Monday, December 31, 2012

Peace, Love, & Blessings Abundant

Howdy! What a year, right? My mom and I were wondering where 2012 went. But then I started reflecting on my entire year, and actually, my year's been pretty good!
1.) I graduated high school. YAY!!!
2.) I had my first dance solo in the recital, a privilege awarded to high school seniors and students who take private classes.
3.) I was baptized. Major highlight!
4.) There was one thing... what was it? Oh, yeah. I became a published author. :-) Sorry, just had to put that in.
5.) We're that much closer to finishing our kitchen renovation.
6.) My family and I have been able to talk to my brother recently. He's in the Air Force, at the moment stationed down south. But the real treat has been to see him happy again. He hasn't been truly happy since before he left for BOOT. So every time we Skype, he's smiling, laughing, like the way it was before he enlisted. That's what stands out to me the most this year, outshining even the publishing thing. And why shouldn't it? It's my brother we're talking about.

How many of you out there have resolutions for the coming year? Learn a language, lose some weight, make a change, date.... I'm not sure what my resolution is this year. I've never officially made one, and  still don't really see the point. But, whatever floats your boat.
Keep warm, celebrate, smile, but don't forget how the Lord has blessed you. The bad things tend to stand out in our minds, a trick which works all too frequently. So take thirty seconds, or like, a minute if you must (you must), and think about all the wonderful things God has done for you this year. A roof over your head? Food on the table? Good friends, great family, a book to read, a Bible to study...
Have a happy new year, everyone, and may the Lord's blessings on you be abundant.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Finishing Up

I've been taking a break from my Woman in Scarlet series, just trying to get out of that world, get a new perspective. Of course, my idea of getting a "new perspective" is moving on to a different story. So I've been focusing on this one set in Spain. I'm not saying what it is about, because I think I give far too many spoilers on this blog. But suffice to say it is not about genies. So now I have to get back to the Woman in Scarlet because she's a bit needy, but I sent my semi-plan to Trestle Press this morning about when things will be released (hopefully) and what my plan is for the rest of 2013. I gave myself a deadline, basically. The last three installments of the Woman in Scarlet will be released I believe one month apart, the next one being in January and so on. I'm excited about it, though. For one thing I can finally get some closure about the Scarlet Lady. For another, I can move on. Don't get me wrong, I love writing and this has been a particularly fulfilling and difficult challenge, but a couple of days ago I was just thinking, Man, I can't wait to finish this. The experience is long and involved, not that I'm complaining. I enjoy the work. Still. I want to give this woman some peace.
At any rate, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I look forward to writing to you again.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chocolate-Dipped Almond Biscotti

Fourth post. I'm on a roll! Here's a nice biscotti recipe for all you coffee and/or tea drinkers. :-)

1 cup blanched almonds          2 cups flour
3 eggs                                    3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract                 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp almond extract             1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool, then chop coarsely. Reduce oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and extracts together.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until blended (and if you're using a hand mixer... I suggest you hold your breath for this part). Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until dough forms, adding almonds about halfway through. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a log about 14" long and 3-4" wide. Transfer log to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch. (Log will spread during baking.) Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes.
Transfer log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut log into slices 1/2" thick on a diagonal. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container. (I think that last part is actually kind of pointless; it's biscotti. It's supposed to be stale. That's why you dip it in your coffee or tea.)
Makes about 28 biscotti.
Now for the fun part! You can use whatever chocolate you prefer. My family usually melts semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate wafers from JoAnn Fabrics or Pat Catans. Melt your chocolate either with a double boiler or in the microwave; just be sure to stir constantly when heating it so the chocolate doesn't bake. So once it's all melty and smooth, dip the top of each biscotti slice and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.

1.) Can add 1 tbsp orange or lemon zest to eggs.
2.) Can substitute walnuts or hazelnuts for almonds.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"My Mother's Kitchen -Volume 4- Matthew's Courage"

Hello again! What is this, like my third post in a seven-day period? I need to get away from my computer, do some long-hand writing. Speaking of writing, I highly recommend reading author Karen Malena's series, "My Mother's Kitchen". In the first installment, "Pietro's Song," writer Kate and her mother sit in the kitchen drinking coffee when Kate's mother starts telling her about the first person in their family to come to America: Pietro. Kate's curiosity about her ancestor leads her on a journey in the early 1900s, riding the waves of the Albert Konig from Naples, Italy all the way to Ambridge, Pennsylvania. While reading this, I truly felt like I knew Pietro personally: a strong man, firm in his faith, humble, a family man.
The second installment, "Terry's Gift," is probably one of my favorites. It takes place during Halloween when Kate is just a child. I won't give any spoilers, but definitely check it out.
The third segment is called "Christmas Angel," and it is actually a flashback belonging to Kate's mother. Shall I just say... God works in mysterious ways.
And the fourth installment, which came out recently, is about Kate's younger brother, Matthew. What I like about this story, though, is that the big event which touched our nation in such a dramatic way... is not the center of the story. Matthew has a touching history before he is even conceived, and the bond between the two siblings is so true to life. It really reminds me of the relationship I share with my eldest brother.
Each installment is only $0.99, and personally, I think you're getting your money's worth.
I was going to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but I still have one more post to get up before the impending holiday. I will post a link to take you directly to "Matthew's Courage" on Amazon, though. Later!


