Halloween has long been my favorite holiday. I love the magic, the darkness, the romance, and the mystery!
Every year, I try to celebrate this holiday a different way. Sometimes I've ghost hunted. Sometimes I've taken kids trick o' treating. Other times, I've partied. This year (maybe because I'm older or because the weather is getting chilly earlier), a Vincent Price movie marathon and some extra butter popcorn may be the remedy.
I've asked a few fellow authors to offer up some fun Halloween reading, recipes, and stories... I hope you enjoy!
I'm off to do some early hunting for candy (and men)--but if you need a cheap thrill, Rapture is only 99 cents! It's spooky, sexy, and a great chiller! XO
Speaking of Halloween, check out this spooky tree that author Adele Downs captured...
Adele Downs is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 20 romance titles, including those written under another pen name, and a former journalist with hundreds of articles to her credit. When not writing in her home office in rural Pennsylvania, she can be found reading a book on the nearest beach, taking photographs, or riding in her convertible.
Check out Adele’s new contemporary paranormal romance release LIP SERVICE. “Some ghosts won’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.”
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Visit Adele Downs at www.adeledowns.com
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Marilyn Baxter has a fantastic recipe for creepy pumpkin bread! Here's a few words from the lady herself:
And as far as Halloween goes, I miss it terribly! My kids are grown and I live in a condo complex with mostly older folks. So I don’t have trick or treaters and am not allowed to decorate for Halloween. When my boys were small I’d have several jack-o-lanterns placed in the shrubbery and I’d play a tape of spooky music from a boom box that I’d sit in the window by the front porch. I’d dress up sometimes, and if I didn’t, I’d still wear a big black witch’s hat. And after I ended up one year with a huge bowl of candy none of us liked, I learned to buy the good stuff so if any was left over, at least we liked it. You know, it's probably a good thing that I don’t have trick or treaters now or I’d be consuming far too much of the good candy. ;-)
One of my favorite fall recipes is one I got from a magazine almost 40 years ago. It’s easy and tasty and fits right in with Halloween!
3 cups Bisquick
1 cup granulated sugar
1 16 oz. can of pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from the pan. This is great served warm with cream cheese or toasted with a bit of butter.
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Better as a Memory --http://www.amazon.com/Better-
Katherine McIntyre takes us on a brief journey into the origin of Halloween...
Soul Collectors and Samhain
With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it’d be interesting to explore the roots of the holiday. Most folks know about Samhain as where a lot of the traditions we know today come from, but not all know about the pagan holiday. Samhain is the celebration of the darker half of the year, as well as the day where souls long gone were thought to revisit homes. Folks would feast and leave a place at the table for their lost loved ones who would visit on that day.
Obviously a lot of our traditions have sprung up from these old ones, even though they’ve split Halloween and All Souls Day into October 31st and November 1st respectively. What’s capturing my interest this year with All Souls Day is the fact that I just got finished writing about soul collectors earlier in the year for my Beyond Fairytales story, Soul Solution.
These days, there’s a lot of fear revolving around the idea of souls of the dead, however it’s clear in the past, the concept was embraced and revered. What I love about the old traditions is the acceptance of the cycle of life in all aspects, including death. So when I began writing Soul Solution, I wanted to acknowledge that cycle—that death isn’t a finite line but part of a larger circle. Erik, the main character of Soul Solution is tormented by the process of reaping souls, yet the act itself doesn’t warrant the guilt he bears. He simply takes people at their time and delivers them to the next gate. The heroine, Mina, ends up helping him see the other side a little more clearly and bridges the loneliness of reaping souls in solitude.
So this year for Halloween, I’m hoping to go into the holiday with more of an open view towards what the season represents. Not that I’m necessarily going to be pulling out a chair at the dinner table any time soon for Aunt Susie’s spirit, but the beliefs stemming from Samhain certainly help place ghostly guests in a better light.
An excerpt from Katherine's book Soul Solution (An Adaptation of String of Pearls by Hans Christian Andersen):
For Erik Anderson, the Copenhagen line is his curse. He takes the train every night en route to collect souls. Like any lovelorn fool, he bargained his own long ago, and now pays the price—a lifetime of loneliness as a grim reaper. Stay distant—that’s been his mantra and what keeps him sane.
Until Mina Castner drops into his life like a whirlwind, one spilled drink leading to staying up until dawn with the woman. He believed one night couldn’t hurt, but he sorely underestimated her determination. Every encounter between them is a reprieve from the guilt of reaping souls every night, but it can’t last. Even if she sparks long buried feelings, and even if her sheer presence intoxicates him, he can’t let this continue. For humans, his touch is poison, and if he slips up, it could cost her life.
The whole date thing had been a bad idea.
She rounded a corner, stepping onto the street where the club was located. The Hive stood out even from a couple of blocks away. Its glass-and-steel exterior was slick, and lights flashed on different floors, granting glimpses of the chaos inside. Like other top-notch places, this one didn’t advertise—no sign out front since the building was imposing enough. A strain of music filtered from it, but the noise was muted—she’d bet the inside was the opposite.
She wrinkled her nose as she got closer. Great. A line. My perfect Saturday night—waiting in a line to get into a loud room with blinding lights, blaring music, and sweaty guys. No thanks.
One glance at the people waiting to get inside and she wanted to turn around. Caked on makeup, glittery dresses, and overly gelled hair dominated the crowd, all part of a scene in which she didn’t fit. A slight breeze carried the cloud of perfume teeming around the line her way. She fought not to gag.
Strands of her auburn-dyed hair kept slipping from her bun and trailing along her shoulders. Why did I even bother doing my hair? Once I get inside, the sheer heat from the place will frizz it out. Mina sighed, trying to calm her frazzled nerves. This is why I don’t date.
Up ahead, the bouncers were either admitting people or turning them away at the door. She joined the end of the line, checking her phone while she waited. He was already inside. Joy. Too late to suggest a detour to a coffee shop instead.
A man tall enough to stand out approached the entrance. With hoops in his eyebrows, ears, and, chances were, elsewhere, too, he didn’t mesh with the rest of the crowd. Nor was he wearing a polo or suit, the type of club attire the rest of these guys wore. Instead, his sleeveless, fitted hoodie made an impression of its own as did his tailored black pants, which were accented by his leather stompers. Even in a sack, the man would’ve looked good. When the guy opened the club door, the bouncers didn’t even give him a second glance. Seems they know their regulars.
She hoped her date stacked up. The line moved forward a couple of paces, and she crossed her arms over her chest. This was going to be a long night.
How about a fun recipe from Veronica Bale!!!
Anyone who knows me knows I like to make homemade and from-scratch meals as much as possible. I am of the firm belief that when people come over for a meal, they appreciate being served wonderful dishes that they can’t pick up at the grocery store themselves. I have all kinds of from-scratch recipes, but one of my favourites is my from-scratch pumpkin pie. I roast pie pumpkins myself, and add in my own blend of pumpkin pie spice.
I’m also a bit of a scavenger. In addition to salvaging beautiful crab apples from the abandoned farms in my area for next year’s strawberry jam filler (please don’t judge me…), you might find me darting to and from my neighbours’ driveways on the morning of November 1st, snatching up all the perfect pie pumpkins that have been tossed to the curb for the garbage man after Halloween night (you might not find me, though … I’m a bit of a pumpkin-snatching ninja).
Rescuing lovely pie pumpkins may not be your thing, but you should definitely try my from-scratch pumpkin pie recipe. It’s a tiny wee bit of extra work, but it’s well worth it. The texture of the pumpkin, the colour, and the blend of spices are all to die for! Here’s what I do:
Cut a washed, dirt-free pie or sugar pumpkin in half, and scoop out the guts and seeds. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with greased aluminum foil (shiny side up). Bake at 350 degrees Celsius (for my American friends, that works out to about 650 degrees Fahrenheit, I think?) for about 45 minutes, or until the skin of the pumpkin can be pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, and once your pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat right down to the skin, which, funny enough, will look like a deflated basketball. The bottom of your pumpkin meat where it was touching the foil will be caramelized—this is okay; it adds a wonderfully rich flavour and deep brown colour.
For the pie filling: in a large bowl, mix 3 cups of your roasted pumpkin meat with 1/2 cup white, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (the darker the better), 4 eggs, 1 and 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground cloves and ground allspice, 1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, ground nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract. Stick an immersion blender in and blend the heck out of it until it’s all runny and smooth. Pour the mix into an unbaked pie shell (this is fantastic for deep dish ones, by the way). Bake at 425 degrees Celsius (or your Fahrenheit conversion temperature) for 15 minutes, then at 350 degrees Celsius for another 45 to 60 minutes, depending on how deep your pie is. If you can stick a knife in the centre and it comes away clean, it’s done. Remove, let cool, and enjoy! And a final tip for this recipe, you can freeze any leftover baked pumpkin, and you can freeze the blended pie mix, if you have enough left over!
