Check out my fiction - http://www.jaletac.com
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gates of Atlantis - fun books for kids




We are excited to announce the amazing sale of THE GATES OF ATLANTIS COMPLETE COLLECTION on eBook. You can get this fantastic middle-grade series for just $0.99 (regularly $19.99). This sale price will available December 29th through January 12th. To help celebrate such a sale the Atlantis authors are giving away a Kindle to one lucky winner. 

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

About THE GATES OF ATLANTIS:
Centuries ago the great city of Atlantis had to be hidden from humans. Now magically buried in the depths of the ocean, it is the source of all magic. All is well in the magical world…until the leaders of Atlantis listen to the whims of a mad man.

A group of teens set out on their own unique quests to fight for the world they love. They face dangers they didn’t know existed. As they battle their way through mysterious tunnels and secrets of the ancient world, they find themselves in a race against time. One by one, the mad man will shut down the Gates of Atlantis and destroy the magic. Can these unlikely heroes stop him before it’s too late?

Book 1: BANSHEE AT THE GATE, by Wendy Knight: Half-human, half-banshee Seven loves her life with her awesome brother Haran and her dad while delivering souls safely to death...until Death comes calling for Haran.

Book 2: GUARDIANS OF THE GATES, by Laura D. Bastian: Mermaid Talia wants to be a Guardian. Exander wants to leave Atlantis and explore the upper world. An accident at one of the gates gives them both their chance, but they also make a startling discovery—someone is destroying the gates.

Book 3: SECRETS OF THE MINE, by Juli Caldwell: Adam believes in myths and magic. Clancy doesn’t. Two normal kids’ lives change when they embark on the adventure of a lifetime on the back of a sea kelpie...if only they can get away from the strange creatures that are determined to stop them.

Book 4: MAGICIANS OF THE DEEP, by Jaclyn Weist: A trip to Ireland changes Colin’s life when a bite from a mysterious fish awakens unlimited knowledge and dormant magical powers. He knows exactly how to save a magical world, but can he get there before it’s too late?

Book 5: MADNESS BEHIND THE THRONE, by J.R. Simmons: Phoibos, bullied and taunted by other kids, believes something is wrong with Atlantis. His charm with the nobility and skill as warrior as he grows make him believe nothing will stop his quest to purge Atlantis from everything he finds impure.

Book 6: BATTLE FOR ACROPOLIS, by Mikey Brooks: Talon keeps getting in trouble. It’s not his fault things around him randomly burst into flame, but he’s not sticking around to find out what happens next. When foster sister Hattie encourages him to run, they make a break for it, only to find an unexpected destiny awaiting them in Atlantis. They just have to get there first. When they do, they find a lot of help. Characters from all the previous books appear to help fight Phoibos. These unlikely heroes risk it all to save the magic and fight for Atlantis.


Where to get the series on eBook:





The GIVEAWAY!
One lucky winner will be selected to win a Kindle, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (Retail price of $79.99). A winner will be selected from those living within the continental United States. The winner will be announced January 13th and they will be notified via email to provide a valid mailing address. Good luck to all the entries and thank you for helping us share the news about this awesome series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 22, 2014

Adventures without Harvey

We decided to run away for Christmas, just me and the hubby and our three youngest kids. The drive to San Diego was much too long (almost 2 days, but that's because we took detours and lots of potty stops) but I can sit here in my hotel room and hear the ocean roar. We can see it from our balconies. Yep, balconies. Three of them in our hotel suite. This place is almost more like an apartment than a hotel room. Loads of charm, if you like retro 50s style.

More updates will come. With pictures once we get them. But for now, here's a link to the website for our hotel - the La Jolla Cove Suites.
http://lajollacove.com/our-hotel/suites/

Monday, December 15, 2014

Finals Week Looms...

Still on hiatus from blogging. But since it's Christmas season, here's a great carol to enjoy:


Thursday, December 11, 2014

A class assignment - a mindmap showing how evaluation relates to writing a novel. Enjoy!


Monday, December 1, 2014

New Book Release - Obsidian Threads

Charlie Pulsipher is one of my online writing friends. I'm excited to announce his new book - Obsidian Threads.


Kaden knew using the wormholes would be dangerous. Aren knew her empathic gift could cause problems. Neither knew understood how close to destroying reality they would come.

Rho has awakened. Its acolytes will tear worlds apart to release their deity from its prison. Any hope of Rho's defeat lies with two people lost in a strange universe. Kaden and Aren must learn to harness all their unique gifts if they are to rival the god of darkness reborn.

They will not fight alone. A brilliant geneticist, a furry dwaro, two less than friendly elves, dragons, and a spunky red-haired computer stand with them. But if Kaden and Aren fail to reach their full potential, all of reality will be devoured until nothing remains but Rho.


