Wednesday Words: Don’t Insult Me

Another Hump Day. Wednesday. And time for words. Over on Twitter, the theme for today’s #1lineWed is **Creative Insults.** I actually found a spot in the current WIP with that phrase. In a note to self. Gen, our intrepid heroine, is leaving town and she is thinking a lot of things about Wizard. My note says “Insert creative insults, string of curses.” I couldn’t think of any at the time and I was on a roll so I marked it and went on. I need to work on those. However, I’ve still not come up with anything appropriate so I’m just going for plain ol’ insults. Except it’s not really. This scene is the night after Gen arrives at the Nightrider compound. There’s a party. And Wiz left her in his room to follow when she was ready. And…here we go:
No, I didn’t get him but I’d seen the sincerity in his expression, felt the truth of his words as he spoke them. Okay. So I wasn’t some skanky biker babe. I was me. Geneva Pruitt. I could hold a wedding together, wear pink, and settle employee feuds with my eyes closed. I was worthy of a man as gorgeous as Wizard, though I still hadn’t learned his real name. He brushed me off every time I asked. Wizard was his road name, bestowed by the club and he insisted that’s the only name he needed.

If I stayed here, in his room, would he come looking for me? Or would he just party out there with the rest of them? I stood, checked my reflection in the mirror. Surprisingly, my hair had stayed in a tight braid and looked all right. I fussed a little with my makeup and added lipstick. Inhaling, I squared my shoulders. I could do this. Hadn’t I been thinking I was in a rut? Well, this was about as far down a rabbit hole as I could imagine. I marched out into Wizard’s room and resisted the urge to pack up my bags and skedaddle while no one was looking.

I made it all the way to the front doors. The glass almost vibrated from the noise. Flames now danced in a fire pit in the center of the space and people gyrated around them. I scanned the crowd, looking for Wizard but couldn’t find him. My hand rested on the door’s push bar but for the life of me, I couldn’t put enough pressure on the thing to open the door.

“You just gonna stand there all night?”

I jerked and whirled to face the woman who’d snuck up on me. She eyed me up and down, taking in my appearance. I returned the insult. She wore heavy motorcycle boots, faded jeans that fit her like a glove, a red long-sleeved T-shirt with a Harley emblem on the front and that ubiquitous leather vest I was becoming far too familiar with. Long dark hair framed her pretty face and her brown eyes crinkled at the corners.

“You must be Wizard’s civilian.”

Civilian? What did that even mean. Evidently, my confusion showed because the woman continued. “Civilian is just that. Regular people who aren’t in the life.”

“Ah. Then, yes. I am most definitely a civilian.”

“And a bit overwhelmed, yeah?” She grinned and winked. “C’mon. I’ll help you find Wiz.”
I’m not going to tell you which of the biker babes that was. You’ll have to read the book once I get it out. This is a peek into Gen’s head and sets up stuff for later. Anyway, who has some creative insults to share? If they’re really good, I might steal them for the book. 😉

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Tuesday Treats: Salted Caramel Brownies

Happy Fall, y’all! So glad it’s this time of year. 🙂 So, last week, with the advent of cooler temps, I featured a pumpkin spice latte muffin recipe because I have readers who love the flavor. This week, I’m hitting another set of readers who prefer salted caramel. Because I’m all nice like that. 😉

Total Time: 45 Min.
Prep Time: 15 Min.
Cook Time: 30 Min.
32 Servings

Take your brownies up a notch with our Salted Caramel Brownies recipe. These Salted Caramel Brownies include roasted peanuts, gooey caramel and cayenne.

What You Need
1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup coarsely chopped PLANTERS Dry Roasted Peanuts, divided
25 KRAFT Caramels
2 Tbsp. milk

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 350ºF.
2 – Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in pepper. Add sugar; mix well. Blend in eggs. Add flour; mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup nuts. Spread half the batter into 13×9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.
3 – Microwave caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2-1/2 min., stirring after 1 min. Stir until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended; spread over brownie batter in pan. Cover with remaining brownie batter. (Some caramel sauce may peek through.) Sprinkle with remaining nuts.
4 – Bake 25 to 30 min. or until top is firm to the touch. Cool.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Note: It is important to add the ground red pepper right after you melt the chocolate. This ensures that the pepper is evenly distributed in the brownie batter.
Tip 2 – Size Wise: One serving goes a long way on chocolate flavor and can hit the spot when you are looking for a sweet treat.
Tip 3 – Easy Cleanup: Line pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray with cooking spray. Use foil handles to lift brownie from pan before cutting to serve.

If you want all the nutritional details, CLICK HERE. And since a favorite character happens to be Major Hannah Jackson McIntire from the Moonstruck series, we’ll feature her today. She doesn’t cook but she’s a fan of chocolate AND salted caramel because it goes so well with coffee–and we all know how important a food group coffee is, according to Hannah. She’s first introduced in BLOOD MOON but the fuller story of her relationship with Sergeant Major Ian “Mac” McIntire is more fully told in MOONSTRUCK: SECRETS so it gets the cover photo. Also, Hannah is a major force in all the books! (Pun intended 😉 ) Fans, you should reread the series and leave reviews if you haven’t–or recommend the books to any friends who might enjoy. New peeps should give this series a try because you might just like it. Just sayin’… Y’all can just click on the titles or the cover to find the buy links.

In other news, what’s your fall-favorite flavor or character? I might just feature them in upcoming Tuesday Treats. 😀

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Falling Into Monday

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox, when light and dark are balanced, equal. After that, the days grow shorter, the nights longer, and we face that stupid shifting of time in about a month. I love Fall, but for that stupidity. Anyway. Today is the last day of summer. Happy Fall, Y’all!

So, a week ago, I had edits/revisions on the next Red Dirt Royalty book for Harlequin Desire. Got those turned in on Monday of last week. Late Thursday, I got the final set of edits–the ones where all the typos, skipped words, and word changes have to be made because that puppy heads to the typesetters for printing ASAP. On Friday, I got started. And I finished up yesterday afternoon and emailed it back to NY. Yayayay. Today, I’m back to work on NIGHT WISH because in 10 days, I have to start on FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE. Wish me luck! My brain needs to kick into high gear and Iffy needs to get on a chocolate high or something.

Audio book listening went fairly well last week, too. Mostly stuck with my marathon of the In Death books. I’m currently on INDULGENCE IN DEATH. I’m ahead on my Goodreads Challenge so Yay!

My Cards are hanging in there. They haven’t given up the ghost yet on grabbing a play-off spot in this crazy season that befits this crazy year. My OSU Cowboys won–barely–on Saturday. I have this thing about being a jinx so when I’m watching a team that I cheer for and they start doing not so good, I change the channel or put in earplugs and don’t watch or something. Believe it or not, over 50% of the time, the team comes back. Whew!

Been watching HGTV/DIY/DAM networks, often their house hunting type shows. I’ve decided I’d really like to live on the water somewhere. I just want to be able to look out, or sit on my deck or porch to see it. Lake, pond, creek, ocean. I’m not choosy. I don’t want to get in the lake, pond, creek, or ocean. I just want to look at it. Yeah. I’m weird.

So…writing, listening, sports, TV. Is there anything else in life? Not in my world. In the week ahead, there’s writing, listening, sports, and TV. Dude, I’m soooo exciting! What’s your week look like?

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Friday Sinema: Working From Home

Ah, the joy of being retired. I didn’t get any funny clips to air on social media during the lockdown because I work from home and only zoomed a couple of times. Here’s your giggles and grins for the day. Grab a beverage, sip sparingly, and enjoy the next 8 minutes. Have a great weekend!


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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Pictures

There’s an old saying–a picture is worth a thousand words. As a writer, I sort of take that to heart, but not. Which makes no sense, right? Only to me, it does. Yes, I use words to paint the picture I want my readers to see. I use them to color my characters’ emotions, their environment, how they act. I translate the picture I have of the scene in my imagination into words so my readers can see it in theirs.

