Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Spa

We may not have gotten the threatened twenty-four inches of snow this week but they were right about the below freezing temperatures! The heat is up and I've made a great chicken soup that's comfort food for us, although the grilled cheese and bacon that we had after Paul shoveled us out was great, too.

But with a stuffed head and sore nose from sniffles a recent post I read on my friend Luci Weston's Here We Are... with Luci blog gave me a great tip on some relief, Show Vapor Disks. Not only are they healthful but they sound like a great activity to have fun with the kids.

Luci has lots of great self-help and DIY ideas. This one, turning your bathroom into a mini day spa, sounds great! Or, you can wrap the aroma disks as gifts, put them in a mason jar. I'm certain you can think of more ways to use them. 

Here is the recipe from Luci's blog. Here is the link to her blog for additional information. Please stop by her blog for more information about Shower Vapor Disks and other fun, DIY home and health information. Thanks Luci!

Ingredients / Tools
2 cups of baking soda (any brand)
4 tablespoons corn starch
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of water
Essential Oil(s) of choice: I use lavender, eucalyptus, and spearmint EOs
12 count muffin pan
foil muffin/cupcake baking cups (remove paper liners)
1 bowl
1 mixing spoon
ice cream scooper or a deep spoon

1. Pre-heat oven to 350℉
2. Add baking soda, water, and cornstarch (some recipes don't call for cornstarch but it helps bind the disks together) to the bowl. TIP: I discovered my container of cornstarch was out of date and it worked fine in all my tests for this project - good chance to repurpose instead of tossing it out!
3. Mix ingredients together, creating a "wet sand" feeling. HINT: It will look dry; touch it to be sure it feels like cold wet sand, if so, you are good to go!
4. Line muffin pan with foil liners. (No muffin pan? Just put the foil liners on
Shower disks in muffin pan
Filling the muffin pan with mixture into foil liners
a cookie sheet.) TIP: Remove the paper cupcake cups from the foil ones, otherwise the vapor disks will stick to the paper only to fall apart when you try to remove the paper liner. Trust me on this!
5. Using the ice cream scooper, add a scoop to each muffin cup distributing the entire batch. PRESS down on each one with back of scooper.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes ONLY.
7. Cool completely in muffin pan on wire rack (or elevated) for about 30 minutes. Add essential oil(s) to top of each disk, estimate a 1/4 teaspoon OR 20 eye-drops of EO per disk. Gently remove foil liners, they should easily peel away.
Packaging TIP: You can also leave them in the liner and remove before use.
Cooking TIP: Do NOT put the oil on the mixture and then bake!! Your oven will smell like the essential oil for a long time; plus, the heat depletes the aromatherapeutic benefits of the oils that you want to experience in the shower.

8. TO USE: Place the baking soda puck on the floor of the shower, making sure it is to the side of the direct water stream. You'll find the right place with a few discs around your tub or shower floor. You want them to dissolve slowly. BONUS: If they aren't washed away during the first shower, the bathroom will be pleasantly scented… It's baking soda so it won't hurt anything hanging around a day or two!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Medieval Monday with Cathy MacRae

The Highlander’s Tempestuous Bride
What happens when the sixteen-year-old daughter of the laird, destined to dutifully marry to benefit the clan, falls in love with the wrong lad? In Medieval times, punishments ranged from forced marriage to the man chosen by the laird, to imprisonment, life in a nunnery, or even death.
Gilda does not set out to defy her parents, but when she falls in love with the son of the laird of a neighboring clan that has been at war with hers for years, things are bound to go wrong.

