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It’s Seafood Friday! Get My Famous Calamari Recipe!

OK, here it is, by popular demand… Fiona’s Awesome Fried Calamari Recipe!

What does this have to do with erotic regencies? Absolutely nothing. But it sure is good for a weekend dinner!

Ingredients:

1/2 – 1 lb. calamari (you can buy it frozen in bags, precut and cleaned. Don’t get the breaded kind. That’s for cheaters.)

Enough oil to fill your favorite pan about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. I prefer canola oil.

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper *more if you want it hot and spicy*

fresh lemon and cocktail sauce, if desired.

Directions:

1. thaw calamari according to package directions *(see note, below). If you buy it fresh, you’re on your own (there’s something about cleaning out the inside of a squid that sends me right to the freezer section in search of easier prey).

2. Mix flour, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper in small bowl.

3. Layout a place to drain the calamari– several thicknesses of paper towels on an oven-proof plate or pan.

4. Set oven to the “keep warm” setting. You’ll be saving the batches in the oven while you fry the next.

5. Heat oil on medium high, about 1/2 – 3/4 inch deep in the pan of your choice. A sauce pan will prevent more splatters, and use less oil, but you’ll have to do more batches.

6. Toss a handful of calamari rings and tentacles into the flour, stir to coat.

7. Test the oli by adding one ring. It should start to bubble and fry. If it doesn’t the oil isn’t hot enough. You’ll have to find the sweet spot on your own stove. You want it to sizzle, but not spit oil all over your kitchen. Or catch fire. Use your head.

8. When the oil is hot enough, add a handful of floured calamari one at a time into the oil. Cook about 2 minutes. Turn over. Cook another 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to over cook it, or the squid will get tough and rubbery.

9. Remove with slotted spoon, layout in single layer on paper towels, and place in the warm oven while you do the rest.

10. Serve either alone, or with cocktail sauce, a squeeze of lemon, or cocktail sauce. Some people like it with marinara sauce.

*Note: don’t really serve it after it’s been in the fridge for three weeks. We were just kidding.

Happy Seafood Friday!

Next week… Killer New England Lobster Salad Rolls…

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You *Call* Me a Liar, But You Don’t Mean It

I know, I know, you do mean it. You’d never say anything you don’t mean. (Ahem because that would make you a… liar?).

But I gotta say, after being called all kinds of dishonest yesterday, most of you turned around and said I was telling the truth in most of the crazy shenanigans I listed! I’m touched, really. Sort of. I think.

Here’s a recap:

1. I once ate squirrel I shot myself.

2. I used to live in Boston, Mass

3. I used to live in Paris, France

4. I used to be an all-star pitcher until I took a line drive to the face

5. I cannot juggle to save my life.

6.  Unlike Abby Wood, I *have* spit off the Space Needle in Seattle!

7. Despite claiming to know romance, I’m still looking for Mr. Right.

Let’s take a look at these one-by-one.

1. Everyone thinks I’m some kinda Daniel Boon Wannabe and shoot and eat squirrels. I suppose there’s a compliment in there somewhere… as in, I’m a good enough shot to actually *hit* a moving squirrel with a loaded firearm (as opposed to, say, a moving Chevy Venture 7-passenger van. Did you know roadkill can get up into your ventilation system? But that’s a story for another day). LIE. I have neither shot nor eaten squirrel.

2. LIE. I have never lived in Boston, Mass, although I lived in Rhode Island most of my life.

3. LIE. I have never lived in Paris, France, although I lived in Rhode Island most of my life. And I did take four years of French in school, I can still say, “J’ai une maillot jaune” and “Qui est la Bibliotheque?”

4. TRUE! In the sixth grade I pitched on district sixth-grade all-star softball team and did indeed take a line drive to the face. Ruined my career in the big leagues. Another true story: The other day, the hub and the 5-year-old were in the yard playing swordball. That’s like baseball, only my reincarnated-medeival-knight son bats with his large nerf sword. I came out to watch for a moment, and at the first crack of the… sword, I flinched and turned away. I might even have yelped a little. Of course, the foam covered kiddie ball went about three feet, and I was twenty feet away. Don’t laugh. I’m sure the neighbors laughed enough for all of us.

