Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Looking for a Fresh Taste this Summer?

from Dominique Eastwick

Citrus Chicken
2 oranges
2 limes
2 lemons
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 boneless chicken breasts, halved**
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. seasoned pepper
1 (15oz) can apricots, halved
1 tbsp. butter
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Juice 1 orange, 1 lime and 1 lemon together.

Lay chicken in an ovenproof dish. Pour juice over chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

While chicken is baking, puree apricots.

Melt butter, brown sugar and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Add apricots and heat to a low boil. Simmer until chicken is ready, stirring frequently.

Uncover the chicken after 30 minutes. Pour glaze over it and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes.

Serve over rice. Use extra glaze as gravy.

**For frozen chicken, thaw over night. Follow above directions, while chicken is cooking reheat the apricot sauce

How about a hot read while your chicken is baking?

Even the big mistakes can be forgiven if you love enough.

If you love something...

Riley Sherman knew when to cut her losses. Although she loved Barret, he never seemed ready to commit. His business would always be his first love.

If it doesn't come back...

Barret Briggs grew up poor and would be damned if anyone he loved ever went hungry again. Too late he realized that hunger can eat at the heart too.

But what if loves bumps back into you?

When fate throws them together again, can he prove to her he is now worthy of her love? And can she open herself up enough to let him back in?

To read an excerpt from Kissing the Tycoon please click here.

Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat, because of that traveling is one of her favorite past times. When not writing you can find Dominique doing her second love…photography.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ode to The Root Beer Float

by SS Hampton, Sr.

So, how long has it been since you’ve had a Root Beer Float?

You know how to make one—it’s not rocket science. Just take a tall glass or a big, heavy mug, and scoop in vanilla ice cream, followed by a careful pouring of Root Beer so that the foam doesn’t trickle down the sides or the ice cream suddenly rockets to the surface. And voila, Root Beer Float! Cold, tasty ice cream with fizzy, tasty root beer.

Ah, by the way, no careful measurements needed. Just eyeball the amount of ingredients you want. Even better, as the ice cream melts, add more or add more root beer, or both.

Now that the “measurements” and mixing instructions are out of the way, what is the real meaning of a Root Beer Float?

That depends on you.

To me it is a memory of being a little kid growing up in a Kansas town, sitting at the counter of the café my grandparents owned, and reading comic books. I loved comic books when I was little. Besides pestering my grandparents for a dollar so I could buy a big bag of plastic soldiers (I once had over 1,000 I think) I also asked for quarters to buy comic books. I loved going across the street to the corner drugstore with quarters jingling in my pocket, wondering what prizes, what new worlds I would find there (I liked fantasy, science fiction, horror, and war comic books). I could spend hours sitting on the floor and checking out the comic books on a spinning magazine rack until I decided which ones I wanted to buy. I could have had a Root Beer Float there too because the drugstore had a counter with all of the accoutrements.

But no, I wanted to go back to my grandparents’ café and read the new comic books there while having a Root Beer Float. Ahem—besides, I liked one of the waitresses. Her name was Lois, she was in her 20s, with big dark eyes and long red fingernails. Anyway…

The memory of Root Beer Floats include making them for my daughter and sons—and me too—and then of us sitting around making happy, satisfied sounds while spoons clattered against the sides of the glasses while we scooped out the last drops.

Even better are the eager wide-eyed looks of my grandchildren when I set out glasses and a carton of Vanilla Ice Cream and a bottle of Root Beer. The intensity with which they track my every move can’t be equaled even by an astronomer who’s discovered a meteor about to crash into the Earth. And the smiles when I hand them a Root Beer Float—can life get any better?

You know, maybe it’s time we all have a Root Beer Float…and then I’ll tell you about the real meaning of a having a Fruit Smoothie for the first time in my life…

Here's a little from my paranormal book to enjoy along with your Root Beer Float.

As a result of war, technology often makes great progress by leaps and bounds – but sometimes the progress of technology can bring complications…

Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speaks of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…

It wasn’t long after the safety briefing that the crews mounted their gun trucks. Purple Dog led the way out of the CMC, past the camp, past a small civilian parking lot and a mosque with a tall graceful minaret, and across the highway. They paused at the border control point while Cordova presented all of the required customs documentation for the convoy. Border control was manned by Iraqi Police that no one trusted.

A hot night wind moaned across the desert. They sat behind closed ballistic windows, shrouded within engine heat, and the claustrophobic grip of the hot IBA.

Harland stared out the narrow, dusty window at the large closed gates in front of him. The gates were made of heavy wood beams with diagonal cross-beams overlaid with layers of darkly gleaming razor wire. Strangely, the razor wire was all on the inside of the gate, facing the moonlit desert ahead of them. A shudder went through him as he realized each gate was decorated by the large bleached skull of a ram. The empty eye sockets above the pointed, splintered snouts stared at him; large ridged horns curled backward from the skull before flaring outward in another curl into deadly tips. Like a mythical doorway that was built to keep people out, or keep something in, the gates spanned the dusty, rutted road that led to the dimly lit village of Safwan up ahead.

“Damn, Sarge,” Bonner said over the intercom. “I love these Cyclops. The night almost looks like day. And…more.”

“More?” Harland answered and looked up through the opening in the roof of the gun truck. Bonner, with the ENG/NVG lowered to his face, looked like an alien with a deadly snout. Where his flesh was visible, it looked ghostly white. Every time he moved there seemed to be a faint, colored ripple in the air.

“Yeah,” he chuckled and looked down at Harland. The eyepiece in the center of the ENG/NVG glinted. “I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. It’s like you’re so damned white, your face, and I see colored ripples all around you like, like, when you throw a rock in a pond.”

Harland grunted. He remembered the faint ripples when he had tried Cyclops back in Boston. Matherson had said there were minor software problems with Cassandra that would soon be fixed.
Puffs of sparkling windblown dust tumbled toward them through the thin desert brush.

“Hell of a time to go out on a mission,” Bonner said. “It’s Halloween night.”

“No shit,” Stewart replied.

“Feels damned spooky,” Bonner said. “Feels like the headless horseman is gonna come riding out of the night any second now. These Cyclops don’t help any, either.”

Harland chuckled.

“Hey, Sarge, you believe in ghosts?” Stewart asked.

Moonlit dust washed over them, and the sand scratched against the ballistic window and the metal skin of the gun truck like skeletal claws on a blackboard.

Harland grunted. “Anything’s possible. I think.”

“People say there’s ghosts where people die violent deaths,” Bonner said. “A lot of battlefields are supposed to be haunted. People see things there.”

Harland watched the swirling dust blowing across the desert and thought of the many bright, smoky explosions of IEDs, burning trucks, and shattered bodies, along MSR Tampa. He thought of the violent IED that had clawed at his own gun truck as if hungrily seeking him out.

He shuddered as he stared at the silent, sightless horned skulls that trembled in the desert wind. He had a sudden deep and primeval feeling that the gates were built to keep something in…


Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).

After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press - Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing - Melange Books -
Musa Publishing - MuseItUp Publishing - Goodreads Author Page
Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Three Minutes with S.G. Rogers

Where did you get the idea for Tournament of Chance?
Originally, Tournament of Chance was a short story about Heather of the Jagged Peaks, who tries to break through the glass ceiling between commoners and royalty by entering a state-sponsored archery contest. She doesn’t realize the contest is rigged, and exists only to keep the lower class in its place. As I lengthened the concept, more magical elements, romance, and adventure crept in.

How did you develop your lead characters?
I envisioned Heather as a young, hopeful, and naive girl. As a result of the king’s betrayal, she is forced to become a weapon. When I began to fill in the backstory regarding King Chance’s rise to power, the other characters almost shaped themselves. In the beginning, hero Prince Dane is bitter and shell-shocked from the loss of loved ones and his kingdom. Over the course of the story, he becomes more sensitive, kind, and grounded in what’s truly important in life.

What drives you to write fantasy?
Life can be stark and hard. Reality bites, as they say. So I enjoy creating magical worlds, wizards, dragons, and all manner of creatures that spark the imagination. I like to think of fantasy as escapism for the soul.

~ S.G. Rogers

A hunter’s daughter becomes the spark that ignites a revolution—in time.

