News and Notes


So this week has been about taking the kids to the park, or swimming, or teaching the kids how to ride bikes. Next week, I’m going on vacation, so that should be exciting. Twelve days of camping. That’s a lot of togetherness. A LOT OF TOGETHERNESS.

No, I’m not totally petrified. Why do you ask?

I should have some good pictures of Edinor the Tyrannosaur as she camps her way through the wilds of the West. (We are going to some places I’ve never been in my life, so I’m excited about that)

I recently finished up Highland Deception, and have sent it off to beta readers to go over before I send it off to the publisher. It’s the story of a rogue and a thief who, upon the death of his brother, assumes the position of laird of the Clan Mackay… and the wife his brother didn’t want. I’m excited to share it with you when the time comes.

But, in the mean time, I got blind-sided by a story. It’s been cooking for a couple of years, now, and I’ve been intending to write it, but I thought I’d go with another steampunk, or my crazy “Scottish vampire duke who invents things goes to the old west and has a lot of sex” book. It was my mash-up of every genre I could think of, just to see if I could do it. Steampunk meets highlanders in the Old West meets a Regency-style hero meets vampires and sex. But then this story, which is a complete departure from anything else I have published, sprang back to life.

We’ll see how it goes, but for right now, I’m excited about it. It’s been a while since a story has grabbed me by the lapels and demanded, “Write me!” I love it when a story gets bossy, when the characters fill your head until you can’t sleep at night. Jessie’s War did that for me almost two years ago now. Succubus is doing it for me now.

Yeah, not a steampunk, not a western. Not even an historical. No, this story is an urban fantasy.

But it’s funny, because in my original conception of the story, I totally saw it from Zeke’s point of view. The story, as it’s coming to me now, is from Adara’s. It’s pretty great.

In any case, today I had an interview for Jessie’s War here, so if you want to catch up with me, pop on over. Come see why these are some of my favorite characters that I’ve ever written.

–M

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My Summer of Being Granola


I know I’ve been a bad blogger–bad Meggan, bad Meggan. Let’s just say that, after two hernia surgeries less than six months apart, and more mesh than a stripper in fishnets, I **should be** on the mend.

But the surgeries and work and life (read: t-ball and softball) took their toll on my blog. We weren’t getting home until almost 8:00 on any given evening, and then it was a rush to get dinner and showers done by a reasonable hour. And the morning time? Forget it. That was all about me nagging my children about their homework, and trying to make sure they completed their chores and didn’t forget anything on their way out the door.

It was… busy.

But softball season is over (yay!) and school is out, so I’ve decided on embark on yet another project. This one revolves around both food and outdoor activities.

For a background on the food project, I’ll tell you: my family has some weird dietary restrictions.

I have celiac, and I’m allergic to eggs and beef (and a mystery, TBD spice, but we won’t mention that). Husband is diabetic. My young son gets a glorious rash that mysteriously gets better when I don’t feed him wheat products, but the doctor swears up and down he has no allergies (granted, he also didn’t see the hives he got from the latex tape, either. They bled). Now before you scoff at the rash, I’ll tell you this: he has scars from it, it gets that bad. So when I say it gets better without wheat, that’s something, because, honestly, corticosteroids helped, but not as much as the giving up of wheat did. And both of those together actually cleared it up for a few days.

And Monkey, AKA Tiny Daughter (who, at eight, is not so tiny anymore)? Well, she gets stomach migraines (yeah, I sort of thought that was a “Get out of here, crazy Mom” diagnosis, too. Except it’s been mentioned a couple of other times, not in relationship to Monk, so maybe it is a real thing.) Anyway, her stomach aches get better when she’s not eating artificial colors.

So here’s what we have going: diabetes, celiac, no artificial colors (and I’m cutting out the flavors). The doctor told M no diet sodas, because they mess with blood sugar, and, because I’m reactionary, I took out all artificial sweeteners except Splenda, which she said was okay. So M’s favorite sugar-free creamer? I trashed it. He gets fat-free half and half instead, which I actually like better.

So, with all of this, I’m doing a crazy crack down on processed foods. No nitrates, no sulfites, no artificial colors or sweeteners (except Splenda, because, well, I can only go so far). I’m using agave nectar to sweeten most things I have, because, in theory, it doesn’t raise blood sugar like regular sugar does, but even that I’m trying to do in moderation.

And all of this makes me feel… pretty granola.

And dude… it’s hard to be granola.

Do you know how hard it is to find nitrate-free lunch meat? Or bacon? Or sausage without MSG? I mean, if I go to Whole Paycheck, land of uber-granola, I can find it, but a) nitrate free lunch meat has the consistency of a slimy sponge, and b) who can spend that much money on food? It’s already three dollars for a gallon of milk if I buy the cheap stuff on sale ($4+/half gallon for the organic stuff, and there’s just no way). Can I really afford to spend $15/pound on almond flour? And two dollars for a bunch of kale?

No. And growing it myself is sort of out of the question this season.

But, with the wizardry of the internets, I can find bulk almond flour for about $6/pound, which is way more expensive than wheat, but is better and cheaper than the trip to the ER for one of my attacks–which I haven’t had since I gave up wheat, so I guess there’s that. So, I’m embarking on a project where I bake my own bread, make my own lunch meat, and basically, where I serve low-carb (but hopefully still good) food that is good for us, too. It’s a whole foods kick, low carb style (almost, but not quite, paleo). If I don’t know what it is, I don’t eat it.

