It’s Crawfish Season by Pepper Phillips


Crawfish sseason is upon us. This means that I’ll be eating crawfish at least once a week until June. I think the all time best was six times in one week. LOL

We grow our own in several ponds located in ‘the woods’…which has some woods but also large patches of vegetation that deer love.

There were some people harvesting crawfish in February, but with the cold weather we’ve been having, the catch was small, as were the crawfish. Those people who live in the most Southern parts of Louisiana are the ones who begin to catch them first.

Right now they are still expensive.  The buyers are paying over three dollars a pound for freshly caught crawfish.  Those prices will drop quickly as the weather warms up.

If you’ve never tasted crawfish, it’s a treat. Somewhat like lobster, except way smaller. Cooked with crab boil, they don’t have the ‘delicate’ taste of steamed lobster, they taste better.

Served with boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, boiled eggs and sometimes whole mushrooms that are boiled in the spicy water, you have a full dinner when served.

One of the kids threw raw chicken legs into the boiling water last week after the crawfish were done and after twenty minutes took them out. That was something new and I have to say, delicious.

Because of the work involved, cleaning the crawfish, hauling out the big pots, lighting the burners, getting the propane tanks, purchasing the seasoning and then the actual boiling part (everyone has their own method) we boil them, then remove them from that pot and put them in another to steep in the crab boil for thirty minutes, it’s not a ‘quick’ dinner.

But it is a ‘family and friends’ dinner.  Being invited to a crawfish boil is better than a dinner party.  You don’t have to dress up, there is plenty of food, and the conversation among the people there can get pretty interesting.

Because my hubby is a wildlife biologist, all the kids and grandkids can ‘sex’ a crawfish, meaning they can tell the boys from the girls.  Biology in action.  He does tend to get technical, giving the parts their respective scientific names, which I certainly can’t pronounce or spell, but I’ve learned how to tell them apart.

I have a cookbook called ‘The Louisiana Crawfish Cookbook” by Sunny Jumonville and Joy Mounger, which to me is the absolute best.  There is some Southern humor in the book as well, which really makes the book special.

Besides eating freshly boiled crawfish, I love them in an etouffe, have eaten them in a crawfish burger, and haven’t nearly tried them enough in different recipes.

We’ll be eating crawfish until the middle of June, which is when the season tapers off into nothing.  But you can buy them frozen, so it really is something that you can eat year round.

If you’ve never tried them, enjoy!


How to write a Love Scene

A couple years ago, I attended a fantastic presentation by Angela Knights on how to write a good sex scene.

Here is more or less what Angela said—I hope I got it right, Angela.

 Love scenes illustrate the development of romance. They reveal the way people feel about each other.

A love scene reveals characters, enhances the conflict, and develops the romance.

Love scene and the characters:

 How does it reveal the hero? The hero must be experienced. Don’t ever write about a virgin hero! Mention his romantic and sexual history before the first sex scene.

Show how his attitude toward the heroine change in the course of your story.

Show how the heroine helps him develop his strengths and overcome his weaknesses.

The love scene should reveal how he makes love to the heroine, how he finds her different from past lovers, and how his way change toward her by the end of the story.

Before a love scene, we should also know the heroine’s romantic history: how does she feel about sex? In historical romances, a love scene is a big conflict for the heroine who is usually not experienced. Give the heroine good reasons to trust the hero enough to sleep with him.

Picking up a hero in a bar and making love with him is dangerous and borderline erotica.

Is she sexually confident?

How does making love to him change her?

Does she gain confidence in them as a couple?

Let the heroine take the lead in some scenes.

Love scenes make them both grow. A love scene is always a turning point. You develop the plot with a love scene. You also develop the conflict with a sex scene. To intensify the conflict through a love scene you can make him dominant if she doesn’t like an alpha hero. And then make her reaction to him strong and dramatic. Let one character turn the tables on the other—heroine dominates the hero.

 Logistic of a love scene: 

A hero can’t go directly to kissing before a few steps of touching that establish trust.

You have to create the environment of trust for her to accept his kiss.

Love scenes should complicate the situation: A love scene is a critical turning point. What problems does it cause? How does it change the way the characters view each other now?

To know if your love scenes make sense read them back to back by themselves and see if the romance grow and develop through these love scenes.

  Love scene pacing:

 Where does the love scene fall in the romance? What kind of emotion do you want to communicate? The love scene can intensify the mood: We are at our most vulnerable when making love. This is a perfect time for drama. Taking off clothes is a big act of trust.

