Nov 082013
 

Click On The Cover To Purchase From Amazon

 

It’s the official release day for The Queen of Bad Decisions!

Want to see what others are saying about the book? Check out the reviews at:

Amazon

Goodreads

Peeking Between The Pages blog

My Guest Post and Giveaway at Peeking Between The Pages

Diary of an Eccentric blog

Nov 022013
 

The second book in the Bartonville series, “The Queen of Bad Decisions“, is releasing in less than a week. I have had a few questions about things like: Why is the book so short? and Why is book two a prequel to book one? So I thought I would explain my plans for the series and how it will be structured.

Honestly, that structure has changed since I first came up with the idea last year. At that time I wanted all of the volumes to end up about the same size. So one novella, three novelettes, six short stories equaling in total about 30,000 words per book. Over the summer I started looking into serial fiction after hearing so many other authors talking about places like Wattpad and JukePop for publishing serials. What I had thought was a revolutionary series concept, releasing stories ranging from flash to novella length instead of novel length work, turned out to be another form of serialized fiction. Different than the chapter at a time format that “Ready Or Not” has, but still a serial. When I began researching how other people were writing this type of series I decided to drop the 30,000 word per volume format and add in some shorter books. So people have a choice of story length and price.

Think of the series as a tree. A trilogy of novellas will make up the trunk. The main plot of the series, written linearly, will be in the novellas. Shorter stories are like the branches and leaves. In the case of “The Queen of Bad Decisions“, the tree’s roots. I will be using the smaller stories to detail subplots or give a glimpse into minor characters’ lives. I’m even writing a serial inside a serial with “Ready Or Not” on JukePop Serials. That story is also a prequel to “Must Love Sandwiches” and the main character is a minor character in that novella.

I have seen many people say they don’t like shorter fiction, but I am also seeing many essays and articles proclaiming short fiction is trending as readers have less time to indulge in the pastime. I’m rolling the literary dice and hoping that people will like my series.

 

Oct 232013
 

Daisy’s life is sliding downhill at breakneck speed. Leaving her worthless boyfriend lands her back at her parents’ home, sleeping on the couch. After only a few days she is tired and annoyed. Her parents give new meaning to the term “early riser” and she can’t avoid unpleasant encounters with her obnoxious brother. The only escape from the familial torture is her job at a book store. Her boss finds a solution to the housing dilemma, but Daisy will need to change more than her address labels to make the arrangement work.

This book is a novelette that contains approximately 11,500 words. Two, short bonus stories along with recipes are also included. This is a prequel to Volume 1 of the Bartonville series, “Must Love Sandwiches”. Even though this is part of a series it can also be read as a standalone book.

On November 8, I will be publishing the next installment of the Bartonville series, “The Queen of Bad Decisions”, as an ebook on Amazon. I would love to get some reviews up for it quickly, to give it a little boost and hopefully put it on the reading radar of more people.  If you would like to review this novelette (it takes around an hour to read), please let me know. I realize that book bloggers will not be able to fit a review into their schedule on short notice. If you can add a review to Amazon, Goodreads or other book review sites, that would be perfect. And the reviews don’t need to go up as soon as the book is released. Anytime in the next month would be wonderful. If you do have a blog, I would be happy to set up guest posts, interviews or contests for any of my books at your convenience.

If you would like to receive an ARC (advanced reader copy) of “The Queen of Bad Decisions” to review, please fill out the contact form below or send an email to: janelg.author@gmail.com. The ebook will only be available on Amazon for the next 3 months, but if you don’t have a Kindle I can send you other file formats, like .epub and .pdf.

 

 

Oct 112013
 

Micah has been homeless for a over year, by choice. Marketing herself as a temporary artist in residence has allowed her to travel to art galleries all over the state of Michigan and beyond. Being an artistic vagabond is interesting and lucrative, but her life is about to change whether she’s ready or not.

I have been working on several “top secret” writing projects lately and one of them has found a home. “Ready Or Not” is my first foray into serialized fiction and I am so happy to be a part of the JukePop roster of authors. If you aren’t familiar with serialized fiction, think of it as the literary equivalent of a television series. Instead of the entire book (season) being released at one time, serial fiction is published one chapter (episode) at a time.

