Sunday, November 23, 2014

THREE MINUTES with ANDREW LEON HUDSON

Where did you get the idea for The Glass Sealing?
I originally discovered the submission call for the Darkside Codex while hunting for story prompts. I'm a member of an online writing group, and every two months we have an informal short story contest – the winner's prize is to choose the subject of the next contest, and in December 2012 that was me. In early January I saw the post on the Penumbra website, and when I read the description of the story world one thing immediately stood out: the Dark Cloud, a dense toxic smog which divided the city of Southwatch in two. Inspiration acquired!

I set the prompt “Poisonous Cloud” to the group – they were free to go with whatever they liked as long as it was sci-fi, horror or fantasy, but I explained where I'd found the prompt and suggested we write something that could give rise to a Darkside Codex novel if we wanted. A few of us tried, although in the end I couldn't make mine work as a short story – but I could spend the next few months developing it into the beginning of The Glass Sealing...

How did you develop your lead characters?
Once I'd sketched out my two adversaries in broad strokes, I started with their names. Steampunk authors tend to give their characters three, probably because it sounds old fashioned, so I decided I'd do the same with mine. However, I also wanted names that were emblematic of my story.

Both would have first names with a slightly formal air to them, and I settled on Arthur and Jocelyn fairly quickly. In Jocelyn's case, I also wanted something “excessively” feminine to contrast with the unexpected toughness she shows as a businesswoman, so she became Jocelyn Melody – sounds very delicate and sing-song, perfect cover for her steely determination.

Several years ago I discovered a cool character name in “Marlen”, which is derived from Marx and Lenin and was popular amongst Communist Russian parents who wanted to reject traditional names (non-conformist communists seemed like an interesting mix to me). I'd been saving it up for the right character, and now I had a socialist activist in need of a handle... nice to meet you, Arthur Marlen.

Finally, a key theme of the story is the conflict between perspectives of social solidarity and class division, so I chose Singleton (for “a single town”) and Duville (duex ville, or “two town” in my clumsy French) to represent the sides that believe in unity or separation respectively. So there you have it: a left-leaning champion of the down-trodden workers, Arthur Marlen Singleton, versus an upper-class darling of ruthless big-business, Jocelyn Melody Duville. Let battle commence!

What drives you to write Steampunk?
I love the trappings of the genre. The typical pseudo-Victorian era settings lend themselves perfectly to a striking visual aesthetic, while playing off the very real enthusiasm for scientific exploration that characterized the period. Looking back though, that exploration seems wildly unbounded by what we now would consider to be scientific: seances and other supernatural notions might be considered as credible as hypnotism, for example, if not more so; and in the face of our ignorance of the nature of the universe, ideas like luminiferous aether or Lamarckian inheritance seem just as plausible as the truths that would later be revealed. Winding the clock back and pretending that these kinds of science were correct can only be fun!

At the same time, this was also a period of painful injustice on a social level. The legacy of cultural imperialism saw rich western nations straddling most of the globe and subjugating the rest, plundering their resources and dictating what was permissible in a brutal fashion. Women's suffrage, racial or religious equality and other notions of basic human rights remained a fantasy, if they were even considered at all. As a backdrop for telling stories to a modern audience, these sorts of features are ripe with potential. The best way for characters to achieve greatness is to do so by struggling from adversity and, in its influences, Steampunk is a perfect setting for both.

Here is a short introduction to THE GLASS SEALING.

In a towering city powered by steam, opposing forces gather and prepare to clash, on the streets and in the air. Above the Dark Cloud of toxic smog, the rich and complacent live in comfort and bask in the sun. Below, the ordinary workers labour thanklessly in the choking gloom, their jobs ever threatened by the relentless advance of technology... until they decide they will not stand by and watch their lives and livelihoods be taken from them.

