Baked Tomatoes With Mozzarella #Recipe from DEADLY DECOR by Karen Rose Smith




In my Caprice De Luca mystery series, Caprice and her family like to cook!  Her sister Nikki is a caterer and Caprice just likes to create and remake traditional recipes from her Italian family.  This is Nikki's recipe for Baked Tomatoes included in my June release DEADLY DECOR. This time of year when tomatoes are most abundant, it's a great dish to make.  I hope you enjoy it!



Nikki's Baked Tomatoes With Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prep time--15 minutes (This always depends on how much you enjoy the process of handling ingredients.                       Some cooks rush through prep, others put on music and enjoy chopping and measuring.)
Bake time--60 minutes
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

2 1/2 lbs tomatoes -- washed, cored and sliced about 1/4" thick (I like to use large tomatoes)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced 1/8" thick
1 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarello cheese (8 oz bag)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Layer 1/2 of the sliced tomatoes in 8"x12" glass casserole.  Spread 1/2 of onion over first half, sprinkle with some oregano, grated garlic and half of sugar (1 tsp).  Layer remainder of tomatoes and onion.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, rest of sugar (1 tsp) and remaining oregano.  Drizzle with olive oil..  Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Carefully spoon out excess juice.  Sprinkle with parmesan, then mozzarella cheese and bread crumbs.  Put back in oven at 350 degrees uncovered for fifteen more minutes until bread crumbs are toasty brown.

After removing, allow the dish to sit for five minutes before serving.  And enjoy!!!









©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Catch Me If You Can, Four-Week Old #Kittens by Karen Rose Smith




I watch Halo's kittens change and grow each day. This week their back legs gained more strength and they ventured out of the nesting bin. We have half of my office blocked off for them. Halo prowls the perimeter and then creates boundaries for them. If they straggle outside of those boundaries, she tackles them and convinces them to come back.  From the outset, she made a noise in her throat, not exactly a meow, whenever they were suckling and afterward.  Now she uses that sound to call them to her to eat or when they wander too far afield. Just like baby proofing any room, we've softened the obvious pitfalls.  We've stuffed towels into cracks where the babies shouldn't be and blocked cords.

In addition, I've laid out a few memory foam bath mats and thermal crate pads. I put one of them under a lawn chair I'm using in their area.  Last night Halo fed her babies under there.  Today, I don't think they were in their nesting bin at all.  The three of them laid on a piece of foam covered with a receiving blanket near Halo to sleep or they slept under the lawn chair with her.  I've found I just make possibilities available and they find them.

At a month, it's time for them to use a litter box.  Maybe.  Kittens are like babies and do things at their own pace.  So just in case they were ready, we set up a smaller litter box with lower sides as was suggested in a few articles.  Yesterday, we put each one in the box just to get a feel for it. I haven't yet seen Halo lead them to a litter box, though they can hear her whenever she uses one.

Today, Paddington, the first born, yet the one who has had the most difficulty latching on and the smallest as far as weight gain, used the BIG litter box all by himself.  (He was also the first one to figure out how to crawl out of the bin.)  Hopefully in the next day or two, he'll lead his siblings to the box Halo uses too.

We're going to start weaning this week.  Tonight we just showed them the dish and gave them a taste of kitten formula on their bottom lips.

Each day is a brand new adventure...for them and for us!








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Karen Rose Smith presents Deborah Blake and her #paranormal--WICKEDLY DANGEROUS



To our readers from Deborah Blake--

Karen and I "met" online over our mutual love of cats.  I commented on a blog post she wrote about the death of a stray she'd taken in who happened to look a lot like one of the cats I'd adopted from a local shelter, and talked about a cat I'd rescued one bitter February night.  She asked me if I would do a guest blog about my various rescues, and thus a friendship was born.  Recently, I was the person she called to consult about kitty birthing, right before Halo had her bunch.  (I've been a "midwife" at four different cat births since I was a kid and my mom let me and my sisters stay home to watch our cat have her babies, so I know a thing or two about such things.  Needless to say, Karen ended up doing great.)

Of course, we are both authors, and admirers of each other's work.  Believe it or not, most writers are enthusiastic supporters  of other authors (rather than being in competition with them) and we spend a lot of our time cheering each other on.  Big thanks to Karen for sharing the news of my long-awaited debut novel with her own readers! 


ABOUT WICKEDLY DANGEROUS--

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few.  They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don't make the mistake of crossing one of them...

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago.  Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart.

