Tag Archives: Authors After Dark

Guest: Cat Grant

Time is just flying by! For those of you who might not know, the AAD (Authors After Dark) Convention was last weekend, and author Cat Grant attended. She decided to share some of her experiences and pictures from AAD here. 🙂

Hello, all! Thanks for joining me on my blog tour for Black Dog, the first book in my new Bannon’s Gym series. (Hot mixed martial arts fighters – rawwrrr!) I’m giving away a brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with my entire back list. Follow along at all my stops on this tour – and leave comments on each. Every comment counts as another chance to win! I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Friday, August 30th.

I just got back from a week in America’s “Hostess City,” the gorgeous Savannah, Georgia, where I was attending Authors After Dark. I haven’t fallen in love with a town like this since the first GayRomLit in New Orleans.

Luckily, my good pal/sister from another mister Gina X. Grant and I programmed in some sight seeing time. We took the trolley tour, the riverboat tour, and our favorite – a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic/Victorian district. I finally got to see Mercer House up close!

(In case you’ve never seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Mercer House was the former home of songwriter Johnny Mercer and the scene of an infamous 1981 murder. I told myself if I ever made it to Savannah, I was going to see Mercer House. Another one crossed off the bucket list! )

And, oh my gawd, the food! One night Gina and I braved a thunderstorm to visit Huey’s down on the river. We sampled each other’s shrimp Creole and grilled salmon with Parmesan-garlic grits – then, despite being full to bursting, ordered the chocolate-caramel tart for dessert. Hey, screw the diet – we were on vacation! We dropped by Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Joe’s Crab Shack too. (Yes, Virginia, there really is a Joe’s Crab Shack. And here I thought it was an urban legend!)

I was a bit skeptical about “Southern hospitality,” but Savannah changed my mind. Every local I met was cheerful and helpful. I’m a California girl born and bred, but when we say, “Have a nice day!” most of us don’t really mean it. In Savannah, they do.

Of course, I could’ve done without the humidity, which turned my straight-as-a-board hair into a frizzy tangle, but just about every place in Savannah is air conditioned. The only thing that could’ve made the trip better was if Lady Chablis was playing at Club One, but that’ll have to wait for next time – preferably in the spring or fall, when it’s cooler!

Black Dog is now available at Amazon, All Romance ebooks, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords.

Here’s a blurb to whet your appetites:

Danny Bannon and Eddie Roscoe have been fighting in and out of the ring for more than fifteen years, held together by mutual attraction and small-town ties, yet kept apart by a shared tragedy that continues to haunt them. Their steady on-again off-again is shaken up by the arrival of Tom Delaney, a teenage runaway trying to escape his tense home situation and his punch-happy dad.
In no time, the scrawny homeless kid has shown himself to be a boxing prodigy, and building him up brings Danny and Eddie closer than they’ve been in ages. It seems that the three of them, plus Eddie’s mother, Gloria, are forming a new family unit, much tighter than anything Tom experienced in his difficult past.
But Tom’s politically influential father isn’t the only person he left behind. When his mother shows up at Eddie and Gloria’s diner with a shiner and a haunted look in her eyes, Tom is hopeful for her future. But when that hope is snuffed out, Tom is ready to turn his new fighting skills to a deadly purpose: get revenge on his abusive father or die trying.
It’s up to his surrogate big brothers, Danny and Eddie, to put their differences and their painful history aside to prevent another tragic ending.

Cat Grant lives by the sea in beautiful Monterey, California, with one persnickety feline and way too many books and DVDs. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her watching movies or TV (Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries are among her favorite shows), singing along to whatever’s on her iPod, or fantasizing about kinky sex with Michael Fassbender.
Here’s Cat’s various hideouts on the Internet: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads.  You can contact her directly at: [email protected] or  Subscribe to her newsletter.

So we don’t usually do this here at ALBTALBS (and communication wasn’t as fast and furious because Cat was at AAD!) but leave a comment for an entry in her overall tour giveaway. Hey – it’s a kindle paperwhite, so come on – ask her some questions!

Author Spotlight: Mia Watts

Hi friends! Off schedule today but that’s okay. Today we have the very last author spotlight! Possibly ever! (AAD just didn’t happen for me this year and I dunno – I don’t really see it in the future either.) But! As you see we have last but not least, author Mia Watts visiting with us. She’s also got a question for all of you, so you know the drill!

Free bird at NOLA by Mia Watts

Raise your hand if you’re going to New Orleans this August for the Authors After Dark convention. Keep them raised if you’re secretly hoping to sneak out and explore some of NOLA’s voodoo district. Yeah, I thought so. You aren’t alone because I’m so gonna be there!

Stella Price (event coordinator and goddess of all things #AADNOLA) thoughtfully arranged for us to have our evenings free of panels. I’m not sure if I want to jump right in to voodoo territory, or work my way up through a beignets-chewing stroll in the central square, digging through street vendors. Or the cemetery! Now that’s something I could get into. Figuratively speaking. I have no desire to die while I’m there, even though we will be in prime Katrina timeframe (pack you water wings, y’all).

A haunted tour sounds like fun too. Except for the droning guide, “And over here, you’ll see the lady in white. Wave to her, wave to her. There ya go. She died of a broken heart (don’t they all?). Maybe I should just toured by myself so the spooks can just sneak up on me.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no interest in playing it loose with another culture’s religion. I respect it far too much for that. No one knows the power of another person’s faith and frankly, voodoo scares the crap out of me.

But then so does a progression of breast-flashing coeds. Thankfully, not the season for that.

Travel is one of my favorite things about going to conferences. Some move around the country and others stay still, but between the travel, the food and the company, I’m a sucker for the experience. This one allows us the added benefit of hanging out with other writers and readers, bloggers and reviewers. Are you going? You should be! Plan on it next year.

As you can see from that bit of tourist squee up there, writers don’t get out much. We’re solitary, writing in our living rooms or offices. We giggle at clever turns of phrases, love a good pun, are amazed with each other’s work and saddened by pirates. We do it all in the privacy of our homes, yet we’re united in craft and passion. Getting together is like a free-for-all field day with cookies and milk. Or rather lots and lots of coffee and wine. Yeah, that’s more like it.

So if you see us there, ignore our youthful exuberance for being “let out”. Have patience if one of us trips in our untried high heels. Smile and nod when we talk about formatting and margins, even if your eyes glaze over. If, after it’s all said and done, you still love us? You have a fan for life.

