Every Little Thing He Did Was Magic

Every Little Thing He Did Was Magic

From Sting.com

I’ve had a lifelong crush on Sting…first when he was with the Police and later when he launched himself as a solo artist. His harmonics and lyrics have always fascinated and surprised me. He isn’t afraid to experiment with sound and rhythms. Some of his boldest work has been his least acclaimed, but they’ve been CD I listen to over and over and over again.

Here are two of my favorites.

Songs From The Labyrinth was performed on a lute. Songs that told a story of life and love in the 16th Century. Tales of courtly love, and allegiance and intrigue.

An album dedicated to Sting’s favorite season, according to his website. “If On a Winter’s Night… presents an arc of songs that conjures the season of spirits, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey.” Soul Cake on this album is maybe my favorite.

I still remember when the Police hit it big. Their music was revolutionary (Who can forget Roxanne or Message In A Bottle), at least to my way of thinking. And I know it made for hours and hours of great listening. Even still today.

I know I listened to If On A Winter Night on repeat while writing Hate, the 5th book in my Goddesses of Delphi series. Even though it wasn’t Christmas time. The haunting, soulful melodies helped set the tone for me on several crucial scenes. BTW – Hate releases today. I probably should have dedicated the book to Sting. LOL

What Was I Thinking

What Was I Thinking

I recently went back to work after being a stay at home writer for two years. I love writing, but  I worried about doing nothing but pounding away on my keyboard day after day. Some days I didn’t leave the house. I felt I never had anything interesting (or not writing related) to say to my husband.
I didn’t want to become one-dimensional (Flat Stanley might have gotten a new girlfriend in Flat Gemma). So I asked for my old job at the health club back. My boss said yes immediately, and that part-time would be perfect. 15-20 hours a week, I thought. Perfect.

Except …

The company was sold, and thanks to my steal-trap mind, I know a lot more about the old system than most of my co-workers (I know all the secrets, and all the best hiding spots). I am unable to get my behind out of the office once I hit the 4-hour threshold. It’s my goal every day, but if you multiply my 4 hours by 2, that’s how much I’m working. Each and every day.

So I try to sneak in writing time when I can. Up at 5 AM to write, writing at night after dinner. Doing my social media stuff when I can. Grocery shopping at night (a task I hate worst than cleaning the toilets, but we won’t be discussing my lack of time for cleaning the house).

I know there is a thing called work/life balance, but my teeter-totter is definitely stuck on the work side of things. But, with my usual Pollyanna attitude, I’m just going to leave a working song that always gives me happy feet.

I’m Just A Nerdy Girl, Living In A Nerdy World

I’m Just A Nerdy Girl, Living In A Nerdy World

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m a total geek about all things Sci-Fi. Star Trek, Star Wars, doesn’t really matter (except for an enduring adoration for Chris Pine and Karl Urban in the new incarnation of Star Trek). If the action takes place in space, the final frontier, I’m watching it. And Guardians Of The Galaxy? Oh yeah. I’m on it. One of my all time favorites is FireFly.

There is something so intriguing about this series. I love the characters, the interaction, the fact that it seems to take place right here on Earth, yet we know if doesn’t. I didn’t know about the series until after I’d watched the spin-off movie, Serenity. I fell in love with the entire premise, and was hooked. If an episode of FireFly is on, I’m sitting down with popcorn to watch it.
True story – recently, we converted out Customer Management Software where I work. I didn’t have log-on credentials, so my supervisor told me to use his. He recited it, and it included the word serenity. He explained it was his favorite word and his mantra. I told him I figured it was a play on FireFly. His jaw dropped and when he recovered from the shock, he told me his regard for me just skyrocketed. We bonded over a sci-fi reference.

Are you nerdy like me? Do you park it on the couch to watch a favorite futuristic show? Please, don’t let me be the only nerdy girl living in a nerdy world.

Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

I’ve never written a story for a boxed set, so this was a novel experience for me. My book, The Wedding Gift is one of 20 in the Wedding Dreams Boxed Set, releasing April 18. 3000 pages of sweet to spicy tales of nuptial bliss, and sometime, not so blissful.

