George's...ummm, what would George call her?  Certainly not owner :)

Here is George Knows.

An egotistical magical basset hound named George believes it's his duty to train and protect his 12-year-old Girlpup, a greenwitch named Karly. He and his Girlpup, must solve a murder as well as save their park from being developed. George is the perfectly designed familiar for the job.

I don’t understand my Girlpup; the rest of my Pack adores me. Packmom Doreen is always an easy conquest. She saved me when I was a puppy and I fell over my ears, and my legs wouldn’t stay under me. She is the most important member of the Pack—she feeds us.
Just not often enough.
Packdad Brian is very well trained and does whatever Packmom Doreen wants. In the last two years, I’ve become a model of the perfect hunting hound. Karly needs to see me for what I am, and she doesn’t.
When I prowl in her mind, I see how she pictures me—a clumsy, stupid, wobbly pup. I shouldn’t have to prove to her I am the best familiar in the world or that I am brilliant. I shouldn’t, but I know I’ll have to.
“George!” she shouts through panting. Why is she running? “Where the heck are you?”
Although Karly’s scent changed after her twelfth birthday from sweetmilkFrootLoops to that fakeflowerchemical that she thinks removes her odor, I know it’s her. Even if I can’t smell her, I can still hear her stumble over the path. Big rocks and trees that scrape the sky get in the way. She needs to get lower to the ground. Now she’s sneezing. If only she’d work with me, her allergies would go bye-bye. Whoever heard of an allergic witch-in-training? We can use green magic. But Karly will first have to trust me.
And she doesn’t.
Maybe when she gets older.
She will.
I continue to scrape my claws into the damp ground, searching for more smelltastes and listening for my Girlpup. She’s panting like it’s a hot day. At least she’s catching up. I am satisfied she’s okay, and dig like a badger with my wonderful big paws and claws, the ideal excavation tools. I wish I was digging up the den of a rabbit. I slow to sniff.
There’s no rabbit here.
Something different’s calling me.
What the heck is it?
Dirt and roots pile up behind me, and my rear is now higher than my front as I dig. I scrape against rocks and try to push them away. They aren’t rocks—too long and thin. I wrap my jaws around one and toss it with a headshake out of the hole. I find another and do the same thing, until there is a pile of buff-colored things that look like bleached driftwood.
I heave myself out of the hole and investigate my find. The thick sticks are hairy with fine roots. I pick one up. It’s light for its size, hollow, and about the size of a rawhide bone. It has a round knob on one side and is broken off on the other. I retrieve more pieces from the hole and sit.
Maybe they are old branches.
They don’t smelltaste like old branches.
Karly finally shows up, huffing and puffing, out of breath. She needs to get out more. I poke my nose into the pile of things I’ve dug out. “George, what are you doing? You aren’t, um, eating those, are you?”
I look at her like she’s crazy. I don’t eat wood.
Karly points to the things and counts them. “So what did you find? There are nine of whatever they are.” She bends down and touches one. “Weird, they look like someone snapped them in half.” My Girlpup takes one of the longer things and rubs off the dirt.
She drops it like it’s a pan just out of the oven. I take a sniff; it’s not hot. There’s something here, though.
Not a good something, either.
          “G-G-George, those are bones,” Karly’s voice breaks as she stutters over my name. I take another sniff. Yeah, they could be bones. What’s the problem with that? I lick one. It tastes like dirt. They’ve been here a long time.
That’s it.
Just a bunch of animal bones. Maybe a big dog buried them. What’s bothering her? The hackles rise on the back of my neck. The not good gassulfurdrysnakecatstink smelltaste spins around my brain like smoke.
Oh no.
I hack and cough. I know exactly what kind of bones these are.
          I look Karly in the eye and push a picture of a Halloween skeleton. I know she doesn’t like it when I go into her head without permission, but this is important. I am not sharing the good stuff, like manure, rotting fish, and dead animals.
          “No way. These aren’t human bones,” she squeaks and backs up.
          Nope, she can’t ignore these. I pick one up gently between my teeth and carry it to her feet. I carefully place it in front of her toes then shake my muzzle, lips flopping from side to side, trying to get the taste of Peep bone out of my mouth. Peep bone.
It’s awful.
Bassets do not eat Peeps’ bones. We only chew non-peep bones. We need our Peeps to hunt for our fresh, meaty bones.
          “George, leave it. We need to talk to Aunt Heather about them. She’ll know if they’re human or not, and what to do if they are.” Karly gulps. “If they aren’t…I hope they aren’t. You’ve never smelled human bones, so how’d you know?”
          Um, I am your familiar. I have magical skills? There’s something off about the bones, and a weak scent gets stronger as I inhale.
It’s a really bad smelltaste.
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Coffeetime Romance
MuseItUp, eBook until end of May, when paperback will be released.

