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Friday, November 29, 2013

DO NOT PUT MARSHMALLOWS IN MY POTATOES

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

No long post for Tortuga Thursday, which was actually yesterday. Too busy with Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. We all went down to Phoenix where the dinner was hosted by Duke and Jodee, my brother and sister-in-law. We contributed grilled veggies from our garden via the freezer and sweet potatoes. We still have a couple of crates of sweet potatoes from our harvest. But we don't like the candied kind so I cooked up a skillet full using Christie's recipe. I'll offer this recipe for today's blog. Hope you all had a thankful Thanksgiving!

As always with the typical way we cook on the farm, no exact measurements. Amounts depend on how many people you have and your taste.

Cut up sweet potatoes. You can peel or not peel - up to you. I used six for this skillet.
Chop up onions. I used two big ones.
Chop garlic. I used three cloves
Curry and Cajun seasoning to taste. I suppose most of you will want some salt. I don't cook with salt.
A stick of real butter. I did use a whole stick for this much.

Melt the butter in the skillet and add everything else. Cook until tender.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Why I Read and Write Regency Romance by Donna Hatch



MUSE MONDAY
Please welcome my guest, Donna Hatch. LEAVE DONNA A COMMENT AND BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR A FREE EBOOK OF HER NEWEST RELEASE, A PERFECT SECRET! DRAWING ON WEDNESDAY.
  
I love historical romance. As a little girl, I loved historical novels such as Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, the Little House books, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Sometime in my teens, I read Jane Eyre, the Jane Austen novels, and other historical classics. But I wanted more romance in my stories. So I turned to historical romance. I discovered that historical fiction was a hot market, in every way. I don’t like to read hot sex scenes so finding a historical novel with enough romance while still staying on the “sweeter” side of things became a challenge. Eventually, I found traditional Regency romances. They fit the bill perfectly because they are usually very clean, romances. I had found my perfect historical romance fix. 

It was a short-termed joy.

Historical fiction sales across the board began falling. My guess is that readers got bored with hot, sexy romance novels referred to as “bodice rippers” which seemed to be the same old cliché stores over and over. However, even clean romance novels sales fell. The final nail on the coffin came when two major traditional Regency romance publishers closed their line. This broke my heart. Not only did I love reading them, but I had written a traditional Regency romance novel that I’d planned to submit to them in hopes that they would publish it. For about a decade, people labeled historical romance in general—and Regency romance in particular—a “dead” market. I think I went into mourning.

Yet hope is not lost! Historical Romance novels, specifically Regency Romance novels, have begun to grow in popularity. Sales are climbing for all historical romance and those “hot” romances as well as the “sweet” romances are returning. The traditional romances such as Jane Austen era novels are a fast growing favorite genre.

As a Regency romance author, I wondered why had caused the return of the historical romance?

One reason sweeter Regencies are returning with such a bang is so many recent adaptations of historical era movies based on famous books such as Jane Austen, North and South with the stunning Richard Armitage. As a result a new generation of fans have been discovered historical romances and have fallen in love.

A second reason historical romance book sales are gaining respect is because people turn to a book either to relax or to escape their stressful lives (and escaping is part of relaxing, don’t you think?).  Only a journey into new world can provide the kind of escape found in a historical novel. It may partly be the fantasy of vicariously living the life of the very rich, where handsome heroes vie for our attention and sweep us away into a magical world of happily ever after. 

The upper class of Regency England spoke eloquently, prizing wit and excelling in the understatement attributed to British humor, something I try to bring that out in every historical novel I write.

Regency men were civilized and treated women with courtesy. When a lady entered the room, gentlemen stood, softened their language, offered an arm, bowed to the lady, and did other courtesies I wish men did in this day and age. But the men weren’t soft, oh no! They were athletic; they enjoyed to hunt, box, race, fenced. They were as manly as a girl could want. Honor ruled the day. 

That is why I love them! 

A Perfect Secret And that is why I love to read and write the Regency novel. My newest sweet historical novel is A Perfect Secret. Though it’s the third in a three book series, the Rogue Hearts series, it’s written as a stand alone book so you can read it without having read the other two.


