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Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bar

January 20, 2017

Randomly on a Friday …

It’s been a tough week. I always have issues when writing first drafts – it often feels as if I’m forcing every word onto the page – but Reconstructionist 2 is heavily influenced by my personal history (though, obviously, a completely fictional, fantastical accounting) and I’m ending most of my writing stints in tears. So it’s been a slog. The second draft will be much smoother.

Yesterday, I took an hour off before dinner and made banana bread before the bananas were only good for compost, and I spotted an unopened bag of marshmallows in my baking drawer. We’d bought them to use for candied yams, then didn’t end up making any yams for Christmas dinner.

I immediately decided I desperately needed to make some marshmallow bar with this unexpected but welcomed bounty. And that, besides being tasty, the bars (and making of) would mollify my bruised soul, as chocolate always does.

According to my notes, I’d been working on this recipe in the Spring of 2015 but had yet to perfect it. I’m pleased to say my slight tweak last night made it perfectly sharable.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bar

1/8 cup/28 grams of butter

1/2 cup/120 ml peanut butter*

1 – 250 gram/8 ounce (?) bag of mini marshmallows

170 grams/6 oz of dark chocolate**

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Fold in marshmallows. Spread in a parchment paper lined 8- or 9-inch square pan. Chill until firm (at least 2 hours). Cut into squares, or rectangles, as preferred. Store in refrigerator.

The key with this simple recipe is to use the highest quality ingredients you can get your hands on. Butter, not margarine. Old-fashioned peanut butter (the type with no added ingredients that you need to stir the oil into), and, of course, quality dark chocolate.

*I might have heaped the peanut butter. 😀

**I used 72% cacao, single origin, Venezuela from Cacao Barry.

I find something joyful hidden in the texture of these simply decadent bars. And I believe I shall publish this post and eat another before dinner.

Reconstructionist 1: Wisteria meets Kett

January 14, 2017

I settled on the dungeness crab risotto to start, and had just reached for the wine list to find a Pinot Noir to pair it with, when I realized that someone was sitting across from me.

Not just a someone. A vampire.

A white-blond, blue-eyed, exceedingly pale, tremendously powerful vampire who I’d thought was dead. Well, more dead. I had reconstructed the moment of his destruction myself. In London, three years before, I’d seen him stabbed through the heart with a magical blade. I’d seen him fall.

Kettil, the executioner of the Conclave, was swathed in expensive green cashmere so dark it was practically black, sporting what appeared to be a solid gold Apple Watch and lounging back in the seat across from me as if he’d been sitting there the entire time. His eyes were so light blue, they could practically have been called silver. He quirked his lips in a shallow, pleased smile.

I hadn’t seen him sit down. I hadn’t even seen him cross the room.

My server, who’d been approaching the table from the back kitchen area, flinched. Her human reactions were even more delayed than mine. Startled, she exhaled, pressing her hand to her chest.

“Wisteria Fairchild,” the vampire said. His exceedingly straight teeth were even paler than his face. I couldn’t see any hint of his fangs.

“Yes.”

“Kettil.” He reached across the table.

I lifted my own hand from the linen tablecloth. Pleased that it wasn’t shaking, I grasped his outstretched hand as his gaze fell to my charm bracelet. He wasn’t as cold as I thought he’d be, but perhaps I was still chilled myself. His fingers closed completely over mine, firm but not crushing. Still, I could feel the terrible strength that lay just underneath his hold.

He could tear me limb from limb, slaughter every human in the restaurant, bathe in our blood, and I wouldn’t have been able to do a single thing about it.

I was panicking.

I never panicked.

But I could feel the adrenaline rushing through me as the vampire held my hand.

He lifted his gaze to mine, widening his grin. And without so much as a blink or a breath, he ensnared me. Idiotically, I’d been staring directly into his eyes.

He held his other hand up toward the server. She froze.

His presence flooded my mind in a warm, calming, and almost euphoric pulse.

“Steady,” he murmured.

My heart rate settled. I felt as though my arm was suspended, stretched across the table, lightly cradled in his hand … cushioned by the awesome presence of his mind.

I could have stayed there forever. At peace … protected … cherished …

I could have been his forever.

No Fairchild is weak enough to be ensnared by a vampire.

