Guest Post: Berry us blue by HL Carpenter

Berry us blue
by HL Carpenter

We have a confession to make. Sometimes…sometimes here in Carpenter Country we are not actually sitting at our computers all day working diligently on our next book. That’s right. Sometimes we…we go OUTSIDE! Into the SUNSHINE!

One of those special occasions took place in early May when we headed out to the u-pick field. Because we are serious blueberry pickers, we brought home enough berries to enjoy a few bowls fresh-from-the-field, to put a couple of handfuls on top of cereal, and to make biscuits, bread, buckles, cheesecake, coffee cake, crumbles, cobblers, donuts, muffins, pies, pancakes, scones, and ICE CREAM!

Are you screaming yet for blueberry ice cream? Us too. In fact, we’re going to take a break and sample a bowl. Here’s the recipe in case you want a break from your own busy day. You will need an ice cream maker (ours makes about 1½ quarts)and a blender or food processor for this recipe.


HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM
1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed, and dried (slightly less than a pint of fresh, or you can use frozen berries if you drain them well)
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, your choice – coconut milk is a delicious substitute)
½ cup sugar (more or less to suit your own sweet tooth — or teeth)
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place rinsed blueberries in the blender or food processor and process for a minute or less.

Add the whipping cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pureed blueberries in the blender.

Process 10-20 seconds, just until mixed – not too long, or you’ll have whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

If you like soft, milkshake-type ice cream, pass out the spoons and dig in. For firmer ice cream, scoop the ice cream into a container and freeze two hours.

Okay, break’s over – back to work!

We invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

Let them eat American Flag Cake!

Not only is my author friend Sara Daniel a terrific writer, she’s also one dynamite baker. Sara is sharing her special Fourth of July dessert. I guarantee you’ll love it! Now here’s Sara…

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.


American Flag Cake
pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Blueberries
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake
Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.

Enjoy.

~Sara

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Special Guest HL Carpenter

by HL Carpenter

We like to bake here in Carpenter Country, and we love to eat what we bake. So the fact that baking is a subplot in our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is no surprise. While our septuagenarian sleuth Emma is searching for a killer, her friend Arnie has made baking his new hobby. Emma isn’t sure what converted a seventy-three-year-old one-hundred-eighty-pound six-foot accountant into a budding pastry chef. But she has learned to be wary of the results of his efforts.

Emma’s wise to be cautious when sampling Arnie’s homemade Hungarian sweets because he specializes in spicing them with secret ingredients.

Fortunately, you can try our 3-2-1 Pear-Up dessert without worry. The recipe contains no mysterious ingredients…unless you choose to add them.

Photo by rakratchada torsap

3-2-1 Pear-Up
3 pears, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. oatmeal
2 tbsp. pecan pieces
2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. butter
1 spritz nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F

Spritz the bottom of a 9″ round pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the pear slices in the lemon juice and add them to the pie pan.

Measure the sugar, oatmeal, pecan pieces, flour, and spice into a plastic baggie. Shake to mix. Add the butter and knead the bag with your fingers until the mixture resembles soft crumbs.

Empty the bag of topping mixture into the pie pan on top of the pears.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pears are soft.

Tips and tricks
Add a tablespoon of butter on top of the pears if you like a syrupy juice.
Experiment with different types of nuts for different flavors.
Raisins or dates add a sweet touch.
Top each serving with sweetened whipped cream for extra yum.

To stop you from eating this delicious dessert in one sitting, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder.

Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident – until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.
Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

EXCERPT
It wasn’t the food. Happy Haven Retirement Community’s chef prepared delicious, artistically plated roast beef and mashed potatoes every Sunday evening.

Emma Twiggs set down her fork. No, the food wasn’t the problem.

It wasn’t the chatter or the whispers in the dining room, or the sidelong glances of other Happy Haven residents. Happy Haven was a hotbed of gossip and rumors. Being the topic du jour was familiar territory.

It certainly wasn’t her dinner companion. Arnie Bracken was always charming, kind, and intelligent, no matter what her best friend Olli thought.

No, food, chatter, and Arnie, combined or singular, were not the cause of her uneasiness.