AUTHOR: Deborah Blake
Release date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance (modern fairy tale)
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin
Available as: Mass market paperback/ebook
Other books in the series: WICKEDLY MAGICAL (Prequel novella 8/4/14) WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, Book 2 12/2/14

ADVANCE PRAISE:
Alex Bledsoe: "BABA YAGA translates a terrifying figure from folklore into the smart, resourceful, motorcycle-riding Barbara Yager, she travels with her dragon-disguised-as-a-dog best friend, righting wrongs and helping those in need.  But when she stumbles into a town where children are vanishing, and meets the haunted young sheriff trying to save them, what was a job becomes very personal. This is urban fantasy at its best, with all the magic and mayhem tied together with very human emotions, even when the characters aren't quite human." --Alex Bledsoe, author of WISP OF A THING

Tanya Huff:  In WICKEDLY DANGEROUS, Deborah Blake has updated Baba Yaga for the 21st century: witchy and wild, with a kick-ass woman, witty repartee, and roots to the past.  This book has everything I'm looking for.

Maria V. Snyder: An addicting plot combined with a unique adventure and an intelligent, pragmatic heroine kept me glued to the page.  I never had so much fun losing sleep!

An Excerpt from WICKEDLY DANGEROUS:

     Plopping his hat on over his dark blonde hair, Liam strode up to the door of the Airstream--or at least, where he could have sworn the door was a couple of minutes ago. Now there was just a blank wall. He pushed the hair out of his eyes again and walked around to the other side. Shiny silver metal, but no door. So he walked back around to where he started, and there was the entrance, right where it belonged.

     "I need to get more sleep," he muttered to himself. He would almost have said the Airstream was laughing at him, but that was impossible. "More sleep and more coffee."

     He knocked. Waited a minute, and knocked again, louder. Checked his watch. It was six AM; hard to believe that whoever the trailer belonged to was already out and about, but it was always possible. An avid fisherman, maybe, eager to get the first trout of the day. Cautiously, Liam put one hand on the door handle and almost jumped out of his boots when it emitted a loud, ferocious blast of noise.

     He snatched his hand away, then laughed at himself as he saw a large, blunt snout pressed against the nearest window.  For a second there, he'd almost thought the trailer itself was barking. Man, did he need more coffee.

     At the sound of an engine, Liam turned and walked back toward his car. A motorcycle came into view; it's rider masked by head-to-toe black leather, a black helmet, and mirrored sunglasses that matches the ones Liam himself wore. The bike itself was a beautiful royal blue classic BMW that made Liam want to drool. And get a better paying job. The melodic throb of its motor cut through the morning silence until it purred to a stop about a foot away from him. The rider swung a leg over the top of the cycle and dismounted gracefully.

     "Nice bike," Liam said in a conversational tone. "Is that a sixty-eight?"

     "Sixty-nine," The rider replied.  Gloved hands reached up an removed the helmet, and a cloud of long black hair came poring out, tumbling waves of ebony silk. The faint aroma of orange blossom drifted across the meadow, although none grew there.

     A tenor voice, sounding slightly amused, said, "Is there a problem officer?"

     Liam started, aware that he's been staring rudely.  He told himself it was just the surprise of her gender, not the startling Amazonian beauty of the woman herself, all angles and curves and leather.

     "Sheriff," he corrected out of habit. "Sheriff Liam McClellan." He held out one hand, then dropped it back to his side when the woman ignored it. "And you are?"

     "Not looking for trouble," she said, a slight accent of unidentifiable origin coloring her words. Her eyes were still hidden behind the dark glasses, so he couldn't quite make out if she was joking or not. "My name is Barbara Yager. People call me Baba." One corner of her mouth edged up so briefly, he almost missed it.

     "Welcome to Clearwater County," Liam said. "Would you like to tell me what you're doing parked out here?" He waved one hand at the Airstream. "I assume this belongs to you."

     She nodded, expressionless. "It does. Or I belong to it. Hard to tell which sometimes."

     Liam smiled gamely, wondering if his caffeine deficit was making her sound odder than she really was. "Sure. I feel that way about my mortgage sometimes. So, you were going to tell me what you're doing here."

     "Was I? Somehow I doubt it." Again, that tiny smile, barely more than a twitch of the lips. "I'm a botanist with a specialty in herbalism; I'm on sabbatical from UC Davis. You have some unusual botanical varieties growing in this area, so I'm here to collect samples for my research."

     Liam's cop instincts told him that her answer sounded too pat, almost rehearsed. Something about her story was a lie, he was sure of it. But why bother to lie about something he could so easily check?