I wasn’t totally sure whether that was an original thought or a remembered edict of my mother’s, but it was enough to wake me up to the situation.

I gathered my mental shields, imagining a barrier of magic between the vampire and myself. Evoking layers upon layers of magic, similar to the sides of my oyster-shell cubes. I blinked my eyes, then shook my head slightly.

I lifted my hand away from Kettil’s.

He let me go.

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Reconstructionist Series: Introducing Wisteria

January 11, 2017

Wisteria Fairchild narrates my newest novel, Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) aka the first book in the Reconstructionist trilogy. But I first introduced Wisteria in Dowser 3, then again in Dowser 4.

A carefully curated (to block out any potential spoilers) page from my Catching Echoes notebook.

From Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic (Dowser 3)

Just before dawn, a knock at the suite door pulled me away from watching Mory sleep. I’d been worrying that she hadn’t woken yet, but was also fretting about waking her to feed her if she needed the sleep to heal.

I’d ordered food the second the kitchen had opened, so I thought the knock was room service. Instead, I opened the door to find a dark-blond woman around twenty-five standing in the hall. She was a couple of inches shorter than my five feet nine inches. Her hair was pulled back and up in a French twist that wouldn’t last an hour on me, and every well-tailored piece of clothing on her dripped money — all without my recognizing a single label, because there weren’t any.

“Jade Godfrey?” she asked politely, already knowing the answer. Her slight accent identified her as American.

I met her gaze and flinched. Her blue witch magic curled and coiled behind her eyes so tightly that I couldn’t distinguish their actual color.

She furrowed her brow at my flinch. I transferred my gaze to her hands where her magic also pooled, though not as intensely as behind her eyes.

“I know you,” I said, and I met her gaze without flinching a second time. Her magic was heavily doused in nutmeg — which wasn’t a scent I associated with witch magic — along with the sweet floral tones I would have expected. Sweet nutmeg was an odd combination.

“Yes,” she answered. “I’m Wisteria Fairchild. The reconstructionist.”

From Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic (Dowser 4):

I could see Wisteria settling into a table at the farthest corner of the cafe and ordering something from the server. A tea, I guessed. Oddly, the chairs closest to her had been lifted and flipped onto their tables as if the floor was about to be scrubbed.

Wisteria’s dark blond hair was pulled back into the perfectly smooth French twist she had worn the last time I saw her. Her cornflower-blue, pristinely pressed cotton dress was belted in white to create an empire waist. She looked as if she were about to attend a wedding, but this was everyday attire for the witch. The blue of the dress was a couple of shades lighter than the magic I could see pooled in the palms of her folded hands.

Kett was somewhere in the shadows of one of the storefront stoops just ahead of me. I could taste his magic rather than see him. “Why are you hunting the reconstructionist?” I whispered into the dark night.

“Why do you assume I’m hunting anyone?” Kett murmured back without revealing himself.

“Well, you aren’t working together. Are you? Or dating? Do vampires even date?”

“Your words indicate jealousy, warrior’s daughter.”

“But my tone sounds concerned.”

“Indeed.” Kett laughed. “I would not be hunting a Fairchild witch without permission.”

“Whose permission? And do you have it?”

Kett didn’t answer.

“Have you even met her?” I asked.

“Not officially.”

“And this isn’t any of my business.”

“Not even remotely.”

I sighed. I had my own reasons for being in Seattle, for meeting with the reconstructionist. I wasn’t here to police Kett or Wisteria, if she’d done something to get on the Conclave’s radar.

“She saw you die in London,” I said.

“Yes,” Kett answered. “Perhaps it is best left at that.”

 

Find out why Wisteria holds her magic so tightly and why Kett was in Seattle – or at least the beginning of their story – in Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1).

Now available on

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Reconstructionist 1: early reviews

January 5, 2017

Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) has been available for one week today! Whoot! A number of lovely readers have taken the time to leave reviews, so I thought I would share a few screenshots to help celebrate the novel’s first week anniversary.

From Amazon USA:


All Amazon USA reviews.

From Amazon CANADA:

All Amazon Canada reviews.

From Amazon UK:

All Amazon UK reviews.

From Barnes & Noble:

All Barnes & Noble reviews.

Thank you to all who have read and reviewed. Getting reviews is vitally important for a new release, especially in the first thirty days and especially when launching a new series.

