Tropes in Cascades with Charley Descoteaux – Post, Excerpt, + Giveaway

December 9, 2015

Tropes in Cascades

Hello! I’m Charley Descoteaux, here to celebrate the release of my holiday story Cascades!

Cascades is a standalone holiday novella…sort of. It stands alone, but doesn’t include a decorated tree or anyone in a red suit, or even a massive holiday meal (there is a string of fairy lights, however). The story opens the day before Christmas and ends on New Year’s Day, but that’s about it. If you’ve read my short story “Toy Run” you probably know how much “holiday” to expect from this story.

During the editorial process, while I worked with my lovely editors to polish the sharp edges from this rough little story, I played with the idea of including one of those snappy warnings in the blurb. You know the kind, they usually start out with a real warning and end up talking about sex in trees or a hairstyle you can see from space. I love those, they can be fun and still give enough of a hint that the story might include a trope I’m not interested in reading that day.

The warning for Cascades might’ve gone something like this: Warning: this story includes a man who leaves the country to escape the holidays, a random hookup with a stranger, a love interest living on the streets, references to girls deflowering boys, and Canadian potatoes.

Maybe I should’ve subtitled this story Unpopular Tropes. (Except for the potatoes, those are always popular.)

I’m laughing, but it’s true. Male-Male Romances usually don’t allow the love interest to be homeless—unless he’s a rent boy, engaging in survival sex until the main character rescues him from the streets. Doug isn’t a sex worker (and not because he’s pushing 50) but he does things most of us wouldn’t want to seriously consider doing to survive.

Probably less popular, though, is JB’s dalliance before the two heroes get together. I can understand this, sort of, but if we want stories to reflect the experiences of real people we have to accept that it happens. Sometimes real people jump immediately into monogamous relationships and sometimes they don’t. Especially if the hero has been alone for a long time. And that goes double if the hero has no idea the love of his life is waiting for him a few pages later.

Cascades is one of those stories I wasn’t sure if I should submit once it was finished—it’s about two older dudes and neither are easy to know and love. I enjoy stories with atypical heroes, though, so I held my breath and hit Send. Cascades isn’t your typical holiday tale, but the folks at Dreamspinner took a chance on it and I hope you will too.

 

What are your favorite “unpopular” Romance tropes?  Do you love a story about sex workers who don’t give up their careers for love? How about a December/December Romance or an overweight hero who doesn’t lose weight by the end of the story?

Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a backlist book of your choice.

I’ll be in and out for the next couple of days and will choose a winner on Friday, 12/11.

Join me on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page on 12/12 for more chances to win!

CascadesFS

You can read all of Chapter One on the Dreamspinner store. Just about all the unpopular tropes are included there!

This excerpt is from Chapter Two: JB and Doug are having breakfast on Christmas morning at a dive that shares space with the hostel where JB is staying. It might explain the potato reference above.

***

A guy who looked lonelier than I felt brought our breakfast. Two steaming plates full of eggs, bacon, toast, and potatoes. His Merry Christmas sounded more like fuck you.

Yeah, me too, buddy.

Doug and I ate without talking. He seemed to relax as his plate emptied. For the most part. The tension in his face didn’t ease, but he leaned back in his chair and his breathing slowed to normal.

After a while the silence got to me. “Damn, these potatoes are good.”

Doug snorted.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Too lowbrow for you?” I tried for a joking tone, but didn’t quite make it.

He frowned. A moment later he looked up at me. The lines on his face cut deeper than Uncle Pete’s. “It’s just seasoned salt. You can get it at any grocery store.”

“I’ll have to remember that.” The smile I tried out didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. He frowned deeper and turned his whole body away from me.

Neither of us spoke again until the lonely guy had bussed the table and we’d both finished a third cup of coffee.

“Come on back up to the room with me.” I stood, paused a moment to give him a chance to answer, and then headed back the way we’d come. By the time I rounded the corner, his footsteps were right behind me.

He followed me up the stairs and pushed past me into the room. I locked the door, and when I turned around, he was stretching out on the bed. Nude.

 

Blurb:

Justice “JB” Bishop tells himself he’s satisfied with life in the small town of Upright, Oregon. He was born and raised there, and has settled into a comfortable, if lonely, routine working at his uncle’s bar. JB doesn’t expect anything to change after he turns fifty, until an old friend drops in. She suggests he get out of town for the holidays, and soon JB finds himself on an Amtrak to Canada. JB expected to feel different in Canada, to see things he couldn’t see at home. He never expected to find the one who got away.

