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Archive for April, 2013

promophoto Thanks to author Dianne Lynn Gardner for stopping by and sharing what it takes to wrap up a fantasy trilogy. Enjoy!

The Process of Wrapping up a Trilogy by Dianne Lynn Gardner

When I wrote The Ian’s Realm Saga, I had planned the story to be a three-book story arc, with each book having it’s own mini story, but the real conflict not being resolved until the last book. The saga does take side trips with the short stories in the A Tale of the Four Wizards series. And there are more books to the series not yet written that take place in the Realm.

The last book to this trilogy, Rubies and Robbers just happened to be ready to draft in November. What great timing that turned out to be. I was able to write it during NaNoWriMo! The National Writer’s Challenge Month. Needless to say, I joined up and wrote like crazy and finished in 27 days with 50K words. And it really was an easy book to write. Of course, that was only a first draft and I finally finished the novel at over 62K words not too long ago.

Ever since I began writing the first book, Deception Peak, I saw the ending. I could not wait to write the ending, it was going to be so exciting. And for all the twists and turns that the story took through both Deception Peak and the second installment, The Dragon Shield, the ending never changed. It was firm in my mind and in my heart. You can imagine how excited I was to finally get to it!

I have a writing process that I learned from a book called Anatomy of Story by John Truby, which has helped me in plotting out my stories. It’s somewhat complicated, having 22 steps to follow. But it’s so thorough that by the time you have the steps charted, your novel just flows and makes sense in the end.

One of the most difficult things to do with a third book in a trilogy is making sure everything you’ve written so far gets resolved. That process entails going back and reading what you’ve written not just one or two times. At one point I had to have all three manuscripts opened and placed next to each other on my computer screen. I have to admit, I lost Ian’s Sword once and had to go back and look for it. Where the heck was the last place he put it? *laughs here. Losing something is not anything unusual in my household!

A third book in a trilogy also has to resolve the growth of the characters. Every event that happened in the series affected not just Ian, my main character, but his dad, the people he was living with, and the antagonists. They all grew in some way be it backwards or forwards. The third book is the conclusion of their growth. The growth of the characters tied in close to theme development, so I needed to make certain they were consistent, and final.

1-Rubiesfinal It’s my goal that when the reader finishes reading the last page of Rubies and Robbers, the story doesn’t end for them. I want to leave the reader with something to think about and perhaps something that might effect their life for the better. I honestly believe that this trilogy just might do that. We’ll see. I’ve yet to have many readers of the whole series. But time will tell.

Thanks, Vonnie, for having me on your blog!”

For more information about Dianne Lynn Gardner and her books, you can view her Publisher’s website: http://www.hydrapublications.com/shop/deception-peak/ or the official book blog: http://dragontargeseries.blogspot.com/or her website:http://gardnersart.comYou can also find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheIansRealmSaga?ref=ts&fref=ts , Twitter https://twitter.com/DianneGardner, and goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473931.Dianne_Lynn_Gardner

And you can view the Dragon Shield Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c2rm6mGBrM

If you’re interested in purchasing The Dragon Shield or Dianne’s other books, check http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Shield-Dianne-Lynn-Gardner/dp/0615760457 and Author Central on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Lynn-Gardner/e/B0090LIYEO or smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260744

Thanks again to Dianne Lynn Gardner for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an adventurous day! – Vonnie

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Readers and Writers Recipes: Crab Appetizers

This is a classic and yummy appetizer. Like last week’s Mock Boursin Cheese Spread, Crab Appetizers work well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, family get-together, or any other fun gathering. And the best part – you can make the Crab Appetizers ahead of time, and just cook them briefly when it’s time to eat.

Crab Appetizers

Ingredients:

1 cup margarine (softened)

2 5-ounce Kraft Old English Cheese Spread

2-teaspoons Miracle Whip Lite (or similar lo-cal mayonnaise)

1/4-teaspoon garlic powder

1-teaspoon seasoned salt

1-pound crab meat

12 English muffins, split

Directions to make:

1-Combine the margarine, cheese spread, Miracle Whip, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and crab meat.

2-Spread on the split English muffins. (You have 24 split English muffins).

3-Cut the split English muffins into quarters (there will be 96 quarters).

4-Spread in a single layer on cookie sheets and place in the freezer until cheese is firm.

5-Remove the cookies sheets from the freezer, lift Crab Appetizers from the sheets and place in plastic zipper freezer bags. Store in freezer until ready to use.

Directions to serve:

1-Preheat oven to 350º F and coat cookie sheets with a vegetable spray like Pam.

2-Put the desired number of still-frozen Crab Appetizers in a single layer on cookie sheets, place in the preheated oven, and bake until the cheesy topping is slightly browned and bubbly. (About 10 minutes, but watch closely so as not to burn). Put any unused Crab Appetizers back in the freezer for later use.

3-Remove cookies sheets from oven and place the appetizers on a serving dish. Serve immediately. Each batch makes 96 Crab Appetizers.

Notes:

1-These simple, make-ahead-of-time appetizers go quickly, so you might want to make 2 batches to have in the freezer. When company drops by, you can always pull out a few Crab Appetizers from the freezer to bake and serve your guests.

2-If you make too many and have left-overs after your party, these delightful Crab Appetizers can be warmed up the next day and served with soup for a tasty lunch.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from author, Diane Gardner.

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MikeAuthorPhoto9 Thanks to author J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. (my first male guest author), for stopping by and sharing what it takes to make a male fantasy hero. And you’ll notice at the end of the post, he’s looking for guest bloggers for his site.

The Making of the Male Fantasy Hero by J. Michael Squatrito, Jr.

Before I get started, I want to take the opportunity to thank Vonnie for letting me guest blog on her site as well as to be the first male adding content here! With that thought in mind, and no pressure of course, I figured it would be a good segue into the mind of the male author and in particular, the male fantasy hero. My Overlords books are firmly planted in the fantasy genre and the lead character, Harrison Cross, is a young, righteous warrior. He is the prototypical fantasy protagonist – blonde hair, blue eyes, six feet tall, muscular and fit, an accomplished warrior, etc. and he gets the girl in the end (and a beautiful one at that!). So, why should you care?

Harrison might appear to be your regular run of the mill fantasy hero on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I personally hate seeing movies or reading books where things always fall neatly into place for the lead characters. Or anything that Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger star in! Though my books are fantasy fiction, I want to give them a dose of reality. Harrison might be talented, but he’s young and inexperienced. He makes mistakes. He gets his fellow adventurers into precarious situations due to his inability to realize when you need to fight or when you should walk away. He’s selfless and puts others ahead of himself. He’s fiercely loyal to his team members and to his love, Tara. And no one hurts his canine companion, Lance. Even though Lance is a dog, he never leaves him to suffer, even at the expense of his group.

Harrison is not the biggest of warriors, and many times he is beaten, hurt, over-matched, and imprisoned. Through all of his trials and tribulations, he never wavers from his goal to reunite humanity. These qualities, I feel, draw the reader to root for Harrison, to want him to succeed, to believe in him and his cause. And isn’t that what we all want in our heroes?

Overlords_book_1_final2 When creating Harrison, I had to make sure of many things, such as not making him a super hero, not letting him be too sensitive or too aggressive, not allowing him to win the heart of a beautiful maiden too easily – everything that would not happen in ‘real life.’ You see, male heroes have a lot to live up to. They need to think a certain way and they can’t be allowed to go overboard, but most importantly, they need to be admired by male and female readers alike. For the boys, the male hero must be strong and decisive, someone to rally around, and for the girls, someone they can trust and believe in and, if I’m lucky, someone they can fall in love with. I feel that I’ve accomplished all of that in creating Harrison, and I hope you read his story and agree with me.

You can learn more about me and my project at www.the-overlords.com and you can contact me directly at mike@the-overlords.com . As you can see, I’m looking for other authors to guest blog on my site (Vonnie’s going to post in May!) and if you’re interested, please contact me.

