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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

When I was back in grade school, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth if you ask my kids, the lunch ladies used to bake cookies from scratch. They also made soups and stews and all sorts of good things that don't happen anymore. We had a short little Dutch lady as the lunch lady for a while who made the most delicious split pea soup. But that's beside the point.

These peanut butter bars are the same ones the lunch ladies used to serve. Moist and delicious and slathered with chocolate frosting, these are fast and easy. They don't last long at my house.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

1/2 c. shortening (you can substitute 1/4 c. butter for half of it, but if you just use butter, the cookies don't stay nice and soft)
1/2 c. peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. flour, white or wheat
1 c. oatmeal

Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars until nice and fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, baking soda, and salt. Beat a couple more minutes until very smooth and fluffy. Stir in flour and oatmeal. Spread in a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes, until set and barely brown. Let cool.

Spread with chocolate frosting. Let it sit for a while to set up. Slice and serve. Pizza cutters are great for slicing these.

If you double the batch, spread it out on a large baking sheet. They'll be thinner so bake them the shorter time.

Chocolate Frosting (or use this recipe)

1/2 c. butter, softened (not melted if you can avoid it)
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 t. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar
2-4 T milk

Cream butter, cocoa, and vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Drizzle in milk while beating. Add just enough milk to make it spreading consistency. Beat for another 2-4 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Book Release - Newtimber Fractured by Karen Hoover

My good friend, Karen Hoover, is releasing a new book. I'm here to help her celebrate and to entice all of you good people to check out the book. Karen writes some great fantasy so I'm sure it will be an entertaining read. She's even offering her book, The Sapphire Flute, for FREE! Check out the links at the end of the post.

Newtimber Fractured:
There was absolutely no way a black dragon hovered outside of Newtimber. Sianna rubbed her eyes, but the dragon was still there, clutching a round object that looked like a spotted egg. And then the egg fell, hitting the ground like an atomic bomb, sending out waves of a slow-moving fog that distorted everything it touched.
The citizens of Newtimber change. The old man down the street stretches into a screaming tree. Sianna’s skateboarding friend, Matt, transforms into a giant green dragon. Pegasus. Sirens. Griffins. Vampires. Zombies. Creatures from the myths of every culture come to life through the people.
Even Sianna changes, her skin becoming stone hard, and she gains the ability to travel from the human realm into the dimension of the fae, using it to free her father from prison and enlist his aid in battling the evil bent on taking over the world.
One person to heal a family, a town, and save the world. It seems an impossible task, but with the help of her new friends, it could happen. 

Purchase Links: 

Author Bio: 
Karen E. Hoover has loved the written word for as long as she can remember. Her favorite memory of her dad is the time he spent with Karen on his lap, telling her stories for hours on end. Her dad promised he would have Karen reading on her own by the time she was four years old … and he very nearly did. Karen took the gift of words her dad gave her and ran with it. Since then, she’s written two novels and reams of poetry. Her head is fairly popping with ideas, so she plans to write until she’s ninety-four or maybe even a hundred and four.
Inspiration is found everywhere, but Karen’s heart is fueled by her husband and two sons, the Rocky Mountains, her chronic addiction to pens and paper, and the smell of her laser printer in the morning.
Author Links – 

~ Get The Sapphire Flute (The Wolfchild Saga, Book One) by Karen, FREE! ~ 

 ~ Amazon

 ~ B&N

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Quick Creamy Chicken Gravy (non-dairy)

I'm in graduate school. I would love to come home from class and find my house sparkling clean and dinner waiting. But since my children still at home are mostly teenage males, I'm lucky to find the house still standing. They aren't very messy since all they do is play video games, but dust and dog hair still accumulate in corners and food doesn't cook itself. They don't usually think about cooking until they are starving.

So I walk in the door at 4:30 the other day, hot and tired and just wanting to sit down and put my feet and not think for a while. But the house is a mess, dishes aren't done, laundry is draped everywhere, kids are arguing over some pointless computer game, and I lost it. I'm scary sometimes. My kids scrambled to clean things in an effort to avoid the tongue-lashings. I'm human, it happens. Life is not always sunshine and happy at my house. Sometimes mom becomes a raging volcano.

End result? The house was sort of clean. Laundry is still everywhere, but not quite as deep. And dinner ended up being something we could throw together quickly. It even ended up tasty. Serve this gravy over brown rice with a side of broccoli and it's even fairly healthy. Feel free to substitute milk for the almond milk if you don't need to worry about dairy allergies.

Quick Creamy Chicken Gravy

1 T. oil
5-6 chicken tenders
2 T. chopped onions
4 c. unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
2 t. dry onion soup mix (not the commercial ones but this homemade mix)*
salt to taste
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. cold water

Heat oil in large saute pan. Add chicken. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over. Cook uncovered until juices are evaporated and chicken is beginning to brown. Turn chicken as needed to get a nice browning on all sides. Remove chicken to a cutting board and set aside.