Or it can lighten the mood: for example it will keep a romantic suspense or a thriller from getting too dark.

Watch your timing: Characters who are supposed to be hunting the bad guys can’t waste their time making love. Don’t follow a gruesome murder with a love scene.

 Love scene construction:

Don’t rush. You need at least five pages for a satisfying love scene, for emotional impact. Don’t cheat the reader

Set the scene with a sensual environment: sharp vivid emotions with five senses.

A long pre-scene is acceptable but stay clear of purple prose.

Who makes the first move? Stay within characters.

More interesting when there is more than one objective to the love scene.

Sexual roles of hero and heroine: The heroine sets the sexual pace. She decides when characters make love because she’s the one who has the most to lose.

Concentrate on sensual details. Focus on sensations that characters feel. Use lots of sensual details, smell, touch, taste. Reader doesn’t want to guess.

It’s always better to be in her point of view. Don’t shift POV in the middle of a sex scene.

Use a lot of emotion to give love scenes their power.

Use dialog during a love scene

Pillow talk: remember blood doesn’t go to a man’s brain when it rushes elsewhere. So keep dialog lines short and sexy. Moans are not considered dialog!!! Use sense of humor but keep tenderness to the last chapter otherwise your story is over.

Keep sex language appropriate to time and characters.

Keep heat levels corresponding to your readers’ comfort. Trade paperback and ebooks allow sexier content than mass market in terms of language and erotic details.

 Look at other books in the same genre to decide what you can get away with.

Happy Ever After: Readers want to know what it’s like to find HEA with a sexy hero. Capture that experience with passion and imagination.

 Remember that your first paragraph sells your book and your last paragraph sells your next book.

{more details in A Guide To Write Erotic Romance by Angela Knights}

 The four books in my box set, Foreign Lovers, follow Angela Knights’s advice. They sizzle with sensual tension and offer you memorable love scene.

Foreign Lovers Amazon

Available at

Character Interview

The other day after updating an interview on a lead female character in a series, I’d written a couple of years back, I received quite the surprise.
Personal questions pertaining to her growth as a person, were foremost on my mind. Not questions any other writer wouldn’t ask. Hey, if she couldn’t answer those questions, then maybe she wasn’t worthy of another book.
Why had she fallen in love with a man she’d known for less than a week, when she was so adamant about never falling in love again? Was she on the rebound? If not, what had made her change her mind? What were her motivations?
What qualities did she see in him, other men she’d known longer, lacked?
Was she sure he was the right man for her? If so, what were her reasons?
Could she accept another woman’s child as her own?
Could she give up her dreams, or would she maintain her own lifestyle while accepting others in her life?
I wanted to delve deep inside her head and heart to satisfy my curiosity, and get on with the next book.
She told me to mind my own business!
She did.
Her answer floored me. After all, she wouldn’t even be around if I hadn’t brought her to life.
Would she?
Then she told me she was the one who gave up her story, that I was the vehicle she used to tell it. If there would be more written on her story, I should shape up and stick with the story—not leave her hanging as long as I had.
Now being a nosey writer, all her answers did was spur other questions.
So…who is right here? The writer or the character?

Your comments are certainly going to be interesting reading. 🙂

A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.
My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.
You can find links on my website, here.

Advice to Romance Readers by Stephanie Queen

I’m going to take this chance to spout off  pontificate  preach  delight   whatever  communicate to readers of romance. I love to talk, but since I’m a writer, I’ll write you all a letter. Of advice. With my sincerest expert opinion about reading romance novels.

Dear Reader,

First about me my credentials: I’ve been reading romance novels since I got out of college and discovered trashy popular novels after years of being so tremendously bored with tomes about internal rates of return that I considered becoming an agriculture major because they at least  participated in calf-birthing and such   intellectual stimulation.  I had to rest my fried   enormous  over-worked brain. I became hopelessly addicted to the point of spending the laundry money on books   instantly enthralled by romance novels.  So here’s a few pointers on how to maximize your enjoyment of reading romance novels from a writer reader and  reader  writer:

  • Pointer #1:  Never skip to the end because you know what’s going to happen anyway—of course they live happily ever after   because it’s the tense moments of the journey that count the most.  You must give the story and characters at least 5 pages  a chance to simmer for that slow build to the climax. (I’m talking about READING here).
  • Pointer #2:   Never  Always   Judge a book by it’s cover.  Clearly I’m conflicted  certain  full of baloney  an expert about this.  The cover can tell you a lot   nothing at all  the basics  about what’s inside. But beware the misleading  annoying  surprise.
  • Pointer #3:  Always find a closet where the kids can’t find you  place to read where you can relax and have  five stinking minutes  some uninterrupted  time  to read the  juicy parts  entire novel in one sitting if possible.
  • Pointer #4:  Always write a fan letter to the author!


