Clarissa Johal: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Nanaimo Bars

Photo via Joy from Flickr
Licensed under the 
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license 
I thought I'd take a break from my usual healthy recipes to share a sinfully delicious dessert from my childhood--Nanaimo Bars. A traditional Canadian cookie bar which requires no baking, they are named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia. The popularity of the bar has led Canadians to vote it "Canada's Favorite Confection."
Enjoy!


Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8X8 pan.

Middle Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 T plus 2 tsp. cream
2 T Birds custard powder (or any vanilla custard powder)
2 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder and powdered sugar together. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer:

4-1 oz.squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 T butter

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool slightly and pour over middle layer.
Chill in refrigerator and cut into bars.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Frightening Friday-Black Shuck

*Public Domain Photo
Black Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia. The name "shuck" comes from the Old English word scucca meaning "demon," or possibly from the local dialect word shucky meaning "shaggy" or "hairy." For centuries, inhabitants of England have told tales of a large black dog that roams graveyards, side roads, crossroads, bodies of water and dark forests. It is reported to have red or green flaming eyes and varies in size - ranging from a large dog to that of a calf or horse. Black Shuck have been recorded as being headless or floating on a carpet of mist. According to some legends, the dog's appearance bodes an almost immediate death or illness for the observer or a close relative. Other legends say that the Black Shuck accompany women or lost travelers on their way home as a protector.

One of the most famous reports of the Black Shuck is its appearance at the churches of Bungay and Blythburgh in Suffolk, England. On August 4, 1577, St. Mary's Church was struck by lightning during the thunderstorm. It was reported that a Black Shuck appeared and attacked members of the congregation. It then suddenly disappeared and re-appeared in Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh and burst through the church doors. It ran up the nave, past a large congregation, killing a man and boy. Then, it caused the church steeple to collapse through the roof. The dog left scorch marks on the north door which can be seen at the church to this day. Some claim these scorch marks are "the devil's fingerprints," while others say they're the result of lightning. Images of black sinister dogs have become part of the iconography of the area.

What is the Black Shuck? Superstition and hysteria? A wild animal in the wrong place at the wrong time? Regardless, it is an interesting tale.

*Title page of Rev. Abraham Fleming's account of the appearance of the ghostly black dog "Black Shuck" at the church of Bungay, Suffolk: "A straunge, and terrible wunder wrought very late in the parish church of Bongay: a town of no great distance from the citie of Norwich, namely the fourth of this August, in ye yeere of our Lord 1577".

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Ten Paranormal Tidbits


It's the last week before my kiddos track out of school for a month. In addition to trying to catch up on random writing things before "the games" begin, I've signed up for career day at their school tomorrow. I'll be talking to three groups of 8th graders about my career as an author and I'm terrified.


So, I've decided to cop out on being thoughtful today. Instead, I leave you with ten paranormal tidbits...


1) Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, England. A 13th Century castle reputed to be the most haunted place in the world. The most famous ghost in the castle is the "Radiant Boy" who used to haunt the Pink Room. His cries would emanate from a spot near where a passage was (later) found. As his cries faded away, a bright halo of light would appear, followed by the figure of a young boy dressed in blue. During some renovation work, they found the bones of a young child behind the wall, wrapped in decaying fragments of blue cloth. The child was given a proper burial and the hauntings ceased.

2) Resurrection Mary is the most famous "ghost hitchhiker" reported. She resides at Resurrection Cemetery on Chicago's South side. Since the 1930s, many have reported picking up the blonde, blue-eyed young woman dressed in a white party dress. Once the driver reaches the cemetery, the young woman asks to be let out, and then disappears. She is thought to be the spirit of Mary Bregovy, who died in a 1934 auto accident in the Chicago Loop, or possibly Anna Norkus, who died in a 1927 auto accident while on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

3) Flying Dutchman-The oldest version of this story dates to the late 17th century. The ship and its crew became eternally cursed when its Dutch captain refused to take safe harbor during a storm despite pleas from the crew and passengers. Instead, the captain challenged God to take them down. If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a bad omen.

4) Blackbeard-On moonlit nights, people have reported that the ghost of Blackbeard (Edward Teach) can be seen swimming around Ocracoke Island cove where he died. It was rumored that after being shot and stabbed repeatedly, his headless body swam three times around the boat before it finally sunk.

5) Eleonore Zugan-In 1926, an illiterate 13-year-old Romanian peasant girl, Eleonore Zugun, was brought to London for a series of experiments at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research. For 11-months prior to her arrival in London, Eleonore had apparently suffered spontaneous attacks of both poltergeist activity and stigmata.

6) La Llorona-("The Weeping Woman") The story tells of a woman by the name of Maria who drowned her children in order to be with the man she loved. The man would not have her, and she ended up drowning herself in a river in Mexico City.  Maria was not permitted to enter the afterlife until she found her children. Trapped between the living and spirit world, she wanders the Earth for all eternity. Her constant weeping as she searches for her children has earned her the name "La Llorona."

7) Bloody-Bones-(Rawhead, Tommy Rawhead, and Rawhead) The stories originated in Great Britain where they were particularly common in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The earliest mention in literature is from 1550. The creature was said to live near ponds or in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were brave enough to peep through a crack, it would be crouched on a pile of bones, with blood running down his face. The bones belonged to children who said bad words or told lies.

8) Konaki-jiji is a Japanese spirit said to have the ability to take on the appearance of a baby. The spirit lures an unwary by-passer and allows itself to be picked up. After the spirit is picked up, it suddenly becomes a heavy stone that crushes the victim to death.

