Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, February 22, 2013

Untangling The Knot by Deanne Wilstead

Deanne Wilsted

“I did what?”

Twenty-eight year old Gabriella Bessu is St. Therese’s meticulous wedding ceremony coordinator. So the fact that she has mistakenly signed her newest couple up for an annulment, rather than a wedding, sends her Catholic guilt into overdrive.

But who can blame her? The groom is gorgeous and his two kids tug at Gabriella’s heart in a way that overcomes all her best intentions. Before long she’s in over her head, fixing her mixed-up plans and helping the children and dad come to terms with their haunting grief for the mother and wife they lost years earlier.
Can Gabriella untangle her own fears and accept the messy life that God has handed them?


“Umm, Gabriella,” Chloe said, “I don’t think that’s the plumber. It sounds like . . .”

The last thing Ryan had expected to see when he’d entered the cottage was Gabriella flat on her back in a puddle of water, inspecting the rear of the toilet. Chloe was holding a bucket and a sopping wet towel, and Peter was nowhere to be seen.

“Hi, Chloe,” he said quickly. “Where’s Peter?”

“Dad!” Peter came flying from another room and flung himself into Ryan’s arms.
“RYAN?” Gabriella yelled and quickly sat up. The thump of her head smacking the toilet bowl echoed around the tiny room.

“Ow,” she cried. “Damn it! Ow, ow, ow.”

Ryan grimaced. Gabriella sat on the wet floor, near tears, rubbing at the welt already forming on her forehead.

“I’m sorry,” she said, clearly at the end of her rope. “I can’t believe I said that in front of the kids. It’s just, everything has gone wrong today.”

She hung her head in her lap and began to cry for real.

Ryan had to hold back a smile. She looked so much like a wet cat. And, to top it off, she had yet to hear how wrong things had really gone with the day.

“Come on, now. It’s not that bad,” he finally said. “We’ll get it all fixed. Don’t worry.”

Chloe’s face lit up with an expression he hadn’t seen in years. For a few moments at least he was back to being her superhero dad.


With an English teacher for a mom, DEANNE WILSTED, grew up reciting conjugation instead of nursery rhymes. Now, forty years later, she's sharing that special skill through her writing and her mothering. Her first book, a contemporary romance called BETTING JESSICA, was released October 2011. Her second Novel, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, is due out in February 2013 from Soul Mate Publishing. She is currently marketing her third book for publication and writing her fourth, fifth and sixth while blogging about the crazy stuff she overhears while writing.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Supper Time - Quick Mexican Chicken

We love Mexican food, but so much of it takes a long time to make and seems a little, well, complicated. Last night, we found out at the last minute that hubby had to go to a meeting, so I needed to make a quick dinner. The following is one of our favorite meals because I can make it in 30 minutes (or less) and ironically, it is composed of recipes that I made up!

I kept thinking that there had to be an easier, faster way to make Mexican-like food. That notion, compounded with the fact that I've been watching cooking shows like Chopped, Good Eats, and a bunch of others, gave me the courage to try my hand at creating my own dish. Chopped is especially good for building your courage because frankly, if someone can take a basket of foods that really don't go together and make a cohesive dish, why maybe I can too!

When I have more time (or am better organized) I also make the corn tortillas to go with this because that's just water and the tortilla flour, which I stir together, roll out with a drinking glass, and cook quickly on my cast iron skillet. I didn't have time last night, though, and with the beans and rice, we really didn't need them.

So here is what we had for our quick supper last night. Note that you'll want to get the rice started first (unless you're using 5 minute rice) because it takes the longest to cook, depending upon the variety you select.

Black Beans - those were from a can, so I didn't do anything there except open a can. We like the black beans you can find in the Mexican food aisle, so that's what we had. See? I said this was an easy, fast meal.

Easy Mexican Chicken
2-3 (or more--you can increase/decrease as needed) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut up into 1 or 2" pieces
2 tomatillos, chopped into large chunks
1 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 (15 oz) can of chopped tomatoes (I like fire roasted)
1 handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced + 1 tsp of the sauce (I put the rest into a freezer bag and mush it into a thin layer so I can break off pieces later, and freeze it.)
2 Pinches of cloves per chicken breast
2 Pinches of cinnamon per chicken breast
1 tsp cumin (or more, to taste)

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the cloves, cinnamon, and cumin, then cut up the chicken. Please note that you can add more or less of every ingredient to fit your tastes. We really like spices and garlic, so we tend to add a lot more than I've mentioned above. I don't measure it, I just sprinkle the spices directly on the breasts and then cut up the chicken.

In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1Tbsp olive oil together. When it is hot, add the chicken chunks and cook until the chicken loses its pinkness. Add the garlic, chipotle chili and adobo sauce. Stir for about a minute.

Remove the chicken to a bowl and add the onions and bell pepper to the same frying pan and cook until the onions are clear, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl back into the frying pan with the veggies. Add the can of chopped tomatoes. Let this simmer over med/med low heat until the liquid is reduced by half. This takes about 5 minutes or so.  Right before serving, add the chopped, fresh cilantro.

You can "dress this up" with guacamole, or sour cream, or both, or neither. :) If you have time to make/buy tortillas, you can wrap this chicken up in the tortillas. You can even use this as the filling for chicken enchilladas, which are really good, too!

Yummy Rice
You can use any rice for this, including instant/five minute rice. I prefer brown jasmine rice, but we've used this recipe with every kind of rice there is.

