Monday, March 24, 2014

Raise a Glass: Ærenden Toasting Drink

Today's launch has been wonderful! I appreciate everyone who's been a part of creating this book, everyone who's bought a copy of The Zeiihbu Master (Ærenden #3) and those who've spread the word about the series. Your support is truly amazing!

In celebration of today (and of you), I've made a batch of traditional Ærenden Toasting Drinks (or the closest I can approximate with Earth ingredients). In the kingdom of Ærenden, the Toasting Drink is a sparkling wine made from slopeberries (clustered, burgundy colored berries that grow on the northeastern slopes of the kingdom's mountains; the slopeberry's sweet-tart flavor is best described as a dark, smokey strawberry). The wine is then blended with muddled slopeberries and served in goblets.

Without further ado, a toast to YOU! Thank you all for being with me on this wonderful journey :).

Ærenden Toasting Drink

1 Large Strawberry
2 Blackberries
1/2 Tablespoon Black Currant Juice
Sparkling White Grape Juice

1. Muddle the black currant juice, blackberries, and 1/2 of the strawberry together in a small bowl. Add mixture to a champagne flute.
2. Top with sparkling white grape juice (for those "of age", sparkling wine also works).
3. Rim with remaining 1/2 strawberry.
4. Raise your glass and toast. Enjoy!

In Honor of Today's Book Launch: Zeiihbu Celebration Cookies

It's taken more than a year to complete Book #3 in the Ærenden series, The Zeiihbu Master. To say it's time to celebrate is an understatement! I intend to dance in the streets, make an Ærenden customary toasting drink, and to eat Zeiihbu Celebratory Cookies!!! (at the very least)

And, of course, I want to do it with the people who've made this book possible: my family, friends, and most importantly, my lovely, wonderful readers. Without you, there's no point in writing :).

The Toasting Drink will come later,  but I've made a batch of Zeiihbu Celebration cookies to share with you now. First, a little background:
Zeiihbuans tend to eat desserts on a limited basis, reserving treats for celebratory events or to avoid waste (such as apple pies to use up apples that are spoiling). Because of this preference, their baked goods tend to be less sweet than those made in Ærenden. Often recipes highlight fruit as a natural sweetener. In fruit-less treats, the Zeiihbuans use a fine powder made from the sycga plant, a dark green reed that typically grows four to five feet tall. The most popular dessert in Zeiihbu is the Zeiihbu Celebratory Cookie. Cut into shapes representing tribal history, these cookies are served in sets of three (for luck) alongside knuckle nut dusted vanilla ice cream topped with raspberry syrup. 
Of course, we don't have the sycga plant on Earth, but sugar can serve as a suitable substitute. Likewise, nutmeg can replace knuckle nuts (named because they're about the same size as an adult knuckle). Since our celebration is not Zeiihbu heritage, but the launch of The Zeiihbu Master, I've changed the shapes of our cookies to represent what we're celebrating. Feel free to make the dessert at home. I've included the recipe for you below, translated for Earth cooking :).

Celebration Cookies!
Envelope Pie, Scorpion Dragonfly, Razor Beast, Horse, Creeper Vine, 
Crown, Moereth, and Dranx Monkey.

Zeiihbu Celebratory Cookies

1 9-inch pie crust
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Prepare a standard 9-inch pie crust or use a refrigerated store crust. Roll onto a greased and lightly flowered cookie sheet (or use baking spray).
4. Cut shapes using standard cookie cutters and line up on the cookie sheet.
5. Sprinkle sugar mixture over cookies (to taste). I used about 1/3 of the mix for less sweet cookies.
6. Bake for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of crust. Monitor carefully! Both the sugar and dough burn quickly.
7. Serve with ice cream and fruit (or syrup) of your choice. 

Please join me in celebrating The Zeiihbu Master's release today on Facebook by following this link:

And please, if you enjoy the Ærenden series, spread the word! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Blog Tour!

Announcing the first ever Ærenden Series Blog Tour! 

April 14, 2014 to May 2, 2014

Details and blog stops to follow! Be sure to check back often :).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In Case You Wondered: How to Play Palidane

Palidane, the card game that Cal, Neiszhe, Nick and Meaghan play while they hunker down inside the cabin in The Gildonae Alliance, only exists in the kingdom of Ærenden. If you've looked for it online, you've probably already discovered that fact. I intend to write out the rules someday so everyone can play (and finish designing the deck of cards), but that side project has been waylaid by writing The Zeiihbu Master. Hopefully I'll be able to front burner the project this summer, but in the meantime, I want to share a deleted scene from Chapter 28 of TGA below, which details the basics of the game. I cut it to speed up the pace of the book, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the game anyway. Have fun! And please let me know if you decide to try it at home.

