Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Oh, For the Love of Soup!

Did you know that January is National Soup Month? It is, really! Personally, I love soup, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Right? So, I pinged my NL subscribers and a couple Facebook groups to see if anyone else loves soup and might want to share their recipes. 

I got some wonderful responses, and some new recipes to try out!


8 Can Taco Soup
Submitted by: Lea Kirk
Prep time: 30 min. (or less if you have help opening the cans)
Serves: 4-6

1 (15 oz) Can black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 (15 oz) Can pinto beans (drained & rinsed)
1 (14 oz) Can diced tomatoes, drained
1-2 (15 oz) Cans sweet corn, drained
1 (10 oz) Can cream of chicken soup
1 (12 oz) Can white chick breast (I use 12 oz bag of strips from grocery deli section)
1 (14 oz) Can chicken broth
1 Packet taco seasoning (can be reg. or chicken)

Mix all ingredients in a large pot.
Heat until warm, stirring occasionally.
Serve with tortilla chips or country bread, guacamole, & sour cream on the side.

“This is an amazingly simple and filling recipe that my family loves! Being that there are seven of us, I triple the recipe so we have plenty of leftovers. Great for a low-key dinner or winter weekend lunches.” ~Lea Kirk


Portuguese Coriander Soup (Sopa de Coentro)
Submitted by: KJ Van Houton
Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6

4 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 onions, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 cups chicken stock
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
Salt & pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)

Heat the oil in a large pot over moderate heat and sauté the onion and garlic until tender but not brown. Add the stock, potatoes, salt, pepper, and cayenne and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Puree in an electric blender or food processor or press through a fine-mesh strained if desired. Serve hot or cold, adding the coriander immediately before serving.
“I had something like this is Portugal about 30 years ago and searched everywhere to find the recipe! I think the one I had there used a lot less potato though, as it seemed mostly broth and coriander.” ~Kim Van Houton


Potato, Ham, and Cheese Soup
Submitted by Peggy Sue Darrow
Prep time: approx. 1 hour
Serves: A lot! Leftovers will be a thing.

5 lbs potatoes peeled, and chopped into multiple sizes,
4 cups water
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Celery seed to taste

12 oz. (or more!) ham, cubed
1 – 10 oz can cheese soup (Campbell’s)
1 cup milk
Veggies (fresh or frozen, optional)
Corn starch (as needed for thickening)

Put potatoes in a stock pot. Add water, milk, salt and pepper, and celery seed. Let cook till potatoes are somewhat still firm but not mushy.

Add can of cheese soup, 1 cup milk, veggies, and ham. Stir often to make sure the milk and cheese soup don’t scorch. Mix in little bit of corn starch to thicken. Heat to boil. Continue to add small amounts of corn starch every 15 min till your soup is thickened to your likes.

“This reminds me of my mom. She passed away and I am trying really hard to keep her recipes together. The potato, stew, some others are all that I got from her, but at least I can feed myself!” ~Peggy Sue Darrow


Chicken and Potato Soup with Dumplings
Submitted by: Cara Bristol
Prep & Cook Time: 75 min.
Servings: 6-8

4 Skinned chicken thighs, rinsed
 2 Quarts chicken broth (fat-skimmed, low-sodium)
 5 Fresh sage leaves, rinsed
 2 Leeks
 5 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
 2 Stalks celery, rinsed, trimmed, and diced
 2 Carrots, peeled and diced
 1 Cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 Cup cornmeal
 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
 1 tsp. salt
 2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
 1/3 cup milk
 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, beaten lightly together
 2 Tbsp. melted butter

In a 6- to 8-quart pan over high heat, bring chicken, broth, and whole sage leaves to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, skimming off and discarding any foam that rises to the surface, until chicken is no longer pink at bone (cut to test), about 30 minutes.

Cut off and discard root ends and dark green tops from leeks. Cut white and pale green parts in half lengthwise and rinse well under running water, flipping layers to release grit. Thinly slice leeks crosswise.

