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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Plate Tectonics, Take 2, aka Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are another great example of plate tectonics. As the cookies heat up, they expand and spread. The cinnamon "crust" breaks apart into plates that float on the surface of the semi-molten interior.

Okay, I'm stretching it just a bit. These are my favorite non-chocolate cookies. Unless you count the ginger ones. Or the spice ones. Or the nutmeg logs. Can I help it if I love cookies?


1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 t. soda
2 t. cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 3/4 c. flour (use white flour for this one)
1/2 c. sugar mixed with 2 T. cinnamon

Cream sugar, butter, and shortening. Add everything else except the flour. Beat well. Stir in flour just until mixed. Shape into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake 8-10 minutes at 400°. Makes 6 dozen.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I have been told to google this title by my children.

This is what I found. Go read it. It won't take long. I'll wait...

I am GREEN. I wish I'd written the book. How awesome would it be to tell people, "I'm the author of Sharcano?" I'm a little bit too late. Now I need to find it and read it. And make it into a low-budget high-body-count made-for-tv-and-released-direct-to-DVD movie.

Like these (click on the pictures to visit the original sites):

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Plate Tectonics Cookies

Some people call these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I prefer calling them plate tectonics examples. I occasionally teach geology and earth science and I've found cookies make great analogies. Plus, they're tasty.

So, quick lesson on plate tectonics. When you have a liquid mantle with convection currents in the interior of a planet, the crust (the part that cooled and solidified) is broken into chunks that float on the surface of the mantle. As the currents move, they shift the plates around. Sometimes they slam into each other. Sometimes they grind past each other. And sometimes, they pull apart along spreading zones where hot fresh lava oozes out onto the surface and creates new crust.

These cookies show some fun "plates" in the powdered sugar coating. They're more spreading zone artifacts than true tectonic plates, but you get the idea.

Plus, they're tasty. How many rocks can claim that?

Plate Tectonics Cookies

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil or melted butter
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. flour (white works best for this recipe although you can use whole wheat)
powdered sugar for coating, about 1 c.

Mix sugar, oil, vanilla, and cocoa powder until blended. Add eggs, baking powder, and salt. Beat until creamy. Stir in flour just until mixed. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Heat oven to 350°. Scoop dough using a regular sized cookie scoop or spoon. Drop into powdered sugar, roll lightly to coat. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until just set. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

Admire your lovely chocolate/powdered sugar tectonic models. Devour with plenty of milk and napkins.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Big book giveaway!

I have lots of author friends who write all sorts of awesome books. I've got a brand new one to announce today, as well as a great giveaway to enter. 

Sixteen-year-old Astrid keeps mostly to herself, finding companionship in the stories her grandmother used to tell. She's too shy even to talk in front of Torolf, the young man she secretly dreams of. Then the Norse god of eloquence appears in Astrid's dreams and forces her to drink the Mead of Poetry.

Suddenly, she's compelled to tell her stories. In public. Even in front of Torolf. Astrid is meant to use these stories to guide her people from starvation in Greenland to a better future in Markland. A place legends claim is the abode of dragons. But not all of her fierce and independent people are willing to follow a mere girl, even the chieftain's daughter--especially when she counsels peace. Some have other plans for the new land and want to use Astrid and her gift as a tool.

Torolf never dreamed that quiet Astrid could choose him. Now he's stranded in Iceland as she sails in the opposite direction. To attain the promise of a future with Astrid, he'll have to attempt the impossible--sailing alone across the North Atlantic.

Together, they might defy the plans the gods have made for them and change the fate of more than just their own people.

Check out Meredith Mansfield's new book, A Bard's Gift:
Facebook Author Page

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Chiles Rellenos Quesadillas

Yep, I totally speak Spanish. Taco. Burrito. Enchilada. Salsa. Tomatillo. Even jicama and guacamole. Okay,  I can order Mexican-American food and know what I'm asking for.

I'm not sure I've ever had real chiles rellenos, but I like this version. Easy, simple, and you can add whatever heat level you want. It's a cross between quesadillas and jalapeño poppers. (On a side note, if you put the squiggle in jalapeños, blogger doesn't think it's misspelled.)

The biggest thing is to just have fun in the kitchen and don't be afraid to experiment.

Chiles Rellenos Quesadillas

corn tortillas
cream cheese
diced green chiles
shredded sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheeses
sliced jalapeños

Heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, spread some cream cheese on a corn tortilla, about a tablespoon is good. Sprinkle with green chiles. Add jalapeños if you want more kick. Add some shredded cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Transfer carefully to the frying pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly golden and just starting to turn crispy. Garnish with salsa and olives if you want.

One tip - don't overfill the tortillas or the cheeses will leak into the pan and make a mess. Cream cheese tends to turn runny when hot. Yes, that is the voice of experience warning you.

Oh, and happy Valentine's Day. You can use the salsa to paint a heart on the quesadilla and pipe sour cream to make a lacy edge, if you're bored or you need something to photograph for Pinterest. I'd do it but my food pictures make it look horrid so here's a crocheted taco instead.

Monday, February 10, 2014

To celebrate Valentine's Day we've put together an amazing $.99 sale of clean romance books. Here's the catchy title: Finding Romance this Valentine's Day. But I think we should just call it: Awesome books for $.99. Please scroll through the list, each has a short description and buy link, they're all fabulous.
Hope you have a fun Valentine's Day!
$.99 price effective 2/10/14 through 2/14/14

This Very Moment by Rachel Ann Nunes - Click here to purchase
Bill Dubrey is a sought-after plastic surgeon for LA’s prestigious and wealthy, and an equally sought-after bachelor. On the surface it appears he has it all—money, respect, and fame. Yet behind his aloof exterior lurks a tragic past that prevents him from finding lasting happiness.
All that changes on the day Kylee Stewart reenters his life. She alone knows Bill’s secret agony, and she is determined to help him face his past. During the years they’ve been apart, Kylee’s own life has been far from easy, but unlike Bill, she has turned to God in her need, finding a faith to which she desperately clings.
The tentative friendship they begin has Bill rethinking his stark future, yet he keeps his heart in check—afraid to commit, afraid to lose again. During Kylee’s darkest moment, when she needs him most, will he be there for her?

Tomorrow and Always by Rachel Ann Nunes
Click here to purchase
Anyone would think that Karissa and Malcolm have the perfect life. Young and successful, they've built their dream home on beautiful Kodiak Island in Alaska. But behind closed doors it's a much different story. Unable to have children and inactive in their religion, Karissa and Malcolm's marriage is beginning to fall apart. 
When Jesse and Brionney Hergarter move to Kodiak, Karissa senses a kindred spirit. With Brionney's friendship and support, Karissa feels a growing desire to return to activity at church. But this means confessing the one sin that has haunted her for years—the one sin that could drive Malcolm away forever.

A Portrait for Toni by Annette Lyon - Click here to purchase
Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her. 
That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it. 
One night after a performance, Toni tries to mend the hurt between them. Instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible. Isn’t it?

A New Dance by Lucy McConnell
Click here to purchase
For most people, letting go of a "what if" can be difficult - for Kiley Roberts it's almost impossible. As her final semester of college begins, a past relationship prevents her from fully opening her heart to Brandon, her almost fiance. When TJ unexpectedly drops back into her life as an assigned dance partner, Kiley's sure that it's a sign. Only she's not sure if it means she should put their past behind her or try for a future with the man with the broken heart.

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and!
Canada's the last place you'd expect to find an American spy, but CIA operative Talia Reynolds has problems piling up higher than a Canadian snowbank. When Elliott Monteith, her ridiculously handsome new coworker, shows up, Talia decides it's game on. She'll be the first to track down a dangerous counter-spy, and she'll give Elliott an unforgettable souvenir of his time in Ottawa: some humble pie.
Her plans don't work as well as she expects, though. Elliott's over-the-top flirting dredges up too many painful memories for Talia and undermines the confidence she's worked hard to regain. To do her job and keep her integrity intact, she'll have to keep her personal feelings at bay. Now Talia must find a way to work alongside Elliott—and maybe even trust him—to outsmart the enemy

Snowed Inn by Heather Horrocks - Click here to purchase
Mystery buff Vicki Butler plans to kill someone this weekend. Nothing personal, just business.
The killer grand opening weekend at her new Who-Dun-Him Inn is all fun and games---until an unplanned dead body makes an appearance.
With a murderer running loose, young widowed mom Vicki is forced to keep her family, guests, and actors safe while searching for clues. Her author guests, also the prime suspects, try their hand at solving this real-life whodunit, in the process hindering the investigation by local law enforcement officers. Things really go downhill when her twin Liz shows up, trailed by flamboyant Grandma Ross, who announces she’s seeking a boy toy among the suspects. When both a local younger man and an out-of-town newshound start sniffing around the inn---and her---Vicki realizes she's got more than just a murderer to worry about. Can she solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Or will this case of opening-night jitters prove to be terminal?

Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks - Click here for a free copy
 Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

Click here to purchase
VL. Virgin Lips. You may not have heard of it, but where I live, it's a thing with a card, even if it is a figurative card. I was Brooklyn Hamlin, certified virgin lips, and I planned on clinging to that figurative card with all I had--while dating as many of the hottest guys at school as I could.
Maybe that's a bit strange. I mean, what teenage girl isn't interested in kissing? Locking lips definitely interested me, but the drama that came with it didn't. No kissing, no drama. Simple.
But on my sixteenth birthday, on my first real date even, the drama found me. His name was Luke Graham--cute, funny, and bad news for the whole female race.

The Princess Problem by Diane Darcy - Click here to purchase
In real life, she's given up on the fairy tale ending...
After having her heart broken twice, Alicia Dayne has sworn off men, decided to concentrate on her career, and is delighted to win a lucrative contract to make a commercial for Highborn Mattresses.
She could make the most awesome fairy tale commercial ever--except for Jonas Highborn, who isn't exactly thrilled with her Princess and the Pea ideas, and really doesn't want a prince in tights representing his company.
Though he's trying to keep his grieving mother happy by letting her have charge of the commercial shoot, and though Alicia's trying to keep in mind that this annoying guy is her boss for the moment, they can't seem to keep from clashing.
Throw in an overly-handsome prince, a matchmaking mama, and a stunning rose garden, and maybe, just maybe, Alicia can be convinced they have a chance at something real.
Because while she might not be a real princess, sometimes an ordinary girl's got to take a chance, even when it seems too good to be true.
When did Happily Ever After become so complicated?

Steal His Heart by Diane Darcy - Click here to purchase
What if keeping your job depended on keeping a secret? 
Daisy Manning has been testing security by shoplifting in Worthingtons Department store for five months. Not once in that entire time has she been caught by security personnel. Until today.
Kent Whitaker is disgusted by the beautiful thief he’s caught red-handed, and even more disgusted by his attraction to her. While he won’t allow himself to become romantically involved with a thief, he can certainly help out a friend by curing his daughter of bad habits. 
They both fight their growing attraction, Kent because dishonesty is the one trait he cannot tolerate, and Daisy because Kent is directly interfering with her long-range career goals. 
But when an unskilled matchmaker tries his hand at getting them together, the unexpected happens to them both as Kent gets distracted and Daisy steals his heart! 

Gifts and Consequences by Daniel Coleman
Click here to purchase

Jonathan decides to honor the wish of his dying wife – that he give away his fortune – but his methods are dangerously unconventional. He takes extreme measures to witness human struggle and watch the discovery of hidden strength. But when Jonathan goes too far, he faces consequences of his own.

The Colony by Cami Checketts - Click here to purchase
To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property.
Lance, Brinlee's attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion.
While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.

Blog This by Cami Checketts - Click here to purchase
Will protecting children throughout the world cost Natasha her own family?
Devastated by the loss of her brother, Natasha Senecot works to expose the dangers of Matthew Chrysler's violent video games, succeeding in bankrupting and humiliating him.
Chrysler retaliates and sends a hit man after her. Natasha is forced to fake her own death to protect her children, but after witnessing another tragedy, Natasha won't hide any longer.
In a race against time, can Natasha expose Matthew Chrysler before his assassin murders her family and shatters her world?

All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon - Click here to purchase
Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .
That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden---with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security? 
Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson - Click here to purchase
Luke Carney has no idea what possessed him to move back to Shelter Springs, Colorado, to set up his veterinarian practice. His parents had long since left, the small farming community is on the brink of extinction, and only one close friend from his childhood remains--Taycee Emerson, his best friend's little sister, who isn't so little anymore. Then there's the matter of Shelter's Bachelorette, an online reality dating show created to raise some much needed funds for the town. 
Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town's charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke's good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

Fair Catch by Cindy Roland Anderson - Click here to purchase
Ellie Garrett never planned on being a divorced, single mother—she also never planned to get married again. Ever. Her ordinary life changes when the house across the street is sold. The new owner is Nick Coulter—quarterback and MVP for the Sacramento Defenders. Oh yeah, he’s also one of People magazine’s top 100 most beautiful people and America’s most eligible bachelor. So why would she pick him to have her first crush on since her divorce? 
 Recently retired from the NFL, Nick is more than ready to find a wife and start a family. He's tired of his high-profile lifestyle and moves to Pleasant Wood, Colorado, hoping to finally settle down and focus on his foundation Kids Come First. It would just feel nice to be a normal guy. Of course being rebuffed by Ellie the first few times he meets her makes him feel a little too normal. 
As Nick and Ellie become acquainted, their mutual attraction is hard to ignore. But Ellie’s been hurt before by her womanizing ex-husband. She’s not sure that Nick has left behind his playboy reputation. Can she risk falling in love with the celebrity football player or will she miss her chance at scoring big in the game of love?

*7 Romance Novels, 7 Bestselling Authors, 1 Amazing Price* 99 cent Romance Boxed Set for a limited time only!
RUNNING BAREFOOT by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Amy Harmon! *Over 260 4 & 5 star reviews* 
MASQUERADE by Janette Rallison, who has sold more than 1 million books! 
THE RELUCTANT BACHELORETTE by Rachael Anderson, Amazon Bestseller! *Over 230 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon*
PRIDE AND PRECIPITATION by Heather Horrocks, Amazon Bestseller!  *Over 80 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon*
MY OWN MR. DARCY by Karey White, Amazon Bestseller! *Over 120 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon*
SHE OWNS THE KNIGHT by Diane Darcy, Amazon Bestseller! *Over 50 4 & 5 star reviews on Amazon*
HEART OF THE OCEAN by Heather B. Moore, Amazon Bestseller!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Curried Potatoes

This is another great Facebook recipe. Quick and easy and delicious, if you like curry. I happen to love curry so it was perfect for me. My family thought it was a little odd but tasty. I've never thought of cooking potatoes in curry before. It made a great side dish. You could add some shredded carrots and chicken chunks to make a one-pot meal out of it if you wanted.

This is the version I ended up making, cause I can't follow a recipe the way it's written to save my life.

Curried Potatoes

3 large potatoes, cut into bite-size cubes (should be about 4 c. total)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 t. garlic powder
2 1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 c. hot water
1 T. oil

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion. Cook and stir until onion is soft, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add potatoes and seasonings. Stir to coat. Add water. Cover and cook over medium heat until potatoes are mostly done. Add more water if needed to keep it from sticking. Remove lid. Cook until extra water is absorbed and potatoes are very soft. The spices and the cooked potatoes combine with the seasonings to make a really flavorful chunky mashed potato-type dish.

You can add cayenne pepper to the seasonings if you want a bigger bite. You can also use fresh garlic if you've got it. I also added a handful of green onions for color.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thursday Recipe (On Monday!) - Hoecakes

I have wonderful Facebook friends that share delicious recipes. I can't remember who posted this recipe, partly because I have memory issues from trying to remember too much at a time and partly because Facebook is ADHD on steroids, but it was to go with soup and it sounded so tasty I just couldn't pass up the chance to try it out. My daughter, who's allergic to wheat, loved these so much she asked me to make them the next day, too. Easy and fast and tasty when you need a quick starchy side dish. They're good with jam or honey butter, too.


1 c. cornmeal
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
3/4 c. water

Mix everything together in a mixing bowl. Stir until smooth.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a frying pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Spoon about 1/4 c. of batter into the pan. LET IT COOK WITHOUT BOTHERING IT FOR SEVERAL MINUTES. I tried to flip it too soon since I'm impatient and it stuck. Horribly. So be patient. When you see the edges looking golden brown, THEN try to flip it. It might stick a little but it shouldn't be too bad if you've been patient. If it starts smoking, you've been too patient. Cook it for a minute or two on the other side. It should be golden brown and smelling like cornbread.

Serve warm with your favorite choice of toppings. This can go with gravy and roast, not just sweet stuff on top.