Saving It All Pt. 5 Sci-fi Romance Short Story Video Series

 

 

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Gina

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A Chicken Soup Recipe + Cozy Mystery = H.L. Carpenter

Please welcome our favorite mother/daughter writing team back to the blog as they share their chicken soup recipe. It’s perfect timing because chicken soup helps with allergies that flare up when everything that grows is blooming.

SOUPING UP THE CHICKEN

by HL Carpenter

We’re good eggs here in Carpenter Country, and we subscribe to the waste-not philosophy of life. In our kitchen, one cooked chicken results in multiple meals, including delicious homemade chicken soup.

For this soup recipe, we began with a chicken slow-cooked in the crockpot. Once the chicken was cooked and the initial chicken-and-vegetable-and-potato meal eaten, we separated the remaining meat from the bones. We used the darker chicken meat in the soup, and the white-meat portions in chicken salad, chicken potpie, and chicken sandwiches.

Then we got out our soup pot and put together this stovetop soup. For extra flavor, when we filled the pot with water, we added a few spoonsful of the drippings collected in the crockpot as the chicken cooked.

Note that this recipe works exactly the same if you prefer to roast your chicken in the oven.

Here’s our souped-up video. The full recipe follows below.

CHICKEN SOUP CARPENTER STYLE
Chicken trimmings (bones and skin) from fully cooked chicken
Water (enough to cover the trimmings and fill the pot)
2-4 tbsp. pan drippings, depending on the size of your pot
2-4 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice (we used frozen mixed)
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. garlic salt (or regular salt if you prefer)
2 tsp. minced garlic
Dash black pepper
2 cups shredded chicken meat

Add chicken trimmings to pot.

Add enough water to cover the trimmings and fill the pot.

Add pan drippings.

Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.

Remove chicken trimmings from pot with strainer or slotted spoon and skim off any foam from the broth.

Add vegetables, seasonings, and shredded chicken to pot. Add additional water if necessary.

Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes.

Serve hot with bread or crackers.

TIPS and TRICKS
Add a packet of chicken bouillon with the drippings to punch up the flavor.

For a thinner broth, leave out the vegetables (or cook them until they are very soft) and reduce the amount of shredded chicken. Use the broth in other recipes or serve in mugs.

To make chicken noodle soup, add noodles or pasta of your choice along with the vegetables.

Be creative with the spices. For instance, a dash of curry powder adds a unique flavor.

While you’re savoring your soup, we invite you to enjoy an excerpt from our mystery,Murder by the Books.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on TwitterPinterestLinkedinGoogle+GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

 

 

Thank you for cooking for us today, ladies! You’re welcome back anytime!

 

Gina

 

Fighting about Fouls at ESPN by Anne Montgomery (A Light in the Desert)

Anne Montgomery is one of my favorite storytellers. I’m always honored when she stops by the blog to share experiences from her career as a sportscaster.

Thank you for your many wonderful tales, Anne!

ESPN_logos

In a perfect world, sportscasters would get long leisurely looks at the highlights they use in their live broadcasts. They’d get to rehearse a few times, using their own verbiage to describe a sweet double play or a long touchdown run.

But in the real world, there are times when sportscasters don’t get to view the video prior to a broadcast. Imagine trying to look pleasant, sound authoritative and knowledgeable, and having to describe a previously-unseen set of highlights, while someone is yelling in your ear. Now, try to do it when the highlights are poorly written.

At ESPN, there was a group of workers called PAs: production assistants who spent almost all their time observing games and picking plays for SportsCenter broadcasts. I’m sure to rabid sports fans the gig sounds like having one foot in heaven. A PA would be assigned a game, they’d sit back, watch, and pick three or four highlights. All they had to do was get the plays edited and write a script explaining what was happening in the shots they chose. A final score would then be added. That was it.

Generally, the PAs would appear at the anchor’s newsroom desk before the show and hand over their version of the script. I would always go view the video, make my own additions to the copy, and thank the PA. Beautiful.

However, sometimes there were late games that were still in progress during the SportsCenter broadcast. It was one of these contests and a subsequent set of highlights I received that got me into a bit of a pickle.

One evening, a sheet of game highlights was slipped onto my desk just as the crimson camera light blinked on. I smiled and read the intro. Then, as the video rolled, I eyed the script with my left eye and focused on my desk monitor with my right. (Not really, but it sort of feels that way.) And there it was, a screaming line drive hit into the first row seats, beaning a spectator squarely on the noggin. I read the script and immediately knew there’d been a mistake. The copy read that the fan had been hit by a foul tip. I knew this was impossible, but the next play quickly appeared and I had no time to right the wrong.

download-1All fouls are not created equal.

It wouldn’t be until the postmortem – the meeting that followed each show, a time during which errors were discussed by everyone involved in the broadcast – that I would get the chance to point out the obvious problem.

“Rich,” I said to the PA, who like all of his ilk was just out of college, sans any previous TV experience, and while they were sometimes treated like slave labor, were willing to do almost anything to get into the business. “Here,” I said, pushing the highlight sheet across the conference table. “Look at the first play.”

“The one where the guy gets hit with the foul tip?” He asked without looking at the page.

“That’s the one.” I smiled. “You don’t want to do that again.”

“Do what?” Rich squinted.

PAs lived in fear of making a mistake, knowing there was a long list of kids who’d do anything to get into ESPN. They worked without contracts for so little pay three or four of them often rented tiny apartments together, and they could be terminated without cause. Still, they lined up in droves to work at the network.

“It wasn’t a foul tip that hit the guy, Rich. It was a foul ball.”

“What’s the difference? The producer asked, palms up.

I looked around the table, finding it odd that no one else seemed to understand. “A foul ball is one that goes out of the playing area in foul territory. It’s a dead ball. Nothing can happen on the field. A foul tip, however, is a ball that generally goes directly from the bat to the catcher’s glove and is legally caught. A foul tip is always a strike and, unlike a foul ball, can result in strike three.”

“So?” Rich said defensively.

“A foul tip is a live ball.” I paused, waiting to see the light bulbs go off in the brains of my SportsCenter peers, but they just stared at me. “If there are runners on base, they can steal at their own risk,” I went on. “That makes it impossible for a fan to be hit with a foul tip. It was a foul ball.”

“It’s the same thing,” Rich insisted.

“No, it’s not.”

“Why do you care?” The PA said, sounding petulant now. “No one else does.”

I looked around the room. None of the other members of the crew had chimed in. Generally, in these meetings, everyone had an opinion and no one was timid about sharing.

“I care, Rich. I’m an umpire. And there are people out there who know that. It embarrasses me to make that kind of mistake.”

Rich’s face turned bright red. “You’re just being a picky bitch!” Then he got up and left the room.

The next day, I was called into my boss’s office. He had been apprised of my comments and insisted that I apologize to Rich.

“But he was wrong,” I said. “I never raised my voice or got defensive. I simply explained that he’d made a mistake.”

My boss was unswayed. That the young PA called me a bitch did not seem to matter. I was forced to apologize.

And all these years later, it still rankles.

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

Deep in the Dreaming Release Week Playlist & How Music Helps Me Write.

Press play now and you can listen to the Deep in the Dreaming playlist while you read.

Music

 

Sometimes I’ll listen to the same song until I feel like it has got it’s message across in how it relates to the character, scene, or story I’m writing. Wake Me Up by Avicii was key to unlocking how and why Draper ended up spending most of the last decade in the Dreaming. I listened to the song at least ten times while I was exploring Draper and creating his past.

Girls Like You cover by Walk Off The Earth. When Draper’s attraction to Elena continues to deepen, he decides that they could be special in each other’s lives, and that she understood him. Listening to this song while I was writing the book didn’t vibe 100% because Elena wasn’t doing what Sarah is singing about here. Not Elena. And Draper’s addiction history mean no ganja or alcohol. There was no escaping the song at the time because it was on most of my radio stations and in my playlist, just like Draper and Elena found themselves in the same places at the same time.

F0NfQxAw

This playlist is influenced by the infectious energy of my favorite band, Walk Off The Earth. My daughter (standing between Gianni and Sarah) and I (standing between Sarah and Marshal) met the band during their November 2018 tour in Dallas. It’s a moment I hope to remember forever. What an amazing group of musicians they are!

I Like Me Better by Lauv perfectly describes how Draper feels when he’s with Elena and it’s why he faces his personal demons and steps up when Elena needs him most. This is another example of a song filling in pieces of a character’s emotional landscape.

We’ll jump way ahead in the story with the Love Lies cover by Walk Off The Earth. There comes a point when Draper has to wonder if Elena is more dedicated to ? (spoiler) than she is to him. I was feeling pretty bad for Draper when I wrote this part and so was Draper. Listening to the song helped put me in the right frustrated, confused head space that Draper was in.

Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne clicked when everyone was struggling. Were you glad to see Avril back with such a strong song? I was! I know this song speaks to people going through tough times. I needed the angst in this song to infuse scenes I wrote, which it did.

Drag Me Down cover by Walk Off The Earth illustrates the determination Elena needed to overcome her biggest obstacles in the worst place anyone can imagine, a parallel dimension where confusion, treachery, and evil reign supreme. Draper stands behind her. A truly awe-inspired moment in the story. My family loves this song, including my three-year-old granddaughter who sings it and stomps her feet on time with the video. Yep, that melts her G.G.’s (Grandma Gina’s) heart every time.

That’s Amore by Dean Martin was a fun addition to the playlist because it speaks to Elena’s roots and one of Draper’s favorite places to vacation. They needed a love song to celebrate with. These two could definitely appreciate Martin’s light-hearted vibe after what they went through.

I listen to playlists I’ve made from books I’ve written in the past and ride the nostalgia wave created by the music, which feeds into writing scenes for characters from previous Natural Gifts books. The playlist for Desert Sunrise (Book 2 of the Natural Gifts series). includes Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich and Indian Outlaw by Tim McGraw. Those songs give me a good sense of Lucy’s playful, saucy spirit and help put me in her head space when I wrote scenes for her in this book and in future Natural Gifts books.

Music has always been a huge part of me, enriching, inspiring, consoling, and entertaining me through all phases of my life. I’m a closet songwriter and if you’ve seen someone singing and dancing to a good song in a store, that was me or someone channeling me.

I want to hear about your relationship with music now in the comments!

 

Deep in the Dreaming Ad 1 (1)

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mBr2zy

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart’s desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!

Special Offer Ends Sunday! Step 1_ Purchase

Purchase Deep in the Dreaming during launch week (March 19th-March 23rd) and you could have your very own limited edition IvyRose products in your swag bag! While supplies last. To claim your deluxe swag bag send proof of purchase to ginabrigantiauthor at gmail dot com with the subject line “I Got Deep.”
Logo:Enriching Life Designs

Goodies in the swag bag were made by A Joy Forever Bath + Body and No Two Soaps. Like Ivy from my Natural Gifts series, these ladies make top-notch, eco-friendly,  fun treats for the body. They are real-life Ivys! Read more about IvyRose by clicking here.

 

About the Author

gina-pic-1-crop-300-dpi

Gina Briganti writes fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. She also writes about Reiki (a relaxation technique) and self-help. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Connect with Gina around the web! There’s a websiteFacebook page, Amazon Author Page, YouTube channel,Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads profile.  There are exclusives and announcements in her newsletter, which you can sign up for right here.

Thank you for reading!

Gina

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