February 24, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Shrimp Caprice

I first posted this recipe in October 2008, but since it's Lent and I like to go meatless on Fridays (the only time of the year I do on Fridays), I thought I'd help those who are like me and post this seafood recipe again.  I really like it, as did my children when they were small (they still like it).


Shrimp Caprice


As promised, here's another quick and easy shrimp recipe. Serve with a salad and green peas and you have a nice meal.

SHRIMP CAPRICE*

Shell and clean 1 lb of cooked or frozen shrimp. Make a medium cream sauce using 4 tablespoons of butter, 4 tablespoons flour, and 2 cups of chicken broth (made with 2 cups of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes). Cook until thickened. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little pepper, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated onion, and 1 teaspoon fresh dill, 1/4 teaspoon or dried dill OR 1/4 teaspoon dill seeds. (Dill really gives this dish its special flavor). Add shrimp to sauce. Reseason to taste. Serve over freshly cooked rice.

* From the cookbook - "Quick and Easy Meals for Two" by Louella G. Shouer. I've had this book over 27 years. This is about the only recipe I've made consistently from it.
 
Anna Kathryn Lanier
http://www.aklanier.com/
 
 

February 23, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know, it's a little past the New Year, unless you count the Chinese, which was just a week ago.  But there were some glitches in getting this posted....it took awhile for Mary to get back to me with permission to post, then I just plum forgot about it until going through my emails.  I think it's still a good message to post, because it reminds us of the promises we made for ourselves.  And if we didn't make promises, well, there's no reason why we can't make them now, is there.

This was posted by Mary McCall on Hearts Through History RWA's chapter loop back in December....

How to Keep your New Year's Resolutions


It's close to that time of year when everyone decides to correct every flaw they see in themselves as if wishing were magic and saying they will or won't do something will make it so. That's just not true and we all know it.

Are you determined that this year you'll keep those New Year's Resolutions? If you answered yes, then here are a few goal setting tips to get you started.

#1: Separate Your New Year's Resolutions from Working Goals and Objective. New Year's Resolutions are something you do for you alone. Work may benefit from them, but should not be dependent on them. They should be things that will have an impact on your future personal well-being. Goals and Objectives are things you must do wherein negative consequences could have a profound impact on your future. Do not confuse the two.


Don't Try Everything at Once! There's a temptation, with the New Year, to run off a list of everything we've ever wanted to change. Don't fall for it! You'll have better luck fulfilling one or two goals than you will with a list of fifty. You can always add new resolutions to your list later if you choose. Take one thing at a time. Make the change stick and then move on to something else. None of us are God, nor are we Superman, so we shouldn't try to act like we are.

Word it Carefully. Let's say your resolution is to relax more in the coming year. Word this carefully. Try not to think of it as "This year I am going to relax." That's a stress-inducer waiting to happen. It forces you into thinking of the resolution as something you must do, not something you want to do. Try to make it sound a little gentler: "This year I'm going to explore different ways of relaxing." It also suggests more of a plan—you'll fulfill the resolution by experimenting with relaxation techniques. The first resolution sounds as if you're going to force yourself to relax by sheer willpower.

Make a Plan. Once you know what your resolution is, try to break it down. Nobody accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it all at once. This doesn't have to be a complicated plan; just brainstorm enough to give you a place to start. Whenever possible, put a date on your plans. Remember, a goal without a date is a fantasy and you have nothing to shoot for.

For relaxing, you might devise a plan like this:

1) Surf the Internet to find different relaxation techniques the end of January (how about March).

2) Make a list of all the techniques that interest you by mid February (mid-April).

3) Pick one of these techniques—meditation, progressive relaxation or self-hypnosis, for instance—and try one for a month. Identify and date which techniques you will try which months.

4) Try a different technique every month until you find one you like.

5) If you meet your goal, celebrate!!! You have no idea how big an accomplishment meeting a New Year's Resolution is! For most people they are words mumbled over champagne and lost in the wind. If you've accomplished your resolution, shout it to wind and celebrate. You deserve it.

Write it Down. Write down your resolution and your plan of action. Stick it up on the fridge, in your locker, wherever you know you'll see it. That way you'll have a constant reminder of the resolution. You may want to change the wording as time passes and your goal changes.

Who Invented New Year's Resolutions?

Okay, now to answer the questions we all really want to know: Who's to blame for New Year's resolutions, and do they have an e-mail address or blog so we can flame them?

Well, we're out of luck on the address, but it looks as if the tradition is as old as New Year's celebrations. The Babylonians celebrated New Years Day over four thousand years ago, although their celebration was in March rather than in January, coinciding with the spring planting of crops.

So if you must break your resolution, break it with pride! You'll be continuing a long tradition of broken resolutions dating back to the dawn of recorded history! And if you had a false start, why you can start again in March, à la Babylonia!

The New Year, no matter when people have celebrated it, has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It's time to reflect on the changes we want, or often need, if we're to have the motivation move forward. Resolutions are a reflection of the Babylonians' belief that what a person does on the first day of the New Year will have an effect throughout the entire year. Think about that at the New Year's party!

Mary


Thanks for letting me share, Mary!

February 22, 2010

Guest Blogger - Linda Poitevin

A Virtual Book Tour Adventure


It’s definitely a new era out there, folks, and the high-tech world we live in cannot be ignored…even by relative dinosaurs like me. I’m here to report, however, that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
My debut novel, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn, was released in December in trade paperback, and in January as an e-book. Excitement aside, I faced the dilemma of how the heck I was going to market my story. I thought it was a great book, but how to tell others? Especially when A Fairy Tale for Gwyn isn’t available in bookstores? Even to a technological dinosaur like myself (I still remember sending my first-ever email in 2001), the solution seemed obvious: if the book is to sell through the Internet, that was where it should also be marketed.

Phew. Problem solved. Or not.

The Internet is (as my daughters used to say) gi-normous. It’s colossal. Gargantuan. And intimidating as hell when your computer skills are limited to the above-noted emails, wordprocessing, and being able to Google stuff. Looking around, I could see many, many authors guest-blogging, being interviewed, holding online release parties, and participating in “virtual book tours.” It seemed like a great idea to me, but how did I get started? The thought of contacting blog owners and asking to be featured gave me heart palpitations. I did mention I’m a debut author, right? Well, who would want unknown me taking up space and time on their blog? Uh uh. Wasn’t going to happen.

Besides, what would I write? I had enough trouble coming up with (very) sporadic ideas for my own blog. And I was in the middle of home renovations and family stuff and writing and I didn’t have time to organize something like that and…

Well, suffice it to say that eventually I ran out of excuses – and across the most exciting concept I’d found yet: a tour organizer. Seems I’m not the only one who feels organizationally challenged out there in Cyberworld, and there are companies lining up to do at least a portion of the work for you. After due diligence (Google really is my best friend), I hired Goddessfish Productions to take over the planning for me. They would do a book trailer and banners, send out a press release, and organize a month-long blog tour with five stops per week (Monday to Friday).

Now, before you think this is an advertising plug for Goddessfish, let me assure you otherwise. First of all, I’m not affiliated with them in any way, and second of all, I’m going to be very honest with you about my experience with them – what I liked, what I think could be improved, and my thoughts on whether or not I would do it again.

What I liked

Judy and Marianne, Goddessfish proprietresses, were helpful, professional, and delivered everything in a timely manner. I loved my book trailer (see it here) and banners, and couldn’t believe the speed with which my schedule filled up. Judy provided a list of suggested blog topics to get me started, liased with blog owners who wanted interviews, and answered my questions promptly. When scheduling glitches arose later in the tour, they were handled as quickly as possible and compensation was offered without hesitation. Like I said: professional.

What I think could be improved

One of Goddessfish’s pitches to potential partners is the chance to increase traffic to their blogs. Tour stops are then given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfortunately, this resulted in some stops that had little or no following…which didn’t exactly mesh well with my goal of gaining as much exposure as possible for my book. Because I was the one who was actually paying the bill, I thought more attention should have been paid to my exposure rather than that of blog owners. That said, however, I must say that I enjoyed my visit to each and every blog along my tour, and found all the owners to be very supportive and friendly…which brings me to

Would I do it again?

Without Goddessfish to guide me through this process, I would never have had the confidence to launch my own tour – heck, I wouldn’t have known where to start. I don’t know how many new readers I gained from the tour, but having someone take care of the logistics and make that initial contact with the blogging world for me was, in my opinion, worth every cent. In assessing the overall value, I also look upon the intangibles: the blogging experience and the confidence I gained, and the warmth and support I’ve experienced from writers and readers alike. Following the tour, I’ve reached out to other blog owners, some of them commenters on my tour stops, and have arranged additional guest spots for the coming weeks…me, the technological dinosaur, all by myself. If that’s not an indication of value for money, I don’t know what is. 

So, in a nutshell, a virtual book-tour service may not be for everyone, but if you’re just starting out and don’t know where to begin, or if you’re technologically or time-challenged (in other words, just plain overwhelmed), it can be a godsend.



Bio: Linda Poitevin lives with her husband, three daughters, and a varied collection of animals. In her spare time, she gardens (organically), cans and freezes the family’s winter fruit and vegetable supply, knits (basically), crochets (better), and starts way more projects than she ever finishes. (Fortunately that doesn’t hold true of her books!) She loves spending time with her family, having coffee with friends, walking by the river and watching thunderstorms…in about that order. For more information about her debut novel, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn, visit her at http://www.lindapoitevin.com/

February 21, 2010

Shay's Rebellion - Final Part

Continuing with the posting of my Government Honor's paper on Shay's Rebellion, here's the last of the paper about a little rebellion helped Alexander Hamilton was able to get the constitution for the new United States government that he wanted.  Part One can be found on Seduced By History's blog and parts two and three can be found below. 

Shays’ Rebellion: Shaping the Constitution - Part 4

Alexander Hamilton, also greatly concerned by the lack of central power and money the Confederation had, hammered away his points in the Federalist Papers, eighty-five essays written by Hamilton, John Madison and John Jay. The country needed “a strong, stable government; a regular source of income for that government; and a constitution granting such powers,” Nathan Schachner says in his essay “Alexander Hamilton,” (91).


In Essay No. 6, Hamilton refers directly to Shays’ Rebellion. In it, he warns the public about the dangers of a war between the states, explaining the treachery that did happen and is happening in Europe. As if realizing these examples may not be understood, he says:

"Perhaps, however, a reference tending to illustrate the general principle, may with propriety be made to a case which has lately happened among ourselves. If Shays had not been a desparate debtor, it is much to be doubted whether Massachusetts would have been plunged into civil war."

Congress officially recognized the Philadelphia Convention on February 21, 1787, months after it had received Hamilton’s report on the Annapolis convention. By then, five states, in direct response to Shays’ Rebellion, had appointed their delegates.

Lindop says, “The delegates in Philadelphia, Congress stated, would meet ‘for the sole purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation,’” (36).

Hamilton, Washington and Madison desired to do more than just ‘revise’ the Articles, especially since they knew all thirteen states would need to approve such revisions and Rhode Island was refusing to attend the convention. They and others knew that only by taking a potentially treasonous step to replace the weak and ineffective Articles of Confederation with a new and stronger government would the continuation of the union be guaranteed.

In the Spring of 1787, Washington, Madison, and Hamilton joined Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris, James Wilson, George Mason, Roger Sherman, Rufus King, the Pickneys of South Carolina and others in Philadelphia to pound out a new doctrine.

Virginia’s delegation proposed fifteen resolutions which would create a completely new government. Though many of the other delegates saw the need for these resolutions, not all of those present felt the same. New Jersey proposed their own resolutions which would preserve the Articles. After much heated debate and Edmund Randolph’s proclamation, “When salvation of the Republic is at stake, it would be treason not to propose what we find necessary,” the Virginia Plan prevailed and in less than one hundred days, the delegates of the Constitution Convention created a new government.

Shay’s Rebellion, a ‘civil war’ lasting less than a year, where no one was killed, was more than a “Little Rebellion.” The fear over the danger of a powerful, distant government was overshadowed by the fear that the recent Revolutionary War would be for naught.

The rebellion’s importance is not seen so much in how it shook Massachusetts politics, but in how it threatened and shaped the government of the nation. Thus, a new, better and stronger government, which has lasted more than 225 years, was framed and advocated until it was ratified by the “thirteen sovereignties” to form a more perfect union, because, as stated in the forward for The Constitution Convention, “This incident [is what] convinced some previous supporters of the Articles of Confederation that the current system was inadequate to deal with potentially devastating crises,” (42).



Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/
http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

February 20, 2010

A New Me - Part 2

Yes, I know....I've skipped a few weeks in this 'new me' discussion.  Basically because there wasn't much to tell.  Although I could have blogged about the broken machine.  I'll give you a quick rundown on that right now.  As you may know, I got an elliptical mahcine for Christmas. My husband put it together on Christmas Day.  Three weeks later, on Jan.13th, it broke.  The locking bolt sheared off.  My husband got a bolt from work and replaced it,but three days later on Saturday, Jan. 16th, it broke again.  This time we noted that the barings were warped.  So, I sent an email to the company.  This was Martin Luther King holiday weekend, so I didn't hear from them until Tuesday.  Instead of just sending me the parts, they wanted me to fax all kinds of information.  My husband did this on Thursday, but the two faxes he sent never arrived.  He resent them the next day.  Well, there was still a bit of a delay, but a Tech finally came out on Feb. 4th to fix the machine.  Huh!  It squealed like a stuck pig and the Tech said, "oh, the belt's really worn."  On a 3 week machine?  And he left.  I didn't try the machine until Feb. 6th and discovered that the belt still squealed, that the pedals moved in a jerky motion and that the control panel didn't work.  So, I sent another email to the service person I'd been working with, explaining the problems I still had.  That was on Feb. 7th. I tried the machine again on Feb. 9th, lo and behold, nothing had changed. I heard nothing from him. On Feb. 10th, I went back to the company's site and sent an email through their 'contact us' page.  I started it with 'Let's get one thing straight from the beginning, I AM NOT HAPPY....AT ALL.' I then asked if they thought ignoring my emails would make me happier?  I sent this email about 8:00 at night, so didn't expect a reply right away....and I didn't get it.

But the next day, Thursday, Feb. 11th, I got two phone messages and two emails, one from a Vice-President and one from the the customer service manager.  I called the customer service manager after I got home from my subbing job.  The conversation ended when the manager said, "okay, the Tech's been out already.  Let's just exchange the machine."  Sounds good to me.  I took the machine back to Academy Sports and Outdoors on Feb. 14th and exchanged it. My husband put the new one together on the Feb. 15th and I've used it twice since then (I know, not a good record).  It's wonderful.  There's a huge difference between the old one and this one. 

So, my update is, for a month, I haven't exercised and I havne't stuck hard to the diet.  But I have watched what I ate and I have maintained the few pounds weight loss I achieved already. 

So, how are you all doing with your goals?  Maintaining? Slipping?  It's okay to slip, just get back on track as soon as you can.

Here's the reason for my goal ... my youngest daughter is getting married in May. On Monday, I bought my dress, as size 14.  I hope I have to take it in.  It's a loose fit right now, but not too bad.  BTW, I got this dress as a bargain.  It was $228, on sale for $99.99, but since it was President's Day, they had an additional 50% off sale, so I got it for $49.99!


Anna Kathryn Lanier

Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/

Shay's Rebellion - Part 3

This is Part Three of my honor's paper on Shay's Rebellion.  The Part One can be found at SEDUCED BY HISTORY.  Part Two is just below, on this blog.  This post will most likely more sense if you've read Parts 1 and 2 first.

Shays’ Rebellion: Shaping the Constitution - Part Three

Conventions where formed and town hall meetings held in attempts to find peaceful solutions. “Firm instructions were sent...to have the courts suspend judgments on debtors until more hard money was available,” says Stearns. The spokesmen for the conventions and meetings also asked to allow “personal property [to be] a legal satisfaction of a claim, or to issue paper money and make it legally acceptable for payments of debt and taxes,” Stearns continues (11).

These peaceful efforts failed, however. The merchant class, which dominated the Massachusetts legislature, did not want more useless paper money on the market. Unfortunately, in ignoring the pleas of the farmers, they underestimated the anger of their debtors.

The Court of Common Pleas was set to sit on August 29, 1786 in Northampton, Hampshire County. Five hundred men, including militiamen, with swords, muskets and hickory sticks marched on the court and effectively stopped it from sitting in judgment on fellow debtors.

This first of several civil disobediences shocked many a man, including the state Governor James Bowdoin. He proclaimed the act treasonable and ordered the leaders to be seized and tried. In his exasperation, however, he made several mistakes. The biggest being that many of the protesters were the very militia he ordered into action against the insurgents.

When this was realized, he called upon the Federal Government to help squash the rebellion. Congress, who had only seven hundred soldiers at its disposal, authorized the call for a new militia and appropriated $530,000 for it. Since they had no funds to pay for this new army, they requested the states to send in just portions. Twelve of the states refused. Only Virginia promised to support congress in this endeavor.

Through private donations from the wealthier Massachusetts citizens, a militia was finally raised and by February 4, 1787, Shays’ Rebellion had been put down.

However, the problems exposed in the Articles of Confederation by congress’ lack of authority showed the inherent weakness of the document. Edmund Lindop in Birth of the Constitution remarks:

Many Americans...were terrified. The same conditions that lead to the insurrection in Massachusetts existed in other states, too. Similar rebellions could breakout anytime, anywhere. If the national government could not crush Shays’ Rebellion, there was no reason to expect them to maintain law and order in other parts of the country. (34)

With a convention already planned to discuss the Articles and its problems, those wanting a change went on the offensive.

The rumblings of rebellion making their way across the country disturbed war hero General George Washington. In a letter written to John Jay on August 1, 1786, he writes, “I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power, which will pervade the whole union in as energetic a manner, as authority of the state governments extends over several states,” as quoted in The Constitution Convention (59). He questions the wisdom of having such a weak government, which, to his great horror, is giving rise to talk “of a monarchial form of government,” (60).

In a second letter written to James Madison on November 5, 1786, Washington continues his concerns for the government. “Without some alteration in our political creed, the superstructure we have been seven years raising at the expense of so much blood and treasure, must fall. We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion!” (60). Washington ends his letter with, “Thirteen sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the federal head will soon bring ruin to the whole...,” (62).

Washington had dreamed of a peaceful life as a gentleman farmer after retiring as Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Shays’ Rebellion and its exposure of the Articles’ flaws drew him out of his short-lived retirement.

Thus ends today's lesson.  Tune in tomorrow for the final installment on Shay's Rebellion - Shaping the Constitution.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

February 18, 2010

Shay's Rebellion - Part 2

This is part two of Shay's Rebellion: Shaping the Constitution.  The first part was posted on the SEDUCED BY HISTORY.  It would probably be best to read it first, then come back here to read this section.  This only gets us onto page four of a nine page Honor's paper, so I'll post additional sections of it over the next few days.  Come back by and learn how "A Little Rebellion" shaped the Constitution that we know and love so well....

Shay's Rebellion: Shaping the Constitution. part 2

Though the Annapolis Convention exposed that some were willing to consider the amending of the Articles to strengthen its weaknesses, the individual States held close their own powers and they were reluctant to give up those powers to a National government. Thus, the Philadelphia Convention may very well have gone the way of the Annapolis Convention of not for a little rebellion.


Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-87 opened the eyes of many to the fallacies in the Articles of Confederation as well as the Federal Government then in place. Though the leading fathers had looked upon a similar rebellion only a few years earlier as “logical, virtuous and nobly patriotic [they] now looked aghast,” at what was happening in Massachusetts, says Starkey (3).

George Richard Minot explains the situation facing Massachusetts in his book History of the Insurrections in Massachusetts in 1786. “Their private state debt, when consolidated, amounted to upwards 1,300,000£, besides 250,000£ due to officers and soldiers of their line army,” (6). The amount Massachusetts owed the federal government was another 1,500,000£. In addition each town had its own debts from supplies and requisitions for men it had given to the state on credit.

All the states owed similar amounts, but Massachusetts in particular was anxious to be rid of its debt. Therefore, it passed higher land and poll taxes to help pay for the loans which wealthy Boston creditors held. The taxes, however, seem to fall more on farmers and the general poor.

The problem was further compounded by the fact the Continental Army veterans, mostly farmers who had let their lands lay fallow as they fought in the War of Independence, had still not received their army pay or promised bonuses. These debtors did not have the money to pay their mortgages. The banks began to foreclose on their farms. Merchants, who had loaned them money or extended them credit demanded payment as well. Shortly thereafter, with the urging of the merchants and the backing of the legislature, payment was required to be made in specie (coin money), something in very short supply in the days after the Revolutionary War.

Men, who were unable to pay their debts because they themselves had not been paid, saw their homes or farms confiscated and auctioned off for as little as twenty percent of its value. In a two year period (1784-86) nearly one-third of males over sixteen were involved in a debt case in Hampshire County, Massachusetts and seventy-three men were thrown into prison—crowded, ill-ventilated and filthy places.

According to Monroe Stearns in Shays’ Rebellion 1786-7: Americans Take Up Arms Against Unjust Laws:

"Upright, but insolvent farmers were confined with thieves and murderers. These criminals could get out of jail, but debtors could not [because] his creditor paid the cost of his board there...as long as he wished or until the debtor paid his debt." (10-11)

Circumstances continued to deteriorate as more and more farmers were jailed and their lands confiscated. Those who first defended this practice soon found themselves victims and their respect for the law soon changed to outrage at the courts.

Stayed tuned for Part Three, which I'll post on Saturday, Feb. 20th.


Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/
http://annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/

February 17, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Savory Roast Beef

Yeah, there's only about 2 hours left in Wednesday, but, hey, better late than never.  First, I have to comment on the fact Blogger has changed up its 'new post' page...has anyone else noticed that?  I'm gonna have to learn all this stuff all over again.....wow, there's a big difference between 'normal' and 'large' font size. 

OMG...where's the spellcheck???? Someone please tell me where the friggin' spellcheck went off to?

Okay, sorry, I'm digressing, but really, where's the spellcheck??? 

I need to put up a main course recipe....first, I need to go find one, so hang on a minute......or two......Ah, found one that sounds great for these cold nights we're all having.  Did ya'll see that earlier this week, all the states in the union, but Hawaii had snow? That's 49 out of 50 had snow at the same time.

Savory Roast Beef

Ingredients:

2 tbls oil
4 pounds boneless beef round roast
1 pouch dry onion soup mix
1 bay leaf
8 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
8 medium potatoes, quartered
2 tbls all purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350* Heat oil over medium-high heat.  Brown roast in hot oil on all sides.  Pour off oil.  Add soup, 1 cup water, soup mix, thyme and bay leaf.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Add potatoes and carrots.  Cover and bake for an additional 1 hour 45 minutes.  Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter, reserve liquid in pot.  Mix flour and remaining water until smooth.  Gradually add to liquid, whisking well.  Over medium heat, continue to whisk until mixture boils and thickens.  Discard bay leaf and serve with roast and vegetables.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/

February 15, 2010

How I got the call and a new release!

It was a chilly January evening. Thankfully, I was ensconced in my cubicle at work. I'm a tech support desk rep, so I was busy assisting a customer. For some strange reason, I decided I needed to check my email whilst the customer was busy typing something into her computer. If you all must know, I suffer from OCED (Obsessive Compulsive E-Mail Disorder). I notice one of the emails is a response to a submission I made to a publisher about a month or so before. My heart fell. In my experience, when they reply that quickly, the news usually isn't good. I've submitted materials to this publisher in the past and I was sent a form reply from the editor's assistant explaining they were not interested. This reply, though, came from the editor herself. Okay, so I admit, curiosity got the better of me, so I opened the email.

Bad move. Not because of the editor's response, but because of my response after opening the email. The editor informed me they wanted to publish my novel along with two subsequent novels. Now my brain has completely turned to mush. I struggled to assist my customer and fumbled with my words. I'm amazed I was even able to help her solve her problem. Can you say, "Worst call EVER?" So I finish up with the customer and take a breather off the phone. I think some jumping up and down and exclamations ensued. I’m fairly certain my co-workers thought I was a fry short of a value meal.

After that "ordeal," I queried several agents, including one who’d requested the first three chapters. I sent her the materials, explaining that I had an offer on the table. She emailed me back explaining my different options, which I thought was very professional. She emailed me again saying she read the three chapters I sent and that she liked my voice. She wanted to speak personally.

None of the other agents I queried expressed such an interest. I emailed several agents to keep my options open. The results were either they didn't like my voice, already had a similar project on the table or they didn’t
response at all. So the following Monday, I spoke with the agent and got really good vibes. Also, one of women in my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapters is also one of her clients. With her good recommendation, I knew what I was going to do. I signed with that agent.

And a good thing I did too. My initial three book offer went up to four books. So that's the story about how I sold my book. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. SO KEEP ON WRITING!!!!!

What have I learned from this? Don't open emails from editors while on the phone with customers.


What I really learned? Never give up. Keep on writing and submitting. You, too, will have a totally bizarre story to tell about your call.


To celebrate this awesome news and welcome my recently released fantasy erotic romance, Wings of Desire, I’ll draw one random commenter to receive a free copy of the book. Here’s a blurb and excerpt to whet your appetites…


BLURB:


Not the fairytale your grandmother used to read to you.


Rhiannon Kinsley's life goes from boring to downright crazy when a freak lightning bolt strikes her laptop. To make matters even more bizarre, strange words and symbols flash across the computer screen and she hears a mysterious voice. Time to call the men in white coats! Then Cerne Silverwing, an intriguingly sexy man, appears. He insists she’s a faerie princess whose fate will determine his own. What a crock! Now she knows who really needs those white coats.

With the Dark Faerie forces threatening his kingdom, Cerne kidnaps Rhiannon and brings her to Fey, a land where magic knows no bounds. He's performing a duty to save his kingdom and nothing more—a duty that will bring him his wings and the strengthened magic that comes with them. If he doesn’t unite with the princess as her consort, those wings will never grow. But this princess grew up in the land of laptops and instant messages, and she’s convinced they're both crazy. Despite their differences, the two are thrust together to defeat the whip-wielding Dark Faerie Queen before she takes over the kingdom. Passion and peril aside, will Rhiannon and Cerne discover their true destiny?


EXCERPT:


Cerne caught her hand in his and gave her a heated gaze. "I didn't want to resort to this,” he said, his voice thick and heady. "But I've run out of options.” He pulled her against his hard-muscled body. With his thumb and forefinger, he lifted her chin.


Clenching her fists, she bit her lip. Tingling numbness filled her every pore. She attempted to pull herself from his embrace, but her body wouldn’t cooperate.


"Let go! You're frightening me."


"It's for your own good and the good of your people, my sweet.” He traced a finger lightly over her lips. "Soon you'll understand.” He lowered his lips to hers and gently nibbled. Coaxing her mouth open, his tongue swirled with hungry strokes along hers.


She moaned softly as her traitorous tongue danced with his. Lessening his grip on her arm, he allowed her to press closer and rub her bikini-clad breasts against the hard ridges of his chest. Her nipples pebbled against the spandex of her swim top.


Stupid nipples.


She twisted her fingers in his dark mane, pulling him closer. Heedless of what she knew was right, she intensified the kiss. He hoisted her up onto his lap, letting her straddle the rock-hard erection that filled his trousers. Grinding her hips against his, she reached down to unfasten and untie the garment.


He pulled her hands away. "No, leannan. I just want to kiss. The joining must occur at Beltane—in Fey.”


"I'm not going to Fey—”

He reclaimed her lips. Intoxicating warmth spread throughout her body while he licked, sucked and nibbled. She gasped in pleasure and let his tongue probe the cavern of her mouth again. Light as a feather, she sighed in deep contentment. By God, was she floating? Closing her eyes, Rhiannon allowed him have his way with her.


"I'm sorry,” he breathed against her lips. "It was the only way.”


"What—” Her eyes flickered as spots danced before them—until darkness took over.



Cheers,
Arianna Skye / Sidney Ayers

For more information about Arianna, visit her website at www.ariannaskye.com
For more information about Sidney, visit her website at www.sidneyayers.com

February 9, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Green Beans with New Potatoes

Okay, I admit it....I've lived in the south for nearly two decades and I never learned how to make green beans and potatoes. But I recently came across this recipe and tried it. My whole family loves it. This is a delicious side dish to any meal.


Green Beans with New Potatoes

Ingredients
6 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
3 tbls butter
1/2 to 1 cup red onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
8 small new potatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove bacon and set aside.

Melt butter in bacon drippings and add onion, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add bacon, green beans, garlic, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft, about 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.











Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats

February 8, 2010

Holding out for our heroes!

Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite historical western romances. Since I can't talk about Anna Kathryn's Salvation Bride, I'm going to yack about Holding Out For A Hero - my first historical western.

At the end of this month - Feb 28 - this story will be unavailable. So...now is the time to get it! If you want the ebook, it's only $3.00!!! Also, the paperback is still available on Amazon. This was the first book with Champagne Books where they printed on the front cover "Best Selling Author." What a thrill that was to see!!! If you like the old west - and humor with your romance - then you'll LOVE my story!



5-Roses! Ms. Campbell has written an exciting western that will have you rapidly turning the pages for the shocking climax. The secondary characters of Clint and Violet carry this story well with their own secrets. This book will have you laughing out loud with Summer’s antics. She is feisty to the core. Her and Jesse’s banter brings humor one minute and the next minute you want to cry because the book is so emotional. I love this kind of story that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. And you feel a part of the Wild West, filled with bank robbers, Texas Rangers and life on the western frontier. This book will have western lovers like me clamoring for more stories to come and waiting for your perfect hero. ~~ My Book Cravings / Sherry

**excerpt**

Jesse stood close, and his nearness was uncomfortably pleasant, crazily twisting her emotions out of control. Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed his gaze skimming over her body. Her face burned.

Angrily Summer puffed and lowered the string to her waist, keeping her gaze toward the window. “Would you please stop looking at me?”

“Can’t. There’s nothin’ else to look at.”

“Then go some place else.”

“You don’t like me lookin’?”

“No,” she clipped.

“Liar.”

Summer met his stare and lifted her chin stubbornly. “I’m not lying.”

His attention moved over her hair, face, and body, and he gave her a cocky grin. “Tell me somethin’, Summer. What were you dreamin’ about when I first came in?”

She swallowed hard and she knew her heated face gave away her thoughts. “Well, if you must know, I was just fanta—uhm –” She cleared her dry throat. “I mean I was imagining what it would be like to be married and living in a place like this.”

His grin widened. “You were fantasizin’, huh?”

“No, I was imagining.”

“Same thing.”

“No, it’s not.”

Softly, his fingers caressed her cheek. “You were blushin’ just now, Summer. Your face glowed like a lighthouse. That doesn’t happen very often. What were you thinkin’?”

She knocked his hand away and faced the window. “You startled me, that’s probably why my face was red.”

He moved closer, bracketing the wall beside her with one hand. “Were you thinkin’ about being alone with a man? Were you fantasizin’ about how it would be on your weddin’ night?” he whispered in her ear.

She forced a laugh. “Of course not. Nice girls don’t think about things like that.”

He tilted his head and grinned. “But you were.”

She spun around and her hand flew through the air to slap his face, but he stopped it before it could connect with his cheek. He grabbed her other wrist and imprisoned both arms behind her waist, then backed her up against the wall. It only took a second for her to react to the hard contours of his chest as it against her bosom. Desire flowed hot through her. It felt so right, but this was so wrong.

She struggled. “Let me go.”

“No, Summer. I want to know what you were thinkin’.”

“I told you.”

“No, you didn’t. I want you to tell me how you think it’ll be on your weddin’ night.”

“You’re an animal,” she spat.

“Were his lips touchin’ yours in a passionate kiss?” he prodded.

His heart pounded against hers, the rhythm matching perfectly with the beat coming from her. “Jesse, please.” Her voice softened. “Why are you doing this?”

His lips hovered over hers as he stared into her eyes. “I don’t know. I wish I could make some sense out of this, but I can’t.”

Jesse’s mouth touched her, and she gasped, but surprisingly, she didn’t want to pull away. Softly, his lips coaxed for a response, and she didn’t know whether she should give him one. She fought the feelings, but when he hesitantly caressed her mouth, she couldn’t resist any longer. Her body relaxed, and for the first time in her life she let herself experience what it felt like to be really kissed by a man.

When his grasp on her wrists relaxed, she slid her hands up and stroked his neck, then threaded her fingers through his hair. She kissed him back, thrilling over the feeling of his soft lips touching hers. He pecked first on her top lip, then her bottom, then suckled them one at a time. Seconds later, his tongue entered her mouth. She gasped, but it felt so good. A soft moan released from her throat and she stilled, waiting for him to show her the way.