Buy Cascades: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7112

 

About the Author:

Charley Descoteaux has always heard voices. She was relieved to learn they were fictional characters, and started writing when they insisted daydreaming just wasn’t good enough. In exchange, they’ve agreed to let her sleep once in a while. Charley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during a drought, and found her true home in the soggy Pacific Northwest. She has survived earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods, but couldn’t make it through one day without stories.

 

Rattle my cages—I’d love to hear from you!

Blog:  http://cdescoteauxwrites.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/charley.descoteaux.3

Dreamspinner Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=879

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CharleyDescote

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/aqe7g7r

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charleydescote/

Dream Dishes: Lex Chase’s Thanksgiving Desserts

December 4, 2015

My mother’s Yankee side of the family are huge fans of downhome New England comfort food. I didn’t know my grandmother until later in life, but my mom would tell stories about how she was always in the kitchen cooking round the clock. My grandmother in particular is known for her Graham Cracker Pie. As one of six children, my mom and her siblings in their adulthood struggle to master. With a custard filling, and a toasted meringue topping, this sweet dessert conjures memories of wintertime in Maine curled around the old black-and-white TV watching Miracle on 34th Street.

Lex_Graham_Cracker_Pie

Want to make your own? You can click to enbiggen the image to see the original (and print it if you so desire!) In case you can’t read it, here’s the directions!

Graham Cracker Pie

The crust:

  • 14 graham crackers (because 13 is too few and 15 is right out!) rolled fine (1/4 for the top)

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Directions: Mix and pack into pie plate.

Filling:

  • 2 cups milk, scalded

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Cook until thick and pour into crust.

  2. Top with merengue and graham cracker crumbs.

  3. Bake for 20 minutes.*

*Okay. Since my Grandma’s directions assume everyone knows what they’re doing, let’s break it down for folks that look at it like it’s voodoo.

First, you can find the technique on how to scald milk here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkSN7bH4M-4

Now, those egg yolks? You need to temper those or you’re going to have scrambled eggs.

To temper eggs you slowly add a little bit of the scalded milk while whisking the eggs. Keeping adding in small increments and keep whisking at the same time. If you add the milk too quickly, you’ll have scrambled eggs and have to start again. When you get that together, you can combine the sugar and cornstarch and you’re good to go with your custard mixture.

Okay. So that merengue. For those of you that have no idea how to create such a wondrous thing. You can find out here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPf7n2-KLfQ

A good tip is to only use a metal bowl. Plastic bowls retain imperceptible greasy film that will ruin the merengue.

Bake the pie according to directions. Enjoy!

Next up is a popular recipe among family and friends is my Aunt Bunny’s Peanut Butter Cups. They’re more of a bar than an actual cup. They’ve become a tradition during the holidays, because making them any other day of the year becomes a dangerous prospect for your waistline.

Again, click the image for a better view!

Lex_Peanut_Butter_Cups

Bunny’s Peanut Butter Cups

Mix:

  • 2 sticks melted margarine

  • 1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 2 1/2 cup confectioner sugar

Directions:

  1. Spread in bottom of greased 9×13 pan.

  2. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of butter.

  3. Spread over peanut butter and chill until firm.

Now, one recipe special to me is the Love Cookies. I grew up a Navy Brat and my father had been stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I was about four, and in preschool. My teacher, Ms. Love, made these delicious cookies as a treat for her students. For the holidays she also made them as gifts for the parents along with the recipe. You may be familiar with chocolate haystacks with coconut, but these are a peanut butter cookie made with cornflakes.

Again click the graphic to read an print for yourself!

Lex_Love_Cookies

Love Cookies

  • 1/2 cup light Karo Syrup

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 2 cups cornflakes

Directions:

  1. Bring syrup and sugar to boil.

  2. Add peanut butter and cereal.

  3. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper and cool.

Love holiday sweets? Who doesn’t! (Except for you in the back. You can see yourself out.) I hope you try these and start your own traditions.

 

The Forgotten Ones with E E Montgomery – Post + Giveaway

December 4, 2015

The Forgotten Ones

Hello and welcome. I’m E E Montgomery and I’m here to share the release of The Planet Whisperer with you.