     "Do you have some kind of ID?" he asked. "You're vehicle didn't turn up in the database and my dispatcher couldn't find any record of a permit for you to be here. This is county property, you know." He put on his best "stern cop" expression. The woman with cloud hair didn't seem at all fazed.




Deborah Blake has published seven books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine.  When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans' Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.



Deborah Blake links:







©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Curious #Kittens Three Weeks Old by Karen Rose Smith


This week Halo's three kittens, Mayzie, Tia and Paddington, are becoming more curious. Now after feeding and momma washing them, they play a bit. The boundaries of the bin aren't going to last much longer as they peer outside through the wall, stand up on wobbly back legs and try to reach over. We built a little ramp from an old foam wedge for playtime so if they do manage to hike over the edge of the bin, they could find their way back in.

The Birth of Halo's Kittens

Observations on Newborn Kittens, the First Twelve Days


Each day their hearing and sight seems to have improved.  They are looking at each other more, sometimes just sitting and staring for a while as if to figure out who they are seeing.  They look up at us and also seem to respond to my voice as well as my husband's. We've been handling them more, just sitting them on our knee and stroking them in Halo's sight. If we only keep them out a few minutes, she's okay with it.  She makes a cooing sound when she wants them to feed or wash or to draw them to her.

We had some eye problems with Paddington this week.  And we weren't sure about Tia's one eye.  So I called our veterinarian, and she prescribed Tobramycin for ten days. After just a day, both look better already.

The amazing situation is that Halo remained calm this week as sawing and hammering happened outside the window to replace siding on the house.  I had been stressed out about the idea and we cleaned out my walk in closet in another part of the house in case Halo panicked with the noise or the babies were startled.  But Halo remained calm.  Some of the time, she exited the bin and laid between the noise and her babies.  The babies slept through it all!

Two of the kitties now have adoptive homes. We're going to keep them twelve weeks so they learn everything they can from their mom and are socialized well.  This is an amazing experience watching them grow and learn each day.







        My sleuth Caprice is an animal lover and takes in strays!
                  
                               




©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Karen Rose Smith Welcomes Donna Fasano and Her Cover Reveal



The Merry-Go-Round
by Donna Fasano
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 2, 2009





When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn't chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.













What are you working on now? 
I’m currently writing two projects at once. I've never done this before, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. I’m writing a Christmas Novella entitled Almost Perfect Christmas, the story of man who enlists the help of a woman in giving his daughter a perfect Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, his little girl has every intention of playing an angelic matchmaker. The other project is the first book of a 3-book series called Following His Heart, the story of a man who is eerily drawn to a woman, and after they fall in love, they discover what brought them together, and it just might tear them apart. Yes, the description is vague, but that’s just the way it has to be for now. I’m chuckling as I type this. Both books are contemporary romance novels and are due out this fall.

What are you reading now or what do you have in your TBR pile? 
I just finished Learning to Swim by Sara Henry. I’m currently reading Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour. On my TBR pile you’ll find A Reluctant Hero by Jackie Weger, Creatus by Carmen DeSousa, The Neighbor by Dean Koontz, Three Junes by Julia Glass, One Way or Another by Elaine Raco Chase…should I go on?

What flavor is your writing style?
I always tell people I write cotton candy for the mind. Think back to when you were a kid and you took a bite of that delectable confection. What did you do? You smiled. That’s what I’m going for in my romance novels.

Was writing always the first thing you wanted to do in life?
No, I wanted to be a teacher, but then I met and fell in love with my husband. We married and began raising a family. It wasn't until my children started school that I started writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? 
I believe there’s a lot of me in my protagonists. I write about women who are strong, yet vulnerable. My main characters and my secondary characters have flaws and make mistakes (don’t we all?), but then most of them do all they can to learn, grow and become better people.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
One piece of advice I often give to writers is to READ. Don’t just read in the genre in which you write. Read everything. And then figure out what you liked and what you didn't…and then think about why. Reading and analyzing the writing of talented people can help you perfect your own skills.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I bow down to readers! I am so appreciative that they spend their hard-earned money on my books and then take the time to read my stories. I am so blessed to have a job I love, and I wouldn't have this job if there weren't readers who love romance novels.