My story is about Gage Cassidy, a wounded warrior, his fiance, Elle Sweeney, and a marvelous goggle-wearing therapy dog named Sigmund. I hope you enjoy this little taste…

“What I don’t understand is why he’s pushing me away.” Elle Sweeney shoved her phone in her back pocket and bent to straighten the kindergarten kid-sized chairs. She worked her dark blond curls into a ponytail as she used her hip to shove a pint-sized desk back into an orderly row.

School had let out for the summer two hours ago and her room was in disarray. Elle had conducted a cute little awards ceremony and she’d accepted a bazillion hugs from her students.

In the now quiet classroom, she had only her aide, Sally, and a burgeoning sense of helplessness and frustration to keep her company. She’d texted Gage the second the kids and their parents had scattered, and, now, an hour later, it was apparent he was ignoring her.

God, she’d been so happy to see him. The drive to the airport in Denver had passed in a blur of eagerness and anticipation. He’d requested only she meet him, instead of his entire family making the trip. And his mom and dad had agreed.

The sight of him riding the escalator to baggage claim had finally caused the tears to spill over. Rugged, handsome, weary, but looking so damn good in his BDUs. It was only after he’d swept her up in a hug she realized how gaunt he’d become. He’d buried his face in her neck for several long minutes, hiding his tears against her skin. She hadn’t bothered to hide hers.

Their kiss was like a recreation of the very first time he’d kissed her. Tentative, sweet. It felt like coming home. Every inch of her body tingled when he’d wrapped her in his arms for the first time in a year. Deployment was hell, but oh, God…that first kiss. They’d spent the night in Denver, in a luxury suite she’d been saving for months to pay for. They’d checked in early to the knowing smile of the desk clerk. And for a time, life had been rosy, filled with pent-up passion and words of love. Until he’d rolled to his side and fell into a fitful sleep without…

The nightmares began that night. His moans had jerked her awake and she’d held him tight while his heart slowed and he withdrew into himself. He’d refused to talk about it. She had no experience dealing with returning warriors, so other than whispering words of love, she didn’t know how to calm him. How to help him reclaim the funny, happy man he’d been before he left for war.

“Is he seeing someone?” Sally Gagnon asked. At fifty-something, Sally had started working in Elle’s classroom as an aide, helping with whatever was needed for a class of twenty kindergartners.

“No. My dad is standing by, ready to help, but Gage is uncomfortable even talking about setting an appointment.”

“Well, I guess I can understand that. But I’d bet your dad would remain impartial.”

“He should be able to, but can you imagine talking to your future father-in-law about intimacy issues brought about by traumatic wartime experiences?” Heat flashed up Elle’s chest, neck, and face. The curse of being pale. Those blushes were unconquerable. She couldn’t believe she’d said anything to Sally. But frustration was getting the better of her. They’d had a spectacular physical relationship before he’d shipped out. But in the month he’d been home, they’d only made love three times. Each time had left her…lonely.

Sally shuddered then laughed. “I see your point. Does Gage have a dog?”

That was an odd question. Elle tipped her head to the side. “Cricket passed a year before Gage was deployed. He hasn’t had the heart to get a new dog.”

He’d loved that old Black Lab so damn much. He’d been devastated when the vet had told him Cricket had cancer. His hand had shook as he signed the consent forms to euthanize his pet. More than a pet, really. Cricket had been his best friend, other than Elle. He’d sat, his back to the wall, with the seventy-pound dog on his lap as Cricket breathed his last.

Gage had broken down as soon as they’d left the vet’s office. They’d driven to the dog park Crick had loved. They sat silently on a bench, watching other dogs playing with their humans. Gage had hurled the dog’s leash into the small pond, then kicked a tree hard enough to rake bark from the trunk. Thankfully, Gage had been wearing the steel-toed boots required for his job at the mine.

It had been the first time she’d seen him so upset. But not the last. Normally, Gage was even-keeled, but in the month or so he’d been home, he’d become more and more fidgety and out of control. He tried to hide it from her by constantly heading to the river trail to jog for hours. He’d come home too exhausted for words. Just thinking about it now made her eyes sting and ache with unshed grief.

