Monday, August 31, 2009

The weather may be cooling ...

    by Anna Sugden

    ... but September is a hot, hot, hot month here in the Bandits' Lair! (And I'm not talking about cute cabana boys, sexy Romans or yummy hockey hunks ... okay, we'll include them too LOL)

    We have at least two exciting Bandita book launch parties (you know what fun they are!)and a fabulous line-up of special guests. Plus, an insider's view from the spectacular Dragon*Con.

    Let's kick off then with two important dates for your diary: Lair Launch Party Dates!

    Jump into your gondolas and hang onto your oars! We'll be having an extra rowdy party in the Lair on September 4th as Aunty Cindy celebrates the launch of her second romantic suspense, The Treasures of Venice. The Cabana boys will be dressed as gondoliers and there will be plenty of cyber-bubbly, treats, a treasure hunt, and plenty of real-life prizes! Don't miss the fun!


    Then, on September 14th, we get to party to celebrate the release of another awesome Tawny Weber book, Feels Like the First Time! Go to her website http://www.tawnyweber.com/ to see her wonderful new trailer.


    September is chock full of wonderful guests, some new to the Lair and several returning favourites.

    On September 2nd, hilarious Regency writer Janet Mullany (http://www.janetmullany.com/) talks to Anna Campbell about her wonderful new release A Most Lamentable Comedy.



    Get out your shape-shifting gear on September 3rd, because Pamela Palmer (www.pamelapalmer.net) is here to talk to Anna Campbell about her fabulous series The Feral Warriors. (pause to drool over that cover!)

    On September 6th, another Lair favourite returns. Claudia Dain will be dishing on her latest sexy, lush and incredibly witty book, How to Dazzle a Duke. Check out the awesome book trailer on her website: http://www.claudiadain.com/.



    Anna Campbell's great run of guests continues on September 7th, when she hosts fabulous Silhouette Desire author Bronwyn Jameson (http://www.bronwynjameson.com/) who will talk about her newest release The Magnate's Make-Believe Mistress.

    On September 12th, debut author Leanna Renee Hieber's Strangely Beautiful Haunted London Blog Tour and Book Giveaway rolls into the Bandita's Lair!
    (http://www.leannareneehieber.com/haunted-london-blog-tour-book-giveaway/) This celebrates the launch of her novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.


    We welcome back another Lair favourite, MJ Fredrick on September 15th. She will be talking about her new release from Samhain, Beneath the Surface.


    Join us on September 16th, as Harlequin SuperRomance author Kay Stockham discusses her latest book, Simon Says Mommy, in which a sexy surgeon plays doctor ... um, host to his newly adopted son's nanny. But, will her ex-husband ruin their happy-ever-after?


    We'll have exciting coverage of Dragon*Con on September 19th, thanks to Trish, Nancy and Tanya Michaels - our reporters on the spot. Dragon*Con is a huge, multi-media popular culture convention in Atlanta that focuses on science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film. It's held Labor Day weekend each year. You have to see it to believe it - and the gals have promised loads of pics!


    September 21 Celia Bowers, a first time guest in the Bandit Lair, is here to tell us about her newest release Anything But Love a fantastic story about two opposites who have to merge their life styles to fit a love they never expected to find. She'll also give us a peek at what her alter ego, Kennedy Shaw has been up to!



    We're thrilled to have the gorgeous and talented Kathryn Caskie in the lair on to talk about her October release, The Most Wicked of Sins on September 27.


    (Pause to drool over another delicious ... cover!) To finish off this fabulous month, Jessa Slade joins us on September 30th to talk about her debut urban fantasy novel, Seduced by Shadows.


    Don't forget you can always check out the latest Bandita releases on our sidebar. Click on any cover and you'll go straight to its page on Amazon, to buy!

    Finally, Bandita contests for this month:

    Anna Campbell is offering readers a chance to win Captive of Sin!

    By the time this contest comes to a close, Captive of Sin will be available from a bookseller near you. To celebrate this portentous moment in the history of the world (or at least in the history of Anna Campbell), she’s giving away not one, not two, not three, but FOUR signed copies of the book to people who enter this contest.

    This question is really easy. All you have to do is tell her the name of Gideon’s house and where in England it is situated. Just a hint – you might find the answer in the excerpt from Captive of Sin on her Books page: http://www.annacampbell.info/captivesin.html

    Just email Anna on anna@annacampbell.info and she’ll draw at random from the correct responses. The contest closes 31st October, 2009. For more information, please check out Anna’s contest page: http://www.annacampbell.info/contest.html

    Phew! Never a dull moment here in the Lair!