He slanted his mouth over hers, and suddenly the kiss turned wild. She exhaled a throaty moan and clung to him, her fingers digging into the collar of his shirt while her tongue copied the stokes his made in her mouth.

“Summer,” he whispered and pulled her closer with an urgency she really didn’t understand. She had no desire to stop him. In her mind, she replayed her fantasy and wished for the reality.

His had moved to her breast, and rested. Her nipple stiffened against his palm. As he plucked softly through the fabric of her dress, her nipples responded even more.

She let him caress her for a brief moment until she heard her aunt’s cautious voice ringing through her head. It was wrong for her body to experience this kind of pleasure. It’d be different if they were married. But they weren’t. And he was promised to her sister.

She tore her mouth from his. “Jesse, no.” She tried to pull away, but his tight hold prevented her from moving.

“Oh, Summer,” he sighed.

The thrill of everything happening brought another moan from her throat, but she knew she couldn’t surrender. The strange feeling began to overwhelm her, but she couldn’t forget he was her sister’s fianc√©.


To purchase ebook

To purchase paperback from Amazon

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY EVERYONE!

~Phyllis~
www.phyllismariecampbell.com

February 3, 2010

Wednesday's Chow - Bar-b- Que Spareribs



Well, the Super Bowl is just around the corner....and for the record, I'm rooting for the Saints! It's been a long time coming and I hope they can pull it off....I thought I'd post an appetizer that would be great for a Super Bowl party....though they'd be good for any party, I think.

Which ever team you're rooting for, or even if you couldn't care less, I hope everyone has a wonderful Super Bowl Weekend!

Bar-b-Que Spareribs


Ingredients

1 ½ lbs spareribs
1-10 oz jar plum jelly
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup dark corn syrup
3 tbsp minced onion
2 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Instruct butcher to cut rib section lengthwise into 2 to 2 ½ inch long pieces. Place ribs in a marinating pan.

Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over ribs and chill for 2 hours. Place ribs in a greased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake, uncovered at 375° for one hour.

Who are you rooting for? Or do you even care? Leave a comment to be eligible for my monthly drawing (see right for prize).

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/

February 1, 2010

Guest Blogger - PJ Mellor

When You Wish Upon A Star. . .

As a little girl, as most little girls are, I was intrigued by fairy tales. The opulent settings, the handsome princes, ready and willing and oh-so-able to whisk the heroine away to live happily ever after were truly the stuff of dreams. So, naturally, when I grew up I found a fabulous way to satisfy my need for romantic happy endings—by reading romance novels.

I devoured them! Sometimes I read two a day. I was truly thrilled when I discovered the historic romances were morphing and branching out to include contemporary tales. I loved contemporary romances because it made me feel as though not only could they possibly happen, they could happen to me. It was a powerful notion. Sort of a modern fairy tale, right?

After a while, I became more selective in the romances I read. The more I read, the more jaded I became. Yikes! I’d morphed into a romance writer! Now I was not enjoying them nearly as much as I mentally tore the writing style and plot apart to see what helped these authors sell to my favorite publishers.

What I discovered was this: there is no concrete thing, no secret plot or handshake that will get an aspiring writer published. Only ability and dogged determination will get the job done. Happily, I was one of the lucky ones who wrote the right manuscript at the right time and had it read by the right editor. Truly, the stars must have been aligned. Thank goodness!

Okay, I’m published. Now what? What happened to all those brilliant ideas I had as an aspiring writer? My editor wants me to do what by when? Really? No one told me I’d have to actually work at this writer thing!

And so I came to the place where my editor was actually expecting me to come up with a new plot for my next novel. Suddenly, the fairy tales I’d loved as a girl came buzzing back, whispering in my ear to give them a new, contemporary twist. The idea was exciting but I knew I didn’t want to do the same old retelling, even set in modern day. Did I mention I write humorous erotic romance?

So began the “what if” game writers love to play. What if I retold Red Riding Hood with a modern—and erotic--twist? And what if the persona of the Big Bad Wolf was the heroine? In my version—REDD HOT—in my February release, BETWEEN THE SHEETS, my wolf is tamed and learns some valuable life lessons, including what it means to give your heart. And just to make things even more interesting, I had the heroine have age as well as control issues. Boy, did I have fun writing that story!

The second tale, JUST RIGHT, is a modern take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with the heroine being romantically involved with the hero’s two best friends before realizing he was the only one who was “just right” for her.

And, finally, is STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, the third story in BETWEEN THE SHEETS. I had to actually do research for this one, which added to the fun. Claustrophobic romance writers do not do well when they attempt to don a wet suit and dive. Trust me.

So what is your favorite fairy tale and why? Leave a comment and you will be entered in a drawing to win a book. Thanks, Anna Kathryn, for allowing me to share!

Visit PJ at http://www.pjmellor.com/ to learn more about her stories.