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Okay, Listen Here

Friday, August 31, 2012

Recipe Friday: Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese

I know it's not fall yet, but college football starts this weekend and that's good enough for me. Besides, no one has ever accused me of being afraid to rush the season. Except for wearing white shoes before Easter. I can't do do that. Come to think of it, it's time to put up the white shoes, white linen, and straw purses. Labor Day, don't you know. That's okay. It's a small price to pay for some football, cool weather, and pumpkins. But you don't need a pumpkin to make this. Libby's canned will do you fine. Happy baking and Roll Tide, Roll. 

Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon cloves
2 2/3 Cups sugar
2/3 cups vegetable oil
2 Cups pumpkin
4 eggs
2/3 Cup chopped nuts (optional)
2/3 Cup water

Sift dry ingredients, except sugar, together. Combine sugar, oil, pumpkin, eggs, and nuts in a bowl and mix well. Add the flower mixtures, stirring until blended. Stir in water.

Spoon into 3 one pound greased loaf pans or 2 1.5 pound pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one our.

Cool completely

You can slice this thin and make little sandwiches with orange cream cheese.

Orange Cream Cheese

8 oz.. cream cheese, softened
¼ Cup confectionery sugar
¼ Cup brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
1 tablespoon frozen orange concentrate.

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add other ingredients and beat until blended.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Welcome to M.V. Freeman

Please join us as we welcome our great friend M.V. Freeman here to celebrate the release of her debut book!

She is going to talk with us about Dangerous Heroes!

 Mary Writes:

The Dangerous Hero

He eyes you across the room, gaze cool, predatory and it makes you shiver, just a little. The smoke from his cigar spiraling up around his rough hewn face makes your heart stutter. No matter what you do, you find yourself looking in his direction and he never stops watching…
He is not good for you.
But he draws you.
And when you finally meet him—he tears your world apart.
This is Mikhail Petrov, the hero that I wrote for my book Incandescent.  
He is brutal, charming, and desperate. He was the hardest hero in the world to write—but now he is my muse. 

He is not your guy next door person. He’s more of the get the restraining order, swat team, and contemplate witness protection program.  

I *adore* this type of hero.
But I don’t want the dangerous man in my real world ( I married a very nice guy), but I love to read about him or watch one.  You know the type—the overbearing, pushy, always gets his way.  We usually see them on Twenty-Twenty exposes or America’s most wanted.
Makes me wonder what that says about me?

I tried writing Mikhail as a good hero--you know, the morally up right kinda guy like the Captain America type who always makes the right choices. Boring. It just didn’t work. It fell flat, the dialogue didn’t zing.  But when I made him bad, it changed the playing field. 
I have friend that wants the good guy—always. But I can’t. I need the Damon from Vampire Diaries—who will do anything to accomplish his goals.
Mikhail does just that.

What do you want? The good guy? The bad guy? Or the one that you’re not sure of…..
Let me know!

I asked M.F. Freeman to tell us some about her debut release, Incandescent:
Some gifts are unwanted, and Laurie’s Hudson’s affinity for fire is one she hates. It has destroyed her relationship with her family and she has few friends. She’s fought hard to keep the fire inside suppressed, living a low key life as a bartender, until a brutal and charming man blows into her life.
Around Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Her options are taken away when he kidnaps her, forcing her into a fight she wants nothing to do with. 
As she learns to survive, Laurie faces the hardest choice of all, her freedom or the destruction of the frustrating man she’s come to care for. 

Some things you like to know about M.V. 
and where to find her!

M.V. Freeman is a native of Minnesota, but calls North Alabama her home. She is a member of RWA, and the chapters: Georgia Romance Writers, Southern Magic, and Heart of Dixie. By day her mind is filled with medical jargon at the local health clinic, but at night she finds herself exploring alternate worlds within our own. Heavily influenced by Slavic languages and culture, you will find she weaves these elements into her stories. Her award winning current story INCANDESCENT is the first in a series. She is currently working on the second book in the series while plotting another project.  When she is not writing, she’s reading, cooking, throwing around kettle bells, or making coffee.