Obsidian Threads (book 2) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q6YMEBW

The Crystal Bridge (book 1) and free for the week of the launch on Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAHEMOK/


Author Bio: Charlie Pulsipher is a were-hamster and lemur enthusiast living in Southern Utah with his lovely wife and neurotic dog. He writes sci-fi and fantasy, and sometimes both at the same time. He’s obsessed with surviving the inevitable zombie-pocalypse. It’s coming. Tell your friends.

He spends his time away from the keyboard hiking and camping in stunning Southern Utah. He also enjoys woodworking, painting, drawing, and pretending to have super powers.

He neglects his twitter account. 

His velociraptor impression is worth seeing. Ask him to show you. It just may be the coolest thing about him.


Links to author social media sites: 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Massaman Curry

I made this by mistake. Honest. It started out as Chicken Satay, but by the time I was done with it, it was Massaman Curry. And very tasty. I think curry is the watchagot stew of India, just like minestrone is the watchagot stew of Italy. Feel free to mix this up however you want, the sauce is what makes it massaman curry.

Massaman Curry

Sauce:
3 T. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. lime juice
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. curry powder (use this one if you like)
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 t. jalapeno hot sauce, or tabasco sauce

Mix everything, beat with a whisk until smooth.

Curry:
3 chicken breasts, about 2/3 lb., cut into bite-size chunks
1 c. thin sliced zucchini
1/2 c. finely diced sweet bell peppers
1 c. cooked acorn squash

Cook chicken in a large frying pan until no longer pink. Pour sauce over chicken. Stir in zucchini, peppers, and squash. Cook and stir until hot through. Serve over rice.

Feel free to swap out the vegetables or add others such as sliced carrots, cubed potatoes, sliced onions, sliced daikon, or whatever you have on hand that needs used. Any cooked veggies would work in this dish.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Curry Powder, aka Garam Masala

This is easier than I thought it would be and it tastes so much better than the commercial curry powder. I've heard recipes where you are supposed to buy all the spices whole and toast them and grind them yourself and it sounds way too complicated for me. For this recipe, some of the spices are whole because that's how they come, but I don't worry about toasting them. I grind them up in a mini food processor then stir in the powdered spices. It still tastes great.

The best part is that you can change the proportions and spices to suit your personal taste. This is my new favorite spice mix. Use it just like you would curry powder.

Garam Masala/Curry Powder

1 T cumin, ground
2 t. cardamom, ground or whole
1 T. black pepper, ground
1 t. fennel seeds
1 t. mustard powder
1/2 t. cloves, whole
1 t. chili powder
2 T. turmeric
Dash allspice
1 t. paprika
1/4 t. nutmeg, ground
1/2 t. cinnamon, ground
1 t. garlic powder
2 t. ginger, ground


Grind fennel seeds and cloves. Add spices. Mix well. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Giveaway Time!

And going on vacation time. At least from the blog. Trying to keep up with this and my classes is killing me this semester. I'll post when I can, but don't count on a schedule for a few months. If you have recipe requests, please send me a message or leave a comment and I'll see what I can do for you. If you want to guest post, let me know.

That said, here's the giveaway I promised last month. Just in time for Christmas! I'm giving away a paperback of your choice from my pile plus the ebook of your choice. I'll even sign the paperback and personalize it for whoever you want. For FREE!

Here's the list of titles to choose from:
Paperbacks
Any from the Fall of the Altairan Empire series (books 1-11)
Dark Dancer
Soul Windows
Brain Candy
Wandering Weeds: Tales of Rabid Vegetation (anthology collection where plants are the bad guys)
Wretched Moments (really disturbing yet silly anthology)
Leather, Denim, and Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter (monster hunter anthology)
How the West was Wicked (weird western horror anthology)
Rotting Tales (zombie anthology, 1/2 silly 1/2 terrifying)

Ebooks
Any from the Fall of the Altairan Empire series (books 1-11)
Dark Dancer
Soul Windows
Brain Candy
Wandering Weeds: Tales of Rabid Vegetation (anthology collection where plants are the bad guys)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Almond Vanilla Bread Pudding (Milk-free)

This is a variation on my bread pudding recipe. It turned out really really tasty. Even my picky child devoured it.

Almond Vanilla Bread Pudding (Dairy-free!)

1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 loaf of store-bakery French bread that was forgotten and dried out until it flaked crunchy bits when you touch it
3 eggs
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 T. softened butter
3 c. vanilla almond milk

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar, set aside. Cut the French bread into cubes about 3/4-1 inch on a side. Spray a large pie pan or 9x13 cake pan. Spread the bread cubes into the pan. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until mixed up, like for scrambled eggs. Add the brown sugar and butter. Mix until smooth. Stir in the almond milk. Beat smooth.

Carefully pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread cubes.

Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes, until the custard is set but not dry. It will be gooey and wet in the bottom. Let the bread pudding cool for 30 minutes to help it set up more and the bread to absorb more of the milk. Refrigerate it overnight for the best results.

You can serve it cold, but it's best warmed up in the microwave. It comes out creamy, more like a pudding or custard than bread.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Looking for Stories?

I've signed up on a new site - QuarterReads

Lots of short, fun stories on the site. You can sample them first, then if you're interested, you can buy the rest of the story for just a few pennies. Authors get paid based on the number of reads their stories get. Right now, you can get 40 reads (or stories) for $10.

It's worth a look, which is free to try. So go and see what fun things you can find. I'll be posting more of my short shorts there as I get them written.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tuna Cakes

My kids mostly hate fish. They don't like it. They won't eat it. Except for certain types like particular brands of fish sticks. And these tuna cakes.

They're fast and easy to make. They don't have any wheat or milk ingredients, so everyone can eat them. They're also really good with the tartar sauce recipe I posted last week.

Tuna Cakes

2 cans tuna packed in water, drained
2 c. mashed potatoes
2 T. chopped pickles or pickle relish
2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dill weed
1/2 t. black pepper
2 eggs

Mix everything together. Heat 1 T. oil in a non-stick frying pan. Scoop out the mixture 1/4 c. at a time into the frying pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping carefully. Cakes should be golden brown when done.

Serve hot with tartar sauce.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Fun

I'm home with a stupid cold, snorking into tissues and watching Netflix and doing homework. If only something good was on the TV. I'm watching The Tomorrow People, Ghost Whisperer, and various nature documentaries. Way too much teen angst in TTP, too much girly crap in GW, and too much voiceover narration in the nature documentaries.

What have you found on Netflix that's any good? The best comment will win a free ebook of your choice from my published list. One other commenter, chosen at random, will win a random prize.

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for Brain Candy. That contest ends on Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tartar Sauce

Running behind this week. Here's a quick sauce for you that goes great with fish.

Tartar Sauce

1 c. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. dried dill weed
1/4 c. dill pickles or spicy pickles, chopped small (We love Famous Dave's Devil Spit Pickles, but only a couple of slices. I used home-made mustard pickles for the rest.)

Stir everything together and let it sit for about half an hour. Serve with fish sticks or other fish. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Giveaway Time!

Who's up for a giveaway? How about a fun silly scary story collection? All righty then. One ebook copy of Brain Candy coming up to one lucky winner.

Here's the links to buy it:

Kindle

All other ebook formats

And just for Halloween, I'm putting it on sale until the end of October for only 99 cents!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

We had watchagot stew again this week. For those who don't know, this is the soup where someone asks, "What's for dinner?" and the answer is, "I don't know. What cha got?" You then open the fridge and see what you got. That gets thrown together in a pot to make watchagot stew. Get it? Got it. Good. (Bonus points if you get the movie reference.)

We have a lot of old food storage items in our basement right now. Long story, but we inherited most of it. Some of it is ours that we just forgot about because it got stored in the wrong closet. It's amazing what you discover when you clean out your basement. My husband found a ten bean mix that needed used, so he dumped 3-4 c. of dried beans in a crockpot and soaked them overnight, then cooked them the next day. He was staring at the beans and wondering what to do with them. Plain beans are not very tasty. So we dressed them up with what we had. It turned out pretty tasty.

Watchagot Stew, Bean Style

3-4 c. dried beans, any variety (lima, pinto, black, red, kidney, garbanzo, lentils, split peas, etc.)
6 c. water
1 t. salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1/4 onion soup mix
5 tomatoes, chopped small
1 bell pepper, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
2 c. ham, chopped
4 carrots, sliced

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse. Add enough water to cover beans. Cook on low in a crockpot for 6 hours, until mostly done.

Add in everything else plus whatever else you have laying around that needs used that smells like it would go with the other flavors, like zucchini or green beans or corn. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Turn to low and hold for as long as needed.

Makes about 3 quarts of soup.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Meteorite Basics

From space.com - thank goodness it's only a painting!
Meteors. Rocks that fall from space. Who doesn't love a space rock? Okay, I'm weird. I admit that. But I do find meteors fascinating and I'd love to share some of my fascination with you.

Where do they come from?
The easy answer is: Outer space. But where in outer space?
Meteorites come in three basic types: iron, stony iron, and stony. There are more technical terms for them and they are further classified, but for now, these three will work. (If you want to know more, check out this website.)

Iron meteorites are by far the easiest to identify. They are an iron and nickel mix, but mostly iron. Anytime geologists or meteorite hunters find a blob of metal, especially one that shows crystalline structure, they know they've found a meteorite.
Stony iron meteorites are a little more tricky to spot. They're a mix of iron-nickel and silicate minerals, like clay. Stony meteorites are very difficult to find unless you can track them falling. They're very similar to rocks you'd find on the surface of Earth. Surprisingly, a lot of stony and stony-iron meteorites contain quite a bit of water and carbon compounds. If you remember news stories from quite a few years ago, astronomers were surprised to find amino acids, basic building blocks of life, present in meteors and comets. These compounds are sometimes called "organics", not because they were created by life processes, but because they are carbon-oxygen-hydrogen long-chain molecules that are the same as those produced by life processes. Things like methane and ammonia.

So what would they look like if you analyzed them in a spectrometer? You'd get a readout of the basic chemical concentrations of different elements. Take a look at the graph halfway down this page. See how the concentrations of silicates (SiO2) are different for meteors from Mars, the moon, or other known asteroids? That's one way we can tell they are meteorites and not Earth rocks.

Back to the question of where they come from. Chemical composition will give us a clue to the original body. Most meteorites come from asteroids, although we do have some from the moon and Mars. Different asteroids have different compositions but they are still pretty similar to each other. All of these have minerals in different proportions than rocks from Earth.

From space.com - a Martian meteorite
The other way we find out where meteors come from is to find our how old they are. Age is usually determined by using radio-isotope dating techniques. If you've heard of carbon-14 dating, that's the process we're talking about, except with space rocks, scientists usually use rubidium-strontium because it has a much longer half-life. (This site has a great experiment to illustrate what a half-life is. Basically, it is the amount of time needed for half of the radioactive atoms to decay to non-radioactive atoms.) When a rock is melted, it resets this clock. So when a volcano erupts and the lava cools, if we found the age of those rocks, it would be essentially zero.

Our solar system formed about 4.56 billion years ago. Meteorites from the asteroid belt are all about that age. Rocks from Mars are about 1.5-4.5 billion years old. Rocks from the moon are about 3.3-4.4 billion years old. The oldest rock on Earth is about 4.37 billion years old. Most of the rocks on Earth are much younger because Earth is so dynamic and is constantly recycling rocks. Mars and the moon are pretty much dead, geologically speaking. Not much is happening with erosion or renewal of the surface on those bodies.

What would you think if we found a meteor that was dated at 4.89 billion years old? Or what if it gave an age of 6 or 7 billion years? It most likely came from outside our solar system, or it was a chunk of pre-solar system space dust that survived the formation of the sun and planets and other bodies. Whatever it might be, a rock that old would be an incredible find.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Tossed Salad

Yeah, this is an easy one. But it's been that kind of week. What do you like in your salad? This is one of my favorite combos.

Tossed Salad

4 c. shredded greens - leaf lettuce, spinach, spring mix, etc.
1 D'Anjou pear, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 c. red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. sliced radishes or daikon
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/4 c. fried onion topping or croutons, optional

Toss greens in a bowl. Sprinkle pear, pepper, radishes, almonds, and cheese over the top. Drizzle the dressing over everything. Serves 2-4 people.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Launch - Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward

Welcome to the book tour for Gone for a Soldier by Marsha Ward!

Rulon Owen loves two things more than life---his country and Mary Hilbrands.
When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it home to his wife and the son he's never seen.
Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won't come home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness and the unknown future ahead.
Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not all enemies wear the Union blue.

AUTHOR BIO

Marsha Ward was born in the sleepy little town of Phoenix, Arizona, in the southwestern United States; and grew up with chickens, citrus trees, and lots of room to roam. She became a storyteller at an early age, regaling her neighborhood friends with her fanciful tales during after-school snacks. Her love of the 19th Century Western era was reinforced by visits to her cousins on their ranch, and listening to her father's stories of homesteading in Old Mexico and in the southern part of Arizona.

Over the years, Marsha became an award-winning poet, writer and editor, with over 900 pieces of published work, including her acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, and a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West. A workshop presenter and writing teacher, Marsha makes her home in a tiny forest hamlet in Arizona. When she is not writing, she loves to spoil her grandchildren, travel, give talks, meet readers, and sign books. Visit her at either her website or one of her blogs! 

marshaward.com
http://charactersinmarshashead.blogspot.com/

Buy links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the rest of the tour -

October 9 www.saslack.com

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Sausage Apple & Sweet Potato Stuffing Casserole

I can't wait to eat this one tonight. It smells so good putting it together. So if you're looking for a way to eat stuffing as the main dish and get away with it, try this version.

Sausage, Apple, & Sweet Potato Stuffing Casserole

1/2 lb pork sausage
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 c. raw sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 apple, chopped into small pieces
1 6-8 serving size packet of cornbread stuffing mix (or your favorite flavor)
Optional: 1/4 c. chopped mushrooms, 1/4 c. chopped celery, or your favorite add-in

Brown sausage and onions in frying pan until cooked. Toss with sweet potato and apple. Stir in stuffing mix and any other add-ins you want. Add just enough water to moisten the stuffing. Toss together then spoon into a covered casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes, until sweet potatoes and apples are cooked.

Serve as the main dish.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Release - Jabberwocky by Daniel Coleman

Check out this new release - it sounds very intriguing...

How can a boy succeed where an army has failed? 

Tjaden, a young man who aspires to be an Elite soldier, blames himself when Elora’s beautiful face is disfigured by a bandersnatch. Elora hides behind her scars, feeling unlovable in a world that only confirms her doubts. 

Before Tjaden has a chance to convince her that scars don’t matter, an even more terrifying monster comes between them—the Jabberwock. 


If the secrets of the vorpal sword fail, so will Tjaden.

Buy it now for Kindle! Also available in paperback.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Apple Corn Bread Stuffing

It's that time of year again. You guessed it -- Stuffing season!! Wait, that's not a real season? It's Thanksgiving and holiday season and I'm early? Too bad. Thanksgiving exists so you can eat stuffing. And pie.

I love stuffing, if you can't tell. So when I realized I had several packages of stuffing mix in my basement, I was ecstatic. Not like this:

More like this:

Yep. That's me, jumping for joy over getting to eat stuffing again. I couldn't wait until November. Or even October. So here's a fun version of stuffing for you to try.

Apple Corn Bread Stuffing

1 pouch Mrs. Cubbison's Corn Bread Stuffing Mix (or use your favorite corn bread mix - a 6-8 serving pouch is about the right size)
1 T. butter
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/3 c. onion, chopped
1 c. applesauce
1 t. dried marjoram
water as needed

Put dry stuffing mix into a 2-quart crockpot.
Heat butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until it's sizzling and starting to wilt. Add the apple. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add applesauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until everything is hot.
Add hot fruit mixture to stuffing mix in crockpot. Add marjoram. Stir gently until stuffing mix is moistened. Add more water if it's too dry. You want it nicely moist without being soggy or gummy.
Cover and cook on high for 45-90 minutes. Turn to low or warm and let it sit until the rest of the meal is ready to serve. Great with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy. Or on its own. Totally on its own.
Excuse me while I wipe drool now...

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Anthology - The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology

This is a guest post. Check out the anthology and the related books!


If you read The Actuator: Fractured Earth by James Wymore and Aiden James (and you should have, trust me!), then you might have wondered how the rest of the world reacted to The Actuation--the event that changed the world into different parts based on the imaginations of the Machine Monks. Sixteen different authors have come together to answer that question in the Borderlands Anthology, available from Curiosity Quills Press on September 11th.

You can add The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology to your Goodreads list or purchase your copy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble September 11th. Want to be part of the tour or to review? Sign up here!



When the Actuator breaks the earth into a patchwork of altered realities, the remaining Machine Monks begin looking for the Keys to put it back. In the meantime, everyone in the world has been transformed without knowing why. This collection tells about some of the people struggling to deal with the change.

In “Remembering Emily,” Sara Wolf brings us a tale describing the horror of a world split by the Actuator. Daniel’s girlfriend, Emily, is in danger in some faraway place. Worse, she might forget Daniel before he can reach her. Fighting against the Actuator’s attempts to enforce a new reality to block him, he must find a way to rescue Emily before it’s too late.

About Sara: Sara Wolf is a third-year honors student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, pursing a degree in English. Besides creative writing, Sara also enjoys event planning, and is actively involved in student government at her university, alongside being a Writing Tutor. Sara plans to continue writing, and to work in the book editing and publishing industry after graduation.


Matthew Cox explores Cyberpunked China in "Stolen Orchid,” where a man finds his wife has become a ghost due to the Actuator's powerful reach. His only hope of saving her is to cross the border with a mobster bearing down, facing precarious fate in an unfamiliar realm.

About Matthew: Born in a little town known as South Amboy, New Jersey, in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
In “The Blackbird’s Tale,” Dan Willis relates the plight of a Machine Monk named David, who works his way through obstacles to reach Chicago. Why? To find an Actuator Key—one that takes the form of a small bird statue.

About Dan: Dan wrote his first work of fiction at the tender age of ten and has been creating fantastic tales ever since. He’s used his talents working in the board game and video game industries, as well as advertising, and web design. Recently he wrote for the long-running DragonLance Series and under their Young Adult brand, DragonLance: The New Adventures. Currently, he working on a Steampunk Civil War series entitled Dragons of the Confederacy with NYT best-selling author, Tracy Hickman. Dan lives in Utah with his wife and four children.

Nathan Yocum explores the plight of Oren Smith Wessely as a man with no past, trapped in the twisted, kaleidoscopic realm of steampunk Arizona in “Dream Journal.” Dark dreams haunt Oren’s nights…but what happens when those dreams suddenly come to life? Certainly nothing good.