When a beautiful commoner enters the Tournament of Chance archery competition, her thwarted victory sparks a revolution in the oppressive kingdom of Destiny. Although Heather never believed the legends about the restoration of Ormaria, after three shape-shifting Ormarian wizards awaken from a long magical slumber, she joins their perilous quest to regain the throne. Heather battles vicious predators and angry trolls to free the wizards’ magic, but at a horrendous cost. She is unexpectedly torn from the arms of the man she loves and hurled back in time to fulfill a prophecy not yet written. The ensuing maelstrom tests Heather’s survival skills, wits, and endurance. Will she become an unwritten footnote in history, or can she trust the magic to lead her back to her one true love?

To read an excerpt from Tournament of Chance, please click HERE.

To read excerpts from other books by S.G. Rogers please click a vendor's name.
Musa Publishing - Amazon

S.G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She's owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about S.G. Rogers on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mary S. Palmer Reports

by Mary S. Palmer

The Alabama Writers' Conclave was held in the quaint artsy town of Fairhope the weekend of July 11-13. It hosted people from all over Alabama, some from Tennessee, Mississippi and other states. For the first time, I had the honor to attend.

In her introduction Jeanie Thompson, Founding Director, Alabama Writers Forum, pointed out that Alabama was twenty-third in funding for the arts. That's a good position. Other speakers included presentations on both prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction and play writing. All were impressive but one point that stuck with me was literary agent Katharine Sands' statement that all novels need a person, a place and a pivot. Having all three start with a "p" makes it easy to remember.

Other speakers included the passionate Michael Martone, witty Jim Murphy, amusing T.K. Thorne and Linda Busby Parker, and Scott Wilkerson, Barry Marks, Terri French and Keynote Speaker Pulitzer Prize Winner Rick Bragg, Rob Gray, Susan Luther, P.T. Paul, all who gave eloquent and informative presentations.

President Sue Walker and Vice President P.T. Paul made sure everything, including the food, was first class. If you didn't learn something from the experience, you weren't listening. One particular thing I learned would have justified attending. It was simple, it was obvious, but it took a new reader to spot an easy change that may make the difference in whether my mystery novel is accepted for publication. When I read the opening paragraph, the speaker suggested moving one sentence to the top and opening the novel with that line. I could then see that sentence as the grabber which would set the scene and the tone for the entire book.

Such conferences are truly worthwhile. As one speaker pointed out, you may not be told anything you don't already know, but we don't always do what we know we should. And we forget. Reminders serve us well. These events do, too. They also reinforce our belief that we can write and encourage us to write on and write right. We may have a message only we can give to the world.

Here is a brief introduction to Mary S. Palmer's fiction work for your reading pleasure.

When aliens try to take over the world—starting with an attempt on the life of the President of the United States—can photo-journalist Mona Stewart Parker prevent the unthinkable from happening?

Mona's marriage to Rob appears to be perfect. They share many interests: Their jobs at the newspaper, a very bright son, and a home peers might envy.

Space creatures invading Earth change everything. Secrets are unveiled when Mona and Rob become their captives. In the middle of a conflict where the Aliens are trying to force the Svarians to reveal cures for fatal diseases and the key to immortality, Rob has other issues to deal with. Since illegal activity involving high-ranking politicians is about to be unveiled, he has to decide what to do about his implication in it.

To read an excerpt please click here.

To read excerpts from other books by Mary S. Palmer please click a link below.
Musa Publishing
co-authored books

Award-winning author Mary S. Palmer earned a Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude)in English from the University of South Alabama.She now holds a Master of Arts Degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of South Alabama. Mary currently teaches English at Faulkner State Community College and Faulkner University.

Mary is also a great collector. Be sure to check out her website and blog.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Musa Publishing is excited to announce The Sun God's Heir, a speculative fiction novel by award winning international playwright Elliott Baker, is now available for purchase.

When an ancient evil awakens, one young pacifist is all that stands between the world’s freedom and the red tide of slavery.

In 17th century France, a young pacifist kills to protect the woman he loves, unwittingly opening a door for the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian general determined to continue a reign of terror begun three thousand years ago.

Taking up the sword will not be enough. Rene must reclaim his own ancient past to stop the red tide of slavery from engulfing the world.

Joined by a powerful sheikh, his sword wielding daughter, and a family of Maranos escaping the Spanish Inquisition, they fight their way through pirates, typhoons, and dark assassins to reach Morocco, the home of an occult sect that has waited for Rene through the eons.

The boatswain, a large man with scars on his arms and face, walked over to stand in front of René. “Chain him to the mast.”

Their gazes met.

“Don’t look at me, boy,” he said, backhanding René in the face. “Look down at the deck when I talk to you. You’re some over-fed nobleman’s kid thinkin’ you make the rules. I’m surprised you ain’t cryin’ for your mama. You got a mama, boy?” he asked and laughed. When René didn’t answer, he hit him again. “I asked you a question, boy. Don’t try my patience, cause I ain’t got none.”

“My mother died when I was born,” René said, watching the man’s feet to see how he moved. He was cataloging everything he could see out of the corners of his eyes.

“Well, not to worry, you’ll be seeing her soon.” The boatswain turned to walk away and then turned back and hit René again. “I had to do that,” he said, and walked away laughing.

Though they had chained him in a way that didn’t allow him to sit, René had enough slack to turn and see most of the ship. He was aboard an English slave ship. She was an older carrack in design, still with the large forecastle. She had seen better days, though. The fact that she was still on the seas suggested either a cutthroat reputation or an experienced captain. Under the wear, the ship was surprisingly clean, her ropes and sails newly repaired and in good order. Second rate though she might be, she was seaworthy. This was a veteran crew, competent in their tasks. It wouldn’t be easy getting free, and even if he could, where would he escape to in the middle of the ocean? Don’t rush fate. One thing at a time. Do what you can do, he heard the Maestro say. It was clear he would have to pick a fight, and hope he could survive long enough to begin creating allies. The next time the big boatswain walked by, René laughed.

“What are you findin’ so funny, boy?” The boatswain stuck his face within inches of René’s.

René had noticed the boatswain had one leg shorter than the other, and was certain the big man would be touchy on that point. “You walk funny, that’s all,” said René, raising his voice. It was of no use to him if he got beat up and no one knew why.

All work within the sound of René’s voice crashed to a complete stop. Silence reigned. René had guessed right. Now he could only hope he would survive his insight.

The boatswain stood in absolute disbelief, his face turning redder by the moment. “What did you say?” Spittle flew from his mouth.

Even the captain had turned to watch. René counted on the fact Gaspard’s agent had given the captain a great deal of money, along with explicit instructions that didn’t include throwing a dead boy overboard. What he didn’t know was how close to dead the agent considered acceptable.

“I said you walk funny,” René said—louder this time, so there would be no mistaking it.

“Do you know what a cat is, boy?” the boatswain said, clearly beyond rational thought. René could see the veins standing out in his neck and temples, his eyes shot red with blood.

“A small animal?” René asked.

There was a laugh from the men standing around the mast. The boatswain took one look around, and the laugh died.

“You, James, bring me the cat. I don’t think this boy has ever seen a real one. Your education has been sadly incomplete, boy. You’ll be thankin’ me for this. I promise you.” The boatswain’s voice was a rough whisper.

James walked over and handed the Cat-O-Nine-Tails to the boatswain. As he caught René’s eye, he sadly shook his head. The cat had nine long thongs of blood-encrusted leather dangling from a handle, knots tied along the length of each thong.

“This here’s a cat, boy. As you can see, it ain’t no small animal. Now, there’s a skill and a talent to usin’ a cat, both of which I’m proud to say I have. You see, you need to take care the thongs don’t get all stuck together with blood and skin, which they’re wont to do. If that happens, the cat’ll take yer organs right out, and that’s always a bad thing. So you need to run your fingers between the thongs every couple of strokes, to keep ‘em separate. I gotta tell you—as much pride as I take in usin’ the cat, sometimes I’m forgetful. I try to keep count, but before I know it, I plumb forget to clean the damn thing. I surely hope that don’t happen today.”

“I also have a skill and a talent, and I will kill you with it,” René said quietly.

For one second, the boatswain paused, confusion written across his face. “Turn him around, and chain him up. You there, strip off his shirt.”


Award winning international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, The Sun God’s Heir. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't Have A Fit Over IT

Take a Tip from Helen #8

by Helen Hardt

The lovely Jen Murphy asked me to talk a little about "it."

So here goes!

Honestly, I'm not fond of "it"-- the expletive "it", that is. I'm okay with the pronoun "it" if it's not used repetitively.

What is the difference?

The expletive "it" is not a pronoun. It has no antecedent. It's basically structural support in a sentence.

For example: "It" is raining.

Here, "it" does not refer to anything, so it's not functioning as a pronoun. Try to avoid the expletive "it." "It is raining" (which is classic telling, by the way) can easily be re-written to "show" the reader the rain.

For example: Light rain pattered on the roof.

The pronoun "it" can't be avoided. It is the pronoun in English to refer to a singular thing rather than a person. But always make sure it has an unmistakable antecedent to avoid reader confusion.

For example: Be sure to add your phone number to your profile in Delphi. We need "it" in case of an emergency with your release.

"It" refers to phone number, which is its antecedent.

Just for fun, go through this email and count the times I've used "it" without quotations marks. You'll find them highlighted, and you'll also find that each use has a clear antecedent.

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, July 23, 2014

Three Minutes with Shannon LC Cate

Where did you get the idea for Jack?
There is a song I always loved as a child, when listening to my father’s music from the 60s. I won’t say what the song was, but it had an intriguing almost-story and I spent years listening to it and thinking “this would make a great movie if somebody would fill out the plot!”

One day I was listening to it in my car and I thought, “this would make a great novel, if only someone would fill out the plot!” I had just finished my own first novel and suddenly it hit me that hey, I could write that.

So I did. I doubt my version of the story is what the song’s writer had in mind, but by the time Jack was finished, it had really moved far from the song into its own world.

How did you develop your lead characters?
Jack began as a sort of gentleman bandit in my imagination. But for the novel I had to figure out where he had come from. I saw an orphan on the streets of a rough neighborhood in nineteenth century New York City—a girl who had cut off her hair and put on boys’ clothes to protect herself from other boys and men—and that was young Jack.

Lucy, Jack’s love interest had to be someone he would meet on the street, but was removed enough from street life that she could be a slightly romantic figure to him. The daughter of a troubled, “fallen” middle-class woman was the perfect mix of sweet and savvy a girl would need to catch Jack’s eye.

What drives you to write queer historical fiction?
My academic degree is in American literature of the period I write about in my own fiction. I enjoy visiting it imaginatively after all those years of working with it in a scholarly way.

We know that queer people have existed throughout human history, but there has been so much secrecy and stigma throughout history—at least in certain places and certain times—that it can be hard to find their real-life stories. When we find one story—the story, for example, of Murray Hall, who lived from about age twelve as a man, and was a central figure in Tammany Hall politics around the same period when I set Jack—I think it’s safe to assume there are many more people who were not discovered, living queer lives. I like to imagine what I can’t prove in an archive and bring those queer ancestors I will never know to life in my fiction.

Here is a brief intro to Jack. I hope you enjoy it.

Mama doesn't like boys, but Jack's not like most boys.

Born a girl during the Civil War, Jack has been passing as a boy in the slums of Five Points, Manhattan, since running away from an orphans' home at age eight. He makes his living at petty thievery, surviving pocket watch-to-pocket watch until he discovers a talent for gambling.

Lucy is a bright girl trapped in a dreary life with her widowed mother. When she meets Jack on the street, her days are happier than they have ever been. But her heart is broken when mother takes her far from New York, perhaps never to see Jack again. Her new home in a rowdy Arizona mining town is as dismal as ever, but she finds a glimmer of hope in dreams of a career on stage.

Now, to find their way to the life they promised each other, Jack and Lucy will have to dodge dangers and take risks they never dreamed of as childhood sweethearts.

To read an excerpt please click here.

To read excerpt from other books by Shannon LC Cate click a vendor's name.
Musa Publilshing

Shannon LC Cate has been writing about family, parenting, politics and religion since 2000. Her work has appeared on Babble.com, BlogHer.com, Literary Mama.com, VillageQ.com, in Adoptive Families Magazine, Gay Chicago Magazine and elsewhere. Shannon, her partner, and their two daughters divide their time between Chicago and Urbana, Illinois.

Learn more about Shannon LC Cate on her blog Muse of Fire.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.