You can find her at:
Website: www.mvfreeman.com
Email: mvfreeman@ymail.com          
Twitter: @MVFree
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15726728-incandescent

Thank so much for having me on this blog today. I am honored! And happy that Alicia Pace (Jean & Stephanie) and Katherine Bone are going to be celebrating their releases with Crimson Romance.
Mikhail likes tea and vodka. Unfortunately our state doesn’t allow me to send alcohol by mail—so I will give tea to one lucky commentator!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Celebrating Southern Style

First, I want to thank Lesia for posting a recipe on my regular blog day.  (You're the best, girl.  I appreciate you so much!)  Her gracious offer prevented me from tapping at the keys throughout the night.  Why?  Because we were at the BIGGEST partay to hit our area in a long time.

Monday evening, Lesia and I took part in a launch party for M.V. Freeman's debut release INCANDESCENT from Crimson Romance.  (M.V. Freeman will be guest blogging with us here tomorrow so we'll get to hear all about her writing and her debut then.)  But today I wanted to share with the blog what a wonderful time we had at M.V.'s launch party.

The ever gracious hostess, M.V.'s excitement lit up her home.  Her house buzzed with Baroque music to set the mood.  There were lights everywhere and a table prepared with delicious finger foods, flaming petit fours (care of moi), out of this world chocolate cupcakes (with creamy middles), Oreo chocolate bon bons (care of Veezer), cheese crackers (care of my mother), M.V.'s signature Apple PicaDeGallo, tortilla chips, assorted M&Ms and much, much more.  Oh, and I can't finish this post without including the various wine bottles and champagne too!!!
Yes, Lesia and I had a fabulous time helping M.V. ring in the birth of her debut book INCANDESCENT.  And M.V.'s two beautiful daughters provided an awesome tech crew too.  Darling daughter #1 provided M.V. a first-rate photographer, while Darling daughter #2 operated M.V.'s Facebook feed, the Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Books-A-Million feeds on a big flat-screen t.v.  All night long, because of this ingenius move, we were all able to watch M.V.'s book rise in the rankings, from 299,000 to 19,000 in just a few hours.  And what a fabulous experience it was to see a brand new book ignite Kindles and Nooks everywhere!

I'm very eager to get started on my pre-ordered copy of INCANDESCENT.  I have to finish my edits first, but INCANDESCENT will be my reward when I'm done.  A Russian Alpha hero who also happens to be a Tri-Elemental?  What's not to love?

How about you?  Do you like to read Urban Fantasy/Paranormal stories? 

Katherine Bone
DUKE BY DAY, ROGUE BY NIGHT Coming October 29th

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


 We've been celebrating a fellow writer's book release and decided to shake it up a bit here at the blog today.  So instead of Katherine Bone's usual pirate-y post, you've got a recipe from lil ol' me.  Enjoy some yummy goodness of the south, ya hear!  :D

Everybody knows there's not a Southerner alive that doesn't enjoy a big ol' helping of grits.  And what better way to prepare them than with garlic and cheese?  So here's a timeless Southern tradition for y'all.  Mmm...Mmm...good!

Garlic Cheese Grits
     Serves 12, give or take

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (though I use a couple of minced garlic cloves myself)
  • A shake or two of cayenne (unless you want to protect the younguns)
  • 2 cups regular grits
  • 16 oz. Cheddar shredded  
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. grated Sharp Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter a 4-quart casserole dish. Bring the broth, salt, pepper, and garlic to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk until completely combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the 16 oz. shrededed Cheddar and milk and stir. Gradually stir in the eggs and butter, stirring until all are combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 8 oz. Cheddar and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.  Enjoy the yum!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jean's Rules for International Travel

Have you ever noticed that when some people travel, they want things to be like they are at home? Want to know what I think? If not, you're reading the wrong blog. I think they should go to Epcot. I have never actually been to Epcot but I understand their are little sections for different countries. That would be the thing to do for those who cannot face being out of the USA. Don't get me wrong. I love my country and the comforts that come with it. By the time I got to the end of my two and a half weeks out of the country I wanted to kiss the floor of that airport Hilton. But why go to a foreign county if you don't want a different experience?