So, for my first recipe in this endeavor, I recently made mashed cauliflower as a replacement for mashed potatoes. It went over relatively well. M liked it, I liked it. Chewey seemed to think it was okay, and Monk wouldn’t touch it, because heaven forbid I make a single meal where no one complains.

Bonus? It’s so stinking easy, and it was cheap.

So, here’s the recipe:

1. 1 head of cauliflower, cut up

2. 1 cup of chicken stock

That’s basically all you need to start. I added garlic into the pot because I like garlic mashed potatoes, but you don’t have to do that.

Anyway, I put everything in a Dutch oven. Any old pot will work, but I’m in love with my ceramic Dutch oven, so there’s that.

Bring to a boil and let it cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. If the chicken stock gets low, add more.

Once the cauliflower is ready, transfer it to a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds, and then start adding what you like in potatoes. I like cream cheese, so I added some, along with two tablespoons of clarified butter. It was still a little dry, so I added a little more chicken stock from the pot. The chicken stock adds plenty of salty flavor, so I just topped it with some pepper (because my family likes pepper. A lot of pepper), and served it up. I’m sure it would be awesome with bacon and chives, but bacon doesn’t exactly make things low-fat. Or good for you.

But it is delicious.

 

 

 

 

What’s Better Than #Free?


Hi Everyone,

So, a couple of weeks ago, my publisher decided to try a little experiment with my debut novel, The Marker, and put it up for free on Amazon. And this week, Jessie’s War, my western steampunk has gone free!

This is a story near and dear to my heart, and is set close to my hometown. I’ve included the blurb and an excerpt below! Click here for the link to Amazon!

JessiesWar_MegganConnors_Final

She’s about to become a pawn in a brutal game between nations…

The American Civil War has raged for more than ten years. The outcast daughter of a famous inventor, Jessica White has struggled to salvage what little remains of her life. Then, one cold winter night, the lover she’d given up for dead returns, claiming the Union Army bought the plans for her father’s last invention. But he’s not the only one who lays claim to the device, for the Confederacy wants the invention as well. Both sides will kill to have it.

…And only he can save her.

As an agent for the Union Army, Luke Bradshaw is a man who will use whomever and whatever is at his disposal in order to complete his mission. An attack by Confederate soldiers ensures that Jessie will turn to him for help, but Luke can’t help but wonder about the secrets she keeps–and if those secrets will ultimately prove fatal.

Excerpt: 

Someone knocked, and Muha’s tentative barking turned hysterical.

Taking her revolving shotgun back down, she crept to the lever that would pull down the shutters and arm the Gatling gun mounted to the rooftop.

“Go home, sheriff. Not talking to you today.”

“It’s not the sheriff.”

Her hand froze and the shotgun clattered to the floor. Gooseflesh dotted her arms and her pulse quickened, a frantic rat-a-tat-tat like a hail of bullets, as her body recognized what her logical mind denied.

The room went quiet. Muha sat with her ears pricked up, her tail thumping cautiously against the worn pine floor. The wolf recognized the gravelly voice, too.

The knock became more insistent, sharper. “Please open the door, Jessie.”

It was a dead man’s voice.

She struggled to fill her lungs with air as the pine door shook beneath her visitor’s heavy fists. Those hands would be big and strong and ridged with calluses. Her heart twisted painfully in her chest, and she tried not to think about them. Or their owner.

She’d gotten over his loss just like she’d gotten over all the others.

With trembling hands, Jessie picked up her shotgun and rested it against the wall. Her legs leaden, she walked to the door and put her hand on the knob, but hesitated.

She’d dreamed of this moment for years, of this man walking back into her life.

Now she couldn’t bring herself to let him in.

“Please. It’s freezing out here.”

She turned the knob, and Luke Bradshaw stood in her doorway, the brim of his hat heavy with snow, and small flakes clung to the dark lashes fringing his silver eyes.

He was as tall as she remembered, towering over her as he stood on her sagging front porch, bringing with him the scent of smoke and sulfur and snow. A black slouch hat covered his head and rested low over his eyes, and a black duster swirled around his bright-spurred boots. The silver six-shooter on his left hip glittered in the low light, and a large, black satchel was strapped to his broad back.

Muha pushed her head past the door.

Luke gave her a lopsided smile and took off his hat. “Hi, Jess.” A scar she didn’t remember ran through his right eyebrow, and another creased his chin. He held his hand out to Muha and scratched behind her grizzled ears, the way he always used to greet her. He handed her a piece of jerky, and despite the long years, a friendship was immediately rekindled. “There’s a girl.”

“Luke.” Jessie reached out to touch his cheek. The stubble of his unshaven jaw was rough beneath her palm, and his skin was cold. Her fingers trembled as she traced his lips, his breath warm against them.

He kissed her fingertips.

Dead men didn’t breathe or kiss a girl’s fingers. Dead men didn’t leave as boys and come back as men. Dead men didn’t come home with new scars or shiver with cold.

“You’re alive,” she whispered.

“Yep.”

His sweet, boyish smile melted her heart, and something inside her, denied for far too long, splintered and howled in despair.

She slapped him.

The crack echoed in the empty, snow-lit darkness behind him. Jessie stepped back to slam the door on this would-be ghost who had the gall to walk back into her life and act as if he’d never left.