Friday, July 22, 2011

Welcome Sarah Ballance

I'm delighted to have Sarah Ballance guesting today. She shares a yummy recipe and a wonderful excerpt from her new mystery, HAWTHRONE! Take a moment and indulge. No calories involved unless you decide to make the recipe.

HAWTHORNE is set on the banks of the Mississippi, on a sprawling 19th century Louisiana plantation. While I can't claim to have spent much time with the upper crust, I can attest to many a scorching summer in the Bayou State spent visiting my great-grandmother. A Southerner through and through, I totally fess to lovin' the traditional food—rich and sweet—and one of our family faves was banana pudding. However, now that I'm all grown up and know what that meringue is made of, I'm less of a fan. (Have I mentioned I'm a picky eater? LOL.) Besides, who wants to stand over a stove in the heat of summer? With those thoughts in mind, the kids and I developed this recipe to deliver all the flavor of banana pudding … minus the egg and the heat.


You'll need:
• 3 bananas, peeled and sliced
• 1 box Nilla wafers
• (2) 3.4 oz boxes instant vanilla pudding
• Milk (to make pudding)
• 12 oz Cool-Whip, thawed
• 2 quart casserole dish (4" deep)

1. Prepare one 3.4 oz box of instant pudding per package instructions.
2. Pour into casserole dish.
3. Top with a layer of sliced bananas.
4. Top bananas with a layer of Nilla wafers.
5. Cover with half of Cool Whip. Spread evenly to the edges of the dish.
6. Prepare second box of instant pudding. Pour slowly and carefully over Cool Whip.
7. Layer as before with sliced bananas, cookies, and the rest of the Cool Whip.
8. Top with crushed Nilla wafers.
9. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Now I hope you'll make up a dish of it to enjoy while you sit down to enjoy my new release HAWTHORNE! It's only $3 and all proceeds will be forwarded directly from the publisher to benefit Japan disaster relief—please consider donating and telling a friend!

To help raise awareness about our charity titles, Elaina Lee (author of TO URN HER LOVE, which benefits Alabama tornado victims) and I are offering a weekly $10 gift certificate during our promotional period, which ends August 8. You may also win a copy of one of our backlist titles—to be eligible for prizes, all you have to do is leave a comment. Additionally, if you've purchased either HAWTHORNE or TO URN HER LOVE please email me at sarah at sarahballance dot com to request a free gift.

Thanks so much for having me today! This has been a unique experience, and now I'm seriously craving some banana pudding. ;c)


After a terrifying encounter with the unexplained, it took ten years and the news of her grandmother’s passing for Emma Grace Hawthorne to return to her childhood home. She sought peace in saying a proper goodbye, but what she found was an old love, a sordid family history, and a wrong only she could right.

Living in the shadow of Hawthorne Manor, Noah Garrett never forgot about Emma Grace. In a house full of secrets, his search for missing documents revealed a truth that could cost him everything. What he found gave Emma the freedom to walk away from the mansion, her heart free and clear, but at what price to Noah?


Chapter One

The car slowed to a stop and a decade's worth of memories tumbled onto the sun-blanched asphalt.

Hawthorne Manor.

The hand-painted sign hadn't changed in years. In the thick, damp air filling the Louisiana landscape, the wood display remain inexplicably unaffected. There it sat—every meticulously scripted letter as crisp and clean as the stark white walls of the manor it lauded, oblivious to the passage of time.

Emma Hawthorne tensed in the seat of the Mustang convertible, staring at her past with ice sluicing her spine Anywhere else, the view would have been gorgeous. The drive, lined on both sides with live oak laden with Spanish moss, was the South personified. At the end, Hawthorne Manor held court. Pristine, proud, the boastful antebellum home beamed, lording over its acreage.

But it harbored the unspeakable. No amount of time could erase what happened to her on the other side of the expanse of green lawn. Nothing could change what she'd seen there. Some might say she was crazy—that she'd imagined or invented the whole ordeal—but her scars were all the proof she needed. Whether the shadows lurking behind the fa├žade of the picturesque plantation were real or born of an overactive imagination, there was no way she was going back into that house.

Especially not for a dead woman.

Sparing a glance in the rearview, Emma steeled herself against a trembling in her hands that threatened to overtake her body. She released a pent-up breath, her heart settling into a less acrobatic rhythm at the thought of leaving. She didn't have to stay here.

Let the South win this one. She was going home.

A split second after she decided to go, something caught her eye. She blinked, trying to see through the swaying canopy of leaves and moss, certain a figure stood atop the widow's walk straddling the roofline of the house. But no one—

Something brushed the car, rocking it. Swallowing panic, Emma tried to tear her focus from Hawthorne Manor, but fear kept her from looking anywhere else. Time and distance hadn't done her any favors; she was a fool for coming anywhere near this place, much less with the ragtop down.