Author Spotlight: Pamela Palmer

Hi friends! We’ve got Pamela Palmer visiting with us as one of the last few AAD authors!

See You in NOLA!

The last time I visited New Orleans, I was there for less than twenty-four hours. In February of 2011, Avon Books sent me on book tour with the amazing Jeaniene Frost. My fifth Feral Warriors shape shifter book, Hunger Untamed, had just been released as had Jeaniene’s fifth Cat and Bones book. Our last tour stop was the lovely Garden District Bookshop in New Orleans. We arrived early afternoon the day of the signing and headed out first thing the following morning. But even a quick trip to New Orleans is a delight.

Before the signing, travel-tired and hungry, we grabbed a quick dinner in the hotel across the street from ours. But New Orleans is just too much fun and we weren’t about to miss a visit to Bourbon Street, so after our evening book signing we hailed a cab and went in search of beignets. We wound up at Café Beignet where we snacked on those warm, tasty treats, chatted, listened to the live music, and watched the throngs of people already pouring into the city a few days before the start of Mardi Gras. I’m looking forward to spending more than a day this time!

It was on that trip that Jeaniene first told me about AAD 2012, and I can’t wait to attend. In addition to the Late Night Sweets party that I’m hosting with Jeaniene, I’ll be doing several panels, talking about my Feral Warriors and my latest release, A Blood Seduction, the first book in my new Vamp City series.

Vamp City is a departure for me, a multi-book romance/urban fantasy. Prior to A Blood Seduction, I’d written only classic paranormal romances. My Feral Warriors story has one escalating, continuous story arc, but that outer story is told through a series of romances, each book focusing on one of the shifters as he finds the woman destined to be his mate. Not so my Vamp City books. A Blood Seduction is just the beginning of a continuing-character story that will eventually be either a four or five book romance, the tale of Quinn Lennox and the dark, dangerous vampire, Arturo Mazza.

A Blood Seduction, Vamp City book 1:

Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world…one who knows nothing of the power she wields. Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see–and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can’t do is forget about her–any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission–his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City…

See you in New Orleans!

Have any of you read anything by Ms. Palmer before? Either her Feral Warriors series, or the Vamp City novel? Pamela is at RWA right now, but she expects to have internet access, so feel free to ask her any questions – she’ll stop by and respond when she can!

Author Spotlight: Cat Johnson

Ladies! (And Gentlemen? Are there any?) we have another AAD Spotlight! We’re coming to the end. Which makes me happy and sad. Happy because, we’re almost done! Sad because I’m freaking not going. Yes, your friend Limecello is a damn idiot because she’s doing this regardless. Anyway, Cat Johnson is visiting with us today!

Author Cat Johnson on AAD NOLA – Bring Bail Money!

I’m eyeball deep getting ready for the Authors After Dark convention being held in New Orleans in August. Putting together a costume. Packing promo and giveaways until there’s no room left in the luggage for my clothes. And anticipating all the fun that can be had within walking distance from our hotel on Bourbon Street. One is the Bourbon Cowboy across the street from the hotel where I’ll be the author stationed for the Pub Crawl Saturday night. There’s a mechanical bull. It should definitely be interesting.

There’s one more thing I did to get ready for AAD NOLA—I wrote and self-published a short story set (you guessed it) on Bourbon Street. I’ve posted the blurb and an excerpt below. Check it out (it’s only 99cents!) and get in the mood because New Orleans awaits! And don’t forget bail money.

A maid of honor, pretending to be a stripper, encounters the best man, pretending to be the groom, and things really heat up…

When I agreed to be my best friend’s maid of honor, I thought it would be fun. Maybe I’d even meet a nice, single guy at the reception. But now the bride is missing, I have the hang over from hell and it seems I may have accidentally had sex with the groom last night while pretending to be a stripper to spy on him at his bachelor party… Or maybe I didn’t.

It’s hard to tell since I can’t remember much past drinking that last Hurricane on Bourbon Street. There’s also this matter of the groom’s identical twin brother and the fact they have a habit of switching places.

I do know one thing, nothing is what it seems in New Orleans. Anything can happen…and it usually does.

I made the supreme sacrifice and lifted my head to try and see the rest of the room. After all, I was the maid of honor. I suppose checking to see if I’d lost the bride was the least I could do.

There was a lump under the covers in the other bed. Unless I’d picked up a stranger and brought him or her home, at least one member of our party was accounted for.

“Beth?” Wishful thinking on my part, but I croaked the possibly missing bride’s name as loudly as my pounding head and scratchy throat would allow, hoping the lump would respond.

“Ugh. Holy hell, I feel like crap. Did I get run over by a truck last night?” Marci’s muffled voice preceded the arm that snaked its way out from beneath the covers.

“I have no idea. Where are Jen and Beth?” I braced myself on one elbow and tried not to sway since the room seemed to be doing enough moving on its own.

“I don’t know.” Marci lifted the covers and peered under them. “Christ, my feet are sore.”

Come to think of it, I was pretty achy too, but it wasn’t my feet that were sore. It was a much more intimate area—one that hadn’t been used in quite a while. Not since I’d had my last steady boyfriend. Uh, oh.

“You guys okay?”

I heard the disembodied voice come from the vicinity of the bathroom. “Jen?”

“Yeah. I seem to have slept on the bathroom floor. But judging by what’s in the toilet, that was a good thing.” There was the sound of a flush, and then Jen stumbled out of the bathroom, holding on to the wall. “Hurricanes don’t look as good in the toilet the morning after.”

Phew, another one accounted for. Now all I needed was to hear Beth’s voice and I’d be the happiest hung over girl in the world. “Beth didn’t happen to be in the bathroom with you, did she?”

Jen frowned. “No. She’s not out here with you guys?”

Marci leaned over the edge of her bed and checked the floor. “Nope. Ugh, that was a bad move.” She pressed her hand to her head.

“I think we lost her.” I looked from Marci to Jen, starting to really panic now. “What do we do?”

“Call her family?” Jen suggested.

I let out a snort. “And tell them what? I got drunk and misplaced their daughter? That I possibly left her somewhere to get killed or kidnapped?”

“Jen or I could call. We just have to be a little sneaky about it.” Marci glanced from me to Jen. “One of us can call their house and pretend we’re not with the others and ask if Beth’s there. I mean she grew up in New Orleans. That’s why we all had to fly our asses here from all over the country for the wedding. Maybe she went home to her family’s house last night after we passed out.”

