Monday, September 30, 2013

As September wanes...

I don't know about you, but fall cleanup and home improvement are about to kill me. On top of staining a lot of trim and then finishing it with two coats of polyurethane for the next round of new windows, I've had a headache for the past two days. I'm guessing the two are somehow related.

Saturday began with a trip to the recycling center and Walmart with Sam while Budley was off on a twenty-mile hike with the Boy Scouts. And yes, you read that right. Anyway, when I got home, I made Indian Paneer cheese and then spent the afternoon trying to get the green stuff off our ten-year-old deck with something called Deck Wash that you're supposed to be able to spray on the deck to dissolve the green goo and then rinse it off--with no scrubbing!  Ha!!! They LIE!!!!

I used a lawn/garden sprayer with the result that the Deck Wash, which smells like it's mostly ammonia, dried so fast it didn't have time to work on the green stuff. It worked great in the places where I spilled it. Anyway, after I'd gone up to the barn for my big push broom to do some scrubbing, I realized the applicator of choice was my trusty watering can. Of course, by that time, the deck was wet (it's supposed to be dry when you start this process) and I was out of Deck Wash. I also need to get out the hedge trimmer and trim back some of the plants growing around the deck. *sigh* Looks like the morning glories will have to be sacrificed to save the deck. *:(( crying

I used to put Water Seal on the deck every year and ignored the algae. Last year, I didn't even get the sealant on it. I bought some--there are three big cans of it sitting right there in the hall near the door to the deck--I just never used it. For some reason, during the past month or so I've been trying to catch up with all the chores I've let slide while trying to work full-time and write the rest of the time. Not sure why I've decided to take the plunge now, but like I said, it's about to do me in. I had to come inside and lay down on a towel on the bed under the ceiling fan in my undies to rest, cool off, and dry off...twice.

No, wait. The second time I did that was after getting out the rototiller and tilling up a spot to plant garlic. And then I cleaned the barn and fed the horses. THEN I came back and cooled off for the second time.

After that, I downed a gin and tonic with lots of ice and made spaghetti.

By the way, if you're looking for a really awesome pasta sauce, I highly recommend Gia Russa's Puttanesca. It is truly heaven in a jar. I put a link there in case you can't find it in the grocery. Some places carry it, but most of them around here don't. I brown a pound of Italian sausage and simmer it with the sauce for a bit. Here's a picture of the, um, empty jar so you'll know what to look for. Sorry. I wasn't thinking about blogging at the time...

The paneer, which is the Indian version of cottage cheese, turned out fairly well. Here's the LINK to the recipe I used.

I'd never made cheese before. It's pretty cool how the milk curdles when you add the lemon juice. Sam thought so too! Wish I'd taken more pictures. The cheese was supposed to be pressed for two hours, which is about how long I was working on the deck.

Budley called at about seven pm when he reached the final stop on the hike to tell me that he had a blister on his foot the size of Texas and wanted to know why I let him do such a crazy thing. I told him I wasn't aware that I had any say in the matter. Then I told him my deck story. I think his day tops mine. At least I don't have any blisters. 

Now that all that stuff is done and I'm cooled off, rested, and reasonably sober, I'm thinking that when I finally get the deck ready for the sealant, I should try drinking a gin and tonic before I start. Might make the process go more smoothly--either that or I just won't care. *:D big grin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Release Day (and birthday) Nan Reinhardt!

I spent yesterday helping my lovely critique partner Nan Reinhardt upload her first self-pubbed books to Amazon. In return, she treated me to a terrific lunch and sent me this nifty promo file, so I guess you could call today's blog a guest post. I had the pleasure if critiquing both of these books, and if you're looking for a story about a heroine who has a bit of life under her belt, these books are for YOU!
Both volumes are now live on Amazon!

Meet Nan Reinhardt!