It’s an exciting time for me right now because my first Science Fiction novel is about to be released through Dreamspinner Press. The Planet Whisperer touches on a lot of things: ethics of scientific experimentation, changing the evolutionary path of planets, criminal justice, care of children, trust and honor, to name just a few. But at its heart, The Planet Whisperer is a love story. It’s a story of hope and joy and future.

Where did it all come from? The human brain is a wondrous thing that I’ll never understand, but I’ll be forever grateful I can pull random facts from mine and link them together, no matter how obscurely.

This is where it all began…

No one could ever confuse me with one of the popular kids, not even as an adult. I’m not a geek either. Sure, I love Dr Who and Star Trek and random facts (like the Earth’s magnetic field is strong enough to land a spacecraft, or buttons were once made of bone, sometimes human bone) but I don’t have the memory I need to be a ‘real’ geek. I fall somewhere in the middle—the forgettable middle.

That’s where I fall in my family as well. While my mother did go through a stage of forgetting my birthday (I received my parents wedding presents hurriedly wrapped in newspaper for a few years), I didn’t actually feel like I was a forgotten child. There were numerous times my family noticed what I was doing and decided I needed to be spoken to. :/

I’ve often wondered what it would be like—to be forgotten.

Tolifax is home to thousands of forgotten people. Some of them began life as a remembered person, only to do something against the laws of the day and end up abandoned on the planet commonly known as the garbage dump of the universe. They were dropped there and, as individuals, were forgotten.

Under the rule of a conservative and narrow-minded government, the people of Tolifax eked out an existence. Some of them thrived, some got by, but most of them floundered, forced into harsher and harsher lives by those climbing over them so they could survive.

Jonah is one of those forgotten people. He was a child, helpless and vulnerable, at the bottom of Tolifax’s food chain. No one knew, no one cared. At seven, he was caring for his mother after a john broke her jaw. He procured customers for her, kept her clean and kept her fed. He discovered he had an affinity with plants and grew vegetables for them to eat and to sell. Apart from his mother’s injury, life was the best it had ever been. Then the john came back. Jonah, in protecting his mother, committed a crime that would have horrified even the most hardened criminals on Tolifax. His mother, who’d seen more of the underbelly of humanity than any person should, was more terrified of her eight year old son than she was of anything else.

So she sold him.

And forgot him.

For years, Jonah remained forgotten. He might have been used and abused, but his existence wasn’t important to anyone. No one would have noticed if he had disappeared completely.

Then Wes saw him, and bought him. Jonah thought that, finally, someone noticed him, and he pinned all his hopes and dreams on being important to Wes.

Wes wasn’t the prince charming Jonah had hoped he’d be, but at least Jonah was no longer forgotten.

Sometimes though—sometimes he wished he was.

Jonah’s life from eight to sixteen wasn’t the stuff of romances. Nor were the following sixteen years with Wes. They happened, nothing can change that. Through all of it, Jonah never lost hope that somehow he’d have a better life; that now he’d ceased to be one of the forgotten, he’d be remembered for the right reasons.

And there you have it: the single thought that caused Jonah to become real, for his whole life to exist, if only in my imagination—and now yours.

Has there been a time in your life you’ve felt like you were forgotten, or wanted to be? I’d love you to tell me about it. I’ll get an independent person (ie family member) to choose a response at random. That lucky person will receive an ecopy of one of my backlist books (your choice).

PlanetWhisperer[The]_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

Jonah Starovski, a Planet Whisperer, harnesses the energy surrounding dead planets and redirects it into new growth. Abandoned by the man who bought him from a brothel sixteen years ago, Jonah flounders in a world he’s ill-equipped to deal with. He must accept the help of a stranger in order to rebuild his life.

First Lieutenant Marcus Davis volunteers as Jonah’s assistant without realizing the terraforming process requires Jonah’s sexual release. Balanced on the knife-edge of fear and ambition, Marcus is faced with his mother’s machinations and threats to his career. Marcus’s parents bring their illegal scientific experiments to the planets Jonah is terraforming just as Marcus learns to accept himself and his feelings for Jonah. At the same time, Jonah’s past catches up to him, putting them both in danger.

Jonah and Marcus must trust in each other to put a stop to the illegal activities, rescue an endangered animal, and create the future they both want—a future they can share.