5. LIE! Kaitlin was the only person who stood up for my jugggling ability, so she’s my new best friend. I CAN juggle to save my life. Mwahahaha!

6. LIE. I haven’t spit off the Space Needle. I’ve never even *been* to Seattle. Although I lived in Rhode Island most of my life.

7. LIE. I *have* found Mr. Right. He’s the inspiration for all my romantic heroes. I heart him.

So, the closest answer was Cassidy Hunter’s. She was still wrong (and she still thought I ate that nasty squirrel!) but she’s my winner!

And the Booby Prize goes to Sheila Stewart… who got them all 100% backwards. LOL! (Sheila, hon, if they ever contact you for jury duty, send them to me.)

And thanks everyone for playing!  For those of you who were nominated… I’m watching you… 🙂

Abby Wood is Calling Me a Liar?

Well, to hear her spin it, I’m not a *liar,* I’m jsut *creative* 🙂

She’s nominated me for Lesa’s Creative Blogger Award!

Fiona Vance gets Lesa's "Creative Writer" Award

Wait... why is the file name "bald faced liar award?"

And what does this lovely award entail? First I nominate seven other bloggers who I think are dirty stinkin’ liars–uh, I mean, wildly creative writers–you’ll find their names below.  Then, I post seven statements. 6 truths and 1 lie. Or 6 lies and 1 truth. All you have to do is guess which it is… and pick out the 1 line that’s not like the rest.

Hmmm…. this kinda reminds me of another post… something about Zombie Cabbage and Mexican Wrestling Chihuahuas… or maybe it’s just last week’s bad calamari coming back to haunt me….

Anyway…

And the Nomiees are…

*tearing open little envelope*…

Keith Melton: awesome Urban Fantasy author. www.keithmelton.net

Selena Illyria: hot erotic I/R romance www.selenaillyria.com

Kaitlin Maitland: exciting action and hot romance www.kaitlinmaitland.com

Shirin Dubbin: more cool Urban Fantasy http://fan-fatale.com

Mary Hughes: Biting love www.maryhughesbooks.com

Cassidy Hunter: Urban fantasy and paranormal romance www.cassidyhunter.com

Becke Martin: Contemporary romance with sizzle…and a twist http://www.beckemartin.com/bm/index.php?cat=3

Congratulations, Liars! I mean, wonderfully creative people!

And now… the seven “facts”…

1. I once ate squirrel I shot myself.

2. I used to live in Boston, Mass

3. I used to live in Paris, France

4. I used to be an all-star pitcher until I took a line drive to the face

5. I cannot juggle to save my life.

6.  Unlike Abby Wood, I *have* spit off the Space Needle in Seattle!

7. Despite claiming to know romance, I’m still looking for Mr. Right.

Okay… have at it!  🙂

And the Zombie Cabbage goes to… Becke Davis! or Becke Martin… or whoever she is today!

YAY for Becke! who correctly guessed that the zombie cabbages in photo A belonged to me. I won’t go into the fact that she has a little bit of background in the gardening biz, which the rest of you may claim gives her an unfair advantage. But I’ll bet that even the illustrious, many-pseudonymed Becke (who may be the only woman out there with more names than me!) has never grown zombie cabbage to rival these!

What exactly *is* zombie cabbage? Its what you get when you’re a pathetic gardener and just can’t stand the idea of working in the dirt after all the pretty things have died. I thought it would be safe… nothing would grow in the cold, unforgiving earth over the winter, would it? After the grim reaper scythed it all away in winter’s dark shadow? Pshaw! Who would think such a thing?

But two of my cabbage plants somehow survived the bony hand of  death…and what rose from the ground was not quite dead… but no longer really cabbage… Now they creep across the garden, searching for brains…

But I digress.