Mindy Mymudes runs with the Muddy Paws Pack in Milwaukee, WI. She insists she is alpha, even as the dogs walk all over her. She hunts, cleans the den and keeps them entertained. When she can escape the pack, she enjoys digging in dirt, listening to audiobooks, and weaving the antics of the pack into stories. The alpha male, Tall Dude, just shakes his head and stays out of the way.

Meet Mindy:  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Author Beppie Harrison's Answers To Five Questions ~ Come Find Out

Beppie Harrison has hopscotched across the world during her life. She spent her childhood in Hawaii, then first moved to California, and later New York. She married an Englishman and lived in London for the first ten years of her marriage, and spent considerable time in Ireland since. She has four children, two home-grown, one adopted from Thailand and another from Chile. She has published eight non-fiction books before she switched to fiction. Her latest release is The Divided Heart, a historical romance of Regency times, set in Ireland, the first book of her Heart Trilogy. The second book, The Broken Heart, will be available in June, 2014. She now lives in Michigan with her husband and two indignant cats.

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Beppie. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, The Divided Heart

Hi Leslie, thank you for having me as your guest today. I was inspired by a place. Ireland spoke to my heart the minute I set foot there. I’d always been interested in the country, but living in England during much of the recent Troubles, I’d come to the conclusion that all of them—Catholics (IRA) and Protestants (Loyalists)—were all nuts and unpleasantly so. It took going to Ireland after the peace has come that made me realize most of that happened in Northern Ireland, and that Ireland itself is a wonderful place, full of fascinating stories.

What were your experiences as a child that contributed to you becoming a writer? 

I must have found reality less than gripping. I was writing stories as soon as I could write anything—illustrated stories. All that proved was that I had no artistic talent and placed my stories in wonderful and weird places I’d never been.

Do day-to-day life experiences influence your stories?

Oh yes. Where else can you learn about the human heart except your own experience of love and friendship and exasperation and reconciliation after conflict?

If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?

That’s easy. Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She gets Mr. Darcy!

Give us a brief summary of The Divided Heart.

What is a girl to do when she loves two countries and they are deeply hostile to each other? Making Anne’s problems more difficult to deal with is the reality that she is Lady Anne Hawthorne and the year is 1810, when a young woman’s freedom of action is strictly limited, particularly when she is the daughter of an English earl whose estate lies in Ireland. Born and raised in that green and pleasant land, she loves it with all her heart. But she has been brought up as an English lady, and all her family’s traditions and power are derived from England.

Complicating her discovery of who she most truly is are two men: the enigmatic, red-headed Irishman she encounters unexpectedly and the handsome, responsible Englishman, whom she meets on the very same day when he comes to take over the title and estate he has inherited, which lies nearest her father’s. In 1810, the country is just recovering from a devastating Irish rebellion in 1798, another less overwhelming revolt in 1803, and the Irish hate of the English, and the English contempt for the Irish, well established already, are vivid and bloody.

