Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A TRADITION OF CHRISTMAS PAST--AND RECIPE FOR STRUFFOLI (HONEY BALLS)

This tradition ended when my great grandmother (Grandma to everyone) passed away in 1988. She was the matriarch of the family, the mother of my maternal grandfather. When in her prime, “Josie Red” as she was known in Jersey City, was way ahead of her time, as a bootlegger during Prohibition, a real estate tycoon, a small-time loan shark, and according to legend, Mayor Frank Hague’s mistress. 

Every Christmas Eve, her daughter, (my great aunt Lucretia, a gourmet cook), invited everyone to her basement for an Italian feast. Grandma’s four children, one of whom was my grandfather, had children and grandchildren of their own. Of course this necessitated a ‘kiddie table’ at which I sat until I was tall enough to sit with the grown-ups. Aunt Lucretia always made two types of spaghetti sauce—regular marinara sauce and aglio e olio—but what I remember is it always contained clam sauce, which I wouldn’t touch, so I went for the plain marinara. Her finished basement had a small kitchen so she was able to do all the cooking right there. Kiddies weren’t allowed to, but several adults helped her carry the steaming plates to the long tables set up and covered with holiday-themed tablecloths. She served all the traditional Italian dishes—after the salad and pasta with meatballs and sausage came the ham, then the fruit and nuts, and of course, an array of desserts, always including her famous struffoli (honey balls) and Italian rum cake. My Uncle Eddie tended bar at the other end of the room. Thankfully, he’s still with us at 84. 

After dinner, Santa always showed up. My cousin Mike’s father played the part very convincingly—the kiddies scrambled onto his lap for their chance to gush about how well they behaved all year and how deserving they were of his visit later that night to surround their Christmas trees with presents to tear open the next morning. Someone always had a home movie camera to capture these special moments on film. I remember the lights always blazing like the noonday sun when the camera started rolling. 

Christmas Eves in the basement ended after Grandma left us, but the memories live on!

AN ITALIAN TRADITION--STRUFFOLI (HONEY BALLS)

 
 
When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or written recipes on the boat along with their possessions. A favorite Chrismas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!
Ingredients
Dough:
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional
Directions
For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece of dough into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball about the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).
In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a large spoon or damp hands, arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle any remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance).
Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar, if using. Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.
Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.
Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield:8 to 10 servings


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Enter Here:

http://thewildrosepress.blogspot.com/

An Italian Tradition - Honey Balls

When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or written recipes on the boat along with their possessions. A favorite Chrismas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!
See the recipe here:
http://forum.thewildrosepress.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=273

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Read my article "Big Houses vs. Small Presses" at Cold Coffee Press.
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ciao! Le Allegre Comari

Visit our Italian authors' chat at Annamaria Bazzi's blog, you're welcome to add to it, in Italian or English! Ciao!

http://www.annamariabazzi.com/2013/07/30/le-allegre-comari/

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Award-Winning Historical Author Linda McLaughlin is my Guest Today


Rogue's Hostage
by Linda McLaughlin

4 ½ stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times!
Romantic Times Nominee—Best Small Press Romance of 2003!
2nd Place - Lorie Awards - Best Historical Romance!

 



Linda and I have a few things in common--our passion for history fuels our books, and we've both traveled to England for research.
 
Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, and Australia. A lifelong dream came true with a trip to England where she was able to combine sightseeing and theater with research for her novels. A native of Pittsburgh, she now lives in Southern California with her husband.

Her first book was Worth The Risk by Lyn O'Farrell. Now Linda writes historical and Regency romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

She also writes sexy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont.

Visit Linda at:



Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont

 His hostage... 

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré's life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn't count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.

Her destiny...

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau's desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left.  But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.

(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)

Buy Rogue's Hostage at:




Excerpt from Rogue’s Hostage:

"Madame, are you listening to me?"

The Frenchman’s voice, sharp and insistent, demanded her attention. "There is not much time. My companions are not patient men. We must leave soon, but first I want you to bind my shoulder. Where do you keep bandages?"

Her mouth and throat were dry when she swallowed, but she choked out an answer. "The trunk. Under the bed."

He squatted beside the bed, pulled out the trunk and rummaged through it. She watched his every move, unable to take her eyes off him, alarmed by the physical threat he represented.