Nan Reinhardt is a writer of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She's been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last 17 years, she's earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.
But writing is Nan's first and most enduring passion. She can't remember a time in her life when she wasn't writing--she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver's license!) and a member of Herman's Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan's audience! She's still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.
Visit Nan's website:
Twitter: @NanReinhardt
Talk to Nan at:

Once More From the Top 
The Women of Willow Bay #1

What do you do when the one that got away...comes back?

Carrie Halligan never regretted the choice she made sixteen years ago to raise her son Jack by herself in Willow Bay, Michigan. A successful photographer by day, at night Carrie satisfies her musical passions by playing piano at a hotel bar, maintaining a balance that works for her and Jack. Walking away from Maestro Liam Reilly without telling him she was pregnant with his child may have been the hardest thing she’d ever done, but it was definitely the right thing.

When Liam shows up in town to perform a benefit concert with the local symphony, however, Carrie’s carefully crafted life spins out of control. After sending Jack to summer camp, she realizes she can’t keep Liam in the dark forever. Telling the truth to the man she once loved more than life itself isn’t near as hard as spending time in his presence and realizing that the years haven’t diminished his power over her heart. Will her lie be too much to get past, or will the spark of passion between them overcome everything?

Sex and the Widow Miles 
The Women of Willow Bay #2

His life ended. Hers didn't.

Model-thin, beautiful, and aging gracefully, Julie Miles was looking forward to retirement with her husband, Dr. Charlie Miles, in their idyllic Willow Bay, Michigan home. But when Charlie dies of a heart attack, simply getting out of bed becomes a daily struggle. Desperate for a change of scene, she leaves her home to stay in her friend Carrie’s unoccupied Chicago apartment.

Her handsome and young new neighbor, Will Brody, seems to enjoy his assignment to keep an eye on her, and Jules can’t help but be flattered. She embraces life—and sex—again, until the discovery of a dark secret shatters her world once more. She knows her feelings for Will are more than casual, and he’s made it clear he wants her, but how can she ever trust a man again when her perfect life turned out to be a lie? Determined to get to the bottom of it all, Jules goes in search of the truth and discovers that there’s always a second chance to find real love.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Break time...

I've been taking a break from blogging to get more home improvement stuff done, and so far, there are no major disasters to report. I stained and varnished the woodwork for the next window replacement in the GARAGE as opposed to my bedroom. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to stain and varnish the windows themselves after they're installed in the living room. It's a good thing that carpet is also slated for replacement, or I'd be a lot more concerned. I learned a few things the last time, chief among them not to try to do everything in one day. These things go best if you do them in stages allowing recovery time in between. *;) winking

While on my "break," I actually read a couple of books. I read The Soldier by Grace Burrowes

and Luscious by Amanda Usen,

both of which were quite good. Be careful reading them, though. Grace's book will make you want to bake apple tarts and Amanda's will have you craving pasta and wine--among other things. Speaking of apples, you might want to check out my pal Mellanie Szereto's apple pie recipe.

I'm still waiting on edits for the erotic contemporary series so I can decide whether to accept the offer or not. No news on the cover of Rebel yet, either. Apparently they thought I meant that it was the color of the background clashing with Onca's red hair rather than the fuchsia lettering. Hopefully the clarification helps, but you never know.

Right now, I'm counting the hours until tonight's premier of The Voice. I didn't realize how much of a break it gave me to watch that show until after last season's finale when I could find absolutely no excuse for sitting in front of the TV in my recliner. I need some Adam and  Blake banter to perk me up and make me smile.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just wanted to share...

Thanks to everyone whose vote made this possible!

I would've had the cover of Rebel to share with you, but I wasn't crazy about the color they chose for the final version, so I'll wait and see what they send me next.

I've been working on the first book in my romantic suspense series while waiting to hear back from my editor on the contemporary cowboy erotic romance--at least I think that's what you'd call it. The title I gave it was Boots and Spurs and Cowboys, Oh My! which is too long, of course. I also sent her a partial manuscript that might work well with it, and that one doesn't even have a title. I just refer to it by the heroine's first name, Lauren. Honestly, as seldom as my books have kept the title I gave them, I don't know why I bother! Part of the process, I suppose.

