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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Announcing "Kundalis Storm Dragon" by Frances Pauli!

I've interviewed Frances several times. I love, love, LOVE her books, if you haven't figured it out yet. We met over a blog tour for her first book and mine and we have way too many things in common. She writes a lot more than I do, though, so she has a lot more books to read and celebrate. Make sure you check them out. Here's her newest release:

Karin knows she’s gone completely insane—nuts—absolutely batshit crazy, when she spots an insidious blue dragon twining through the trees at a rest stop in the Cascade Mountains. Despite agreeing to join her roommate at a psychic fair, she’s never believed in anything metaphysical. She’s pretty sure the Reiki treatment she succumbed to has brought on a frighteningly realistic hallucination—until they roll their mini-van in the middle of I-90, and she is rescued from the vehicle by the same monstrous blue figment of her imagination. 

She awakens to find that she’s been delivered to a cabin high in the mountains instead of to a proper hospital. The “doctor” looking out for her is more of a new-ager than a physician, and the people who own the house, including the urban highlander version of Fabio, don’t have any intention of letting her leave.

Faced with the unimaginable, and strapped to an all-too-real dragon, Karin must decide how to tame the beast or risk losing herself to it forever.

Check it out on Goodreads here.

We spent a while chatting about this, that, and the other, but mostly about the book. So without further ado, here is my interview with Frances Pauli on how she does dragons.

Dragons? Why dragons? You’ve done elves, fairies, aliens, inter-dimensional pests, ghosts, time travel, everything EXCEPT high fantasy. Why dragons and why now?

The dragon story started at a rest stop on the way back from convention. Lots of fresh ideas boiling in the brain after convention, and we were all dreading the impending return to mundane life but also beat from all the running and socializing and convention fun. I'd grabbed my coffee (of course) and was waiting for everyone to get back in the car, just staring off into the trees, and I thought, "what a great place for a dragon." Honest truth. The scene makes an appearance at the beginning of the book too, although in a different form. And I still haven't technically done high fantasy. This one is contemporary, full of dragons, and very light. 

Is Kundalis your typical high fantasy, you know, shades of Tolkein and all that stuff? What makes it different?

So very much no. I love high fantasy, but the closest I've gotten is the Kingdoms Gone books. Kundalis will be contemporary fantasy or urban, though I hesitate there since it's all set in the half-empty wilds of Central Washington. The dragons in question are very real, but only physical part of the time, usually when it's least convenient. They attach to a human anchor like a parasite, but one that we find out has very unusual benefits as well. 

How do you do dragons?

Different. We know I don't do anything "by the book." My dragons are physical manifestations of metaphysical energy and they come complete with ego and personality flaws that often amplify their anchor's traits. They have some unusual skills, can interact with and affect the physical world, but they can also go into stealth mode, where only their anchor can see and hear them.  

If you could be any fantasy animal you want, which would you pick and why?

My children already think I'm a basilisk. It's the mom look. But if I could choose one, I've always been fond of griffons. They have the flight angle and yet can still defend themselves well. I'd say dragon, but I hate to pick the obvious. Not to mention the fire hazard! 

Tell us more about your book. Will there be romance in this one?

Storm Dragon is fairly solid contemporary fantasy. As I mentioned, it is set in Central Washington, so there aren't a lot of urban elements, but Karin does clash with a dragon gang. The style is a lot more like the Shift Happens books, light, humorous, very snarky. Blue is kind of a smartass and Karin cusses a lot and dislikes almost everyone. As to romance, there is a romantic interest, but the book is definitely not a romance, nor does it have the tropes that romance readers usually expect. And if I say any more, I'll be in spoiler territory. 

Spoilers? Better not say any more. If you're intrigued, go read the book. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Enter to win some free stuff:

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Grilled Chicken Legs

I found chicken drumsticks on sale the other day so of course I bought them. Since it's summer, I decided to fire up the grill and slap those puppies on the grill. The only decisions left were what seasonings and side dishes to serve with them. Cooking them outside had nothing to do with the fact that I was cleaning the oven at the time. It's so easy when you just have to push a single button and five hours later, your oven is magically clean. But it makes it hard to cook dinner.

Grilled Chicken Legs

12 drumsticks (about 4.5 - 5 lbs)
1 T. seasoned salt
1 t. grill seasoning

Sprinkle the seasonings over the chicken and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Heat up your grill (or set your broiler). Arrange the chicken over med-low heat, close the cover and let it cook for 15-20 minutes (broil on high for 15-20 minutes). Turn the chicken over and let it cook another 10-15 minutes until it's done (10 minutes or so under the broiler, for a total of about 25 minutes). If the skin is getting too charred, move it to the upper rack or turn the flame down. You want the legs to cook until they're a lovely brown on the outside and the meat is no longer pink. Move the legs off the grill, cover and let sit for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

For a summer picnic dinner, add potato salad or chips, green salad, and watermelon. A big glass of lemonade would finish it off nicely.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Giveaway! The Fall of the Altairan Empire Conclusion

Announcing the final two books in the series! Phoenix in Flames and Redemption, the conclusion to the Fall of the Altairan Empire.