He was a tall man who dominated the cabin as Emile never had, and his state of undress revealed nearly every inch of his lean and powerful form. Not only was he bare to the waist, but his breechclout and leggings failed to completely cover his thighs and buttocks. He had a wide-shouldered, rangy body and long, sinewy legs. He looked strong, virile, and infinitely dangerous.

A cold knot formed in Mara’s stomach. The French had killed her father and now her husband. What would they do to her?

She wrapped her arms around her waist. Her grandfather would say whatever happened was God’s will, but she rejected that idea. What kind of God allowed such awful things to happen?

Fearfully, she watched as the Frenchman shoved the trunk back under the bed and stood. He held out the bandages, and she froze. She couldn’t touch him, she just couldn’t.

The man’s heavy black brows drew together in a fierce frown, but his voice was without emotion. "Madame, I am all that stands between you and the men who killed your husband. I can be persuaded to act as your protector. It is to your advantage to do what I command."

He dropped the bandages beside her on the bed, then reached out to touch her hair. "Must I remind you, in my companion’s eyes, scalps are more valuable than live captives?"

Horror sliced through her fear. "Emile!" She shot off the bed and bolted for the door. The Frenchman caught her around the waist before she could reach it.

"It is too late, madame," he said in a hushed voice. "It is done."

"No," she moaned, as she fought to banish the image of a bloody scalp, raw flesh.

The Frenchman turned her toward him, holding her by the shoulders, and spoke in an insistent voice. "Listen to me and be sensible. You must be strong now. We have a long journey ahead of us."

Dazed, she stared at him. "A journey? To where?"

"Fort Duquesne."

Mara gasped. The dreaded enemy stronghold deep in the wilderness. She struggled to get free, clawing at his powerful arms.

He gripped her tighter, grimacing as he did. "Stop it! What chance do you think you have against three men? Do as I say and you will live. Refuse and…" He let the implication hang in the air between them.

Live. Yes, that was what she must do. She must bide her time and stay alive. Her brother would find her and exact revenge. But for now, she was on her own.

She straightened her spine and stared into the Frenchman’s eyes. "How do I know I can trust you, monsieur?"

He met her gaze, but a shadow darkened his eyes. "You have my word of honor."

Bitterness filled her. "The word of a Frenchman? What is that worth?"

"For the moment, madame, your life."

Rogue's Hostage is now available as an electronic download from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. For more information, go to http://www.lindamclaughlin.com/

 

My thanks to Diana for hosting me today. Hope you are enjoying the Egg-cerpt Exchange.

 

Linda

 

 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Author Stacy Juba is my Guest Today

Do You Remember Where You Were 25 Years Ago Today?

Thousands of readers have been captivated by the books of Stacy Juba. Stacy published her first book, a young adult novel, at age 18 and she hasn't stopped writing since. She has authored books for adults, teenagers and children. Stacy has written about high school hockey players, reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer who solves a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag, and lots more. Her other titles include Sink or Swim for adults; Dark Before Dawn and Face-Off for young adults; and The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Children's Bundle for children.



Should we dig for the truth when Pandora’s Box is a coffin of buried secrets?

Kris Langley has always been obsessed with murder. She blames herself for the violent death of her cousin when they were kids and has let guilt invade every corner of her existence. Now an editorial assistant and obit writer, Kris stumbles across an unsolved murder while compiling “25 Years Ago Today” items from the microfilm. Determined to solve the case and atone for the death of her cousin, Kris immerses herself in the mystery of what happened to Diana Ferguson, a talented artist who expressed herself through haunting paintings of Greek mythology.

Not only does Kris face resistance from her family and her managing editor, she also clashes with Diana’s suspicious nephew, Eric Soares – until neither she nor Eric can deny the chemistry flaring between them. She soon learns that old news never leaves the morgue and that yesterday’s headline is tomorrow’s danger, for finding out the truth about that night twenty-five years ago may shatter Kris’s present, costing her love, her career, and ultimately, her life.

Available in e-book and audiobook formats from retailers including:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Five-Years-Ago-Today-ebook/dp/B003U4WVKA/ref

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/twenty-five-years-ago-today-stacy-juba/1017979048?ean=2940011980930

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Twenty-Five-Years-Ago-Today/book-fc55-OLdikey2hFgy_jaDA/page1.html?s=ujwec_jtbU2U134hnmDkXA&r=7

Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_3?asin=B00B8VUQM2&qid=1359725371&sr=1-3

More retailers, reviews and book trailer at:

http://stacyjuba.com/blog/books-2/twenty-five-years-ago-today/ 

Excerpt  

Cheryl came up behind Kris.  Her voice sounded sad and tired.  "Please don't tell my mother too much, even if you're making progress.  I don't want to raise her hopes."

Kris glanced back at Irene, who hunched on the couch, turning the locket over in her hand.  "I'll be careful with what I say.  My aunt would've been eager, too."

"How was your cousin killed?"   

"She was strangled, kidnapped by a neighbor while walking alone.  We were  twelve."

Cheryl heaved a sigh.  "I'm sorry.  I remember reading about that.  It happened locally, didn't it?"

"Yes."

"I know you're a terrific writer.  I couldn't have been happier with the business story.  I'm just concerned about my mother."

"I understand," Kris said.  "I won't let you down."

She trudged out to her car and brushed off her windshield.  She waited behind the steering wheel as the defroster warmed the interior. Not knowing Diana's whereabouts must have tormented Irene.  Kris's family had agonized over Nicole's disappearance.  As one day blended into the next, Nicole had seemed further and further away. 

Finding her was worse.

Kris had learned a new phrase that May, a litany that surged back into her mind, drumming to the beat of the windshield wipers.  If only.

If only it hadn't rained the afternoon Nicole had disappeared.

If only she hadn't climbed into the car with Randolph Coltraine.

If only Aunt Susan had been home when Nicole called for a ride.

Kris swallowed the metallic taste in her mouth.  If only I didn't trick her.

She chose the long route home, driving fast. She hadn't driven in New York and had forgotten the thrill of a climbing speedometer.  Her first week back, she'd landed a speeding ticket. 

  Kris skidded onto the Fremont State College campus, her tires kicking up tufts of snow.  She passed dorms, tennis courts and the library before parking in front of the deserted baseball field.  White trees cast shapeless shadows across the broad expanse of snow.

A chunk of ice slid off the roof, hitting the front window.  Kris jumped, her hand to her heart.   

"No one's out there," she murmured, gazing into the woods.  "Not now."

But once.

Beyond those trees, Diana had lain dead. 

Police had crowded the scene, their search over.

Middle-aged reporter Dex Wagner had scribbled in his notebook. 

Twenty-five years ago today.

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Author Anna Bayes is my Guest Today

Anna writes contemporary, paranormal, BDSM and LGBT erotic romances. She is herself a bisexual submissive, and finds writing the perfect outlet for her wild ideas.

In real life, Anna is an introverted bookworm, looks sweet and kind of innocent, but don't let her brown eyes fool you. Catch her typing naked at her blog http://annabayes.wordpress.com and on Twitter (@anna_bayes) at all hours. 

Under His Wings, a M/M/F menage love story by Anna Bayes
 
 

Blurb:

Bonnie thought Matt was everything she ever wanted: boyishly charming, understanding and exciting. Then she realized that he had another lover: Sean, an artistic, intensely jealous and handsome man. She tries, and fails to accept herself as the barely tolerated female lover. On New Year's Eve, she demands a meeting amongst the three. The confrontation sparks dangerous rage, and something else with an entirely different heat level: steamy desire. Can she bring about a reconciliation satisfactory to everyone involved as she surrenders to her passion? 

Buy link:


 Excerpt:

As I stood before my reflection in the mirror this morning, I tried to rehearse my request to Matt. I repeated it many times, looking into my eyes: the round, dark brown pupils returning my gaze unconvincingly. I shook my hair loose, and reasoned with myself again. If all Matt's talk about my importance is only empty words to keep me, then he is a lying bastard, and I am better off without him. I tried to say it aloud with conviction, but my voice betrayed me; I sounded like a frightened, disappointed little girl. I know logically that I can live without him, but loving him has become such an integral, necessary part of my life; I am not sure I could stop, even if we parted.   

5 pm. Matt took my hand as I closed my shop early for the day, kissed it and buried it in the large pocket in his jacket. I love how my hand fits snugly in his; it is as if all my body parts have been tailor-made to suit him, and melt into him. I concentrated on staring at the toes of my boots, mustering up my courage, then I looked squarely into his eyes, and said, "I want Sean to meet me." I had initially practiced declaring in a crescendo, "I refuse to be hidden like an undignified whore. I am not a filler between Sean and other things in your life. I need him to acknowledge me as a person. I demand his respect," but this part of the speech became stuck in my throat. Matt looked at me, dumbfounded, until I almost started to believe that I had delivered my full speech, after all. Then he clenched his teeth, tightened his grip on my hand, and said, "Yes, you deserve better than this." 

The taxi ride to his apartment was a blur. The original plan for tonight, it being New Year's Eve, had been that Matt would spend the early evening with me, then return home to Sean for dinner and to count down to 2013 over sizzling sex. Sean is not there when we arrive at the apartment, and we sit on the sofa to wait. Matt looks frighteningly dashing: his eyes blazing, his whole body tense, clearly deep in thought, preparing for something. He looks up as the sound of keys in the lock announces Sean's return. "Hey you..." Sean's lilting voice stops in its tracks as he opens the door wider and sees me seated next to his lover. 

Find Anna Bayes at these places:


Her Amazon author page (http://www.amazon.com/author/annabayes)

Her Goodreads author page (http://www.goodreads.com/annabayes)

Her Manic Readers author page (http://www.manicreaders.com/annabayes)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Joan Reeves, Author of Funny, Sexy Contemporary Romance, is my Guest Today!

Joan writes funny, sexy Contemporary Romance. She made the transition from traditional print publishing to indie publishing in 2011, and she has never regretted taking that step. Her self-published ebooks attracted worldwide attention, and she subsequently contracted with Bragelonne, a major French publishing house, for three of her books to be published in print and ebooks for World French Rights.
In 2012, she spent most of the year involved in marrying off her youngest child and in turning her popular romance novels into audio books. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
In 2013, Joan has ambitious plans to publish 4-6 more romance novels, some from her backlist and some original fiction not published before.
 
 
She loves to welcome visitors to her website, http://www.JoanReeves.com and her blog, http://SlingWords.blogspot.com. Although she doesn't hang around Facebook too much, she's always on Twitter so check her out @JoanReeves.
In addition to her novel writing and blogging -- and just general yakking the day away -- she also writes and publishes a couple of free subscription newsletters: Writing Hacks: http://eepurl.com/fX7JT for writers and for readers, Wordplay: http://www.joanreeves.com/newsletter.htm.
Joan is having fun producing videos for her books now. Here are two that she made that provide a "movie experience" for learning about some of her books.
The Lingerie Covers (including the new Scents and Sensuality which should be live on all platforms by the weekend)
Old Enough To Know Better
 
Enjoy my interview with Joan.
 
You, the Author YY
 
          What kind of books do you love to read? 
Romance novels, mystery-thrillers, some science fiction, biographies, military memoirs, and books about any topic that grabs by interest. I'm very eclectic in my reading taste.
     What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?  
     Here I'm very eclectic also. If I'm writing first draft, I tend to listen to classical or foreign language groups like Les Nubiens. If I'm fine-tuning a scene, I usually have some kind of music that just speaks to me for that scene. As an example, my most recent book which should be live when this interview appears is Scents and Sensuality. The Michael Bublé version of "You Don't Know Me," just seemed to fit the comic premise of the book as well as the poignancy of the love scenes. So I've listened to it endlessly. Same with Love Letter by Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes. There's one particular love scene that I wrote that had the lyrics from that song bouncing around in my head. Especially the line about writing a letter to her lover and telling him all the things she wants him to do to her. That's definitely something most women would never, ever, conceive of doing, and the heroine Amanda Whitfield of Scents and Sensuality also thinks that would take enormous courage to do something like that. 
     What is your stress buster?  
     Walking. Reading. Music.
     Describe yourself in one word.  
     Unfinished. 
     What is the most adventurous thing you=ve ever done?
     Went to Japan when I was 20, and I'd never flown before.
     What makes you happy/sad/disappointed/frustrated/hopeful/angry? (Pick one)  
     Injustice. -- sad, disappointed, frustrated, and angry. 
     How would readers find out more about you? 
     Visit my website: http://www.JoanReeves.com and/or my blog: http://SlingWords.blogspot.com
 
          Your writingYY
     When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it? 
     I wrote a book that will never see the light of day in 1982 when my youngest child was a toddler.
     How did you feel when you receive your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?  
     Over the moon. I got the call a few days after New Year's. I still had a half-empty bottle of champagne in the fridge from our New Year's party. I drank the flat champagne while I waited for my hubby to come home and celebrate with me.
     Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?  
     This is the year I'm going to keep sane office hours. I'm going to write Monday through Friday and not darken the doorway of my office on weekends. At least that's what I'd like to do, but the reality of it is that I spend way too much time in my home office. It seems that the more books I write, the harder it gets because I'm always trying to improve.
     How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.  
     Sometimes I write with a character who springs to life in my head. Sometimes I start with an interesting premise, a "what if." I always try to get a rough outline with the turning points of the plot nailed down before I start. 
     I don't outline heavily because if I know everything beforehand, it takes away from the fun of writing.
     What is your advice to aspiring writers?
     Write every day if possible. Don't let your ambition wane. Know going in that not everyone is an overnight success. It took me 25 years of hard work before anyone ever labeled me an overnight success! (I still laugh about that.)
     Writing is hard work, but if it's something you truly want to do, then go for it.
 
          Your booksYY
     What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
     I write funny, sexy romance novels because I think the world needs more love and laughter. I like to write about a man and a woman who are made for each other, but they just don't know it yet.
     Among those that you=ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
     They're all my favorites for different reasons.
     Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?
     Everything I do, everything I see, everything I hear -- it all gets filtered through the unique brain that is mine, filtered through attitudes, experiences, and memories. What comes out is an idea and a way to execute it that is uniquely me. Every person gets ideas the same way, and once it filters through their conscious and sub-conscious, it's their unique idea.
     Any new projects, work in progress?
     I just finished Scents and Sensuality and uploaded it to all major ebook sellers.

     Here's a blurb for your readers:

     Perfumer Amanda Whitfield needs a man, but where can she find one in time to escort her to her snooty cousin's wedding? Eavesdropping on Amanda's conversation with her friend, a woman interrupts and suggests her son, a computer genius, would be a perfect escort. Desperate, Amanda agrees to meet him.

     Harrison Kincaide is tired of his mom's constant matchmaking, and he decides to cure her of meddling--once and for all. When he arrives for the get-acquainted date with Amanda, they both get a shock.

     Seduction and hot passion with a side order of comical deceit. Will the truth set them free or rip them apart?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Author Lisa Carlisle is My Guest Today


Hi, I’m Lisa Carlisle and I write a paranormal erotic romance series with Ellora’s Cave called Underground Encounters, where characters meet in an underground goth club. My latest book was recently released with two more coming soon. Hope you check it out. J
Fiery Nights by Lisa Carlisle

“…Get ready to be hooked on the series.” ~ Sizzling Hot Book Reviews.

Here’s my latest release with Ellora’s Cave, Fiery Nights.

Fiery Nights

He may own a goth nightclub, but Tristan Stone avoids people—the darkness that surrounds them drains him. When he sees Maya for the first time, alone on the dance floor, a light surrounds her. He must discover who she is and what gives her power. 

Maya sees a man with haunting eyes watching her from the back of the club. She feels their connection, but thinks it’s merely physical attraction. Their passion ignites, overpowering them, and they must work together to understand their connection. The heat of their passion reflects their fiery personalities, which could send their world up in flames. 

Excerpt

Maya

I hadn’t been back since the fire.

Whoever had bought the club had kept the black brick exterior with the painted black windows, ensconcing the club in mystery. Passersby down this hidden alley might think it an abandoned warehouse, unless they got close enough to look up into the recessed doorway to see it flanked by two watchful gargoyle statues.

I felt a moment of hesitation before I walked down the alley. When I used to come with Nike, I never felt threatened. We’d come after long shifts at the firehouse to unwind and dance off some steam. I’d practically bounce down the alleyway so I could get inside sooner.

But now, on my own, the creepiness of the alleyway set in. I wrapped my long black leather trench coat tightly around my body to shield my fishnet-covered legs as if protecting myself. It could be dangerous walking alone through warehouse alleys near the waterfront.

No wonder Vamps was hidden back here. You wouldn’t want an underground club on the main drag, would you?

My Mary Jane heels clicked loudly on the cement. The further I walked, the closer the clicks were.

Easy, Maya, I chastised myself. You’re going to break into a trot in a second.

Finally I made it to the front entrance and pulled on the heavy wooden doors with steel bars intersecting in the middle and was rewarded by a familiar figure.

“Byron, you’re still here!” I said to the extra-large bouncer who had an extra-large heart.

“Maya, where have ya been?” He threw his enormous arms wide and I rushed in, aware that I was grabbing him tighter than warranted, probably due to relief after my misgivings walking here alone.

“Whoa, girl, you must have really missed me,” he said before he let me go.

“Of course I did. It’s been forever. How have you been?”

“Been survivin’. Taking odd jobs here and there while they rebuilt this place. You saw the damage from the explosion.”

“Yes, I remember.” It wasn’t something I could forget any time soon.

“Why you here alone tonight?” he asked. “Where’s your partner in crime?”

“Nike? I haven’t seen her since the fire.”

“Are you kidding me? It’s been what—a year?”After I nodded, he asked, “What happened with her then? One of the bartenders told me how she saw her go upstairs with the former owner that night. What do you think—they hooked up?”

I didn’t know how much to tell about Nike and Michel, even though I was still hurt that I hadn’t seen heard from her in months. Sure, she sent postcards from time to time, but it wasn’t the same. We were like this—if you could see me, you’d know I was wrapping my index and middle fingers together. I know Byron was concerned about her, but I also didn’t want to perpetuate any rumors.

“Word spreads quickly around here, doesn’t it?” I chose to avoid the juicy part of the question and answered, “Last I heard she was traveling around Europe.” I left out the part that she was with Michel.

We were interrupted by a couple who opened the door. He was wearing a red velvet smoking jacket a la Gomez Addams, but didn’t pull off the look completely with his dirty-blond hair. While they showed their IDs to Byron and paid the cover charge, I looked at her outfit to see if she was sporting a Morticia-like dress. To my surprise, she was wearing a cowgirl outfit—hat, tassels, boots and a very short khaki shirt. Not a usual costume for a goth club, but she pulled it off.

 Note to self: see if you can pull off a sexy cowgirl outfit.

After they passed through the next set of doors, Byron asked, “So you’re solo tonight?”

“Hopefully not all night,” I lifted an eyebrow. “How’s the eye candy in there?”

“You know, the usual. Lots of weirdos.”

“Just my type.”

“Who you kiddin’? I’ve never seen you leave with anyone besides your girl Nike.”

“Byron. I haven’t been out in months. I went on some crappy dates this past year and realized I’m happier just being on my own. So all I’ve done lately is work. Which means the only males I’ve encountered are coworkers and they smell pretty rank after a twenty-four-hour shift. Since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, and Halloween was always the best night of the year here, I decided to climb out of my self-imposed isolation and make an appearance.”

“Well then, get in there and be a naughty girl.” Byron smacked me playfully on the ass to push me on. Then he said, “Wait.” He took my hands and extended them out to the side.

“Let me get a good look at you. See what outfit you’re sporting tonight. Are you wearing a costume under there?”

I cocked my head as I took my hands back to open my leather trench coat shawl, which could fit in just perfectly at a gothic club or a Renaissance fair, but not too many other places. Tonight I was wearing a sexy little pirate wench costume, with a laced-up corset top and short leather miniskirt. “Does this warrant your approval?”

He put his hand on his chin as he sized me up. “Not bad. I’ve seen you in worse. Still trying to forget the blue velvet gown, black combat boots debacle.”

“That was hot,” I protested.

He raised an eyebrow before his gaze moved up to my hair. “And you’ve gone back to black hair, I see?”

“Technically blue-black. There’s only so much color I can get away with at work, being a professional and all.” I winked. Lately, I’d been alternating between blue-black and a magenta tint, which was about as much as I could manage without the chief giving me the look. If I was feeling spunky and wanted to sport a hot pink or blue, I had to wear a wig. Could you imagine a firefighter with pink hair coming to your aid to deal with your distress call? I didn’t think so.

“All right, you get my seal of approval. And you know that’s not so easy, princess. Go on in.”

I kissed him on the cheek and walked down the dark tunnel lit by candelabras attached to the stone walls. A new sign adorned the door leading to the main club area. Dante’s quote was carved into the wood: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.

“But Maya,” he called after me. “Leave some of the pretty boys for me.”

“Obviously,” I said, rolling my eyes. “So not my style.”

 * * * * *

Much of Vamps looked the same, yet much of it had changed. Gargoyles still guarded from their perches around the club. The three smaller dance platforms were replaced by one larger stage. They now had live bands perform up there as indicated by posters adorning the walls. Or when the stage was free as it was now, it was covered with uninhibited dancers who wanted to be watched.

I was worried that the vibe of the club wouldn’t survive the transition. Some clubs try too hard and end up seeming phony. Vamps always had its own style. Some called it goth for the prevalence of goth-inspired dress and music. But they played other music as well.

Others called it a fetish club for the freaky revealing outfits many chose to wear. Black duct tape pasted over nipples has been seen more than once. And the sexy futuristic outfits with hulking boots were a common choice. But to me a fetish club alluded to kinky sex out in the open, which wasn’t the case here. I’d never caught anyone doing it—but I have seen some couples get pretty close on the dance floor or in a corner.

I’d call it more of an underground club. One that was frequented by people who didn’t stick to conventional dress and music and followed their own path, rather than worrying what other people thought. Whatever the club was, it was where I fit in.

But I wouldn’t want my fellow firefighters to see me in my sexy pirate outfit tonight.

Continuing to look around and assess the club, I thought it still had an authentic feel. The red marble bar hadn’t survived the fire, I noted. But it was still manned—or womanned—by the hot bartender with pink hair and a nice rack. I looked over the drink menu posted above the draft beer.

“What’s in a Tempting Fate?” I asked her.

“Southern Comfort, Amaretto, vodka, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, grenadine,” she rolled out in a velvety voice that was as sexy as she was.

“Sold,” I said, banging an imaginary gavel.

“You won’t regret it,” she said.

After she gave me my drink, I toasted nobody in particular, well, I guess myself, thinking here’s to tempting fate. Then I watched the crowd as I tasted the drink. It was exquisite and I took another large sip. Maybe I’d pay for it tomorrow, but it was gooood.

When I heard a remix of Type O Negative’s Cinnamon Girl, I left my drink at the bar to slink my way amid the gyrating bodies. My favorite band, one of my favorite songs. Tragic that the super-hot singer died so young.

In a sea of black-clad bodies, I blended right in. It had been months since I danced, but I quickly found my rhythm and lost myself in the music, dancing with the crowd. I didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious that I was alone.

That is—until I felt his eyes on me.

You know the feeling when someone is watching you and you’re suddenly aware of it? I felt that and looked up. A tall guy dressed all in black—naturally—stood alone at the right side of the bar.

Something about that gaze arrested me and I stopped dancing. Dark eyes, almost black, on a face that looked as angelic as a young Jim Morrison. The black hair was a devil-may-care length, past his chin but not quite to his shoulders. Instead of the rock star’s signature black leather pants, this guy was wearing a cape over dark clothing.

His eyes defied the angelic appearance. Dark, penetrating eyes. The eyes of someone who was troubled—maybe haunted.

Why was he staring at me like that? Didn’t he know my weakness was a dark, brooding bad boy?

My lips parted as if they wanted to say something. But what did I want to say? And he couldn’t hear me anyway.

And then with a swoop of his cape, he was gone.

I stood there for a few more moments trying to process what just happened. Was some hot guy in the corner watching me? Who then took off with a flourish of his cape?

It seemed very Bela Lugosi-ish—another dark, brooding bad boy. I tried to shake off my confusion as Cinnamon Girl ended.

The DJ mixed in a version of David Bowie and Trent Reznor’s I’m Afraid of Americans. It took me another moment or two to brush off the effect that dark stranger had on me. I thought to hell with that guy and then got back into my groove.

To learn more or buy now, visit:

Ellora’sCave

Amazon

Underground Encounters


Other books in the series include more lovable paranormal characters, including more vampires, shapeshifters, gargoyles, and more. I love to stay in touch with readers. Visit  www.lisacarlislebooks.com and follow me on your social media of choice to stay tuned.


 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Author Lyndi Lamont is My Guest Today--Read About Her Books and the Tarot!

Today my guest is Linda McLaughlin, writing as Lyndi Lamont. She and I share a fascination with the Tarot, and we both put Tarot card readings in our books. I've had several Tarot readings that were bang on, and have 2 decks myself, but reading them isn't one of my special gifts. It takes a very gifted reader to interpret them right.

Read about Linda, her books, and the Tarot!

Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of history fostered by her paternal grandmother and an incurable case of wanderlust inherited from her father. She has traveled extensively within the United States and has visited Mexico, Canada, & Australia. A lifelong dream came true with a trip to England where she was able to combine sightseeing and theater with research for her novels. A native of Pittsburgh, she now lives in Southern California with her husband.

Her first book was Worth The Risk by Lyn O'Farrell. Now Linda writes historical and Regency romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.
 
She also writes sexy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont.
 
* * *
 
 
My thanks to Diana for hosting me today. 

I have long been fascinated by the Tarot, and when I was doing research for Rogue's Hostage, I came across a reference to a Protestant minister railing against Freemasons use of "devil's cards'. Right away, I knew he hadn't been referring to the standard playing deck, but to the Tarot, since it was used for divination.  

The origin of the Tarot is fairly murky, with claims that it dates back to the Egyptians, but it appears to have originated in Italy during the Renaissance. At least, the oldest extant cards date to that era. The decks we are familiar with today, like the Rider-Waite, didn't exist back in 1758 when my book takes place, but I discovered one that did exist in 18th century: the Ancient Tarot de Marseille. Lucky for me, the deck was still available and I was able to purchase it.  

The suits are Baton (Wands), Coupe (Cups), Epee (Swords) and Deniers (Coins or Pentacles-). The cards of the Major Arcana are similar to those of the Rider-Waite decks, but the suit cards are not. The Rider-Waite deck was the first one to have a unique picture for each card. The Marseille Minor Arcana are more like the pips of the standard playing deck, with a number and the symbol of the suit. This makes it much more challenging for an amateur like me to interpret.  

In the book my dabbler in the occult is my heroine's brother, Gideon Harcourt. Son and grandson of Calvinist ministers, Gideon rebelled, seeking enlightenment in the forbidden, including Tarot. He's an officer in the Royal Americans, the only British regiment of the time open to the foreign-born, many of whom were German and Swiss. Gideon is also a Freemason, a topic for another day.

 

When his sister Mara is taken hostage by a French & Indian War Party, Gideon vows to find and ransom her. He periodically consults the tarot in an attempt to divine the future. Several cards recur in the readings: Le Maison de Dieu (what is now called The Tower) and The Lovers. The latter card perplexes Gideon, who is unaware that Mara is falling in love with her captor Jacques.  

Rogue's Hostage

By Linda McLaughlin

Historical Romance

 

4 ½ stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times!

Romantic Times Nominee—Best Small Press Romance of 2003!

2nd Place - Lorie Awards - Best Historical Romance!
 

His hostage...   

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré's life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn't count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire. 

Her destiny... 

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau's desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left.  But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.
(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)

Short Excerpt:
Swords. There were swords everywhere.
Gideon sat in the privacy of his tent at Fort Ligonier and stared at the cards spread before him. The dominant suit was definitely swords, which was no surprise under the circumstances.
The flickering light of a candle cast shadows on the sides of the tent and cast a yellow glow over the brilliantly colored cards. The hour was late and the camp quiet, but Gideon had been unable to sleep. He did not often consult the tarot, but his concern for Mara made him desperate to find answers in any way possible.
And matters would soon be coming to a head. A few days ago, an expedition made up of provincial and Highland troops, including his young friend Cameron Shaw, had left camp headed for Fort Duquesne. If the cards were correct—and the message they told was crystal clear—then Major Grant and his men were in trouble.
In that case, two possibilities occurred to Gideon. The French could leave the safety of the fort and attack the advancing British in force, as they had three years ago with Braddock. However, since it was late in the season, it was also possible that their native allies would tire of the white men's war and go home to hunt for the winter, which would leave the French more vulnerable than ever. Still, a prudent soldier always prepared for the worst.
Gideon sighed and gathered the cards into a pile. His grandfather would be turning in his grave if he knew that his grandson was playing with "devil's cards", as he had called them.
Rogue's Hostage is now available as an electronic download from Barnes and Noble and coming soon to Amazon and Smashwords. For more information and to read an excerpt, go to http://www.lindamclaughlin.com/rogueshostage.html
This is the fifth stop of my Rogue'sHostage Blog Tour. Leave a comment here with your email address to be entered for a $10.00 gift certificate of the winner's choice: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. Contest ends March 3.