Add onions to hot pan. Cook and stir for about a minute until onions start to soften. Make sure you scrape up the browned chicken bits stuck to the pan. They add a wonderful flavor. Add almond milk and onion soup mix. Stir well. Taste and add salt if needed. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water. Bring gravy to a boil, then stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until it comes to a boil again and gets nice and thick.

Chop up chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir into gravy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

*If you don't want to bother with the onion soup mix, try this instead:
Increase onions to 1/3 c.
Add 1 t. dried parsley, 1/2 t. turmeric, 1/4 t. garlic powder, 1/4 t. celery salt, 1/4 t. mustard powder, 1/4 t. ground black pepper, and 1 t. salt.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Author Interview - Mikey Brooks

Please welcome author Mikey Brooks to the Far Edge of Normal. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of the best-selling middle-grade series The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Stone of Valhalla, and The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ ( You can find more about him and his books at: 

You are welcome to follow Mikey on all of his social media sites:

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?

I write mainly for kids although adults enjoy my books too. I am the author/illustrator of several picture books including: ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons. My middle grade books include: The Dream Keeper Chronicles, The Stone of Valhalla, and a new fantasy adventure in The Gates of Atlantis series: Battle for Acropolis. I am currently finishing up the final book in the Dream Keeper Chronicles: The Dream Makers, which I hope to have available this fall.

I can’t say which my favorite is because I have enjoyed each project differently. All of them I had tons of fun creating and I hope to continue to create fun filled stories for kids to devour.

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

I am Wonder Woman’s husband…shh don’t tell, but she really is. We have three beautiful daughters. I am a family man. I love spending time with the kiddos and just goofing off. When the girlies go to bed I snuggle up with Wonder Woman and we watch movies, mostly chick flicks.

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

I get my ideas from just about anywhere. It could be a line from a movie, a strange picture in the National Geographic, or a question one of the girlies ask me. When I write, I have to have absolute silence. Normally during my writing day, Thursdays, Wonder Woman takes the girlies to grandma’s house. I have to fully emerge myself in my world. It plays out in my head like a movie and it’s a movie I have to give my fullest attention or I miss something.

"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 my gosh, I HATE cats! Probably because of the cat my mom had when I was in high school. It always came down in the middle of the night moaning like it had just been ran over. No matter what I did it felt the urge to torment me while I slept. I do have four parakeets, which for the most part are just pretty to look at and kind of annoying with how loud they get. We also just adopted a cute little doggy we named Stormy.

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

I don’t get a lot of writing time in during the week because I am focusing mostly on my clients projects (either covers, illustrations, or formatting) so I have to utilize the time that I have. I can’t afford to sit there thinking about what to write…so I write out the scene in my head the days that lead up to Thursday. I am constantly thinking about what is going on and what is about to happen next. I totally recommend writers do this. You’ll write so much more efficiently.

What writers inspired you to become an author?

Three authors had a big impact on me: L Frank Baum gave me my love of stories with his Oz books, C.S. Lewis continued that love of magic in words, and finally when I wanted to become a writer, J.K. Rowling’s’ story really impacting me. Now that I am a writer, I am constantly inspired by the authors around me. It’s good to have mentors and role models. Some of my current ones include: J. Scott Savage, James A. Owens, and Jennifer A. Nielsen. 

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

Oh yes! I am a part of The Gates of Atlantis series. I was privileged to illustrate the covers for all six book and write the final book in the series: Battle for Acropolis. Those kick off next week. We’ll be having signing in Utah. One on August 9th at the Hastings in Ogden from 3pm-5pm. Another signing in Provo at Provo Beach on August 15 from 3pm-6pm. I’ll also be at Salt Lake City ComicCon in September.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?

Hmm… this is a good one because there are so many places I’d love to visit. I like the times of the Musketeers. I’d also like to visit the Regency time period. Maybe even go back and see the pyramids before nature took hold. However, I am a fan of modern comforts like indoor plumbing and air conditioning. While these places would be good to visit, I wouldn’t want to permanently stay there.

If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? What food would you serve?

Can I just sit down with all of them and have a BBQ? That would be ideal for me. 

If you could travel anywhere, on earth or off, where would you go?

I would definitely go to the UK. I have always wanted to go there and feel a strange connection with the Brits. I think there is this romantic idea about the UK that still has a great hold on me. I’m not sure If I’d ever come back after going. 

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?

Today I say blue. Tomorrow it will probably be another color. My favorite color changes every day.

Describe your dream writing spot.