Lift chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, pull meat into shreds, and discard bones.

Add potatoes, celery, carrots, leeks, and 2 cups water to pan with broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender when pierced, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken.

Dumpling batter: In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and the chopped sage. Stir in milk, beaten egg and egg white, and the melted butter just until combined.

Drop dumpling batter in 12 to 14 heaping tablespoon portions on the surface of the simmering soup. Cover pan and simmer over medium-low heat (do not allow soup to boil) until a knife inserted into the center of a dumpling comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Ladle hot soup into bowls.

NOTES: Use a wide pan in order to have adequate surface area to make the dumplings. You can make the soup through step 4 up to 1 day ahead if you like; cover it airtight and chill. Before serving, bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, then proceed with making the dumplings.

“I make this chicken soup all the time. It's my go-to recipe. I don't make the dumplings and I serve it with noodles, not potatoes. But I love the soup. I used to make my grandmother's chicken soup, but I like this one better. Sorry, Nana.” ~Cara Bristol



Submitted by: Lynn Beaumont
Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6

½ lb. Italian sweet sausage (I always double the amount of sausage so normally 1 lb.)
1 T. olive oil
1 c. diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. diced carrots
1 tsp. basil
2 small zucchinis
1 lb. can Italian-style tomatoes (undrained)
2 – 10 oz. cans beef bouillon (not sure this size is available – I usually use whatever size I can find and then make up the difference with more red wine)
2 c. finely shredded cabbage
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. can white beans (undrained)
½ c. rice
½ c. red wine
grated Parmesan cheese

Slice sausage crosswise & brown in oil.  Add onion, garlic, carrots & basil, and then cook for 5 minutes.  Add zucchini, tomatoes (with liquid), bouillon, cabbage, salt & pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour.  Add beans with their liquid, rice & wine then cook another 20 minutes until rice is done.  Serve at once, or cool and refrigerate.

“I don’t remember the first time my mom made this for us as kids but we all liked it right away.   One thing about the soup is that for some reason it stays hot for a really long time.  We had a family joke that we could solve the energy crisis if we could figure out how to get the heat generated by a black car with black seats in the CA summer into the minestrone where we could store it for use later.  Okay, not much of a joke but we always snickered.  My sister-in-law asks my mom to make it for her every year for her birthday.  It is a filling and delicious recipe!  A pot of soup, some good hearty bread and a salad and you have a meal!” ~Lynn Beaumont


White Chicken Chili
Submitted by: Kate Botting
Prep. Time: 45 min.
Serves: 4-6

16 oz. canned white beans (Great Northern, White Kidney) 
2 large onions, chopped 
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour 
¾ cup chicken broth (add more as needed)
2 cups half and half
1 tsp Tabasco 
1 1/2 tsps chili powder 
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz. whole mild green chilis, drained and chopped (or other hot peppers, jalapenos) 
2 lbs skinless chicken breasts, cooked (see below) 
1½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Optional additions:
Sweet Corn kernels
Minced Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup sour cream (at end)


1. Coat the chicken with salt and pepper and maybe some chili powder. Throw them in the skillet with butter/oil and brown both sides, and fully cooked. 

2. Shred the chicken with your fingers and set aside.

3. Cook the onion with 2 tbsp butter until softened. 

4. Melt the remaining 6 tbsp of butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook the roux, with constant stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the onion and gradually add the broth and half/half, whisking the whole time. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. 

5. Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add beans, chilis/peppers, chicken, and cheese. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Add sour cream (optional).


Easy Chicken Stew

Submitted by: Elizabeth Robbins
Prep time: Varies
Serves: 4-6

Chicken breast, chunked to 3/4 inches
1 qt box of chicken broth 
Chunks of potato
Baby carrots
1/2 cup Bisquick 
Cold water

All-day directions:
In the morning, place chicken, broth, potato, and carrots in a slow cooker on high. After around 5 hours, mix the Bisquick with cold water and whisk until you have a thin consistency (like for crepes, but not pancakes) add this mixture to your crock pot and stir well. Reduce heat to low, and cook until your dinner time. 