You can purchase my books and eBooks on my website or if you have Amazon and Barnes & Noble accounts, at the following: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=squatrito%20overlords or Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/squatrito-overlords?store=book&keyword=squatrito+overlords

And for authors-to-be or self-published authors looking to help spread the word about your books, I have a self-publishing consultancy called Self Publishing Insight that might be right for you. I have experts that provide services for editing, artwork, social media, self-promotion, eBooks, and much more. Let us help you!”

Thanks again to J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a fantastic day! – Vonnie

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152 Long before recycling became common place, my family was carefully sorting our trash. Cardboard, paper, clear glass, colored glass, aluminum, etc. were separated in our garage, adding to the general disorder one finds in the garage of a family of five. Then, we’d transport the bags of recyclables to the local middle school and place it in the appropriate bins. But we didn’t mind.

We planted trees and native plants. We only cut down trees that had to be removed, even leaving some deadwood so the woodpeckers and other birds and animals could use the hollowed trunks for homes.

We planted a vegetable garden and used natural bug repellants, mulch, and fertilizer. We also planted sunflowers, black-eyed susans, and echinacea to not only enjoy their cheerful blooms, but to allow them to go to seed so the wildlife would have food. Coral bells, bee balm, hyssop, and other hummingbird and butterfly friendly plants were added to our flower beds. And at the end of the season, we left the spent vegetable garden for the wild animals to enjoy.

And with a well as our water source, we’ve always been conservative in our water usage.

Were those “be friendly to the Earth” lessons of long ago worth the effort? I believe they were. My children realize how precious our planet is, and are passing that belief on to their children.

Al Bernstein wrote: “We treat this world of ours as if we had a spare in the trunk.” I know there’s no spare, so I try to leave a small footprint on Mother Earth. This beautiful blue and green planet is a gift, and I celebrate Earth Day every day.

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Readers and Writers Recipes: Mock Boursin Cheese Spread

This is a tasty cheese spread with just the right amount of zip added by garlic and spices. Like last week’s Eggless Milkless Dark Chocolate Cake, Mock Boursin Cheese Spread works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together, family get-together, or any other fun gathering. All you add are crackers to spread the cheese on, or use it to fill fresh celery sticks.

Mock Boursin Cheese Spread

Ingredients:

16 ounces lo-cal cream cheese (softened)

1 cup margarine (softened)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4-teaspoon crushed basil

1/4-teaspoon thyme

1/4-teaspoon oregano

1/4-teaspoon marjoram

1/4-teaspoon dill

1/4-teaspoon black pepper

1/4-teaspoon salt

Directions:

1-Combine the cream cheese and margarine using a mixer.

2-Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until well-mixed.

3-Serve with crackers or fill celery sticks with the cheese spread.

4-Refrigerate any leftovers. (The spread can be frozen for later use).

Notes:

1-This recipe can be cut in half if you’re only making the cheese spread for one. By the way, Mock Boursin Cheese Spread on crackers and a bowl of soup make a delicious lunch.

2-You can also cover one half of a bagel with Mock Boursin Cheese Spread, add a couple of slices of lunch meat and some lettuce, and top it with the other half of the bagel. If you’re adventurous, you can also add mustard, tomatoes, etc. to make a great sandwich.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from fantasy author, J. Michael Squatrito, Jr.

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authorphoto Thanks to author Allison Merritt for stopping by and sharing how embarrassing moments can add spice to both life and a book’s narrative.

Embarrassing Moments by Allison Merritt

‘When I was a young teenager, my mom and dad took me with them to Walmart one day. My mom never used public restrooms, but we’d had a big lunch and she said she had to go. This was back before super centers and multi-stall bathrooms. My dad and I waited a couple aisles away. He looked at me and said, “You know what would be funny? Go jiggle the bathroom doorknob, knock as hard as you can and say in a deep voice, ‘Hurry up in there!’ Then run back here.”

Sounded like a good idea to me. I pounded on the door and said the magic words. Oddly, there was no response. Giggling, I hurried back to my dad’s side and we laughed together. We rounded an aisle and there was Mom! We didn’t stick around to find out who was in the bathroom.

