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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Oh, Matt, this is so sad!  Today is our last day at Elaine's blog.

Violet, I'm sure she'll let you come again if you ask.

I know, but I've had a good time booking guests and sharing recipes and excerpts.

If you like it that much get your own blog.

(Violet gives Matt a kiss.)  I'll think about it.  Reader's, I hope all of you have a wonderful 2012 where all your hopes and dreams come true.  As a parting gift, I want to share one more excerpt from A New Dream.

Violet, don't forget that A New Dream is on sale for .99 at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon, but the sale ends soon so don't wait to buy it.  In this excerpt, I did my first babysitting.

Exasperated by Tyler’s refusal to eat, Matt tried to demonstrate how good the food tasted. “Look, Tyler, this is good.”  He spooned the rice cereal into his own mouth, and a peculiar expression crossed his face. “It’s awful,” he admitted. “Can’t he have some mashed potatoes and gravy? Nobody would
want to eat this junk.”

“You’d better ask his mother,” Marilyn advised. “She may not want him to eat table food yet.”

Matt rummaged through Tyler’s diaper bad and found a bottle of milk that Tyler deigned to drink. By this time, everyone else had finished dinner.

Marilyn nodded toward the diaper bag Matt had thrown in the corner. “His diaper needs changing, Matt.”

“Uh, Mother, I’ve never changed a diaper before.”

Marilyn shrugged. “How hard can it be?”

Violet watched with interest as Matt laid Tyler on the sofa and removed his diaper. He reached for a clean one, but Tyler, stimulated by the cold air on his bottom, started to wet all over Matt, the sofa, and himself. The child screamed as the hot wetness struck him in the face. Matt, hurriedly capped his hand over the stream. He looked around for something to wipe Tyler’s face with, but when he didn’t see anything he used his shirt sleeve.

Chris cracked up. “You’re getting all wet, Matt.”

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tara Fox Hall and Fashionista Friday

Hello!  Violet Emerson here.  I’d like to thank Elaine for letting Matt and I do her blog this month.  I’m going to miss this when January comes.  Today, we have a lot planned.  First, I promised I’d share a recipe with you.  I think you’d love these cookies at your New Year’s eve parties or dinner.  The recipe comes from Tara Fox Hall one of Elaine’s author friends.  After the recipe, we’ll have an excerpt, and for all you fashionistas, I’ll show you the outfit my mother gave me for Christmas.


Apple Lemon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 eggs

3/4 cup cooking oil

1 C diced peeled apple

1 pkg. white cake mix

2C quick cooking oatmeal

1 tsp nutmeg

1/8 - 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup lemon chips (these I found in a little shop called Jane's Pantry - never seen them before:

Beat together eggs, cooking out, and apple. Blend spices and mix together, then add to wet ingredients. Stir in the oatmeal next, then the chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased or parchment papered cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degF for 12-14 minutes. Let set a few minutes before removing from tray - cookies may break, otherwise.

No doubt about it, I’m making a batch of these.  I love the sound of the lemon chips.  And now, let’s read an excerpt

Why was it always at midnight she heard the repetitive creaking, Sam thought, eyes snapping open. And why had no one else in her family ever admitted to hearing it, when she’d asked them? She never heard it during the day, or even in the evening. But as soon as she snapped off the light, there it was; the slow, measured creaks in the hallway that brought to mind footsteps. Footsteps that always came towards her, until they stopped right by her bed.

A soft creak sounded in the hallway, then another. There was a pause, then two more. The sounds were coming towards her, like always.

But this night was going to be different. This night she was going to turn, as she’d never dared to before, and face her fears. This was her family’s summer home, a place for laughter and good times, not a haunted house.

The creaks continued, edging closer, until a step sounded at her bedside. Sam was wound tight as a spring, holding her breath, telling herself to turn and face it, but scared out of her mind of what she might see when she did.

A minute passed, then two.

She gathered her courage, then whipped around. There was nothing there, just the heavy shadows rent by the light of the moon shining in her windows.

Relieved but also oddly disappointed, she lay back down and went to sleep.

* * * *

The next night was the same. The sounds began at midnight, the footsteps edging closer. Irritated instead of scared, she lazily turned her head, looking for visual reassurance.

