Fall is the best.
Our favorite time of year to get out and do family activities is fall. None of us like the summer heat, so when fall rolls around, we're all in better moods and ready to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
Every year it seems there are more and more Halloween and fall-themed activities to do in my area. Wish we could hit them all, but our September and October weekends lately have been taken up by marching band contests. Another great fall activity, but sadly lacking in giant bins of corn in which to lose oneself.
Probably the most quintessential Halloween activity is going to haunted houses. I wasn't much into it as a kid (I was kind of a scaredy cat), but as an adult, I rather enjoy them. Everyone needs a good scare now and again to feel alive. My area has a great selection of them, from ones out in scary woods to one in the actual old catacombs underneath the court house. That was the spookiest by far, for the venue only.
On the other end of the spectrum, my little girl (who's not so little now) and I used to love to have Halloween-themed tea parties. And our favorite snack to make was Chocolate Cookie Spiders (recipe below).
Chocolate Cookie Spiders
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 tub chocolate frosting
Stir cake mix, butter, and eggs together to form a dough. Bake cookies for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cut the twizzlers so you have enough to make enough legs for the number of cookies you have. We usually make 6-legged spiders due to not having enough Twizzlers after sampling a few. Slather cookie bottoms with frosting, add legs, and top with another cookie to make a sandwich. Affix M&M eyes with frosting. (If you need the eyes to be sturdier in place, you can affix them with melted chocolate instead.)
And fall just wouldn't be fall without a trip to the pumpkin patch (a sincere one, of course). We have some fantastic farms in our area, and we definitely have our favorites--the ones that have a pumpkin smashing party on the last day of the season!
In fact, we had so much fun smashing pumpkins, we made it a yearly activity at home as well. When I'm finished with my outdoor decorations, we take them out in the woods and smash them to bits. Even the big kids get in on the fun.
And last but by no means least, trick-or-treating. The perfect end to the perfect Halloween season.
Hope you're out there making memories this fall!
See you back here tomorrow for more 13 Days of Halloween!
It's not Halloween without a few scares!
Every year my husband and I participate in a haunted trail at our friends' house.
There's a big party, and then we take to the woods to scare kids and adults alike. This year's theme was zombies, and my job was to be a person trying to get away from and get rid of the zombies. Basically I was the distraction for the trail goers while my husband snuck up on them to scare them. I'm usually the distraction, because I'm not scary at all.
Like last year, when it was my job to try to get the kids to touch "brains" and "intestines"...
...so Pigman could scare them. Pigman seems to be the go-to mask choice lately. Works well for both slaughterhouse and zombie themes.
And sometimes we cross a line...
My husband was hoping not to get pulled over while driving out to the trail with these babies in the back of his truck. I made these props at home, which I'll discuss in another post, so be sure to check back. That year I was a doctor trying to cure an epidemic that was turning people into...whatever it is that my husband is portraying below. I think it had to do with a flesh-eating virus or something like that.
Regardless of the theme, or whether or not we can get some kids to scream and jump (this year my husband made one kid cry), we always have a great time with our friends. If you ever have a chance to participate in a haunted house of some kind, do it!
What's Halloween without treats?
But if you're like me and you tire of sweet treats (too much sugar makes my teeth feel fuzzy!), then this is the post for you.
SAVORY HALLOWEEN TREATS!
My go-to personal fave is the FLAYED HEAD CHEESEBALL. It's gross. It's delicious. It's easy. And your sculpting skills only have to be sub-par to pull this one off. The recipe is laughably simplistic, and I call it the "white trash cheeseball" if I fix it any other time of year. The ingredients are disgusting (although together are oddly wonderful), and available anywhere.
2 (8 oz.) bricks of cream cheese
2 packages of Budding Ham
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t onion powder
2 large green olives
8 sliced almonds
a few slices of ham lunchmeat (a little better quality than the Budding, so you can see the meat tissue)
Step 1: Beat the cream cheese
Step 2: Chop the "ham"
Step 3: Mix all the ingredients together
Step 4: Fashion the resulting goo into a large ball and a small cube, then refrigerate for a while. These will be the skull top and jaw.