Embarrassing moments are kind of like a garnish for life. They’re wonderful when you can look back on them and laugh. Which is why I like to sprinkle them through my writing and make my characters’ lives more interesting. In my newest novel, the heroine, Nora Frost, is a teacher a private girls’ school. She has a secret that she’s managed to hide from society—she can see the past, present and future by touching another person. But she’s very awkward and tries to overcome her “curse” by pretending to be normal. This is Nora’s embarrassing moment from The Turncoat’s Temptress:

Well aware that history was one of the least popular subjects in the school Nora nevertheless gave it another attempt.

She tapped the wall where the illustration mapped on a glass slide was thrown into sharp relief by the bright light of the projector. “As you can see the headwaters of the Tiber form here. The area has been called the cradle of civilization. Can anyone tell me the legend of how Rome came into being?”

Francie Draper’s hand shot up. Nora was speechless. In the two quarters she’d taught at Miss Slater’s School for Young Ladies, Francie had never raised her hand to answer a question.

Please, tell us what you know,” Nora said, managing a smile.

Miss Frost, I think your projector is about to—” Francie never finished her sentence. The machine burst into flame, cracking the glass. Panicked shrieks filled the room. Nora clapped her hands over her ears as the students rushed past her out the door, leaving her alone to handle the situation.

She snatched up the dust cover she’d discarded earlier and beat the flames with it. In less than a minute the danger had passed. She lowered herself into one of the chairs and waved a hand in front of her face to clear the air.

The projector was ancient, of course, something her cousin had dug out of storage when she started teaching. Rather than petition the headmistress—who was well known for her thrifty nature—for a new one, she’d assumed the old one would suffice. Wait until Miss Slater caught wind that Nora had nearly burned her precious school to the ground. She already had one foot in the proverbial grave as far as her teaching career went.

3TcT The sharp tap of heels on the gleaming wood floors signaled Miss Slater’s approach. “Drat,” she muttered. Nora shot to her feet as the woman stopped inside the doorway.

Miss Frost, your students have just informed me that you’ve developed a problem with your projector.”

There’s no longer a problem, Miss Slater,” she answered meekly.

The older woman’s eyebrows rose. “Your skirt is on fire, dear.”

Nora looked down at her hem, which fed a merry little flame. She beat the singed cover against it, cursing beneath her breath all the while. She raised her eyes to meet her employer’s bemused gaze…’

For more about Allison Merritt, her writing, and other books, visit her blog: http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com and Facebook page: http://facebook.com/authorallisonmerritt and follow her on twitter: http://twitter.com/allison_merritt

For a copy of The Turncoat’s Temptress: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00C0ULRCS or Barnes &Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-turncoats-temptress-allison-merritt/1114917064?ean=2940016333915

Thanks again to author Allison Merritt for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more Guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an embarrassment-free day! – Vonnie

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100 If you have friends (or children) with milk or egg allergies, this cake is a delicious and easy alternative to cakes loaded with eggs and dairy. It’s very chocolatey, so I usually use vanilla icing. If you decide to use chocolate icing – be prepared for a chocolate high! Like last week’s Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Eggless Milkless Dark Chocolate Cake works well for a book club or readers’ group get-together or any other fun gathering. And you don’t have to have an allergy to love this cake!

Eggless, Milkless Dark Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 stick margarine (1/2 cup) melted and slightly cooled

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons vinegar

2 cups cold water

Directions:

1-Preheat over to 375ºF.

2-Combine in large bowl: flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.

3-Add margarine, vanilla, vinegar, and cold water. Mix until well blended.

4-Pour batter into greased and floured pans. (See notes).

5-Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (See notes).

6-Cool, then frost as desired.

Notes:

1-This recipe makes a 2-layer cake using 9” diameter rounds or 8-9” square pans. Or you can make a sheet cake or bundt cake.

2-If you make a 2-layer cake or a sheet cake, 30 minutes baking time is usually enough. If you make a bundt cake, it might take slightly longer to bake. Check for doneness using either a cake tester or a toothpick to make sure the center of the cake isn’t still under-baked.

3-Remember, if you’re making this cake for someone with a milk allergy, use vegetable margarine and either soy or rice milk for making a “buttercream” icing with a box of powdered sugar.

Appearing Monday on Whimsical Words: a guest post from author, Allison Merritt.

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