A male figure stood there, his outline faintly shining.

Sam let out a shriek, and rolled away, smacking her head on the wall. Cursing, she looked up to see the figure walking away.

“Stop,” she called. “Please.”

The figure stopped and turned around to face her. It was a man in his early forties, his face rough with a beard, his clothes an old style elegant suit.

“Who are you?” she asked tentatively.

“Harrison Benning,” he replied, his voice like the whisper of the night wind in the trees. “I lived here once.”

“You died here?” she prompted.

Harrison nodded. “A long time ago. It was…rather messy. And you are…?”

“Samantha Reading. But you can call me Sam.”

Harrison took her hand in his, and kissed it. “It’s an honor, Sam.”

“You can touch me,” she said in wonder, her hand touching his. “Aren’t you a ghost?”

“Yes,” he said and smiled. The joy lit his expression, making his eyes twinkle and shine. “But this is the night I died. As I passed over, I willed with all my being to stay here, in this home I loved and not go on.” He shook his head sadly. “Now I’m stuck here.”

“Then why haven’t I seen you before now?” Sam asked.

“I’m always here, watching,” Harrison replied. “You just can’t see me. But you can always hear my actions, and you feel my presence, when I’m close—”

“But why can I see you now?” Sam interrupted.

“Because it’s a special night for me, as I’ve said,” Harrison said. “The summer solstice.”

“Wouldn’t Halloween be more the norm?” Sam ventured. “Isn’t that the night spirits become visible?”

Harrison shrugged. “I’m not sure, Sam. I only know that this is the one night I’m visible, the one night I have to be careful.” He flashed a smile. “But most people only see me as a misty outline. You must be special."

“You weren’t very careful tonight,” Sam teased.

“What I am is a cad, for invading a lady’s bed chamber,” Harrison said, offering her a bow. “If you’ll excuse me, Sam—”

“No, come back,” Sam said quickly. “Stay and talk to me, Harrison. I’m wide awake now.”

Harrison paused. “How old are you, Sam?”

“Eighteen,” Sam lied, telling herself that adding two years wasn’t a major crime. “I just had a birthday in May.”

“Then I suppose its okay, provided we maintain distance,” Harrison said formally, easing into the nearby rocking chair. “What did you want to talk about?”

“Tell me about your life, about what life was like when you were here,” Sam said eagerly, settling herself on a pile of pillows. “Tell me history.”

Harrison nodded. “Well, I was born in 1818. My father originally built this house in 1816…”

I love Tara’s excerpt.  In fact, I just bought her book.  Here’s a link where you can get it too.

Finally, here’s my new outfit. 

My sweater comes from Belk. It's a Ralph Lauren and has a touch of cashmere in it.  I like the traditioal look of it.  Notice the fur collar?  Get it at

Here are the pants Mama picked.  They're Raulph Lauren too. Get them at
And now for my favorite part; boots. Get them at

I like sweaters, so I'm going to buy this cashmere sweater at K-mart.  I's 0nly $36 dollars, and it would look great with my pants and boots.  Buy it at

Thursday, December 29, 2011

More New Year's Traditions

Hello, readers.  Violet McCallum here.  Elaine told my story in her book A New Dream which just happens to be on sale for .99.  The sale ends in a few days so get it now at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 

Today I’ll continue with New Year’s traditions around the world.  Did you know that The Republic of Kiribati is the first country to receive the new year? Kiribati is the first place to see the sun rise. 

In Russia, the New Year holiday trumps even Christmas in importance, and major celebrations take place all over the country. There is also a second New Year in Russia – the Old New Year which takes place after the regular New Year.  New Year celebrations in Russia occur on December 31st/January 1st. Fireworks and concerts mark this holiday. It is on this day that the Russian Santa, or Ded Moroz, and his companion Sengurochka visit children to pass out gifts. What we’d call a Christmas Tree is called a New Year's Tree in Russia. Because the first Russian New Year precedes Christmas in Russia on January 7, this tree is left up in honor of both holidays.

Russians have a second chance to celebrate the New Year which falls on January 14th according to the old Orthodox calendar. This “Old New Year” (Старый Новый год) is spent with family and is generally quieter than the New Year celebrated on January 1st. People follow old folk customs like singing carols and telling fortunes, and they serve large meals.