 

Author Links:

Web, blog and free short stories: www.eemontgomery.com

Email: eemontgomery11@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery

Twitter: @eemontgomery1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5347023.E_E_Montgomery

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/E-E-Montgomery/e/B008LO3SBA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1427806072&sr=1-2-ent

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/eemontgomery11/

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/e-e-montgomery

Dream Dishes: Shae Connor’s No-Boiling-Needed Lasagna

November 30, 2015

Lasagna has long been one of my favorite foods, and it’s turned up in several of my stories as a result, including one I’m currently working on for Dreamspinner. No matter how it works its way into a story—even if someone orders it in a restaurant—I’m always thinking of this recipe when I write it. (And probably getting a craving!)

I don’t know where my mom originally got the idea to make lasagna without cooking the noodles first, but we’ve been using this method as long as I can remember. It’s an inexact science; sometimes the noodles are a little underdone, and sometimes things comes out a little soupy. It doesn’t matter, though, because the taste is always great.

I do know why she started using cottage cheese instead of ricotta—we never had much money, and ricotta is way more expensive! I’ve switched to using half of each most of the time, but you can also make it with all ricotta if you prefer. I like the difference in texture from the cottage cheese.

You can also add browned ground beef to the layering, mix chopped veggies into the sauce, or add baby spinach to the cheese mixture. I prefer it just like this, though, served with garlic bread and a green salad.

 

No-Boiling-Needed Lasagna

26-ounce jar pasta sauce (any kind, with any additional spices you like)
8 ounces cottage cheese
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
About 1 quart water
12-ounce box lasagna noodles
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
3 to 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use pan spray to coat the bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 baking pan.

Pour the pasta sauce into a large bowl, refill the jar with water, and add to the sauce, mixing well. In a smaller bowl, mix the cottage and ricotta cheese, the egg, and about a cup of water.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Arrange one layer of uncooked noodles on top of the sauce (break in half or break off corners if needed to fit). Cover noodles with about one-third of the remaining sauce, then half the cheese mixture, then about one-third of the mozzarella. Repeat layers: noodles, sauce, cheese mixture, shredded cheese. Top with another layer of noodles, the remaining sauce, and the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. (Place a cookie sheet under the pan to catch any spills.) Remove from oven and test noodles for doneness; they should be just al dente. If not, re-cover and continue baking, testing at 10-minute intervals. Once noodles are al dente, uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and top begins to brown.

Remove lasagna from oven. If it appears soupy, let it sit about 15 minutes before serving for the remaining liquid to absorb.

About Shae

Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she’s a lackadaisical government worker for a living and writes sweet-hot romance under the cover of night. She’s been making things up for as long as she can remember, but it took her a long time to figure out that maybe she should try writing them down. Her fourth novel, Nobody’s Son, was released November 16.

Shae is part Jersey, part Irish, and all Southern, which explains why she never shuts up. You can find her hanging out on Twitter most any time @shaeconnor, but for the more direct route, you can email her at shaeconnorwrites[at]gmail[dot]com or visit her website at shaeconnorwrites.com.

 

Dream Dishes: Elle Brownlee’s Cinnamon Rolls with Browned Butter Caramel Glaze

November 30, 2015

The main dough recipe is from an old favorite shared among my family. It’s our tradition to make at least two batches of these every Thanksgiving Morning. What a delightful way to wake the household—with the aromas of fresh baking bread and sweet cinnamon! My addition is the glaze; frost still-warm rolls for a melted-down effect or serve on the side in pretty ramekins.

Rolls have good, solid body and satisfying chew without being tough. And they’re sweet but not cloying or too rich, making a just-right start to a day filled with eating. Pair with a fruit salad and bacon (because there can never be too much bacon). While writing Emergency Contact, this recipe was constantly on my mind as a goodie I knew for sure Garrett baked and would become (one of) Liam’s favorite! ☺

This basic sweet dough recipe is quite versatile and makes a wonderful base for many treats. Additionally, the dough can be made ahead of time and chilled for next-day baking or frozen for later use.

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays everyone!

Ingredients

Dough

2 packages dry yeast
¼ c warm water
1 c milk, warmed
½ c sugar
2 tsp salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) butter
3 eggs at room temp
5 ¼ c to 5 ¾ c all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Filling

6 Tbs (¾ stick) melted butter (brush on dough)
Combine these three ingredients:
1 c brown sugar
½ c chopped nuts – if desired
½ c currants or raisins – if desired

Glaze

3 Tbs butter
¼ c brown sugar
1 package cream cheese
(Toast brown sugar and butter in a sautee pan. Blend into cream cheese while still warm.)

Directions

In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Let stand until dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Mix milk, sugar, salt, butter, and eggs in a large bowl, and beat well. Add dissolved yeast. Next add 2 ½ cups of the flour, and beat until smooth and well blended. Add 2 ½ cups more flour and beat until the dough holds together in a rough, shaggy mass.

Scrape dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a minute or two, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Knead 8-10 minutes more until smooth and elastic. While kneading if the dough sticks to your hands, sprinkle on a little more flour. Form a loose ball with the dough and place in a greased bowl then cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double in bulk.

Once doubled, punch the dough down (great stress reliever! ;D).

Roll dough onto a floured surface into a rectangle about 32×12” and 1/3” thick. Brush the surface with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon roll filling over the buttered dough then gently press down with your fingers. Beginning with a long end, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, then cut into pieces about 1 1/4” wide. It will make about 24 slices.

Place slices in a greased pan, cut sides down (so the swirls are exposed rather than tucked in together). The slices should be gently pressed into the pan so they just touch one another. Cover and let rise until puffy, swollen, and double in bulk.

Bake in a preheated 375d oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.

 

Find me all over the web and talk food, tea, romance, whatever you fancy!

Website http://www.ellebrownlee.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elle.brownlee

Twitter https://twitter.com/ellebrownlee

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/ellebrownlee/

 

Dream Dishes: Grace R. Duncan’s Sand Tarts

November 27, 2015

H

One of my absolute favorite recipes of all time is one of the simplest I’ve ever learned, though it takes a bit to put together. It’s been in my family for generations, handed down mostly verbally. In fact, even in this day and age of technology, my own daughter knows the recipe by heart.

When I was a kid, I made these cookies with my mom every year, without fail. They take some work, despite their simplicity, because they’re rolled out. For someone who might have some physical limitations, it can be quite a challenge.  But they’re definitely fun to make and taste amazing!

My favorite part of the whole thing was decorating the cookies. We brush a little bit of beaten egg onto the top with a pastry brush, then put colored sugar or other sprinkles on top. I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the decorations just right. I’d add more than one color, sometimes trying to make the candy cane shaped ones look like a candy cane or the Christmas tree ones green with dots of ornaments on them. I drove my mother completely nuts sometimes, and always ended up with a billion colors all over myself. I remember spending more than one evening after in the bathtub!

img_4526

The recipe itself is really versatile too. It’s easily doubled or tripled (though not halved because of the odd number of eggs), and depending on how the dough is rolled out, they can either be crispy or soft. I prefer them soft, myself, but I love them no matter how they come out. I hope you have a chance to try them and enjoy them as well!

Thanks for reading!

 

Sand Tarts

Prep time: 15 minutes  Refrigeration: 2 hours  Baking time: 10 minutes
Makes about four dozen cookies.

 

Ingredients

1 cup margarine (softened makes it a lot easier to work with)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour

1 egg
colored sugar or sprinkles for decorating

 

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.

  2. Add eggs and mix well.

  3. Add flour, one cup at a time until dough pulls away from the sides. Pat into loaf and wrap with plastic wrap or place sections in ziploc bags. Refrigerate minimum of 2 hours.

  4. Roll out dough on floured surface. Cut into shapes.

  5. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles.

  6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden.

 

For more from Grace, check her out here:
Website  ◊ FacebookTwitterYouTubeGoodreads

 

Lex Chase Dishes On Being Thankful

November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Lex Chase here with something a little special on today’s fine National Tryptophan Day.

Thanksgiving is a special time here in the US—or as the rest of the world calls it Thursday. This year families gather round the table, eat more than they ever thought possible, and then pass the hell out for the rest of the day. Or if you’re like some crazy people, you’re in line before the sun comes up for Black Friday sales.

"Macys-parade-1979" by Jon Harder - User JonHarder. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Macys-parade-1979.jpg#/media/File:Macys-parade-1979.jpg

“Macys-parade-1979″ by Jon Harder

But let’s stop to think of what we’re truly thankful for beyond material possessions and bickering in-laws.