Step 5: Smush the two together on a serving plate and make it look like a skull. Use a butter knife to smooth out the imperfections. Cut holes for eyes, nose, and mouth. Use the excess to fill in wherever you need.
Step 6: Insert the eyes and teeth, then rip up the ham and lay it out all over the skull. Make sure to add a spreader to the head for that final touch of the macabre. Serve with crackers--our personal faves are Triscuits and Chicken in a Biscuit.
Another crowd favorite (and super easy treat) is
These are just refrigerated breadstick dough and a dash of creativity. You use 2 breadsticks per snake, so you get 6 snakes per can. Pinch the perforation together to create one long breadstick. Stretch one end and twist to make a "tail." Cut the other end with a knife to resemble the diamond-like shape of a snake's head, and coil it up like a snake ready to strike. I used green olives for the eyes and the pimentos from inside the olives for the tongues. Easy peasy. Bake as directed on the can, and add a few minutes since these are all coiled up. Serve with blood...I mean marinara sauce...for dipping.
How about a couple more non-sweet treats?
Click HERE and follow the instructions to download IT'S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH, the first novel in my THE LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series.
99c Halloween ebook!
THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, the second book in my Lizzie series, is on sale!
Get it here:
AND IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH TREATS...
The Trick-or-Treat multi-mystery author giveaway is still going on, so you can go HERE to have a chance at a $100 Amazon or B&N gift card!
Check back tomorrow for some more Halloween fun!
If you haven't been here before--welcome to my blog!
I'm kicking off my "13 Days of Halloween" blog/social media event today with "Fab or Fail" costume ideas for adults.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love fall, spooky movies, costume parties, haunted houses, and of course the food!
As part of a multi-author Trick-or-Treating event, I've got treats for everyone (a free book and a 99c Halloween mystery) and two drawings for two lucky winners (a set of books, plus a chance at a $100 Amazon or B&N gift card)!!! Keep reading to find your treats!
We always have a huge Halloween party every year for the young and young-at-heart. We do a costume contest, Halloween-themed food, decorations galore, and of course a big costume contest. My husband and I always go all out with our costumes. Some are Fab, and some kind of Fail. Decide for yourself!
And now for the biggest treat of all...
Make sure to visit everyone listed below for as much Trick-or-Treating fun as you can get, and don't forget to check back here everyday for my "13 Days of Halloween" daily posts!
Oh, here's one more...
I have no words for this one...
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!!!
DON'T FORGET TO STOP BACK BY EVERY DAY THROUGH THE 31ST FOR MORE FUN!!!
I love Laura Chapman's romances, so of course
I'm thrilled to announce the release
of the first book in her new series!
COUNTING ON YOU
is available at
Amazon, GooglePlay, iBooks, Kobo, and B&N.
Is love worth the risk?
Math teacher Haleigh Parde has no desire to change her single status until she receives an invitation to her high school reunion. With her ex spreading rumors she needs a date and fast. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Haleigh finds herself meeting a blind date at a neighborhood bar called Amarillo Sour...
After watching Haleigh crash and burn, app developer Ian Henning makes her a proposition. If she'll provide honest feedback on his new dating app, he'll guarantee her a date to knock the socks off her former classmates. Even better, he—and the other Amarillo Sour regulars—will help her navigate the rocky road of dating.
Through setups ranging from awkward to absurd, Haleigh discovers her matchmaker might just be better than the matches. And Ian wonders if she's the answer to everything he's worked for professionally. Or is she something much, much more...
Want a taste of Amarillo Sour? Here you go!
Even better news... There's more to come!
About the author:
I'm sharing my files for labels that help me stay organized while I'm plotting a mystery. They can be printed on 2x4 labels, or the points can be jotted into your writer's notebook.
These points will help you plot each scene in your novel. They'll remind you to list the characters in the scene, the time and place it occurs, the major action contained in the scene, the goal of the scene, and the purpose of the scene/emotion to be evoked. Each scene we write should further the plot, have a purpose, and make the reader feel something.
Suspect Interview Punchlist:
Our detectives, not matter whether they're amateur or professional, have to do a lot of talking to a lot of people. This punchlist should help you get the basics out of every interviewee, whether they're a suspect, witness, or whatever. I find that a lot of times I don't use all the information I compile, but sometimes it helps flesh out the character to know some things about them you don't necessarily divulge to the reader.
1. Where/when/who: Where and when is the interview being conducted? At the crime scene right after the crime, or in someone's living room several days later? Who is doing the interviewing, and who is listening in?
2. Link/motive: Every interviewee must have a link to the crime/victim/suspect or a motive to have committed the crime, otherwise there's no reason to interview them.
3. Implicated by: Who pointed the finger at this person as someone who should be interviewed? Did another interviewee say, "If you ask me, his wife is as guilty as they come."? Also, their circumstance could implicate them without anyone pointing fingers. For example, the wife of the deceased would be implicated simply because she is the significant other.
4. Reaction to #3: How does the interviewee react when the detective explains why they are being interviewed in the first place? Sometimes to get a big reaction, the detective (especially an amateur one) can divulge who did the finger-pointing.
5. Alibi: They either have one or they don't.
6. Secret/Lie/Truth: Here's where the interview gets interesting. Have them either divulge a secret, tell a lie that your detective takes as truth, or have them be a truthful interviewee throughout.
7. Points to: This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #3. This is where the interviewee points the finger at someone else, either to save himself or be helpful to the detective. Or to throw out a red herring to throw everyone off.
About Clutch: A Novel:
** Now with five new bonus chapters **
Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
What Reviews Are Saying:
“LOVED. The perfect blend of sassy, smart and stylish!”
Amazon Bestsellers Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
“This book is absolutely hilarious!”
Pretty Little Book Reviews
“I thought the comparison to men and handbags was so genius! Becker really knows how to write to her audience, and this clever novel had me giggling throughout.”
Chick Lit Plus
Amazon Buy Links:
About Lisa Becker:
Lisa Becker is a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money - on books and margaritas. In addition to Clutch: a novel, she is the author of the Click trilogy, a contemporary romance series about online dating and Links, a standalone, second chance romance readers. As Lisa’s grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” Lisa is now happily married to a wonderful man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach, California with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone! You can share your love stories with her at www.lisawbecker.com.
Social Media Links:
Q&A with Lisa Becker
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm a romance writer who spends her time like she spends her money – on margaritas and books. In addition to my romantic comedy novels, which reviewers call clever, hilarious, sexy and smart, I’ve written bylined articles and participated in interviews about relationships, online dating and romance for a range of media including Reader’s Digest, Mind Body Green, Cupid’s Pulse, The Perfect Soulmate and TV Grapevine. My grandmother used to say, “For every chair, there’s a tush.” I’m now happily married to a wonderful man I met online and live in Manhattan Beach, California with him and our two daughters. So, if it happened for me, there’s hope for anyone!
Tell us about your most recent release.
A light-hearted, second chance romance, Links explores what happens when nerdy girl Charlotte reconnects with her unrequited schoolgirl crush, star athlete Garrett, 15 years after high school.
Did you have an unrequited crush in high school?
I'm not too ashamed to admit I had such a fierce crush on a boy, I willingly sat with him in the bathroom at parties while he puked up wine coolers, just so I could spend time with him. Thankfully, that soul-crushing time in my life is over, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I came upon that secret crush today as a confident, successful woman.
One of your books is based on how you met your husband. Can you tell us more about that?
I'm most known for the Click trilogy comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click, which is loosely inspired by how I met my husband. The series follows a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles with the entire series unfolding in emails between our heroine, her friends and her hilarious dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.
What is next for you?
This spring, I will re-release a novel I published several years ago called Clutch. The re-release includes five new chapters, a new cover and audiobook. It is a laugh-out-loud romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags (the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.) as she searches for the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.
Is Clutch also inspired by your real life?
When I was writing the Click trilogy I was obsessed with NCIS re-runs and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode where a character refers to a man as a “handbag husband,” or something useless you carry on your arm. I started thinking about that, and the idea for Clutch grew from there. I believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after
and would like to think there’s a “clutch,” or someone worth holding onto, out there for everyone.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
I think Eloise Mumford, who played Kate in Fifty Shades of Grey, would make an outstanding Caroline. She has the right mixture of warmth, gumption, vulnerability, and beauty to bring this character to life. I still can’t decide who would play Mike, although I know I’d love to sit in on those casting sessions. ;)
At the end of your life, when it is all said and done, what would you want your tombstone to read?
Here lies Lisa Willet Becker – a great wife, mother, friend and citizen who wrote books and movies people loved.
How can readers connect with you?
I love hearing from readers, especially when I've brought some humor, heart or happiness into their worlds with my writing. You can find me here:
Social Media Links
Links Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSwM4S3l9Pc&feature=youtu.be
Clutch Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/J875V_RTbbA
Where can readers buy your books?
Lisa is giving away a set of purse-themed notecards to readers of my blog! Enter below:
The DIFFERENT BUT GOOD Blog Tour
ends here...better late than never!
After a last-minute writing deadline that fell into my lap,
I wasn't able to get my post finished when I was supposed to,
but I'm back now and ready to talk remakes!
Need I say more?
Speaking of Mr. Darcy, evidently Helen Fielding thought Colin Firth was the one and only Mr. Darcy as well, because she insisted he play the part of Mark Fitzwilliam Darcy in the movie version of her novel, Bridget Jones's Diary. Throw in Hugh Grant, and a girl doesn't know who to root for. Of course Bridget Jones isn't an exact retelling of P&P, but all the elements are there. You've got Elizabeth and Darcy (Bridget and Mark), the scoundrel Wickham (Daniel Cleaver), Mr. and Mrs. Bennett (Bridget's parents, although you could argue that Bridget's mom also plays the role of Lydia, getting mixed up with that sleazy salesman guy), and the Bennett sisters (who are portrayed as Bridget's friends--which you could call her urban family). You've got a headstrong female lead who probably should think about settling down, but hasn't found Mr. Right yet. You've got uptight Mr. Darcy, who was painted badly to Elizabeth/Bridget by Wickham/Daniel's lies. And of course you have the bristly but heart-wrenchingly real love affair between Elizabeth/Bridget and Darcy.
For me, it doesn't get much better than Bridget Jones, books or movies. I just watched the 3rd one, and it was delightful.
And then you've got Pride and Prejudice AND ZOMBIES, because...why not? This version follows P&P well enough, of course veering off to do the whole zombie thing. It's fun because the female characters in it are true to their personalities in their personal lives, but when a zombie comes around, they go into full ass-kicker mode.
So, that's all for the DIFFERENT BUT GOOD Blog Hop!
Go back and visit all the other stops, if you haven't yet.
Thanks for hopping with us!
2/19: Jami Deise
2/20: Morgan Cain
2/21: Deborah Nam-Krane
2/22: Kerrie Olzak
Tracie Banister's new release,
IZZY AS IS,
is out now!
Scroll down to enter the giveaway!
Get it HERE!
The party is over for bikini model Izzy Alvarez. For six years she’s made a good living by flaunting her God-given assets on runways and in front of cameras, but now as she approaches the big 3-0, the bodacious Latina is shocked to learn she’s aged out of the profession that’s kept her in mojitos, mani/pedis, and designer thongs. What’s a girl with a taste for the finer things in life and no marketable skills to do?
Getting a regular job is too boring to even consider, so Izzy decides to follow in the footsteps of her newly-engaged frenemy and become a trophy wife. Although she’s desperate and too broke to get a chipped nail fixed, Izzy still has standards for her future husband, which means no uggos, no vertically-challenged guys, and no geezers who need to pop a blue pill to perform in the bedroom. Enlisting the aid of her computer whiz nephew and her closest pals, Izzy goes on the prowl for a rich, marriage-minded man, encountering likely candidates in a lot of unlikely places.
The high life she’s dreamed of may be within reach when Izzy meets a charming, successful man who’s not only hotter than a steamy summer night in Miami, but ready to settle down. Now all Izzy has to do is make sure her loud, crazy Cuban family doesn’t scare off el hombre perfecto—oh, yeah, and squelch those pesky, romantic feelings she keeps having for the sweet, cash-strapped guy she's known forever.
Will Izzy’s hunger for money win out, or will her fiery heart demand to be heard?
RELEASE WEEK BLITZ GIVEAWAY:
Purchase a copy of Izzy As Is during release week (January 24th-30th, 2018) and you could win a fantastic prize pack inspired by the book’s sassy Latina heroine (nail polish, jewelry, and mojitos are some of her favorite things) and the beachy setting in Miami. People who purchased Izzy during the pre-order period are also eligible for the giveaway!
This prize pack includes:
Deco Miami Custom Trio Set of Nail Lacquer with
Champagne Mami, Feeling Fuego, and Señorita
Betsey Johnson Peacock Feather Earrings
Gift Republic Mojito Cocktail Scented Candle
Coconut Scented Gift Set from The Body Shop
(inc. Shower Gel, Body Scrub, Body Butter, Soap, and Bath Lily)
Bella Pilar Gem-Topped Gold Pen
She Spiral Notepad Set by Kate Spade New York
(Quotes on Notepads: 1 - She believed she could, so she did. 2 - "How many shades of red lipstick do you need," they asked. "That question," she replied, "is complex and intriguing." 3 - She adores pretty things and witty words.)
To enter this giveaway, e-mail Tracie Banister at email@example.com with your proof of purchase. Entries will be accepted until midnight on January 30th, 2018 when a winner will be selected via random drawing. This is an international giveaway, so anyone who buys Izzy As Is within the allotted time frame is eligible to win. Good luck!
An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her work was first seen on the stage of her elementary school, where her 4th grade class performed an original holiday play she penned. (Like all good divas-in-the-making, she also starred in and tried to direct the production.)
Tracie’s dreams of authorial success were put on the backburner when she reached adulthood and discovered that she needed a "real" job in order to pay her bills. Her career as personal assistant to a local entrepreneur lasted for 12 years. When it ended, she decided to follow her bliss and dedicate herself to writing full-time. She is the proud winner of the 2017 Independent Press Award (Romantic Comedy) and a Bronze Medal in the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Awards (Chick Lit).
Although Tracie swore she’d never write a sequel to any of her books, the character of Izzy Alvarez, who first appeared in In Need of Therapy, would not be denied. Izzy As Is is Tracie’s fifth novel, and she hopes readers enjoy this return trip to Miami.
CONNECT WITH TRACIE:
Author Newsletter – The Banister Buzz https://eepurl.com/by0VAv
A dark thriller in the Ellie Matthews series from USA Today bestselling author Caroline Fardig.
Ellie Matthews is tired of her fifteen minutes of fame. After consulting on a high-profile murder case a few months ago, she wants nothing more than to fade back into obscurity and resume her life as a mild-mannered college professor. But when a family friend goes missing, Ellie finds herself thrust back into the grisly world of crime scene investigation.
It isn’t long before Ellie’s young friend is found murdered and her death is tied to a previously unsolved case. Based on the cryptic poems left on the victims, the department soon realizes that the killer’s vendetta is against them.
It takes all Ellie has to push her personal feelings aside and partner with Detective Nick Baxter one more time. The duo must stop at nothing to catch a vengeful serial killer before it’s too late.