The first chapter of “Ready Or Not” is now up at the site. It is part of my Bartonville series, so I will be posting some of the recipes mentioned in the story here on my website. Eventually, when the story is complete, I will release the entire thing as an ebook. Until then, you can read the chapters as I publish them. It is free to read my story, and many others, on JukePop, but you do have to register to read beyond first chapters, leave comments and vote for your favorite stories. The site pays bonuses to authors who have Top 30 stories, determined by votes, each month. So make sure you show your favorite authors some love by voting.

As a reader, your comments can help shape the story. If you like or dislike something, leave a comment to let me know. I will take everything in consideration as I’m writing the story. How often to you get a chance to change the destiny of a fictional character?

I am so excited about this new writing adventure! If you would like to help me get the word out, please share it with your friends. I would really appreciate the help. There are sharing buttons under the cover and at the bottom of the chapter.

Have you ever read serialized fiction? What do you think of it?

Oct 092013
 

As with everything else in life, my food preferences have changed over time. As a child and into my mid-20’s I couldn’t stand fresh tomato. Cooked tomato in things like spaghetti sauce was fine, but finding a slice of tomato on my hamburger had the potential to ruin my entire meal, depending on how easily it could be removed and how much “residue” was left behind. I’m still not to the point where I can pop a cherry tomato into my mouth and enjoy it, but I do like thin slices on my sandwiches and I gobble up fresh tomato salsa.

Dates are another one of those formerly-hated foods. As a kid I would scarf down any baked good my mom made, unless it had dates in it. Date bread and date bars were left to the adults. My interest in dates has just developed over the last year or so. I’ve seen dates used on some of my favorite food blogs, so maybe that is what piqued my curiosity now. I don’t know. I DO know that dates are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re also a great way to add some healthy sweetness to a smoothie.

I used chopped dates, soaked in hot water for a bit, for the first few incarnations of this smoothie. Even with my high-powered blender, I still ended up with straw-clogging date chunks. So I popped the rest of the package of dates into a sauce pan, covered with water and simmered them for 10 or 15 minutes. I removed the dates (saved the liquid) and pureed them in my food processor. I ended up using a bit of the liquid to thin the paste out. Using this paste makes my smoothies much more…smooth. The Green Thickies blog has several ways to make date paste, along with a ton of healthy smoothie recipes. My smoothie is a great, filling way to squelch some of those pesky sugar cravings without the use of refined sugar.

If you also have a craving for a bit of fiction, I have also written a story that features this recipe. It stars one of the main characters in the Bartonville series. I’m offering it as a “thank you” for people who sign up for my new newsletter (I promise I won’t bug you with frequent or annoying emails). Sign up form is here or in my sidebar.

Date Cookie Dough Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1 large or 2 small
 
Note: If you would like a smoother texture, cook and cool the oatmeal first
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons date paste
  • ¼ cup oatmeal (regular or quick)
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
Instructions
  1. Put ingredients in blender in order given. Pulse a few times to get everything moving and then blend until smooth.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads

Oct 052013
 

The fabulous blog, 1 Book Lover’s Opinion, is spotlighting me today. Stop by for a chance to win one of two copies of my novella with recipes, Must Love Sandwiches. Hurry, deadline is October 7!

Enter here: http://www.1bookloversopinion.com/2013/10/author-spotlight-and-giveaway-janel.html?spref=tw

Sep 202013
 

The kitchen counter looked like it belonged on the set of a cooking show. A collection of white bowls contained diced vegetables, rice and shredded chicken. Unopened bottles of spices were lined up next to the stove. A pile of dark green cilantro leaves sat on a wooden cutting board. It all looked out of place in her kitchen, the land of heat and eat convenience foods. Emma studied the page she had ripped out of a magazine and compared the list of ingredients to the real food in front of her. What had she been thinking when she signed up to make the casserole for the potluck?

On the third Friday of every month the residents of the artists’ colony held a potluck dinner. While she always brought chips and deli-made dip, most of the other artists cooked a delicious array of dishes. A rich beef stew with red wine, tender shrimp-filled dumplings and a spectacular crepe torte layered with lemon curd were some of the most memorable offerings.