Sunday, December 16, 2012


I really gotta check Amazon more often, but long story short, my third story was released (!!!) just a few days ago. "Checkmate" is the third installment in my "Woman in Scarlet" series. We're half-way through! I hope you all enjoy it and I would love to hear your feedback!
Happy reading. :-)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Checkmate" Cover Art

Hello peoples!

Trestle Press has just sent me the cover for my third story, "Checkmate." Check it out!

I know the picture's the same as the first one, and for all of them for that matter, but I wanted to post it anyway. I also found some pictures the other day from a couple of years ago, and the scenery is almost exactly what I imagined for a scene in another one of my stories. I will post them hopefully later today.


Thursday, December 6, 2012


I feel like a weight's been lifted off my chest. I finished rewriting my third story the day before yesterday, and it all just feels right now. The story flows so much better and I hope you get a better sense of the characters now.
I guess I haven't said much about this story, have I? Besides it needing some adjustments, of course. This story actually takes place around Halloween. It's ironic because it will probably be released a few weeks before Christmas. (I remember not too long ago I posted on Facebook how I hoped God wouldn't smite me for that.) Anyway, it centers on a boy named Joey who is dealing with the challenges of a new mother and a new baby sister. He's ten, so it's also an adjustment for him to go from being the center of attention for an entire decade to suddenly becoming an afterthought. That would be hard on anyone. But there are also challenges with his new mom, Amanda, because aside from caring for an infant, she also has trouble because Joey is so old. He's ten, but I consider that old if youu're becoming a step-son. Amanda struggles alot with maintaining a balance in the household. She understands Joey can never forget his real mother, but she still strains to make a relationship with him. Like I said, it is a balancing act. So with that whole backstory/subplot, what actually happens? Well, I wanted to delve into the precipice of Joey's anger, his annoyance of being the afterthought. Here is where the Woman in Scarlet comes into the story. But remember, it is the day before Halloween, so Joey is thinking she's just some person in a costume. Events definitely take a turn for the worse, though, and Joey now has to learn to be a real big brother... and more importantly, to know his enemy. I like the challenge of incorporating chess into the theme. I'm terrible at chess, but the person whom I modeled Joey after kicks my butt in about five moves. In that respect, I'm more like Joey at the beginning where he feels there is strength in numbers. But his dad is trying to teach him strategy, a feat which the one role-model exercises regularly. I can't wait for this story to come out and to hear what people think. I know it is much different than the other two, and I just hope it's not too cliche. But I did want to emphasize how dangerous wishes can be, and how even when you think you made the right decision, like in chess, it could end up costing you dearly.
That's all I've got right now. Maybe I will put up some pictures. Hah! Yeah, maybe.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Link to My Interview

Oh yeah! I forgot to post this sooner. My bad. :-) Melanie Dobson is before me. She talks about her stories, Amish Fiction. I haven't actually listened to it yet, but tell me what you think anyway. I love feedback, good or bad.



When it comes to decisions, especially in my writing, there's almost no one's opinion I value more than my dad's. He helps me see inconsistencies and offers ideas to make everything connect and come full-circle. But sometimes... it kind of sets me back a few steps. My dad read my third story, the third installment for my "Woman in Scarlet" series, but he said the protagonist needed more... filling out. Now, I have no problem with "filling out" characters; I relish the thought. In fact I probably spend more time developing each character's background than I do writing about them. But here's my dilemma: this kid, Joey, I guess he needs to be more rebellious is what I'm gathering from my dad. But it sounds more like Joey needs to appear more angry with his new mother. When I was writing this story, I didn't really imagine Joey as "angry," just annoyed. And in the first draft I tried to convey that with their first and practically only speaking-encounter in the story. However, I suppose Joey needs to have more premature teen angst than he does now. *Hmph* What a setback. I don't want it to sound like some other YA story with teen angst, though. He's not even that angry, just annoyed that his step-mom keeps asking him to do stuff while she tends to her new baby. So he's kind of bitter, I guess, but he does love his baby sibling. I actually tried to model him after both of my brothers, giving him this real bitter resentment towards 6 a.m. and a preference for chess to bejewelers or whatever that smartphone game is. Urgh. Whatever. Guess I'll just go immerse myself in teen angst.
Hmmm... This calls for hot chocolate. And music. Oooh the possibilities.