If you've been looking for a great summer read, why not try the series? Lots of action and adventure. Great characters and interesting settings. Plus, with 11 books and over a million words, it will last a whole lot longer than a movie. Check out the official webpage for the full series and all the links.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway at the end of the post. I'm giving away a hand-made crocheted Kindle/small tablet/ereader cover in a lovely zebra yarn. If I get more than 100 entries, I'll throw in a paperback signed copy of Nexus Point. For every 100 entries after that, I'll add in another paperback book in the series. Sound like a good deal to you? Then go enter!

Phoenix in Flames, book 10

Smashwords (all ebook formats)

The Phoenix is deep in syndicate territory and they're out for blood. Lowell's power base is broken and Dace is left unprotected. Jasyn will have to marshal all her resources to rescue Dace from the wrath of her enemies.

Redemption, book 11

Smashwords (all ebook formats)

The Empire is disintegrating, leaving all civilization on the brink of collapse. Roland sends Dace to Linas-Drias as his ambassador, to try to salvage what she can. But things are worse than anyone suspected. Not even Dace can save the Emperor from the mysterious Ice Queen and her plotting.

Get book 1, Nexus Point for FREE! Use code AA47G at Smashwords.

Enter to win a hand-crocheted Kindle cover made by yours truly. It's easy and I promise I won't ask you to sign up for any spam.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Our grocery store does this wonderful thing called Manager's Specials. They mark down all sorts of items that they just want to go away fast. My kids are starting to believe that groceries need that big yellow and orange price sticker or something must be wrong with it. Yeah, I admit I'm a bargain/clearance bin shopper.

Today they had lots of markdown produce. It needed used as soon as possible. I ended up with eight lovely bell peppers, mostly yellow and red with only one green one. But they aren't going to keep. I chopped up most of them and chucked them into the freezer for future stir fries and other dishes that need cooked peppers. (I also did this with the celery leaves and green onions. I've still got lots of sweet potatoes that are roasted and just waiting to be peeled and frozen. Like I said, lots of great deals on produce that was just a little past its prime.)

I enjoy stuffed peppers every once in a while, but it's a bit too much pepper for my kids so we tried this out instead. It makes an easy casserole that's pretty much a full meal by itself.

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped bell pepper, whatever color you want
4 c. cooked rice
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. oregano
paprika for garnish

Brown beef and onions together until meat is cooked. Drain off grease. Mix beef mix, peppers, rice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano. Spoon into 9x13 casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Serve hot.

You can sprinkle it with a cup of shredded cheese for the last five minutes if you like.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Writers on Writing Blog Hop

My friend, Marva Dasef, tagged me for this blog hop. It sounded fun so I'm playing along. Check out her post here. I'm supposed to answer these four questions and tag other authors to play along. So without further ado, here are my answers and taggees:

What am I working on/writing?
I'm finishing up publication on my Fall of the Altairan Empire series, a fun space opera adventure series. It's been years in the making. It's a bittersweet thing. I'm glad it's finally out there, but I'm sad that it's over. But that means it's time for new things. I've got a steampunk/fairyland/elf fantasy (Dark Dancer is due out hopefully this fall depending on how much editing it needs) in the works along with a middle-grade fantasy adventure series and more space opera novels. It's always something.

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
I've been told my writing is reminiscent of pulp sci-fi adventure stories from the 50s. People have compared my books to Andre Norton or Elizabeth Moon, which made me extremely happy. I love both of those authors and adore their books. It's flattering.

I write books that I want to read, which means lots of action and explosions and characters you can admire as well as villains you can hate. I love long series, too, so I wrote an 11 book, million+ word saga. That should keep readers happy for a few days.

Why do I write what I do?
I love adventures and fun characters. I also love playing, "What if?" Aliens, spaceships, other worlds, space in general - I love them all and can't get enough of them. But I also enjoy magic and fantasy settings. Mostly, I just want to tell stories. I love telling stories.

How does my writing process work?
I futz around for a while, answer the phone three times, find my water bottle, find chocolate and snacks, tell the kids I'm writing and they better not disturb me, go to the bathroom, check on the kids, watch a few episodes of my favorite tv shows, take the dogs outside, answer the phone a few more times, realize the day is almost over and I haven't written anything yet, complain to whoever will listen, then maybe knock out a few words and vow to do better tomorrow.

That's true some days, but not always or else I'd never get anything done. On a good day, I hide in the bedroom out of reach of the phone, turn up my music, and WRITE. Once I'm in the zone, the words just pour out. I don't care if they're good or not, not until I get into editing mode which comes much, much later after the book is finished.