Quick dinner:
Boil the carrots
15 min later, start boiling the potatoes
Meanwhile, pan cook the chicken.
Whisk together the Bisquick and cold water to a thin consistency. 
Whisk in the chicken broth
Combine all fully-cooked ingredients in a 4-qt pot. 
Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until thickened. 

Serve with biscuits or rice.

“This is a recipe I adapted a couple of years ago, from my mother's chicken gravy recipe. I live in the Northeast, so I'm always looking for food I can cook in my crockpot. I swear, the smell of food cooking makes the house FEEL warmer. For those interested, the gravy can be made with more Bisquick or flour and no veggies, served over biscuits, rice, or potatoes.” ~Elizabeth Robbins


Thank you to everyone who shared recipes! XOXO 

Do you have a fantastic soup recipe you love? Share it in the comments, and tell us why!

(Side note: I have no idea why some words are showing up with a blue back ground and some with white. I'm still trying to figure out how this site works.)


USA Today Bestselling Author Lea Kirk loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction romance Prophecy series. She’s an avid Trekkie, Gryffindor, and wannabe space explorer. She’s made one foray into paranormal romance with her Magic, NM vampire novella, Made for Her, and hopes to write more stories in this world.

When she’s not busy writing, she’s hanging out with her wonderful hubby of twenty-eight years, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and a spoiled Dobie mix pup.

For more on Lea's books (past, present, and future), check out her:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tiger Lily in a Menage? Oh my! Lily by @meganslayer #foreverwicked #fairytale #hot #menage #NSFW

What if Tiger Lily wasn't just stuck on that boat and wasn't a kid any longer? I've wondered about that for a long time. Then again, I've wondered about what Peter Pan might be like if he finally grew up. I decided to tackle both story ideas with Changeling Press and the Forever Wicked series. Lily is one of my three contributions and concerns Tiger Lily, but not just her. She's got friends. Grin.

See what you think of Tiger Lily being part of a menage. Enter wicked grin!!

2nd Ed. Lily (Forever Wicked) by Megan Slayer 

Cover art: Marteeka Karland
Page Count: 44 (Novella)

John and Michael never forgot how much they cared about their sub, Tiger Lily. She's the one for them and they love playing with her. Now they're ready to offer her their collar. No more waiting, they're ready.
But is she?
Tiger Lily wants both her masters, but she's convinced they want a toy, not a full time sub. She decides to test them and makes them prove their devotion to her. It's a risky game of swapped control, but if things work out the way she plans, they'll all end up satisfied.

Purchase your copy here:

EXCERPT ©2017 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved
“Sit.” He turned on his heel. As Tiger Lily dropped to her knees on the floor, Peter shielded Wendy from her gaze. Something clinked and words were whispered between them. Shadows moved across the floor as Wendy left the room.
Moments passed and seemed like hours while Tiger Lily waited. She wished she’d kept her mouth shut and her aggravation to herself.
“Okay.” Footsteps padded on the floor beside her. Peter’s boots came into view and he squatted in front of her. “Michael and John will be here later. You’re going to have to be patient. I understand you’re hurting. They’ve been gone a while and played with another sub the last time they were here. I get it. But what happened is between the three of you. You’re going to have to tell them what you want. Change the contract, write up a new one, I don’t care, but leave me out of it.”
“Sir.” Tiger Lily couldn’t keep the pain out of her voice.
“I wanted you to choose me.” There. She’d said it. She loved Michael and John, but since they were younger she’d wished Peter would’ve chosen her over Wendy. Tiger Lily needed him. Didn’t she?
“Lily, my heart chose Wendy a long time ago. I’ve done things for her I never thought I’d do. I love Wendy.” He curled his fingers under her chin. “But John and Michael love you. They helped another Dom, yes, but they love you.”
“Then why don’t they tell me?” Tears streaked down her cheeks. She balled her fists. “I have no idea how they feel. I’m a toy to them, not a person.”
“Then ask them where you stand.” Peter stood and folded his arms. Wendy crept into the room and put her arm around Tiger Lily.
“Those two… sometimes you need to be specific with them. They think they know what’s going on. John’s so smart and Michael’s heart is so big, but they miss things. They love you, I’m sure, just as I’m certain you love them.” She brushed Tiger Lily’s hair from her face. “Make them earn your love.”
Sometimes she didn’t care for Wendy very much. Other times, Tiger Lily liked having another sub to get what she was going through. She knew her men, but now she truly understood them. Yes, they’d helped train another sub, but they still cared about her. Now she needed to show them exactly what she wanted, too.
“Thank you, Sir. Thank you, Wendy.” Tiger Lily nodded. She knew exactly what to do -- make her men beg.