One one side a disgraced engineer, sympathetic to the workers' plight, becomes a ringleader in an outbreak of protests that gradually take a more sinister turn. On the other, an industrial heiress comes into her own against the expectations of her peers, defying convention even as she takes the establishment by storm. She puts into motion a plan that will change the face of the city forever - but when the authorities crack down on the workers, their leader sets them all on the path to destruction...

THE GLASS SEALING combines the long forgotten traumas of the Industrial Revolution with the activism of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The result is class warfare, in a classic adventure vein.

To read an excerpt from THE GLASS SEALING or other books by Andrew Leon Hudson please click a vendor's name Musa Publishing - Amazon.

Andrew Leon Hudson is an Englishman resident in Madrid, Spain and has been writing full-time since the beginning of 2012, partly in an attempt to appear as unemployed as everyone else in the country, partly in an attempt to lead a fulfilling life. In preparation for this he has worked in fields as diverse as prosthetic makeup, education, contact lens retail, “intoxicant delivery” and the services (customer and military). He used to have his own company, which employed family and friends, but it died before it's time. All of that's true, except for his name.

Learn more about Andrew Leon Hudson on his blog and Goodreads. Stay connected on Twitter.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NEW RELEASE for FAY LEE

Musa Publishing is thrilled to announce the short story Colonists Like Us, a LGBTQ by Fay Lee, is now available.



Love is natural. So is fear.

When you have a sister as special as Emmy-Lou, you'll do anything to protect her—even sign up to colonize an empty planet, far from Earth and someone to touch, to hold or to love.

No-one could have predicted the consequences of that decision.

But when love turns to fear, when humanity's future lies in the balance, when you may be the only one to guess the truth… Who will you turn to?

BUY LINK

Friday, November 21, 2014

NEW RELEASE for RITA MONETTE

Musa Publishing is excited to announce The Curse at Pirate's Cove, Book 2 of the The Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series by Rita Monette, is now available for purchase.

When one man's treasure is another man's curse.

It's her birthday, and eleven year old Nikki Landry is looking forward to riding her bike to school, now that she’s old enough. But her old bike doesn't make it very far before breaking down. When she hears about a legend that there might be buried treasure on a nearby swamp island, she sees a way to get a new one. But when she makes a birthday wish for the pirate, Jean Lafitte's gold, things go terribly wrong. Join Nikki and her friends as they encounter ghostly pirates, who whisk them away aboard their ship to the year 1814. How will they ever find their way back?

EXCERPT
“How do you know it’s a pirate ship?”

“It has to be, Nikki. Listen.” He turned toward me. “I was out at Uncle Luke’s this past weekend, and he told me all about it.”

“I ain’t believing there’s no pirate ship out in those swamps.” I lifted my chin.

“Just hear me out, Tomboy.” He sounded impatient. “There’s a legend that goes along with it, see.” He leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “There might even be a curse.”

“A legend?” He had my attention. I prided myself in being a super legend buster ever since I solved the one about Ghost Dog Island last year. I even got my picture in the newspaper. “Well, tell me about it.”

“I’m trying to.” He waved his hands in the air.

We propped ourselves against a couple of large limb sand got out our lunch bags.

“Uncle Luke says he first heard about it back when he was a kid. He says a friend of his grandfather, by the name of Beco, was out trapping on Fog Island with his buddy Clamare. They came across this here hole in the ground with a half-buried wooden chest, see. It had a big old lock on it. There was a couple of coins in the dirt, so Clamare picked them up and slipped them in his pocket. Beco decided he’d go back for some tools and shovels to dig the rest of it out, and told Clamare to stay there and watch the chest. On his way out to the edge of the island, he saw this ragged old ship.Thinking it was kind of odd looking for being in the swamps and all, he got a little closer. It had a broken mast and raggedy sails.” He poked me with his elbow .“When was the last time you ever saw a fishing boat with sails?”

I shook my head. “Never.” I unwrapped a peanut butter and jam sandwich and took a bite. “What’d he do?”

