Running on Empty by L.B. Simmons: Guest Post & Giveaway

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Running on Empty by L.B. Simmons
Release Date: January 3, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Adult

Book Description:

I had the perfect life.

Beautiful and loving husband.

Three gorgeous little girls.

Successful career.

The only thing missing was the white picket fence.  I really wanted that fence.

Three years ago, I lost that life.  I lost my husband.  And I lost myself.  But, eventually, I found my way through the darkness.  I’ve made peace with my new life. I have my girls, and that’s all that matters. They are my world.  I have no illusions of ever falling in love again or getting whisked away on a white horse.

But then he came back into my life. On a freakin’ motorcycle.

There’s no way I’ll let him turn my life completely upside down.  Absolutely no way.

The question is…

How long can I keep pretending that I’m happy with my life being right-side up?

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Enter our GIVEAWAY for an e-copy of Running on Empty

About Running on Empty:
I’m the mother of three adorable little girls.  That’s where it all really started.  I have so many ridiculous stories about these children…they make me laugh continuously.  Never a dull moment.  I’m constantly at the office telling stories about them and laughing.  It was suggested to me that I should write them down.  So I did.  And when I did, I found myself writing a beautiful love story.

The situations that Alex finds herself in as a result of her children, yeah, they happened to me.  First scene of the book…happened to me. Actually, almost everything in the first chapter happened to me.  Pretty much everything in the book that revolves around the children is true.  Whether it be their personalities, their actions, the conversations…all true.  I love my girls more than anything.  And I really wanted them to have a piece of their childhood to remember.  So I wrote the book really for them and I figure if I have readers that enjoy the story, then that’s just a big cherry on top of everything else.

Running on Empty is not a true story.  But it is what I would like to see happen for a woman who had the perfect life, but suddenly finds herself in a position of being a single mother.  To me, it’s a story of learning to accept loss and let go of the fears that stand in the way of true happiness.  I hope all readers can take something away from this story and that they love it as much as I do.
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About the Author
L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a degree in Biomedical Science.  She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years.  She lives with her husband and three daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.

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The Origin of “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

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Actual letter from Virginia.

“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. “Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? “VIRGINIA O’HANLON. “115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”

 

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Newspaper clipping of the unsigned editorial that appeared in The Sun on September 21, 1897.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Reposted from http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/

Recipe: The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie Recipe

After reading Meant to Be, I was craving brownies because Marienne, the heroine in the book, loves to bake and bakes a lot!

Today, the author, Karen Stivali, was tweeting about making brownies.  Since she couldn’t send me any, she was nice enough to share her personal brownie recipe.  (Of course, I always think food tastes better when it’s made by someone else.)

 

If you like extra-chocolaty brownies with just the right mix of chewy edges, ooey-gooey middles, and a thin flaky top layer, then look no further, you’ve found the Ultimate Brownie Recipe. So easy you’ll never go back to a mix. Seriously. I’ve actually never made brownies from a mix, but friends who’ve asked for this recipe very often tell me they’ll never make mix brownies again. Whip up a batch and let me know what you think!

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s unsweetened)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (go a little over rather than a little under)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly butter a 9×13 inch metal baking pan. (Note: If you only have a glass pan that will work too, but lower the oven temp to 325 degrees.)

Place butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir butter/chocolate mixture until all the chocolate is completely melted. (Note: If you don’t have a microwave you can do this in a pot on top of the stove, just make sure to do it over low enough heat that you don’t brown/scald the butter.)

When all the chocolate is melted, stir in 2 cups of sugar. Mix until completely blended.

Add three eggs and the hearty teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until completely blended.

Stir in 1 cup of flour.

Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in buttered pan.

Place pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 33 minutes.

Remove brownies from the oven and insert a toothpick in the center to test them. If the toothpick still has wet batter on it, put them back in for a minute or two. If it has fudgy crumbs stuck to it or comes out clean, you’re done. (You’re aiming for fudgy crumbs, but honestly it depends what you hit when you stick the toothpick in—if it looks like you stabbed a chocolate chip and the toothpick has melted chocolate on it, take a fresh toothpick and try again.) DO NOT OVERBAKE THESE BROWNIES—a few extra minutes in the oven will turn them from a delightfully soft chewy/gooey treat into chocolate flavored bricks. Better underdone than overdone.

Let the pan cool on a rack for at least an hour or so (if you can wait a few hours that’s even better).

Once the pan is completely cool you can cut the brownies into squares (or rectangles, or whatever other shapes you please). Use a very sharp knife, or a pizza cutter, or a sharp-edged spatula. Store any brownies you’re not planning on eating immediately in an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Air is not their friend and they will dry up if left uncovered.

Individually wrapped brownies travel well and are great for bake sales, packed lunches, or kept in a purse or briefcase for potentially stressful moments.

For an extra-special treat these can be topped with a swirl of your favorite chocolate frosting and a pretty M&M, but really, they don’t need it.

They’re pretty tasty under ice cream and hot fudge as well.

Whatever you choose to do with them, enjoy!

For more of Karen’s (Marienne’s) recipes, be sure to check out the link on her site.

The Gretchen Lowell

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3 oz of Tomato Juice
1 1/2 oz of Vodka preferably Grey Goose or Belvedere
Splash of Guinness draught optional helps build the blood.
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Celery Salt
1 dash Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 to 4 shakes of Tobasco sauce or more
1 dash sugar Yes Sugar

Mix ingredient together then pour over ice in a High Ball glass.

Garnish with celery, lemon and lime wedges. Skewer Cocktail shrimp and blue cheese pieces. Enjoy

You can substitute tequila for vodka. But garnish with avocado instead of blue cheese.

Recipe: Enchiladas from S.C. Stephens

Okay, I have to admit…I’m a terrible cook, and I don’t like doing it, lol. But my mom was great at it, and this is her enchilada recipe that I absolutely love (and it’s super easy):

Ingredients:
• 1 dozen corn tortillas
• 1 onion, chopped fine
• 2 cans chili con carne, no beans
• 1 can black olives, chopped
• Shredded cheese

Directions:
1. Grease skillet and place tortilla in pan.
2. Turn until pliable then remove to dish.
3. Sprinkle with cheese, onions, and olives, then roll up and place in 8×12 baking dish.
4. After all tortillas are stuffed, heat chili and pour over the top.
5. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, onions and olives.

6. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.