But enough about that! Only five more days until the new season of The Voice begins!

Do you really think this would work???

This pic had 152 shares on Facebook. I figure that makes it fair game.
If so, I'm getting one, and then I'm getting lost.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tasty Tuesday White Chicken Chili!

Here it is, as promised! I first posted this recipe in January 2009. Still tasty after all those years…

White Chicken Chili

4 cups water
4 tsp instant chicken broth                                   
2 cans Great Northern Beans
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped sweet pepper
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 cup uncooked pasta shells or macaroni
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

In a large soup pot, sauté onions in olive oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients except for sour cream, pasta, and cheese. Put chicken breasts in whole. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to simmer for about an hour until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and shred it using two forks. Return chicken to pot and add pasta. Cook for another fifteen minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Then add the sour cream or yogurt, stir, serve, and enjoy! If you like, you can add only one cup of cheese to the pot and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream, more grated cheese, and a sprinkling of chives to make it look pretty, but I usually don't bother. I just throw it all in there and chow down!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend wrap up!

Unbridled wound up getting 7976 free downloads world-wide--just 24 shy of 8000. I didn't really have any specific expectations, but that seems fairly respectable. The sales on the other books are trickling in, and I've even had a few actual sales of Unbridled. I'm trying to be patient. *;) winking

I had a fabulous time on Saturday. First we went to a child psychiatry seminar in which Sam's first psychologist interviewed him along with me and Budley. Needless to say, Sam had everyone in stitches while Budley and I kept getting too choked up to talk. It's a tough thing to have an autistic child, particularly the higher-functioning type that no one really knows what to do with because in many ways, parents are on their own. Sam has reached so many milestones that no one ever thought he would reach, and I'm not sure whether being told his limitations early on made a difference or not. The thing is, nobody ever told Sam he couldn't do anything. We only helped him to find a way to do the things he wanted to do--and several other things he didn't see any point in learning.

Reading has always been the toughest task for him, but I'm beginning to see a glimmer of interest. He seems to have finally realized how many doors are closed to him because he can't read well. Maybe it'll be enough to motivate him to try harder. I certainly hope so.

After that, I went to the IRWA meeting and gave a little workshop on writing blurbs--you know, those catchy little mini-synopses on the back of a book or in the description on Amazon? I hope I was able to convey my method to the rest of my chapter mates. It's hard to explain, but basically it boils down to less is more.

I spent most of Sunday in the yard planting grass seed (the weatherman promised rain today) and mums, leveling the geothermal loop some more (still not done!) and did some mowing. At the moment, I'm just plain tired, and I'm about to enjoy the first batch of white chicken chili of the season. Perhaps I'll post the recipe tomorrow...

Try to be patient. *;) winking

Friday, September 13, 2013

Last Day Download!

Today is the last day of Unbridled's free promotional period on Amazon! I'm thinking it ends at midnight Pacific time, but I could be wrong about that. Be that as it may, if you haven't gotten your free download, better hurry!

While chatting with my farrier on Thursday, I told him about the Kindle freebie and he did say that he had actually bought the rest of a series after getting the first one free on his Kindle. That's the whole idea, of course, but it's nice to know that for at least one reader, the free promo idea works. I'm sure he isn't alone, but I gotta wonder about those downloads to other countries. Will they buy more books as a result of this one? Only time will tell, but whether I sell any or not, this has certainly been an interesting experience.