In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, they eat 12 grapes one with every toll to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the New Year. Sometimes they wash down the grapes with wine. Theater productions and movies are interrupted to carry out this custom.  Now you know why I put a picture of grapes on this post.

Readers, please come back tomorrow and I’ll share a great recipe that you'll want to try for your own celebration.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almost 2012

Matt McCallum here, readers.  Elaine told my and my wife's story in her book A New Dream.  The book's on sale for only .99 for either the Nook or Kindle versions.  This would be a fine time for you to sample Elaine's work.  Here are your links for the sale.

I thought I'd talk today about the way people celebrate the new year.  It's almost 2012, you know.  In the US people like to watch the lighted ball drop at 11:59 in Times Square.  Mass hysteria reigns and confetti flies everywhere as 2012 arrives.

We cook special food too.  Most people eat black eyed peas in some form or other because black eyed peas are supposed to bring wealth during the coming year.  Elaine lives in the South, and there they eat black eyed peas and collard greens with cornbread.  Sometimes they add a ham. 

Of course, customs vary from country to country.  The most popular of all new year's customs in the UK is called "First Footing." Neighbors visit each other shortly after midnight. They believe it's lucky if the first visitor to the house is a tall, dark, handsome male carryijng a piece of coal, a loaf of bread and a bottle of whiskey as a gift.  The visitor shoudn't speak or be spoken to until he has thrown the coal into the fire, put the bread on the table, and poured a glass for the head of the house.  He then wishes everyone a happy new year and leaves through the back door.  This is supposed to bring luck and prosperity in the coming year.

Join me again tomorrow and we'll look at custom's in other countries.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sale Time!

Hi, readers.  Matt McCallum here.  My wife Violet and I have been doing Elaine's blog for her during the month of December to reward her for telling our story in her book A New Dream.  We've been having a lot of fun, and today I want to share an excerpt from A New Dream with you.  You're in luck too because A New Dream is on sale for only .99.  If you have a new Nook or Kindle this would be a great time to read our story.  Here's an excerpt from A New Dream.  This happened after a Halloween party when Violet and I went up to my office for a minute.

Violet hunched her shoulders and pulled the top of her gown up. But that only drew attention to her chest. His eyes lingered and his tongue darted out and lined his lips. Violet shivered as her senses registered how the air swirled with sensual overtones.

“Hadn’t we better go?” she appealed as she fidgeted with one of her bracelets.

“What’s the hurry? We never have a minute to ourselves. Someone’s always around.”

Violet’s heart raced as Matt moved toward her. She wasn’t really afraid of him. She couldn’t imagine him forcing his attentions on her no matter how big and powerful he was, but he had acted different the last week or so. With effort, she held her ground at his approach.

“Why are you scared of me?” Matt asked his voice as soft and rich as velvet. “Your eyes are as big as saucers.”

Violet’s chin came up. “I’m not scared of you.”

“Then you won’t mind if I do this.” Matt trailed his fingers up her bare arm, leaving a path of goose bumps behind. Violet quivered and tried to catch her breath as he pulled her into his arms. She didn’t know whether to bless or curse her costume, for both of his hands now rested against her bare back.

Matt laid her head against his shoulder. Violet caught his male scent and shivered; she pressed herself closer to him. A warm, fluttery feeling deep inside coiled and twisted and threatened to build into something monumental and wonderful.

He bent his head and nuzzled his face against Violet’s neck. She felt his lips warm against her throat, and convulsively her arms tightened around him. A few guys had kissed and nuzzled her before, but it had never been like this. This was the most arousing experience of her life. Matt’s masculinity had stimulated all of her feminine instincts. Had she ever been so aware of a man before? No, she hadn’t.

Boldly, she stroked the back of his neck and explored the texture of his hair. Matt didn’t seem to mind, so she rubbed his shoulders and back; the man did have great shoulders. Matt made a little sound low in his throat that made her knees grow weak. What audacity to think she could control the leashed power under her fingers.

In a sudden, swift motion, Matt pushed one of the brief sleeves of her costume from her shoulder and kissed the place where the sleeve had rested. “Your skin is so soft and warm,” he whispered.

Violet gasped. “Don’t, Matt.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yippee! A Sale!