So to which country does Anne most truly belong? She has to work her way through the temptations and opportunities to define herself, with each of the men claiming part of her heart and loyalty. Only when she has defined where her own fidelity lies—and how far into danger she is prepared to venture—can she truly give herself to the man she loves.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Monthly News From My Guests...Keep Informed

~Lisabet Sarai New Release: Admit You Want It. Deluxe boxed set containing eighteen of Lisabet's sizzling stories of dominance and submission,plus a 30,000 word novella, for one economical price.  Amazon

~Julie Eberhart Painter Blog post: copycat writing Have you noticed how the entertainment media has taken a turn for the trite and trivial? Vampires are in; Westerns are out.

~Kaye George Award: Death In the Time of Ice, George's Neanderthal mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery of 2013. E-book at UNTREED READS. Also available in paperback.

~Elaine Cantrell New Contract: author of The Enchanted and Blue 52, just signed her sixth contract with Astraea Press for a contemporary romance titled Rest Thy Head & Blue 52  is a finalist in Rom Con's 2014 Readers' Crown contest.

~Meredith Bond New Release: The third book in Meredith Bond's Fire: Nimue's Destiny (Children of Avalon Series)is now available! 

~Kayelle Allen Sale: till May 30th (99 cents) Fantasy, The Last Vhalgenn. Duty to king and country has shaped Raik's life since birth, but to protect them, she must perform a ritual that betrays all she holds sacred. Amazon 

~Aaron Paul Lazar New Release:  Spirit Me Away  is thrilling romantic mystery set against the colorful backdrop of the sixties—with an unforgettable conclusion at the greatest rock festival of all time. Amazon

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Release by Aaron Paul Lazar ~ Spirit Me Away

I'm pleased to bring you the latest from Aaron Paul Lazar, 
Spirit Me Away ~ a Gus Lagarde Mystery.

Boston, Massachusetts: It’s the summer of ’69—the parks are flooded with flower children and a hot new band called Led Zeppelin is set to appear at the Boston Tea Party. But for one newlywed couple just beginning their lives together, there will be no peace.

In the cradle of sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll, Gus and Elsbeth LeGarde are music students attending the New England Conservatory of Music, after a wedding kept secret from their families. When they discover a bruised and sobbing teenage girl on the Boston Commons who can’t remember who she is, or how she got there, the couple decides to “adopt” her to help find her identity.

But Gus and Elsbeth aren’t prepared to be plunged into a violent world of rape, abuse, and a ring of white slave traders who’ll stop at nothing to take back their property—or to acquire new flesh in the form of Gus’s beautiful young bride.

At times nostalgic, heart-stopping, and breathlessly dramatic, Spirit Me Away is a thrilling romantic mystery set against the colorful backdrop of the sixties—with an unforgettable conclusion at the greatest rock festival of all time.

Chapter 1
June 28, 1969

The girl slumped on a park bench clutching a battered old guitar case. Long copper curls tumbled forward in an untidy mass, nearly obscuring her eyes. She covered her face with her hands, and it was at that moment I noticed her shoulders shaking.

The poor thing was crying.

Concerned, I stepped closer to the balcony railing to get a better look, wondering what was wrong.

I’d just wandered out to our terrace after working for two solid hours on my music theory homework. I needed fresh air, because I didn’t think my brain could process any more post tonal theory, 12-tone series, octotonic scales, or especially the impossible analysis of Bartok's String Quartet Number 4, first movement. And although the scenes on the Boston Public Garden were usually quite lively, filled with hippies sitting cross-legged on the grass, mothers pushing strollers, and dogs chasing Frisbees, I hadn’t expected to see this poor creature sobbing on the park bench.

I called to Elsbeth, who’d been playing a salty Brazilian tango on our beat-up baby grand. “Honey? Can you come here for a minute?”

The expression in Elsbeth’s dark eyes swung from musical enchantment to mild curiosity. She pushed back from the piano and joined me on the balcony. “What is it?”

I pointed to the girl. “Over there.”

My wife peered across Beacon Street to the sidewalk bordering the park, where the girl sat on the bench, weeping harder now.