I usually sign off with “happy reading,” but in this case, I think it should be “happy eating!”
Author of A Noble Deception, Book 1 of the Douglas Clan series, from Boroughs Publishing Group
Catching up with Paula Millhouse, she's doling out an excerpt from her book, Chalvaren Rising!
Excerpt from Chalvaren Rising: The Dragonstone has returned
Behind them, in the interrogation chamber the wizard Lucan was dealing with another specter that had burst free from the captive elf. It loomed twice as large as the last, but Mia leapt forward to engage. She thrust her palms in front of her, opening her hands, and the blast of her purple aura sent it sprawling. It rose a moment later, however, fluttering toward her.
Instinct told her to run. Mia refused. “You will not take anyone else, devil.”
The Dragonstone warmed on her chest, bursting alight with ghostfire that she directed toward the specter. Queen Elissabet’s magic joined hers, and the combined light energy seared the shadowy creature into oblivion.
“More?” Mia yelled, hungry now for the fight. The queen had said there were more.
She whipped around to see another shadow wraith leap from Arden’s body, this one three times bigger than the last. Lucan struggled to contain the demon within his silvery aura, but the damned thing filled the room with shrieks and stinking wings of ashy soot, blackening everything and threatening to suffocate everyone. Mia sucked in a tight breath as Lucan threw a bolt of silver magic at it, and Elissabet flooded the chamber with orange. The wraith knocked Elissabet to the ground.
His silver aura blasting wide, Lucan shouted, “Lux Chalvaren disperdens. Show me the light of Chalvaren!”
From her place on the floor, Elissabet screamed out words of a different spell.
Mia stood dumbfounded, frozen in place, enveloped by terror. Her lips moved and she repeated the words she heard the queen speak. First just a whisper, she increased her volume to a fevered pitch. “Light of Chalvaren. Light of Chalvaren. Lux in nos Chalvaren.”
A horrible sound caught Mia’s attention, and her feet shuffled backward despite her resolve. The sound came from Elissabet, not another spell but a scream of anguish. At the same time the massive black wraith shifted and struck out at Kort and King Lachlan, pinning them to the far wall. The two men clutched their throats, gasping for air as the shadow wraith forced them to their knees.
“Mia,” Kort gasped, using the last of his breath. “Flee!” He collapsed, and the shadow wraith rose above him, intent upon something even more dire.
“Oh, hell no!” Overcome by fury and desperation, Mia grasped the Dragonstone. Ghostfire poured forth, and Mia stalked forward toward the wraith, toward the man she loved and toward his father, both men collapsed before the umbral abomination. Arms wide, she directed the multicolored ghostfire onto the snapping, howling beast. It was all she could think to do.
Behind her, Queen Elissabet lunged to her feet. Mia saw orange magic join her own, and she felt her skin warm with Kort’s mother’s gentle aura. It was the boost she needed, and she kept advancing.
“Murmur cessant!” This from Lucan, whose angry words of defiance boomed behind Mia, supporting both women with flashes of mercurial silver that erupted from his fingertips to surround them, Kort and the king.
Mia’s ghostfire now fully surrounded the shadow wraith, and it turned away from Kort and Lachlan. Mia leaned forward and growled, “Come on. Come and get me!”
It surged at her, its jagged, feathery wings reeking of purulent death. Crow-like, the shadow wraith screamed, its voice gravelly and deafening, but Mia kept it the target of her ghostfire. The wraith bent, let out one final agonized scream, and collapsed into a billion black molecules of oblivion. Behind them all, Arden Demar collapsed back onto his table with a clatter of chains.
The ghostfire receded back into the Dragonstone with an affirmative snap, and Mia rushed to Kort.
“Are you okay? Kort, look at me!”
God, she’d never forgive herself if he was hurt. She reached for his head. Cradling it in her lap, she searched his body for injuries. Queen Elissabet rushed to kneel beside her, tending to Lachlan, slapping his cheeks, speaking to him, trying to rouse him and crying out his name. But Mia’s eyes were only for her prince.
“Look at me, Kort!”
He groaned, and his eyes fluttered open. In that second Mia knew she’d never be able to live without him. She knew in that exact moment she loved Kort Elias, and that thought terrified her more than the wraith. Still, she leaned forward and brushed his lips with hers.
Kort slowly embraced her. His lips found hers and took them with authority. She kissed him back with all the fierceness of a love nearly lost.
THANKS AGAIN TO ALL MY FAVORITE AUTHORS WHO CONTRIBUTED!!! MUCH LOVE!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE! XOXO