9) Baku Originating in Chinese, then Japanese folklore, these supernatural beings devour dreams and nightmares. Baku images and talismans are frequently placed under one’s pillow to ward off bad dreams.

10) The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England is said to be the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686–1726). She became one of the most famous hauntings in Great Britain when photographers from Country Life magazine claimed to have captured her image in 1936.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-ESP

A couple of years ago, I took part in an ESP study run by one of the professors at the Rhine Research Center. The study was an interesting one and I've been called back several times as a research participant. It's a little weird, feeling like a guinea pig, but the people out there are super-nice.
 
Extrasensory perception or ESP involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. There are several different kinds.

Telepathy – Receiving messages from the mind of another person or in some cases, animals.

Clairvoyance – Ability to use an ‘inner sight’ to see events that will happen in the future or have happened in the past.

Precognition – Foretelling events that are going to happen in the future.

Retrocognition – Seeing things that have already happened. People who have retrocogniton sometimes help the police to piece together the events of a murder or abduction.

Psychometry – The ability to touch an object to learn its history.

Have you experienced any of these? According to experts, there are several exercises and types of equipment to help you develop your ESP.

Zener cards, which are a set of five cards that have a specific symbol on each. They were developed by Duke University to test people’s degree of psychic strength. Purchase (or make a set of your own) or go here for an online version.
* Meditation. Find a style that suits you. The benefits of meditation are better control over your thoughts, calmness and overall awareness.
* Read books on the subject.
* Practice alone or in small groups interested in the same goals. The more you practice, the more you increase your skills.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-10 Things To Do When You Have a Writer's Block


Some days, in spite of the fact that I may have a whole day in front of me to do nothing but write...I get nothing. I blame it on my characters because they're just being a pain in the butt. I would get into it with them, but I'd run the risk of alienating them completely. I got one of these dreaded blocks the other day and decided to share how I managed it.

Here are 10 things to try when you have a writer's block.


1. Practice your ballet. Decide that going through a complete routine will take the place of going to the gym later. Finish and decide to go to the gym anyways. Now, in fact. That way, you'll have the whole evening free.

2. Once you're back home and showered, realize the dust bunnies have gone on a breeding rampage because you spent the past week writing. Clean house. Since the kitchen is clean, do some cooking for the week. That way, when you go on another writing stint, your children won't live off pizza and cereal.

3. Sit down to write again. Save the one sentence...repeatedly.

4. Brush the dog. Tell him what a good boy he is and how horrid your characters are for being so elusive. Brush the cat. Tell him the same as he runs away because he doesn't give a crap.

5. Surf YouTube. Stumble across something hilarious. Post it on Facebook because it will make everyone's day. Find out it already went viral...years ago. Feel lame. Catch up with all the exciting news from other people doing neat stuff. Sternly tell yourself that it's time to do your neat stuff. Sign off Facebook and get back to writing.

6. Decide you must have some almonds. Now. A grocery store trip may be in order. Wander the grocery store aisles looking at all the food. Chat with other customers and the checkout clerk. When the checkout clerk asks how the writing is going, feel extremely guilty and tell him it's going great. 

7. Once you make it home, sit, determined, and split your time between noshing on almonds, and writing random sentences. Delete your sentences because they all suck.

8. Social network. Follow random people of Twitter and Google Plus. Visit your other social networking sites and catch up. Become completely overwhelmed by the number of sites you've signed up for. Spend the next half-hour on Pinterest looking at all the pretty pictures.

9. Make coffee. Drink coffee. Repeat.

10. Finally get struck with an awesome idea and write furiously. Check the clock and realize you have exactly twenty minutes before the kids get home.

Kick yourself repeatedly. For that matter, kick your characters, because obviously, it's all their fault.


Monday, March 24, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-The Tofu Beast

Striking fear in the hearts of those who don't love it already...is the dreaded tofu. My husband likes to call it The Tofu Beast.

Tofu is bean curdmade by coagulating soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years, which means I should love the stuff, right? It depends. Tofu is one of those things that has to be prepared right in order for it to work. Let's face it, tofu is bland and the texture can be mushy. I've ordered vegetarian dishes that were basically stir-fried vegetables with chunks of unprepared tofu thrown in. I'm sorry, but that's just gross. You can't just dice it up, throw it in something, and expect it to taste good. I'm not a fan of making desserts with tofu either. If you're going to eat dessert, just eat it--sugar and all. Save the healthy stuff for dinner and stop stressing over the silly stuff.

Photo courtesy of Peter Griffin via PublicDomainPictures
Here's a way to prepare tofu so that it actually tastes like something.

Prepare a marinade. I've listed three of my favorite recipes to choose from. Pick one that strikes your taste buds.


Soy Sauce Marinade
Mix:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2-T brown sugar
4 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. fresh or powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin

Spicy Peanut Marinade
Mix:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-T molasses
4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. fresh or powdered ginger

Orange-Ginger Marinade
Mix:

1 cup orange juice
6-T soy sauce
2-T water
4 tsp. fresh or powdered ginger
4-T honey
4-T sesame oil
4 tsp. corn starch


Now that you've chosen and mixed your marinade, prepare your tofu.

1 block of extra-firm tofu

*Squeezing out the excess water is key to changing the texture.
Rinse the block of tofu and press the excess moisture out with a paper towel. You may have to use several paper towels, you're aiming at pressing out as much excess moisture as possible without mangling the block itself.
Dice the tofu into bite-sized pieces. 1-inch by 1 inch works or you can go smaller, 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch, which results in firmer tofu once it's baked.
In a sealed container, marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. (3 days will result in a stronger flavor)

When it's ready, drain marinade.
Bake on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet at 375 F for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally.