“Oh, the poor thing. Another lost flower child.”

“Yeah.” A pang of empathy banged through me, which was always a bad sign. It meant I’d probably do something I’d regret. Regardless, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the girl, who looked to be about our age, maybe eighteen or twenty. She wore typical hippie garb, like most of our Bean Town flower children, with patched bellbottom jeans, sandals, a tie-dyed tee shirt, and a suede vest with beaded fringe.

I slid my arm around Elsbeth’s waist, watching the street below bustling with activity. Groups of vibrant young hippies, flowing with beads, long hair, and whorls of colorful fabric, tripped and laughed, floating across the park to gather and play music.

Fat pigeons gathered and cooed at the girl’s feet, as if in tune with her sorrow. Their green metallic feathers winked in the sunlight.

Strains of the Doors’ “Break on Through” wafted from someone’s transistor radio. Taxis, cars, and buses engorged with passengers trundled past, honking and billowing black smoke. Throngs of businessmen hurried through the park, dressed in neatly pressed suits and crisp white shirts, ignoring the forlorn figure on the bench.

No one stopped.

No one gave her a second glance.

I turned to my wife. “We can’t leave her there.”

“I know.” She grabbed my hand, pulling me toward the door. “Come on.”

We hurried down one flight of stairs and crossed the street.

The Boston Public Garden—a grassy, expansive square that was home to the famous swan boats—teemed with people and mirrored its sister park, the Boston Common. Up until 1830, livestock actually grazed on the grass of America’s oldest public park. Charles Street neatly bisected both the Commons and the Gardens, as the locals affectionately called them. Venerable old streets with names like Tremont, Park, Boylston, and Beacon enclosed the greenery.

The girl’s shoulders continued to shake and long sobs wracked her body.

We approached her slowly.

“Honey?” Elsbeth said. “What’s wrong? Can we help you?”

“Huh?” The girl sniffled and looked up. Her orange granny glasses had slipped down her nose. Dusky violet eyes flashed with confusion and tears streamed along her cheeks. A large, oily spot stained her vest, her jeans were recently ripped and the knee bloodied, and her forehead was smudged.

“Miss?” I said. “Do you need help?”

She glanced from me to Elsbeth and back again. Her shoulders hitched once, and she lowered her face into her hands. “I don’t know,” she wailed in a shaky voice. “I just don’t know.”

Elsbeth perched beside her on the bench, and I couldn’t help but notice how different they looked. Elsbeth was brown-eyed and pale-skinned, with long, dark, curly hair pulled back in a mother-of-pearl clasp at the nape of her neck. She wore a black turtleneck, tapered jeans, and comfortable buckskin shoes. Her lipstick, in a deep shade of rose, was strategically applied to appear natural, and emphasized her full, bow-shaped lips. This lost girl had masses of wild hair the color of sunlight on amaretto, a beautiful cherry-gold. Her fair skin was flawless, and her eyes reminded me of purple grapes held to the sunlight.

Elsbeth tried again. “Honey? What’s your name?”

The girl hiccupped and looked at her guitar case, plastered in fluorescent stickers boasting the words “Flower Power,” “Peace,” and “Love Rules.” A tag hung from the handle. She touched it nervously.

“May I?” I asked.

She nodded. “Sure.”

I leaned down and flipped the nametag around. A single name was scribbled in bubbly handwriting. “Valerie,” I read aloud. “Is that you?”

Slanting her eyes at Elsbeth, then at me, she finally stared down at her hands. “I don’t know. I’m not even sure this is my guitar.” She began to cry in earnest again.

Elsbeth slipped an arm around her shoulders. “Listen. Why don’t you come inside with us? We’ll give you something to eat and get you cleaned up. After that, we can try to figure out what happened to you. How’s that sound?”

Valerie, if that was her name, looked at Elsbeth, wiping tears from her cheeks. “Okay,” she said in a small voice. “Maybe just for a few minutes.”

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys.