Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ryssa's 2012 Observations

by Ryssa Edwards

Okay, so here’s the funny thing about writing. Writers can time travel. You’re reading this today, the first day of 2012, the year the Mayans say we’re all going to be toast, but I’m writing it in 2011.

What to say on New Year’s Day?

I think I’m supposed to look back and say what a spectacular year it was. Or maybe I’m supposed to look ahead and say what a great year it’s going to be.

Last year was amazing. It’s going to be pretty hard to top that one, but here are my top ten thoughts for 2012:

10. Find a calendar that I can carry around, doesn’t weigh down my purse, and sends a not-so-mild electric shock through me when I’m coming up on a deadline.
9. Go somewhere I’ve never been before. Maybe that interesting side alley I drive by sometimes. Hmmm.
8. Say something I’ve never said before. Even if no one hears me. Just put it out there. 7. Look up at the sky and be amazed.
6. Finish that blanket I’ve been knitting for two years!
5. Write a book that makes my readers say, “Ahhh. . . Wish it didn’t have to end”
4. When I feel like I’m in over my head. . . lift it up
3. Read at least one new author a month
2. Remember that life is not fishing. . . if I have to haul it in . . . maybe I should let it go
1.Live . . . laugh . . . and remember why we’re all here on this little ball of water and stone, floating among the stars.

It’s a pretty short list. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Today is the first day of a new year. That means I have about 31,449,600 seconds left to sort out my list. Or maybe I shouldn’t sort it, because life has a way of happening, doesn’t it?
It’s time for me to step into my time machine, travel back to Christmas Eve 2011, and . . . work on that blanket!
Let me be the first to welcome you to 2012 with the wish that it’s the best year of your life.

What’s on your top ten list for 2012?

**And make sure to leave a comment and one lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon gift certificate!**

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Making Realistic Resolutions!

by Emily Cale

The one thing I hate about New Year's Eve is all the resolution making. Sure, it seems like a good idea at the time, but you're probably drunk and everyone around you is being ambitious, so you join in. "I'm going to lose 70 pounds this year!" "I'm going to run a marathon. No, five marathons and three triathlons."

I'm not saying these goals aren't good, but for me they are unrealistic. I know my resolutions last until about February, then life interferes. So this year I'm making better resolutions.

1. Eat more cookies: Yes, you heard that right. I'll do the math for you: Cookies=happiness; happiness=good; therefore cookies=good. See? Perfect.

2. Drink more wine: Seem crazy? Right now I only pull out bottles for celebrations. New contracts, book release, cover art, or Friday (yes, that is a celebration). If I make it to five o'clock, I think that deserves a glass in celebration.

3. Be happier: Please see above for how I plan to achieve this goal.
Hope whatever your New Year's plans are that they bring you all the best in 2012!

Playing perfect daughter at her mother's parties isn't Alexis Arnette's idea of a good time. She always leaves grumpy and hungry. Unimpressed with the spread laid out in the living room, she sneaks off to the kitchen to find something a little more satisfying. What she discovers is chef Morgan Crane, a man who is even more delicious than his baked goods. When one taste of his creations leads to more and her good girl demeanor dissolves, would the boring evening turn into one she'll never forget?

**Tell me your best New Year's resolution and I'll randomly pick one winner to receive a package full of hot chocolates to help get you through the cold winter months**

You can find me on my blog (  or on twitter ( ).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Nightmares

by Barbara Elsborg

I sometimes think the words – It always happens to me – should be tattooed on my forehead or butt. Yep, on my butt, I don’t want anyone to see them. I don’t like to think of myself as accident prone but the truth is – I am, especially on holidays. The worst thing I ever did was accidentally dance on a dead dog – in my defense it was covered with sand- but since I’d seen the poor mutt no more than fifteen minutes earlier – not covered in sand, you’d have thought my brain – or Brian as I call him – would have registered what lay beneath that tempting soft pile.
I could go on about the passport falling into the sea, the boat I got stuck in a narrow channel, the boat I steered into the quay, the last minute jump onto the passenger ferry that was going the wrong way, the trip on the Greyhound bus where the last seat was next to a guy only wearing underwear – it was snowing outside….but you get the picture.

My worst holiday nightmare was on a snowy vacation in Austria. Husband decided to ski one more time down the slope from hell, while I sensibly decided to go on an organized tour of a glacial cave. Much safer. Yes, you’re fine in ski boots – said the guy in the hut. The ONLY guy who spoke English. I slithered down a steep slope to join a group of ONLY German speaking tourists – none of them in ski boots. I should have turned round. One foot into the cave and I remembered I don’t like enclosed spaces. The tour involved squeezing through narrow passages and descending vertical ladders. My heart was thumping in my mouth and I was so slow I lost sight of the people ahead. I turned the wrong way and in moments was in darkness.

Panic? Me? YES! I swallowed my scream and eventually found the others who were busy taking snaps of the fantastic ice formations. Long story short – I survived. Lesson learned – don’t do things like that on your own, I might have never been missed if I’d slipped and fallen. By the time I’d crawled – and I did have to crawl partly because it was so steep, and partly because my knees were shaking – back up the snowy slope that led down to the cave, I was on the point of hysteria. I spotted my husband and as I mustered the strength to throw myself into his arms, I noticed the color of his face. White.

“I need a hospital. Now. I’ve got a burst appendix.”
Yes, I know men exaggerate and it wasn’t his appendix. It was kidney stones, but he did need a hospital and both in Austria and back in the UK. So it doesn’t always happen to me – it happens to him, too!

**One lucky person will win a copy of my 1NS story - On the Right Track - as well as a copy of my suspense novel - Chosen. In addition I'm going to send 'A taste of England' - a suprise package of foods that are quintessentially English. Now, that's going to work if you're American or Canadian or from somewhere else in the world, but not if you're from the UK. In that case, I'll send a package that is quintessentially American**

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Holiday Hangover

By Ann Mayburn

Right now you’re probably at the end of your Christmas rope...or in this case sparkly Christmas garland festooned with merry plastic mistletoe, ‘cause you know you can never have enough of mistletoe. It’s everywhere! From the entrance to the grocery store, to those oh so clever boxers your man wore to bed with the mistletoe right over the crotch. Around December 1st I might have indulged in a kiss or two with a laugh, but now on December 29th your lucky I don’t slug you.
Anyways, if you’re anything like me, right now you’re still in your jammies, regardless of what time of day it is. You’re looking at your house, covered with a thick layer of wrapping paper, ribbons, and cards. There is movement from a giant pile of tissue paper in the corner where your cat is either playing or pooping in it.

Your dog has eaten all of the Christmas cookie ornaments off the tree and the only candy left in your cute Santa Clause candy dishes are the crappy kinds that no one wants.
Your fridge is stuffed with holiday feast leftovers and you’re trying to figure out a way to use the last of the turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, and corn in a way your kids will eat. Because there is no way in hell your cooking anything right now. Behind all that food are various pies, cookies, and fruit cakes that friends and family members have given you. Once again all the good treats are gone, leaving behind the weird ‘gourmet’ pineapple salsa peach pie that your sister made and the fruit cake that’s been passed around the family since the Great Depression.
Let’s not forget begging your Goth teenager to get at least one decent picture to send out to the relatives and the resulting trauma that they caused poor Santa Clause at the mall. Then again, the rest of the kids didn’t do too well with Jolly ol’ Saint Nick either. 

Do you know what days like this are perfect for? Not giving a crap! That’s right, I give you permission to sit around in your pajamas all day, reading books on your new eReader, and eating whatever the hell you want. You can store away those lovely Christmas sweaters for next year along with the adorable antlers that your cat absolutely loathes and is planning your destruction over.
Let your kids play with all of their new toys, they’re only kids once and tomorrow you can being the endless battle of keeping your house from looking like it’s not something out of that TV show ‘Hoarders’ again. Right now the only thing you need to worry about is which romance novel you want to read first while you snuggle up with a cup of hot chocolate liberally spiked with butterscotch schnapps.
Enjoy this time of peace, these precious days between Christmas and the New Years. Remember all the good times and fun that you’ve had and give yourself a pat on the back, you made it through another holiday season with your sanity almost intact and your butt only a little bit bigger.
 Would you like an extra 25 dollars to spend at Amazon to feed your eReader? Great! Simply tell me what is hiding in the picture of the pile of wrapping paper above. ;) 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Chanukah!

by Deena Remiel

Chanukah is one of my most favorite holidays of the year. It’s a joyous occasion filled with song, games, presents, and scrumptious food. Today, I’d like to share my standard Chanukah party yummies. The whole idea is to eat foods made with oil. Why? Because the story that while the Maccabees were rededicating the Second Temple after it had been nearly destroyed, oil that was supposed to last only a day to give light, lasted for eight. That’s why it’s also called the Festival of Lights.
Enjoy these recipes for a Great Chanukah meal:


4 large potatoes
1 yellow onion
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
ground black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Directions: Finely grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid.
  Mix in egg, salt, and black pepper. Add enough flour to make mixture thick, about 2 to 4 tablespoons all together.
  Turn oven to low, about 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).
  Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Drop two or three 1/4 cup mounds into hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain, and keep warm in low oven until serving time. Repeat until all potato mixture is used. Sprinkle with salt after removing from oil.
  Serve with a dollop of sour cream or apple sauce.


1-15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
        1 medium onion, finely chopped
         1 tablespoon minced garlic
         2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
         1 teaspoon coriander
         3/4 teaspoon cumin
         1/2 teaspoon salt
         2 tablespoons flour
         oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
Directions: Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour and combine well.
Mash chickpeas, making sure to mix ingredients together. You can also combine ingredients in a food processor. You want the result to be a thick paste. 
Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.

Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (2-5 minutes).
Serve falafel by itself, or with hot pita bread with veggies, hummus, or tahini sauce.

2 tablespoons clear vinegar
3/8 cup milk
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup clear sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart oil for deep frying
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting
Directions:  Stir the vinegar into the milk, and let stand for a few minutes until thick.  In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture alternating with the vinegar and milk. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a donut cutter. Let stand for about 10 minutes. 

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fry doughnuts in the hot oil until golden, turning over once. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners' sugar while they are still warm, and serve immediately.

When I put these delectable treats out on the table, along with veggies, dips, salads, and chocolates, I can’t hold people back! And yes, we feel stuffed to the gills when we’re done, but we have no control when it comes to these wonderful main dishes above. I hope you’ll give them a try. At the very least, the Potato Pancakes.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter and joy!

**In the spirit of the holidays, I’m offering a present of my own to one lucky commenter! I’m offering to buy you two 1-NS stories from Decadent Publishing! 
Count ‘em… 1…2... All you have to do is tell me YOUR favorite holiday dish in the comment area and leave your email addy, too!**

Deena Remiel

P.S. If you’re looking for a holiday gift, why not give the gift of reading? Decadent Publishing has an entire catalog of delectable treats for you including my offerings: TRINITY and GHOST OF A CHANCE!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in the Caribbean

by Rebecca Royce

Happy Holidays everyone!! Whatever version of the holidays you celebrate, I hope you are enjoying yourself and that you are having a wonderful time.

As a child, we went away every year to the Caribbean. (I know, I was deeply spoiled and didn’t appreciate it at the time. Can I go now, Mom? Can I? Can I?)

Eventually, we started to go away to the same place year after year and it became comfortable to us. To this day, I think of that beach on St. Croix in the USVI as my happy place. The resort was called The Buccaneer.  (Or “The Buck” as my father would refer to it.  We’re going to “The Buck” kids.)