Try over noodles or rice with some vegetables or make a tofu burrito with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
My kids like to eat the cubes alone as a snack. Experiment and enjoy!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Frightening Friday-The Eyes Have It

The Omega Man 1971
Anthony Zerbe as Matthias
The eyes are the windows of the soul...
I've always felt that. Change the eyes and everything about the person changes. When I was a kid, I remember seeing a movie that freeeeaked me out. (Well, there were several, my parents didn't believe in babysitters) It was the 1971 version of The Omega Man based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. The concept was simple: humanity had been wiped out by a plague which turned the population into nocturnal, vampire-like, albino mutants. The plague's only survivor spent his days patrolling the deserted city and hunting and destroying those infected. For a seven-year-old, the concept of being the last "non-infected" human should have been horrifying. But it wasn't. What gave me nightmares for the next three months were the eyes. The albino mutants had white eyes. And to my 7-year-old psyche--white eyes just weren't right.

By today's standards, the 1971 version of The Omega Man is ultra-cheesy. But I still can't watch it. Yes, yes, laugh away. The eyes still freak me out. I've seen probably almost every horror movie imaginable and consider myself pretty impervious. But once they start messing with the eyes, I get a little uncomfortable.

Defiance 2013
Tony Curran as Datak Tarr 
*Oddly enough, when I looked up stills of The Omega Man, the one I posted above looks a lot like Datak Tarr from Defiance, played by Tony Curran.
Who I happen to think is kind of hot, in a perverse kind of way. Go figure.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Musa Publishing: Struck with a Story

Musa Publishing: Struck with a Story: by Clarissa Johal I’m always asked how I come up with ideas for my novels. It tends to vary. Some stories begin as random scenes, some as ...

Thoughtful Thursday-Bringing Back Extinct Species

Photo courtesy of Flying Puffin via Flickr
I read a news story over the weekend. It said that due to a remarkable discovery last summer, scientists have enough blood and bone to clone a woolly mammoth.  Do you hear the Jurassic Park theme song playing yet?  ♪♫  ♪♫ It was playing pretty loudly in my head when I read that--and we all know what happened to those guys. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.
My first thought was that bringing back a species which has become extinct may not be the right thing to do. I would support bringing back extinct species such as the Tasmanian tiger and Passenger Pigeon, but not a woolly mammoth. Why? I don't know, maybe it's the time factor thing. Extinct species from the 20th century, yes. Species from the Pleistocene epoch of the Cenozoic Era? Maybe not. My first thought was, where would it live? In a zoo? It would be the only one of it's kind (unless they cloned two) and treated as quite the spectacle. On the other hand, if we're directly responsible for the extinction of a species, are we obligated to right our wrongs? Possibly. But where does it end? Once scientists manage to pull off such a feat, the sky's the limit. It's human nature to push science as far as it can go. If we find a preserved body of a Neanderthal, do we try and bring them back as well? What then? That would be quite an ethical consideration. I can't help think that until we manage to take care of all species on earth, including our own, bringing back extinct animals may be something we need to give more thought.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-BETWEEN Extras: Part Three

In the process of writing, I sometimes will write back-story for my characters. In my novel, BETWEEN, there were lots of these back-stories. Prior to Lucinda's life, Cronan and Lucas had been bound together as a Death Spirit and Guardian over the span of 700 years. In order to understand their history completely, I wrote several flashback scenes that weren't included in the novel. You can see Flashback #1 and Flashback #2 here. This is the shortest one I wrote and the last one I'll post. Enjoy!

The setup:

Lucas and Cronan have been bound together since their deaths in 1349. Now, a Guardian and a Death Spirit, they are both responsible for a human life; Lucas must protect the life until it is Cronan's job to take it. It is a cycle that will last through seven lifetimes until their souls are set free. It seems like a simple enough task. However, Lucas repeatedly becomes attached to the lives he is responsible, much to Cronan's chagrin. And every time Lucas steps in to keep Cronan from taking a life, a cycle of seven lifetimes must be repeated.

Flashback #3

1456
Lowlands, Scotland


“Foolish woman! She is not strong enough to survive a near-drowning. There is no need to fuss over her. She will be dead by nightfall.”

"Eithne is a strong child, Symon.” The woman set her jaw and stood to face her husband. “She survived her birth and will survive this.”

“Suit yourself,” Symon grumbled. “I am out to tend the sheep. Or have you forgotten our livelihood?”

“I have not.” Ana wrapped the sleeping child in woolens and kissed her forehead. “Sleep, Eithne. I will return shortly.”

She pulled her sheepskin cloak around her shoulders and, sparing her daughter a parting glance under Symon’s disapproving eye, left.

The hut was quiet save for the crackle of the dying fire in the hearth. Two unseen figures stood over the infant. One traced his finger along the child’s smooth brow, causing her to stir.

“You were not to save her,” Cronan muttered.

Lucas’s hand paused. Silence.

“What were you thinking?”

End


BETWEEN
How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012

Purchase Links

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TRR March Anniversary Party!


Join the TRR 3rd Year Anniversary Party on March 1-31st. 

With more than 450 participating authors and publishers, there are more than 450 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of March. 
The Grand Prize is a $100 Gift Certificate!

You need to register and be logged in at TRR before you can play the game. Registration is free and easy.


My Q&A and book giveaway for STRUCK will appear on March 18th (Question #6)


STRUCK
The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.




