My review– Blood of a Stone Prince by M.J. Neary

I received a PDF copy of Blood of the Stone Prince for the possibility of a review. I am delighted to leave one for this great read.

Blood of the Stone Prince cover7

Blood of a Stone Prince begins with Daniel Dufort’s first person account in the late 15th Century. At nineteen-years-old he plays the organ at Notre Dame Cathedral and writes music. He grew up in this cloistered existence and speaks with entitlement about his intelligence and handsome appearance. Under the watchful eye of Monseigneur Desmoulins who is as unholy as a man could be, Daniel fiddles around with pipes in the organ so that his dark compositions can be heard by all. The Monseigneur and Daniel take fencing lessons from Lucius. The three men are invited to entertain a very sick young woman, Agneise. After her death, she will be buried with criminals. It’s her wish to take all three of them as lovers. No one will test the reader like Daniel, the Stone Prince, in this riotous intrigue. If you are in for non-stop action and wit, I highly recommend Blood of the Stone Prince by talented M.J. Neary.

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Morning Glory Muffins with half the sugar

Who’s ready to bake now that the temps outside are getting cooler? The amount of sugar in these morning glory muffins is cut in half, but you can’t even taste the difference. Plus, ingredients such as whole-wheat flour, carrots and apples make this hearty fall treat something you can feel good about eating. Read on for the recipe.

MorningGloryMuffins

Recipe makeover: Morning-glory muffins
*Makes 18 small muffins
Original ingredients Healthier options Comments
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour Substituting whole-wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour will increase the muffins’ fiber content.
1 1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup sugar Cutting the sugar in half reduces calories, and there are ways to make up for the sweetness with spices.
2 teaspoons baking soda No change Don’t reduce the baking soda, a leavening agent, or the muffins may be too flat or dense.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon Doubling the cinnamon enhances the sweetness on your tongue, helping make up for halving the amount of sugar.
1/2 teaspoon salt Omit You can get rid of the extra sodium from the salt because the baking soda contains sodium and provides leavening.
3 large eggs 3/4 cup egg substitute Replacing each egg with 1/4 egg substitute will reduce saturated fat and cholesterol.
1 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce Cutting the oil in half and making up the difference with unsweetened applesauce, will reduce fat and help keep the muffins moist.
1/2 cup coconut Omit Leaving out coconut will cut saturated fat and calories.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Doubling the vanilla will enhance the sweetness and more than make up for cutting the amount of sugar.
2 cups peeled and chopped apple 2 cups chopped apple (unpeeled) Leaving the skin on the apples is an easy way to increase the muffins’ fiber content.
1/2 cup raisins No change Don’t increase the amount of raisins. Raisins are calorie/energy dense, meaning they have a lot of calories in just a small portion.
1/2 cup grated carrots 3/4 cup grated carrots By bumping up the amount of carrots in your recipe, you’ll increase nutrients, such as vitamin A and fiber, and compensate in flavor for the omitted coconut.
1/2 cup chopped pecans 2 tablespoons chopped pecans Cutting back on the pecans will reduce fat and calories.

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Whisk to blend evenly. In a separate bowl, add the egg substitute, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in the apples, raisins and carrots. Add to the flour mixture and blend just until moistened but still slightly lumpy. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and bake until springy to the touch, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Nutrition analysis per serving (1 muffin): 175 calories, 7 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 163 mg sodium, 25 g total carbohydrate (2 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugars), 3 g protein

What you save: 125 calories, 10 g of fat, 31 mg of cholesterol, 67 mg of sodium and 13 g of table sugar in each muffin.

Note: If 18 muffins are too many, freeze the ones you won’t eat to preserve the freshness. Then grab them from the freezer as needed and pop in the microwave to warm up slightly before serving.

Are you writing a series?

Are you writing a series? That’s great because after readers finish a good book, they look forward to more from you.  I’d like to share my tips.

Are you writing books in a series- (3)

Each book in a series must be a stand-alone.  There can be an open-ended question, and I deliver the answer in the next book. Some authors who write a series have a mystery arching over the entire series that is answered in the final book. 

If your series involves one character or a couple, write a happily for now ending rather than a happily ever after.  My method is to change up the hero and heroine by writing a series with male cousins.  This ensures some consistency across the series because the heroes are ex-military, honorable and courageous.  As a writer of a series you need to keep track of the family tree, physical attributes, and locations.  Consider using an Excel spreadsheet to maintain details.  In my case I need to know ages of the characters and stomping grounds of their childhoods.

Consider what is logical.   You’ve created a certain community and premise and must keep actions plausible.  The technology your characters use reflects the world they live in.  Their dialect must be consistent. Are they middle class or are they millionaires?

Have fun with your book series.

Do you want to take advantage of coupon sales on Smashwords? Here’s how.

How do I purchase a book on Smashwords? 
First, register for a free account. This allows Smashwords to create a permanent online library where you can access your purchased books in any format. At the top right of every book page is a shopping cart logo. Simply click on it to purchase the book and then enter your credit card information and follow the simple instructions.

How do I access my shopping cart? 
When you purchase a book, you click the shopping cart icon on the upper right side of the page and it takes you to your shopping cart.   

How do I download books to my Kindle or Kindle Fire?
You’ll find links to all your purchased books in your Smashwords Library. There are two options for loading Smashwords ebook content to your Kindle or Kindle Fire:

1.  USB Connection.  Plug your Kindle into the USB slot (small rectangular slot) of your computer using the cable that came with your Kindle (the Kindle Fire doesn’t come standard with the USB cable, so you’ll need to obtain the cable separately, or, use the email option described in #2 below). When you attach your Kindle to your computer via the USB cable, it makes your Kindle appear as a hard drive on your computer. After you purchase the book, from the book’s book page click to download the “Kindle” .MOBI format. Next, navigate to where you see the Kindle show up as a hard drive on your computer. Next, just drop the book’s file (it should end in file name of .mobi) to the Kindle’s “documents” folder. Then disconnect the Kindle from your computer and the book will be ready to read.  

2.  Email the Ebook to Your Kindle Email Address:  For both first generation Kindles and the newest Kindle Fire, you can email your Smashwords .mobi files to your Kindle email address. 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/706264  Unholy Alliance

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/600768  Deadly Alliance

Unholy is $2!

Deadly is $2!

 

The lobster roll– do you prefer Maine or Connecticut style?

That’s right, two styles compete, but both includes heaps of sweet lobster meat piled onto a soft, buttery bun. Wherever you are, the lobster roll is served with hot French fries, and you’ll need a clear ocean view while enjoying one.  Here are the differences:
In Maine the meat is tossed with mayonnaise, tarragon and celery or scallions before it’s piled into a bun. Generally, it’s served on a “New England” or “Frankfurter” roll, which differs slightly from a standard hot dog roll in that the sides are flat and can be buttered on the outside and then lightly toasted or grilled.
In Connecticut hold the mayonnaise and bring on the butter. That’s the attitude of Connecticut-style die-hards, who believe a lobster roll served warm with butter.

Lobster restaurant

 

Do you have a favorite cartoon character from your childhood– mine is Elmer Fudd.

Elmer J. Fudd was the archenemy of Bugs Bunny, but he also hunted ducks from time to time.  His name came up at the breakfast table this morning. Ducks are swimming in our pool during off-season, and my husband and I jokingly wondered what Elmer Fudd would do. He’s a villain like Yosemite Sam, but Elmer is too dopey to do Bugs much harm.

Elmer speaks in a pattern called rhotacism, replacing his Rs and Ls with Ws.  Watch the road becomes “Watch da Woad, Wabbit.”  “Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.” He also had a trademark gloat of huh, uh, uh. I like the cartoon titles of Rabbit Seasoning and What’s Opera, Doc?

Elmer Fudd

 

 

Edutainment for kids– Harry Potter camp

Doesn’t every working parent love it when their kids enjoy day care– particularly when it’s during a school break? Kudos to my town’s Woodbridge Community Center for putting on Harry Potter camp for kids eight to ten!  At “Hogwarts” kids will transition from muggles (non-magical folks) to wizards! Each “student” will be taught traditional methods of dueling with ancient spells.  Spells are known as defense against the dark arts.  Also included– mind reading (Divination) and Quidditch!

You remember how the first book began– Harry lived under the stairs.

Harry Potter

Do you enjoy hiking amongst wild flowers?

I’m learning the names of wild flowers and became aware that many are so vigorous, they are considered weeds.  A short list include bachelor buttons and alyssum.  Notice all the bachelor buttons in this meadow!  I wanted some of these.

wild flowers.jpeg

I still think they are lovely and don’t mind that they’re mixed into the packets I planted in our yard because they’re strong growers.  A packet or two of different wildflowers will often work better than pounds of seed. Birds love wildflowers, will line up to observe them and eat until every seed is gone. If planting in the wilds, be real philosophical about the seed, the birds, other wildlife, and be prepared to share (a lot). In town or in areas where there is no cover for the birds and the wildflower seed is planted late there is usually a great wildflower show.

 

 

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday!

Here are some fun facts about Mardi Gras 2017.  It takes place on Tuesday, February 28 (TODAY!), and marks 47 days until Easter. Many people make their own masks for the celebration, starting with a blank form.

mask-poppies-field-red

It takes place the day before the start of Lent, meaning its date is different each year due to the time of Easter.

However, Mardi Gras also refers to the carnival of events that take place beginning on Epiphany (Three Kings Day) until the start of Lent.

The French phrase Mardi Gras translates into English as Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras is known as Fat Tuesday as many countries traditions see people eat rich, fatty foods the day before entering into Lent.

In the UK, many people eat pancakes made from fatty flour, eggs and butter, which used to be banned during lent.

Meanwhile fried bread and pastries made with the same ingredients are often made and eaten on Fat Tuesday in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

As well as eating fatty foods, many people take the opportunity of Mardi Gras to hold parties and carnivals.

One of the most famous is the Brazilian Carnival in Rio where two million people pack on to the streets to sing and dance.

The tradition dates back to 1723 and Brazil welcomes 70 per cent of its tourists during the event.

As well as singing and dancing, revellers wear brightly coloured colours as well as perform the traditional samba.

Another well-known Mardi Gras parade is in New Orleans, which also sees tourists stream into the city.

Starting early on Mardi Gras day, several parades make their way through the French Quarter, where participants where special costumes and masks. Here

My BBQ ribs secret– boil before baking

Do you love BBQ ribs with potato salad, corn bread, and a field greens salad? This delicious dinner can be prepared lighter by boiling the ribs first.

bbq-ribs

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce

Directions:

  1. Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Bring water to a boil, and cook ribs until tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Remove ribs from pot, and place them in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour barbeque sauce over ribs. Cover dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).