Stephanie Queen

NEW 2014 PTG cover 600x900

Help me by judging this book by its new cover!

My novel, PLAYING THE GAME, the 2013 International Digital Award winning novel for best contemporary, has a new cover!  Judge away and let me know what you think!

The story is about sports and love in the big leagues.  Here’s the teaser:

Playing the Game:  About more than a ball.

Can a woman bring down a legend by distracting him from his game?

Since her disastrous marriage ended, Roxanne Monet has sworn off serious relationships with men. She has more important things to worry about. She’s broke, lost her job and now she’s being accused of murdering her estranged husband.  But when she meets superstar Barry Dennis and he challenges her to a game of seduction, she decides to play ball. When the game turns serious, she unintentionally exposes the legend to be a flawed man.

Barry Dennis picked the wrong woman to play games with when he decides to flirt with the enigmatic Roxanne. Being the best takes all he has. He can’t afford to let anything or

anyone interfere with his first and only priority–Basketball. But as the attraction between them heats up, he finds himself losing sight of his life’s game plan.

While the sports world’s microscope is trained on Barry’s game and the media hounds Roxanne about her husband’s mysterious death, the stakes are ratcheted up even higher when Barry’s young daughter, Lindy is injured. Roxanne gives Lindy the attention she needs while Barry struggles to cope with the demands of his new priorities.

Can Roxanne rely on Barry to do more than play ball?  She takes the risk and gives him the last thing she owns–her heart.

Excerpt from PLAYING THE GAME:

“Damn it,” Roxanne muttered. Her drink had splashed on her dress. Looking right, and then left through the dense crowd of partygoers around her, she took a surreptitious glance down to inspect the damage.

A very large, dark, wet spot spread over her left breast. Luckily it was only ice water. Or maybe not so lucky, on second thought. She watched in horror as the red silk material clung to her skin.

“Double damn. My nipple is showing!” This time she forgot to keep her comment under her breath.

“Now that I’d like to see.” The man appeared from nowhere, towering beside her. He watched her reflection in the floor to ceiling window.

Embarrassment flushed her face. The man was no gentleman. Her embarrassment turned to anger in a flash. She jutted her breast out for him to see.

“You can look all you want,” she dared, wanting to shift the discomfort to him.

She thought she’d succeeded, until the signature dimpled half-grin split his face.

“I’m Barry Dennis.” He held out his free hand for her to shake. He held a bottle of beer in the other. The famous lopsided smirk remained in place.

“Must be my lucky night.” She ignored his hand.

He laughed.

Biting her lip, she reminded herself to behave professionally. He was the star attraction at this gala and they were both there to raise money for a good cause.

“I’m Roxanne Monet.” She shook his hand. Eyeing him, she wondered if he’d dare say something about her nipple.

“I know who you are. I watched you get fired from your job at the TV studio a few days ago. You were supposed to interview me.” Unrestrained amusement shone in his eyes now and his grin widened.

She was really starting to dislike this guy.


For more about Stephanie Queen and her books visit her website at, follow her on Twitter @StephanieQueen or catch up with her on her Stephanie Queen Facebook page.

Purchase Links:  Amazon  Barnes&Noble   Apple


Romance Is Forever Young by Joan Reeves

STO_200px300pHave you noticed that most romance novels are peopled by the young and beautiful? Yeah, I’m a master of stating the obvious. Sure, traditionally-published novels usually starred those under thirty-five. In fact, an editor once said to an author: “Make your heroine twenty-three years old and the CEO of a company.”

I swear that is the absolute truth. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many 23-year-old CEOs.

The point is that traditional publishing had this idea that readers were all in their twenties and they didn’t want to read about anybody much older than they were. (Is it any wonder so many authors happily deserted traditional publishers and embraced indie authorship?)

Forever Young

Still, the idea of romance and sex being for those below forty holds sway. Even we indie authors write heroines younger than our generation. I think one reason we do this is that we—people in general—have a self-image embedded in the brain that doesn’t age. That’s why you are startled when you walk down the street and catch your reflection in a store window. Ever done that? Ever thought, “My God, I look just like my mother!”