Tangled Tuesday-Leprechauns

Leprechauns. And no, I don't mean the one who is determined to send all children into a sugar coma (MORE marshmallows, anyone?).

Circa 1900 engraving
Public domain photo
I mean the mischievous fairies in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man with a beard, clad in a hat and red or green coat, and no taller than a small child. Depending on where in Ireland they were found, the dress could vary by region. Leprechauns were shoemakers and very keen musicians who played tin whistles, fiddles and Irish harps. They stored away their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If ever captured by a human, they had the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. 

As a cousin of the clurichaun they were known to inhabit Ireland well before the arrival of the Celts. The earliest literary mention of Leprechauns were from a ninth century story called Echtra Fergus mac Léti (Adventure of Fergus son of Léti). The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Léti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three lúchorpáin


How to catch a Leprechaun...if you dare

1) The best time to see a Leprechaun is morning or at dusk.
2) They are usually alone in the woodlands. You can follow the sound of the tapping of their shoe hammers.
3) Never take your eye off them or they will vanish. The Leprechaun is bound by courtesy and fairy law and must tell the truth--but only so long as you look them in the eye.
4) They carry two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to their purse. In the other, there is a gold coin, which is a bribe. This coin will turn to leaves or ashes once the Leprechaun has parted with it.
5) A captured Leprechaun will grant you three wishes. Mind yourself! Wishes (and Leprechauns) can be very tricky.
6) They will do anything to escape and can be devious, if they are caught
7) Never harm a Leprechaun. They can very malicious if treated badly.

Good luck! *;) winking

Monday, March 17, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-A Not-So-Traditional St. Patrick's Day

I'm not one for tradition. I find myself questioning, "Why, why, why?" and end up feeling a trifle cynical about the whole thing. Over the course of my 40-something years, I've seen holidays change in ways that make me wonder. But it's hard not to get caught up in the fanfare when you have kids, I don't want to be a complete kill joy. So yes, I'll probably wear green today and may even try and catch a leprechaun if I'm feeling naughty (look for my post on leprechauns tomorrow).

Here's hoping you have a good St. Patrick's Day/Saint Paddy's if you celebrate it!


Not-So-Traditional Vegetarian Irish Stew
(Crock Pot Recipe)

Ingredients:

1T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (you can substitute 1 leek if you'd rather)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1T nutritional yeast flakes
¾ cup apple juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 potatoes, cut into chunks
2 carrots, sliced
2 parsnips, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp sage 
salt and pepper to taste

*If you have seitan, add 1 cup sliced seitan
Seitan recipe

Directions:
In large pan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until softened. Remove to crock pot.
Mix vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Add to crock pot.
Add remaining ingredients except seitan.
Stir well; cover. Cook on low 6 hours.
*Add seitan and heat through before serving.

***

While that's cooking, why not make some Irish soda bread to go with it?

Irish soda bread was a daily bread that didn't keep long and had to be baked every few days. Traditional soda bread contained only flour, baking soda, sour milk (buttermilk) and salt. It was not a festive cake nor did it contain whisky, candied fruit, caraway seeds, raisins or any other ingredient.

In Ireland, the flour is typically made from soft wheat; so soda bread is best made with a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than a bread flour.


Traditional Irish Soda Bread

4 cups of all purpose flour (cake flour is best)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
14 oz buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough. 
Cover the pan with another cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#MeatlessMonday (on a Sunday)-Seitan

*This recipe is an optional add-in with the recipe I'll be posting tomorrow.

Seitan...or as my meat-loving husband likes to call it--Satan. Haha. Seitan is also called wheat meat because it has the look and texture of meat when cooked. It's high in protein (which makes it a good source for vegetarians) easy to make, can be used in place of most meats in recipes, and freezes well. What's not to love?

Seitan

1 cup vital wheat gluten (in the flour aisle)
3/4 cup water or vegetable broth
2T soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
6 cups vegetable broth for cooking
1/4 cup soy sauce
3-4 slices onion (optional)

Combine gluten flour and ginger in a medium sized bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce, garlic and 3/4 cup broth or water.

Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine--do not over mix.
Add more water or veggie broth a tablespoon at a time, if needed.
Once mixture is well combined, knead 10-15 times and allow to sit for 5 minutes
Separate your ball of gluten into smaller chunks. Gently flatten each piece into a cutlet, around 3/4 inch thick.

seitan photo: making seitan IMG_7964.jpg
Photo courtesy of MagpieDiner via Photobucket
Add seitan to 6 cups of vegetable broth in a large pot. Bring to boil. Partially cover (allowing steam to escape) and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Be sure to use a large pot and plenty of broth, as seitan will expand.

Use right away, store in the broth (keeps in refrigerator for 2-3 days), or freeze in a sealed container or zip lock bag.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Frightening Friday-Ghouls

"Amine Discovered with the Goule", 
from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the Arabian Nights
Public Domain Work of Art
I always wonder why ghoul movies aren't hugely popular. Zombies, yes, ghouls...not so much. It doesn't make sense, because in my opinion, ghouls are much scarier. While zombies act without thought and are driven by base instinct, ghouls have intelligence and can make decisions. Zombies are the living who have come back from the dead. Ghouls, on the other hand, were created by demons and were never human. Personally, (and I may insult the zombie-lovers without meaning to) I think ghouls are more formidable.