The car rocked harder. The something refused to be ignored.

Fighting the grip of panic tightening her throat—fighting the ghosts of her past—Emma forced herself to look away from the house, toward the intrusion over her left shoulder.

The first thing she saw was an aged set of gnarled fingers resting on the door, blue automotive paint showing through an ugly translucence.
The second was the face—withered, centurion, and expressionless. Haunting.



Emma screamed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Booting the Eeyore Syndrone

A lot of people call me positive and fun. I like to think I view the world with a 'cup half full' but there are times when my childhood creeps in and brings forth the negative. Raised in an environment where the philosophy was “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any,” I’ve fought to overcome that viewpoint. Still there are times when I wander down the path of “oh bother” sort of like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh series.

Since I spend most Tuesdays with Toddler and she loves Winnie, I’ve watched a lot of the cartoons as well as read the books and on my sweaty walk this morning it occurred to me that I’ve fallen into Eeyore’s view that the ‘cup is always half empty’ and I don’t like the self-degradation it omits.

An example of his life viewpoint at first makes me smile, but when you look deeper, it’s filled with negative and no feelings of self-worth.

"Eeyore," said Owl, "Christopher Robin is giving a party."
"Very interesting," said Eeyore. "I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don't mention it."

I am the only one who can change the way I think. As it’s said in The Secret, I am the master of my thoughts. Staying in touch with how I feel is essential. When I don’t feel good, angry or negative, it’s up to me to reverse the situation through my thoughts. Fix the ‘poor me’ moods by doing something fun and positive if thoughts alone don’t achieve. For me, dancing to happy music and meditating seem to do the trick most times. Other times require a more concentrated effort and analysis of where the negativity is coming from. The realization it comes from someone in your life may involve distancing from that person and their constant feed of my childhood input.

So, Eeyore, as much as I love you babe, your “oh bother” attitude needs booting to the curb, as well as those in my life who feed on that outlook.

What do you do to help overcome the negatives in your life?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Friday!

I'm my own guest today! Focus the next few weeks...complete the current WIP. The interruptions, illnesses and over commitments have put me way behind. But things are moving now, so focus, focus and more focus.

A baulky Cailleach, a chocolate loving heroine, a hero who wants to put the bite on her and a bad guy who's mother is easy to hate. That's the world I'm existing in for the next couple of weeks.

And once that's put to bed, I trying out a new genre...and a new name. Yep, I'm going become a very split personality!

How about you??? What is happening in your world? What books are in your summer reading stack?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recipe Wednesday

Thought I had dinner planned for tonight. Had decided on a quick and dirty meal since there's so much to do and so many words to write, but that all changed in a matter of minutes. Started looking for today's recipe and came across this one from Southern Living that I'd forgotten. Being from the South and still a Southerner at heart, it's talking to me big time, so my next step is take the chicken breast out to defrost and make this happen for dinner tonight!

This easy chicken is quickly cooked in the skillet then it's baked with a tasty glaze. Serve this flavorful chicken with rice and green beans or peas for a delicious everyday family meal.

Cook Time: 25 minutes
• 4 to 6 thin chicken breast halves (thinly sliced or pounded to about 1/2-inch thickness)
• Salt and pepper
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 4 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate (about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces)
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 2 teaspoon spicy mustard
• 4 green onions, thinly sliced

Wash chicken and pat dry; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Put flour in a plate and press chicken into the flour, just to coat both sides lightly. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brown chicken in the oil for about 2 minutes on each side.

Heat oven to 350°.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the vinegar, orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, mustard, and green onions. Pour the mixture over the chicken, turning chicken to coat both sides. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turning once, or until chicken is glazed and cooked through.
Serves 4.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Updates

After a hectic weekend, I'm ready to tackle work! And man, oh man, do I ever need to not just tackle, but attack!! It feels like the more I cross off the 'to do' list the longer it grows with additional adds.

At the very top is Emerging Magic. Experienced creative constipation there for a couple of weeks that didn't help the word count, but back on track. Think I'd better be or my editor will ....well, not be happy I guess is a kind way to put it.

So now, have a villain my critique partner 'loves to hate' and she totally hates his mother without any sort of love, so must be on track there.

Having fun with some of the supporting characters and the H/H are growing nicely.