I know my Cat Star books have been sold worldwide, and some of them have been free at one time or another, but this is the first time I've actually been able to watch what happens when a book is free on Amazon. The tally in the USA changes rather rapidly; the other countries rise much more slowly. In an effort to see just how hard it was to "discover" a free book, I tried to find Unbridled on the list of free Kindle books. I never found it, which makes me wonder how anyone else stumbled onto it. Maybe they're better at searching than I am, but however it happened, Unbridled did make it onto the top 100 in free Kindle books (the highest I saw it was #51) and sat at #1 on the erotica bestseller list for a good long time. Fifty Shades was at the top of the paid list, and Unbridled was at the top of the free list.

My only complaint is that Unbridled isn't truly erotica. Erotic romance perhaps, but not erotica. There is a story and a good bit of romance in there along with the heat. I know All Romance eBooks differentiates between the two pretty well, but on many other sites, the erotic romance option simply isn't there. It's either romance or erotica, and if you're trying to sell the heat aspect, that's all you have to go on. As a result, someone somewhere isn't going to be happy with what they wind up getting.

But enough about that. It's Friday, and Fridays don't come along every day, so enjoy the day and the rest of the weekend!

I'll be presenting a workshop on Blurb Writing at the IRWA meeting at the Public Library in Fishers Indiana tomorrow at 1PM. If you've ever wanted to know how to write a blurb and get the word count EXACTLY right, come on over and I'll show you how!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2001

Seems like only yesterday, doesn't it? If you're old enough to remember that day, you probably remember where you were when you first heard the news. I know I do. Not sure I'll ever forget it.

Photo from Facebook

And maybe that's for the best.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Makhani Chicken!

Popping up from the edits to Rebel to post the recipe I slaved over all day Sunday. It about wore me out, and I'm still tired, but it was damn good. Since the hero of the romantic suspense book I'm writing is Indian, I've been doing a lot of research and experimentation with Indian cuisine. I've made idlis and naan and something called Punjabi Sukha Urad Dal. I even made my own ghee, which is a type of clarified butter.

This recipe for butter chicken is one of the better known Indian dishes. I bought a jar of the ready-made sauce and tried it, but figured I ought to go the more authentic route for the purposes of research. I must say, I was surprised at just how tender the chicken was after marinating it in yogurt. I've always heard that milk was a good tenderizer, but this was a WOW! kind of tender.

Since I can't claim to have contributed much of anything to this recipe, other than the fact that I made my own version of garam masala and substituted fenugreek for the coriander, I'm simply posting my picture of it and a link to the recipe. The recipe doesn't say how long to cook the sauce, but I'd give it at least a half hour or so to reduce before adding the cream. Mine was a little runny. Enjoy!

Makhani Chicken (Indian Butter Chicken)

In other news, thanks to some great promo, Unbridled made it to the #1 spot on the Free Kindle Erotica list yesterday. I was amazed at how many downloads went to other countries. I had at least one in every country listed on KDP except Mexico. I mean, I finally got a download in BRAZIL!!!!!

Unbridled also made it into the overall Kindle Top 100 free list. As of 9pm last evening, it was #64! Whoo hoo!!!!

Too bad I'm not making any money. If I'd actually sold that many copies in one day, I'd have made almost $6K!
Oh, well... *:-&lt sigh

Monday, September 9, 2013

Free and Unbridled!

If all goes well, Unbridled should be available for a free download from Amazon sometime today--probably 3AM Eastern time. Any spreading of the word would be greatly appreciated!

Had some interesting developments this past weekend. Sourcebooks made an offer on one of my early manuscripts plus another new book to go with it. I haven't decided to accept the offer, but I'm definitely leaning in that direction. It's an erotic contemporary romance that involves cowboys. *:D big grin

Also, I got the cover for Rebel. I'm not sure I'm supposed to use it yet, but it's pretty awesome. They even gave Onca red hair! In the meantime, I've been working on the edits to Rebel, and I really think all you Cat Star fans will enjoy it.

Speaking of which, better get back to work...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Window Woes

Oh, my. What a day yesterday was--so bad, I couldn't even find the energy to blog last night.
Imagine your worst home improvement nightmare. Got it in your head? Is it a hole in the wall you can't cover? A mismatched tile? A broken faucet?

Well, for me, those things seemed minor yesterday. This past weekend, my husband installed a new window in our bedroom. He'd put the outside of the house back together. My job was to work on the interior.

Word to the wise: Never use a dark shade of Polyshades on something you really want to be a dark color. Doesn't work. I told my husband to remind me the next time I picked up a can of it. To stain a light colored wood and get it really dark, you have to use a separate stain and then put on the varnish/polyurethane. I started with a brush, then progressed to a paper towel, and then to a cloth. It doesn't look too bad now, but at the time, it looked like crap.

But before that, I used some of that spray foam insulation around the window. Another word to the wise: That stuff KEEPS GROWING long after you've filled the gaps with it. And it's VERY sticky.

The next fiasco made the rest of them look tame. Because of the sticky foam stuff, my fingers stuck to the can of VERY DARK Polyshades with the result that I spilled it (a nearly full, medium-sized can, mind you) all over one end of my mother's cedar chest, which is made of a sort of blond wood. Yes, I had newspapers and old towels covering things, but with a spill like that, nothing really helps. It also splashed all over me--thankfully, I'd put on my old shoes and had the presence of mind to wipe the stuff off my legs (most of it) before it dried--the floor, the treadmill at the foot of the bed, and got a few splashes on the edge of the comforter. Screaming at the top of my lungs during this entire process, I got some more old towels and did my best to sop and/or wipe very very dark varnish off of everything it splattered on, including the rather large puddle on the light blue carpet.

Needless to say, carpet replacement got moved up on the list of things to do.

Then I put the trim back on the window. I knew I was going to have to cut it down, but first, I went out to the garage to find something to get the sticky stuff off my hands and wound up cleaning out a bit of the garage. After filling up two trash cans with the debris from the last home improvement project and not finding anything to clean my hands, I had to dig out the miter saw which was sitting on the table saw in the back of the garage. After moving my car and various other large, heavy objects, I dragged out the saw, plugged it in, and was amazed to find that it still worked after sitting idle for a good many years. The trim cutting actually went well, until I went to nail it up.

I don't know about you, but we have a junk/tool drawer in the kitchen that is filled to overflowing with every kind of nut, bolt, nail, and screw you can imagine. It's a hardware store in a drawer, but not nearly as well organized. After a good bit of searching, I finally found some finishing nails.

But first, I had to remove the curtain/shade hardware because this window sits about a quarter of an inch higher than the old one. I unscrewed the fixtures and nailed up the trim.

Then I opened the tube of wood filler to fill the old nail holes. Then I read the directions. This wood filler that I bought along with the damn Polyshades isn't supposed to be used with Polyshades.

By this time, I didn't give a damn. I filled the holes and dabbled the stuff with the cursed Polyshades without letting it dry the requisite two hours. I figured if it wasn't the right stuff anyway, it didn't matter. Oddly enough, it didn't seem to. But then, I haven't looked at it very closely yet this morning.

After drilling new holes for the curtain fixtures, I put them and the shade back up--astonished to discover that the batteries in the drill actually had some power to them. When I went to hang the curtain, I noted that it needed washing, but decided to leave that task for another day.

That done, I put the saw and various other heavy objects back in place in the garage, put my car away, and began sorting through the stuff in the hardware drawer. Somewhere in there I fixed dinner, had a long phone conversation with my pal Suzie, then finished sorting a bajillion nails, etc into labeled plastic bags. This has been done before, but it doesn't last long.

After that, I covered up the sticky spot on the floor with yet another old towel, took a shower, took three ibuprofen, and decided to watch a movie. I picked out a film that was lighthearted, mindless entertainment only to discover that the DVD wasn't in the case. After a fruitless search, I picked out a different movie and watched it. While I was watching it, I rubbed my sore feet with something called Sportscreme that's supposed to help you "Stay in The Game!" Then I went to bed.