The ghoul or ghūl (Arabic word for demon) was a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis. The jinn were of three classes: ghūls (shape-shifters), Ifrit (evil spirits), and Silla (spirits of treachery). Ghouls were desert dwellers that could assume the guise of a hyena or other animal, but with cloven feet. Though typically, a ghoul devoured corpses, they wouldn't hesitate to hunt children or lure unwary people into abandoned places. There, they would slay and devour them, and then take on their form. Ghouls could also possess a human's body and drive them mad.  The sole defense that one had against a ghoul was to strike it dead in one blow; a second blow would only bring it back to life again. 

Abbasid photo shared under GNU Free Documentation License
Though the ghoul has origins as old as Mesopotamian civilizations, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. However, there are many tales in modern Arabic literature that focus on ghouls. In 1992, Emile Habibi published Sarâyâ Bint al-Ghoul, a story of a girl kidnapped by a ghoul and imprisoned in his palace. In 2007 Jamīl al-Salḥūt published Al-Ghoul, a children's story about a girl who dreams of ghouls after hearing of a horrible description of them by her grandmother. The belief of ghouls is widely spread in the Arab world up to this day.

And on that note, I leave you with an "actual" ghoul sighting. The ghoul shows itself at 0.44 sec. You have been forewarned...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Haunted Houses for Sale

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist via Morguefile
Would you buy a haunted house? Some people would never consider it, while others would be intrigued. Personally, it would depend on the type of activity whether or not I would buy a haunted house. Reports of spirit sightings and encounters? That wouldn't bother me--it is what it is. Violent activity or history? I would probably steer clear of that.

Some years ago, my husband and I were house hunting and came across two historical pieces of property. One house "looked" haunted, both inside and out. The other was absolutely pristine and beautiful. When we went to check out the haunted-looking one, I felt perfectly comfortable and would have gladly moved in. The pristine house, on the other hand, was a definite "no." The moment I walked in the door, I knew there was no way I could live there. When I asked the Realtor about the history, she mentioned the original owner had kept slaves.

Some states require you to tell prospective buyers if a house is haunted — just like you would disclose if there were a structural issue or mold and mildew. But this is a grey area of real estate. In Massachusetts, if the property is “psychologically impacted,” the law requires the seller disclose the information (ie. it may be haunted and people can feel these impacts, but not necessarily see them). In California, sellers must disclose "emotional defects and deaths" on the property only if they have occurred within the past three years. There have been lawsuits regarding haunted houses impacted by activity, so the recommendation is to either cleanse the house before sale, or come clean to potential buyers about the activity.

Here is a list of haunted houses that have been, or are currently up for sale. Unless they were already famous, these were very difficult to find. My guess is most people aren't disclosing if a house is haunted!

For Sale by Owner $144,000
1217 Marion St, Dunmore, PA 18509

Owner reports the house is, "Slightly haunted. Nothing serious, though. e.g. The sounds of phantom footsteps. A strange knocking sound followed by a very quiet (hardly noticeable, even) scream at 3:13am, maybe once a week. Twice a week, tops. And the occasional ghastly visage lurking behind you in the bathroom mirror. Even still, this occurs very rarely and only in the second floor bathroom."






Buxton Inn
List Price: $3,900,000

Reports of paranormal activity date back to 1920, where it was believed that the original homeowner’s ghost, Orrin Granger, still remained. Although named the most haunted “Inn” in America, it is said to host some of the friendliest spirits.

List Price: $499,000

Former residence of axe murderer Lizzie Borden, has been on the market several times over the last few years. Over the years, the house has been through multiple owners, and many price reductions.




1140 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA
List Price: $3,550,000

This 150-year-old house is known as one of the most haunted in New Orleans' French Quarter. The house's original owner was Madame LaLaurie, a Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer known for her involvement in the torture and murder of slaves. 






The Hampton Lillibridge House
507 E Saint Julian St , Savannah, Georgia
List Price: $2,400,000

Before he was tried four times for the same murder, antiques dealer and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil protagonist Jim Williams moved this 1796 house to its current location. During its relocation, a worker was crushed when a neighboring house collapsed. Eerie incidents ensued and continue to this day: a Dixieland band strikes it up, footsteps are heard, the spectre of a dark-suited man in a top hat haunts the second floor, and a couple of wraiths in formal attire occupy the widow's walk.

The Exorcist House
Price: $169,900 (asking)
St. Louis, Missouri 

The boy who inspired the novel (and subsequent film adaptation) The Exorcist resided at this two brick two-story brick colonial house. Father Raymond Bishop, one of several priests who exorcised the boy, kept the house out of the diary, chronicling the exorcism activities in an attempt to conceal the boy's identity as much as possible. Gary Stafford, who owned and was attempting to sell the house in 2005 said, "It's certainly not something we'd need to disclose to the future buyer—that, some 50 years ago, a boy who stayed in the house may or may not have been possessed."

Well...any takers?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-BETWEEN Extras: Part Two

In the process of writing, I sometimes will write back-story for my characters. In my novel, BETWEEN, there were lots of these back-stories. Prior to Lucinda's life, Cronan and Lucas had been bound together as a Death Spirit and Guardian over the span of 700 years. In order to understand their history completely, I wrote several flashback scenes that weren't included in the novel. You can see Flashback #1 here. I will post one more next Wednesday. Enjoy!

The setup:

Lucas and Cronan have been bound together since their deaths in 1349. Now, a Guardian and a Death Spirit, they are both responsible for a human life; Lucas must protect the life until it is Cronan's job to take it. It is a cycle that will last through seven lifetimes until their souls are set free. It seems like a simple enough task. However, Lucas repeatedly becomes attached to the lives he is responsible, much to Cronan's chagrin. And every time Lucas steps in to keep Cronan from taking a life, a cycle of seven lifetimes must be repeated.