1 minced shallot or 1 Tbps minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp butter
1 c. rice
chicken broth (usually 2 1/2 c. but you should use the amount of broth listed on the rice package)

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the minced shallot/onion and garlic. Cook over med low heat until the shallot/onion turns clear. Add the cup of rice to the butter/shallot/garlic and cook over med to med/low heat until the rice starts to brown.

Add the appropriate amount of chicken broth using the proportions on the package of rice. Bring to a boil then put the lid on.

Finish cooking according to the package directions regarding time.

This makes a great rice that is super with Mexican food as well as curries, etc.
For curry, you can add things like diced apricots or raisins and add about 1/4 c. more broth than the rice package calls for, to allow for moisture absorption by the dried fruit.

That was "what was for supper" last night and it was tasty. :)

My latest book, a paranormal romance called A Fall of Silver, is getting great reviews, too, so yesterday was a pretty good day!

A woman bent on the destruction of all vampires discovers redemption in the arms of an ex-priest determined to save the undead.   


The only good vampire is a dead vampire: that’s Quicksilver’s philosophy and she sees no reason to change it. In fact, she’s about to kill one of the undead when Kethan Hilliard confronts her, promising peace and redemption for both vampires and humans in exchange for an end to the slaughter.

But Quicksilver knows that’s not going to happen.

Someone is killing humans and vampires, and sweet words aren’t going to end the nightmare.
The events awaken terrible secrets from Quicksilver’s past, and she’s not about to repeat her previous mistakes. This time, she’s going to end the madness and silence the horror, forever.

Note to readers who are curious about the title: The title has to do with the weapons the heroine, Quicksilver, carries. She uses specially crafted whips to defend herself against the undead and the "fall" is the part of a whip near the end. It's usually about 24" long and the "popper" or "cracker" at the very tip is attached to the fall. Whips are incredibly accurate and even deadly in the hands of an expert and Quicksilver is definitely an expert.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

What's for dinner?

Baking Bread
When I finally retired to enable me to concentrate on just one job, my writing, I realized that I could finally get back to doing what I used to do: baking my own bread. While I'm willing to eat pre-sliced "store bread" as toast, I've always disliked it for almost everything else and especially sandwiches. Maybe I got spoiled when I was a kid and my grandma baked bread at least once a week and taught me how to do the same. Maybe I'm just hopelessly picky. Deli bread is okay, but somehow, it just can't match the flavor of bread you make yourself.

So today I baked four loaves of French bread so I could freeze two and we could finish up the week with crusty, fresh bread. French bread is one of the easiest breads to make: the list of ingredients is very short (basically flour, yeast, water, shortening, salt and sugar for the yeast to eat) and it bakes very quickly. The only tricky thing is getting a good crust, which you do by spritzing the bread with water and having a pan of water in the oven during the first 15 minutes of baking.

My tip for French bread, though, is to get one of those foil lasagna pans and use that for your water reservoir in the oven (you can put it on a cookie sheet to stabilize it). The reason? If you make a lot of French bread, over time, any pan you use to hold the water will build up a white crust as the water evaporates out of the pan during baking. This is ugly and can be difficult to remove, so I just keep a foil pan that I use over and over again. While it has built up white scale, that's fine with me since this is all I use it for and when it gets too yucky, I'll use it in the garden to hold paper pots of seedlings. When it won't work for that any longer, well, I guess it can make the final trip to the dumpster.

This batch of French bread is by no means my last for this week. On Saturday, I plan on baking a couple of loaves of bread with wheat germ and oatmeal added to the flour for a more rustic and nutty tasting loaf. My husband prefers the French bread, but I like a little variety and the wheat germ really adds wonderful flavor. I also plan on making some sourdough starter because I love sourdough bread and am dying to make some sourdough French bread. My husband hates sourdough, but as I tell him, "Then don't eat it." LOL

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make--and eat--my own bread! It's wonderful to have time again to do so.

What Was For Dinner
What was for dinner with the French bread? Bratwurst and sauerkraut! Yummy and women are supposed to eat lots of sauerkraut and other cabbage dishes, so it worked out great for me.

Hope you had a great dinner and will think about making your own bread. You won't believe the flavor and its a lot of fun. I find the kneading very soothing.

And Let's Not Forget The Writing
One of my publishers contacted me and asked if I could write a 20,000 word Regency romance, right now. LOL. It is extremely hard for me to write something "on demand" and quickly, in fact, my biggest "flops" were created under those conditions, but I'm going to give it a shot.

In the meantime, my paranormal romance, A Fall of Silver, is available now in almost any ebook format through Amazon and Smashwords.

A Fall of Silver

Allison “Quicksilver” Bankes has a simple philosophy is: the only good vampire is a dead vampire. After a brutal encounter with the undead, Quicksilver wants revenge and she’s about to kill one of the undead to save a young woman’s life when Kethan Hilliard confronts her. Kethan promises peace and redemption for both vampires and humans in exchange for an end to the slaughter, but Quicksilver knows that’s not going to happen.

Someone is killing both humans and vampires, and sweet words aren’t going to end the nightmare.

As events spiral out of control, terrible secrets from Quicksilver’s past awaken, and she’s forced to turn to Kethan to survive. Kethan and Quicksilver may have opposing goals concerning the undead, but neither can deny the attraction growing between them that threatens their everything they hold dear. However, Quicksilver is determined not to make the same mistakes twice, and with Kethan’s help, she hopes to silence the horror, forever.

Enjoy your evening!