I am trying to create that now. I just try to surround myself with things that make me happy and inspire me. Pictures of fun art, quotes that help in my determination, stuff like that. I’d like to say a tree house like J.K. Rowling, but I’m not sure if I’d get enough writing done. I’d probably just want to play.

Check out his books, now available on audio books!
Book 1: The Dream Keeper
When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world? 

Book 2: The Dreamstone 
When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. When they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Quick Strawberry Ice Cream

I shouldn't shop when I'm tired. I buy the weirdest stuff and then have to figure out how to get the kids to eat it.

Last night, I came home with a quart of whole milk, which I never buy, and a quart of strawberry flavored milk, which I also never buy. They were on sale, though. Cheap! (One of these days I'll have to write up the story of my grandmother and the lime green polyester elastic-waist stretchy pants. She couldn't resist a bargain, either.) I had a vague idea about making ice cream.

I brought home a dozen doughnuts, too, but that's another story. I did end up with fruits and veggies and healthy stuff in the cart. Somewhere.

So I threw some stuff in the ice cream maker and turned it on. Twenty minutes later we had stuff that looked like orange sherbet but tasted like one of the best strawberry ice creams I've ever had.

Quick Strawberry Ice Cream

2 c. whole milk
2 1/2 c. strawberry flavored milk
1 large box instant vanilla pudding (6 serving size)

Mix everything together. Whisk for a couple of minutes until it's smooth. Pour into the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Enjoy.

Makes about 1.5 quarts of ice cream. It comes out a beautiful creamy orange sherbet color, but the taste is all strawberry.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Author Interview: Eva Caye

I met Eva online. We chat on Facebook, commiserating on the fun things life throws at us. But today we're here to talk about writing, not the rest of it.

It took a health crisis to inspire Eva Caye to walk away from teaching and pursue her long-time hobby, writing. She had written eight books before finding a way to pay for an editor, and then she succeeded in getting all eight books in her To Be Sinclair series published within one year while she worked on the finale. Her current works-in-progress are two prequels about colonization some 450 years prior to the series, and an unrelated novel about 60 years in our future featuring a rare telepath.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, her blog, and her website.

What genre do you prefer to write? What books or stories that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I write science fiction romance, which covers the spectrum of awareness from logic or reason (science) to feeling and emotions (romance).  I have finished my To Be Sinclair series, featuring a scientist as Empress and her children as progressive, high-minded, hard-working Imperial Family members who truly care about their people.  It’s tough enough for regular people to find love – what about not only the most important person in the galaxy, but also her children, raised to be paranoid?  How do you date under constant security, anyway?

Since the majority of my books feature different Imperial Family members, they all have different ‘timbres’ to them according to their personalities, so it’s hard to say which are my favorites because they are all unique.  I add ‘Easter egg’ short stories or novellas to my books as lagniappes, just little ‘thank-you’ gifts to my readers, and even then they tend to have a completely different tone than the books, moving from serious to funny or social to intimate.  An add-on book I refer to as ‘book 6.5’, since it consists of four novellas, is my editor’s favorite, whereas I adore book 5 but it has few reviews, all of which say something like, ‘good book but not my favorite’.

I am working on two distant prequels to that series, and I have a third work-in-progress that is more paranormal fiction than romance, although there is plenty of love in that story.  In particular, I deal with the societal influences of my characters and do not shy away from sexual situations, although I try to project what I feel is a ‘healthy’ approach to sexuality.  I avoid purple prose, but I also avoid smutty descriptions!

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

Between diabetes, depression, and a long-lingering infection, I suffer a lot of brain fog and don’t have much energy in the first place.  I garden a bit but won’t tell you how many plants are still alive, and if I’m not writing or editing, I’m listening to brain improvement or subliminal mp3s while crocheting small stars to piece together into a garment someday.

I don’t watch TV, unless hubby has something on.  He wears headphones so he doesn’t distract me unduly, though I can sometimes hear what he’s watching.  I abhor violence and even wear a visor to cut off subconscious images from the TV, unwilling to let the least image of guts and gore slip sideways into my brain!  It’s about the only argument I’ve ever had with my hubby, trying to figure out why he likes that stuff in the first place.

"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?

If anything, I would say all writers must have dogs.  Dogs worship you like a deity, adore you for every smidgen of attention, and are always happy to see you, feeding your ego.  Since writers tend to be ignored, scorned, or demanded to produce (stories, money, freebies, aka ‘food’) anyway, why would any writer want a cat?

I hear you there. I've got dogs and a cat, but they belong to my kids and husband mostly. The frogs are mine. What writers inspired you to become an author?

Robert A. Heinlein and Lois McMaster Bujold are my favorites, although Anne McCaffrey, Spider Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Julian May, and Marion Zimmer Bradley are way up there, too. For the record, I’ve not verified any of the personal information I’ve heard about these authors, which shouldn’t detract from what they have written, anyway.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?