Monday, January 28, 2019

What's in a title by Barbara Edwards

I’m almost ready to submit the next two novels in my Rhodes End series, but I’ve run into a problem. I don’t have a name for either one. I started with Jacob’s Story for the first one.

It’s a prequel to the entire series. It’s a historical romance. Jacob is the founder of Rhodes End. So Does it sound like a good title? I’ve been living with it so long that I can’t tell anymore. Any suggestions are welcome.

Then there is the other story. It’s number four in the regular series and about Daniel, a secondary character in book there. Dan didn’t change into a werewolf in his teens and longs for it. His sister is married to a werewolf and all the symptoms indicate she will change when their baby is delivered. What’s a title for his story?

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Body Language for Beginners by L. A. Kelley

What is Body Language?
Communication isn’t all talk, talk, talk. Body language refers to the nonverbal signals. They can be subtle or overt, conscious or unconscious, but all humans give off messages without speaking.  These signals make up a huge part of a conversation, some scientists estimate at least ninety percent of the data exchanged between two participants is in the form of nonverbal communication. For a writer, body language can offer hints to a character’s inner turmoil or beliefs without having to spell it out. Body language can subvert the evil of “telling” an over-explanation by showing what a character is thinking.

Types of Body Language

Facial Features
Since most people focus on faces in a conversation, expressions convey a huge amount of information with even a slight variation in facial muscles. For instance, you don’t need to tell the reader a character is happy if they have eyes crinkled at the corners and a beaming smile. Using the same two focal points of eyes and mouth, anger is present when those eyes narrow and lips stretch across a tight smile.

Eyes are an important focal point. Normal, steady eye contact signals a person is truthful and trustworthy. An inability to maintain eye contact sends up warning signals to the reader of lies or deception. Blinking can communicate something irritating the eye, but also surprise or shiftiness.

Deliberate movements and signals pass information without words. Interestingly enough, facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, and fear are similar throughout the world, but gestures can vary widely in meaning. A circled thumb and forefinger means “Okay” here, but in Brazil it refers to a certain body opening that is best left unmentioned. For a writer, think how gestures can be incorporated into a scene. A girl impatiently waits for a boy. The author doesn’t need to tell the reader her growing annoyance as she paces and constantly checks her phone. They’ll get the message.

Paralinguistics is vocal communication separate from actual language such as tone, loudness, inflection, and pitch. The same voice can rise and fall, become shrill or raspy, stutter or blurt depending on the emotional state of the character. A change in tone can change the meaning of a sentence. If a person asks “How are you feeling?” and the answer is “Okay” but the voice is tight, dry, and shaky then something is up.

Posture takes in the whole body, so when writing a scene where you wish to convey a particular emotion don’t stop at facial features, but envision the complete character. Brighter feelings such as happiness tend to cause more open postures; shoulders up, arms wide or out. Darker feelings such as sadness or anger have more closed, stiff postures, with clenched hands or arms kept tight to the body.

