Friday, October 31, 2014

Have a spooktacular Halloween!

The day's finally arrived! Halloween is here! I hope you're ready for the ghouls and goblins and Elsas and Spidermans who'll line up at your door. :)

Thanks to all the authors who came to party on my blog this month. If you haven't read through their interviews, you should - their spooky stories and ghostly encounters will give you the perfect chill for a dark All Hallow's Eve. I'm always surprised at just how many people have experiences that they can't explain. If I weren't already a believer, it would change my mind.

I had a wonderful surprise this month - Goddess, Awakened is now available in print!

*happy dances* 

I can't wait to hold a copy in my hands!

I came across this recipe, and it sounded yummy - and healthy! So I thought I'd share. I always love new treats, don't you?

PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES



Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup raisins OR chocolate chips

Directions
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Lightly grease baking sheets. COMBINE flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. BAKE for 14 to 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and set in centers. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Then gobble like ghouls!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nerine Dorman's South African style Halloween

Cate: Woo hoo, Nerine Dorman's traveled halfway around the world to appear at my special Halloween celebration. Welcome Nerine! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Nerine: Thank you for having me over, Cate. In short, I’m a South African author of dark, speculative fiction, I’m on half of the gothic folk band A Murder and occasionally I edit fiction.
 
Cate: So cool! What do you love most about Halloween?
Nerine: The best part of Halloween is that it’s the time of year that we have the South African HorrorFest, for which I run its literary component – the Bloody Parchment event. We get to dress up and read scary stories, and eat lots of cupcakes.
 
Cate: A Bloody Parchment event sounds like fun! Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Nerine: Probably amusing rather than favourite. We learned about Halloween watching American TV series and films, but the concept was foreign to a lot of the older adults. You see, TV only came to South Africa in 1976, and Halloween had never really been part of our culture. We decided to dress up and go trick or treating, and very few of the adults knew what we were up to. And even less of them had candy for us. Now it’s totally different, of course, and many people have sweets and chocolates for kids, who often go to great effort to dress up.
 
Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Nerine: Oh, many. One of my favourites was when my parents were ghost hunting, and neither my dad or myself particularly cared for the house, which had a weird vibe in the lounge. My dad was sensitive to these things, and to a certain extent, so am I. So we went outside, and a few moments later my mom came rushing out of the house saying she’d seen a ghost. I of course thought this was terribly funny, so I went to go tell my dad, that Mom had just seen a ghost. And he calmly asked “Which one?” At the time I hadn’t realized there’d been more than one.
 
Cate: Lol! Sounds like your dad's quite used to them. What frightens you the most?
Nerine: Losing control of my body. I’ve had a seizure while using public transport a few years ago. Of course my memories of the actual chain of events are like Swiss cheese, and not being able to recall what happened really bugs me. So yeah, losing one’s mind features pretty high up on my list of fears. Of course the usual applies: fear of spiders rates pretty highly. Oh, and stink bugs too. Don’t like them at all.
 
Cate: Yikes, that would be scary. Stink bugs are too prevalent here, but my daughter shares your fear. Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Nerine: I love old, abandoned buildings. Sometimes I gain impressions from them. Whether this is my overactive imagination or actual tapping into resonances I don’t know, and at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, because it’s fun to think up possible stories.
 
Cate: I agree! Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Nerine: If I’m feeling particularly wicked, I’ll chuck a bunch of fruit and chocolate into a baking dish, cover it with an egg/flour/yogurt mix and bake that for 45 minutes and serve up with cream or ice cream.
 
Cate: Yum, sounds delicious. Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Nerine: I’ve actually got two that came out on each others’ heels. The first is The Guardian’s Wyrd which is a fantasy adventure for boys between the ages of 12 and 16 (but really, anyone can read it); and the other is a dark fantasy novel entitled Dawn’s Bright Talons which should appeal to fans of Anne Rice. Yep, it has vampires.
 
Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Nerine: They are as night to day–but blood will tell when facing a common enemy.

A sought-after dancer in the upmarket Moonlit Garden, Isabeau Letier, has not given her future much thought. All that matters is the art of dance, and charming wealthy patrons into parting with a few extra coins. She has her exotic good looks and her youth. What could possibly go wrong? 

When a mysterious nobleman pays her undue attention, Isabeau’s darker, bloodthirsty nature awakens and she kills him with her bare hands after he follows her home. Even worse, she drinks and enjoys his blood. Her brother, Eric, returns home to this disturbing tableau yet remains calm even as the corpse sifts to ash in the morning sun. Isabeau has no choice but to follow her sibling’s lead. 

Not many people know that Michel Roux, owner of a slightly down-at-heel theatre in the District of Paper Lanterns, is a vampire. He prefers to keep things that way and steer clear of the petty politicking of the city's vampiric subculture. When his estranged sire, Tomas, goes missing, and his grandsire sets him the task of solving the mystery, Michel is unwillingly dragged into all of the very dangerous games he thought he’d left behind him. 

Isabeau and Michel become unlikely allies as they try to wriggle their way out of being the pawns in a game where they don’t know the rules. Isabeau’s ancient heritage is a danger, not only to herself, but to the established hierarchies at odds with one another in the city of Ysul, and the elders are desperate to either control her–or kill her. 

As events unwind, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate friend from foe, and as the two flee for their lives they must also explore the true nature of the bond that they've forged and uncover the ages-old secrets that have pushed them onto this path. Warring factions are about to overturn centuries of custom, and two young people are marked to pay the price—in blood.
 
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Nerine: I have this awful habit of asking “What if…” and it’s all downhill from there. With The Guardian’s Wyrd I had a yen to write about a house that I used to frequent when I was a kid in Hout Bay. It had a mysterious basement, and we always used to pretend there were secret rooms there. With Dawn’s Bright Talons, I just got a real kick out of playing on the idea of what if there was a kind of predator that hunted vampires… And what if she had no idea of her heritage until it was sprung upon her.
 
Cate: A secret room would be very cool. Anything else you’d like to share?
Nerine: Folks are welcome to sign up for my newsletter (http://eepurl.com/JoPUv). I promise not to spam people and to keep things light and entertaining, with a bit of writing advice thrown in from time to time too. Otherwise they are welcome to stalk me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nerinedorman
 


Cate: Nerine has a fantastic giveaway for you guys!

Nerine: I’m giving away a digital copy of Dawn’s Bright Talons to the first three people to sign up for my newsletter.

Cate: Wow, three ebooks. Thanks Nerine! And thanks for helping us celebrate Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anastasia Vitsky puts a spin on Grimm!


Cate: Anastasia's here to party with us!Anastasia, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Anastasia: Hello! I’m Anastasia Vitsky, called Ana by those who know me. I also go by Cookie Queen, Wooden Spoon Lady, and occasionally answer to “Yes, my queen.” It’s a long story! I write erotic F/F fiction, although I am branching out to sweeter and non-erotic F/F fiction.

Cate: Yes, my queen! Lol Love it. What do you love most about Halloween?
Anastasia: Spank or Treat! This year, I hosted the third annual gathering of authors who share mini stories or excerpts of upcoming works. We offer free reads, invite readers for fun and games, and offer a slew of prizes. While Spank or Treat fun is over, readers can join the next event for Ana’s Advent Calendar. Visit my blog for more details.

Cate: Fun! Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Anastasia: Trying to sit down for dinner on Halloween and having to get up every five minutes to answer the door for trick-or-treaters. Why don’t kids come around these days? I miss handing out candy.

Cate: None come to my house either, but we live in the boonies. Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Anastasia: Probably when I was sleep deprived! As to paranormal experiences, not so much.

Cate: What frightens you the most?
Anastasia: Disney movies. Scary movies. Dr. Who. What can I say? I’m a scaredy cat.

Cate: Me too. Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Anastasia: shivers See above answer.

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Anastasia: Strangely, I don’t! I love to cook and bake (hence the nickname “Cookie Queen,” but I don’t have any special Halloween recipes. I’ll have to ponder that. I will be making chocolate chip cookies to hand out to friend’s children, though.

Cate: Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Anastasia: Taliasman is a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale “Our Lady’s Child.” No, I had never heard of it, either. The original is a crazy combination of Bluebeard, Rapunzel, and other assorted stories. The Virgin Mary (no, I’m not kidding) brings a baby (in some versions, a three-year-old child) to heaven to raise.
In my version, Queen Vina rescues the nineteen-year-old Talia, daughter of a construction worker who has never been wanted by anyone before. If you like stories of love, longing, and happily ever after, you’ll enjoy Taliasman.

Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Anastasia:
Taliasman blurb:
Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.
Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.
Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?
A Beyond Fairytales Adaptation of Our Lady’s Child

Taliasman excerpt:
If I had been born a boy, I would have followed in my father’s footsteps to become a tradesman. Because I was a girl, he sold me instead.
“No,” Vina corrects me when I bring up the story, which is not often. She doesn’t like the facts, and I dislike her pretty lies. “Your mother agonized whether to let you go, but she knew you would be better off here. She wanted to give you a better life.”
I would call Vina on her mistruths, but she claims I still reason as a child. All of my protests to the contrary serve to prove her right, at least in her mind. Only when I agree with her does she admit I am a full-grown adult.
“You’re happy with me, aren’t you?” Vina makes me sit next to her at the formal dinners she hosts most nights, and she dresses me in rich silks with real lace. If I tell her “no,” she sends me to my room as punishment for my petulance. If I resist, she gives me one of her lessons in obedience. Some are painful, some pleasurable, and all serve to narrow my world and make me focus on her. How could I not, when she owns me?
“No,” Vina corrects me when I call her my owner. “I set you free, and I gave you the life you never could have had otherwise.”
When I turned nineteen, no one wanted to marry me. My mother fussed with my “hope chest,” if it could be called that, and arranged the one cotton handkerchief as if it could attract a suitor.
“Let me stay with you,” I entreated, and I won. I always did. The house needed new walls, and I wielded the power tools.
“You’ve turned her into such a tomboy no one will want her,” Mother chided Father, and the truth stung. I could have cared for my parents into their old age, but they wanted me gone.

Where to buy Taliasman:

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Anastasia: I gave an interview to Decadent, my publisher, that says it best. We need stories about women and girls that teach us about our own worth.

Cate: Anastasia has a giveaway for you lucky peeps!
Anastasia: I will select one random commenter OR the best comment to win an Anastasia Vitsky goody bag. If you live outside the US, I will substitute a comparable gift certificate to your local online bookstore.

Author bio:
Cookie queen, wooden spoon lady, and champion of carbs, Anastasia Vitsky specializes in F/F erotic fiction. She hates shoes and is allergic to leather. When not writing about women who live spankily ever after, she coordinates reader and author events such as Spank or Treat, Love Spanks, and Sci Spanks.  Her favorite event is Ana’s Advent Calendar, a month-long celebration of books, community, and making a difference.
She is too afraid to watch Dr. Who, but she adores The Good Wife and anything with Audrey Hepburn. In her next life, she will learn how to make the perfect pie crust.

Where to find out more about Anastasia Vitsky and her books:

Cate: Thanks for partying with us, Anastasia! Happy Halloween!