Two, loud thumps interrupted her thoughts. She opened the apartment door. Daisy, her best friend, stood in the hallway cradling a slow cooker in her arms. “Sorry about kicking your door. I don’t have any hands left to knock,” she said as she squeezed past Emma.

“Thanks for bringing the slow cooker, but I’m not going to need it. I can’t make this.” Emma waved the paper. “I’m not going tonight.”

“The potluck is always fun and you need a break.” Daisy set the crockpot on the counter and plucked the recipe out of Emma’s hand. She slid her fingers along the ragged edge of the page as she read. “All of the ingredients are ready, so you’re half way done. Come on, I’ll help.”

“How about you cook and we eat here?”

Daisy shook her head as she grabbed Emma by the shoulders and guided her to the stove. “No deal. Put on your big girl panties or chef’s hat or whatever. It’s time for you to cook. Show everybody you are more than a pretty face and experienced salsa purchaser.”

Emma sighed as she turned on the burner under the pan. She was an artist who knew what to do with paint and beads, not rice and black beans. She had come to terms with the fact that she wasn’t a good cook, but Daisy seemed to have decided it was her duty to turn her into a kitchen goddess.

“Dump these in and let them warm up,” Daisy said as she handed Emma a can of tomatoes and the bowl of chicken. “The tomato juice needs to be boiling before you add anything else.”

The tangy scent of tomatoes and chili peppers rose from the skillet. It smelled good. Maybe the dish would turn out to be edible. Her mother didn’t teach her how to cook, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t learn. She was a grown woman, after all. A constellation of bubbles formed in the liquid in the center of the pan. “It’s hot. What next?”

“Add everything else, except the cilantro.”

Emma dumped the contents of the bowls into the pan and stacked the empty dishes into a wobbly tower. “Okay. Done.”

Daisy began running hot water into the sink. As she piled dirty bowls into the basin a layer of thick soap foam engulfed the dishes. “When everything is warm, toss in the cilantro.”

“Nobody’s going to believe I made this,” Emma said. She tasted a spoonful of the rice. It was savory and perfectly spicy, not fire-breathing hot like the last time she had made a Tex-Mex meal for Daisy. “You’ve fed me so many times I want to pay you back. Grab a bowl and let’s eat.”

Daisy flicked soap bubbles at Emma. “What’s the real reason you don’t want to go tonight? It’s not like mooching food from me or bringing deli containers to the potluck have ever bothered you before tonight.”

Busted. Better to fess up and admit the real reason behind the sudden change of heart. A full-fledged interrogation from Daisy usually involved large quantities of alcohol and relentless whining. Tired and hungover was not how she wanted to spend the next day. “I don’t want to be around Max and the freaky pin-up girl.”

Max was Emma’s ex-boyfriend. Recently ex. When he broke up with her she had believed his lame excuse that he wanted to concentrate on his career and didn’t have time for a relationship. A few weeks later there was a Marilyn Monroe look-alike clinging to him. It seemed that her main goal was to maintain as much body contact as possible at all times.

“He won’t be there.” Daisy bumped shoulders with Emma before plunging her hands into the dish water again. “You made him go to the potlucks.”

“I did not. I just asked him to go with me.”

Daisy rolled her eyes. “And if he didn’t, what were the consequences?”

“There weren’t any.”

“Okay, then what did he get in exchange for being a good boy?”

“I didn’t reward him for accompanying me.”

“Uh-huh. By the end of the meals he was drooling like a hound who had just gotten a whiff of rabbit and it wasn’t because of the dessert table.”

“Stop it!” Emma was already too warm from standing in front of the hot stove. She didn’t need to remember the after-dinner trysts with Max. Time to steer the conversation in a different direction. She scooped up another spoonful of rice and fed it to Daisy like she was a baby. “Is this too spicy?”

“No.” She dried her hands on the dish towel. “Everybody will love it. So let’s get going. I need to stop at my apartment to grab my brownies.”

“I don’t want to be around Max.”

“He won’t show up.”

“What if he does?”

Daisy tilted her head to the side and then grinned. “You’re right that people won’t think you cooked this. Tell him your new boyfriend made it.”