“Well, he started to board it, see?” Spikes dug into his own lunch bag. “But then he heard some talking coming out of the boat. He stopped right then and there, ’cause he didn’t know who might be on that old wreck out in the middle of nowhere, and there weren’t no other boats around.This one had a big old hole in the hull, so it couldn’t have sailed there on its own. At least anytime in recent history.”

“Then what?” I licked some of the jam off my fingers.

“Then someone stuck his head up over the bow, see. He had on one of them three pointed hats that pirates always wore. Old Beco yelled a big hello, and the man took out a pistol and shot over his head. Well, Beco took off right then and there. That night, he went down to T-Noon’s bar and got drunk, and told some other fellows about it. The next day, they all went back out to the island with shovels, and brought guns just in case that crazy guy in the boat was still there.”

“Was he?” I asked.

“Nope. The ship was gone, and so was Clamare.”

“What about the treasure?”

“They never could find it. Not even the hole it was in.”

BUY LINK

To read an excerpt from Book 1 of the series, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, please click a vendor's name Musa Publishing Amazon.


Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. After retiring from her “real” job as an administrative assistant, Rita began doing what she always wanted to do…write and paint. Five long years later, Musa Publishing offered her a contract for her debut middle grade novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, which also includes her artwork. Her stories are set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. Rita now resides with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.

Learn more about Rita Monette on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coordinating Conjunctions Got You Down?

Coordinating Conjunction
Take a Tip from Helen #16

by Helen Hardt

Not any more. Yes, you can begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction!

Your high school English teacher may want to have me horse whipped, but you are not breaking any grammar rules by beginning a sentence with a conjunction. Even CMOS agrees (see CMOS 5.191.)

If you decide to begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, keep these three things in mind:

1 - Be sure that a main clause follows the coordinating conjunction.
2 - Do not use a coordinating conjunction to begin every sentence. Use this option only when it makes the flow of your ideas more effective. If you use it too often, it loses its effectiveness.
3 - Do not use a comma after the coordinating conjunction. Coordinating conjunctions are not transitional expressions like for example or first of all. You will rarely use punctuation after them.

Here are some examples:
While I was answering the telephone, Buster, my cat, jumped onto the kitchen counter and swatted all of my jalapeño-stuffed olives onto the dirty kitchen floor. So I had to rinse off the cat hair and crumbs sticking to these delicacies before I could add them to the salad.

Flying down the bumpy path, Genette hit a rock with the front wheel of her mountain bike, flew over the handlebars, and crashed into a clump of prickly palmetto bushes. Yet even this accident would not deter her from completing the race.

A comma is an option only when an interrupter immediately follows the coordinating conjunction. The following example could go either way. My personal preference is without the comma. The less punctuation for the reader to stumble over, the better.

We hoped that decorating the top of Christine's cupcake with a dead grasshopper would freak her out. But, to our amazement, she just popped the whole thing in her mouth, chewed, and swallowed.

~Helen

To read excerpts from Helen Hardt's books please click a vendor's name.
Musa Publishing - Amazon


Helen Hardt is the Head Line Editor for Musa Publishing and a freelance editor. She is also an award-winning author. Helen writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance for several publishers. Her non-writing interests include Harley rides with her husband, attending her sons’ sports and music performances, traveling, and Taekwondo (she’s a blackbelt.)

Learn more about Helen Hardt and her editing service on her website.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I Write? It’s All About Calvin.

by Iris Woodbury

I’ve read lots of articles on the theory of writing. You know, the hook, the ending, character development, show vs. tell etc. etc. bla bla bla. All good things and each one dismissed at your peril. But that’s not what I wanted to blog about today. Not the how, but the why.

I love writing. I especially love the middle part because when I’m there, I’m hunting for the end. Like many writers, I go in with a concept, but once the characters start living and breathing, the story can take twists and turns I never expected. And suddenly, there you are, half way through your latest work and you’re like shit, my endings not going to work!