Flashback #2

1870
The Midlands, England


The horse reared. The woman’s gaze was ripped away from the deer and she was thrown onto the horse’s neck. The horse took off, pounding the ground with its hooves.

Branches from the blur that made up the forest ripped at her hair and sliced across her face. A scream sounded from her throat. She buried her face in the horse’s neck and tried to find the reins that had been yanked from her grasp. Suddenly, the reins slipped into her hands. She pulled with all her strength, shredding her fingernails on the leather. The horse reared backwards, hooves tearing at the grassy edge of a deep ravine.

The ravine that would have swallow them both and ended their lives.

Shakily gathering the reins with a sob, the woman took a few moments to catch her breath before she turned to see her brother charging towards her on horseback.

He pulled on his reins to slow his horse. “What would possess you to ride off like that, Catherine, have you lost your mind?” his voice was raised in alarm. “It will do you little good to break your neck before the wedding.”

“I shall not marry,” she replied, desperation edging her voice. “I do not love him.”

“Surely, you jest?” His face registered disbelief.

“I need time to think.” She clenched the reins in her hands. “It was unfair of father to approach me so.”

“You haven’t a choice in these matters. He has already promised your dowry. Randolf is a good man, Catherine. He cares about you. You could do worse.”

"But--"

“You have embarrassed yourself enough. I suggest you follow and make your apologies.” He turned to look at her. “Well?”

Catherine's shoulders slumped. She nudged her horse forward.

Unseen and straddling the horse behind her, Lucas could see Cronan still standing at the ravine. Their eyes locked and a small pang of guilt nagged at his insides as his counterpart turned from them and stalked away.


End



BETWEEN
How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012

Purchase Links

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Pinterest

Yep. I caved and joined Pinterest. Truth be told, I joined last year but became so afraid of exploiting somebody's photos and infringing copyrights, I stopped. Last night, I was hit with the idea of using Pinterest as an author tool. I'm quite visual and decided to group and arrange my books and characters onto their own boards. As long as I stick to my own photos, those for public use and from Morguefile, I think that satisfies my wariness of stealing copyrights.

I love my inspiration boards. I'll definitely use them in the process of writing. The pictures are always in my head, but it will be nice to let them out for some fresh air.

So, last night I was up until midnight "arranging" and pinning things like a crazed maniac. If you have the time and inclination, hop on over and say hello. And if you're on Pinterest, I'd love to take a peek at what inspires you!

Monday, March 10, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Easy Vegetarian Tamales

Tamales originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BC. Aztec and Maya civilizations, as well as the Olmeca and Tolteca before them, used tamales as portable food, often to support their armies, but also for hunters and travelers. Tamales can be prepared using various fillings, this is my own vegetarian version. My 12-year-old loves them--which is saying something because she's a very picky eater! They can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, can be reheated in the microwave, and make a great after-school snack.


Soak approximately 20-25 corn husks in hot water for at least an hour.

In a food processor blend until cornmeal consistency:

1/2 cup butter
1 can corn, drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach

Add and blend until loosely combined:

2 cup corn masa flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz can of chopped green chilies

Add and blend until smooth dough-like consistency:
1/2 cup vegetable stock

Transfer dough into a bowl and mix in:
1-14.5 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, drained

In a pre-soaked corn husk, place about 2T of mixture and wrap like this:



Tie the top with strip of corn husk so they look like this:



Place several tamales in a microwave proof bowl and place a plate on top.



Microwave for 5 minutes. Serve or store in airtight container in refrigerator.
Makes 18-20 tamales, depending on the size of the corn husks. Serve alone, or with sauce of choice.

*You may notice there's a bit of a change in my blog! I've changed my Foodie Wednesdays to #MeatlessMonday. Learn more about #MeatlessMonday 


Friday, March 7, 2014

Frightening Friday-Butterflies

There are very few things in this world that scare me. In fact, I can only name two; werewolves...and butterflies. No laughing.

I write about ghosts and demons and things that lurk in the corners, but have no qualms about wandering around in a graveyard at night. I've worked with lions, tigers, and primates, all of which would easily rip your arm off. I never thought twice about it. But butterflies? They freak me out.

Butterflies are the spazzes of the insect world. You never know which way they're going to fly. They lie in waiting, looking perfectly beautiful and innocent. That's their grand master plan. They rope you in with their beauty and "innocence" only to burst forth like aliens the moment they're disturbed. And God only knows what they have in mind. They could just flapper on by and do nothing...or they could eat your face.

My daughters adore these creatures. When they were young, they would beg me to take them to a Butterfly House of Doom, on the oft chance that one of these pesky little creepers would land on their finger. But alas, it was never meant to be. Invariably, every single freaking butterfly would make a direct beeline for my head. It got to a point where I'd break into a sweat as soon as we stepped through the door.
And butterflies can sense fear you know.

Once I hit my 40's, I decided to try and figure out a way to get over my fear of butterflies. I belonged to a photography site where I would see hundreds of photos of these monstrous creatures. Close-ups, macros; more of the anatomy of a butterfly than you'd ever want to see. A part of me was horrified, but another part of me was a bit jealous. I decided to make it my mission to capture the image of a butterfly, myself.
The camera was my shield.

What I've posted above was my first picture. I'm quite proud of it.


Here are several more. Needless to say, nobody knew I broke into a sweat and felt the sting of panicked tears as I snapped these photos.

