Friday, December 23, 2016

Let Me Introduce You to My New Boyfriend, Val - It's Sweet Barbarian's Release Day!

It's finally here - the day my new novel goes out into the world to seek its fortune. I imagine that it's sort of like sending your child off to his first day of kindergarten...will he be okay out there on his own? Will the teacher and the other kids like him? Will he come home excited because he had the time of his life, or crying and heartbroken?

This novel had almost 7 times more preorders than the last novel I released, and while it's been thrilling to watch those sales numbers grow steadily over the past few weeks, it also made me nervous. That's a lot of people who put their trust in me and my novel before it had ANY reviews, and before they could read any sample pages. Hoo boy. I hope my sweet barbarian delivers the goods!

So, speaking of my new hero, Val...I'm really kind of ga-ga over him at the moment. Here are his quick stats:

Age: 27
Height: 6'6
Weight: 282
Hair: Blondish Brown
Eyes: Hazel
Profession: Warrior/clan leader (in 483;) Contractor (in 2015-16)
Hobbies: Building, woodworking, carving, and learning English on Rosetta Stone
Favorite Foods: Homemade pizza, chocolate brownies
Hates: People who are controlling and selfish
Loves: Scents, hot showers, working with his hands, protecting and providing

Last night the novel appeared, ready to download on my Kindle app, and I immediately opened it and started reading it just to get the experience of how it would look and feel for my readers. I read the first three chapters in one sitting, relieved to find that even though I wrote it and have edited the entire thing three times in the past 3 still grabbed my attention and had me turning the pages to see what happened next. This novel is not as action-and-adventure heavy as Caribbean Jewel or Kiss of the Assassin (admittedly, both of those novels are extremely action-and-adventure heavy) so fans who are looking for swordfighting, narrow escapes, and complicated intrigues won't find as much of that here. There is a tiny bit of swordfighting as well as a couple of narrow escapes, but Sweet Barbarian is mostly dialog, most of it just between the two main characters Karly and Valamir, in the confines of her mountain cabin where they are snowed in for several days. I don't know if that sounds too exciting or not, but I'm relying on the fascination you'll hopefully have with Valamir's character, watching him navigate the strange new world that is Colorado in 2015 as well as his attraction to and feelings for his savior-hostess, Karly Draper.

My hope is that you, my readers, will live vicariously through Karly, leave behind the trials and tribulations of this life to escape into her world, enter her skin, and fall in love with Val as he falls in love with you. Isn't that why we read (and I write) romance novels???

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Easy Vegan Cabbage-Tomato Soup With Quinoa

Cabbage, tomatoes, and quinoa...just what I need for a light, nourishing winter lunch. Yum!
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite go-to soups, one I love to make on weekends in the winter when I need something quick and healthy. (It probably burns more calories to prepare it than it adds when you eat it.) We used to call the original version of this soup "T-J Miracle Soup" back in the day in Oklahoma, where I'm originally from. That soup calls for the same veggie combo as I use here, but it's seasoned with a packet of onion soup mix and doesn't call for quinoa. It was part of a 7 day diet plan to lose 10 pounds by eating very specific foods each day, along with as much of the "T-J Miracle Soup" as you wanted. I did the T-J soup diet in my 20's a couple of times and yes, I could definitely lose 8 to 10 pounds in a week, but I'd gain it right back as soon as I went back to the foods I ate then (pizza, chips, etc.)

Nowadays I manage my weight a lot better without extreme dieting, but I still love my version of this soup. I really crave it sometimes, particularly after a feasting holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas when I just want something warm and satisfying that won't add many calories and basically zero fat (255 calories and 0.06 grams of fat in the entire pot of soup, by my calculations using the Calorie King app.) Added bonus? This soup is cheap to make. The most expensive item is probably the cup of quinoa.

It takes me maybe 10 minutes max to prep the soup and get it simmering, another 20-25 minutes to cook it, and 10 seconds to ladle it into a bowl and start enjoying its cabbage-y vegetable goodness. I love it with two or three drops of Tabasco sprinkled over the top, and the soup is made more substantial and filling by spooning some cooked quinoa into your bowl (making kind of a quickie, Eastern-European version of Peruvian Quinoa Soup, which, by the way, is also delicious.)

Easy Vegan Cabbage-Tomato Soup With Quinoa

2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
2-3 cups cabbage, diced or shredded
4-6 cups veggie broth, or water with a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon vegetable base
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste, plus fresh ground black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
Fresh or dried chopped herbs of choice, such as parsley, basil, or oregano
1/2 cup - 1 cup cooked quinoa, or to taste

Place all veggies except for the canned tomatoes in a pot with the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Simmer 10-15 minutes, or until the cabbage is translucent and tender. Add salt and pepper as well as the canned tomatoes, and continue simmering an additional 10 minutes. Add fresh or dried herbs of choice if desired. If I'm in a hurry (which is usually the case) I just sprinkle in a good helping of dried parsley. Sometimes I like mixed-herb blends like Italian Seasoning in this. Just go with what herbs sound good to you at the time.

When ready to eat, spoon in some quinoa, mix, and enjoy.

Optional add-in: a drop or two of Tabasco sauce.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Easy Vegan Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

Buttery, crunchy on the outside, nutty, cinnamony, salty and sweet. Ahh.
One bowl, seven ingredients, no electric mixer, and a delicious, crunchy-soft cinnamon "sugar" cookie ready to nibble with hot beverage of choice in about 25 minutes. What could be better? That it's vegan, gluten free, and sugar free as well?

I confess, when I invented this recipe a couple of days ago (in desperate search for a real cookie that fit all my dietary desires and didn't involve twenty million ingredients,) I sat down and ate six of them with hot Java-flavored Teeccino and coconut milk. Then, later that afternoon, I ate three more, and that night, I had the other three for dessert after dinner.

You might need to make a double batch.

Easy Vegan Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

Makes 10-12 cookies

1 cup almond flour
3 TBS soft coconut oil (at room temperature)
3 TBS classic (white) *Lakanto for sugar-free cookies (or other sweetener or sugar of choice)
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS water, or as necessary to form a cohesive dough
Ground cinnamon, to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together minus the water to form a semi-crumbly dough, then add enough water to make it stick together so you can roll it into balls.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough into your palm and quickly roll into a ball (quickly to avoid melting the coconut oil too much.) Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet or baking stone. Flatten cookies to about 1/4 -1/2 inch with bottom of a glass, then sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (I needed 20 at high altitude) until slightly brown around edges, or to desired level of browning. Let cool 5 - 10 minutes before eating, if you can wait that long. :)

*I swear I don't work for the Lakanto people - I just happen to love their product for surviving a sugar-free lifestyle.

Blog Design by Get Polished