Hello, Readers!  I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas.  Violet Emerson, er, McCallum here.  Elaine told my and my husband Matt’s story in her book A New Dream.  To reward her for her hard work, Matt and I have taken over her blog for December. 

Matt: We have some great news too, folks. Astraea Press has put A New Dream on sale just in time for everyone to buy a copy for their Nook or Kindle for only .99.  Yep, ninety nine cents.  It’s a great time to sample Elaine’s work if you haven’t already done so. 

Violet: Did you know my sweet Matt played football for the Green Bay Packers?  He kicked the winning goal in the Super Bowl!

Matt: (Takes her hand and points to the jersey she’s wearing.)  I got her her a Packers’ jersey for Christmas.  It has my old number on it.

Violet: (giggles.)  I love the jersey, but I like my other present better.  I’m posting a picture of the London blue topaz jewelry he bought me.  It’s totally gorgeous!  Am I using too many exclamation marks in this post?  I can’t help it.  The man is just too exciting!  And he has great taste in jewelry. 

Matt: And women.  Love you, baby.  I’m glad you like your present.

Violet: Don’t forget the sale going on at Astraea Press.  You can buy Elaine’s book as well as some others for only .99.  Do read my and Matt’s story, though.  You won’t believe the things that happened to us.

Matt:  Here’s a few links for you.  Happy reading.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Used to Make These! So Good!

Hi, my name is Matt McCallum.  Elaine told my and my wife's story in her book A New Dream.  We wanted to give her a break, so we've taken over her blog during the month of December.  We've designated this week as recipe week.  We contacted some of Elaine's author friends who've kindly agreed to provide a recipe for us. Today's recipe is from Chris Redding.

And I'm Violet McCallum.  I operate a catering company, and I've used a similiar recipe many times.  Do try these.  You won't be sorry if you do!  They'd be great for Super Bowl parties too.  My husband used to play for the Green Bay Packers, so Super Bowl celebrations are big at our house.  Anyway, here's Chris's recipe.

Cheese Puff Appetizers

I bring these to potluck parties. They are usually a big hit.


2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded low fat cheddar cheese

1 cup butter (I sometimes use Smart Balance)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce (You can substitute Chipotle Tabasco Sauce)

2 (5 oz) jars of green olives (Kalamata olives work well also.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together cheese, butter , flour, and Worcestershire sauce. Knead the dough. Pinch the dough into small balls, flatten them in the palm ofyour hand, then roll each circle of dough around one olive. Arrange the wrapped olives on the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly brown.

Enjoy either warm or cold.

And now let's have an excerpt from Chris's book Blonde Demolition. You can buy the book at

Mallory Sage's heart raced at the sight before her—a bomb.
It had all the parts necessary to blow up the beer trailer and everything nearby—including her fellow firefighters at the Coleville Volunteer Fire Company.
Adrenaline and anger streaked through her.
She called to her chief. "Jesse, get out."
I won't lose you. Not now. Not like this.
Jesse Moran backed away from her, licked his lips and then moved in her direction. "Get out of here, Mal."
Her heart sank. Even in the face of a bomb, her lover was willing to protect her. She clenched and unclenched her fists, her breath coming out in pants. "Not without you, Jesse."
Without taking her eyes off Jesse, she shouted to another firefighter" Call 911. Tell them we need the bomb squad."
When Jesse reached her, she yanked him out. He had a hundred pounds on her. She had the element of surprise. "Get me wire cutters."
Jesse looked at her as though she had three heads.
"Do it."
He shook his head. "No, you don't know what you're doing."
She made eye contact with one of the bystanders. "Get me wire cutters and clear everyone out of here. Make sure no workers are on the fairgrounds."
The last thing the struggling fire company needed was to lose this fair. It was their sole fund raising effort. These guys missed dinners and family events to put out fires and some jerk with a penchant for bombs couldn't be allowed to do that to them.
What if this is just the beginning?

Oh, wow, that's so exciting!  Chris, thanks for sharing.  Matt and I are putting it on our to be read list.  I hope each and every one of you has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mexican Comfort Food

Hello, and welcome to our recipe week.  My name is Violet McCallum.  Elaine told my story in her book A New Dream, so to give her some time off, my husband and I are doing her blog during the month of December.  Our guest today is David Lee Summers.  David is sharing some Mexican comfort food with us, food that he incidentally used in his novel The Solar Sea.  Here's a recipe and excerpt to tease your stomach and your imagination.