“Listen, my daughter has been training dogs for stroke and cardiac patients,” Sally offered. “She told me last week she was fostering a shepherd-boxer mix that had been trained for PTSD victims. Have you heard anything about therapy dogs? Is that something your dad could recommend?”

“I haven’t heard of them. Dad’s never mentioned them. But I haven’t really talked to him about Gage’s problem. Somehow, it feels disloyal.”

Sally laid her hand on Elle’s forearm. “Grab your purse. I’m going to introduce you to Emily and Sigmund. Men are basically boys at heart. And what boy doesn’t want a dog?”

This set is on preorder right now for 99¢. You can buy it at all these retailers.

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsKobo

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsiBooks

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsGP

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsNook
Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsAmazon

By the way – The authors of Wedding Dreams are sponsoring a great giveaway. You can enter for a chance to win an iPad mini by clicking this link 

 

Popcorn has a day!

Popcorn has a day!

Today in my inbox I received a proclamation from the lovely folks at National Day Calendar. It’s National Popcorn Day. Popcorn has its very own day. And rightly so.

Hand to heart, popcorn is the one food I simply could not give up. I can resist (who am I kidding?). I even defriended it for a while, but I will always come crawling back to it. My favorite is movie theater popcorn, followed by the microwave stuff. Pop a bag of that salty, fluffy goodness and I’m eating the entire thing. Those 100 calorie snack bags are for underachievers.

I’m not a purist, although I do prefer my popcorn with just salt (definitely not a fan of anything sweet). In college, I had an air popper and my roommates and I would add brewers yeast or parmesan cheese to the snack. But recently, I’ve discovered several new flavors – Cilantro Lime, Garlic and Herb to name two.

Today I want to share a recipe I discovered from Shutterbean on Pinterest for Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn.

Photo courtesy of Shutterbean.com

SOUR CREAM & ONION POPCORN

makes enough for 2-4

recipe slightly adapted from Seriously Delish

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons powdered buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1  teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place a 3 quart saucepan (or Whirley Pop) over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and popcorn kernels to the pan. Close the lid and  move pot back and forth (or whirl around!) on the stove and pop the popcorn until you start to hear the popping slow down. Remove from the stove. Put popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. (I cheat and use lite microwave popcorn.)

Drizzle the popcorn with olive oil and toss it well to coat. In small bowl, whisk together dill, cheese, buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour it over the popcorn and toss the popcorn evenly to coat it in the mixture. Taste the popcorn and season it additionally if needed.

* If you cannot find powdered buttermilk for this recipe, powdered milk can be used in a pinch. You might need to adjust to the salt level as the powdered milk is slightly sweeter and less tangy than the buttermilk.

Enjoy!

A New, Healthier Me

A New, Healthier Me

I’ve recently lost quite a bit of weight (Let’s talk again in six months to see if I’ve kept it off, okay?) and I managed the task by dieting and some occasional exercise. It seemed to take forever, so you can bet I’m going to go out of my way to try to keep it off. But along comes Autumn, a season when I typically want to get in my kitchen and cook up all the yummy comfort-style foods that I am nostalgic for. Meatloaf, lasagne, chicken and dumplings, homemade mac and cheese. Exactly the kinds of foods that adds the pounds on in the past.

So, I’ve started a new recipe file and I’ve titled it Keeping The Pounds Off (or Do Not Put That In Your Mouth). Every meal is an adventure in trying to find ways to make a recipe healthier, but still ensure the taste brings back good memories.

Recently, I tried a recipe for Healthier Chicken Pot Pie from AllRecipes and was pleasantly surprised. It was easy and tasty. Here’s a picture of the final product. I’ve copied the recipe for you below. If you try it, I hope it brings back memories of family meals and fall.

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery in a saucepan. Cover with water. Boil until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and vegetables are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  3. Cook and stir onions in butter in a saucepan over medium heat, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken mixture in bottom pie crust; pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Gemma Sig-1

Just What Will Eclectic Tastes Get You?