“Let’s try calling her cell phone first.” I didn’t think any one of us currently had the capacity to lie to Beth’s parents, forget about her Marine Corps fiancé.

“Good idea.” Jen, who was already standing, stumbled from the wall to the dresser where a purse sat next to the lamp. I recognized that purse. It was mine. That was good. One more piece of the puzzle found. When Jen pulled my phone out of it, my hopes rose a bit higher. She squinted at the readout, then hit a few buttons.

A vibrating in my pocket had me jumping. I may have been moving a little slowly but a feeling of dread descended upon me the moment Jen’s call to Beth’s phone made my ass vibrate.

“Crap.” I reached beneath me and pulled out a cell phone. “Why do I have Beth’s phone?”

“Wait, I remember that.” Marci held up a hand.

“Me too!” Jen nodded, then pressed her hand to her head and groaned.

Thank God. At least they could remember something. “What do you remember?”

“Beth was drunk and pissed at John for lying about having a stripper at his bachelor party. So you took Beth’s phone so she wouldn’t call her ex-boyfriend in retaliation.” Marci’s words started slowly but sped as the pieces started to fall into place.

I nodded. That did sound like something I would do. “Okay. That makes sense.”

“Wait. I remember more.” Jen squinted, as if it would wring the memories out of her alcohol soaked brain. Her gaze swung to me.

“So do I.” Marci stared at me now too.

I started to get a little worried. “What?”

“You don’t remember?” Marci asked.

“No.” Crap. I looked at Marci. “Why don’t you just tell me?”

Jen answered for them both. “Since you’re the only one John has never met, we sent you into his bachelor party as a spy dressed as a stripper.”

Uh, oh. This was starting to sound familiar to me, but in a detached kind of way. Kind of like it was the plot of a movie I’d watched only I couldn’t remember the ending. I glanced up and found them both watching me, wide-eyed. I glanced down at myself and noticed for the first time that though I was in my own pants, there was a corset making my boobs look two cup sizes larger. It was definitely stripper-worthy.

I noticed an uncomfortable presence between my ass cheeks and wiggled a bit. Reaching down I confirmed my suspicions. I was wearing a thong. I didn’t own a thong. And definitely not a red lace thong that matched the corset, which was the discovery I made when I peeked down the front of my jeans.

“Rose, what happened at the bachelor party?” Jen asked.

Memories swirled like a kaleidoscope. Music. A party. A man’s hands on my body. I didn’t have a chance to piece it all together before a knock on the door broke my concentration.

“Maybe it’s Beth.” I glanced at Jen and Marci.

Jen moved to open the door. When she backed into the room, a man I was pretty sure I knew though I couldn’t be sure followed her inside.

“It’s John,” Marci mouthed to me.

John. The groom. Probably looking for his missing bride because as the door slammed closed behind him it was pretty clear he’d come alone. Beth wasn’t with him.

His gaze found me. Self-consciously I tugged the top of the corset higher, but my boobs only popped up more so I decided to cut my losses and let my hands drop.

“Rose. Thank God, you’re awake.” He came directly to my bed and sat on the edge. Concern was written all over his face as he took my hand in his. “Are you all right?”

I managed a nod, but that was about it.

“I was so worried about you last night.” He cupped my chin as he leaned in and pressed his lips to mine.

I pulled back to find the room silent. Jen and Marci looked about as shocked as I was.

“Um, all right. What the hell happened last night?” Marci finally asked.

Since the groom was kissing me the day before his wedding while the bride was missing, I figured that was as good a question as any. And I certainly didn’t have the answer.

You can read more about it here… which actually is also what she shared here.

Author Spotlight: Bronwyn Green

Hi friends! We’re all over the place recently, but that’s fine. I know you’re all troopers and can adapt. 😉 Today we of course as you see have Bronwyn Green visiting with us. She’s also very generously offering up three books to someone, so polish up those bright eyed bushy tailed personas! 😛 There really isn’t anything I can say that isn’t flip and won’t detract from Ms. Green’s great post, so I leave you to comment as you see fit. I mean – you’re all smart. You don’t need a prompt from me!

Hi there, everyone! My name is Bronwyn Green and I write erotic romance – mostly paranormal erotic romance with a smidge of contemporary and historical thrown in. I’ll be at AAD in August, so if you’re attending, please come say hi! And thank you so much to Limecello for having me on her awesome blog!
I’ll be giving away 3 ebooks (winner’s choice) to one commenter, so please feel free to ask me a question or leave a comment. 🙂

I often have people ask where I get the ideas for my stories. What writer, doesn’t? Most of the time the answer is anywhere and everywhere. Songs, half-remembered dreams, snippets of overheard conversation – you know, the usual.

However, my latest release, Sensuous Summoning, Book Two in the Witch Way series has a more specific, easier to pinpoint answer. In it, the heroine, Rowan, works a protection spell to save a piece of land that’s important to her. Instead, something goes horribly awry and she ends up summoning an ancient Celtic god.

When I was a kid, much of my summer vacations were spent at my grandparents’ farms. My maternal grandparents had a small sustenance farm and my paternal grandparents had a small dairy farm. So depending where I was, you could find me picking endless amounts of strawberries, plums, rhubarb, blackberries and various veggies or mucking out stalls, feeding cows, hauling hay, driving a tractor and occasionally riding a really old horse that my dad won in a poker game. I know it sounds too cliché to be true, but there it is.

As you can imagine, hanging at the grandparents’ wasn’t particularly relaxing, but there were aspects of it that I loved. For instance, cows are really sweet animals. Not particularly bright, but I liked feeding and brushing them. And I loved the calves. They were adorable on their wobbly legs. The barn cats were, of course, my favorite. I loved wandering through the fields making up stories about the people who must have lived on that land centuries earlier and the faeries that I wanted to believe inhabited the trees that bordered the properties.

Of course, these memories are softened by time. While I might fondly remember hauling hay, I know if I tried it today, I’d have a major allergy attack, strained muscles and I’d probably need to sleep for a week afterward. I don’t actually really want to go back to those times, but I do wish the land was still there.

Well, it’s there. It didn’t get sucked into a black hole, or anything. My cousin and his wife now own my maternal grandparents’ house and out buildings which is awesome! But the other farm is another story. The house is still there looking tinier and dingier with age, but it’s sat empty for the past few years. It’s also not the farm of my childhood.