I would love to see the construction of the Pyramids of Egypt, but I would really love to see what high civilization occupied the current Gobi Desert.  In my opinion, civilizations create deserts, with their monocultures and need to feed their people destroying the environment as their populations swell.  I always figured Coleridge psychically accessed that civilization to write Kubla Khan.

Describe your dream writing spot.

Anywhere completely plain, really.  If I’m too comfortable, I might not get anything done.  If the scenery is too beautiful, I might get distracted.  I tend to curl up on the couch, with my chores undone while I pound away at the laptop.  If I get to feeling too guilty, I’ll take a break and do some chores while I work on the next scene in my mind.

Sounds like me most days. Thanks for stopping by, Eva, and good luck with your series!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Berry Brown Betty (GF style)

Once you venture into the world of cobblers and similar desserts, you run into all sorts of varieties. The name depends on where the dish originated and sometimes has to do with how you handle the topping and/or crust. This article will give you more information than you ever wanted to know if you're curious. At my house, we usually just call them all cobblers. As long as it's full of fruit with some kind of topping, we'll eat it.

My mother had a wooden cutting board that was in the shape of an apple with a recipe for Apple Brown Betty printed on it. I was always curious about the recipe but never actually tried it out. The board is long since gone along with the recipe.

I came across this recipe and thought it sounded worth trying. I'm calling it a brown betty, although according to the article, a brown betty is made with bread crumbs and resembles bread pudding. This is just a crumbly oatmeal crust version. So call it what you will. I call it tasty.

Berry Brown Betty (GF style)

1 t. cinnamon
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. melted butter
4 c. fruit - raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, sliced rhubarb, etc.
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. water

Mix flour, cinnamon, oatmeal, and brown sugar. Stir in butter until mixed. Sprinkle half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9x9 pan and pat smooth. Set aside the rest of the crust. Toss berries with sugar and cornstarch, stir in water just to moisten. Spread over the bottom crust. Sprinkle the top with the remainder of the crust mixture.

Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes until topping is brown and filling is bubbly.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And the winner is . . .

Eva Caye!

You have won the lovely crocheted ebook sleeve and one paperback from my series. Please let me know which one you would like and I'll sign it and get it out to you.

Congratulations and thanks for entering everyone!

(And I'll figure out Rafflecopter eventually...)

Friday, July 4, 2014

SFR Brigade Presents. . .

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade gets together pretty much every week to post snippets of their work for your sampling pleasure. This week, I've got a snippet from the beginning of Phoenix in Flames, book 10 of my series. Enjoy! And don't forget to enter the drawing that ends Saturday at midnight. Snag a free copy of Nexus Point while you're at it.

Now for the snippet:

The darkness tasted of stone and the wet that dripped in the subterranean maze, sometimes close enough he could touch it, sometimes so distant it made his throat ache. His universe shrank, encompassing only the wet coldness of stone forever under his fingers. Once he had known light and warmth, hidden in the haze that filled his mind. Now was all that existed, all that ever had existed, all that ever would exist. Now was the cold dark and unending stone.
And her. He shivered at the forbidden thought. She came sometimes, into the darkness. She brought light with her, wrapped around her. She brought quiet words and soft touches. She supplied clear water and the almost forgotten taste of food. She called herself an angel. Her absence was his punishment, clear indication that he was not worthy of her presence.
Her touch unlocked his memories for a brief moment of sanity before her touch took it away again and left him sobbing over his betrayal. He had tried to resist her. He had broken every vow he'd ever made after she touched him. He had tried to hide, but she had found him, her voice scolding and harsh even as her hands gently touched his face. She would always find him no matter where he tried to hide. Not in the maze of rock, and not in his mind.
He wrapped his arms around himself, alone in the darkness, shivering with cold and need. She had stolen everything and left him only the hope that she would come back before he gave in to the shrieking madness creeping through the silent stone. He closed his eyes, seeking artificial darkness he could control. It was the only shred of self he had left. He had no name, no thoughts to call his own, no words, nothing but what she gave him. He kept nothing from her gentle questions and her gentler touch.
Except for a single name that echoed through his dreams.


Check out the whole series at
Make sure you check out the other snippets for some fun teasers.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thursday Recipe - Zucchini Fudge Cake

Yep, you read that right. Zucchini Fudge Cake. It's from an old church cookbook. The key I've found is that you don't use shredded zucchini. You chop it very small. It changes the texture if you use shredded zucchini.

Zucchini Fudge Cake

1/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sour milk (or use 1/4 c. milk and 1 t. lemon juice)
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves or nutmeg
2 1/2 c. flour
2 c. diced zucchini
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugar, and oil. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, and cocoa. Beat smooth. Stir in baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Add flour and zucchini. Stir just until mixed. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes.