Snippet Saturday – City As A Setting

snippetsaturdayI’m late! I’m so sorry. Ever since I walked away from social media this morning, I’ve been embroiled in the drama of housework and laundry.

I found a few minutes though so, here I am, finally doing my snippet.

City as a setting. I have several different cities in my books, but I’m having to think a lot about this theme. I don’t use cities very much and there’s not as much that happens outside as inside in my stories, but the one that sticks out most for me at this moment is Melting Jane. Jane and her best friend/business partner Edward, share loft space in downtown Denver. The urban setting makes impromptu morning shopping easy and accessible and for Jane, this isn’t always a good thing where Edward is concerned…

MeltingJane600x900Snippet 1:

“He drove all the way into the city, and he left just like that?” Edward questioned. He drained the rest of his latte and carefully wiped his mouth. Jane wanted to slug him for always being neat and tidy and so put together when half the time, she was less than all that.

“Yep.” What the hell was up with that? All because she told him to go? He didn’t have to give up so easily.

She really was better off that he did go, she knew that. There were just too many complications that came with being involved with a man like him. Life would be simpler without the want, the lust, the sheer hunger to crawl naked all over him.

If he had stayed, would she have given in? Of course she would have. She huffed out a frustrated sigh. She needed to shed the leftover shit from her relationship with Phillip. More than anything, reminders lingering in the house weren’t helping her move on. What was that thing about writing a letter and then burning it being somehow cathartic? Would the same hold true if she burned all the stuff he’d left at her door? Most of it was what she’d given him as gifts, so perhaps that would count as sort of her “letter.”

Indecision gnawed at her. Might be worth a shot. She didn’t want to hold on to someone that had walked away without a backward glance. She didn’t want to hold on to someone she had proved to herself she could live without, even if she had done so while consuming untold pounds of chocolate.

“Hey.” Edward snapped his fingers in front of her face. She blinked and focused on him.

“What?”

“Where’d you go? I was talking to you and you zoned out on me.”

“I’m tired,” she lied. “You know I don’t get up until the sun is high overhead.”

“Time to get over that. C’mon, finish up.”

“It’s illegal to be this perky this early.” Jane lowered her head to the table. “I don’t want to go shopping.”

“Liar.”

“Am not,” she whined. “You said we were going out for breakfast and coffee.”

“And we did. Now, I want to go shopping and don’t want to go alone, so you’re going with me.”

“What about your date from last night. Why not call him to go with you?”

“Because he’s the reason I’m going shopping.”

Edward usually didn’t need a reason to add to his wardrobe, but this was kind of interesting. “Are you ever going to tell me about this guy?”

“Are you ever going to stop moping around the apartment?”

Oh that was low. He was right, but still a low blow. “I’m not moping at the apartment right now.”

“No, you’re moping in this lovely little café.”

“I wouldn’t have to if you hadn’t promised me espresso drinks and pastries I don’t have to make.”

“I’m a sneaky bitch.” Edward winked at her and Jane couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up but she did her best to cover it up with a sip of espresso. Straight, unsweetened, smooth, rich espresso. If that didn’t wake her up, nothing would.

“That you are.” She took a big gulp of air and let it out in a huff. “Two stores. No more and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, tough.”

“Four stores and I’ll buy you lunch.”

“Three stores and you buy me lunch anyway.”

“Deal. And you have to try on this hot little black dress I saw yesterday.”

“No deal on that. I don’t need a little black dress, hot or not. I don’t want any new clothes. You can’t tempt me with them.”

“Again with the lies.” Edward shook his head. “Jane honey, you do need that dress and you do need new clothes.”

“Can we just go and get this over with? I want to get back to my sweat suit before it thinks I don’t love it anymore.”

“I’m going to burn it when we get back.”

Jane got up and set the pretty cup and dessert sized plate on the counter. “You’ll do no such thing.

“You’re right. I won’t. At least not the gray one. That one I tossed it in with the trash this morning when we left,” Edward said in his sing-song voice as he pushed the door open and walked outside. Jane was speechless. Momentarily so before she went chasing after him.

“You did what?” she asked, out of breath from jogging to catch up.

“I stuffed it in the trash bag while you were in the shower.” Edward paused outside his favorite kitchen store. “Do you want to go in? We could use a few more silicone spatulas.”

“Don’t change the subject. Why would you throw out my sweat suit?” Edward pushed open the door to the store and disappeared inside. He kept walking away. Did he think she wouldn’t kick him in the shin if they were in a crowded place? “And stop trying to get away from me,” she hissed.

“I’m not trying to get away from you. We need spatulas.”

Snippet 2:

“Will that be all?” the clerk asked her. Jane was quick to hand the dress over and nodded.