The problem –

“I know what you’re thinking, Em,” Arnie said.

“Do you?” She picked up a glass of lemon-spritzed water and tried to swallow past the tightness in her throat. She could only hope he had no idea of what she was thinking.

“Sure.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “You’re wondering how someone as fit as Jo accidentally drowned in the swimming pool.”

Emma froze. Her fingers tightened on the glass. The chatter in the room faded into muted background noise. She had deliberately not been thinking about Jo. She would not think about Jo. How did Arnie know she’d been thinking about Jo?

“I’ll tell you how,” he said. “Jo was murdered, and Cahan murdered her.”

“I am not thinking about – Murdered?” The lump in her throat expanded to the size of the Brussels sprouts on her plate. “By Todd?”

“Murdered. By Cahan. And we need to prove he did the deed.”

“Arnie.” Emma set the glass on the table and uncurled her fingers from it. She coughed to clear the non-existent Brussels sprout from her throat. “The paramedics told us Jo’s death was accidental. An accidental drowning.”

“Yeah, I know all the euphemisms they used.”

Emma did too. The headline in Harmony Notes, the local daily, had read TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT HAPPY HAVEN. Unfortunate was the word murmured most frequently at the funeral service, followed closely by regrettable.

She said, “Harmony’s police department and the district medical examiner agreed with the paramedics.”

“They’re wrong.”

A trickle of condensation wept down the side of the glass and puddled into a teardrop on the table. All the words used to describe Jo’s death were wrong. Wrong and inadequate. Words were inadequate now too.

Because this was the problem she had been avoiding.

Her role in Jo’s death.

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, and their Amazon Author Page.

New Release from Vonnie Hughes

The talented and ever reigning Queen of Regency, Vonnie Hughes, just released her new Historical Romance novel that definitely isn’t sweet. This unique book begins in Portugal as the Peninsular Wars rage on, and moves to England where the hero and heroine expect to find peace. They’re in for a surprise.

Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

BUY LINKS
Amazon
Smashwords

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Food Friday with Sloane Taylor

Bring Your Fork and Join Me

from Sloane Taylor

I’m back into serious cooking mode and loving every second. These three recipes are designed for two people. They are easily increased for a larger group, but you might want to back off on the garlic a bit.

Pork Marsala
Fettuccine Ala Sloane
Stuffed Plum Tomatoes
Crusty Italian or French Bread
Hearty Red Wine

PORK MARSALA
2 pork loin chops
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. sage
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
4 ozs. baby Porto Bella mushrooms, halved if large
2 garlic cloves, pressed
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup Marsala wine
½ cup heavy cream at room temperature
Parsley

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Place each chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Use a mallet or the side of a meat tenderizer to gently pound them until they are an even ¼ inch thick.

Combine flour, pepper, and sage in a shallow dish or paper bag. Dredge the chops in flour.
Melt half the oil and butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet set on medium heat. When the foam subsides add mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Spoon vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

Use the same skillet and melt remaining oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add pork. Sauté 10-15 minutes, until no pink remains. The time depends on meat thickness. Remove meat to a plate, tent with foil, and set in the oven.

Add Marsala and stock to the same skillet. Bring to a boil while scraping in any bits that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan. Boil for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by almost half.

Reduce heat to medium. Slowly stir in cream. Heat through but do not bring to a boil.

Return pork and mushrooms to the pan. Heat through for 2-3 minutes.

Lay pork in the center of a serving dish. Spoon mushrooms and broth over the platter. Sprinkle parsley across the top to decorate and serve immediately.

FETTUCCINI ALA SLOANE
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ pound fettuccine, fresh if possible
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Use a wooden spoon to cream the butter by beating it vigorously against the side of a medium-sized bowl until it is light and fluffy. I sometimes use the whip on my mix master if I’m short on time. Beat in the cream a little at a time. Don’t add more until the other is well blended. Beat in the cheese and finally the garlic. Cover and set aside. If you won’t need it for several hours, refrigerate but then bring to room temperature before you mix with the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Be sure you cook to al dente and not longer. Drain the noodles well and then toss with the butter mixture well.

Serve at once. Top with the extra Parmesan and enjoy!

