Check out my fiction -
Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Hansen's Vegan Gingersnaps

Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert. When pulled away from his keyboard, he can be found reading, cooking, singing, practicing photography, and bellydancing, though normally not all at the same time. More information can be found at

He joins us today as a guest chef:

Hansen's Vegan Gingersnaps

I was reading a great book (Equilibrium by Katey Hawthorne) and, in talking with the author (she's a very personable, lovely woman), the subject of one of the character's (Hansen's) favorite cookies, vegan gingersnaps came up. So I set about making them, and came up with the best gingersnaps ever.

1/2 cup applesauce (one single serving container is perfect)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine Applesauce, sugar, and molasses in mixing bowl. With wooden spoon (this dough will absolutely fry an electric mixer. It's too thick), mix in all dry ingredients (except the extra sugar for rolling).
Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Flatten slightly and place 1 1/2 inches apart on lined or greased baking sheet (at this point, you can drip a few drops of water on each cookie to make the surface crackle, if you like). Bake for 11 minutes (They never crisp up. Ever. Really, never.). Cool on wire racks and store in airtight container.

That's it. I dare you to not like these cookies.

Happy munching,

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Advice, Tips for Fiction Writing

This got posted on a writing group board recently. Great advice. It's aimed at non-fic writers, but most of it applies to fiction as well.

Here are some fiction specific tips that I wished I'd known when I started writing novels.

1. Write the first draft without caring too much about voice, pacing, dialogue tags, etc. That can all be fixed in editing and rewrites (which you should be doing. Nobody writes a perfect first draft no matter what they may say.) Focus on your story, your character, the soul of your writing. This is where NaNoWriMo can help. Learn to just let go and let the story flow.

2. Never work on your original document. Always work on a copy. That way if you totally screw it up, you still have the original to help with the fixing. And remember to keep backups - online, on a portable hard drive, emailed to yourself, don't keep everything in one place.

3. Specific editing advice, for later, when you want to polish your writing:

Watch out for repetitive words. Repeating the same word too often makes your writing sound clunky.

Watch out for passive voice. "I was running across the grass" vs. "I ran across the grass." Anytime you use a "be" verb, stop and think if it's necessary. If you eliminate them, your action will feel more immediate, more personal.

Watch out for distancing the reader from your action. When you use words like "feel" "heard" etc, you are putting distance between the reader and the action. "I felt his hands clamp around my neck" vs. "His hands clamped around my neck."

Watch out for your particular verbal stutters. My first editor pointed out that I used "up" all over my manuscript. Most of them could be deleted without losing anything. My latest manuscript? I use directional words and "as well" way too often. Check for your own personal verbal stutters and eliminate as much as you can. Most of them aren't necessary.

Don't be afraid of chopping. Ken Rand's book, The 10% Solution, is a great resource. Cut 10% of your manuscript. Then go back and cut 10% more. You may think, I can't cut that much! But you'll be amazed how much you can cut without losing anything.

Don't be afraid of emotion. This one is hard for me. I shy away from revealing too much about myself through my writing. But when I let my guard down and let the emotions bleed in every word, my writing becomes more powerful. Yes, it can be raw writing that way. But it is also liberating.

Don't get hung up on the word count. Most publishers are flexible, within limits. Sometimes you do have to chop, chop, and chop some more. Sometimes you need to find places to expand your story. But whatever you do, make it meaningful, make it relevant, or it's just more words on a page.

Happy writing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Thai Coconut Peanut Sauce

I enjoy Thai food, but the spicy peppers don't like me back. I can't stand cilantro, either, in case you were wondering why I never use it in any recipe.

I was in the mood for a different sauce for my noodles. We picked up some Thai Lemonpepper Chili flavored peanuts at the grocery store. My youngest said she loved the flavor, so I asked if she wanted peanut sauce on her noodles, too. She loved the sauce. The sauce turned out very creamy and just a touch spicy.

You could serve it over rice, noodles, rice noodles, or whatever sounds good. It would work with tofu, chicken, or steamed veggies, too.

Branch out and try something different.