“Yes.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No, we’ll take these, too.” Edward placed a knee high pair of black boots on the counter. They were beautiful, elegant. Lace up the front, a short curved heel. She loved them immediately.

“Edward, really,” she whispered heatedly, ignoring the curious glance from the young woman behind the counter.

“These will be all.”

“Wonderful.”

Jane knew when she was beat. She walked away, all the way out the door, letting Edward do what he did best. Have his way.

The air was crisp, cold, tolerable. She liked the dry air, was happy there was no wind and that it wasn’t snowing. “Well, this has been a huge success.”

Jane turned to Edward as he joined her on the sidewalk. “What has?”

“Shopping.”

“Ah yes.” She started walking. “Where are your purchases for your man?”

“Oh I got them the other day.”

“Meaning this was all a ploy again, a set up.”

“I didn’t set you up with anyone other than me. I thought a morning out would be a nice change.”

“I don’t like that you’ve taken to lying to me.”

“If you liked the truth, I wouldn’t have to. Do you want to see him again?”

“Yes.”

“I have his number.”

“No, thanks. I said I want to, not that I’m going to. It’s pointless.”

“I don’t think so.”

“I love your optimism.” They walked in silence for a couple of blocks. The sun reflected off the glass of the high rise office buildings and coffee shops along the streets were full of customers. There was energy on the streets of Denver in the mornings, really at all hours of the day and sometimes into the nights. “I’ve missed this,” she admitted, when they stopped at a corner waiting for the street crossing signal.

“I know. You’re not meant to be holed up inside for months at a time like you have been.”

“No. I’m not. I like getting out. I like being around people.”

“You just needed a push.”

“More like a kidnapping.”

“I didn’t kidnap you, but the thought did cross my mind once or twice.” They reached for one anothers hands at the same time, clasping fingers tightly.

“I get it. I’ll try to get out more.”

“With Graham?”

“I doubt I’ll be hearing from him again. I threw him out last night.”

“He doesn’t strike me as the kind of man who gives up all that easily.”

“Maybe not, but I’m sure he isn’t used to having a door slammed in his face.”

“True. Let’s hope he surprises you and comes back.”

“You know I don’t like surprises.”

Edward laughed and opened the door to their building, ushering her inside. “I know, but he doesn’t.”

 

Please take sometime today over a nice cup of tea, coffee, cocoa and take a gander at some of the following blogs for their snippets:
Leah Braemel

Caris Roane

Eliza Gayle

McKenna Jeffries

Selena Blake

Taige Crenshaw

Delilah Devlin

Felicity Heaton

HelenKay Dimon

Shiloh Walker

Lissa Matthews

Myla Jackson

Lauren Dane

Jody Wallace

~lissa

Twisted Up Blog Tour

Twisted Up is being released in print. On Tuesday. November 6th.

I’m excited. I’m nervous.

It’s my first print book, that’s all my own. Cowboy Lust is in print and that was a thrill. But this one is mine… I don’t read print much anymore. I’ve become an  ebook addict. Almost as much as a coffee addict. 😉 There are many who do love print still. Heck, there are some books, some authors who I desire autographs from… For the most part though, I’m blowing my book budget (insert hardy laugh here) on ebooks because Amazon and Barnes and Noble make it so damn easy. And yes, it is their fault. All of it.

Anyway… What does Twisted Up coming out in print have to do with you? Other than the fact you want the book? Well, we’ve put together a little blog tour. I’m visiting and talking about real characters, musical inspiration, coffee, rope, sex toys… And yes, there are giveaways too. Books, rope, coffee, gift cards…

The way this is going to work, is Brandy and myself will pick winners from all the blog stops. One name at each blog at the end of the tour which will be Thursday, November 8th. Leaving comments on each blog isn’t going to increase your chances, but it will make me happy! My readers, YOU, are awesome and I am more thankful for your support than I can say. It’s because of you that any of the books I’ve written, exist and why I continue to write…

Below are the names and links to the blogs… Stay tuned to my Facebook page and Twitter for updates, or just mark your calendar for all the dates.

November 2: For The Love Of Reading

November 5: All I Want and More… AND Daydreamzz Book Blog

November 6: Romancing Rakes AND RR@H

November 7: Simply Ali

November 8: Here!

So, if you’re at all interested, come visit me and these blogs. We’ll be having a great time and would love for you to be a part of it. The giveaway is International.

Blurb:

One rope. Three days. And two hearts on the line.

Justin has had enough. Ella, the woman who healed his broken heart, has been cancelling on him for two months straight. Sure, she’s busy with her job, which has her traveling far and wide. But that never stopped her from sharing nights of trivia, long conversations and blazing hot sex—until now. Truth to tell, he misses their easy friendship, the way her sighs fill his ear as he fills her body.

What he can’t figure out is, what’s changed?

At work, Ella finds it easy to talk to rooms full of strangers. Once back at her lonely apartment, though, she’s back to her painfully shy self—until Justin. Their chance meeting grew over the months into a year-long affair, but she can’t shake the feeling that rejection and pain are just around the corner. Best thing to do? End it now, before their intimacy digs too deep.

Suddenly he’s at her door with a length of neon-green rope and a naughty proposition, daring her to say no. Just how good could it be? There’s only one way to find out…

Warning: The sheets are tangled, the hat is crumpled, and the jeans are worn low on the hips. The cowboy is hot, determined, and helpless in the face of bunny slippers. Readers may need extra batteries to get this one out of their system.

~lissa

Mark Your Calendar For Malachi’s Word

January is a long time away. We don’t like to think about January because that means we then start realizing just how close the holidays are and those always make us shudder. However, for anyone looking forward to my new m/m cowboy series, The Bar Next Door, you have to start thinking about January. Just bypass November and December because the holidays are going to come whether we want them to or not. Sometimes it’s best to face our fears head on anyway…

Malachi’s Word, is the first book in this new series. The release date is January 6, 2013. I am working on the cover art and blurb forms so in the next few months, we’ll have a hot cowboy cover to look at. A hot male/male cowboy cover to look at…

So, mark your calendars…

I’m sure you have your calendars marked for November 6, 2012, too right? For the print release of Twisted Up? If not, we need to have a conversation. There will be a blog tour, however, not at the blogs who’ve said they don’t want me on their blogs, but there will be a blog tour. There will be giveaways of print copies, coffee bowls and Cowboy Blend coffee, neon green rope… We will be having fun with this release.

As well, there is some cross and collaborating promo between myself and the fantastic Mandy Roth. Well, not Mandy as Mandy, but Mandy as Kennedy. We’ve decided to hook up and have some fun with her upcoming book…

and…

Y’all see the potential there, right? Woot!

I’ll keep you informed. For now, just get those calendars marked… We’ve got work to do and things to look forward to. I love you y’all for sticking by me. There aren’t enough words to say how much.

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Coffee Creamers

Coffee. I love coffee. We all know that. I also like my coffee sweet. I’ve tried it black, straight, strong, weak, medium, fresh ground, pre-ground, cheap, and not so much… No matter what the brand, the price… I don’t like straight black coffee.

When I started drinking coffee, I started out on the sweet kind and well, you know how it goes.

My preferred coffee of choice now is cold-brewed iced coffee, but I drink my fair share of hot coffee. I drink flavored lattes only on rare occasions now, because frankly they’re too sweet and too heavy. I like a good mocha and my favorite is from Caribou Coffee. They have a dark chocolate campfire mocha that’s amazing. It’s the only mocha I like really and I only have one of those every now and then. They are rich and sweet and so yummy that I can’t have them very often.

I have found in my drinking of and experimenting with coffee that different sweeteners work better in hot coffee than in iced coffee. Some don’t really work in either one because, if you like your coffee sweet, you’d have to use so much more than the suggested serving size of 1-2 tablespoons.

When I would get iced coffee from the coffee shops, I’d get a shot of vanilla or caramel syrup followed by milk. Sometimes soy, sometimes almond, sometimes regular. When I started moving away from refined sugars, I stopped buying iced coffees already prepped behind the counter. I’d instead use sugar in the raw and half and half. That one works in hot coffee too and isn’t too bad. It wasn’t enough though, I still needed to play and try things out.

My favorite store bought creamer was Bailey’s. Their caramel was my favorite, their French vanilla, a close second. And unlike most of the other coffee creamers on the market, there was no partially hydrogenated oil in it. And at the time, I wasn’t concerned with the fact there was sugar AND corn syrup AND artificial flavors. Eventually, I did become interested and stopped using them. That was a very sad day. I tried Coffee Mate’s new Bliss creamers and they were very good, only sugar, cream, and milk. Still though, one needed to use more than the recommended serving size if one was going to be able to taste it. For a small cup of coffee, 6oz, 2 tablespoons was good for me. In a large cup, 10oz or more and we’re talking 4 maybe 5 tablespoons depending on the strength of the coffee.

All this aside, I do understand why there are serving sizes and my coffee seems to be the one area I have the biggest portion dilemma in.

For the time being, I am using So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut creamer. It is great in hot coffee. It is awful in iced coffee.

I’ve tried Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer and I don’t like it in either hot or iced. Almond milk and regular soy milk? Same thing. Rice milk? Ick!