Just What Will Eclectic Tastes Get You?

To say my viewing choices are eclectic might be an understatement. My tastes are all over the place. On any given day, I might tune into a PBS Masterpiece show, like Poldark (currently one of my favorites). Of course, that comes on Sunday nights, which is the same night as my other favorite, The Walking Dead.

Vastly different, right? Except both shows deal with survival in one form or the other.

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In Poldark, the characters are fighting for their lifestyle, to become successful in the copper mines that are their legacies.

In The Walking Dead, they are simply fighting for their lives. But both shows pit the characters against more powerful enemies.

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Anyway you look at it, survival is the key.

And the same holds true for my other favorite obsession; any and all of the franchises of Bravo TV’s Real Housewives. However, on those programs, survival isn’t always a given!

Gemma Sig-1

Just a taste of Son of Thunder

Just a taste of Son of Thunder

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“Son of Thunder,” its voice reverberated throughout the room—low, guttural, almost a growl. “We knew you would come.”

Jord raised his sword in readiness.

The giant chuckled.

“You are no longer in the safety of your university, Jord Thorson.”

The giant raised its axe to strike.

“And you are no longer in Jotunheim,” Jord answered as he danced back from the giant’s swing, then countered with a swipe of his sword.

“There is no need to endanger the mortal. Surrender yourself and the belt to me,” the giant grunted, batting aside the sword with its axe.

The mortal?

Now Meghan knew she was dreaming. She’d probably laid her head on her desk for just a moment and fallen asleep. It had been a long, trying day. Any moment now she’d wake up and the real Jord Thorson, the old, gray-haired scholar, would stop by and tell her the strange belt was all just a hoax. It was too bad, she was becoming quite fond of the Fabio-like, sword-wielding college professor she’d dreamed up. Not the Fabio of today, but the Fabio of the past, when he really was Fabio . . . lous.

“I don’t think so,” Fabio-Jord said. He charged at the giant. The big creature swung its axe, but Jord’s sword deflected the blow. Meghan watched in fascination as the man and the giant fought their battle with archaic weapons in the accessioning room of her museum.

Well, if this was all a dream, she might as well enjoy it. The way Jord’s body moved—fluidly dodging and striking at the giant. Watching this man move was a slice of sensual heaven.

 

Son of Thunder is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Son-Thunder-Heavenly-Series-ebook/dp/B00BJ64GPY

 

Steve

Fine Dining in Paris

Fine Dining in Paris

Nope, I’ve never been to Paris, but I’ve visited it many times in my head while reading romances set there, and someday I’d love to visit. Nothing goes together better than food and romance, and Paris is the most romantic city in the world.

So I’ve done a bit of research, because when I do go, I want to sample the best in French Cuisine.

I’m using TripAdvisor.com’s list of top 10 Best Paris Restaurants.

The first stop on our culinary tour of Paris is Epicure.

Can I just say…yum.

But save some room because we’re moving on to number 2 on our list: Cezembre.

Reviewers call it Delicious, Simply Remarkable, An Amazing Discovery. And they rave about the food.

AAA

Still hungry?

Our third stop is at Le Clos Y

One excited reviewer call this the “Best Meal In Paris.

AABAre we having fun yet?

Well, I’m full, but if you’d like the rest of the list go to: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g187147-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Then, um, go to Paris!!!

Steve

Food Trucks – Yum.

Food Trucks – Yum.

This summer in my town (Sheboygan, Wi) we’ve got a new Monday night attraction.

Food Trucks!

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Each Monday night about a dozen or so food trucks show up at one of the local parks. There’s also a DJ offering music.

People bring chairs or blankets and the place really rocks.

College students sitting in the park

A picnic in the park and you don’t have to pack anything.

And the food? Amazing.

I great variety of ethnic foods, burgers, all-American favorites, and deserts to choose from, and best of all, everyone gets what they want. We arrive, set up our chairs and spread out to look for whatever catches our eye.

Fun!

Do you have food trucks in your town?

Let me know in the comments below.

Steve