As always, forgive the rough draft :).



Neiszhe began dealing the cards again. Ten to each person, Meaghan remembered. Though she still had not figured out all of the rules for the game, the basics were easy enough to grasp. The deck of cards they played with consisted of two sets each of four suits – black cats, blue dogs, red rabbits, and gold birds. Each suit had thirteen consecutive numbers. She needed to collect two pairs, and a run of five cards in the same suit. She could lay them down as she collected them, but then other people could play their cards on hers. It seemed a good strategy to hold the cards in her hand as long as she could.

Over the course of the game, she also had to ensure she traded cards with every player once. She had to request a specific card by name, and then trade it for one of hers. If she saw them pick up the card from the discard pile, she could guarantee she requested the right card, but if she did not and requested a card they did not have, she had to collect five cards from the draw deck as penalty. Those cards could only be used once the person to her left started laying down cards. The first player to get rid of all of their cards won.

It seemed confusing at first, but Nick assured her it would become clearer with practice, and that eventually she would know enough to win games. She wondered if she would ever get the chance. Nick was not joking when he said that Cal won every hand. She found his luck to be frustrating, and began to wonder if people hid cards up their sleeves on this planet as they did on Earth.

Picking up her cards, she sorted them. They looked promising. She already had one pair of sevens and three cards, although not consecutive, that came from the same bird suit. If she drew well, she could connect them in a reasonable amount of time. The other cards seemed useless, so she moved them to the front of her hand.
Nick drew from the deck first and discarded. Cal did the same. When it was her turn, she picked up a card from the deck. It matched the thirteen she held, so she moved the set to the back of her hand and discarded an eight. Neiszhe picked it up, discarding a bird suit card Meaghan needed. After Nick took it and then discarded a two, ending his turn, she made her first request.

“The bird eleven, please,” she said, holding out her hand. He sighed and gave it up, accepting a two in turn. He scowled when he saw it, and then muttered something under his breath about getting even. She laughed, noting that Cal picked up the two Nick had discarded.

The game moved more quickly after that. Cards were picked up and discarded, grumblings and complaints were joined with laughter. Cal took the two from Nick that Meaghan had handed to him. Meaghan stole a bird nine from Neiszhe, and then she felt her heart jump on her next turn when Nick discarded the last bird card she needed to complete her run. She picked it up, but she could not lay her cards down yet. If she did, she would go out, and she still needed to request a card from Cal.

Her heart raced with excitement, but soon plummeted when Cal raised his hand and extended it toward her. “I’ll take that,” he told her. She cursed and handed it over, taking a useless card from him in turn. He promptly laid down his two sets and run of five, then applied his last card to the run Nick had laid down two turns before, during the same round that Cal had requested a card from Neiszhe that found its way to the discard pile shortly after. The move had puzzled Meaghan, but now that she had been defeated because she failed to meet the required trade rule in time, she understood. Cal did not need to cheat at this game. He was just as good at strategy as his brother, and Meaghan had never been able to beat James at chess either.

Friday, March 7, 2014

UCF Book Festival: Panel Topic Announced!

So Will Wight, J. A. Souders, and I will be discussing....*drum roll*....

Wanderers, Creatures, and More! Definitely a great Fantasy topic that should leave plenty of room for fun discussions. I can't wait :).

What about you? What questions do you want answered by the panel?

Ask away and if your question isn't answered on April 5 (or even if it is), I'll post my own answers here the week after the event.

And remember, I'll be signing books following the discussion and giving away fantastic swag, such as my limited black book marks and brand new stickers. Be sure to stop by and say HI!

I look forward to seeing you all there!


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Zeiihbu Master Release Day Announced!

Yup, you read that right; Book #3 in the Ærenden series is set for release on March 24, 2014.

YOUR WAIT IS OVER in less than 3 weeks!

Come join me on Facebook for my official virtual launch party, hosted by my alter ego. Don't worry, it's a low-key event. You don't have to dress up. You can even show up in your PJs. I won't tell!

There'll be trivia, prizes, and plenty of excitement to go around during the party, so stop on by. But remember, the party is BYOB--Bring Your Own Bookmark (or email me and I'll send you some to keep and to hand out to friends). Hope to see you there!