I for one am thankful for my family. Yes, we may bicker and we may get obnoxious, but we laugh, and we’ll be there for each other when it matters most. My mom goes to GRL with me every year and we have an awesome time. After 45 years in the Navy, my dad has finally retired this past week. My brother has found his calling as an amazing pastry chef.

Nutella Pie with Salted Carmel #MyBrotherIsWhyImFat

I couldn’t have gone as far as I have without them. Their constant support, and constant nagging of getting books done on time so they can come to you on time. HAH.

I’m thankful to Dreamspinner for taking a chance on me. To Elizabeth North, and Lynn West for putting up with my weirdness. To all the friends I’ve made where we’ve gone from talking shop, to talking about the silly habits of our pets.

Also, to someone very special in my life right now. DSP Publications author C.S. Poe seemed to think I was someone that was worthy dating material. So, here we are spending our first Thanksgiving together. She makes me want to be a better person. And she put up with all my overflow of emotion with her relentless optimism.

She refuses to let me be self-depreciating. And she refuses to let me dream small. Which both are very easy for writers. The woman sent me flipping flowers when I finished Urban Fairy Tale. Who does that?

Congratulatory Flowers for finishing Urban Fairy Tale

Congratulatory Flowers for finishing Urban Fairy Tale

When you get two romance writers in a relationship, it’s adorkable how we can be with little gestures.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Even if it’s just another day for you. Or it’s the day that you have the awkward conversation with your distant relatives of how you’re not married yet. It’s a day to be thankful that you are here and I’m thankful you’re here, too.

Let’s do something a little different than a giveaway this time. How about you do something special for someone else. Drop a donation of 10 or so bucks to a charity of your choice and email me a copy of the receipt. In exchange for your being awesome for someone else, I’ll give you an eBook copy of any one of my books, including Bayou Fairy Tale if you haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Email receipts to lex.a.chase@gmail.com! Get donating!

Dream Dishes: Andrew Grey’s Thanksgiving Corn Pudding

November 24, 2015

A Thanksgiving Recipe from Andrew and Dominic

 

Dominic spent many years working as a pastry chef, so to say he’s talented in the kitchen is an understatement.  He has recipes for many different wonderful things ranging from cookies he’s developed himself to cheesecakes that will cross your eyes.  (The cookie recipe he keeps under lock and key. They’re cherry brandy cookies and he only makes them at Christmas.  My mother tries to steal every one of them she can.)  However I asked him for a possible Thanksgiving recipe and he pulled out one of my favorites.   Its corn pudding.  OMG.  I love the stuff.  For years it was either cornbread or a bowl of corn on the table until Dominic discovered this dish at a potluck, deconstructed it, and developed his own recipe.   I twisted his arm, well actually I just leaned down and gave him a kiss and he sent me the recipe.

Both Dominic and I had very traditional Thanksgivings growing up.  There are some of his mother’s recipes that we have every year, especially her pies.  Unfortunately many my family’s Thanksgiving recipes haven’t stood the test of time.  But that’s okay, he and I are fine with building our own traditions and memories.  I think it’s one of the things we’re good at.

Happy Thanksgiving all!  I hope it’s the best ever for you!

CORN PUDDING

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 (17-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
3 eggs, beaten

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat.

  2. Add flour, sugar, and salt, stirring until smooth (it will form a heavy roux).

  3. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

  4. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.

  5. Remove from heat, and stir in cream-style corn and sweet corn.

  6. Add beaten eggs to corn mixture, stirring constantly.

  7. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until just barely set.

 

Optional Additions (add after step 6, above):

If desired, omit the 1 tablespoon sugar and add the following:

- Additional 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Ground white or black pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot or scallions
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Other possible additions:

- Diced canned green chilies or roasted red peppers
- 1 cup grated cheese (such as yellow or white sharp cheddar, or jack cheese)

Ronnie’s Car

November 23, 2015

I thought I’d post a picture of one of Ronnie’s cars.    This is one of his Lamborghinis.

 

Lamborghini

Eyes Only For Me – Excerpt.

November 23, 2015

EyesOnlyForMeFS

 

For years, Clayton Potter’s been friends and workout partners with Ronnie. Though Clay is attracted, he’s never come on to Ronnie because, let’s face it, Ronnie only dates women.

When Clay’s father suffers a heart attack, Ronnie, having recently lost his dad, springs into action, driving Clay to the hospital over a hundred miles away. To stay close to Clay’s father, the men share a hotel room near the hospital, but after an emotional day, one thing leads to another, and straight-as-an-arrow Ronnie make a proposal that knocks Clay’s socks off! Just a little something to take the edge off.

Clay responds in a way he’s never considered. After an amazing night together, Clay expects Ronnie to ignore what happened between them and go back to his old life. Ronnie surprises him and seems interested in additional exploration. Though they’re friends, Clay suddenly finds it hard to accept the new Ronnie and suspects that Ronnie will return to his old ways. Maybe they both have a thing or two to learn.

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I changed in the locker room while Ronnie talked to everyone. His big personality was back, and it was good to see. After filling my water bottle, I went up to the mezzanine to the treadmills. I got on one, dropped my phone into one of the cup holders, then started the machine and began my workout. I had a good view of the workout floor, so I watched as the others went through their routines, talking constantly as they did. A few times I saw Ronnie glance up, making the occasional rude gesture and then grinning like a naughty child. I was about to give him one back when my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it.

“Is this Clayton Potter?” I heard a strange voice ask.

“Yes, it is,” I answered, figuring this was some sort of telemarketing call. I made a mental note to check the do-not-call lists.

“I’m Dr. Greenway down at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Your father listed you as next of kin. He was brought in earlier today. I’m afraid he’s had as many as three strokes in the past few hours.”

Hearing the word stroke, I forgot what I was doing or where I was. The machine kept working even as I stopped, and it pushed me off the back. I stumbled and managed to keep from crashing to the floor but ended up in a heap nonetheless as my legs gave out.

“Mr. Potter, are you all right?”

“I don’t know” was the only answer I could form. My head buzzed and my ears rang, hands and legs tingling. “How is he now?”

“Howard is stable at the moment, but he’s slipped into a coma. Part of it is the body’s way of protecting itself. We need to run some more tests to determine the cause of the strokes, and then we may need to perform surgery to try to correct the blockage in his neck. Is it possible for you to get here? We will need permission to perform the surgery. I can do emergency surgery without it, but I would prefer we time this as best we can.”

“Yes. I’ll see about leaving as soon as I can.” I stared at the phone, sitting on the floor while other people began gathering around me. I scanned the faces, people I didn’t know all asking questions that didn’t seem to register. Then Ronnie pushed his way in, and I took a deep breath as the fog over my mind lifted somewhat.

“What happened?”

“It’s my dad,” I told him. Those words galvanized Ronnie into action. He helped me to my feet and grabbed my things from the machine before turning it off.

“What happened to him?” Ronnie asked.

“Stroke,” I answered. “Got to get to Johns Hopkins.”

Ronnie stared into my eyes. “You can’t drive. Not like this.” Even as he said the words, he was already leading me down the steps and toward the locker room. “Change your clothes.” He left me in front of my locker, and I stared at it, forcing my hands to work. I pulled off my gym clothes and got back into the regular ones. By the time I was done, Ronnie was dressed.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“My dad was at Hopkins,” Ronnie told me, and then he snatched up my bag and took me by the arm. My head was clearing, and the feeling was returning in my arms and legs, but I still felt shaky on my feet. He half propelled me toward the door, stopped at the desk briefly, and then we continued outside.

“My car is over there,” I said, but Ronnie guided me to his and somehow managed to get both gym bags in the tiny trunk of the Lamborghini.

“I’m taking you down.” He unlocked the car and lifted the door upward. It felt like I was still almost on the ground once I got in. Ronnie pushed the door down to close it and came around to the driver’s side. As soon as he got in, he started the engine, which roared to life, and within minutes we were out of the lot and entering the freeway.

“You don’t have to do this,” I said, a little belatedly, though I was pleased he thought enough of me to take this much care. Ronnie and I were friends, but he was a very busy man whose time was extremely valuable.

“Of course I do.” Ronnie reached over and patted my leg a few times, then returned his hand to the wheel. “When my dad was in the hospital, you came in all the time, talked to him and Mom.” Ronnie’s voice faltered for a few seconds. “She told me how you used to sit with her and just listen while she spouted all kinds of crap. Her words. She said she needed someone to talk with, and you were there.” Ronnie continued driving as I stared out the window. I’d made the drive from Harrisburg to Baltimore more times than I could count. It had been just my dad and me for a long time.