BTW, the best source for coconut milk I've found are the little Asian grocery stores.

Thai Coconut Peanut Sauce

1 t. oil
2 t. candied ginger, chopped fine (I use scissors.)
2 t. minced garlic
1 t. red chili flakes
1/2 c. peanut butter
14 oz. can coconut milk
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. ponzu (Oriental citrus sauce, Kikkoman makes a nice one.)

Heat oil in a 2 qt. saucepan over med heat. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, just enough to start to brown a little teeny bit. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until the fats melt enough to make a creamy sauce. Don't overcook it or it will burn. Don't bring it to a boil, just hot enough to turn creamy.

Makes about 2 c. or about 6 servings. Go light on the sauce, it has a very strong flavor and you don't need very much.

Garnish with chopped green onions or chopped peanuts, if you want.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Author Interview - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Her works include the urban fantasies, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, the upcoming Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court, and the writers guide, The Literary Handyman. She edits the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). Learn more at

How can we find you?

Website and/or blog,,
Amazon author page

Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

Oh my goodness, Well, I like to write a bit of everything, mostly because I get so many ideas and also don’t want to become pigeon holed, but primarily I write urban fantasy. There are two reasons for this. One, it is easier to get readers to accept your fantastic elements when they are couched in the familiar. And two, I can write the world around me pretty effortlessly, where with pure fantasy I have to figure out the world first. Now I’m not adverse to doing that, but I get way more ideas that fit in the day-to-day than take place in their own world. Actually, though, I really like fiction that melds the two. All my novels seem to be that way. My favorite of those already published is The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale where I contrast a modern-day biker bar with both Avalon and Underhill. My other novel series, The Eternal Cycle Trilogy, is the same way, in a manner of speaking. The first book, Yesterday’s Dreams, takes place completely in New York City, but with the Sidhe—Irish Elves—living among us. In book two, Tomorrow’s Memories, the action is in both New York and Ireland—modern-day and Tír na nÓg, which is one of the lands of the Sidhe. And in Today’s Promise, the last and newest book in the series, which releases in May 2012, the action takes place primarily in Tír na nÓg, with forays into modern-day Ireland. In addition to including fantasy with “reality” I also love to incorporate aspects of mythology in all things I write. Even if it is just as a name for a ship or character that has added significance for those who get the reference. It gives depth to the work. I do the same thing with modern references. After all, who doesn’t like to get the in-joke?

What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

Relax? What’s that? Sorry…couldn’t resist. I actually keep very busy (or end up kept very busy…subtle difference, but there is one). I have a day job. I work for a Medical Publisher. On top of that I do Promotions and Typesetting for Dark Quest Books. Then I get to write. When I’m not doing any of that—or sleeping—I love to watch cooking shows…the competition type like Iron Chef or Chopped, and my new favorite show is Face Off, another competition show, only for make-up artists. Of course, I don’t watch a lot of TV. Not just because of the time issue, but because most of it disgusts me on a moral or intelligence level. What I turn to in odd moments of free time are book, games, and crafts. I love to sew, cook, and make things. Anything crafty. Oh, and I scritch my cats, though that likely falls under the venue of being kept busy…I have three of them after all, and they are all very demanding of my scritches.

What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

I do like to listen to appropriate music when I am writing…sometimes. Other times it just makes me tense and hard to focus. Can’t explain it. When I do have music in the background my default is Celtic instrumentals, or songs sung in Irish. Those get me in the right mindset without distracting me. I’ve also been known to listen to science fiction movie soundtracks when I’m writing the sci fi because mostly I write military science fiction and a good rousing militant orchestration can really ramp up the adrenaline.

"All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

Oh! Oh, you opened the floodgate here…I’ve had nine cats over my lifetime that were unequivocally mine…or rather, I was or am theirs. I love all animals, but there is something particularly satisfying by being loved by a cat, and I do mean loved, not tolerated or accepted. Currently I have four and they really do vie for my time, insisting to sit next to me…or on me, sleeping on my pillow or pinning my legs, at the door obviously waiting for me when I get home. They even nursed me when I had surgery back in November. Though that mainly consisted of all three of my boys sleeping around me in the room they usually aren’t allowed to go into, occasionally waking up for scritches, but still…If I could only have one type of animal ever, it would be a cat. Now that is completely aside from any part of being a writer. I was not issued a kitten with my union card or anything, but if you think about it a cat is a much more logical pet for someone who often gets lost in their own worlds for hours on end. They are completely fine being left to their own devices (though whether or not you’ll be happy with what they devise is another matter). They don’t have to be walked, food can be left down for them, and they are capable of exerting what they see as their attention rights generally in a restrained and dignified manner…which can seldom be said for a dog.

But now, have you noted how many authors INCLUDE cats in their fiction? That is definitely one thing I’ve noted in my fiction, particularly the fantasy. I have several different universes going and more of them have a cat in there somewhere, whereas I only have one dog… I think only part of the reason is my obvious affinity and familiarity with them. The other reason I include cats is because most books need a release valve somewhere and that has generally taken the form of a cat for me. Calm, serene, but also endearing and funny as all get-out when they decide to be playful or sweet. This is most prevalent in all three books in the Eternal Cycle series, though more so in Yesterday’s Dreams than the other two. I regularly get comments from readers that they just love Pixie, Kara O’Keefe’s cat, and Beag Scath, a sprite who often takes the form of a cat. I have to admit the mischievous aspect of both creatures was a natural match.

As for pictures…!

What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

You know, I’ve belonged to a number of organizations over the years. Some are definitely more effective than others. However, if I had to choose just one group to belong to (of those I already have been a member) it would be Broad Universe. For those who haven’t heard of it before, it is an international organization founded to promote the works of women authors in the speculative genres. Not only is their membership fee extremely reasonable, but the group is active in pursuing its goal. Not only do they have a standing catalog of members publications on line, but they distribute print catalogs of the year’s new releases at events and to organizations, they have a visible presence at genre conventions, as well as at professional conferences related to books and publishing. The members are a rich source of both experience and opportunity for promoting and publishing. I have never been a part of a more well-run, helpful, and productive organization than this one. Another thing that I have not had to endure with this group, as I have with every other one I’ve been in to some degree, is bickering and divisiveness among the members. Both public and private communications have always been constructive and supportive. Not to say we all always agree with one another, but discussions are monitored and handled in a professional, respectful manner.

As for advice, if you want it, go for it, but it takes a lot of luck and hard work to achieve major success in this industry, so don’t expect to sit back and have stardom just happen. There are cases of run-away successes, but most of us work our butts off making a name for ourselves. It never ends and there are few authors who can actually afford to quit their day jobs just to write (unless, of course, they are independently wealthy or have a spouse to be the primary bread winner.) This isn’t to warn the aspiring author away, but to warn them to have a realistic view.

What writers inspired you to become an author?

You know, it didn’t work that way for me. I devoured books from a very early age, but I never closed a cover on one and said “I want to do that.” However, I did often close many a cover at the last page and say “I wish there was more story.” I reached the point where I would continue my favorite books in my head—with myself added to the cast of characters, of course. From there it was a short step to writing my own stories, something that eventually was required by school assignments anyway. Once that happened and I started to get constructive feedback there was no stopping me. I was bit good and hard. When I was younger it was mostly poetry, but I think that was because I hadn’t been bitten by the speculative bug yet and I didn’t have the staying power to finish a story or novel, but poetry was quick and gratifying and spoke to the lyrical nature of a lot of my writing, even the prose.  

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I am very happy to share that the third and final novel in my Eternal Cycle series will be released at Balticon, and the first two books of the series will likewise be re-released by Dark Quest Books to coincide with that. People have been waiting for book three, Today’s Promise for a very long time. In fact the tenth anniversary of when the first book, Yesterday’s Dreams, was first published just passed, which makes it kind of fitting to wrap things up now. But back to the event…