Returning home after a ten-year absence, Ryan Macraig falls for a fiery, red-haired lass from the wrong side of the firth. He can’t ignore his need to see her again, even knowing she must be a hated Macrory.
Gilda Macrory trespasses Macraig land, but haunting memories of the young man she once met there draw her to the forbidden place. Learning he is Laird Macraig’s son threatens her dreams, for her father would never agree to a marriage between his daughter and their enemy’s son.
With pirates raiding the coast, bad blood between the Macraig and Macrory clans could cost Ryan and Gilda their love—and their lives.
You can find out more about Cathy MacRae at her blog
       Buy Links Amazon 

Excerpt: The Highlander's Tempestuous Bride
“Are ye sure . . .” A quick stride took him back to her side.
Gilda jerked the knot at her waist and the skirt fell free, but not before Ryan got a glimpse of slender ankles. She settled an arch look on him and it was all he could do to keep from laughing at the regal air she portrayed.
“I am fine. I am also certain I will not meet ye here again?” Though couched as a question, her tone indicated she’d rather see anyone other than him the next time she ventured out to pick berries.
Ryan shrugged. “I think the berries are about finished for the year. Mayhap the Macraig cook will send a lad out to pick the rest. We like sweets like jams and pastries at Ard Castle, too, ye know.”
“Goodness knows the men at Ard Castle need sweetening,” Gilda shot back, her cheeks pinking as she clearly regretted her quick retort.
“A kiss from a pretty lass would help sweeten this Macraig’s disposition.” Ryan marveled at the swirling colors changing Gilda’s eyes from silver to stormy gray.
Though a well-trained young warrior, Ryan was not quick enough to dodge the palm of Gilda’s hand as it made stinging contact with his cheek. He rubbed his jaw ruefully. He should have remembered though the lass had fascinating gray eyes, she also possessed fiery red hair and a temper to match.
He opened his mouth to apologize, but Gilda had already spun, her back ramrod straight as she marched away, the handle of her basket gripped tight in one hand. The other hand clenched and opened, possibly to relieve the answering sting he felt on his cheek, perhaps echoing a desire to encircle his neck.
Ryan grinned. He would have regretted the apology, anyway.  
Next Medieval Monday my featured author is Barbara Bettis with her latest release.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Medieval Monday with Jenna Jaxon

BELEAGUERED, Book 3 of Time Enough to Love:
When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?
Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna.  Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.
During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.
Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives.  Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves.  With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves.  But which love will survive?

To find out more about Jenna Jaxon and her books check out her blog.
Buy LinkAmazon

EXCERPT: Beleaguered:
Geoffrey hurried on with a suggestion. “’Twould be the work of a few moments for me to teach it you, my lady.”
It would have to serve. She shot a look over her shoulder at her husband, who nodded and laughed with the princess though his eyes were trained on her. Best get on with it then. The sooner ’twas done, the better.
“Your skill at dancing is such that you would certainly learn the steps with but slight instruction from me.” Geoffrey leaned so close his voice, against her ear made her jump and recall herself. She stepped back and looked at him.
His practiced courtier’s smile flickered at her, and she caught something deeper shining in his eyes that she fought not to see. Her heart stuttered a beat.Her body flushed with the anticipation of dancing with him again even as misgivings swirled in her mind. No good would come of this dance, but Thomas watched closely to see that she acted cordially to Geoffrey. Would that it was an act.
With a sense of heavy foreboding, she extended her hand to him. “Very well, Sir Geoffrey. What must I do first?”
He placed her hand atop his arm and led her to their place in the circle of dancers then grasped her hand to pull her around to face him.
The moment his hand touched her skin, a streak of fire shot through her. Her mouth went dry, and her gaze flew to his face. Surely he felt that as well?
He stared back, his eyes mirroring all too clearly the blaze that coursed up her arm.
Damn Geoffrey Longford.
In a daze, she looked around at the other dancers, expecting them to stare accusingly at her. As if they could see this sinful feeling that tore at her soul. At a loss for how to act, she raised her gaze to beseech Geoffrey. “What do we do now?”
’Twas an apt question for, God forgive her, at the touch of Geoffrey’s hand, all thought of her husband had fled. She was back on the deck of the Phillipa, facing him once more. Loving him once more.
Geoffrey cleared his throat, his face flushed, and said simply, “Follow me.”
Then they were twirling around the circle, hands clasped, arms touching intimately, He seemed to brand her wherever he touched. The figure reversed, and her other side was scorched as if a red-hot blade seared her. Her gaze locked onto Geoffrey’s, and the music, the dancers, the Great Hall and all its inhabitants melted away until all that was left was the whisper of his breath in her ear and the heat of his body pressed close against her.
He leaned in closer to whisper, “I must lift you now.”
Before she could grasp that staggering news, his arm went around her waist and he lifted her, twirling them around full circle. She panted, blood pounding in her temples, roaring in her ears.
They continued to dance, but she moved as though she were a doll made of rags, her legs barely able to stand. Her world narrowed to the single source of light and life that was the man who held her in his arms again. The man whose love she could no longer deny. Despite the agony of the betrayal, in the core of her being she knew neither the vows she had spoken to Thomas nor the passion they had enjoyed in his bed would ever match the intensity of love and belonging she shared with Geoffrey. As soon compare a candle’s flame to the sun.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Next Medieval Monday my featured author is Cathy MacRae with her latest release.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Medieval Monday with H.K. Carlton