    So, with a new school year upon us, a new season beginning and a new month launching, what plans do you have for something new or different this month? Is there something you meant to do last month that you'll complete? Are you starting a new course, class or activity?Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/08/
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Chance Tomato Gugelhupf







    I named this savory Gugelhupf after my dear friend, Nancy whose nickname is 'Chance'. This nickname is only known among our classmates from The Convent. Being taught to speak in english, we would all chance or dance but nancy somehow adopted the american slang and it was 'Chance", so that's why we nicknamed her so. Nancy has the same passion as i do, we both love to bake and our conversion would be always about baking something. I have told her that i wanted to make 'gugelhupf' but have not been able to bake one cos i do not have the proper mould. The day, i took her to Denver downtown, it was so hot that we can't remain outdoors anymore, by chance , we landed in TJMAX and what did we see? A blue silicone gugelhupf mould staring at us. Since my birthday was around the corner, 'Chance' gave me the most wanted present and so i have to bake a gugelhupf as soon as we got home. Thank you, dear 'Chance' for making this possible and hope that you had a safe and comfortable journey home to Malaysia.

    Ingredients:

    (for a 23 cm / 9 inch bundt pan)
    3 large eggs + enough water to make 1 cup
    1 tsp salt
    1 Tbsp sugar
    3 cups bread flour
    1 tsp instant yeast
    1 stick/4 ozs soft butter
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    1 bunch parsley
    4 spring onions
    25 cherry tomatoes
    a dash of pepper
    Method:
    Roast pine nuts without any oil until fragrant.
    Wash and chop parsley.
    Wash and dice spring onions.
    Preheat oven to 350 °F.
    Put the ingredients for the bread in the bread machine according to the order listed, starting with the liquids and ending with the yeast on top of the flour.
    Choose the dough function and when dough has formed, add in the butter.
    At the first beep, add in the pine nuts, parsley and spring onions. Continue dough function until it is over. The dough should have been doubled.
    Butter the bundt pan.
    Wash and dry the tomatoes.
    Roll the dough into a log shape.
    Cut off 25 slices of dough.
    Press down each slice, put one tomato on each slice, add some pepper.
    Wrap each tomato into the slice of dough, forming little balls.
    Put balls into pan.
    Let rise until dough has doubled its volume.
    Bake on bottom rail of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
    Let cake rest for 10 minutes, then flip over onto a wire rack.





    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/08/
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mussels The Asian Way




    There are many ways to cook mussels but i like to cook them the asian way which i find is the best way as good mussels, fresh or frozen should be cooked in a subtle and simple way so as not to mar the flavor or texture - "Less is more when it comes to cooking mussels! "



    Ingredients:
    2 lbs mussels(fresh or frozen) - To clean mussels visit How to clean mussels
    2 tbsp cooking oil
    1 tbsp chopped garlic
    1 tsp chopped ginger
    1 tbsp chopped chili padi/jalapeno
    3 - 4 tbsp shaoxing wine
    A dash of fish sauce
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    2 tbsp chopped spring onion

    Method:

    Heat wok with cooking oil and when oil is hot, add in chopped ginger , garlic and chili padi .
    Saute until fragrant but not browned.
    Add in the cleaned mussels and stir.
    Add in the shaoxing wine, fish sauce and black pepper.
    Cover wok , this creates the necessary steam required to open the shells. It will also decrease the overall heat within the pan. Continue to finish cooking.
    After about 4 minutes, remove the lid. At this point, most if not all of the mussels will be open. Mussels, unlike clams, will open before they are cooked all of the way through. If some of your mussels have not opened, then it is possible that either they were not cooked long enough, or they are bad and should be discarded. If most of them have not yet opened, place the cover back on the wok and wait another minute or two. Be careful not to cook the mussels for too long, as they will become tough and grainy if overcooked.

    Sprinkle with spring onions and serve immediately.

    Serves
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/08/
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

HOW COME YOU NEVER TAUGHT ME . . .

    by Jo Robertson


    I was teaching my granddaughter how to make my special brownies the other day. Corinna’s ten and the oldest of three children, so she took charge immediately.

    “Two scant cups flour, ½ scant cup cocoa." She read through the entire list aloud without stopping, gathered the ingredients and utensils, and spread them out on the counter.

    Only then did she stop and ask, “What’s ‘scant’”? She pronounced the word with a long a, which was rathe
    r cute, but of course, I held back my smile.

    “Not quite full to the top,” I answered, “because I don't like my brownies too chocolate-y.”

    We began making the brownies (recipe below for seekers of high-calorie goodies). I instructed her every step of the way. “We always cream the butter and sugar,” I said, “and then add the eggs. You don’t want to melt the butter in the microwave and then add the eggs or else – ”

    “You’ll get scrambled eggs!” she giggled.