Discovered I'm not a pantser and have gone be to ye ol' sort of plotting. That's when things started to flow. So, I'm off to get a few things off the list, then head back to Transylvania. After all, I have an invite to a family reunion that makes my family seem normal.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Happy Weekend

No guest for Friday and I got caught up in the latest WIP and forgot to post here. Today, I'm off to a swim meet and then to a Cat Fest...yep, a festival put on by the Dumb Friends League here in our city that focuses on cats. This is the event where we ended up with out 'little darling' who rules this household. Always fun to go see what's out there for him to play with.

Have a fun weekend and I'll see ya Monday!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipe Wednesday

This little yummy is on the menu for Sunday breakfast. Going to have 3 of the granddarlings Saturday night and this will be a good one for them to help put together. Toddler loves to mix stuff (forget the stir carefully instructions) and her older sisters can handle the bacon or whatever they decide we need to have with the french toast.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Baked French Toast

1 loaf white bread (no crusts)
1/2 loaf french bread (I use Wheat Fr. bread for all the breads)
6 c. fresh/frozen blueberries (rinsed)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
7 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. half & half
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Cut white bread into cubes and place into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over bread.
Microwave cream cheese in bowl for 2 minutes. Stir carefully and add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread over blueberries.
Cut french bread into 10-1 inch thick slices, place over cream cheese.
Beat eggs, milk, half & half, cinnamon and nutmeg and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered, then uncover for approximately 15 minutes. Let set before slicing. Sift powdered sugar over before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Winner of Linda Wisdom's book

Hi Debby, you are the winner of Linda Wisdom's signed copy of Demons. Check my comment in that post for her email address to send your info to.

Thanks for participating!


July Question

Here it is July and the year is half over! I'm behind on my goals for this year and need to really focus.

This led me to think, what about others? Am I the only one facing this dilemma? So that leads to this months question...

Have you accomplished the goals you set for this year? If not, how do you plan to catch up...or do you?

All who respond will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Beyond Magic.

Have a great July!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Friday! Welcome to the Lovely Linda Wisdom!

Today's guest is a delightful lady who has a lot of books under her belt.  Her Hex series is a fun read and now she's entered the demon world.  Welcome Linda!  I'm a fan and also lucky enough to call her a freind.

And we're lucky that one lucky U.S. winner will receive a copy of Demon's are a Girl's Best Friend.  So make sure to leave a comment to get entered into the drawing!!!

Writing and Cooking  

First off, thank you so much gorgeous Lizzie for having me here today to share one of my favorite recipes. Surprisingly, it’s not chocolate. Trust me, that’s very rare for me.  

Every Monday I sit down with my houseman, Eric. He prepares these gorgeous chocolate filled croissants that pairs beautifully with my latte while we discuss the week’s menus. I gaze into his beautiful blue eyes and … 

Hmm, I did say I write fiction, didn’t I?  

I don’t consider myself a true cook. I love to bake, hate to cook. But the family can’t survive on baked goods alone. I tend to look for fairly easy recipes. Anything that sounds really good and doesn’t require time where I might be writing or reading during prep time and something could burn or turn to charcoal or, well, if there’s anything worse, it could happen.  

It’s so easy to lose myself in a magickal world that it’s amazing the smoke alarm doesn’t go off more often.  

The crock pot is a favorite appliance in my kitchen. I can throw anything and everything in there, do some experimenting with herbs and spices and always come up with something new.  

One recipe I found at a favorite site called is Orange Juice Chicken. I love citrus mixed with chicken or pork and this one sounded so good I had to try it. I also learned something new. There was no reason why I could do this in the crock pot. Five hours of cooking time and I had the same thing. For something extra I added a few spoonfuls of orange marmalade. And sometime I plan to try it with lemon or lime.  

If you like citrus, I hope you’ll give it a try since it is a great idea for summer.  

And if you need some reading material, you can find me at Amazon and BN with a nice variety of books including some of my backlist books as ebooks and more coming. Come visit me at  

A lucky commenter, US only please, will receive a copy of Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend.  

But tell me. Have you ever had a cooking disaster? Such as forget to turn the crock pot on until you discovered that there weren’t any good cooking smells? I couldn’t even blame it on writing or a reading. Just me not thinking. So tell me about yours so I don’t feel alone.  

And here’s the recipe. Enjoy!  

Orange Juice Chicken  

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Place chicken in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread mustard evenly over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped onion. Coat lightly with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and pour in enough orange juice to cover chicken. Add butter on top.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, then remove leftover sauce from baking dish and pour into a saucepan. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and return to oven.

4. Whisk flour into sauce in saucepan. Add any leftover orange juice and heat on high until the sauce thickens. Remove chicken from oven and place on a serving dish; pour sauce over the chicken or into a gravy boat, and serve.

"Passion, danger, and outrageous antics...sure to satisfy."
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