 

***

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in Friday Flash, so I figured it’s about time to get back to writing and posting on a more regular basis. The original version of this story was a freebie for people who liked my Facebook page. I recently redesigned that page, so I revised the story and now I’m making the story available to everyone. I have also published it on Readwave – a great site that features short fiction in many different genres.

This story features characters in my Bartonville series. If you would like to try your hand at making the dish featured in this story, here is the recipe for Mexicali Chicken & Rice. Enjoy!

May 162013
 

I am participating in the It’s All In The Voice Blog Hop & Contest hosted by Between the Sheets. Here are some of the details:

A blog hop for feedback on your opening 250 words, and then a contest! Post your opening 250 words to your blogs, hop around and give feedback to others, spiff your words up and submit them for a chance to win! The blog hop is May 16th-17th. You can find more of the entries and details HERE.

My excerpt is the beginning of one of three “loaf” size stories (novelettes) from my upcoming book, “Road to the Colony” – Volume Two in The Bartonville Series. Thank you for stopping by and letting me know what you think!

~<*>~

The chunks of bread sizzled as they browned in the melted butter. Daisy poked at the cubes with a stained, partially melted plastic spatula. The utensil had been in the kitchen drawer, among the bent silverware and dull steak knives, when she moved in with Gary. It needed to be replaced. Just like their relationship, it was too messed up to work properly.

The apartment looked like he still lived there alone. Other than some clothes and a storage box full of coveted yarn hidden in the back of the closet, there wasn’t much else that belonged to her. Gary wouldn’t allow even a hint of femininity in his apartment, so she wasn’t allowed to change anything in his flop house chic decor. Hell, having a live-in girlfriend didn’t even change his dating habits. She’d lost count of the number of times he came home in the middle of the night, smelling like he’d been dipped in a vat of cheap perfume and then steeped in the smoke from a carton of cigarettes.

The comforting scent of the toasting bread overpowered the usual musty odor of the apartment. At least dinner smelled good. If Gary didn’t want to eat it, then he could go spend his own money on something he wanted, chicken nuggets, a greasy burrito, whatever. How had she gotten saddled with buying and preparing all of their food the second after she moved in with him? Because she let it happen, standing mute, like a docile pony . . .

 

Apr 242013
 

I hate handling raw chicken. The ever-present threat of salmonella turns me into a raging germophobe whenever I have to deal with any kind of poultry. I spray everything in my kitchen that was in the vicinity of the chicken with disinfectant spray and then wipe it off with antibacterial cleaning wipes. It takes awhile for the smell of the cooking chicken to overpower the cleaner fumes.

But I love chicken. It’s tasty and healthy. To avoid contact with the raw version of one of my favorite meats I tend to buy several pounds at a time and cook it all at once. Baking is a favorite cooking method, as is the slow cooker. The chicken breast I used in this was cooked in the slow cooker, covered in spicy Rotel tomatoes. On the first day I shredded it and used it for taco filling. The next day I came up with this recipe.

Skillet meals like this are quick and easy. My dish is a great way to combine leftovers with common pantry ingredients to make a delicious meal. This one received rave reviews from my family. Raid the refrigerator for toppings and everybody can customize their rice with cheese, salsa, avocado, etc.

By the way, I wrote a little “truffle” sized bonus story featuring this recipe for my Bartonville series. I’ve set it up as an exclusive reward for liking my new Facebook page. If you’re interested in reading it, you can find my Facebook page here or by clicking on the icon in the sidebar.  Just “Like” the page and then click on the Free Story tab. If you read it, stop back here and let me know what you think – and thank you for liking my page!

Mexicali Chicken & Rice
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4-6
 
This is a quick and easy way to turned leftover chicken into a tasty meal. It also makes a great taco or burrito filling.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 - 10 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 - 5.25 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 - 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet combine chicken and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cilantro. Lower heat to medium and cook until everything is heated through, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with any of the following: salsa, shredded cheese, diced avocado, sour cream or plain yogurt, diced onion, fresh or pickled jalapeno slices

This post is linked to Tasty Thursdays, Foodie Friday and Weekend Cooking

Apr 202013
 

Would you like to help me with my next book? I am developing recipes for the second book in the Bartonville series, “Road to the Colony”. In one of the novelettes (the book has three), I mention a vegetable soup and I would like to include the recipe for it. I’ve listed within the story a few ingredients that I want to include (see excerpt below), but I need more.