It has become something of a Balticon tradition for me to hold a massive launch party the Sunday of the con. This year is no different. The Full Circle Launch will take place on May 27, from 7pm to 9pm in the Garden Room at the Hunt Valley Marriot in Hunt Valley, MD. In addition to the food, reading, and prizes we generally have, there will be a special mini concert featuring the fabulous SJ Tucker, as well as the paranormal folk musician, Jonah Knight, who will be performing songs based on the novels. We are really going all out to celebrate the series. The end has been a long time in coming and given that this is what started it all…

In addition to the novels the launch will feature other recent and new Dark Quest Books releases—such as James Chambers’ Corpse Fauna: The Dead Bear Witness, Michael J. Tresca’s Awfully Familiar, and Phoebe Matthews’ Vampire Disaster—as all the authors attending gather to celebrate the success of this venture in independent publishing.

Thanks so much for stopping by the Far Edge of Normal, Danielle. Best of luck with your launch party!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Waffle Brownies

Make brownies with your waffle iron? Sure, why not. These are fast and easy and very delicious. The recipe I have comes from an old church cookbook that was a wedding present many years ago. It's full of great old-fashioned recipes. I'll have to post more of them...

Waffle Brownies

1 c. butter, melted
10 T. cocoa
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour (I used whole wheat, so I could say they were healthy)
4 eggs (use large or extra large)

Mix dry ingredients. Add butter and eggs, stir until mixed. It will look dry, like there isn't enough liquid, but keep working it. It is supposed to be thick, almost cookie dough. If it still has dry spots, you can add a couple tablespoons of water or milk.

Heat up your waffle iron. Spray it with non-stick spray. Scoop about 3/4 c. batter onto the waffle iron. Close it, pressing down for just a couple of seconds to spread out the batter. Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, just until it stops steaming. Turn out onto a plate. They will be crumbly until they cool down a bit.

Looks like a mess, doesn't it? It's supposed to.
My icky ancient waffle iron that works fantastically for this recipe.

Ta-da! the finished product. Mmmmm....
This recipe should make about 5 8" round waffles.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Basket of Book Reviews

The Void; Brett J. Talley (release date July 2012)

 I don't usually read horror. I indulge in the occasional bad monster movie or classic Poe or A.A. Merritt tale, but not the freaky scary horror. But my new publisher, Journalstone, publishes mainly horror. (My books aren't horror, they're SF; just FYI) This is one of their new titles, coming in July. I read the blurb and thought it sounded interesting. I got an ARC (advanced reader copy) for review. Now that you've heard my whole saga of why I read this book, let's move on to the review.

The Void is a great science fiction novel, with some creepy horror bits. Or you could call it a horror novel with lots of science fiction. It's not a monster alien attack story, it's more suspense. Interstellar travel triggers dreams in those who travel. If they try to stay awake, they go insane. But the dreams are much more sinister than anyone realizes.

If you're looking for a great suspense story with plenty of drama and action, pick this one up. You won't regret it. This is Brett Talley's second novel. His first was nominated for a Stoker award. He's good.

I give this one 4.5 stars and a PG rating (no language, no steamy bedroom scenes, but plenty of creepy scariness.)

200 Crochet Blocks for blankets, throws, and afghans; Jan Eaton

I was wandering through my local library a few weeks ago, and found their crochet pattern books. I enjoy crocheting. It's something I can do when I'm tired and watching tv and too lazy to do anything else. My only problem is that I have no patience for long-term or large projects. I want something I can finish quickly. This book was perfect. Blocks don't take long to make. Get enough of them finished, and you can sew them into an afghan. Ta-da! Large project completed. I was thinking of making up a bunch of these squares using cotton yarn. Two sewn back-to-back would make a nice hot pad. One could be a nice facial scrubber. Or you could sew four together to make a pillow top. Or doilies. Or doll blankets...

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I give this one 5 stars. Ages: anyone who wants to crochet

In Front of God and Everybody: Confessions of April Grace; K. D. McCrite

I bought this book for my daughter's ninth birthday, and to support my friend and fellow author, Katie. It was a little too old for my daughter, mostly because she isn't quite ready to read at this level.

April Grace is eleven and starting summer vacation. Her family lives in the Ozarks on a farm, which is just fine with April Grace. When the new neighbors stop by for directions, April Grace finds them stuck-up and rude. They're city folk with no appreciation of the country.

This book is hilarious, especially the dinner scene. Set in the 1980s, it brought back a lot of memories for me. Not that I was ever accused of being an Ozark hillbilly or that I ever had an older sister with delusions of glamor or that I ever had a feud with impossible neighbors...

I give this book 4.5 stars, rated G, recommended for ages 10+, especially girls who wonder how they are ever going to fit in.

Monsters and Mormons; Wm Morris & Theric Jepson

Disclaimer: I'm one of the authors in this collection.

Back in the days of pulp fiction, Mormon settlers were easy villains to add to stories. Turn it upside down. Let the Mormons be the heroes and give them some great monsters to fight, then see where the authors take the stories.

This collection has a wide variety of stories, everything from monster slasher horror, to suspense, to science fiction, to sweet romance, to humor. It's a great look into Mormon culture. Don't expect doctrine, just a lot of good entertainment, 500 pages worth.

My two favorite stories are Other Duties by Nathan Shumate (a new bishop finds out about the duties in the top secret handbook) and The Other Wife by Emily Milner (a woman who can see ghosts marries and finds out about her husband's previous two wives).

I give this one 4.5 stars, rated PG mostly for violence and scary monsters.

(I've reviewed A Moth in Darkness before, but I'm including it here because it is book 1 of the trilogy)
The Fly in Paradise, Spiders from Memory; Frances Pauli

Fly and Spiders finish off the story started in Moth. Liz Larson and her friends opened the gates between our world and the Fey world. Now, a decade later, she's no longer part of it. Until people start to go missing and things unravel between the worlds.

This is urban fantasy with a great twist. No vampires or other undead, just elves and fairies and a twisted mystery with consequences greater than anyone imagined. If you're looking for suspense and intrigue and fantasy with a dose of romance, these are great books. And the kelpie? I don't want to ever meet one of those, even in broad daylight.

I give this trilogy 5 stars, PG rating.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe is easy, simple, and tasty. You may have to adjust the proportions just a bit depending on how gooey your peanut butter is or how dry your powdered sugar is.

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Heat oven to 375°. Cream everything together. Beat until very smooth, at least 3 minutes. If it feels too sticky, stir in a little more powdered sugar. If too dry and crumbly, add just a teaspoon or so of milk or water. Bake one test cookie to see how far they spread and adjust if necessary.

Scoop out by tablespoonfuls. Place on greased cookie sheet. Use a fork to press down in a criss-cross pattern. Bake 8-10 minutes, just until lightly set. Let cool at least 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 2-3 dozen.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Author Interview - Denise Verrico

Please welcome Denise Verrico to The Far Edge of Normal! How can we find you?!/Immortylrevolution!/cedricvampire!/deniseverrico

What do you currently have in print and where can we find them?

The Immortyl Revolution series: Cara Mia, Twilight of the Gods, My Fearful Symmetry and Servant of the Goddess.  They are available through all the big online outlets like Amazon, B&N, Fictionwise, Omni Lit etc. in multi format ebook and trade paperback.  They can be ordered through major bookstores.  Some indie bookstores do carry them.

What genre do you write?

Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Sci Fi and Horror

Do you have cats or other pets? Why or why not?

I have six birds, belonging to the parrot family. I love parrots because they are so intelligent and entertaining.  They’re social creatures that form strong bonds with their human “flock members”.  They also tend to see one person as their “mate”.  My two favorites are my Timneh African Grey, Gromit and my son’s cockatiel, Pippin.  The funny thing is, Pippin chose me as his person, while Gromit, who is my bird, chose my son as his favorite.  I like to put parrots and other kinds of birds in my books. Rooks, birds related to crows and ravens, feature in a book I’m currently writing.

What inspires your stories?

Gosh, I find inspiration everywhere.  I love reading about science, history and other cultures, which helps in world building. I usually come up with characters first and create the world and plot around them.  Mia, the heroine from my vampire series, came to me in a dream when I was reading a lot of Anne Rice. 

What events do you have coming up?