About Nathan: Nathan L. Yocum is an author, teacher, and entrepreneur living on the Big Island of Hawai’i. His novels, The Zona, Automatic Woman, and The Strong Brain are all available through Curiosity Quills. Nathan has short stories featured in CQ Primetime, CQ After Dark, Lamplight: Dark Fiction Quarterly, and Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road.


Mara Valderran’s “The Austenation” is a tale where Pride and Prejudice meets werewolves in the English countryside of the Victorian era. Dealing with the strict social mores of the day, along with lycanthropic consequences, the story’s young heroine is forced to do what was often unthinkable in that era: take matters into her own hands.

About Mara: Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she's more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

In “Escape,” Patrick Burdine explores the fate of a group of teenagers caught in a town without mothers, and where all the fathers have turned into faceless, soul-sucking monsters. When one girl’s eighteenth birthday marks the end of her existence, can they penetrate the steel-walled town’s borders before it’s too late?

About Patrick: Patrick Burdine is an author and screenwriter residing in Los Angeles, California with his wife and three daughters. He's the author of several short stories including a Shell Case Short winner, The Bone Carver and most recently released the chilling novella, The Monitor. Patrick also writes for film and is the screenwriter of the indie-horror movie Slaughterhouse Phi: Death Sisters. He enjoys spending time visiting the worlds of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, JK Rowling, Dan Abnett, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, HP Lovecraft, John Carpenter, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JRR Tolkien, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez, and pretty much any other author, director, or screenwriter with a great story that he can sink his teeth into. (note: Patrick is not a vampire . . . most of the time.)

“The Ritual” is the tale brought to us by Whitney Trang, where the Actuator brings imagined horrors of a haunted house in Japan to life. A young woman’s quest means facing a ghost bent on sacrificing her sister in a ritual to save himself and his family.

About Whitney: Whitney Trang is a twenty-two-year-old aspiring author and recently graduated with a degree in English and Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her favorite books include James and the Giant Peach, The Baby-sitters’ Club, and Harry Potter. Mrs. Mahaffey, Whitney’s second grade teacher, helped her complete her first story. Every decision that Whitney has made from that point on was in order to accomplish her dream of being an author. Her family and friends also gave their support of her dreams and for that, she cannot thank them enough. “The Ritual” is the first short story that Whitney has had published, and she would like to thank Aiden James, James Wymore, and everyone at Curiosity Quills Press for this wonderful opportunity.


“The Gatekeepers of Change” is James Pratt’s short chronicle about a man dressed in black, and who rises to importance after the Great Actuation. Suddenly aware of the great powers and wider universe now available to him, the man enacts his plans.

About James: James Pratt mostly writes in the weird horror genre with dashes of fantasy, sci-fi, and action/adventure. And monsters. Lots of monsters. His stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification from Great Old Ones Publishing, “Dark Hall Press Cosmic Horror Anthology”, “Dark Fairy Tales Revisited” from Horrified Press, and “How the West Was Weird: Vol. 3 from Pulpworks Press. . James also has three short story collections available on Amazon: the Lovecraft-themed Cthelvis and Others, the monster-centric Horrible Stories for Terrible People Vol. 1—Monsters, and Horrible Stories for Terrible People Vol. 2—Obscura, whose inhabitants include ghosts, kaiju monsters, the Grim Reaper, the Devil, and the Lord Almighty. James is currently working on two more short story collections, one fantasy and the other apocalypse-themed, and a Weird Western novel set firmly in the Lovecraft universe.

“The Ringer” is Craig Nybo’s tale about a detective in New Orleans facing zombies and other undead monsters as he assists a client in taking on her crime lord husband. The huge fee adds plenty of incentive…if he can live long enough to spend it.

About Craig: Craig Nybo lives with his beautiful wife and kids in Kaysville, UT. He works as a creative director for mediaRif.com, a digital agency. Craig writes novels, short fiction, and screenplays. As a musician, he has released several records with friends under the band names, Rustmonster and The Big Sky Country Boys. Craig also records solo work. He has released two records under his own name, Zombie Sing-a-long, and a sequel album, Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Part 1). As a filmmaker, Craig has written and directed many short films. He also writes and directs many commercials and industrial videos as part of his profession. Aside from writing, Craig enjoys playing in the Rocky Mountains, rock climbing, and canyoneering.

A Soviet soldier guarding Chernobyl from people too foolish to stay away from the radiation forms the basis of Jason Purdy’s “Anna and Lena.” When the soldier abandons his post, he soon discovers that he is the last living person in the area. Poisoned and growing weaker by the moment, he must find someplace safe across the border before he perishes.

About Jason: Jason Purdy is twenty-three years old and from Northern Ireland. He loves reading, listening to music, film, quality telly, going to the gym, and playing video games. A recent university graduate, he plans to continue his career in the media industries, and to continue writing and studying, when he finds time around his video game addiction. His debut novel, Cigarette, was released in April 2013, and he has featured in several short story anthologies. Jason is also a screenwriter and has several scripts that have been picked up by local filmmakers. He is also an on again off again filmmaker with his own kit. His ultimate goal is to be able to make a living off writing, because to him, a day job where you don’t have to walk any farther than your desk sounds like it would suit him down to the ground. Of course, the whole doing what you love aspect of it would be nice too.

Jenny Persson brings us the story of a teen suddenly thrust into Viking Sweden in “Once upon a Frozen North.” The teen finds her modern way of thinking brings only misery. But the girl is cunning. Soon after her ritual into womanhood, she looks to the steampunk airships just across the border as a means for her escape.

About Jenny: Jenny Persson has previously published two collections of poetry. Her short stories are mostly science fiction, but she writes contemporary YA, fantasy, and romance as well. Growing up she read every book in the fairly small sci-fi/fantasy shelf at her local library, particularly enjoying the works of Ursula LeGuin and other female authors. The magic of books is something she’s passionate about and tries to pass on to every young person she comes across. Indoctrination has to start early! When not writing or reading, she bakes delicious cakes and pastries, and she’s been known to read cookbooks with the same passion she gives her collection of Jane Austen novels. She currently lives in a small town in Sweden with her husband and three children.

Jay Wilburn takes us along the harrowing journey of drug addicted Travis, as he traverses the Actuator-ravaged American South in “Halfway.” The journey becomes an opportunity to reconnect with the people lost to him by addiction…. But in the end, will he find the lasting peace he seeks?

About Jay: Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in the coastal swamps of South Carolina. He left teaching after sixteen years to care for the health needs of his younger son and to pursue full-time writing. His novels include Loose Ends with Hazardous Press and Time Eaters with Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. He has a piece in Best Horror of the Year Volume 5. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com and @AmongTheZombies on Twitter.

The author Juhi’s “The Search for Punarnav” takes us far away to India, where a man seeks to become a healer. To do so, he faces the daunting task of eluding the many dangerous Hindu mythological creatures brought to life by the Actuator.

Juhi is a story addict. She loves to travel through Time, Space, and Imagination, meeting people and finding delight in their worlds and trinkets. She does not remember when or how the addiction started, but it was very early in her life. Her mother recalls how she had to trick little two-year-old Juhi to eat her meals by stopping at strategic points in her Panchatantra Tales till she swallowed the food in her mouth. A little older than that (a lot!), Juhi now creates her own worlds with people and their trinkets in them, and loves to color them with words and illustrations.

Jason A. Anderson brings us “15 Seconds of Fame.” Unlike the title’s standard definition, this tale takes place in Steampunk London. A detective risks life and limb to save a child from her mob boss father. Not an easy task, especially when it means finding a way to also save the child’s mother from violent retaliation.

About Jason: Jason Anderson was raised in Southern California before moving to Utah to attend high school. While a teenager, he conceived and began writing his teen adventure series, The Starriders Saga. The first two books in the series, “Dragon Fire” and “Rebels Without a Clue” are currently available. Never one to let grass grow under his feet, he continued exploring different story concepts and struck upon what has become the SoulChaser Universe. “SoulChaser: Earthbound” and “Jean Archer: The Diamond and the Rough” are both available from that series. Besides being a father and writer, his passions include theater production, fast cars, off-roading, rock 'n' roll, and he is a Harley-Davidson enthusiast.

In “Forever Young,” Wilbert Stanton explores the fate of an old man who finds himself young again, after paying his life’s savings to gain admission into an exclusive realm. However, when he meets a new love, he soon learns the real cost of immortality, and whether or not he is willing to pay for it.

About Wilbert: Wilbert Stanton was born and raised in New York City. From an early age, Wilbert decided he would either write books or take over the world; everything else was just a precursor to his end game. Along the way, he has studied Psychology, English, and Computer Science. He's held jobs in a wide range of fields and met people from all walks of life. Wilbert is constantly learning and growing as a person, in order to solidify his dreams. In the end world domination was a bit tedious, so he decided to focus on writing books. You can find Wilbert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorwilbertstanton
Last, but not least, we have James Wymore’s tale, “Cult of the Actuation.” A Machine Monk, captured just east of the base, calls for help. Dragon Star comes to the rescue… but is soon distracted by a religious cult surrounding the mouth of a cave near one of the Actuator’s borders. Ultimately, the cult leader decides that the Machine Monk and Dragon Star pose a threat, and orders their execution. A dicey situation at best.

About James: On a lifelong search for fantastic worlds hiding just out of sight, James Wymore writes to explore. With four books out, he continues to push the boundaries of genre and imagination with The Actuator series. This is his first time editing a short story anthology, but it won’t be his last. Find all his work at http://jameswymore.wordpress.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Genny's GF Cookies

My daughter brought home this recipe from school and decided it was the best thing ever. It was a group math assignment that involved taking a recipe written for a single serving and figuring out how to make enough servings for the group. Lots of fraction work in that.

These are no-cook chocolate oatmeal lumps. Be warned, they are high-fat, high-sugar treats.

No-Cook Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie Balls

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. honey
3 c. oatmeal
3/4 c. chocolate chips

Mix everything together. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Shape into balls. Store in the freezer or refrigerator.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Space Pictures

I'm doing a "Top Ten" blog hop with some friends. All of our lists tie in to our books. Maria Hoagland posted a list of ten fun places to hide a love note.

Because I'm a space geek, which is one reason why I read and write science fiction, I'm going to post my top ten favorite space pictures. Check out my series, The Fall of the Altairan Empire, and get Nexus Point free with coupon code AA47G at Smashwords.

All pictures are from HubbleSite.org

1. The Monocerotis Light Echo - this is just gorgeous. I want to put it on my ceiling in my living room so I can lie on the floor and enjoy it whenever I want.
 Light Echo  Illuminates Dust Around Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon)
Source: Hubblesite.org

2. The Horsehead Nebula - an updated look with Hubble.
Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color
Source: Hubblesite.org

3. Stellar Spire in the Eagle Nebula - this always looks like a woman reaching for the stars to me.
Star-Birth Clouds in M16: Stellar  Eggs  Emerge from Molecular Cloud
Source: Hubblesite.org

4. Saturn - because Saturn is always cool.
Saturn from 1996 to 2000
Source: Hubblesite.org

5. Jupiter's Great Red Spot - I love the way the clouds swirl on Jupiter, like a painting. It's so beautiful to study.
http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/entire/pr2008027c/

6. Lagoon Nebula
Giant  Twisters  in the Lagoon Nebula
Source: Hubblesite.org

7. Hoag's Object - a ring Galaxy
Ring of Hot Blue Stars Pinwheels Around Yellow Nucleus of Hoag
Source: Hubblesite.org

8. The Bubble Nebula - not only is it pretty, but it's bubbles!
The Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635)
Source: Hubblesite.org

9. Mystic Mountain - a newer picture showing gas and dust clouds in a Carina Nebula.
Hubble Captures View of
Source: Hubblesite.org

10. The Hubble Deep Field - click on the link and go read the site to get the picture and the story behind it. It's incredible.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Easy Mexican Rice

School's back in session. I'm buried in homework. My blog posts will suffer. Please comment if you have a recipe idea you want me to post. Or if you want to be a guest chef and supply the recipe for me. Or if you want to do a guest post on a Monday. I'd love to host others on here.

This is what we threw together for dinner the other night. It turned out well. If you like it mild, use mild salsa. If you like it spicy, use the hot. The key for me, since I've always burned Mexican rice before, is to use a rice cooker. They aren't too much money and they are worth it for making rice that is cooked to perfection.

Mexican Rice

2 c. rice
4 c. hot water
1 1/2 c. salsa

Dump everything in a rice cooker. Hit the buttons for your model and let it cook.

Stir before serving. Garnish with grated cheese, chopped green onions, sliced olives, sour cream, or whatever. We garnished ours with corn chips and taco meat and called it dinner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Old Stuff We Leave Behind

My daughter and her husband were living with my husband's dad until he died last spring. We spent last week moving them out of the house and cleaning out some of the last things left from his parents. These are some of the fun things my husband found in the basement:

Canned water - just add water! Wait. No. It's water in a can dated 1961. Old water.

A 50lb block of really ancient powdered milk.

A 1961 72-hour kit-in-a-can. Hubby is planning to open it soon. I'm afraid. Very afraid.

Does old soap go bad? It's pre-1960.

Wire left over from an old phone patch-board. Just random bits of wire with brass connectors. A whole box full.

Things that look like pipe bombs, but they aren't. They're seismometers. Honest.

Meatloaf mix from 1986!

More tools than you can shake a stick at. Or even several sticks.

A wagon jack. Not a car jack. A wagon. As in a wooden wagon. For when the wheels go bad.

A manhole cover.

As we clean out their house, it's making me realize how much crap I've got squirreled away in my house. What we choose to hang onto reveals who we are. I've got a weakness for kitchen stuff. And fabric. And cheap yarn. And toys. I can't seem to part with a lot of the toys still cluttering up my basement. My kids have long since moved on to other toys and pursuits. But my grandson is just starting to discover all the wonderful toys we own.

We held a yard sale last weekend and got rid of a lot of stuff. Most of it went to our local thrift store, but we sold some. I still have a lot of clutter to reduce and remove. But overall, my house is feeling more empty and better organized than it has in a long time.

What about you? What would your stuff say about you if it could talk?