Your time and thoughts are much, much appreciated.

Oracle 1: Kobo editor’s pick

January 3, 2017

I See Me (Oracle 1) is the Editor’s Pick on Kobo for the first week of 2017!

Find Oracle 1 FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME on Kobo.

Also available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Reconstructionist 1: immortality

January 2, 2017

Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1)

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Adept Universe: paperback giveaway

December 27, 2016

GIVEAWAY CLOSED. WINNER HAS BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL.

I’m giving away nine paperbacks in the Adept Universe in celebration of the upcoming release of Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) on December 29, 2016.

Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) is currently available for preorder.

AMAZON – iBOOKS – SMASHWORDS – B&N – KOBO

And remember to enter the preorder giveaway.

Win all these pretties, all at once! Nine autographed paperbacks, six Dowser recipe cards, one Oracle meme postcard, and six butterfly tattoos!

To enter all you need to do is comment below and let me know:

  1. If you could create reconstructions (like Wisteria can) what happy memory would you collect and carry around with you everywhere (keep these PG-13, pretty please 😉 )?

Notes/Rules: OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. Each comment will be assigned an entry number. ONE winning entry will then be selected via random number generator. One entry per person. Please make sure to fill out a valid email address in the comment form. Email addresses are not collected for any purpose other than notifying the contest winner.

If you haven’t commented on the blog before, or you comment from a different IP address, the comments are moderated. So don’t worry if you don’t see your entry right away. I will approve it, then assign it an entry number.

No purchase necessary.

Contest closes FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2016 at 8 p.m. PST.

Reconstructionist 1: advice from a vampire

December 22, 2016

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Reconstructionist 1: Clarity in a Cup

December 21, 2016

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, a new cupcake recipe appears in Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1): Clarity in a Cup. Here is an excerpt from the soon-to-be-released novel and the recipe.

Clarity in a Cup. Apple spice cake with honey buttercream.” Jade placed a cupcake before me, perfectly positioned in the center of a white, scalloped-edged side plate. “I’m developing some apple recipes for Rochelle. This one has nutmeg in it, so it’s also perfect for you.”

I didn’t know who Rochelle was and wasn’t exactly sure why the cupcake having nutmeg made it perfect for me, but I’d learned a long time ago that it was best not to question powerful people. Not even when they were technically younger than you.

“Thank you,” I said. “It smells heavenly.”

Jade smirked, then set a large pink ceramic mug down on a napkin, both of them emblazoned with the bakery logo. Happily, the mug was filled to the brim with a deliciously scented mocha. It was also sprinkled with nutmeg.

“Why nutmeg?” The question was out of my mouth before I could stop myself from asking.

“Your magic,” Jade said, casting her voice low. “It tastes like fresh-ground nutmeg. I thought I’d mentioned it before?”

I contemplated the cupcake, suddenly not sure how I felt about eating something that tasted like my own magic tasted to the dowser.

– Chapter Three, Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1)

FYI – This cupcake also appears in the Dowser cookbook, Cookies, Cupcakes, and Other Selected Recipes. If you sign up for either my new release newsletter or my monthly newsletter you are automatically sent a welcome email with a link to download the PDF cookbook.

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Reconstructionist 1: excerpt from Chapter One

December 20, 2016

[REPOST] [THIS EXCERPT FIRST APPEARED IN MY DECEMBER NEWSLETTER]

Chapter One

“Who found the grave?” I asked, sidestepping around the site. I was wearing the Oxfords I put on when working so my heels wouldn’t sink into the well-trimmed, damp grass, which was the greenest I’d ever seen. The Vancouver rain obviously promoted striking greenery even in early October, but I was glad it was currently only misting.

“Caretaker,” Dalton said. “Phoned it in as vandalism to the West Van police yesterday. It filtered down from there. Any disturbed gravesite draws attention, of course. They sent out a necromancer first, then us when she didn’t pick up anything unusual.”

Dalton was an unusual witch name, so I assumed it was his last, not his first. Though I didn’t recognize it as a founder surname either. He was the secondary investigator, probably more skilled technically than magically. His main duties included collecting evidence and securing the location while the lead investigator interpreted the facts and clues, then decided when a case needed the attention of a specialist.

A specialist like me.

I’d arrived in Vancouver at half past four in the afternoon, secured a rental car at the airport, and immediately followed my GPS halfway up the mountain on which the suburb of West Vancouver was situated. I’d parked by the administration building rather than blocking the single paved lane that wove through the cemetery. The ‘CAUTION — BEAR IN AREA!’ sign at the entrance had left me momentarily disconcerted, but thankfully I was able to easily spot Dalton among the rows and rows of flush-mounted headstones.

I’d arrived just before five thirty. The sun would be setting around six forty, so I needed to be efficient with my collection. But I was always efficient. So as long as the team hadn’t bungled anything before my arrival, I had no expectation of any problems with making my 7:00 p.m. dinner reservation.

This was my second time in Vancouver, and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to indulge in some great food. Even a reconstructionist had to have priorities.

“The site was scorched like this when you arrived?” I eyed the irregularly contoured burn that had seared the edges of the fresh turf running along each side of the gravesite. The burn appeared to be of mundane origin, but I wouldn’t know for certain until I activated my circle. The necromancer who’d accessed the grave earlier wouldn’t be an issue, because death magic was completely different from my own. But anything else would be important to know about ahead of time.

Dalton was still hovering over my shoulder, as if he thought I’d never set foot around a crime scene before.

“Yes,” he said, but the sandy-haired investigator sounded unsure.

“If this was done by your team afterward, I need to know,” I said, circling the burned patch. The interment was so fresh that the cemetery maintenance crew hadn’t sodded over the burial site yet. So new that there wasn’t even a headstone. The scorch marks were contained to a single grave. The remainder of the cemetery was pristine — untouched by vandals or time or magic. “Any spell might interact or introduce —”

“Is there a problem, reconstructionist?” a snippy woman’s voice called out from behind me.

I turned.

Carolina Medici, the stout, forty-five-year-old lead investigator, strode across the blanket of grass between the gravesite and the path that led to the northern section of the cemetery. The late afternoon might have been cloudy, but the superior curl of the uppity, salt-and-pepper-haired witch’s lip was plainly visible.

“I was determining that, investigator.” I kept my tone even and crisp, professional though not particularly friendly. As was my preference when interacting with anyone of the magical persuasion. It was an investigator’s job to rattle cages until clues fell out, but I didn’t have to let the senior witch ruffle me.

“We aren’t interested in your observations or concerns, Wisteria Fairchild.” Carolina stepped close enough that I could see she had a smudge of chocolate on her upper lip. “Just do your reconstruction as requested.”

I smiled at Carolina’s sneering use of my family name. The forced expression was tight on my face. Though the Medici coven held a seat on the Convocation –– the international governing body of the witches –– they were not among the founding three families of Fairchild, Godfrey, and Cameron.

I was absolutely certain that the chocolate smear on Carolina’s lip came from icing. Cupcake icing, specifically. No witch came to Vancouver without visiting Jade Godfrey’s bakery, Cake in a Cup. Actually, I doubted whether any member of the magical community of Adepts would pass through without stopping in to pay respects to Jade’s grandmother, Pearl, and to get a treat. The fact that Jade was a dowser and an alchemist — at least to those in the know — probably did wonders for business.

A Medici witch wouldn’t be on the list of those ‘in the know.’ Hence, the posturing that was currently hindering my ability to do my job.

“Step back, Carolina,” I said. My informal use of her first name was as overly familiar as her use of mine had been.

“What?” she sputtered.

“You’re standing exactly where I need to construct my circle, investigator. So please, step back so I can get you your reconstruction.”

I paused, plastering a pleasant smile on my face while I waited patiently for her to remove herself from my personal space.

Carolina twisted her lips. “Some respect would be expected.”

“Yes, it would. Especially since I understand your usual reconstructionist already failed to collect at this site. The chair of the Convocation specifically requested that I drop everything and attend to your problem.”

Carolina narrowed her eyes at me, refusing to be easily put in her place. “One might wonder how you came to be on Pearl Godfrey’s speed dial in the first place.”

“One might wonder, or one could do one’s job, effectively and efficiently. Then perhaps one wouldn’t need to be bailed out.”

Carolina snapped her mouth shut, tamping down whatever nastiness desperately wanted to spew loose. She took two deliberate steps away, moving closer to the path.

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