SO WHAT DO YOU DO? I know some writers just write and write and write, feeling their way back to the path, and judging by countless books I’ve read, somehow they make it through. But you can feel this phase in their writing. No matter how great the overall story is; when you reach that point, wherever it is, you feel lost.

Perhaps I’ve got a mutant gene, I don’t know, but when I’m there I sort of slow down and listen to my characters. It’s around that time that my muse buddy, Calvin, generally shows up. He whispers something in my ear, breathing a special word that mysteriously pops into my head and suddenly POOF, everything is clear.

Perhaps you can relate. I guess it’s like the thrill of the chase, because when Calvin sprinkles his magic juju beans, it’s like the fire has returned; the one that sparked when the initial concept first arrived unannounced in my head. And that is why I write. Because when Calvin comes, and he’s as regular as clockwork, I know there is true magic in the world, and I get my writer’s high. I love it.

Thanks for reading,
Iris

Here's a little from The Beryllium Chalice. I hope you enjoy it.

"When sacrifice of blood is made,only then allegiance it will trade"

Flora, a dryad accused of murder and exiled from Mount Olympus…

Kytos, a battle-weary warrior who follows orders and believes the gods can’t be wrong…

Redwood, a fun-loving and perpetually aroused satyr…

What could these three possibly have in common? The Beryllium Chalice, the source of all life and power on Mount Olympus. With the chalice stolen from Mount Olympus by Hades, the other gods will weaken and Hades will be free to overthrow them and take control of the world. The only thing standing between the God of Death and his treacherous scheme are Flora, Kytos, and Redwood. They must band together to steal back The Beryllium Chalice and return it. In spite of their differences, can the three companions get the chalice and return it to Mount Olympus in time to save the gods and the world?

To read an excerpt from The Beryllium Chalice click here or here.

Iris Woodbury was born in London, England and currently lives in Maryland. She writes fantasy, fairy-tales, and romance. She loves nothing so much as a dusty old book except maybe an electronic new one. Iris is an avid cocoa worshipper and tea sipper - and a friend to all things of beauty. Her books include The Beryllium Chalice and Murder to a Tea. Iris is also a contributor the children's anthology, Read It Again, published by Alfie Dog Fiction.

Learn more about Iris Woodbury on her website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TIME FOR A FEAST

by Sloane Taylor

Each Thanksgiving we have at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. I cook the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. So turn on the football game and let’s start cooking!

Roast Turkey
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sautéed Broccoli
Corn
Cranberry Sauce
Gravy
White Wine – Riesling


Roast Turkey
Turkey
Butter
2 leeks including some green - chopped
2 large onion - chopped
15 baby carrots - chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 large bay leaf
Bacon strips to cover breast
Chicken stock

Disposable pan
Cooking rack
Cookie sheet – for stability

Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey.

Thanksgiving Morning:
If turkey’s not completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cooking times:
10 – 18 lbs. 2 - 2½ hrs.
18 – 22 lbs. 2½ - 3 hrs.
22 – 24 lbs. 3 - 3½ hrs.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay the turkey on its side breast down. Brown the breast until golden, first one side then the other. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Insert cooking rack. Add chopped vegetables. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch. Cover the turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping the sides well.

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. If you use a meat thermometer it should read 185° when inserted in the thigh. For an accurate reading, be sure not to touch bone. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 - 45 minutes before carving.

Stuffing
1 package bread stuffing cubes plain or seasoned
½ pound Jimmy Dean Original Sausage in the tube
1 rib celery chopped
½ medium onion chopped
1 stick butter
Chicken stock about 2 cups maybe a little more
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg

The stuffing may be prepared a day or two in advance up to the baking point.

Fry sausage, breaking into small chunks until lightly brown.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. When the foam subsides add the celery and onion. Sauté 3-4 minutes, be careful not to let it brown.

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. Add sausage and vegetables with all their juices. Mix well.

Beat egg in a small bowl. Pour onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.

Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.

Spoon into baking dish, do not pack in, and cover tightly with foil. (This is your stopping point if you make this before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate the stuffing until you are ready to bake it.)

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove stuffing from the refrigerator early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the stuffing for a half hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top has browned.

Mashed Potatoes
1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Pepper

The Day Before:
Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily.

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer.


Candied Sweet Potatoes
32oz. can of sweet potatoes - my favorite is Royal Prince Candied Sweet Potatoes
½ cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 stick of butter
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13x9 inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until the marshmallows are brown.

Services 8.

Broccoli Stir-fry
4 mini carrots sliced on an angle
½ cup olive oil – possibly more
½ medium onion sliced
1 inch piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
2 large garlic cloves pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions sliced on an angle
5 mini Bello mushrooms cleaned and sliced into thirds
1 tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Have all the ingredients prepped and on the counter before you begin cooking.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan.

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to insure broccoli is well coated with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on the lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 - 4 minutes, but be sure the broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them.

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly.

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly.

From the corn through the gravy it shows you just how lazy I can be on holidays.:) 
Corn
1 can of corn per 4 people – my favorite is Green Giant Niblets
butter

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Frozen corn:
Follow package instructions

Cranberry Sauce
1 can of sauce per 6 people – my favorite is Ocean Spray Jellied

Lay the sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.

Gravy
1 jar of gravy for 4 people - my favorite is Heinz Home Style Gravy Roasted Turkey

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in a few tablespoons of the juice from the roasted turkey pan. Heat through and serve.

I'll be back Monday. Until then...

Happy Cooking!

~Sloane

Award-Winning author Sloane Taylor believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that take you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

To read excerpts from the erotic romances by Sloane Taylor, please click HERE.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website, and her blog for easy recipes. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Easy Deviled Eggs

by Sara Daniel

I love to eat deviled eggs—as long as someone else makes them! But as I approached my fourth decade of life, I realized maybe I need to cross this item off my bucket list even though the creation seemed way too complicated and fancy. I’m a busy mom with a full-time writing job. When it comes to food, I don’t do complicated or fancy.

This past spring I had a bunch of leftover Easter eggs and a whole lot of company coming over. I needed my guests to eat those eggs, so they weren’t sitting in my fridge until Halloween! So I scoured recipes online (Thanks Google!) and simplified the simplest recipe. I haven’t figured out a way to simplify peeling hard boiled eggs, but once I got past that part, these eggs were easy-peasy to make.

Easy Deviled Eggs
1 dozen hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. honey Dijon mustard
Paprika

Peel hard boiled eggs. (Muttering and cursing is optional, but I find the eggs respond better to threats and bad temper!)

Slice eggs lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks, mayonnaise, and mustard together.

Scoop mixture with a small spoon into egg white halves. (If you want to use some fancy thing to make pretty, complicated designs, knock yourself out!)

Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

Like me, the heroine of Wyatt’s Guilt makes work her priority over food, but I think Nicole should give these eggs a try too!

Here is a short intro to one of my favorite books.

Nicole trusted Wyatt with her heart once. She won’t make the same mistake twice.

Nicole DeMonde’s car breaks down the moment she returns to her hometown for her brother’s wedding. The cop who stops to help her is none other than local hottie Wyatt Truman, who slept with her then dumped her when they were teens. She has no choice but to accept his help. However, she knows better than to trust him with her heart twice.

Wyatt is determined to earn Nicole’s forgiveness and make amends for his callous past. Once he lays eyes on her, he can’t help wanting a lot more than forgiveness, despite his intention never to hurt her again.

Just as Wyatt starts thinking his best intentions are of the forever variety, Nicole decides to work Wyatt out of her system with a one night stand. Can either of them make peace with the past in a single weekend, let alone survive with their hearts intact?

To read an excerpt from Wyatt's Guilt, please click HERE.

To read excerpts from other books by Sara Daniel please click a vendor's name Musa Publishing - Amazon.



Sara Daniel writes what she loves—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.