Or heard threats the butterflies whispered to me as I slowly backed away.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-Coming Back from the Dead

I read a news story recently about a man whose pacemaker gave out and was pronounced dead. While in the morgue and due to be embalmed, his pacemaker started up again. The poor man woke up in a body bag. My thoughts go out to this man and his family--something like that would be a gift, but there had to be lingering trauma.

What would it be like to wake in a morgue and know you had been pronounced dead? This isn't the first time something like this has happened. In 2013, an Ohio man's heart started beating after having stopped for 45 minutes. Also in 2013, a baby born in Toronto was declared dead. Two hours after the call, the officers waiting for a coroner noticed that the baby moved. The baby, it turned out, was alive.

Many years ago (and on a personal level) my mother had a heart attack and was pronounced dead. The doctors were dumbfounded when her heart started beating again, some minutes later. My mother woke to say she'd experienced a white light, a feeling of peace, and was surrounded by loved ones that had passed. This was surprising to me, because my mother isn't religious in any way.

I find it interesting that near-death experiences are similar, regardless of religion or culture. The pattern seems to be as follows:

An out of body experience
A feeling of peace
Traveling down a tunnel and seeing a light
An intense feeling of unconditional love
An encounter with deceased loved one/s
Receiving knowledge of one's life
Having to make a decision about whether to "cross over" or not

Likewise, there is a pattern to a negative near-death experience:

Barriers that separate certain zones from others
An experience of a void or nothingness
Dark or menacing entities who maliciously taunt the subject
Explicit, violent images. A sense of falling.

*Those who have experienced a negative near-death experience, may still go on to have a positive one.

Whether or not these experiences are hallucinatory and caused by a neurological process is debatable. Cross-cultural similarity can be used to support both religious and physiological theories, for both rely on demonstrating that the phenomenon is universal.

Is this random chance? Do these people have unfinished business? We'll never know, but it gives one pause for thought.

Further reading for those interested in this subject:
Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife
Near-Death Experience Research Foundation

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-Guest Author

Please welcome my guest author, SS Hampton, Sr.
Stan writes horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, military fiction, and has even been known to dabble a bit in the Old West and the Classical Romans. Take it away, Stan!

Hello!

Well, let’s chat about scary things—I know it’s not Halloween with cackling witches on broomsticks passing in front of the full moon, or glowing eyed black cats peering at you from the shadows by your front door, as if daring you try seeking safety within your house. Then again, scary things aren’t always confined to a chilly Halloween night. It can be bright daylight when you have a sudden feeling, perhaps a tiny tremor of unease rippling through you, that you are not alone. A quick look over the shoulder will show that you are alone—but then again, are you?

Sometimes you can’t see something unknown slowly drawing closer and closer to you. And something unknown can make for some of the greatest scary stories.

Among the several genres I enjoy writing in is horror. Horror, scary things, are fun. As long as it isn’t real and you aren’t in the middle of something scary. Anyway, as a writer of horror, I hope someday to write something that someone might describe as being scary enough to “scare an owl off a tombstone” (A Memoir of Ambrose Bierce by George Sterling (Project Gutenberg)). I’m almost 60, so there’s still time to reach such a pinnacle, even if only briefly.

That being said, what things scare you, or at least make you uneasy? An inky black night with such deep shadows you’d never know when something is keeping pace with you? A large hairy spider stealthily creeping closer, ready to sink fangs in your flesh to inject venom to reduce your insides to liquid to be sucked out? Snakes that even if they aren’t large enough to swallow you, can still put a deathly squeeze on you? Or maybe a sinkhole opening beneath your feet, and in the gloom of your sudden underground chamber you hear something moving in the shadows? And what about clowns. I know some people truly are afraid of clowns. I guess when you think about it, Stephen King hit the nail on the head with Pennywise the demonic clown from his book and movie, “It.”

As for me—well, sometimes my surroundings give me ideas, scary ideas, to write about. For example, my 2006-2007 deployment to northern Kuwait. We were at a convoy support center a mile south of the Iraqi border. Northern Kuwait and southern Iraq—flat and sandy. Sure, there’s high ground, but not that high. Just an endless, hot, flat, sandy sea. A sandy sea that hasn’t changed in thousands of years. Traveling across that sea at night you sometimes see the pale, distant glow of a village beneath a magic carpet of stars thousands of years old.

The imagination begins churning. What if that glow isn’t from a distant Iraqi village, but beneath silent stars twisting themselves into strange and horrible constellations, the glow is from the torches of a ghostly Sumerian city and temple ziggurats come to life again? What of the demons from that near prehistoric time—did they fade away as mankind grew older and science answered everything, or perhaps they slumber beneath the sandy sea, just waiting for horrible constellations to take shape and reawaken them? And what of the anonymous generations who were born, lived, and died in that land? Did they really crumble into dust and return to the Earth? In the night when a hot wind sweeps across the timeless land, perhaps you might hear a whisper of ghostly voices—or perhaps it’s only your imagination. The same imagination that thinks there’s a rippling shadow in the sand, as if something unknown is moving beneath it…

THE LAPIS LAZULI THRONE
by SS Hampton, Sr.
Edited by Stephen Morgan 

Musa Publishing, April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-61937-263-4

BLURB: During the Iraq War supply convoys rumbled out of Kuwait every day, bound for Baghdad. These convoys traveled on MSR Tampa, one of the most dangerous roads in the world, battling insurgent ambushes and IEDs. It is on one such convoy that an IED took out a gun truck and wounded Specialist Ken Adams. His gun truck commander took the fight to nearby insurgents, but in the aftermath he committed a disrespectful act. In the following weeks the entire gun truck crew was stalked by something unknown, and they disappeared one by one, until only Ken Adams was left, cornered in Las Vegas…