I’m at the Ohioana Book festival on May 11th and at The Piqua Ohio Public Library Author Fair on May 18th.  I’m currently on a blog tour, and I also have an online book launch event put on by Bewitching Book Tours on June 2nd.

How do you like your romance, sweet or spicy? Or do you like romance?

I’m not a fan of romance as a genre, but I do like an exploration of relationships as a subplot in all kinds of stories.  I find the romance genre puts too many restrictions on an author and idealizes relationships too much.  My taste in men isn’t conventional, and I don’t like that the hero has to be a stereotypical “alpha male”. I’m far more attracted to edgy, artistic types, and my heroes tend to be pretty rather than rugged—but they are tough and smart, not wimpy. My vampires are pansexual, poly-amorous creatures, so no monogamous romances for them.  I’m an earthy gal, and I tend to like the sex hot, but not parts specific.  Blood is drawn and vampire tantra practiced. 

What is your current WIP?

I’m writing a fantasy set in an eighteenth century technology.  I’d call it picaresque in tone.  The world is somewhat inspired by the geography of New Zealand and Maori mythology. 

The island nation of Maritania has just emerged from an oppressive theocracy.  Feona Carmodi, the main character, is a seventeen-year-old actress of mixed blood who secretly practices native magic.  This leads to all kinds of trouble for her.
It’s a lot of fun for me, because I get to draw upon my theater background and write lots of what I hope is witty dialogue.

I’ve also got some shorts and another urban fantasy novel in the works.

Do you write to music or not? If so, what type of music inspires you the most?

I listen to a lot of music, but I love rock and classical best.  I’m a freak for Queen and David Bowie.  Cedric, one of my vampires, is a musician who adores Bowie.  Kurt, another of my vamps, was child prodigy classical pianist.  Someday, I’m sure I’ll have a character that belts out show tunes.  Hmm… Sounds like a role for John Barrowman.

Queen and Bowie, gotta love them. What hobbies do you have that you want to share?

I’m a roller coaster enthusiast.  Last estimate, I’ve ridden over 100 different coasters on the East Coast and in the Midwest.  I’ve yet to make it to parks in the West.  My favorites are Millennium Force and The Raptor at Cedar Point in Ohio.   Living in Central Ohio is great because I’m about halfway between Cedar Point and King’s Island.

Did you always want to be an author? Who inspired you?

No, as a child, I wanted to be a marine biologist or veterinarian.  Later, I was bitten by the theater bug and became an actress.  In college, one of my acting professors used to say I was destined to become a writer because I was so into theater literature and used to write humor pieces to entertain my friends.  Eventually, I turned to writing plays and fiction.  Blame it on Anne Rice.  She killed off one of my favorite characters and made me want to write my own vampire world. 

What are your favorite movies, tv shows, or books to read? Is there one that you could watch/read over and over without ever tiring of it?

I love Robert Graves’ Claudius and Mary Renault’s Alexander the Great novels.  I read Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, over and over, but my favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.  My favorite TV shows are Game of Thrones, Dexter, Torchwood, Being Human, Dark Shadows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.  Movies, hands down, are the Lord of the Rings films.  Yes, I’ve watched them and all of the appendices about thirty times.  Of course, the eye candy makes it easy.  I’m obsessed with Elijah Wood.

What characters are your favorites from your books?

Kurt Eisen in my Immortyl Revolution books is one of my most complex characters.  He was in Dauchau as a teenager and was forced into a sexual relationship with an SS officer in order to survive. Later, his vampire master, Brovik, rescues him.  Kurt falls deeply for Brovik, only to find himself second in his master’s affections and a slave in status.  Then Kurt meets Mia.  These two slaves are jaded by the corruption and oppression of Immortyl society.  As a Holocaust survivor, Kurt sees the implications of vampirism all too well.  

Kurt is full of contradictions and torn by aspects of his nature, both sexual and vampiric.  He’s driven by bloodlust, but he has an innate sense of justice that makes him want to rectify things by finding a biological cure for his condition and others.  Kurt keeps his own counsel and is intensely private, yet he becomes a revolutionary leader.  He’s shy, but can be eloquent when he’s moved to speak.  He loves and admires Mia, his fierce consort, more than anyone he’s ever known and swears to never hurt her, yet he denies her political power.  He also takes male and female lovers.  Of course, Mia is no angel either in that respect.  She fights tooth and nail for recognition and power.