The flavored coffee creamers in the stores are delicious. But I don’t know how much sugar is in them, what kind of cream, or milk. I don’t want artificial flavors, oil, water, corn syrup. So Delicious has organic coconut milk, and does have sugar in the form of dried cane syrup. I don’t use a lot of it at one time. It doesn’t have an over the top coconut taste either and that’s great considering I don’t really like the taste of coconut.

One of the things I love for iced coffee now now is homemade coffee creamer. I’ve used three different recipes… And the one with Sweetened Condensed Milk (Organic), Milk (Organic), and homemade vanilla extract is my favorite for iced coffee. I’ve used Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk too and nothing in the flavor is compromised. It’s a very thick creamer and I measure it out to my tastes.

For this kind:

1 1/2 cups milk (2% for me)

14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 T pure vanilla extract

Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Keep refrigerated and shake before use.

I’ve made it with evaporated milk as well and didn’t care for it as much, but it’s still good and I may try it again…

12 oz can evaporated milk

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 T pure vanilla extract

Put in a glass bottle or jar and shake vigorously. Refrigerate. Shake before use.

The other that I’ve tried is from one of my favorite food blogs… Deliciously Organic. She has a ton of flavors and even an organic dairy-free, sugar-free recipe. This is the recipe, I’ve used before and it’s excellent.

French Vanilla

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 vanilla bean

Whisk together milk, cream and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half, and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla bean to milk mixture. Turn off heat, cover the pot and steep for 30 minutes. After mixture has steeped, strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, simply replace it with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)

This a thin creamer but it’s delicious.

And here’s the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe from Deliciously Organic… (she even has an Almond Joy flavor)

French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

For the creamer:
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons date paste (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Will store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one week.

Here’s the recipe she uses for the date paste:

Date Paste

For the syrup:
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1 cup hot water

Directions:
Place dates in a blender or food processor. Turn blender or processor on and slowly add in hot water. Leave the machine on for about 1 minute, until smooth. Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

I haven’t tried the sugar-free/dairy-free recipe yet, but one of these days, I will. I’m always up for trying new things.

If you’re so inclined, give some of the homemade creamers a try…I haven’t yet tried to make homemade sweetened condensed milk. It’s on my list though. I do make my own homemade vanilla extract.

What do you use for creaming and sweetening your coffee? I want all the details…grins.

~lissa

In The Kitchen With…Lissa

I made a cake over the weekend. It was one of those to-die-for cakes. It was chocolate, coffee, whipped cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, and it melted in my mouth. It was one of the best chocolate cake recipes I’ve ever made and I will be making at least the cake part of it again. Soon. Like next week.

Cappuccino Cake. Just the name brings to mind all sorts of yumminess. I mean, really, how could I, Lissa Matthews, be expected to resist the temptation of a concoction of such a delicious thing? It was gone by the next day and NO, not because I ate it all. My daughter’s friends came over and they had some, my son had a slice, I took several slices to the girls at the dental office, and I had a slice. And we aren’t going to discuss the 4 cupcakes the leftover batter made. Nope. We aren’t.

Before I give you the recipe, I will say I did modify things a little. The cake called for 2 extra large eggs, I used 2 large. I used Olive Oil instead of vegetable oil, and I used 2 cups of Sucanat instead of white granulated sugar. I love the way it works with chocolate recipes.

For the whipped cream cream cheese frosting, it called for frozen whipped topping, thawed of course. I made my own whipped cream for it. It took a little extra work and the end result was a little softer and than had I used the frozen kind. My reasoning was simple…the frozen kind is made from water, corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and high fructose corn syrup. Those are the main ingredients. Mine was made with organic heavy cream, two tablespoons of organic powdered sugar, and real vanilla extract (homemade).

Either way, the cake had to be refrigerated. And was better the next day after making it.

Cappuccino Cake:

For the chocolate cake:

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups Dutch cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment paper and sides of pan with butter or cooking spray.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

With mixer still on low, add the hot coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pans from oven to cooling racks.

After cakes have cooled, carefully turn one layer out onto cake plate.

For the frosting:

Ingredients:

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup strongly brewed coffee, at room temp

1 (8oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

cinnamon and chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffly.

Mix in coffee until well combined.

Fold in whipped topping.

Refrigerate frosting for 30 minutes before spreading on cake.

To Frost Cake:

Turn one cake layer onto serving platter.

Spread 1/2 the frosting over cake.

Top with remaining cake layer and remaining frosting.

Sprinkle cinnamon over top of cake.

Sprinkle chocolate chips around outer edge of cake.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing.

Store in refrigerator.

http://www.cajunsugarpie.com/2012/04/cappuccino-cake.html

It really is a divine and delicious cake. For the coffee parts, I actually brewed K-cups. LOL… This was a recipe that made this author incredibly happy with every bite!

~lissa