Becke, your copy of The Highwayman is on the way! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by. I thank you. My cabbage thanks you. 🙂

And we have a parting gift for those of you mistakenly think I own things even stranger than zombie cabbage. I just gotta think of something. I’ll get back to you.

Fiona 🙂

The Contest Results

And thanks to Kelly, who sent me the winning entry on last weeks “Help! I Need a Contest” contest, I have a great release day giveaway! Winner will win a free copy of The Highwayman!

The game is called, “One of These Things Belongs to the Author.” You remember the old game on Sesame Street, right? Where you pick the thing that doesn’t belong? It’s like that, only different. There are four things, and only one belongs to me. Pick the item that’s actually mine and leave me a comment with your guess. If more than one guesser is correct, I’ll pull a name from a hat. 🙂

So don’t be shy, leave a comment with your choice, A., B., C., or D. ! And of course, I’m dying to hear why you think so!

Winner announced Monday at noon, PST!

Fiona 🙂

A.

B.

C.

D.

Congrats to Kelly!

Congrats to Kelly! Her email entry, “Which of these things belongs to the Author?” won my “Help! I need a Contest” Tune in tomorrow to play!

The “Help! I Need a Contest” Contest Standings

Thanks to those of you who jumped in and tried to bale my butt out of the fire–uh, I mean, prove how fun and interactive the web can be!–by entering my “Help! I Need a Contest” contest. Here are the great ideas we have so far…

Name the Heroine of the Next Book

Best Answer to: “Who Would Win a Battle to the Death – A Highwayman or a Pirate?”  (I can’t believe I’m humoring him by even posting this)

Refer a Friend to “Like” you on Facebook

Scavenger Hunt – Find some item on the website

Hold an Author Chat on the Reader’s Loop and Pick a Visitor at Random

Name the Next Book

Name the Next Hero

Leave a Blog Comment on a Certain Topic and Pick a Random Winner

Guess Which Thing Belongs to the Author…. (i.e. ten pictures of random wacky stuff and one is something that’s actually mine.)

***

So far, so good, huh? If you don’t see your idea there, i.e. I completely messed up and lost it, then just send it back to me and I’ll get it listed!

Keep em coming… posting the winner Thursday at Noon!

Fiona 🙂

The Highwayman! Or, Help! I need a contest!

HELP!!! The Highwayman releases on Friday! So I want to have a Release Day Giveaway Contest. But I don’t know what it is yet…. yikes!

So I’m having another contest! The first contest is “Give me the Best Idea for a Release Day Contest!” Ideas due Thursday at noon, PST. Leave blog comment, Facebook wall post or tweet it to me. Email works, too! Winner gets a free copy of my new erotic Regency novella, The Highwayman!

Then, on Friday, I’ll do my release day contest using the best idea! How’s that for interactive?

twitter: @fionavance

email: fiona(at) fionavance (dot) com

Facebook: Fiona Vance and Fiona Vance Romance

Not only will you win a copy of The Highwayman, you’ll also qualify for sainthood and will become rich and famous beyond your wildest dreams. OK, not really. But you will be doing something fun for fifteen minutes! And you *will* get the book. 🙂

Looking forward to having you pull my butt out of the fire seeing all your great ideas! 🙂

What’s so sexy about The Highwayman, anyway?

Is it the alure of danger? The sheer badness of the ultimate bad-boy? The knowledge that what happens in the coach, stays in the coach, since he’s probably not going to be pulling off his mask in public any time soon…

I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. After spending some time with him recently, editing his grammar and telling him, “no, dear, a little to the left…” I’ve decided I really don’t know this man at all. And what self-respecting lady, after finding herself thoroughly tupped on the road to Highgate, would fail to satisfy such curiosity? And, of course, pursue whatever additional avenues of satisfaction that might come about…

So the dude’s getting another story.

“Who was that masked man…?”