From any work of fiction?

Doesn’t everyone want Atticus Finch as a dad?  I thought he was the coolest character ever, standing up for what he believes in, even though it’s dangerous for him and his family.  I admire his moral courage.

I also love Bagoas from Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy.  Bagaos was a real person, a male courtesan in service to Alexander the Great.  He was someone who had to navigate a lot of intrigue to stay alive, but eventually gained some power and status.

Bagoas inspired me to create another of my favorite characters, Cedric MacKinnon, the male vampire courtesan in My Fearful Symmetry.  Courtesans are interesting figures because they have to be smart and talented as well as beautiful. They often are involved in political intrigue.  I needed a character that could observe and move within my vampire ruling class.  Because the chief elder’s court in India is somewhat cut-off from the modern world, it gave me the opportunity to do some neat world building for Cedric’s book.  I liked writing about a world so apart from our own.  This is when I discovered my need to start writing some fantasy projects outside of the urban fantasy sub-genre.

If you could meet one historical person for dinner, who would it be and why?

It’s a toss-up.  Elizabeth I of England spent her childhood and young womanhood always on the edge of danger.  She never knew what her fate would be.  By all accounts, she was fiercely intelligent.  I’ve read a lot of books about her.  I don’t think we’d be cozy friends, but I do admire her.  I’d also love to have Oscar Wilde over for dinner and hear him say say wicked, witty things.  I’d warn him to stay away from Bosie, but I know he’d never listen. 

If you could travel anywhere on Earth, where would you want to go? If you could travel anywhere, fictional or real, where would you go?

I’d love to go to New Zealand and India.  I fell in love with the topography of New Zealand from the LOTR, and the Maori have a fascinating culture.  Sure, I also want to watch the toilet water go down the opposite way. 

I did a lot of research on India and Indian culture, art and mythology for My Fearful Symmetry.  Indian classical dance is amazing.  Also, so much of vampire lore can be traced back to India.

Fictional, I’d have to say either Hogwart’s Castle or Rivendell.  Hogwart’s has the moving staircases and living paintings.  Rivendell, as seen in the films, is just so cool and art nouveau that I want to live there. 

If you could time travel, what is one event you would want to see in person, either future or past? 

The Big Bang.  I want to be there at the beginning. 

What's your favorite color? Food? Reading spot?

My favorite color is red, the color of power and blood.  I also look my best in it. 

My favorite food is lobster.  I never get enough!

I read mostly in bed, because that’s the only time I get to relax.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Sure, I’d like to ask the readers who their favorite fictional character is and why.


Thank you for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself. I love getting to know other authors. So, readers, who's up for the challenge? Tell us who your favorite fictional character is and why. There may even be a prize of some sort... 

From Denise: I'm giving a free ebook of Annals of the Immortyls to all commenters. Simply provide an email, and I'll send you a coupon code as soon as it's released.  Also, to enter my monthly blog drawing to win an e-copy of Servant of the Goddess, follow this link and comment on this post:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday Recipe - Spoon Bread

This recipe takes a bit of time to prepare, but it's delicious and worth the effort. I like it because I can make it wheat-free (or gluten-free) and dairy-free. All my kids can eat it. It's great with honey butter, since it's a variation on corn bread. Try it sometime, it's not as hard as it looks.

Spoon Bread

1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. cornmeal
1 T. butter or margarine
3 eggs, separated
1 c. milk or water
1 t. vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda

Heat oven to 375°. Grease a 9x12 baking dish. Stir cornmeal into boiling water. Keep stirring until mixture thickens and cools, about 5 minutes. Be careful to break up any lumps. Stir until smooth. Add butter and egg yolks. Beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in everything else except egg whites.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, like whipped cream. Fold into the batter. Spread in greased pan. Bake 45-50 minutes until set and lightly browned. Serve hot.