In 2004, when my grandma died, the acreage was sold off to pay off medical debts and bills – which obviously had to happen. I don’t begrudge anyone that. But it’s been incredibly sad to watch cookie cutter houses spring up in the places I used to play and dream about the future. The hay fields are gone. So are the corn fields. And the cows. The pastures have been swallowed up by pools and McMansions and private roads dedicated to late NASCAR drivers.  (I’m so not a NASCAR fan.) And as sad as it’s been for me, I know it’s been even worse for my dad and uncles.

One afternoon, when I was headed home from a cousin’s house, I took a detour and drove past the farm. I noticed that the last plot was in the process of being turned into another house that looked like all the rest. As stupid as it sounds, I remember wishing I had a magic wand to put the fields back the way they were just long enough to take a few pictures.

That thought stayed with me until I woke up the next morning with a story idea. I didn’t want to make it a farm that she was trying to save because A.) too close to home and B.)I wasn’t sure my editor or anyone else would get feeling nostalgic about cows. But it was one of those moments when I woke up with the first scene fully formed and ready to go. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer.

Here’s the first scene of that story:

While casting a protection spell, Rowan Spencer gets the shock of her life. The spell goes very, very wrong, and she accidentally summons an ancient Celtic god.

A gorgeous, naked god.

Until Gwydion’s duty is complete, he’s bound to the human who summoned him. But as the poisons of earth drain him, he finds binding Rowan for his pleasure is sensuous task he’d enjoy for a lifetime—a lifetime that isn’t theirs to have.

“As I will it, so mote it be.” Rowan Spencer’s words hung in white puffs of breath in the chilly, late spring air as she released energy into the ground beneath her. A ripple of power spread through last autumn’s leaves and fallen twigs, churning the dirt below as though it were water. The lines of the circle she’d cast glowed faintly blue-white underneath the shifting leaves, disrupting the near darkness surrounding her.

Nervously, she knelt outside the circle and watched as the light brightened, searing the damp leaves and grass with its heat. Usually when the energy left her body, it slowly dissipated until it was gone, but this seemed to be increasing with every passing second. She only hoped that meant the spell would be successful. It needed to be successful.

The earth suddenly roiled below her, and she stumbled to her feet, unable to tear her eyes from the ever-brightening circle. She glanced around hoping no one was nearby to notice the otherworldly glow shining through the trees. The ground rumbled as if something huge fought its way to the surface.

Her heart leapt into her throat. This wasn’t right. Simple protection spells didn’t involve burning leaves or miniature earthquakes. What had she done? And more importantly, how the hell was she supposed to stop it?

She dropped to her knees, laid her hands on the trembling earth and tried to call back the energy she’d sent forth. It didn’t work. A startling shock traveled up her arms and into her chest before she could pull her hands away. It reminded her of touching her grandparents’ electrified fence as a child. She’d wandered around for the rest of the day convinced that she’d drop dead at any moment because she’d disobeyed and snuck into the cow pasture. Now, like then, she wasn’t sure if she’d survive the consequences of what she’d done.

Roots and vines crawled toward the center of the circle, pulsing and rising from the earth—coalescing into a mound at least half a foot taller than her. As she watched in growing horror, the vines continued moving of their own volition, and a definite shape began to form. Discernable arms and legs appeared along with a head and wide shoulders.

Terror dried her mouth as she tried to convince her body to move, to run away and never to return to this place, but apparently, her body had zero interest in listening to her. It remained as firmly rooted to the ground as this humanoid figure seemed to be.

She wished Meaghan or Emma were here. Hell, both of them. They’d always had far better control of their powers than she’d ever had. She was an idiot to have attempted this on her own. No. That wasn’t true; she’d done tons of protection spells over the years. Granted, none of them on as large a scale as this one, but the area of effect shouldn’t matter. But somehow it did. Or, she’d really screwed up something. Something major.

A sudden breeze blew past her, whipping her hair into her eyes and causing them to tear. The breeze picked up the dead leaves that carpeted the orchard floor, drawing them like a cloak around the figure. They clung to the shape, forming a sort of skin over the vines.

Again, she tried to force herself to run, but she remained frozen in place—no more able to leave than the trees surrounding her. Her breath caught in her throat as a faint glow pulsed in the chest cavity of the figure. With every passing second, it grew stronger and more vibrant until it expanded and radiated through the entire body, bright as the noonday sun. She closed her eyes against the intense glare.

When she opened them again, the light was gone, but the figure wasn’t. Blinking around the floating black spots marring her sight, she stared in jaw-dropping awe at the man in front of her. Golden skin covered perfectly shaped muscles and wide, well-formed shoulders. Light brown hair dusted an equally broad chest and narrowed over tightly delineated stomach muscles, before thickening as it extended lower. Catching sight of a huge cock, she lifted her gaze sharply upward, meeting the brightest green eyes she’d ever seen.

He held her gaze for several long, terrifying moments before glancing around the grove of trees. “You have summoned me, but I see no sacrifice.”

Rowan couldn’t force her voice to work any more than she’d been able to force her limbs to move. His words were heavily accented, sounding vaguely British.

“I require an answer.” His voice was rough as though he rarely spoke, and it sent shivers sliding down her spine, but at the moment, she couldn’t decide if that was a positive experience or not.

She swallowed several times, trying to form words. “I think there’s been a mistake.”

He shifted and stared at her. With his hands on his hips and an eyebrow raised, he should have looked silly. Instead, he looked intimidating and downright scary. What had she done?

“There is no mistake. You summoned me. I answered.”

She shook her head from side to side and opened her mouth, but no words came out.

He took a step forward. Then another and another until he stood at the edge of the still glowing circle she’d cast. She glanced at the ground, at his bare feet. Would he be able to cross? Circles were meant to keep in the power that had been raised. And entities, too. She’d been with Meaghan often enough when they’d secured spirits in a circle to help them cross to the other side.  But whatever this guy was, he was no spirit.

He followed her gaze to the illuminated line and swept his hand through it, eradicating it.

Finally freed from her stasis, she took several steps backward. “Who are you? What are you?”

The hint of a smile curled his firmly sculpted lips. “I think you know who I am. Why would you summon me if you did not?”

“I didn’t mean—” She couldn’t force herself to finish the sentence. Instead, fear got the best of her, and she turned and ran.