No, wait. Someone did that already…

So, what’s so sexy about The Highwayman, anyway? And who the heck is he by day?

In the words of the Immortal Pooh, “Think, think, think…”

We now return to our regularly sceduled edits, already in progres…

The Highwayman… coming soon

The Highwayman…

A new erotic historical novella coming soon!

 

Want a quick peek inside?

It grew darker as we rode into the forest. Sunlight pierced down in shafts through the canopy of leaves. The quiet grew until the sound of the iron-banded wheels on the dirt road and the clopping of the horse hooves seemed to thunder and reverberate back from the rows of trees. Once, as I stared out into the gloom, I caught a glimpse of a stag near a moss-covered, fallen tree. It leaped away into the undergrowth, its powerful muscles flexing.

The carriage halted in a swirl of dust along a shadowy stretch of road, where the arching tree branches overhead made things dim on the forest floor. I waited, frowning, hoping it was nothing more than a tree that had fallen across our path.

“Step out of the carriage!” a voice shouted.

I snatched up the pistol and hurried to the other side of the carriage. A whip cracked. The air was rent with the shriek of a horse and the thunder of hooves. The carriage jerked forward and sent me careening into the opposite bench. The impact knocked the pistol from my hand.

More shouting. Harlan, I thought, but then the carriage lurched to a halt again, sending me crashing back into the bench I had started on. I scrambled to snatch up the pistol, feeling like a child’s ball being battered back and forth.

There was a thud and a grunt and someone fell to the carpet of leaves along the side of the road. It was Harlan. He didn’t move, and I prayed he wasn’t seriously hurt. I sat frozen, the smooth curve of the pistol heavy in my hand. If only it were loaded.

It was silent for a long moment, save for the snorting and stamping of the horses.

“Stand and deliver!” that voice shouted once again.

My heart punched hard and fast in my chest—the heart of a hare beneath the shadow of the hawk. I clutched the pistol tighter, my back against the carriage wall, trying to look between both sets of windows to see where he would appear first. I had no idea what I’d do then, with only an unloaded pistol between me and a bandit who was most certainly armed.

“Come out of the carriage! I shall not ask again!”

“I am only a woman alone,” I shouted back, cocking the flintlock on the pistol as quietly as I could. I hadn’t loaded it because I was deathly afraid of it going off accidentally, but now I could only curse myself for my caution. “You frighten me!”

Would he fall for the ego game? I kept glancing back and forth between the windows, straining to hear something. Then, the creak of saddle leather and the thump of boots on the ground. I heard his footsteps slowly approaching the carriage. An idea exploded in my head like a cannon shot. I sat down on the floor facing the carriage door, the pistol in one hand, and drew back my legs, silently cursing the spill of skirt and petticoats that only seemed to get in the way.

His large shape filled the window over the door, and I kicked out savagely with both feet. The door flew open, crashing into the highwayman and sending him flying back into the dust. I stood as quickly as I could to see my handiwork, still cursing my skirts like the devil.

The highwayman clambered to his feet. The door had knocked loose his pistol, and it lay in a drift of leaves. He made a lunge for it.

“I wouldn’t move, if I were you,” I said, aiming the empty pistol at his head.

He froze and then slowly turned toward me, his rapier still in one hand. His eyes widened a bit when he saw me, though at the pistol or the fact that I was half hanging out of my bodice from all the bouncing around in the carriage I couldn’t tell.

“Drop your sword, sir,” I said, and he did so. He seemed to collect himself, and swept off his hat with its long black plume in a courtly bow.

“My lady, forgive the intrusion.”

“What did you do to Harlan?” I could see the coachman from here, but he was still unmoving.

“He’s only stunned,” the highwayman said. “A blow to the head with the butt of my pistol. I didn’t want to shoot him.”