The Devil Take You
I believe your stay in purgatory has only just begun...

Scotland - 1307 - During the Scottish Wars of Independence
Gard Marschand will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost. Concealing his true identity, he will associate with his enemies, kill his own countrymen, even sell his soul to the devil if all else fails. He will lie, cheat, steal, rape and siege his way across two countries gaining power and reputation in his malevolent wake. His determination all consuming, until King Edward commands Gard to lay siege on Ross-shire holding, where Braelynn Galbraith obliterates his single-minded purpose.
Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Callum, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage. 
Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need of revenge for a love that might just save his soul, or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?

To find out more about H.K. Carlton and her books check out her blog
This book is available at MuseItUp Publishing   Amazon    
Excerpt: The Devil Take You
Braelynn ran as if the hounds of hell were on her heels. They could very well be this time. She ran while she prayed. “Please God, if ya get me outta this one last scrape I promise I will ne’er pass another message ta the rebels again.”
 She should have learned her lesson from the last two outings, almost captured both times. This would be her last, one way or another.
 She’d been pursued many times throughout the years and always managed escape. But things were getting much too dangerous. These were not English soldiers on her heels this time. She knew not who hunted her but the steady beating of hooves bore down on her. Brae ran for the caves to lose them there, just as she’d done the day she glimpsed William Wallace two years past, days before his capture. She remembered begging and pleading with the vicar to allow her to accompany him that day. He said it was too dangerous and he himself would carry the message to the rebels; but when he’d let slip that William might possibly be at the meeting place, she threatened to follow after him if he did not simply acquiesce and allow her this.
 She’d not spoken to Wallace, only gaped at him from afar. This great man dedicated as she to her country’s freedom. He had not been what she expected. From the tales people told, he was an impressive ten feet tall and indestructible. He was not ten feet tall, she’d found out that day. He looked to be just a normal man. And to her sadness he had not been indestructible. His capture and subsequent execution threw the country and her own little shire into further turmoil.
Brae rounded the burm and with an additional burst of speed made for the bluff, fistfuls of her skirt bunched in her hands to keep her legs free. But before she reached the crags, more horsemen appeared on the cliffs. The lass skidded to a halt, caught between the two. The men behind her rounded the burm. She turned, the men on the cliffs were retreating. She realized that perhaps the horsemen in chase were not after her at all
 Brae had to make a decision and fast. She chose to follow her first instinct and hide in the caves, using the darkness and the tunnels to escape as she’d done in the past.
 The young woman scurried over the rocks and under the overhang, sliding through the arch that water and wind had eroded over time. Brae launched herself into the mouth of the first large cave she came to. Hiding in the dark she inhaled deeply, drawing breath after breath into her burning lungs. She listened and waited as her breathing slowly returned to some semblance of normalcy. Brae lifted her skirt and picked her way through the empty tunnels, confident now that she had safely lost her pursuers. Relief flooded her. She let out one last breath and lowered her guard. 
In the next instance she found herself thrown against the slimy rocks as a stranger’s filthy hand covered her mouth. Brae squirmed and screamed into his smelly palm.
Brae faced Marschand, unable to look away. He looked furious. His jaw ticked as he hunted her, yet again. She assumed his anger was about the map and the other documents.
He bent and pulled a dirk from his boot right before he reached her. She’d been on the wrong end of that blade already.
“Please. I didna see anathin’.” She backed up.
Marsch was on her in an instant pulling at her skirt. His lightening speed caught her off guard. She fought him. Grainger had warned her. Leashed violence, he’d said.
He subdued her easily. His dirk in one hand, Marschand used the other to loose his leather belt.
“Please,” she cried. “I didna…”
“Stop fightin’ me!” he growled.
Baring her legs, he pulled the leather around her thigh yanking it tight.
“Wha’ are ya doin’?” she asked, frightened not only by his anger but his actions.
“Ya willna go another minute wit’oot bein’ armed. I canna be wit’ ya all the time.” He panted with exertion and ire. “I am tired o’ tryin’ ta keep ya safe. Ya are jus’ too temptin’ ta all ’twould seem.”
His intense black eyes devoured her. She could not seem to breathe properly with him so near. He was an incredible looking man, she realized, so different from Callum in every way. Even in her fear, she wanted to reach out and touch the unruly black hair that brushed his collar, itching to touch his beard and feel for herself if it was rough or soft.
He cut off the excess leather and slid the cool blade of the dirk between the leather and her flesh.
Suddenly she looked at him as his words and his enunciation sunk in. His breathing was harsh, his lips snarled, his teeth bared. It finally dawned on her. Was that what she had been detecting? Her heart started to pound painfully in her chest. She grabbed his chin forgetting her fear for the moment. His black eyes shot to hers in shock of being touched.
“Be ye Scot, then?”
He visibly blanched, from the allegation or her touch she was not sure. “Nay.
Snagging her wrist he removed her hand from his jaw and moved to get up when he stopped, noticing the redness on the opposite thigh. He pushed her skirt higher baring the gash.
“Ah, Christ!” His eyes shot to her again. “Is tha’ from me?” he asked looking appalled. He did not wait for her answer. “Good God! Of course ’tis.” He seethed at the awful looking cut. She also stared at the mean looking crimson that radiated and spread across her white skin.
“Who did ya have tend it? The butcher?”
“Ya see, when ya are conflicted or upset, ya drop yer disguise. Ya are no’ wha’ ya pretend ta be.”
“Whom did you have tend this?” he asked succinctly, carefully, in flawlessly refined English.
“I tended it meself.”
He looked horrified.
“There was na one at home. I couldna control the bleedin’. I had na choice,” she confessed. “’Tis festered? Aye?”
“Aye. No wonder you are so warm. Why you shivered all night long. You are fevered.” He placed his cool palm to her forehead. Brae was shocked by his gentleness. It belied the power and tension radiating from every ounce of his being.
Her eyes fluttered at the pleasure of the simple touch.
He removed his palm and circled a finger lightly around the perimeter of the redness on her thigh. The sensation made her skin feel strange.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Next Medieval Monday my featured author is Jenna Jaxon with her latest release.

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Page Checklist

I've been catching up with my inbox. It was getting out of hand. Between being in my cave writing, Thanksgiving and the holidays well, lets just say I needed an intervention. One of the gems I unearthed was a post by Ray Rhamey of the Flogged Quill, The Challenge: Does This Narrative Compel You To Turn the Page?

It's the first page that grabs the reader. Many times its the first sentence. Here is Ray's first-page checklist:

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist.
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There's enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We're in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We're in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question-what happens next? or why did that happen?
I remember the first draft of my first story. I eagerly read it at literary group meeting to three well published authors. I had worked hard on the story especially the opening. I saw it as a movie. The first thing I see in a movie is the setting. So, I diligently, and meticulously, described the scene.

Are you laughing? They loved the description. They told me to save it for someplace else but to come up with something more compelling. It was replaced with a fight scene.

Think about some of the books you've read or written. How did they begin? What did you like, or not like about it?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Medieval Monday with Ruth A.Casie

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today is my turn.
Knight of Runes
When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he's intrigued.
Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she's traveled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return to her own time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what's killing Arik's land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.
As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik's household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.
Available at Amazon   Nook
Knight of Runes is the first book in the Druid Knight Series. Book two, Knight of Rapture, is scheduled for release March, 2015.
Read an Excerpt