“Cease!”

She made the mistake of looking back at him. His gaze had narrowed, and a frown marred his face. Her chest constricted in terror, and she tried to run faster.

She heard a rustling along the ground, but she ignored it and dodged a fallen log. Something brushed against her ankle, tickling her bare flesh.

“You will not run from me.”

“The hell I won’t, b—” The rest of the sentence was swallowed by her squeal as something wrapped tightly around her ankle, yanking her to the ground. Rolling over, she sat up and tugged at the vine in which she’d managed to entangle herself. As she pulled futilely at the growth, more vines crept across the ground. Toward her. Her heart slammed wildly against her ribs as she attempted to rip the foliage from her body.

More tendrils wrapped her other ankle, holding her snugly, while additional plants encircled her wrists. She tried to free herself to no avail. The man stood over her, and with a wave of his hand, all of the vines pulled tight, pinning her spread eagle to the loamy earth. So quickly, she didn’t even see him move, he suddenly loomed over her, his arms extended and caging her beneath him.

His chestnut-colored hair hung down, forming a silky curtain around their faces, and his breath drifted across her lips. It was surprisingly warm and sweet for someone who was formed entirely of vegetation.

“Why did you call me forth?” he asked, holding her gaze in the near darkness. His eyes searched hers before drifting lower to her mouth.

He hungrily followed the swipe of her tongue as she tried to moisten her suddenly parched lips. “I didn’t. I didn’t mean to, anyway.”

Author Spotlight: Jessica Jarman

Hi friends! A little stressed in Lime central, so my apologies. And unfortunately, the numbers have reflected that – so come on and show Jessica Jarman some love! It’s also a fabulous post – and look at her gorgeous pictures!

Thank you, Limecello, for having me on your blog today. I’m really excited about Authors After Dark, and writing this blog post upped the excitement even more as the date is coming faster and faster.

One of the things I’m looking forward to the most, aside from catching up with friends and meeting readers, is visiting New Orleans. I’ve never been there, but have always wanted to. As I was thinking about what to write about, I started imagining the trip and the things I’d see and experience while there.  And that gave me the idea to write about the top three places I’d like to visit, and my three favorite places to visit. So here we go, starting with my dream destinations…

New Orleans—Obviously, this is on my list, and I’m looking forward to exploring the city. I love architecture, and I know I won’t be disappointed when I’m there.


And the food…oh, I’m looking forward to the yummies. Beignets and café au lait, maybe some gumbo… YUM.
*stomach rumbles* I really shouldn’t be writing about this before dinner time!  😛

Italy—I’ve always wanted to visit Italy. I’m sure I have it built up on my mind, but I’d love to explore the countryside and the architecture of Rome. And do I even need to mention Italian food? Nope, didn’t think so. Italy is a country with so much history and sites to explore, I’m certain I’d leave wanting more.
Ireland—Saved the biggest dream for last. For as long as I can remember, I’ve desperately wanted to visit Ireland. I honestly can’t pinpoint what the draw is exactly… I just know I love looking at pictures of the countryside, old ruins, stone circles… The history calls to me, and I am bound and determined to make it one day!
Now, for my favorite places…ones I’ve been to. 🙂

Anywhere my family is—As corny as it sounds, it’s true. I even go to ball games and camp for this bunch, and anyone who knows me, knows how much I dislike camping. But for them, I do it and actually enjoy myself!
Riviera Maya, Mexico—A couple years ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to take a trip to Riviera Maya and stay at an all-inclusive resort. Now, with four kids, our time away has always been a bit limited, and we hadn’t been on a trip alone together since our honeymoon many years before. While there, we snorkeled along the reef, visited an ecological park, and saw the ruins at Tulum. We also had plenty of time to just sit by the pool or ocean and sip margaritas. It was a wonderful vacation, and it quickly became one of my favorite places—though I suspect some of that is due to the company I was keeping. 😉 
The Upper Peninsula of Michigan—Ah, home, sweet home. I grew up in the UP—way, way up there. See the peninsula sticking up on the western part of the Upper Peninsula? That’s the Keweenaw Peninsula, and I grew up in Calumet.
There were things not so great about living in a small town, but now that I live in the suburbs of a larger metropolitan area, I see how good I had it. Being able to hop on my bike and ride to Lake Superior…Oh yeah, those were good times. The area has a great history; it as a huge copper mining area. And interestingly enough, Calumet almost became the capital of Michigan… It lost by one vote to Lansing. The town is now a National Historic Park. But it’s not just the town I love; it’s the entire area. With my family living there, we get to visit often. In fact, I’ll be heading up there with some amazing author friends next month for a little retreat in a lakeside cottage, then I’ll be camping (*groan*) with the fam over the week of the Fourth. I’ve been thinking of some places to visit while up there with my buddies—and there is no shortage of options. One place on the list for sure, is a day trip to Copper Harbor. It is absolutely gorgeous. Check it out! (though this was taken in the fall, not summer.) Isn’t it beautiful?
My latest release, Secrets and Spells, is set in the UP. It seemed the perfect fit when I was deciding where my fictional little town should be. It was easy to picture it in my head because I’ve travelled through so many small towns up there. I wanted somewhere that was close enough to “civilization” but still surrounded by nature. The UP was perfect.

Here is the blurb from Secrets and Spells.

Anxious for a change and wanting to learn more about her late mother and where she came from, Thalia Wells accepts a job in the small town of Parrish. As she settles into her new life, she begins to notice unsettling oddities about her new home.

Gray is used to secrets. Being a witch and living in a town of people with magical abilities means living with secrets. But keeping Thalia in the dark kills him especially when it brings her pain.

Thalia doesn’t believe in magic and had given up on happily ever after, but can she find both with Gray?

I’m looking forward to revisiting the UP…in person, and when I visit the town of Parrish again. 🙂

Thank you again for having me on your blog, Limecello. I had a blast travelling in my head, and hoped everyone enjoyed the ride with me!

Jess
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Where would you want to go? Or where have you gone? Where is your favorite place? Horribly terrible of me and I’m hijacking but… I’ve been to New Orleans and the Upper Peninsula! The latter is gorgeous. Also, who can hate on fresh water? Amazing stuff.  Great Lakes FTW! 

But also – if you answer our questions/chat with us… well Ms. Jarman has offered up two copies of her books. That’s right two lucky, and lovely commenters will win their choice of one of Jess’s books! Whee! How can you resist?

Author Spotlight: Shayla Black

Today we have author Shayla Black, and it’s exciting because this is her release day, and she’s sharing an exclusive excerpt of her new book!

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit.  I have to say that Embrace Me At Dawn was one of the most engrossing books I have recently written and there were more than a few surprises even I did not see coming as it unfolded and each of the characters began to interact with each other.  I always knew where I wanted the tale to go, but there were more than a few twists that cropped up as I wrote.  I am so appreciative of everyone waiting so long for the story of Lucan, Anka, and Shock and I truly hope they will not be disappointed.  All of the characters that have appeared in the previous books have a part to play, and there is plenty of emotion and action, and more than a couple surprises.

When I originally sold the series on this concept my idea was that in today’s world of technology, science and logic, few people realize that magic lives and breathes-and walks on two legs-among mortals. Or that magickind possesses a weapon that can hurt, heal, comfort, destroy, grant fantasies, bring peace. Or, in the hands of someone terrible and strong enough to call forth its power, the weapon can bring about Doomsday.

Created during the days of the Round Table, it resurfaces in modern-day London and is sought by a wizard of evil brilliance with one goal: dominion over human and magical worlds alike. Only a band of wizards, enemies who must learn to become friends and accept love, can save the world from destruction.

Or as I like to call it, it’s my very adult Harry Potter with twists.

No man will ever define her again.

Anka MacTavish lost everything when Mathias D’Arc captured her, shattered her bond with her mate, and broke both her body and spirit. Determined to heal her bleeding soul, she joins the Doomsday Brethren’s fight to vanquish the evil wizard and seize her revenge. But becoming a magical warrior will require close contact with her former mate, the love who’s never left her heart, Lucan. And she’ll have to explain why she left him and fled to the arms of another lover…

No woman can ever take her place.

Lucan’s world crumbled when Anka escaped Mathias and sought protection from his long-time rival, Shock. Now she has returned, and Lucan must train her to confront a new and terrible danger that threatens magickind. With every punch, blow, and parry, Lucan discovers that Anka isn’t the demure wife he once knew, and his growing desire for this woman is a need he can’t control. He vows to do whatever it takes to reclaim her heart and make her his once more. But when the Doomsday Brethren are forced to make an unlikely alliance, it will test Anka’s resolve like never before. To survive, she and Lucan must rely on one another, face their deepest fears…and expose the dark secrets that threaten to destroy everything, including their love.

Anka jumped between Lucan and Shock. It wasn’t like her former mate to lose his temper so quickly. Sabelle had more than hinted that Lucan wasn’t himself anymore. Anka’s heart wept with concern. She didn’t dare hope that longing for her had put him on edge. She didn’t know how to make him understand the hows or whys of the past three months. And now that she’d graced the bed of his enemy willingly, she doubted he’d want to hear them. She only wanted him well and happy, and it hurt deeply to know he’d find those things without her.

Both wizards urged her out of their way, then charged at one another again. Thankfully, Bram stepped between them this time and threw a force field between both, keeping them apart.

“I have precious little energy for this shit, children,” Bram groused. “The clock is ticking down until Morganna’s next trick, whatever that may be. I have no mate to replenish me. We can’t afford this fighting amongst ourselves.”

Lucan drew in a deep, shuddering breath, jaw clenched, eyes narrowed. God, she’d rarely seen him so angry. But with a roll of his wide shoulders, he backed away, still looking murderous. She wished she could help him. Shock clenched a meaty fist at his side but dropped an expression onto his face that looked to all the world like he didn’t give a fuck. Anka knew better, and she had a feeling she’d have to deal with whatever was eating at him soon.

After a long pause, Bram finally dropped his hands and the force fields. After a sharp glance at both, he nodded. “Shock, you can tell Mathias we’ll consider his request. I’m not ready to commit to anything.”

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” He looked at Bram as if someone had beaten the Doomsday Brethren’s leader with a stupid stick. “Do you have any bloody idea what else Morganna can do to expose us while you sit with your thumb up your arse?”

Bram grabbed Shock’s leather jacket with one hand. “I don’t trust you for shit. And I’m hardly sitting around with my thumb up my arse. This isn’t just my decision; it’s everyone’s. I’m not making a move until I talk to them all, so you can run along and tell your boss that once we’ve talked, I’ll be in touch.”

Shock looked like he wanted to argue, but he jerked out of Bram’s hold and straightened his jacket with a shrug. “Stupid fuck. More deaths will be on your conscience.”

“I’m tired of your shit. Get off my property.” Bram tossed his head in the direction of the gate.

Anka bit her lip. She wanted to ask Bram if he could live with those deaths, but before she could, Shock growled, grabbing her arm. “Let’s go.”

“She stays here,” Bram demanded. “She came to me for a favor, and I haven’t heard it yet. I’ll do that now.”

Shock’s gaze bounced between her and Bram. Anka thought of anything and everything other than the topic of her business with Bram. She felt him probe into her mind with a hard shove. It hurt, and she glared at him and winced, raising her hand to her abused forehead.

Lucan charged over to her, hovering right beside her. “You’re hurting her. Get the hell out of her head!”

After a moment’s hesitation, Shock shrugged. “I’ll figure it out when I fuck her later.”

With a hard slap of his hand on her backside that tingled across her skin and fired her nerve endings, Shock walked away and left the grounds with a slam of the gate before teleporting out.

Lucan stared at her like he didn’t understand. No, like he didn’t know her at all. Having him near brought out the very worst in Shock, and Anka wished to hell the floor would open up and swallow her whole. The silence almost weighed too much for her slender shoulders. God, what must her former mate be thinking? She drew in a deep breath and shook the thought away. Lucan was no longer her concern—even if she missed him until insanity seemed just a breath away.

“Why are you with him?” Lucan demanded.

There was nothing she could say that he’d truly understand. Certainly nothing that would change their situation. So she remained mute.

“God damn it! If it’s for protection, you’re deluding yourself. Mathias knows exactly where to find you. If he wants you again, Shock won’t be able to stop him.”

All true. But Mathias didn’t really want her, merely to weaken the Doomsday Brethren. He’d nearly driven Lucan mad with mate mourning after forcibly severing her bond with him. She couldn’t risk Mathias targeting Lucan again. She alone had healed him from that terrible, mad state. It had cost her nearly every bit of her magic. Neither of them would survive that again.