Proxemics is personal space, the distance needed to feel comfortable with another. It’s influenced by factors such as social norms and culture, but also has a situational aspect. Two people attracted to each other will move together. Two people repelled will move apart. An aggressive person will move forward and threatened person will back away.

Haptics, communication through touch, is another important nonverbal behavior. A simple hand on the shoulder may convey either sympathy or an uncomfortable invasion of personal space depending on the situation and the power differential between two characters. Women tend to use touch to convey care, concern, and nurturance while men are more likely to use touch to assert power or control over others.

Appearance and clothing also convey nonverbal communication and can be used to define characters. A shy person is unlikely to shave half her head and dress in bold, bright colors to attract attention. Appearances affect physiological reactions, judgments, and interpretations from others. Call it “The Cinderella Effect.” Not even her stepmother recognized her at the ball and all she did was take a bath and slip on a new outfit. Clothing can relay tons of information about character. Loose clothing vs. stiletto heels, tailored suits vs. denim. The choices authors make in a character's outward appearance can give subtle clues to inner thoughts and desires.

When to Add Body Language

Incorporating Body Language is a great way to create believable and engaging characters, but don’t go overboard. Too much description is a good way to make readers’ eyes glaze over. Body language doesn’t have to be added in the first draft. Think of it as icing on the cake and use it to flesh out a scene, especially where you can “show it” instead of “tell it.” Need a few ideas? Check out the websites below for body language lists. 

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance and a touch of sass. She is fluent in three different body languages.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Kicking It Old School-Back To Basics By Nancy Gideon

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

How’s an ‘80s Lady author who wrote her first six books long hand and typed them up on a Smith Corolla supposed to keep up with this ever-spinning world of technology? It took me three years to break down and buy a word processor (and only because I had wrist surgery) then five more to sit down to that first computer (anyone remember the Framework program that went obsolete in about ten days and left me with tons of words trapped on 5” disks I couldn’t open?). I finally tried the internet at verbal gunpoint (remember Pandora?) I still have no idea how chatrooms and online classes work! And don’t get me started on the social media frenzy.

Now, instead of having five years to sneak up on the idea of change, I have about five minutes to learn PowerPoint, to tackle Excel spreadsheets, to master Instragram when I don’t even know how to put my phone on airplane mode! There’s always some new miracle for unlocking creative genius – NaNo, Deep POV, the Hero’s Journey to journaling. There are groups and classes and webinars, programs like Scrivener, sprint timers. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the perfume aisle with Barbies squirting unpleasant smells on me, coaxing, “You’ve got to try this!” No, really, I don’t when all I come away with is a headache.

I confess, some new things I really enjoy, like Canva and Quotes Cover for creating promo graphics. I loved Joomla, my old website managing program which was fun to tinker with behind the scenes, but was forced into Wordpress, which I loathe. Though resistant for decades, I found a Write In with noise canceling headphones a great tool. I use Post-Its to set up my plotlines. I’ve jumped on the group FB event bandwagon with some moderate success (but my follow through stinks!). But with all the trials and errors and frustrations, I’ve never found any recipe for success that compares to the famous Nora Roberts quote “Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard” for getting the job done. Just show up on time and do the work. It all comes down to this: All the knowledge and tricks and classes in the world can’t sell an empty page. You have to write the d--- book! Don’t let all the busyness of what we do distract from that simple truth. 

Should we improve our craft? Yes! Should we promote it? Yes! Should we hang with a like tribe? Definitely! But the most important hours of your day need to be dedicated to one basic rule, best said by another of my idols:

2018 was a year of struggle personally, professionally and emotionally (remember, I don’t play well with changes!). Creativity seemed to have deserted me and the joy of words lay silent. I’ve got only one focus in 2019 - getting back to basics. To that 4:30 a.m. date with characters I adore, and a purse filled with dialog scribbled on Post Its. If I don’t love what I’m doing, readers won’t love what I’m writing. Passion transfers onto the page. 

Last year was labor. This year is love. 

Where are you in your writer’s journey?
Nancy Gideon on the Web