    Quick girl.

    My daughter Megan sat on a high stool, watching us, a puzzled look on her face. “I never knew that,” she said at last, “the part about creaming the butter and the sugar. How come you never taught me that?”

    Why hadn’t I taught her that? Easy answer – she was the sixth child in a seven-year
    stretch of babies. The girl was lucky I taught her how to tie her shoes. Wait! That wasn’t me; it was her older sister.

    Sigh.

    You see how it goes? Whether you have one child or seven, it’s the same. There’s never enough time to teach them everything. Some stuff they figure out on their own. If they're lucky, they'll learn the rest from a sibling or a friend.

    I learned to drive a stick shift car from my father, not always a good idea as papas are notoriously impatient teachers. My sons learned from me.
    It's fun to teach boys how to drive because they're so eager and are often quite skillful. They relish the whole idea of keeping the gear in second before they pop it into third or fourth. I call it the Nascar Syndrome. But I wonder, will their sons ask some years down the road why their father didn’t teach them how to drive a stick shift?

    You see, there’s a window of opportunity to learn something -- riding a bike, tying your shoes, swimming. If you miss it, you may never learn how to master that skill.

    And of course, this applies to writing. Who "teaches" writers how to write? Do they figure it out on their own? Are they born storytellers for whom it comes naturally? Do they have mentors or is it all trial and error?

    What about you? Is there a hole in your "learning repertoire"? How did you learn the basics of life -- cooking a meal that isn't microwaved, sewing on a button or mending a tear in your shirt? Putting gas in your car or fixing a flat tire?

    If you're a writer, who "taught" you how to write or who fostered the desire to write stories of your own?


    And here's the recipe!
    JO'S BEST BROWNIES
    2 scant cups flour
    1/2 scant cup cocoa
    1 cup soft butter
    2 cups sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    4 eggs
    nuts (optional)
    Bake in greased pan at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Do not overbake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when warm.
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/08/
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josh hasrey: Blogroll

Friday, August 28, 2009

You met her WHERE?

    I've decided that true friends and true loves are unusual creatures.

    In some ways they're like real wizards, or unicorns - no, not that they're impossibly mythical, but that they're not easy to find. Its not that they aren't there - really, there ARE good men out there! - it's just that they aren't common.

    Then again, would you really want them to be? A true gem, a diamond of the first water as our Regency gents would call it, is rare. So is a true friend. Or a real, honest to goodness loyal, loving life partner.

    Nope. Not common.

    It's kind of like a recessive trait. I have Dalmatians. I love them for their humor, their active minds, and their amazing coloration. Liver-colored Dalmatians are less common than black and white ones. Liver's a recessive gene. Beautiful. Unusual, but not unheard of.

    Kinda like true love or a loyal best friend.

    I started thinking about all this when a friend told me about her first and best friend. The BFF had gotten very sick and my friend had gone to help. She flew to Rhode Island from Illinois. She stayed a week. She got her BFF's kids to school. She made casseroles, made sure the BFF's husband could stay at the hospital with his wife. When she left, she left food in the fridge, gas in the car, flowers on the bedside table and a "love-ya-get-well-be-happy" card with them so when her friend came home, she'd have something fun waiting for her.

    I was so admiring, not only of the length of the friendship, but of the lengths to which she'd go for her friend. She told me they were like sisters. Neither of them had a blood sister, only brothers, so they'd gravitated to one another in school and through the long years, nothing had changed that sense of sisterhood.

    Since I have a sister whom I adore, and a long history with her, (grins) I guess I'd never felt that way about a gal-pal, at least not early on.

    I don't have a friend I've known since kindergarten and it made me a bit sad to realize it. It reminded me that there are people from those years I'd love to reconnect with. Alas, even Facebook hasn't helped on that one! But it probably will, one day.

    I do keep up with two friends from my high school years, but it seems a slim bit of a friend load when my husband has a legion of pals from those days. Maybe it was the organized sport thing? I don't know. I was a misfit in high school, so it's probably not surprising that the misfit club I belonged to hasn't kept up.

    College was a blur. Really. And I see you laughing...it WASN"T because of the beerfests. I went to college in a dry county. For those of you raised outside the South, that means they don't sell alcohol ANYWHERE in the entire county. Let's just say the next town over was verrrrrry popular with my college pals.

    That said, time just flew by while I was in the mountains of NC, matriculating. I think time flies now that I have kids, but I remember actually wishing time would slow down in college. Needless to say, it didn't.

    I keep up with four or five people from college. Ironically, not my roommate. Nor my college sweetheart. (On reflection, that's probably a really GOOD thing!)

    So all this got me to thinking, and you know how dangerous that is.