What are your favorite ingredients to add to vegetable soup? Would you care to share with me? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Excerpt from “Road to the Colony” (coming summer 2013)

The kitchen smelled heavenly when Emma walked into the room. Open shelves lined the walls, filled with mismatched plates, bowls and coffee mugs. The counter tops were made of stainless steel, giving the place a funky, industrial feel. Carson was standing in front of the large stove, stirring the contents of a sizzling frying pan. The auburn-haired, human alarm clock was chopping broccoli on the butcher block topped island. “Hello again,” she said. “My name is Avery.”

“Hi. I’m Emma, but I guess you already know that.”

Carson turned and smiled. “Welcome back to the real world, Sleeping Beauty. I’m making my famous Mega Veggie Soup. Even if you’re a carnivore, I guarantee you’ll love it.”

“That’s a lofty claim.”

“I’m a very confident man.”

“I’m sure you are. Not everybody can pull off green hair.”

“Wait until tomorrow. You’ll think a unicorn puked rainbow hair dye on the crowd.” Carson handed her a bowl of tomatoes and a serrated knife. He winked. “I’ll start you chopping up the vegetables that don’t resemble fingers, just in case you’re still tired. Could you seed these and then cut them into big chunks?”

Emma nodded. “I’m not feeling too bad after my nap. I think I can handle carrots, too, if you need them.”

Avery chuckled as she pulled a wooden cutting board out from its place on a wire shelf under the island and set it down next to her. “You can work here next to me. Carson said you’re going to Flutter Con, too. We can chat while we work as his kitchen slaves.” She winked. “I think everybody staying here tonight is going.”

The hostel was full of Flutter Con participants? She hadn’t expected that. When she selected a knife from the block in the center of the island she noticed a glimmer in Avery’s hair. Thin, silver threads twisted through her auburn curls. As Emma sliced into the first tomato she asked, “So are people going to think I’m weird for having plain, brown hair?”

“No, people won’t think you’re weird. Pretty much anything goes at these types of conventions,” Avery said. “Although if you do want to do something with your hair I could help. We can run over to the convenience store across the street and get some Kool-Aid to dye it. Grape or cherry would look fabulous.”

“Those colors would clash with my fairy outfit. It’s white and blue with lots of sparkles. Besides, I don’t think my bosses would be happy. The woman I clean offices with at night wouldn’t mind, but my manager at the gas station would probably fire me. He doesn’t even like dangly earrings.”

“Dress codes are discriminatory to creative people.” Avery winked. She grabbed a couple zucchini out of the shopping bag sitting on the counter. “So you need something temporary. How about hair tinsel and glitter spray? I can put the tinsel in tonight and I’ll let you borrow my glitter spray tomorrow morning.”

“That would be great. You have tinsel in your hair, right?”

“Yes. It’s similar to the stuff you put on a Christmas tree. You just tie it onto a few strands of hair and you can snip it out when you’re done.”

“Awesome. I’d love to try it.”

Soon more people joined the food prep brigade. As she chatted she soon found out that all of the people staying at the hostel weren’t just going to Flutter Con, they were all vendors. Some were there because they couldn’t afford other accommodations, but others were there just because they enjoyed the jovial camaraderie of sharing space with a bunch of creative people. Visiting the hostel was a tradition with many of them. When the soup was done the boisterous group settled around the long dining table that was stretched to its maximum length by using half a dozen leaves. Colorful, mismatched bowls were filled with the savory soup, a tomato-y broth loaded with a dozen different kinds of vegetables, from yukon gold potatoes to red peppers. A basket of biscuits, made by a wooden spoon artisan, was passed around. Even though she was far from where she lived Emma had never felt so much at home. As people chatted about their new projects and compared sales figures, she absorbed it all like a sponge. It had been five years since she went to art school. Leaving after only one year, when her scholarship money ran out, was devastating. Traces of the resulting depression still lingered, especially after a rough shift at work or a run-in with Michelle. Being a full-time artist had been her dream since she was fourteen years old. It seemed like that dream had floated so far out of reach she would never be able to capture it. Now the dream’s bubble was drifting so close she could almost touch it.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads