Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Conference season

Many of you will have been to RWA in the states lately - sounds like a blast - and downunder our conference season is starting too. Sydney, Australia is just about to kick off their extravaganza and New Zealand's conference happens just after. 
It's a great way to catch up with writers and readers and for someone like me who has been hiding at home for the last TWO YEARS looking after small people, it's a reason to get out of the house and see grownups. Yeay daddy day care. (Can you tell I really dont get out enough?)
If you're going to be there and see me wandering looking like a lost puppy, do stop me and say hi. Promise that I'll shake myself out of my baby haze and provide scintillating conversation. Okay, maybe not scintillating, I don't want to over promise. But I'll happily chat about the glory of being surrounded by such a great group of romance writers and I cant wait to hear what everyone has been writing and reading.
Have a great one,
x Michele

Monday, 16 June 2014

When all else fails - make cake

We had an epic storm here this week and power was out. So no computers and by the time power came back on I had run out of child free time. Instead of writing, I therefore made cake.
A while back I offered to make a birthday cake for a friend's daughter's birthday party. It turned into a bit of an epic cakeathon and a lovely mermaid was the result. (You can see her on my facebook page)  But that turned into me saying yes to another cake for another birthday party, and thus, my weekend was full. Full of gold coins, bounty, pirates and general chocolate treasure!
Given that loads of people ate it with happy munchiness, asked me to and it was relatively straight forward, I thought I'd share the step by step of it here. Hope you enjoy!

Step one - Make cake ;-)

(I made a banana date cake, less sugar because of the dates and bananas, and because it was for three year olds, I figure less sugar is good. Also. Icing). You could of course use a packet, or buy a sponge. All would be fine.

Step two - Carve. 
I cut the rectangular cake in half, then cut a 45 degree slice out of the "lid", used the cut out part as a wedge and buttercreamed the whole together. If you use sponge, you might need to put toothpicks in to stabilize, but if you're using a heavier cake (like I did) you should be sweet without.

Step three - Ice
You should really do a crumb coat here (a thinish layer of butter cream) to hold all the carved crumbs and make the next layer nice and neat. I was gong to do that, but then I figured, three year olds dont really need all that sugar. So I only did one layer. You can decide which you do - if you're using sponge you probably want to do the two cos sponge will give you more crumage ;-)
I used chocolate buttercream icing. And I made a darker chocolate icing which i layered on with a knife and planed into the other icing to give a woodish effect. Kinda.

Step four - decorate (and ice some more)

I made the silver stud-work with white fondant which I brushed with silver edible chiffon (dust). Then I just pushed edible silver balls in for the studs. I also used white fondant brushed with the silver for the skull (you can see it in the photo at the top of the post). Then I just pushed a bunch of gold chocolate coins and Hersheys kisses into the icing. Made a small piece for the candles, and spread breadcrumbs (you could use biscuit crumbs) over a thin layer of buttercream to act as sand.

Next time I'll have to do a book cake!!! Enjoy and happy reading (and cake eating.) x Michele

Monday, 26 May 2014

New Author Shout out

My buddy Trudi Jaye has her first book hitting the magical e-shelves on May 28th! Go Trudi. So if you like a bit of fantasy and the twisting turns of a Carnival, check her out! You can find the book on Amazon here.

The magical Jolly Carnival is the only life Rilla knows—and it’s falling apart around her. Just as she’s thrust into the role of Ringmaster after her father’s unexpected death, an old family friend turns up to challenge her birthright.
Her rival's sexy son Jack isn’t helping either. Despite being a greenhorn and an outsider, he's intent on charming everyone, convincing them all that Rilla isn’t up to the task of leading them through these tough times.
But Rilla must also contend with another threat—the ongoing sabotage that has been disturbing their delicate magical balance and threatening to destroy the Carnival. All signs are pointing to an insider, making it impossible to know who to trust.
To save her beloved Carnival, Rilla must do everything she can to find the saboteur before they attack again. But if she takes her eye off the battle for Ringmaster—even for a second—she risks losing everything she's trained for her entire life. 

Happy reading.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mermaids, madness and happy mothers day

So, I thought I'd pop in to wish any of you mother's out there a happy mother's day. Down under it's already Mother's day, and if you read my post over at The Naked Hero this week, you'll know how I've spend my day. I made cake. Lots of cake! Well, I made the cake last night - but the icing extravaganza that this lady mermaid is, she got made today. (You'll have to forgive her hair do, this was prior to transportation and I was trying to keep her red tresses out of the icing.)
Now we've been to the party, Mr two and a half ate his body weight in crackers and cheese, and  I'm ready for a cup of tea and a sit down! Surely that's allowed! I hope you've get to have a wonderful day with your special people, and that someone makes you a cup of tea, coffee, wine or whatever else takes your fancy. Now if I could convince everyone to give me a couple of minutes, I might even get time to read my book!
What did you do this mother's day?
Have a great one, and happy reading.
x Michele

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Sweet or spicy?

I’m making cake. Birthday cake. For a five year old girl no less. It therefore has to be in the form of Ariel the Mermaid…stay with me here, this is still a post about romance writing. It got me thinking of Disney Princess types. The virgin heroine, the quivering at the sight of a super-alpha pageant-beauty. There are a lot of them about, and in the hands of a skilled writer, the virgin heroine is a thing of beauty: able to bring men to their knees with a glance, and hold out for what she wants till she’s 100% she’s going to get it.
But thinking this through reaffirmed my belief that I like sassy heroines who have seen a bit more of life – girls with gumption, chicks with chat. I especially like it when they have a quality vocabulary that has more than a few expletives in it and a smattering of good barbs. The WIP I’ve been working on at the moment though has a heroine who is much softer. Even a little, *gasp*, sweet.
For a while I struggled, trying to get her to talk the way I thought she would, but it all just sounded wrong. She’s a far cry from Disney Princess, but she isn’t the “girls can and should do anything” type I thought I would always write. In frustration I sent her to my CP and asked if she thought she needed a slap. My CP laughed at me and quietly and calmly reminded me that characters are who they are. She even liked her.
So I’ve had to re-evaluate my parameters. I’ve upped her vocabulary, downed her simpering and come to a happy place where she’s still on a mission, and is back in the girls can do anything camp, but she doesn’t need to fight quite so hard to prove it all the time.
With my Ariel Mermaid cake, I think I’ll take the same approach. There will be a doll in the middle, but she’s bound to have a sparkle in her eye, and a damn good retort to anyone who dares question the styling of her icing bikini (okay, maybe that last bit will be me). Some sass with her smile and maybe just a little extra flick to her tail.
So what about you? Do you like your heroines sweet, sassy or somewhere in between. And can you made to like someone you never though you would, just because she’s got a sparkly green tail and a sparkle in her eye? Thanks for stopping by!
X Michele
(image courtesy of sodahead.com)
This post also appears on www.thenakedhero.com 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mmmmm Chocolate

It's Easter, and one of my Critique Partners (Bronwen Evans) just hit the USA Today Best Seller List so I'm feeling in the mood for a celebratory beverage. What's nicer than combining chocolate and alcohol! Mmmm, chocolate and alcohol. Thanks to Wiki, and patient taste testing by moi, here is the easiest Chocolate Martini recipe and the perfect way to celebrate...anything!
Now, if we're honest, a Chocolate Martini isn't really a Martini...there's certainly very little of the shaken not stirred dry shiver you'd get from a Bond version of the cocktail, but we're not being sticklers for tradition here, and...chocolate!
Happy Easter everyone.

Chocolate Martini (makes 3-4 servings)
  • 6 oz (180 ml) vodka
  • 4 oz (120 ml) Irish creme liqueur
  • 4 oz (120 ml) creme de caƧao
  • 4 oz (120 ml) chocolate milk
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Ice
(Image thanks to health.com)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Love thyself - and have a cocktail. Happy Valentines day!

It's Valentines day all ready down under and I'm being kind to myself by typing from the couch and doing much less than normal. Happy love myself day! Rather than pictures of fluffy bunnies or chocolate dipped hearts I thought I'd share something more practical with you today. A delicious cocktail recipe! It's red, and sweet, but not sickly - unless of course you over indulge. I guess that's the thing many people find difficult about Valentines day - it's the over indulgence in the saccharine. I mean, lets be kind to ourselves and our loved ones everyday right?!

Mr Scientist and I are celebrating by not celebrating the commercialism of it all, but by going out with other friends, eating fine food, drinking a red cocktail or two (or mocktail for me, sigh) and generally relishing how good life can be when you surround yourself with love of every kind. Friends, family, a special someone, they all have something significant to add to our lives so whether you're single or shacked up, I hope you have a great day. If you dont do the commercial aspect, pick a random stranger some flowers, or send a card to keep the international postal service alive ;-) But what ever you do I hope you have a great day and that you get a chance to be kind to yourself. Oh and read a book of course! x Michele

Pomegranate Margaritas


2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces Tequila
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
coarse salt for the rim
lime + pomegranate arils for garnish


For simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely.
Rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, pom juice, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in extra lime slices. Add some pomegranate arils for decoration.
[This recipe can be easily doubled, quadrupled, etc. Since everyone’s tastes differ, add simple syrup 1/4 cup at a time and go from taste. I also suggest buying the lime juice if you plan on making a pitcher (or 2) considering you’d have to squeeze a billion limes to get enough juice.]
[adapted from my strawberry margs]