What inspired you to write your first book? 
I came to writing through my love of reading. I spent many a Saturday as a kid in the local library. I loved books, but I never imagined I would ever write one. My husband gets the credit for my becoming a writer. When my children started school and I decided to find a part-time job, he looked around at the piles of romance novels in our home and said, “You've read a lot of those. Why don’t you try writing one?” So, you see. It’s all his fault.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
Not my latest book, but one of my titles—Where’s Stanley?—features an ending that I didn't come up with. I handed in the completed manuscript, and my editor suggested a different ending. I wasn't happy, but I did as she asked. Personally, I think the book suffered for it, but readers seem to enjoy it.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Old Yeller, Sounder, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird…how can people read these books and not be influenced? There are so many titles that inspired me and moved me, molded and shaped me, there isn't time to name them all. The characters in these wonderful books help young readers to decide what kind of individual they want to be.

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
There was a time when I’d have said no. I have a plant-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-the-words-will-come attitude. But I did suffer writer’s block while my dad was battling cancer. It’s difficult to write feel-good happily-ever-after when your beloved father is dying.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I do, yes. I equate an outline with a road made; how do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map? I might write the first chapter or two on the fly, but I always take the time to plan out where I want the story to go. Now that’s not to say that the characters are going to stay on the straight and narrow. They decide to veer off the highway every now and then, and that’s when I have to do a quick reroute.

Have you ever disliked something you wrote? 
I've never published anything that I disliked. I have started projects that haven’t seen the light of day, either because I couldn't figure out where to take the story, or I couldn't make the protagonist sympathetic or likable. It’s a rare occurrence, and when it happens, I just set the story aside and hope I can someday come up with a solution.




USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women's fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.













©2014 Karen Rose Smith


Karen Rose Smith's romance website
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 
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Beauty in the End of Summer #Gardens by Karen Rose Smith




This has been an unusual summer in Pennsylvania.  August has almost seemed like fall.  Instead of extreme heat, we're having cooler temperatures at night.  These are the flowers that are doing well at the end of the summer--zinnias, sunflowers, geraniums and snap dragons.  I thought you'd enjoy these wonderful bursts of color as much as I do.













©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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How To Create Memorable Characters by Karen Rose Smith




When I plot a new book, I try to create characters my readers can relate to.  My main characters must have likable qualities along with their foibles so that the reader wants to cheer for them and hope the best for them.  This are my go-to points when I'm starting to create a new novel.

I choose a strong background that will affect who my character is and how he or she sees life.

For example, if your hero is a former Marine, he had motivation to serve his country.  I focus on that.  I also focus on his training because that colors how he sees the world, how he reacts when startled, how he sleeps, how he organizes his belongings, how he problem-solves.

If I create a heroine who lost her parents and was shuffled into the foster care system, she will most likely have trust issues, fear of abandonment and, therefore, she will protect her heart.

I like to give my characters life-long passions.

I've written about heroines who are doctors, music therapists, horse lovers.  Whatever led them into their profession colors how they think and react.  Music was an escape for my heroine who was a music therapist. So I use music imagery in her descriptions and the way she thinks...especially about love.  My sleuth is a home stager.  From an early age, she enjoyed mixing colors and styles of furniture.  She also takes in stray animals and her love for animals and her compassion colors how she treats humans, too!  If your hero hikes for a hobby, that face-the wilderness passion will charge his goals and his passion.  He might be adventurous in his business dealings.

I create family bonds.

If your hero has sisters, that can affect his reactions to women, his understanding of their motives and fears.  If your heroine has brothers, maybe she was a tag-along, or a tomboy in order to earn the respect of her brother and his friends.  If your characters" parents have a happy marriage they will look at a relationship as a forever possibility.  On the other hand, if parents divorced, that could create a negative rather than positive view of marriage.


Everyone has personality quirks!

We all have idiosyncrasies.  Maybe my sleuth likes Beatles music and sings along with their music in her car.  Maybe my hero drinks a cup of coffee in the morning as he watches the sunrise.  I try to come up with a history for why they have quirks and habits.  I like to weave their backstory around the present story so nothing is random.

Speaking of  romantic history...

My characters have had former romantic relationships that reveal why the hero or heroine might be afraid of commitment.  On the other hand, this past history has also taught my characters something about love and loving.  Whatever they learned or felt will fuel the conflict in their romantic relationship now.  Romantic history fuels tension and creates impediments to finding a significant other.

What about physical perfection?

A model will have a different view of life than a heroine with a port wine stain of her face.  A hero with war injuries will look at himself differently than a man in buff shape.  I try to give my characters distinctive physical characteristics--deep tan, long waist, brown hair with blond strands, a scar above a brow.

Creating characters is an awesome experience.  I try to use every detail in his or her past to give details in their life now a purpose.  I try to create "real" people with hearts, souls, and a mindfulness of who they are. I hope this makes my characters memorable.






                                                                                               
                               





©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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