EXCERPT: 

The desert was alive. Damp foul smelling sand exploded in a white flash. Smoky red and yellow tentacles snaked out of the sand. He tried to scream, but the tentacles choked him. Other screams tore through the boiling smoke that stung his eyes and fouled his mouth. He was suffocating. He swung his arms wildly through the heavy hot air as the ground gave way beneath him. He was being pulled into the living desert...
#
            Specialist Ken Adams, the Gunner of his gun truck, picked at his meal of cheeseburgers, French fries, and salad. The mess hall, no wider than a pair of double wide trailers and twice as long, was almost empty. Other than an evening kitchen crew, the only occupants of the mess hall were gun truck soldiers preparing to go out on another convoy security escort mission.
            They were escorting another supply convoy of forty-five white trucks, the civilian manned eighteen-wheel tractor trailers that had arrived that afternoon at Convoy Support Center Navistar. The small, cluttered, dusty camp a mile south of the Iraqi border, a jumping off point for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was now manned by mobilized Army National Guard soldiers. After sunset, four HMMWV gun trucks would escort the supply convoy to Cedar, the first CSC on Main Supply Route Tampa. There, they would then turn the convoy over to other escorts, who would take the convoy further north. The gun truck crews would have time for a quick breakfast before they picked up an empty convoy returning to Kuwait.
            It was just another typical mission for Ken and his buddies. He grabbed a pair of bananas on the way out the door.
            They met their convoy of white trucks at the Convoy Movement Center, the dusty marshaling lot on the other side of a narrow dusty track across from Navistar. The soldiers checked the drivers’ paperwork and made a quick mechanical inspection of the trucks. It was a tedious but necessary process. Ken alleviated the boredom by raiding the packed bag of bubble gum Lenny had packed for the mission. Lenny loved bubble gum, and whenever care packages were put on the mail table for everyone to help themselves, he was one of the first to paw through them, searching for bubble gum…

Musa Publishing

BIOGRAPHY

 SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Monday, March 3, 2014

#Paranormal Monday-BETWEEN Extras: Part One

In the process of writing, I sometimes will write back-story for my characters. In my novel, BETWEEN, there were lots of these back-stories. Prior to Lucinda's life, Cronan and Lucas had been bound together as a Death Spirit and Guardian over the span of 700 years. In order to understand their history completely, I wrote several flashback scenes that weren't included in the novel. I will post two more in the coming Wednesdays. Enjoy!

The setup:

Lucas and Cronan have been bound together since their deaths in 1349. Now, a Guardian and a Death Spirit, they are both responsible for a human life; Lucas must protect the life until it is Cronan's job to take it. It is a cycle that will last through seven lifetimes until their souls are set free. It seems like a simple enough task. However, Lucas repeatedly becomes attached to the lives he is responsible, much to Cronan's chagrin. And every time Lucas steps in to keep Cronan from taking a life, a cycle of seven lifetimes must be repeated.

Flashback #1

1917
Ypres, Belgium


Cronan watched the scene unfold in front of him. His scene. The moment where he would move beyond observer, to participant. 

“Not this one too,” the nurse murmured. She straightened the medal the soldier had received that morning.

A perfunctory medal before dying, Cronan reflected bitterly. The fetid smell of gangrene permeated the tent and his gaze slid down to the pus-filled, blackened appendage.

The nurse pressed her nose briefly against the sleeve of her uniform. She dipped a rag into a rusty basin of water and squeezed it out. Attempting to wipe the mud off the young man’s face, her fingers lingered on his cheek. “The doctor will be here soon, I promise. Hold fast, soldier.” She picked a chat from the soldier’s fair eyebrow and absently crushed the offending louse between her fingernails.

Feeling a sudden unease, Cronan left the tent.

**** 

The distant sound of machine-gun fire filled the air. It was coupled with the wet patter of skittering rats as they swarmed like vultures.

Cronan watched as the doctor made his way along the edge of the trenches. The man slipped in the mud and righted himself. Switching his bag to his other hand, he continued towards the tent. Lucas trailed the doctor like a shadow.

Lucas! A cold fury enveloped Cronan’s senses.

There was a high-pitched whistle. Unseen, Lucas grabbed the doctor’s arm and pulled him down. An explosion lit up the night and blanked out all sound at the same time shrapnel flew over their heads at lightning speed.

The doctor scrambled to his feet and looked around, seemingly unsure how he had fallen. He picked up his bag and continued towards the make-shift hospital tent.

Cronan grimaced as Lucas made himself scarce, his damage done. When we do cross paths again, you will have to answer for that. He followed the doctor into the tent.

“Barely dodged that one.” The doctor held his palm to his ear and winced. “My ears are ringing. Let’s get this done, nurse. Where is Rogers?” He pulled a bone saw from his bag.

“I don’t know, sir." She clenched the rag she had been holding. "He left with Peterson to take that last soldier to the trench wall. He hasn't been back.”

“No time to wait, the artillery is getting closer. Hold him down as best you can while I saw the foot off. With any luck, he'll pass out." The doctor handed her a strip of leather. "I’m out of chloroform,” he added grimly. “But hopefully, we can save him. I've seen too many soldiers die today.”

The soldier’s moans turned into screams, followed by silence. 

Cronan stood in the shadows of the tent. He cursed his counterpart for altering the physician’s path to avoid the shrapnel that would have ended his life.

And more importantly, the life of the soldier.

End



BETWEEN
How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012

Purchase Links