Chipotle Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles (pronounced chee-la-KEE-las) are classic Mexican comfort food.  A forerunner to nachos and kin to enchiladas, they make a nice breakfast served with eggs or a light supper served with refried beans.  This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless's book Mexico: One Plate At a Time and is basically what I describe in my novel The Solar Sea.


One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and 1/2 cup liquid reserved

2 chipotles in adobo

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth


8 ounces tortilla chips

1 1/2 cups shredded chicken

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

Making the chilaquiles:

In a blender, combine the tomatoes with their reserved 1/2 cup of liquid and the chipotles.  Blend until almost smooth.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add two-thirds of the onion and cook over moderately high heat until browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the sauce, making sure they are well coated. Top with the remaining onion, the shredded chicken and the Parmesan cheese. Dollop the sour cream over the chilaquiles, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.

About the Excerpt

The excerpt is from my young adult novel The Solar Sea.  In the novel, a brilliant young man discovers particles that can travel through time orbiting Saturn's moon, Titan.  To learn more about the particles, a solar sail spaceship is built and a crew of the best and brightest people assembled.

I have long been a fan of television shows like Star Trek.  As a kid, I often wondered what the crew of the Enterprise did during the quiet times between adventures.  In this scene from The Solar Sea, we see the crew of the solar sail Aristarchus during one such quiet time as the ship travels between Earth and Mars.  It also shows the beginning of a romance that becomes important later in the novel.

Excerpt from The Solar Sea

There was only one cook aboard Aristarchus, a man named Angus MacDonald. The kitchen was well equipped with a number of automated appliances, so MacDonald actually could cook meals all on his own. However, during the sixth week of the flight, several crewmembers, including Captain Freeman, Dr. Garcia, Lisa Henry, and Vanda Berko decided during a card game to volunteer their services in the kitchen. Not only did it provide MacDonald some relief, it also provided the crew with some relief from his cooking. It wasn’t that MacDonald’s fare was poor. It was actually quite good, but his repertoire was a bit limited.

One day soon after, Neb O’Connell stepped into the galley and was greeted by the aroma of onions, garlic, and chiles. “It smells good,” he said.

Dr. Garcia, who was on duty in the kitchen, looked up from behind the counter. “Thanks. It’s an old recipe of my mother’s – chilaquiles.” He handed Neb a plate covered with tortilla chips smothered in a red chile sauce topped with chicken, onions, and sour cream.

“I thought you’d make us eat healthier food than this,” chided Neb, taking the plate.

“It’s not that bad.” The doctor shrugged.

“Don’t listen to him,” said Lisa Henry from a table in the corner. “The doc’s the least healthy cook of the lot. I’d take the soup if I were you. That tortilla pie thing about seared my tonsils.”

“You don’t have any tonsils, my dear,” said the doctor. “I know. I’ve looked down your throat myself.”

Lisa rolled her eyes. Neb took the plate and stepped over to her table. “May I join you?”

“Sure.” She shrugged but wore a cautious smile.

Neb sat down and took a tentative bite of the chilaquiles. After the first, he took several more. “That’s really good.”

Lisa looked at him, wide eyed. “How can you stand that stuff?”

“He obviously has good taste,” said the doctor.

“I’ve been living in New Mexico for the last few years. Red and green chiles are a staple of the diet. You get addicted,” said Neb, by way of explanation. “This is actually a little mild for my taste, but I didn’t even think we had any chile aboard the ship.”

“That’s ’cause MacDonald’s scared to use it,” said Dr. Garcia.

Lisa inclined her head. “Hey, maybe you should volunteer for the kitchen crew, then you and the doctor can take turns torturing the rest of us.”

“It would be torture,” said Neb. “I’ve been known to burn soup from a can.” He took several more bites of the chilaquiles, then washed it down with some iced tea. “But the thing is, I would like to find something to do in my off hours.”

Lisa smiled openly. “You could help me pick a movie to watch tonight.”

Neb sputtered for a moment, then came to his senses. “I’d like that.”

“No popcorn, though,” said the doctor. “You’ve used up your allotment of carbohydrates eating the chilaquiles.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mudejan Cuisine by Jenny

Welcome to Elaine's blog.  My name is Violet McCallum, and this handsome man beside me is my husband Matt.  Elaine told our story in her book A New Dream, so we decided to give her the month of December off.  We've done a good job too, haven't we, Matt?

I think so.  Readers, you've stopped by at just the right time.  With Christmas coming, I bet you'd like a new recipe to try, so this entire week we'll be posting recipes supplied by Elaine's author friends. Violet, who's up today?

Today's recipe is supplied by Jenny Twist.  It's a Mudejan recipe, and it sounds good.  Jenny told me that they eat a lot of Moorish cuisine in her part of Spain.  It was ruled by the Moors for hundreds of years, and those who weren't kicked out by the Christians were known as the Mudejans - 'The Ones Who Stayed Behind.'  Here's the recipe.


2-3 Pork fillets (depending on size)

20 Rashers streaky bacon or pancetta

Walnuts, roughly chopped

Dates, pitted and roughly chopped

2 Large tomatoes, skinned and diced

1 Carrot, diced

1 Stick celery, diced

1 Onion, diced

250 ml white wine

500 ml meat stock

Black pepper, salt, sprigs of rosemary and thyme

Serves 6 as a main course

Slit each fillet lengthways almost all the way through. Turn over and beat flat. Turn back again and lay a line of walnut down the centre, then a line of dates. Roll up the fillet and wrap with 4 or 5 rashers of bacon\pancetta.

Bake in a medium oven (180 deg. C) for about 45 min. or in a barbecue with a lid. (If the latter, keep the centre of the BBQ clear of coals and place a drip tray there.)

For the sauce, sweat the diced vegetables in olive oil until soft. Now add a handful each of chopped dates and walnuts, the herbs, salt and pepper, wine, stock and the remaining bacon\pancetta, and simmer for ½ hour. Take out the bacon and any woody bits of herb and blend the rest. Put the puree back in the pan and reduce until the thickness and flavour are to your liking. Sieve for a smoother finish if prefered

When the meat is done let it rest a few minutes and remove the bacon. (You can leave it on if you prefer but it´s given up a lot of its flavour and makes carving more difficult.) Slice the fillets at a slant about 1 -2 cm thick. This dish is good hot or cold.

Wow, Violet, that sounds great.  Maybe we should try this for Christmas.

(Violet frowns.)  You don't want my turkey and stuffing?

Oh, yeah, it's great.  (Aside to readers: But I like pork better.  Shh.  Don't tell her I said so.)  Honey, let's share an excerpt from Jenny's book.

Good idea.  Here goes.

G Rated Excerpt from Domingo's Angel - Jenny Twist
The next day he took his goats to the top of the ridge near the pass and looked down on the smallest casita of Guillermo the mayor. There was a mule tethered outside and a string of washing had been hung between two almond trees. Otherwise there was no sign of life. Halfway down the slope was a large algarrobo tree. He decided it would be an ideal place for lunch.

But although he sat and watched the little house all the time as he ate his bread and cheese and olives and drank his wine, nobody came out and nothing happened. Only the mule moved along the side of the house to keep in the shade as the sun moved round. So he went to sleep.

When he woke up, someone was calling him. “Hola, goatherd!”

He squinted up into the sun and there, standing before him was an angel. It was very tall and thin and there was a fiery halo round its head. “Hello,” it said, "Soy Ángela - I am angel. I am delighted to meet you! Who are you?”

In absolute panic, Domingo shot up into a sitting position and shuffled backwards into the algarrobo tree. His head hit the hard trunk with a resounding crack and he subsided and slumped back down, feeling a little stunned.
The angel came forward into the shadow of the algarrobo tree and he realised that the halo was, in fact, hair - very long hair - falling in waves down beyond her shoulders and almost to her waist. It was exactly the colour of oranges that have dried on the tree. Her skin was so white it was almost blue and her eyes were so pale they had no colour at all. “How could they think she was a dead person?” he thought in a confused fashion. “She is obviously an angel.”
Happy reading
Jenny Twist

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let's Eat!

Hi, folks, Matt McCallum here.  Elaine told my story in her book A New Dream.  My wife and I decided to hijack her blog during the month of December so Elaine could have a break.  This week I've talked to some of Elaine's author friends and persuaded them to share their favorite holiday recipes with us.  Today's recipe comes from Rebecca Gomez Farrell who stopped by to say hello to us. 

Hi, Matt.  Merry Christmas.  I think it's so sweet for you and Violet to help Elaine this way.

Oh, we were glad to do it.  What recipe are you sharing today?

(Rebecca laughs.) It's the Gomez family broccoli casserole.  I swear I could eat a whole pan of it by myself.

I bet Violet will want it for her catering business.  Say, Rebecca, I hear you have a new book out.

Oh, I do.  It's called Maya's Vacation, and guss what?  It's about food.

(Matt laughts.)  How perfect is that?  Why don't you share the recipe and then let us read an excerpt?

I can do that.  Merry Christmas, Matt.  I hope you and Violet have a wonderful time.  It is your first Christmas as man and wife.  Readers, I hope you have wonderful holidays too.

Gomez Family Broccoli Casserole
20 ounces chopped broccoli
14 ounces cream of celery or mushroom soup
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups crushed Ritz crackers
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the broccoli until tender and drain. Mix together all the ingredients and pour into a greased 8 x 8 square pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Maya's Vacation-excerpt.

“Where are we going?” she asked after a few minutes of silent walking. She stopped to catch her breath, not knowing if the pace, the wine, or the proximity of Dean were responsible for her short-windedness.
            “Just a little spot I saw earlier today. It's on the other side of the bed cabins. I think you'll love it.”
            “Okay, but slow down a little? I'm not exactly nineteen anymore.”
            “No,” he agreed while lessening his speed, “you're better.”
            Around the next bend, she smelled a sweet, heady scent that nearly overwhelmed her wine-dimmed senses. “Lilac!” she exclaimed. “You remembered!” She had always loved that flower. She’d insisted Chuck wear a bunch for his boutonniere on their wedding day. Chuck . . . who’d brought her a bouquet of them on the day he'd made his first million dollar sale, who’d bought her lilac perfume every Christmas they were together, though she never wore it because it smelled so strongly of alcohol. The sinking feeling in her gut that had dulled over the course of dinner came back.
            Dean didn't notice. “Of course I remember! You tried to paint lilac blossoms for a month straight before you gave up and shredded the canvases to pieces. You are so—so sexy when you're frustrated, do you know that?” He kissed her forehead suddenly then snaked his arm around her waist.
            “I—I can't do this,” she heard herself say, though her body wanted nothing more than to touch his skin, kiss his brow.
            “What? Can't do what?” He kissed her neck.
            “This—you—Dean, I'm with Chuck.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Hello, folks, Matt and Violet Emerson here.  Elaine told our story in her book A New Dream.  We've taken over Elaine's blog for the month of December so she can have a break. 

Matt: I don't know if you guys know or not, but Violet operates a catering company.  I thought since Christmas was coming soon, it would be nice if she'd share one of her favorite recipes with you.

Violet: I'd love to!  I got this recipe from Elaine's friend Bobbi Groover.  Have you read Bobbi's book?

Matt: What's it called?

Violet: The Inn at Little Bend.

Matt: Sounds good.  Share the recipe, and then we'll read an excerpt.

Violet:  Okay, here's Bobbi's recipe.

Heat oven to 350

1 lb. pork sausage

12 hard boiled eggs, peeled

2 eggs, beaten

1 12oz. can beer

1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

one bunch parsley

Using wet hands work about 1 1/2 Tbsps. of sausage around each egg to encase completely.

Dip in beaten eggs, then in beer. Roll in breadcrumbs. Place eggs on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Bake 45-60 minutes or until sausage is browned. Cut in halves or quarters and serve on a bed of parsley.

serves 12
And now for that excerpt!
The music swirled again in her mind, teasing and caressing her soul as masterfully as a lover.
Her lagging spirit, that vital force which usually sustained her, felt renewed when the notes
purled around her like a wraith sent to guide her through the maze of turmoil.

He came from the shadows and took her hand. "Come with me," he whispered.

She went with him willingly, knowing in her core that he understood the complexities of her soul.
His eyes were Drake's...
Matt: I like the sound of this.  Folks, the book is available at  Don't forget to check it out, and don't forget to join Elaine at .  She's sharing excerpts from her work.

Violet: There's one more thing.  April, you're Elaine's winner at the Naught or Nice blog hop.  She'll be sending you a book sometimes today.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome!  Thanks for stopping by.  Today's sentences are from The Table in the Window.  In this excerpt, my hero and heroine are stranded during a snow storm after their car slides into a ditch.  They decide to walk for help. 

“Walking will warm us up,” Marley argued, “and I really don’t want to stay here all night.
It’s too much like a horror movie to suit me.”

“Are you afraid I am ze vampire in disguise?” He showed her his teeth. “Or perhaps you fear ze werewolf?” This time he howled at her.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome to Sweet Saturday Sample.  My name is Matt McCallum.  Elaine told my and my wife's story in her book A New Dream.  Violet isn't here today.  She's doing some Christmas shopping, so I've picked an excerpt from A New Dream to share with you.  Hope you enjoy it.  If you do, you can buy it at   or at

Here's a blurb and excerpt for you.

After an accident destroys his pro-football career, Matt McCallum struggles to find a new dream for his life.  Nothing engages him until he meets Violet Emerson who has big dreams of her own.  Together they find a common dream for their lives, but will a loose end from Matt’s past destroy their future before it even begins? 

Excerpt: Sometimes one family member's tragedy can hurt an entire family.  In this excerpt, you can see how my accident affected my mother.

Marilyn laughed when she saw Matt’s stained shirt. “What happened to you?”
“Bakery accident.” Matt set the cake on the table, relieved to have it safely delivered.
“Ha! You dropped my cake, didn’t you?” Chris snickered as he inspected the wrapped packages stacked on the kitchen table.
“No, I didn’t. The girl who got it out of the refrigerator tripped and fell against me.”
“She just wanted to feel your muscular chest,” Chris teased. “How old is she, Matt?”
“Around my age.”
“Uh huh. He’d like to feel her chest, too.”

Matt’s arm shot out, and he grabbed Chris. The two of them began a mild scuffle that ended with Marilyn’s sharp reprimand.

“Stop it this instant! Chris, you could hurt him.”

Animation drained from Matt’s face as he released his hold on his brother. “I’m sorry I scared you, Mother.”

Chris’s face turned a fiery shade of red. “Are you going to treat him like an invalid forever? He isn’t going to break!”

He spun on his heel and rushed from the room leaving Marilyn and Matt staring at each other in an uncomfortable silence.

Matt took a tight rein on his emotions and changed the subject. He plain didn’t want to get into it. “Is it okay if I invited somebody to the party?”

“Of course,” Marilyn answered, her tone far too bright and cheerful. “Any friend of yours is welcome.”

“I’d better go change.”

Matt looked back over his shoulder as he left the kitchen and saw his mother sitting at the table with her head in her hands.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Violet Emerson here, folks.  Thank you for stopping by Elaine’s blog.  Elaine told my story in her book A New Dream, so my husband and I are taking over her blog during December.  She deserves a rest!  Before I talk about today’s fashion I have to make an announcement.  Last Friday I asked your help in picking a dress to wear to Matt’s office party.  The third dress was the one everyone liked, so that’s the one I bought.  I put your names in a hat if you helped,  and I drew Alexis’s name.  I’ll send her a book.

I have to admit I adore fur.  I’ve seen some super faux fur vests and coats this year.  I’ll show you some vests next week, but today I’m concentrating on faux fur coats.  What do you think of this first one?  It’s so beautiful!  It’s by Rachel Zoe, and it’s so feminine and glamorous I just love it.  See the neat belt?  Buy it at Bloomingdales for $177.  Best of all, it’s on sale.

Option two is also a super coat.  White faux mink looks luxurious on anyone, but you can get this coat in several different colors.  I like the rollup sleeves.  Only $299 at Fabulous Furs

The last jacket is from Kate Spade.  Notice the three quarter length sleeves and the slightly flared shape.  I do like this gray leopard print.  Buy it on sale $297  at Nordstrom.

If you see Matt do me a favor and tell him I like coat number one.  I don't think he bought my Christmas present yet.