I hate whining. Hate, It. Especially if you are whining about little stuff when great stuff is happening to you—like getting to be in Scotland. So these are the rules. You don't have to follow them, but if you are with me, I wish you would.

  • You aren't getting any ice, or if you do, it's going to be one cube. That's how it is. Move on.
  • Chances are excellent you are not going get your meals at 6:30 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. Let's just roll with it. Okay?
  • There are stairs. There are not many elevators. Sorry.
  • Do not pack more than you can handle. Nobody was put on this earth to tote your luggage.
  • If you are with other people, you just might have to do something you don't really want to. Wait. You don't really. You can elect to do something else. Or you can stay in your room.
  • If you want to go back to your room to rest, go. Nobody is going with you.
  • It rains in Scotland. Rain makes you wet. What a surprise. 
  • They do not use wash cloths. No, I don't know why not. I do know they aren't going to start on our account. There are several ways to cope. Take your own. Take an old towel and tear pieces off and discard after use. Use a bath puff and face wipes. Just let the shower barrel down on you. 
  • You are going to need to go back to the drawing board on learning to operate a shower. Come on, you can. It's not much of a learning curve.
  • Yes, there are French fries every meal. Chips, as it were. If you don't want them, don't eat them, but they are going to be on your plate. Oh, you are tired of them? Sorry.
  • Yeah, about that mattress. It's not yours. It's different. What to do, what to do. . .
  • Yes, I have noticed they eat a lot of fish. It's a relatively small country surrounded by water. It happens.
My own personal biggest plight was the lack of Diet Mountain Dew, but I knew it going in and I didn't talk about.

When I got home, I drank one down without stopping with the refrigerator door open. 

What do you find hard about foreign travel? Does it override your desire to be there?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Recipe Friday: Sour Cream Cornbread

I just got back from Scotland, where I spent two and half weeks. It was a great trip. I ate a lot. Fortunately, I also walked a lot. There was bread galore: wholemeal toast, tattie scones, regular scones, and bread I do not know the name of.

There was no cornbread. Now, mind you, I am not complaining about what I didn't have. If I had expected ice in my drinks, Diet Mountain Dew, and cornbread, I would have stayed home.

Still, home is good. And if cornbread is good, this is the best in the world. I know it's almost a sacrilege, but I bake this in a nine inch glass pan because I don't have  iron skillet the right size. I suppose it could be muffins, but I don't really like to fool with muffins. It's a mystery why not.


1 c. self-rising corn meal
1/2 c. melted butter
1 cup of cream style corn
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
one small onion, finely grated (optional)

Combine all ingredients Pour into 8-9 inch greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ringing, Singing, and Blinging...

Summertime dictates that I get my kids to all their doctors’ visits so we don’t have to deal with it in the school year.  Why?  Because…I happen to have the only two children who get angry on the last day of school because the year is over!  Heaven forbid they lose time during the year for something important like a teeth cleaning or an eye exam!  Silly buggars!

Anyway, we’re at the eye doctor and Vz gets cleared, but Clair and I?  Hmm.  We need help!  While Clair is in her appointment, I go ahead and pick out my frames.  I admit, I went in there (like I do everything else in my life) with preconceived fashion ideas and thought I wanted the lovely Silhouette Rimless frames with the tiniest piece of bling on the earpiece which, incidentally, was bronze to match my hair color.  Well, that was until I saw the price tag and about croaked right there in the display room!  I mean, geeze Louise!  So I went shopping.   

And see, here’s the thing.  I had already dropped by there before to check out their frames to kind of give myself a heads-up…you know, for my pre-conceivedness.  And when I was there the first time, I saw these absolutely masterfully created bling-a-ling-a-dingy cat eye sunglasses.  Oh.  My.  Gawd.  I loved them!  But I needed real glasses.  So after playing dress-up I put them back on the shelf like any good little Fancy Nancy would do.  Until this particular day, that is.  I want you to know, I zipped across that showroom floor from Silhouette to Bebe so fast I made the air whoosh and blur!  I did, I tell you!  And there they were, shining their bling right back at me all sparkly and brand new!  I put those Bebes on and walked around while the bells of heaven were ringing to my singing and blinging.  And I convinced myself I just had to have them.  