“That’s uncommonly kind of you.” I had the chance to look the Highwayman over. Broad shoulders in a well-cut dark coat. Tall. Blond hair tending toward long, perhaps he hadn’t seen a barber in a while. Rugged facial features, handsome indeed, but with a hardness and an edge that Edgar had never possessed. But his eyes were kind. Strange to say about a man who had just clouted my coachman and had been set on stealing my jewels, but there it was. There was no malice in his gaze, and the smile on his face was more than a little chagrined at finding himself disarmed by a lady. Kindness and more than a little bit of desire in his eyes, and danger or no, that made me want to stand and be admired.

I liked him, God help me. Only a moment ago I’d been in fear for my life, but now, seeing those eyes, and with the pistol firmly in my hands and his hands empty, I liked him. Strange how reversing a situation could instantly change one’s perceptions.

I stepped down from the carriage, keeping well away from the Highwayman all the same. I edged over to Harlan and knelt down next to him.

“Give me your word that you won’t try anything while I attend him,” I demanded.

His face grew solemn, and I thought I saw something new in his eyes. I thought it was respect, but I was far from certain. “I swear it,” he said.

That was the best I could hope for. Harlan was indeed only stunned. He’d have a nasty bruise, but his breathing was slow and steady. I stood again and raised the pistol.

“You may mount your horse and leave,” I said. “Leave your weapons behind. They will be here when we set off again.”

“I’m sorry, my lady, but I cannot.”

“I don’t make idle suggestions, sir.”

“And I don’t idly refuse the suggestion of a beautiful woman,” he said. “But alas, I must.”

We stared at one another for a long moment. He really was quite handsome. In another place, at another time….

“You will not go then?” I asked. “You would force me to shoot you?”

“I cannot leave a lady unprotected on such a dangerous road.”

My laugh was sharp, cynical. “You, sir, are the chief danger on this road.”

He took a step toward me, his smile wider than ever. “An insignificant detail.”

I backed up a step. “I prefer you to stay where you are.”

He took another step forward. “And I would prefer to kiss your hand in greeting.”

“And snatch the pistol away as well? Do you think me a fool?”

“I think you anything but a fool,” he said. “However, I give you my word that when the pistol leaves your fair hands, it will be you who sets it aside.”

I said nothing. The world would think me a fool to trust the word of a rogue and a bandit, but those eyes….

He began to walk toward me slowly, his hands raised, his eyes locked on mine. I backed up until I bumped the baseboard of the carriage, and then I turned and hurried up the steps, wildly thinking that I could hide in there and he might just go away and leave me alone.

He came to the carriage door, set his hands on the posts, and paused, staring in at me with blue eyes brimming with lust. Those eyes smoldered down my neck to the tops of my breasts, lingered there for so long that were I a blushing maid, I’d have certainly been blushing. I was half-amused, half-aroused by the desire I could see shimmering there. Possibilities began to blossom in my mind. Wicked, delightful possibilities. Denying them only seemed to make them stronger.

“I shall not hurt you,” he said softly. “You have my word.”

“The word of a Highwayman?”

“The word of a former officer and a gentleman fallen on hard times. But let’s not speak of me.” He leaned toward me. “I prefer to speak of you.”

“I—” but then he kissed me softly upon the lips. I was seated upon the velvet seat and still held the pistol pointed between us, but thought of the pistol, and every other thought and fear, fluttered out of my mind like a flock of birds taking sudden flight. His lips were warm, like sunlight on my skin.

I found myself kissing him back. Harder, more insistently. We drew the kiss out, and I was aware that I wanted him. Wanted him as strongly as I had ever wanted a man, and the devil with the consequences. Edgar flashed into my mind and right back out again, chased by an image of him in the pantry with that girl. He could not begrudge me the dalliance.

If I dared… if I dared.

I broke the kiss first, breathless, my mind swimming from the heady pleasure of the contact. He leaned back on his boot heels, crouched before me in the carriage. If anything, the desire in his eyes had grown hotter than ever. He set a hand upon my knee, and even through the layers of my skirts, my skin jumped with shock and delight. So I did what any respectable woman would’ve done. I raised the pistol into his face.