Thursday, February 27, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday: Children's Stories

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I love this week's question! It lets me give you a sneak peek of my upcoming book!

You are a children's book author. Write the first few lines of your new book.


On a forgotten shelf, in a forgotten shop, on a quiet street, in a quiet village lived a small tiger. His name was Horace, and nobody knew how long he had been there, not even him. One day he had simply opened his eyes and there he was sitting on a shelf, surrounded by all sorts of characters. There were lions, and elephants, and even tiny kangaroos. The store was a happy place then, with children of all ages coming in every day.

There you go! Watch for Tales From the Toy Store, coming soon! 






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Monday, February 24, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Rice Pudding

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When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to eat was rice pudding made by my grandmother. This isn't her recipe, but I still love rice pudding!

Rice Pudding:

Ingredients:
8 cups milk
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Raisins (optional)


Directions: 

Spray the crockpot with cooking spray, then combine the milk, rice, and sugar. Stir well and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or high for about 4.

When the rice is tender, mix in a large mixing bowl, the eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Scoop a 1/2 cup of the hot rice mixture into the mixing bowl and whisk. Keep adding 1/2 cup at a time of the rice and milk mixture into the egg bowl until about half of the milk and rice mixture is gone from the slow cooker. Then pour everything back into the pot. Stir well.  Add your raisins at this point if you want.

Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir well, then take the lid off of the cooker and unplug it. When the rice pudding is room temperature, you can refrigerate it.






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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday: Phobias

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It's been a weak of fearful things around here, which ties in perfectly with this week's question:

List a few phobias that you have. When and how did you discover you had these fears?

1. Heights - This has always been something with me. I was never the kid to run to the top of the bleachers and standing on a chair to change a light bulb made me nervous. As I've gotten older, it's only gotten worse. I try to challenge it every now and then, but I'm not very good at it.

2. Death - This isn't phobia level, but it's certainly a fear. I don't fear my own death but those who are closest to me. I, like so many others, don't handle heavy emotional blows very well and I sometimes worry about what would happen to me if someone I loved deeply died suddenly.

3. Questions I don't know how to answer - aka looking dumb. I avoided doing podcasts and interviews for a long time because I was afraid I'd come across as dumb or not as good as other people. I've been working on that though and realizing that people will accept me for who I am, even when I say something silly.

That's my list! What do you fear? What holds you back?






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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday: Tales From the Toy Store art

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If y'all were here a couple of weeks ago, you saw me mention that Eric Cockrell is doing the art for the book. Well, I have some exciting news! He's finished the first piece and shared it with me. Of course, this means that I need to share it with all of you.

Tales From the Toy Store art

Isn't he fantastic? I'm totally in love with him and I can't wait to see the other pieces. If things go well, I may be able to release this book in the next couple of months! 



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Monday, February 17, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Rice Krispy Treats

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Now for one of my kids' favorites when they were growing up!

Rice Krispy Treats:

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz) Marshmallows
6 cups rice krispies cereal

Directions:
Place butter in crockpot and cover with marshmallows and cereal. Cook on high for 1 hour, stir all ingredients well.

Spread into a prepared 9 x 11 pan. Cut into squares when fully cooled.






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Friday, February 14, 2020

Book Review: Invasion

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Aliens are invading.

The Earth is doomed.

The end of the world is a bad time to fall in love.

Joshy is a normal kid from an average town suffering through a mediocre road trip with his family. He's positive this vacation will be just as bland and uninteresting as every one that came before it.

Then he meets Debra.

She's everything he's ever wanted in a girl. She's smart, funny, and radiant. They love all the same things, right down to the same obscure comic books. There's a definite spark between them.

Literally.

The moment they finally kiss, a bolt of electricity from Debra's mouth knocks Joshy unconscious.

He wakes up to a shocking truth.

Debra is an alien.

Worse yet, another race called the Globorians are about to invade Earth and enslave all of humanity.

Now, Joshy and Debra must race against time to stop the Globorian plot and save the planet before it's too late.

-------------

The end of the world is a bad time to fall in love. That line says it all, doesn't it? But since I'm a bit chattier than that, let's jump into the review.

The Good:
Characterization. Among the many things that Russell is good at, characterization is right up there at the top. He creates characters that you love or love to hate, but never that you're indifferent to.  Then, he pulls you into the story, leaving you guessing as to what's going to happen next, who you can trust, and whether Josh and Debra can save us all before it's too late.

The Bad:
The use of the name Joshy. The kid hated it so I hated it. Dang families who won't listen to your feelings on things like what you want to be called! 

The Summary:
If you love science fiction, I strongly recommend this book. Any book that can get me attached to someone who might be a bad guy is a book worth reading and this book did just that. Russell is an incredibly skilled author and I've yet to read any of his books that I wouldn't recommend. If you haven't checked him out yet, please do...you'll have hours and hours of enjoyable reading to look forward to. 

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Valentine's Day is just a few days away and let me tell you, I'd be happy if someone made me this tasty treat!

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 cup gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons white sugar

Filling:
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 can pure pumpkin (15 oz)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

Sour Cream Topping (optional): 
1 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

Use your largest crockpot. You’re going to be using it as a water bath to cook the cheesecake.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs and white sugar. Press the mixture into your casserole dish. Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, pure pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add the spices and eggs. Mix well with a hand or stand mixer until the cream cheese is fluid and there aren't many clumps of cream cheese.

Pour the filling on top of the crust.

Put 1/2 to 1 cup of water into the bottom of your crockpot. The inserted dish should push the water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake.

Carefully place the cheesecake into your crockpot. Avoid any water splashing into the cheesecake and cook on high for 2 to 4 hours. You will know it's done cooking when the top is no longer jiggly and the sides have begun to brown slightly.

Unplug your crockpot, and take off the lid. In a small mixing bowl, whip together the sour cream topping. With a rubber spatula, very carefully spread the sour cream topping on top of the hot cheesecake. Let the cheese cake sit in the cooling crockpot for an hour, before chilling in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 6 hours. Serve.







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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Writing Prompt Thursday: Goals

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Today's question is perfect for this time of year when so many are thinking about the upcoming year and making plans.

Write about three realistic goals you would like to achieve in your lifetime.

1. Publish my stories - This seems kind of duh, huh? Except up until now, I've only been published alongside Nick. Don't get me wrong. I love working with Nick and would forever except he's pushed me out of the nest. He knows me well. If I continue working and writing with him, I'll never tell my own stories and he doesn't want me to miss out on that. He's a good friend. So, my goal is to write and publish my own stories and books. I'd love to sell them too, but right now, it's all about the act of being brave enough to publish.

2. Build up my editing business - I love working with other authors, helping them to build up their writing. While I love writing, I don't want to give up editing and proofreading. I have a goal of making enough money between the two to be able to successfully live without any kind of assistance. It's going to be a lot of work, but I love what I do and I'm okay with work.

3. Own my own house - This last one may be the biggest and hardest challenge, but it would be the ultimate sign of success if I could buy my own house. I like knowing that a space is my own. It gives me the security that I need. Right now, I'm renting a house that needs a crazy amount of work. I'm taking every penny that comes in to pay off old bills and to live. It's my hope that between the first two goals, that I can make enough money to start putting funds aside to save up for a down payment.

These are my goals, what about you? What are your three goals?






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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Wordsmith Wednesday: Tales From the Toy Store

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Happy Wednesday, everyone! This week I want to give you a sneak peek behind the scenes of bringing Tales From the Toy Store to life. The book has been written and just finished up some time with beta readers. I can't believe how close we are to publishing! So, what's happening now?

Art! Woot! I just sent the final reference photos for the illustrations to my artist, Eric Cockrell. He's going to turn real life toys into pictures for the book and I can't wait to see them. I'm incredibly excited to see what he does with them. I just know they're going to be awesome. Once that's done, it's my job to insert them into the book. We also need to finalize the cover which means I have to write the back copy. It seems like a lot but we're in that downhill slope to publication and I'm so eager to share these stories with all of you!

Before I get back writing, I want to give you a sneak peek at a couple of the characters that will be in the book:

Toby the Gnome

Edgar the Raven

Aren't they great? These are toys that actually live right here in my house and who I've written about for the book. They each have their own personalities and get up to all sorts of adventures!






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Monday, February 3, 2020

Crockpot Monday: Oreo Cheesecake

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Time to whip up a recipe that combines two of my favorite things!
Oreo Cheesecake:

Ingredients:

Crust:
10 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, crushed

Directions: 
Use a 6-quart slow cooker and inserted oven-safe dish that can fit all the way inside of the stoneware. You're going to use the crockpot as a water bath.

In a zippered freezer bag, crush ten cookies until they are tiny crumbs. Pour the melted butter into the bag and squeeze around until it's combined. Press this crumb mixture into the bottom of your dish.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, cream, and vanilla with a handheld or stand mixer. Crush the other 10 sandwich cookies (into small pieces) and stir by hand into the batter. Pour batter on top of the crust.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water into the empty crockpot and slowly lower the casserole dish in, being careful not to splash water into your cheesecake.

Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, checking after 1 hour. Your cheesecake is done when the edges are no longer shiny and have begun to brown.

Unplug the cooker, and let the cheesecake sit in the crockpot uncovered for one hour before removing and transferring the dish to the refrigerator. Cool completely before slicing and serving.







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