For some strange reason, the painting of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by George Seurat always comes to mind when I think of that phrase. It’s the painting in the center of the movie “Sunday in the Park with George.” In the painting, people lounge along the river, enjoying the green grass and the shade of the trees despite their uncomfortable Victorian clothing. There are dogs sniffing around and a couple stands stiffly side-by-side as they gaze out over the scene. Some of the ladies carry parasols and some of the men are more formally dressed than others, denoting a difference in class. Now, don’t ask me why I think of this painting or the movie when the picture/1000 words comes up. Just the weird way my brain works. Anyway, while it’s talking of something else, the Universe keeps the writer in mind…

One of the most transformative things you could ever begin doing, Silver, is to start “thinking in pictures.”

Of what you want, of what you love, of who you dream of becoming.

Thoughts become things,
The Universe
© ®
And to think such thoughts, Silver, with your heart.

How does this apply to writing? We have to imbue our characters with wants and desires, give them a story arc so they can become who they dream of becoming. And then I’ll use those 1000 words to paint the scene around them–the river and the trees and the uncomfortable clothes, and of course, a dog or two, or even a cat. Or maybe a Wolf. But why should I think such thoughts with my heart? Becasue I write romance. 😉 Sounds simple, right? So, writers, do you think in pictures? And readers, who do you dream of becoming?

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Wednesday Words: A Whiter Shade of Pale

Ten points to anyone who gets the title! Today’s #1lineWed prompt is **Pale/Impale**. Since there are no vampires in the current WIPs, here’s a quick scene from NIGHT WISH. Yes, with RDR#9 back in NY, I’m once again working feverishly to get this book ready for release. This isn’t a spoiler. Just a teaser of a scene. And I’m not giving y’all any background. You just have to take it as it. 😉
I was the first one through the doorway. Gunsmoke hazed the air, the acrid stench clogging my nose. Gravedigger and Easy plowed into me because I’d stopped cold. No one spoke while we surveyed the room.

A guy wearing one of our cuts sprawled on the floor, dead eyes focused on the figure standing over him, a Glock dangling from the woman’s slack hand. Fuck. I’d know those sweet curves anywhere. Gen. What the hell was she doing here?

“He’s dead,” Gravedigger announced. He’d know.

“Wiz, you need to get the gun.” Easy’s low voice wasn’t meant to carry.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

Gen’s head came up, horror etched across her pale skin. Her eyes were the size of silver dollars, and though hyperventilating, she managed to gasp out, “It was an accident.”

I stepped closer, reaching for her. “Gimme the gun, babe.”

“I didn’t mean to—” Her voice broke.

Grabbing the Glock, I passed it off to Easy then gathered her into my arms. “Who is he?”

“A…a…” She gave me a helpless look. “A Nightrider?”

“What did he do to you?” I growled the words. She jerked away from me, stumbling back and going down hard enough to bruise her sweet ass. I squatted next to her. “Shh, babe. It’s okay. I’ve got you. He’s not one of ours.”

“I killed him.”

“Did he hurt you?”

A breathy “No” accompanied Gen’s shudder. Her gaze glued onto my face. “But he tried.”

“We’ll fix this.”

We would. That’s what we did best—hide the bodies.
And there ya go. Writers, any impaled words of paleness to share? Readers, what makes you go pale?

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Tuesday Treats: Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecakes

I’ve shared this recipe before but since it’s now officially Pumpkin Spice Latte season, figure it’s time to share it again. This recipe is perfect for flavor fans. Enjoy it with plain coffee or your very own latte.

Total Time: 4 Hr.
Prep Time: 30 Min.
Cook Time: 3 Hr. 30 Min.
24 servings

Serve the flavor of fall with Mini Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecakes! Our pumpkin spice latte cheesecakes feature canned pumpkin, instant coffee and more.

What You Need
24 European-style cookies for coffee (speculoos cookies), finely crushed (about 1-3/4 cups)
1 cup sugar, divided
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2-1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
3 egg s
1 Tbsp. MAXWELL HOUSE Instant Coffee
1 cup whipping cream

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 325°F.
2 – Combine cookie crumbs and 2 Tbsp. sugar; press onto bottoms of 24 paper-lined muffin cups, adding about 1 Tbsp. crumb mixture to each cup.
3 – Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup of the remaining sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add pumpkin, 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Stir in coffee granules until completely dissolved. Spoon over crusts.
4 – Bake 26 to 30 min. or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
5 – Beat whipping cream with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in clean bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon into pastry bag; use to pipe whipped cream over cheesecakes. Sprinkle with remaining pumpkin pie spice.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – How to Pipe the Whipped Cream: Insert decorating tip in pastry bag. Fold down top of pastry bag about halfway, forming a cuff. Fill bag halfway with whipped cream. Unfold cuffed top and twist bag until it’s tight against the whipped cream. To pipe, hold bag firmly and squeeze from the top, keeping bag twisted closed to prevent leaking from the top of bag.

Tip 2 – Substitute: Prepare using PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese.

My Tips
Speculoos: What the heck, you say?!? This is a type of Belgian coffee and spice cookie. You can also use Biscoff cookies. You can find speculoos at Trader Joe’s and Biscoffs at Walmart.

Piping: You can use a plastic bag with the corner cut in lieu of a pastry bag. Or, I’ve been known to use my cookie press with a piping tip.

If y’all want any additional details, CLICK HERE for all the nutrional details at My Food and Family. There’s one of my characters who won’t admit–

“I’m not f*cking afraid to admit it!”

“Okay, Sade. You admit that you have a love of pumpkin spice lattes. But see, the deal is, I feature a character who actually uses the recipe.”

“That’s not f*cking fair.”

“Sure it is. Because you don’t cook. And language, Sade. This is a PG blog.”

“I can make effing coffee. And there’s this little bakery down in the French Quarter that makes these muffins. I bet they’re even better than yours. So there.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll let you be the featured character today. Does that make you happy? Y’all know what to do–Sade’s story starts in THAT OL’ BLACK MAGIC, down in New Orleans. Where there is cafe au lait, and lattes, and pumpkin spice muffins, all given five stars by our very own FBI Special Agent Sade Marquis. The book is available wide so click on the cover or the title for the universal link to your favorite on-line bookstore. What about y’all? Is pumpkin spice anything an annual favorite?”

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Monday Deadlines

This pretty much sums up last week and my weekend. In fact, it says it all.

Deadline is today. I’ll get ‘er done. Please tell me y’all had a real life the last few days!?!?

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Friday Sinema: Going Nuts

Okay, okay. Yes. All this pandemic thing is finally getting to me. And this guy has waaaaaay too much time on his hand but you know what, I not only wasted 7 minutes of my day, I’m thinking I’d actually buy (if I had the extra cash) something like this and I’d go broke keeping it stocked with nuts. Also, I wish this guy lived next door. He’s warped and I like it! Happy Friday. Go nuts this weekend!

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Challenges

My mission, and unlike Mr. Phelps and/or Mr. Hunt*, I can’t choose to not accept, is to finish the line edits and revisions on my next Harlequin Desire by Friday. My wonderful editor hinted that I could probably have until Monday. Imma gonna need it! The line edits are pretty easy–track changes/accept/decline. It’s the comments (aka questions/suggestions) that show up in the margins. Yeah…it’s a case of “What was I thinking?!?! Oh, wait…I wasn’t.” And that’s my challenge. Of course, the Universe just had to butt in with this:

Challenges in life don’t arise haphazardly, Silver, no matter how accidental or coincidental they may seem.

They only arrive when you’re ready for them.

The Universe
© ®

Not when you’re ready to be squashed, Silver, but when you’re ready to grow, overcome, and be more than who you were before they arrived.

I’m lucky to have my editor. He challenges me to reach deep. He doesn’t let me get lazy and take the easy way out. And no matter how much I gritch about it, he always ALWAYS makes my books better. He makes me grow, overcome, and be more than the writer I was before. Each and every time. And he’s so danged nice about it. I always get some grins and giggles and “atta girls.” He reminds me why I wanted to be an author in the first place. Even while I’m saying bad words under my breath and considering squashing the book because…well, this one was ready to be fixed. And that’s what I’m doing. And it wasn’t an accident or coincident that these edits arrived now, when I’m looking a hard deadlines on two other projects. Because I’m getting through the doldrums and finding my writing mojo again. So…hurray for challenges! What’s your challenge this week?

*the two spy guys (old skool and new) who head up the Mission Impossible team. And I bet you’re humming the theme song right this instant. 😉

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