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My novel, Dragon’s Pawn, is one year old today! To celebrate here’s a special excerpt from the book, plus a DIY on how to make your own set of Secret Letter tiles like they used in the chapter.

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“I uh…” She really didn’t have time for gaming…then it struck her that Céline and Dara had seemed obsessed by the playing. “It seemed very complex.”

“Not at all. Once you know the rules it’s very diverting,” she tipped her head toward Mia’s guards, a very slight movement, “and enlightening.”

Lonnie came over and took a seat. “It’s really cool, they played a version in the book Anna Karenina.” He looked at her meaningfully.

Mia sat straighter, suddenly alert as to what was being asked of her. She knew the chapter from the book; it was where Kitty and Levin communicate through anagrams during a game of Secrétarie. “Our version is easier,” Lonnie said. “Want to learn how to play?”

*

   “First, you put out a word that will be the topic,” Lonnie explained, “then the other players build upon that word. Mother, you start with a word for Mia.”

Céline nodded and pushed four tiles into place. Dara.

Mia took this as a question, Where is Dara?

“Now Mia you can build upon Mother’s word or dismiss the word by playing your red tile,” Lonnie said.

It was excruciating not to be able to just talk to them, this might take more patience than she had. She didn’t want to upset Céline any more than she was but she knew she should be honest. Pushing the tiles under Céline’s word she answered the woman’s question. Dead.

Céline blinked tears from her eyes and pushed forward her green tile. Lonnie pushed forward his also, and then Mia did the same. End of conversation. Lonnie swept away the tiles. “Your turn now, Mia. You start the next phrase.”

And so it went, for hours they spoke using the tiles. Mia became very adept at choosing the right word to communicate her question or answer.

The Triad had been using Littri Sicreti or “the game of secret letters”, as a way of negotiation and secret communication amongst their family for generations. It was how the treaty discussions had been conducted. Between Céline and Dara, and General Bailey, not Caleb, Jonathan and Michael. Céline’s brothers had been keeping Caleb busy while the real work of establishing a new relationship occurred. Dara had been acting as Red City’s negotiator Céline told her. Dara had been the representive of the city’s true leadership.

Mia’s mouth fell open, hastily she assembled her word: Havenites. Céline pushed out her green tile. Yes.

Mia sat back in her chair trying to come up with a word that would convey the hundreds of questions ricocheting inside her head but before she could the lock on the doors to the suite popped open, the doors swung wide and Caleb swanned into the room. Hastily, Lonnie mixed up the tiles on the table and scrambled any words there.

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When I wrote the above scene I imagined Céline’s Littri Sicretti tiles to be very old, made by hand, perhaps of bone, and passed down by one of the Golden family’s ancestors. It was a bit of trial and error to come up with the right look. But I’m ever so pleased with the results!

I used DAS modeling clay and weighed out 7gr. chunks before rolling them into balls and then rolling them flat. Then using a template I cut them into 2cm x 3cm squares. After drying for about 24 hours I sanded the tiles to create a bevel on all the edges (back and front)

As the tiles are double sided I stamped the letters on (a capital on one side, lowercase on the other) Then I weathered them by tumbling them with used (wet) coffee grounds to simulate generations of use. A clear coat of spray poly on both sides of the tiles and I declared myself done!

 

DRAGON’S PAWN is available for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in Hardback 

 

A NEW STORY FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE REVEL NIGHT SAGA

Adam wants nothing more than to live a life of quiet solitude, something that’s easy to do in the Trashtown District of Red City. An ex-MECH soldier, he keeps his head down and his mouth shut. Slowly, he’s starting to put the horrors of the battlefield behind him. And then he meets Mia.

The spirited messenger who runs for Lóng Sang more than intrigues him. As they grow closer he feels, with her, he’s found a place to trust his weary heart.

Mia’s time as a humble messenger for Lóng Sang is running out. Like her mother before her, soon she will take her place as a courtesan along side the Glitter Girls and Party Boys of the Tower. Her training has already begun and Caleb Masters, the devious oligarch who is Dragon of Lóng Sang, has taken a keen interest in her.

Mia knows too well what will happen if she and Adam are caught together so she cherishes their stolen moments while hiding her true identity from him.

She’s playing a dangerous game, one she has no hope of winning especially when she finds herself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to tear Red City apart.

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I posted a summer version of this when my garden was over flowing with lavender but I thought since it’s the season of everything scented with ginger, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg an Autumn version would be just the thing. This makes a lovely homemade gift!  

🍂 Autumn Spice Sugar Scrub 🍂

2/3 cup White Sugar

1/8 to 1/4 cup light bath oil (I used Neutrogena unscented sesame oil)

1 teaspoon ground Pumpkin Pie Spice

1-2 drop essential oil

In a glass bowl add the sugar, oil, ground spice, and essential oil. Make sure it is well mixed.

Decant into a shatter proof container with a lid.

To use: Smooth on to dry skin to scrub away dry flaky skin. Rinse well.

 

 

 

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I serve this on weeknights when I need easy but delicious. 

 

Easy Broccoli Beef

1 lb. Ground Beef

4 cups Frozen Broccoli Florets

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 teaspoons minced Garlic

1/3 to 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce

Salt & Pepper

Prepared Basmati or Jasmin Rice

 

 

In a wide sauce pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium hight heat.

Brown the ground beef, crumbling it into larger bite sized chunks. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat and stir in the hoisin sauce.

Add the frozen broccoli

Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked through.

Uncover and increase the heat to high and reduce the sauce for about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice with extra hoisin sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds if desired.

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I wanted something witchy. Something a bit spooky but also with a romance. Oh boy, did The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston deliver. The witches were indeed very witchy and the romance was pretty darn epic. The plot was intense and the “bad guy” was very bad indeed.

In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill. Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.

After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life. But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it.

Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections.

It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything in this beautifully written, enchanting novel.

 

 

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May I also humbly recommend: 

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Hello There! Let’s kickback and have a lazy Sunday surfing the web.

This months wallpaper was found on Pixabay

The best advice for growing your hair long

Surprising benefits of going braless

And on the other end of the spectrum…Busting myths about corsets

The Victorian Shoplifting Girl Gangs of London

Italy is reviving the Medieval Plague Era “wine windows” in the time of Covid.

29 things everyone experienced as kids but no one every talks about

Famous sayings that don’t mean what you think they mean

I am “I read the Weekly World News” years old

You can tour Frida Kahlo’s Blue house virtually

Chalet Les Trolles…A cozy fantasy come true

Be well, friends. Have a great Sunday!

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(FINAL COVER COMING SOON)

Clare is the shy one, Tynan is driven by duty, but Juno is the wild card of the three Tenebris siblings.  On the surface she’s a capricious flirt, obsessed with human screen stars and making friends with the popular girls.  But it’s all just cover for a secret she’s had to keep since she was very young.

In this fourth and final book of THE REVEL NIGHT SAGA we learn her secret and the lengths she will go to keep it! The timeline is rolled back and you’ll see the events of Revel Night from Juno’s point of view. Old allies become enemies but new friends will fight alongside the Shadows of Faerie in:

CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT: THE CONCLUSION OF THE REVEL NIGHT SAGA

Juno Tenebris has a secret…

The visions come to her in her dreams. A gifted artist, she wakes to find she has drawn an image of something that will come to pass. It is a secret she must keep at all costs.

Juno’s great grandmother has suffered hundreds of years of captivity. Her gifts of prophecy too valuable to risk her; she can never leave the Citadel. Ever. It’s the fate that awaits Juno if anyone finds out she too is an Oracle.

But someone has found out…

Finnlan Wickerman, captain of the Shadows of Faerie, is arrogant, obnoxious, and enraging. And now she must trust him as her secret keeper, an unbreakable vow that if betrayed will cost them both everything.

The Day of Devouring is here…

The Phaji Swarm, the enemy of the Four Realms, has regrouped and has a new leader, Hivemother Six. She is in league with a former ally, The Sons of the Serpent, a cult of powerful human Mages, and they have their sights set on Juno and her extraordinary power of prophecy.

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CHILDREN OF THE SERPENT  will be available on Kindle June 2021

Until, then catch up with the series! Books 1-3 are available now :

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If you loved The Starless Sea you will want to read The Ten Thousand Doors of January!  In fact it was recommend by Erin Morgenstern.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut so I downloaded a preview to my Kindle app to give it a try and before I even finished the first chapter I bought the book. I was enthralled by January Scaller from the first chapter.

I gasped at “the big reveal”, and was in tears reading the last chapter….

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

 

 

 

 

May I also humbly recommend…

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This is the perfect side for anything. Slip the leftovers into a frittata or quiche Or, make a batch then take them for a spin in your food processor and make them into a dip or the best sandwich spread you’ve ever had! Also, you can dress with my Ginger and Sesame Dressing. 
Be creative and use what’s in season!

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Grilled Vegtables
Preheat gas grill to about 400F degrees.

2 Portobello Mushrooms
1 Summer Squash or Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
4 stems Broccolini
Salt and Pepper
3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Herb de Provence (or other dried herb medley)

Slice all the veggies into large chunks and place on your veggie grill pan then put onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the dried herbs, salt and pepper.

Place the grill pan onto the gas grill. Shut the lid and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Open up the lid and give the veggies a stir, close the lid and cook for another 3 minutes. Repeat this process until the veggies are slightly charred and tender. Depending on your grill it could take up to 15 minutes.

Carefully (use your hot pads!) move your grill pan back to the sheet pan and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Grilled Veggie Sandwich Spread

This spread is really good in tea sandwiches packed for a picnic!

1 cup Leftover Grilled Veggies
1 8oz package of Cream Cheese (Room Temperature)
1 teaspoon Tomato Paste
2-3 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Capers
1 tablespoon chopped Sweet Gherkins

Combine the veggies, cream cheese, sour cream, tomato paste, in your food processor and whiz it up until smooth and creamy. Fold in the pickles and capers and mix well.
Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Serve on bagels, toast or on sandwiches.

 

 

 

 

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Hello there hardcover fans!
I’m excited to announce that THE FALLEN SHADOW is now available in glorious tangible hardcover!
Follow this link to get yours!

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Book Four News!
The title for the final book in the Revel Night Saga will be announced next month! Stay tuned to my social media sites and the blog. Sign up below and get the reveal first!

Read for free
If you have Kindle Unlimited you can read the whole saga for free!

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Happy Sunday!  Here are some links to surf while we sip our iced coffee.

It’s going to be a hot one today, so here is a cool walk through an ancient wood vibe for you to meditate on in front of the fan.

Joy Wilson aka: Joy the Baker is conducting a summer camp from her IGTV channel! So far we have made cobbler over a campfire, sun tea, and ritz ice cream sandwiches!

“I Am My Mother’s Savage Daughter”sung by it’s creator Wyndreth Berginsdottir.

Campfire Potatoes! These are my new grill/cookout favorite.

Why don’t people return their shopping carts?

This artist imagines what famous historical figures would look like as modern people. 

What 6 rooms in famous paintings would look IRL

Everyday things that have a hidden purpose

These wooden toys look like a lot of fun! 

How to undo a bad haircut.

Lazy days of summer circa 1960, 70, & 80 This sparked a flood of nostalgia!

Get out of your chair and do some downward dogs 

Have a great day, friends!