Author Spotlight: Melissa Schroeder

Y’all you are in for a treat today! Author Melissa Schroeder is… 😉 kinda here with us – more like one of her characters, and she’s sharing drink recipes! Fun, right? 😀

Hiya, everyone! My name is Dee Ross, and Mel told me that she wanted me to share some of the favorite drinks of the islands with you. She figured that with summer just a couple weeks away, that you would need some good party time drinks.

First, a little about me. I work at the club Rough n Ready, which is owned by my husband Micah and his best friend Evan Chambers. I am a bartender and love the job. Of course, R and R havs strict policy of no alcohol if you are going to be playing in the rooms, but if you aren’t there are a few of these you could enjoy. And sadly, at the moment, I can’t drink or play because I am entering my second trimester, boo. But, for those of you wanting a taste of the islands, here are a few drinks.

First, I want to share the quintessential Hawaiian Drink: The Blue Hawaiian. Everyone MUST try one of these and while they can vary from place to place, this is my recipe.

Blue Hawaiian
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz Pina Colada Mix (Or 1 part Crème de Coconut and 2 parts Pineapple Juice)
1 Cup Ice
Combine ingredients in a blender or mix well and enjoy on the rocks.
Truthfully, I prefer to use the Crème de Coconut and Pineapple juice. I think it tastes better)

Pina Colada
Although everyone associates this with the islands, the story is a Puerto Rican bartender Ramon Marrero invented it in the 50’s.
4 oz Pina Colada Mix (Or 1 part Crème de Coconut and 2 parts Pineapple Juice)
1 oz Light Rum
1 Cup Ice
1 oz Half and Half or Milk (Optional, for those you like it creamy)
Toss everything into a blender  or you can even serve it on the rocks. A pineapple or cherry are great garnishes but everyone MUST have that little paper umbrella!
If you want the Chi Chi, substitute Vodka for the Rum!

Tropical Itch
Micah says this one sounds like something you catch, but it is kind of a favorite of tourists. This is a modern cocktail that everyone likes if you can get a little backscratcher to add to the glass. If you cannot get your hands on Lilikoi (passion fruit) juice, just substitute a mix of your favorites.
1oz Vodka
1oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao or Grand Marnier (Triple Sec will substitute)
3 – 4 oz. Passion Fruit Juice (Or get creative!)
Shake well and pour over ice.
Add a little backscratcher to the glass and you are all set!

Now, Mel has a drink she adores. It is her favorite of all time and when she is at the club, I know I will be making a lot of them, lol. It is a LAVA FLOW.

Lava Flow

1 oz. coconut rum
1 oz. light rum
1/2 banana
2 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. coconut cream
2 oz. frozen strawberries

The first thing you need to remember is to blend the strawberries and rums separately from the other ingredients. And rinse out the blender. The key to preparation is to blend the strawberries and rums separately from the other ingredients, rinsing the blender between steps. (If using strawberry puree, you can skip this and simply blend all ingredients except the puree.)

Pour the strawberry mix or the puree to the bottom of a large glass (a collins or hurricane glass).  Then add the blender ingredients, or as it’s often done, reverse and pour the strawberry mix on top. The red strawberry mix swirls in the drink, simulating a lava flow.

Of course, if you know Mel, you know she loves to cook. Now, I took Ala Moana Shopping Center for Pork Footballs, but Mel can’t find a recipe for that. One of her favorite things to make though is Kalua Pig in the crock pot, serving it over sushi rice. If you are a true Hawaiian you will tack on a serving of macaroni salad.

Kalua Pig

One 6 pound pork shoulder roast (also called butt)
1 ½ sea salt (Hawaiian if you can get it)
1 T liquid smoke flavoring

Pierce pork all over with a fork, then rub salt and liquid smoke over meat. Place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 16 -20 hours, turning once. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.
This is the best way to cook it if you can’t make it to Hawaii for the pig in the ground. Of course, if you do make it over our way, hit up Paradise Cove where Danny Aiona works as one of those sexy fire dancers.

Make sure to check out Mel’s latest two releases in the Harmless franchise:

A Little Harmless Fascination
Amazon  B and N Kobo

Possession: A Little Harmless Military Romance

If you want to know more about me and how I became Dee Ross, you can read my story in A Little Harmless Lie!

I hope you enjoy the recipes. You can always drop by and let me know at the Rough ‘n Ready Facebook Fanpage. Micah and Evan run that. And, if you are Harmless Addict, there is a group for you where Mel hangs out sharing insider info, has special contests and get togethers at reader cons.

Melissa Schroeder is the author of over 40 short stories, novellas and novels in anything from sensual to erotic and historical to futuristic. She is a military wife who hates bugs so the AF devises assignments for her husband in places with bugs big enough to eat her children.

If you are going to AAD NOLA, Mel will be there all over the place so make sure to say hi! She is hosting the Saints and Sinners Open Bar with Kris Cook, and she will be featuring her new paranormal series at the Cursed n Blood Affair!

Mel spends way too much time on the web so you can usually find her around: WebsiteTwitterFacebook FanpagePinterest

Mel is also offering a giveaway – a signed or digital copy of A Little Harmless Fascination OR Possession. Winner’s choice and she is happy to ship internationally. So tell us – what’s your poison? Your favorite drink of choice – currently, or your go to… both! Either!

Author Spotlight: Cynthia Eden

Look who we’ve got! I managed to trick Cynthia Eden into coming back and playing with us! ;D And this time she’s talking about New Orleans, and has some questions for you!

Scream For Me

Hi, everyone! Lime, thanks for having me over for the AAD Spotlight!

I am very, VERY much looking forward to the big Authors After Dark event in New Orleans this August. I love New Orleans. Love the city to a pretty ridiculous degree, so I can’t wait to head back for some awesome reader fun.

New Orleans is the setting for my Fallen books (with Kensington Brava). As Angel of Darkness began, my hero watched the heroine flee through Pirate’s Alley. He perched on the St. Louis Cathedral…and it was there that he made the decision to spare her life. Well, spare her, save her, condemn her…I guess it’s all in how you look at it. 😉

New Orleans has always enchanted me. So much magic seems to hum in the city. And when I realized that I was going to write about Fallen Angels of Death (b/c those guys wouldn’t leave me alone), I knew their books had to take place in the Big Easy.  Come on, haven’t you ever wondered if some fallen angels walk in the crowd on Bourbon Street?