    I began to wonder what changed for me. When did I start gathering the REAL friends. The women who now inhabit my life and make it sane, make it fun, make it grow and expand. When did the Women Who Make Me Laugh, the Women With Whom I Connect come to be part of my life?

    Who are my true, now-BFFs and how did I meet them?

    One of my BFFs is an intuitive counselor (a counselor who's a psychic) and started out as my grief counselor when my mother passed away. Then I went to work for her. Then we became fast friends. (I'm not just a client, I'm a pal!) She's a friend. A fellow writer. A confident extraordinaire.

    Another, long time BFF was in my Rotary club. You can only imagine how much fun we had with that. We worked for rival banks for a while. Equally amusing - though not to our bosses. She threw an engagement party for me when I got engaged to a guy I didn't marry. She hated him. She did it anyway, 'cause she felt it was the right thing to do. That's what you do for your BFF. (Thank heavens I didn't marry that guy!) Needless to say, she was relieved when I met my DH. She was one of my two bridesmaids.

    One cool BFF I met over home reno's, dogs and marketing brochures. She had Keeshonds. I had Dalmatians. Somehow, we worked that out. Ha! We painted together, stripped tables, hung wallpaper. We still trade decorating secrets.

    Decorating's the profession of another of my BFFs. I met her at church. We went to church in our "new" city of DC on the same Sunday. We both joined the pitiful choir (1 bass, 1 tenor, 2 altos, 2 sopranos) and managed to forge a friendship that's lasted for more than twelve years. Carrying that chior on our shoulders was a real bonding experience, fer sher.

    Then there's the BFF I met in line at the welcome reception at the Denver RWA conference. We've been best buds since then. We've traveled together, roomed together at Nationals and locals, we've scrapbooked together, laughed, cried and grown as women and as writers because we're friends. She was the third person I told when I found out I finally managed to get pregs with my second child. (She'd actually figured it out because I ordered black beans at dinner. She knows I despise black beans, in general. Ha!) She's one of the first I call or email with news or triumphs or for advice. She's pure gold.

    Another pal, confident, friend and fellow Mom is from my neighborhood. We trade kid stories. Dog advice. We watch one another's houses for vacations, we take care of one another's pets for days and weeks. We have barbeques and dinners together. Our kids make s'mores together, swim together and go trick or treating together. We walk our kids to school together.

    Then there's the josh hasrey. Legends in present time. Grins. Meeting for the first time - and in several cases NOT meeting - as 2006 Golden Heart Finalists. Who could ask for a better cadre of BFFs? When we decided to start the blog together, some of us had still not met in person. What started out as a "Hey, let's try this out and see..." has become what another pal of mine calls A Force Of Nature. Heehee. I love thinking of the josh hasrey as a force of nature. Nice image.

    It seems I've met more of the lasting kind of friends since I started writing.

    Some of my writers pals I've met in surprising ways - online, in classes, at the grocery store, in the bar. (Imagine THAT?!?!)

    I've met tons of fast friends in my local chapter, what a great group of women and men THAT is! Gotta love the Washington Romance Writers.

    Of course, there are some other really great writer pals I've met online too. I met Becke Martin here, and just met her in person at National this year. *waving at Becke* Becke and I are having a great time hanging out at the Barnes and Noble.com Mystery Bookclub. A bunch of ya'll have stopped by, so thank you!!!

    And there's Keira, who's off visiting castles. And PJ, and Gannon, and Limecello, Jane, Buffie....the list goes on and on and on! How cool is that? What a blessing the josh hasrey have been in terms of friends! You're never lonely at National if you know the Banditas that for sure. I ran into Bandits, BB's and folks who've guested with us EVERYWHERE. It was great.

    I have a new BFF-in-the-making. She's another writer - imagine that! - and one I've admired for quite a while. We have a lot in common and have been laughing our arses off when we talk. That's a BFF in the making, right there.

    What about you? Do you have a BFF that you've had "for-evah"?

    Did you meet any of your friends in unusual ways? In court or on jury duty? Skydiving? Scrapbooking? Here?


    What about your spouse?

    I met my marvelous husband at a party. It was a set up, but I didn't know it. I'm thrilled now, but at the time? I was SO ticked to learn that the only reason for the party was to set this date up. I had sworn off dating you see...

    One of my friends met her husband online. Another met hers at Karate. Yet another met hers at a fraternity/sorority dinner, but she was with someone else. They waited until the Brother she was dating left the house and campus before they felt they "could" date. They've been together for nearly 30 years now. Wow.

    What about your BF, Spouse or just that "special" guy you had a great time with? Any fun stories on how you met?

    Time to dish, ladies!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2009/08/
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