And the music? Depends on what I'm writing. I've got movie soundtracks, pop songs, classical, heavy metal, anime, and a whole lot of other music genres in my library. I find something that fits the mood I need and let it carry me away into the story. The latest I repeated ad nauseum for about ten hours were the soundtracks for Medal of Honor and Wing Commander. I've never seen either movie, but I adore the soundtracks. Dr. Who is also good. As is this one:

And sometimes, my playlist even includes MLP:FIM songs. I live in a house of bronies. I can't help myself.

Make sure you visit these authors next week to check out their answers:

Soozcat blogs the most interesting things.

"Since I first started posting to Confessions of a Laundry Faerie in September 2006, I’ve tried several times to nail down what my blog should be about: Journal entries? Personal essays? Short stories? Flights of fancy? Finally I just gave up and ticked “All of the above,” and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since."

Check out Confessions of a Laundry Faerie.

Dene Low has written several books, with the latest being COOKIES TO DIE FOR that came out in May. Her writing spans the genres of Young Adult fantasy to mainstream mystery and some scholarly publications on the side, including poetry.  Her books have won won numerous awards, including being a finalist for the Mystery Writers of American Edgar Award and a selection of the Junior Library Guild. She is a university professor who teaches writing. She and her husband love to see their many grandchildren and travel. She especially likes riding her motorcycle.

Check out her blog at

Kathryn Olsen is a Bostonian essayist whose interests range from Chaucer to Challion. She has contributed to iEmily, Voices, What Culture and Authors Publish Magazine and will be featured in an upcoming anthology of Mormon writers. She came to Utah to study English at Brigham Young University and has not yet gotten around to leaving. In her spare time, she travels as much as possible, works full time and talks to her four goldfish.
Check out her blog at

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Baked Fish

It's time for something light and healthy, like baked fish. Try serving it with Tempura Sauce or Mango Salsa and rice (lots of rice recipes on this blog if you want something more than plain). With a salad, it makes a light, healthy summertime dinner. It's what we're eating at my house.

Baked Fish

1 lb frozen fish fillets (tilapia is pretty good)
2 T. butter
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. dill weed

Place fillets in a baking dish. Cut butter into small chunks and place on the fillets. Sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, until done. If you're cooking fresh or defrosted fillets, check after 15 minutes. The fish should flake easily.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wedding Stuff

My son got married over the weekend. So enjoy these sites this week:

Earth Tigers by Frances Pauli - a web serial about giant spiders, villagers, and wasp people.

Cheap Caffeine by Nathan Shumate - a very silly webcomic

And for no reason, here's Darth Po with his friends Dipsy the Hutt and Lala Binks. And some random photo-bombing cannibalistic Ewok.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Dirty Rice

This is a variation on one of my dad's camping recipes. It's a one-pot dinner that turns out fairly tasty. And if it looks weird, it's okay. It's scout food. Did I mention my dad was a scoutmaster for years? He's got a lot of great recipes. He had his 10yo boys cooking Mother's Day brunches to die for. He did a lot of good over the years, working with the scouts.

Dirty Rice

1 lb hamburger
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 c. shredded carrots
1 t. salt
2 c. rice
4 c. hot water
1 T. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger in large dutch oven. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Stir and cook until vegetables start to wilt, 2 or 3 minutes. Add salt, rice, and hot water. Bring to a boil. Cover and remove from the heat. Set in the coals where it will stay hot but not boiling. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes, until rice is done. Remove from heat and add butter. Let it sit for five minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix. Serve hot.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Introducing . . . . . . Myrick, the Magnificent!

A couple of years ago, my friend and I edited a fun anthology titled "Wandering Weeds: Tales of Rabid Vegetation." One of the stories we included was a fun little gem about a wizard-wannabe named Myrick who gets into a lot of trouble and wears magic socks. I'm happy to say that Myrick's story has grown into a whole collection. If you want some fun and giggles, check it out.

Check out the author's post about the book here.

"Are you sure you want to be an adventurer?

"Believe me, there are plenty of dragons, moronic guards, golems, evil sorcerers, zombies, blood-thirsty plants, undead necromancers, bandits, and troglyns out there who do NOT have your health and happiness in mind. If it weren't for my friends--the squirrel-like Nut-boy, the beautiful yet brawny Princess Frederica, and the ever-loyal but brainless Nonac the barbarian--I wouldn't be alive today to warn you about the many dangers out there. Of course, possessing magic running socks helps a lot, too, even though they seem to get me into trouble as fast as they get me out.

"So, I've compiled a few of my life experiences in an effort to convince you, my good friends, to just stay home, lock your doors, and keep a loaded crossbow handy. Oh, and have a barbarian around in case something needs to be thumped senseless."