So I placed the order real fast-like and put that business behind me as Clair walked into the room with her own doctor’s orders to pick out frames.  And the process began again.  However, this time, Momma Me was there pointing the way to the Bebe shelf.  But Noooo!  She doesn’t like bling.  She’s not like me at all.  That’s your thing, she says.  And an hour and a half later, we’re paying for her own pair of Bebes with bling-edy-bling-bling-bling!  Yes sirree!  She does in fact do the bling! 

Now why am I telling you this?  Because, as someone I admire in the publishing business said in a newsletter yesterday, writers write what they know.  And what they know best is who they are themselves.  Their personal qualities and experiences in life are the filter the fictional characters and stories come through.

So do we really know ourselves?  Think about it.  Clair was in total denial of her bling-gene.  She comes by it naturally, too.  Norma Jean, Doc M, Sister, and I all have it.  So it just goes to reason that the grandkids would have it too, right?  Well, the Man-children do not have anything close to the bling gene unless you want to start talking fishin’ beads and bobbles.  (Actually, that kinda works!  Huh.  Go figure.)  Anyway, as a writer in training, Clair learned a little something about herself that day shopping amongst the intellectual, the rimless, the round and square, small and big.  She found herself.  She found part of her true identity in the bling.  

Now using ten character words I ask…who am I?  I am…. kind, loving, flamboyant, enthusiastic, friendly, fun, and dependable, a bit provocative, artistic, and totally wacked-out!  And I think that’s pretty much what I write, wouldn’t you say?

Finally, I put the question to you…Who are you?  In ten descriptive words, what makes you You?  And be sure to tell us…what do you write?   

Grocery lists are acceptable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Smothered in LoVe!

After last week’s Hot Water Cornbread recipe posted, I got a note from Doc M that said she loves hers with peas and greens and squash.  So I thought I’d share our family’s favorite squash recipe.  I’m sure this is what Doc M had in mind, too!  

Growing up in a southern home, one with farming heavily in our background, we were always thankful to have fresh veggies to cook for dinner.  One of my favorites was Smothered Crooked Neck Squash.  And while Norma Jean cooked it with bacon drippings and a spoonful of sugar, I have opted for a healthier version in my own kitchen.  That is, until Veezer smothers hers in Parmesan!  (She thinks cheese is an entire food group….the little Buggar!)   No matter… traditional, healthier, or buried in cheese…it’s smothered in some serious southern LoVe!  Enjoy!

Smothered Crooked Neck Squash 

8 or so Yellow Crooked Neck Squash, cubed
 (I use smaller ones because I can still hear Norma Jean inside my head saying “The smaller ones have more flavor”.)
1-2 Sweet Onions (yellow or purple), coarsely chopped
Olive Oil, about a Tablespoon or two, give or take
Salt and Pepper

Truth be told, there is no recipe in my house for this…never was to my knowledge.  So, this is how I make it.  Y’all bear with me….it’s a little of this and some more of that.  : D

Cube your squash in about 1” cubes and place in a pan with about an inch of water.  Cover and cook on high til the squash is tender.  I’m not talking al dente here.  I mean tender but not falling apart, yet.  If there’s any remaining water, drain most of it out.  Now add your onions and olive oil to the pan and turn your heat down to about medium.   You’re going to want to cook this mixture uncovered until the onions start to caramelize…well, maybe til they do…it’s up to you.  Stir it off and on while it’s cooking, too.  Once it’s pretty soft and the onions are brown, add salt and pepper to your liking.  Norma Jean always tipped her hand a bit on the black pepper, so I do too.  I’ve learned it insures my children don’t eat all of it and I get to have leftovers.  Otherwise, forget it.  You can cook a truckload and still there won’t be any leftovers.  Enjoy!