Friday, November 22, 2013

No Safe Routine for My Guest SS Hampton



FEARLESS FRIDAY

Please welcome my guest, Stan Hampton, to Fearless Friday. Stan has quite a tale, so sit back and enjoy!
Hello!
            So here we are, Fearless Friday. Fearless Friday.
            Well, people tend to like a safe and known routine; most are not likely to do anything that requires a leap of faith to plunge into an unknown even though the rewards may be great. The rewards, by the way, may be riches or simply self-satisfaction.
            So…
            I have had many Fearless Fridays, but which one do I write about?
            The day I was a 19-year old kid sitting in the Army Recruiting office, about to sign paperwork to join the Army? To a kid from Oklahoma, the prospect of serving in the Army somewhere in the world (especially overseas) was a huge unknown.
            Or nearing middle age, having tenure and retirement with a Federal agency, only to chuck it all and leave a known, secure routine because my life was not working for me? Well, truthfully, a woman was involved too, but that was another type of Fearless Friday.
            Or, in middle age, joining the Army National Guard for the first time? Even a disappointing drudgery of mere existence is at least a known, compared to the unknown.
            Or, perhaps when I volunteered to deploy. I volunteered for the Persian Gulf War, but that ended too quickly. Volunteering for Iraq when the war was not going away, well, deploying to a war zone was a giant unknown.
            Decisions, decisions, decisions.
            I choose leaving the security of tenure and retirement.
            For 18 years I lived in Colorado Springs, and for 13 of those years I worked for a Federal agency. I had job security, tenure, and retirement, even when the agency started contracting out a lot of activities. But, for 13 of those years a lot of things went wrong; many not of my own choosing, some as a result of choices I made.
            You know your situation isn’t working for you when you no longer live, but simply exist from day to day. Sunset becomes nothing more than “I made it through another day.” Sunrise becomes “Here we go again.” In the blackest moments even suicide might be considered a viable option.
            But, I chose to leave everything behind. I set a date a year out. In the intervening 11 months my departure seemed like no more than a theoretical possibility. I submitted my resignation. People were disbelieving. Most doubted I would do such a thing. After all, I had made a respectable name for myself at the agency, I had tenure, and retirement. Good jobs like the Federal Civil Service were hard to come by. And I was going to give all that up?
            A few people congratulated me and said they admired my courage for plunging into the unknown. I didn’t tell them it was desperation, rather than courage.
            On the day of my farewell lunch, I looked at the familiar faces. Good people, people I knew for years and called friends, and respected. I also knew it was highly unlikely I would see any of them again. That is the way I have always been—one chapter ends and I move on, very rarely staying in touch with anyone.
            In late December I packed things up—what little I had—gave away many other things, and loaded the U-Haul truck by myself. Late one wintry overcast afternoon, when the wind was blowing in from the Front Range, I locked the door to the house, took one last look at it, and headed out.
            I was going to visit a friend and his wife in Wyoming first, then go to Las Vegas—I told very few people where I was going. To most, I simply disappeared.
            On my way to Vegas I would stop in Navajo Country to see a woman I had fallen in love with—that is a tumultuous Fearless Friday story all its own.
            Then on to Vegas where I hoped to find a job and start my existence, perhaps even life, over again.
            But that was the future. That gloomy winter afternoon in Colorado Springs, I lit a cigarette, turned the radio up, and headed out onto the snow swept Interstate. I even—rare for me—dared to hope for the best regarding whatever waited for me in the future. 

THE FERRYMAN


BLURB: Sometimes even a servant of the gods may become curious and intrigued by other possibilities beyond their assigned role, which threatens to upset everything. Charon the Ferryman witnessed an act of love when a little girl offered him a song bird to pay for her grandfather’s shade to be ferried across the Styx. And the shade of a barbarian woman taught him that there was more than the underworld…

EXCERPT: Strong sunlight faded to a pale shadow of itself as if drained of life to create deep shadows along the sloping floor and the uneven walls of the long cavern entrance. Long, narrow stalactites hung from the cavern roof and stalagmites of various heights and thicknesses angled upward from the floor, resembling the scattered, uneven teeth of a monstrous dragon’s mouth. Flowstone along the widening cavern walls had once oozed onto the cavern floor to form rolling stone waves that became a wide, sandy beach to disappear into the shadows.
            The cavern roof arched upward, lost to sight save for the pale tips of hanging stalactites. The scattered stalagmites marched into the rippling surface of dark waters. A thick gray mist coated the water that splashed onto the beach. The mist swirled into strange formations caused by a moaning, chilly wind that swept out of the darkness and up the long tunnel.
            From deep within the darkness of the gigantic cavern came the ghostly notes of pipes and the echoing steady rhythmic beat of a drum. Torches along the beach burst into flickering life as their flames danced to the ghostly rhythm of the pipes.
            The torchlight revealed pale shades, the spirits, of weeping men, women, and children, who shuffled through the sand along the edge of the waters of the River Styx. The river was one of the dark rivers of Hades, the underworld of the dead. The sunlight filtering into the cavern rippled with the shadows of weeping shades descending the length of the cavern entrance. A gilded figure with torch held high lit the way before them.
            The music grew louder. A dark shape, lighter than the darkness, appeared in the distance. The gathering shades milled at the water’s edge and waited as the bow of a boat fitted with a bronze beak sliced through the misty waters. A large red eye rimmed in black decorated each side of the polished wood bow. On both sides of the bow square wooden boxes dangled bronze anchors. Behind that lay a narrow platform from a tall, narrow, wooden walkway rose into the chill air. An angled black bow sail and a large black square sail behind it strained with the moaning wind…

 
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. 

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