There wasn’t a lot to do there.  Mostly, we read, took walks, and once we were old enough (18 in the Caribbean) we drank tropical drinks. It was the time of year when my brother and I would actually get along.  Gosh, even thinking about it now as I write this, I miss being there so much! The last time I went was in 2007.  We brought my son. It was the last time the whole family could get together and go away at the end of the year. I have great pictures of my oldest son (then 16 months, now 6 years old.) All in all, it was a great experience.

In I’ll Be Mated For Christmas, the character of Bethy does not have happy memories. Her Holiday traditions keep her unhappy and, in some ways, unwell.  But Luke, who is the Alpha of a Werewolf pack, is about to come along to change that.  With some help from Madame Evangeline and her dating services!

**Comment and let me know your favorite holiday memory and 
I will enter you to win a $10 Gift Card to from me**

Happy and Healthy Holidays Everyone!

With Joy!
Rebecca Royce

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Holiday Hangover

by Katie Harper

It’s OK, we all know where you are and what you’re doing right now. You’re sitting on your couch in your pajamas staring at the mess of wrapping paper and bows leftover from yesterday’s orgy of greed. And it’s 3:00 in the afternoon. Christmas can suck the life out of you faster than that machine Wesley gets strapped to in The Princess Bride. There are ways of combatting the holiday hangover. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to sobriety.

Step One: Nog that shit
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you imbibed yesterday. If you didn’t, I’d like to know one thing, how the hell did you act excited when Aunt Gert gave you another horrible holiday sweater? This step is based on the hair of the dog method of hangoverology. Egg nog is the beverage of Christmas. Add a shot of Southern Comfort and you’ve got yourself holiday cheer in a glass. Too much cheer can be bad. It can cause headaches, nausea, the desire to neck punch anyone who speaks above a whisper, and YouTube videos that guarantee you will never be asked to play Mary in another church Christmas pageant. The best way to cure an alcohol hangover is to stay drunk. Problem solved.

Step Two: Eviction day
If your family is anything like mine, you have a handful of interlopers taking up space on your living room floor. Why do people think it’s a good idea to stay with family on Christmas? I’m totally OK with loved ones stopping by for a bit on the big day, but Christmas is no time for prolonged family interaction. We’ve all seen the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Clark Griswold wants an old fashioned family Christmas so he invites his parents and in-laws to join his happy little family for the “Hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny fu@%ing Kaye”. When his cousin shows up with his kids, who remind you of a family tree with a loop in one of the branches, his plans deteriorate fast. He goes from flirting with the lingerie girl at Macy’s to a full-on SWAT Emergency Response Team breaching his home to rescue Clark’s boss who cheated him out of his Christmas bonus. It’s time for your loved ones to get the hell out of your house. In the nicest way possible suggest that they might be more comfortable sleeping in their own bed. If nice doesn’t work, you can always fire a shotgun into the air and say, “You’ve got till the count of three.” Problem solved. 

Step Three: Get real 
My mom believes it’s possible to have a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Every year she tries to make all her loved ones happy. She wants the family to gather round the table, share a meal, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. And every year she fails. Norman Rockwell didn’t have six grandkids who’ve been mainlining Pixi Sticks and playing the new UFC XBOX Kinnect game for six straight hours. He didn’t have grown kids who, by 10:00 am, had given up on the whole parenting thing. He didn’t stay up until 3:00 in the morning trying to put together the three thousand piece Disney Princess Dream Castle. 
My house turns into Lord of the Flieson Christmas by noon. If it weren’t for the mass quantities of finger foods, the kids would resort to cannibalism pretty damn quick. The mess involved with all the festivities makes Hoarders look like a documentary on healthy living. It takes days to clean up. This year, I’m not doing it. I’m striking a match and letting the whole heaping pile burn baby burn.

Follow these three simple steps and you’ll be ready to face the world. Now, get your ass off that couch, take a shower, brush your teeth because, damn, your breath stinks, and get yourself to the mall. You have after Christmas sales to tackle.

"Leave a comment and you could be the lucky recipient of four smokin' hot marines! Nothing says Happy Holidays like muscle, guns, and an I-will-shoot-you-in-the-face-if-you-eat-the-last-crescent-roll attitude."