In my next book, Angel Betrayed (due out on 6/26/12), my hero isn’t a good guy—or even a good angel. He’s Sammael—Sam for short—and he’s pretty much been foretold to be the one who will bring hell to earth.  He’s, um, kind of a bad guy. But can’t bad guys be fun?

Ahem…and now this brings me to the title of this post…Scream For Me. I love writing bad guys. Love figuring out their devious layers. Or, in the case of Sam, I love to create anti-heroes that are far, far from perfect beings.  What can I say? Sometimes, the bad boys are just more fun. To celebrate those wonderful bad boys, I will be hosting an Ice Scream Party at AAD—I’ll be hosting the fun event along with fabulous authors Katie Reus, Virna DePaul, and Manda Collins. Everyone will be making cool desserts, playing wicked games, getting cool prizes, and talking about their favorite bad boys or villains. If you’re attending AAD, I hope you can make the party.

And if you’re not attending…then, hey, I’ve got a contest right here.  You can still get a cool prize—and have some villain fun.  I’ll give one commenter a $15 Amazon.com gift certificate AND an autographed copy of Angel Betrayed (as soon as my author copies arrive, I will ship one to you). Want to win? Then just tell me…which villain would you scream for? Who is your favorite bad guy?

Thanks for checking out the post!
Best,
Cynthia Eden
Angel Betrayed—Available 6/26/12
When you betray an angel, there’s hell to pay…

And if you missed it – Ms. Eden also shared an exclusive excerpt of Angel Betrayed here earlier!

Author Spotlight: PJ Schnyder

Hi friends! Another author who is going to AAD visiting with us today! Lucky girl. She’s also so adorable. See?

First, I’d like to thank Limecello for having me on her blog and to thank the readers stopping in to say Hi by offering the chance to win a free ecopy of Red’s Wolf. Just leave a comment at the end of this guest post! 😀

I’ve never been to New Orleans so when I heard Authors After Dark 2012 would be there, I did a little happy dance and made sure to register as soon as possible. I already wanted to attend Authors After Dark because I made such a connection with readers, existing and new, at last year’s convention.

But, when the convention activities are at a lull and people are out on author field trips or exploring the city, they might spot me sampling the city’s cuisine. Because if there’s one thing I love to explore about any place, it’s the food!

Beignets, gumbo and etouffee are on my list to try in New Orleans. I’ve given it my best go at the recipes I’ve found and been fairly happy with them, but there’s nothing like tasting them the way they’re supposed to be made.

Readers of the Terra’s Guardians series might be familiar with my love for food. Mackenzie of Heart’s Sentinel makes real hot chocolate from scratch and tends to cook when she’s nervous. Carri of Red’s Wolf truly enjoys a properly cooked steak, but her real favorite is chocolate cake.

Here’s a snippet from Red’s Wolf in case you’d like to see what I mean:

***

He wouldn’t look at her, but nudged the plate toward her. “The cubs almost ate all of the chocolate cake. You said earlier it was your favorite, so…”

“Thank you.” She accepted the slice, partly wrapped in a napkin, and immediately took a bite of the moist, chocolaty heaven. Sweet perfection exploded across her palette. Carri half-closed her eyes in bliss, enjoying the velvety richness of the cake and smooth, intense icing. “Oh, whoever baked this should win an award.” Jason shook his head, catching her attention. Blushing, she mumbled around a mouthful of cake. “What?”

“It amazes me how much you can enjoy a bite of food.” His voice had its usual gruff tone, but his eyes warmed with a twinkle she hadn’t noticed before.

“Good food deserves to be appreciated properly.” She stood straighter. “This is a work of art. Chocolate is a wonderful thing.”

He frowned, his expression doubtful. “It’s a slice of cake.”

“It’s chocolate cake, very moist, and with really good icing.” She corrected him, holding out the slice.
“Here, try some.”

“Maybe a taste.” He gave in, but he didn’t take a bite from the slice she held. Instead, he separated the space between them, taking his taste from her lips.

***

Obviously, my slipping out to taste the wonders of New Orleans will be important research. After all, there will be more books to come in both my Terra’s Guardians and Triton Experiment series. Gotta have some wonderful things for my characters to enjoy. 😉

To tide us all over until we can get to AAD New Orleans, I figured I’d share my recipe for crab and shrimp etouffee.

***

Shrimp and Crab Étouffée , adapted from THE PÊCHE

1.5 pounds raw shrimp, peeled
approx 1 cup crab meat
2 tsp & 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or a little more)
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
3 c. chicken broth (low sodium)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 c. finely chopped scallions
Cooked white rice, for serving

Prepare shrimp:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add two teaspons of salt (Kosher? Yes, it’s different from table salt or sea salt) to the water and then add in the shrimp. Boil for approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Rinse with cool water, drain and set aside along with drained crab meat.

Make the Étouffée:

Combine the remaining two teaspoons of salt, cayenne, black pepper, basil, and thyme in a little bowl. Set aside.

Put a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat.

Add the oil. Just as it starts smoking, add in the flour evenly across the oil and whisk vigorously for a minute or so.

Turn heat down to medium low and brown the roux for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until it’s looking like dark chocolate.

Add the onion and cook until soft, approx 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add in the bell pepper and celery along with one tablespoon of the spice mixture. Stir until combined.

In a different saucepan, heat chicken broth to boiling. Once it’s boiling, get the roux mixture back on medium heat and slowly whisk in the broth until combined, about two minutes. Move the pan off the heat.

In another saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 5 Tbs butter. Add in the shrimp, crab meat and scallions. Stir. Cook for a minute and then add in the remaining spice mixture. Stir and then add it all into the roux, stirring until mostly combined. Add in the remaining Tbsp butter and stir until shiny and glossy.

Serve the étouffée in a shallow bowl and top with rice. Maybe garnish with more chopped scallions. Enjoy.

***

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Oh my gosh – after all that I’m so hungry! What about you! Like mentions of food in books? Have a favorite example? What’s a “signature” food you’ve never had but want to try, and where? (E.g. gelato in Italy, a Philly cheesesteak in Philly, deep dish pizza from Chicago.) Or do you have a recipe to share? You know I love recipes! One lucky commenter is going to win a copy of Red’s Wolf from Ms. Schnyder! (Contest rules here.)