And woke up at 2:30am unable to go back to sleep. After consulting my iTouch for the weather, my email, my book sales, and my horoscope (we won't go there), I finally went back to bed.

This morning, the room still smells like varnish, but at least it was cool enough to have the windows open. The window itself doesn't look too bad, even if the screen is still on order from Lowe's.

Budley and I learned a few things with this adventure, not the least of which is the knowledge of how to do it better the next time.

Oh, yeah. This was only the first window replacement of many.

I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Curry Chicken and Apple Crepes!

A while back, I bought this nifty blue steel de Buyer (that's French!) crepe pan. I ordered it from some catalog or other (probably Chef's) and it was on backorder forever, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Since then, I've used it for practically everything except for making crepes. It heats very quickly, works great on my flat-top stove, and makes truly awesome grilled cheese and omelets. But it makes another awesome thing.
I have one of those electric, supposedly non-stick dip and cook crepe makers, but this pan... Well, let's just say the French have this crepe-making thing down pat.

I whipped up my favorite crepe batter recipe from a cookbook I've had forever, Crepe Cookery by Mable Hoffman, but modified it slightly by using half ultragrain flour and half white flour.

Crepe Batter
In a blender, combine thoroughly:
3 eggs
1 cup white flour
1 cup ultragrain flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 tsp salt

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, (I just stick the blender jar in the fridge) then spray the crepe pan with non-stick cooking oil. Heat on medium to medium high heat, pour a bit of the batter in the center of the pan, making a puddle about 2-3 inches in diameter. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and cook until the edges start to brown and the top is mostly cooked. Flip it over and brown the other side. Let the pan cool a little between crepes so they don't burn. I also sprayed the pan with cooking oil between each crepe, but I'm not sure I needed to.
The crepes can be filled immediately or stacked up between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. Parchment paper might be better because the crepes tend to melt the wax. Just sayin'...

But what to put inside them?
Since I've been experimenting with Indian-style cooking recently and my trusty Golden Delicious apple tree has been astonishingly fruitful, 

I made a variation of my curry chicken with apples recipe. I think it's a keeper! The pic below is a next-day microwaved leftover version, which was still darn good.

Curry Chicken and Apple Crepes 

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium apples, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp or more of curry powder (garam masala)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups cooked chicken (you want this to be pretty tender)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup grated cheese of your choice
Makes about 8 crepes

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onions and apples. Saute until onions are soft and translucent. Add the curry powder, chicken, salt, and the broth and heat until boiling. Whisk the flour and milk together. Pour into the skillet and cook until thickened. Add more curry powder or salt to taste if needed. Strain the sauce into a measuring cup. Fill each crepe with a large spoonful of the chicken, apples, and onions. Fold or roll the crepes as desired. Place in a greased 9 X 13 pan. Pour sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. I used quesadilla cheese, but I think cheddar would be good, too. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

You will have crepe batter left over, which can be refrigerated for future use, but I go ahead and make the crepes. Reheated in the crepe pan and filled with melted cheese, they make the most awesome quesadillas. I made one with Havarti cheese that was to die for.


Monday, September 2, 2013

And the winner is...

Diva Donna! You've won the final goodie bag! Congratulations!!!!

Happy Labor Day!!!!

The voting is still open for LASR's Book of the Month. A vote for Wildcat would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Whoo Hoo!!!!


Wildcat is up for Book of the Month on Long and Short Reviews! Voting runs from Sunday, September 1st through Monday, September 2nd. Click here to vote!

Jerden and Sara would greatly appreciate your vote! 

Also, Unbridled has now been unpublished everywhere except Amazon, where it will be enrolled in the Kindle Select Program for the next 90 days! If you're looking for it somewhere else, I'm sorry! I promise, as soon as those 90 days are up, I'll be republishing it to the other formats. At some point, it will be free on Amazon for 5 days. Will keep you posted as to when that will be.