STUFFED PLUM TOMATOES
Plum tomatoes, 1½ per person
6 fresh mozzarella balls, chopped
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried basil
1 glove garlic, pressed

This is a good dish to prepare several hours before serving so the flavors blend. All the ingredients are to taste, so have fun and experiment.

Prepare the tomatoes by cutting them in half lengthwise and scooping clean. Turn upside down on a paper towel to drain.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Scoop the filling into the tomato halves. Arrange them on a serving dish. Chill until ready to serve.

May you enjoy all the days of your life around a well laden table!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Nerdy Kats are the best kats!

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So this has been a long time coming.

I’ve been doing all kinds of freelance publishing work for years now–editing, design, cover art (basically, anything I can get paid to do). I finally decided to put all my kitties in one basket and stop just taking work as it rolls my way and actually start acting like a professional.

Which meant getting a professionally built site.

One of my hesitations in taking on a more professional front for my freelance work was my fear of getting backlogged. Nothing is worse than hearing it will take weeks and weeks to get an edit or design back from your freelancer. I could only see one solution to that… drag some of my favorite people along on this journey:

Jeanne DeVita has been my editor and bestest buddy for about five years or so. I’m lost without her on pretty much every level of my life. She’ll be an editor for the site.

Jeanne De Vita has edited more than 300 books for writers of multiple genres, including several New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance and erotica authors. Jeanne is the Developmental Editor for Waterhouse Press, and has worked as an acquiring editor and managing director of an indie publisher, a freelance editor, and is an author herself. She loves seeing authors’ dreams come true and sharing her experience and passion through a vigorous editing process.

Lori Colbeck is an old classmate of mine. We dragged each other–sometimes kicking and screaming–through graduate school. Yay for having a master degree in publishing. She will helping me juggle design and ebooks.

Lori Colbeck met Marci Clark in the graduate publishing program at University of Houston-Victoria. She has worked as a freelance creative professional for the past two years,specializing in pre-press processes including consulting, page layout, and e-book creation. Her CV currently includes more than 100 publishing projects.

I met Corinne Demaagd through Kensington Publishing. We are both freelance editors there. I adore her. Mostly because she outshine me in the cussing department. She’ll be helping with editing as well.

With an MPhil in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, the American equivalent of an MFA, Corinne DeMaagd has worked in the publishing industry in various disciplines since 2000. She currently concentrates primarily on fiction editing, including most specifically romance, YA, thrillers/suspense, and women’s fiction. Corinne is also a production editor for Lyrical/Kensington Publishing, an editor and writing mentor to a roster of indie authors, and has just completed 150 edited books! She loves to help polish books until they shine.

For custom illustrations, I’ve pulled in Stephanie Richoll. I haven’t known Stephanie long, but was blown away by her talent when we worked on a project together. When my very first Nerdy Kat client asked for custom illustrations, I knew right where to go!

Stephanie Richoll is from sunny Florida, where she spends her time with her family and friends, going on adventures and enjoying nature. She enjoys making art and illustrating, being with her wonderful dog and riding horses. She loves illustrating children’s books, which she has been doing for the past six years, and hopes you will enjoy them all!

Oh…then there’s lil’ ol’ me!

Marci Clark earned her MS in publishing from University of Houston-Victoria. She has been a freelance editor for Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Press since 2012 and has an extensive client base of freelance authors. Marci is a multi-published author, freelance writer, and book/cover designer. She has completed over 100 projects for traditional and indie houses, as well as freelance clients. Always looking to try new things, she’s working on mastering script writing as well.

I sincerely hope if you’re looking into self publishing, or are needing help in an area, you’ll check us out. We’d love to have you!

https://nerdykatbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nerdykatbooks/

https://twitter.com/NerdyKatBooks

Nerdy Kat’s awesome site was done by KMD Web Designs. 

Vonnie Hughes New Release

The talented and ever reigning Queen of Regency, Vonnie Hughes, just released her new Historical Romance novel that definitely isn’t sweet. This unique book begins in Portugal as the Peninsular Wars rage on, and moves to England where the hero and heroine expect to find peace. They’re in for a surprise.

Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

BUY LINKS
Amazon
Smashwords

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.