Shaking It Up

The Trouble with Love by Joan ReevesI love writing about two people who find each other in life. There’s romance and sex and passion and, in the end, commitment. But, I also love shaking things up a bit. I sometimes throw in a secondary romance between people of a certain age.

In Still The One, the main love story was Burke and Ally. Burke’s grandfather and Ally’s grandmother were scheming matchmakers who were also in love and having an affair after meeting on a cruise ship. Yes, they talked about sex! Oh, horrors. Seventy-something people talking sexily. What’s the world coming to?

In The Trouble With Love, Deputy Susannah Quinn and Special Agent Hogan are the main love story, but I get more comments and email about Susannah’s mom Tory and Hogan’s Uncle Walter. These middle-aged people fell hard and fast for each other–in lust and in love.

In Old Enough to Know Better, Stormy is an older woman, and her soul mate just happens to be a younger man, Sean Butler. Sean has all he can do to woo Stormy who obstinately refuses to become involved with him—even though she’s half in love with him anyway. In the end, he prevails. I don’t want to spoil the ending in case you haven’t read this book, but he gives her a pendant with an engraving that sums up Stormy’s attitude about finding love.

Old Enough to Know Better by Joan ReevesOver the Hill? Nope!

So if you’re older than 30—or 40, 50, 60, or beyond—don’t despair. The road of life is long and offers love and romance—and, yes, sex too—every step of the way. You can fall in love, and you can read about women and men your age falling in love. In this new age of publishing, authors aren’t restricted by arbitrary age guidelines. We can write all kinds of stories—even romance novels with over the hill lovers if we wish.

Love at any age is amazing, intense, breathtaking, and wonderful. When you’re older, that’s still true—sometimes all those feelings are magnified. In “The Man in Lower Ten,” Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote: “Love is like the measles. The older you get, the worse the attack.” Now that is the stuff of romantic comedy!

Post Script

No matter your age, I wish you the kind of love I write about in my romantic comedies!

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I♥Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)


One of the coolest things about being a writer, besides being able to work in pajamas when I choose to, is the time I get to spend in other people’s heads and in other people’s lives. Sounds a bit creepy when I see it on the page. Trust me, it was more profound in my head. And that, my friends, is one of the most difficult aspects of being a writer: translating clear thoughts into clear words.


Writing for me is cyclical, much like the year or the phases of the moon. I write every day now—although that small effort toward consistency and continuity does NOT extend to answering e-mail—whether it’s for one hour or for six. By writing I mean tail in the chair, tapping out words on a current project.


So how is writing like the cycle of the year or the moon? Well, that first, I’ve got a grand idea and it’s going to be the greatest story I’ve written yet, burst of energy I have through the first ten or so chapters is a lot like the euphoria I feel on January 2nd every year after I’ve kept my New Year’s Resolution for 24 whole hours; hope, commitment and that sense of joy and accomplishment flow ripe with the certainty that spring along with the extra minutes of sunshine each day will help me sail through this novel and this year like none before.


By the end of February and the first third of whatever story I’m working on, I’m pretty sure spring is a precocious flirt with no intention of ever putting out. By March and the second third of my story, it’s still snowing and wind-chill is still very much on the horizon (I live in Wisconsin and this is no joke… It’s snowing as I’m typing).


By the end of March and the completion of the first 2/3rds of my story, things change rapidly. I type like a wild-woman trying to reach the end because once again I’m too excited not to. Those three to six hours a day typing become six to eight then eight until I can’t see the screen clearly. This is the time of year when I can go to sleep one evening and no green is popping in a garden covered in a wet blanket of last fall’s last leaf holdouts and wake up to robins in the yard and the first bulbs emerging.


Of course that’s just the first step for me, because no matter how cleanly I think I write, the reality is my work needs editing. Badly. And repeatedly. After the initial edits that puppy goes off to Beta readers before coming back for final edits. On the day it goes out, I play outside and gear up for the next story.


For me, summer comes when it sells and I get paid. Since I like to eat, getting paid is the best part for me.


In autumn, the process starts again.


So what’s with the whole being in someone else’s head and life thing? That’s not writing, at least it isn’t for me, that’s plotting and research. Sitting in the coffee shop listening to snippets of conversation. Not smacking the woman treating her children like property, but putting her in a book and naming her after your childhood nemesis. Watching an aging, but distant, relative slip into a land only he or she can understand, or your three year old niece chase a butterfly while her new puppy tries valiantly to help. To make compelling stories from these everyday events takes a willingness to open one’s self to the way others define themselves, and a willingness to place oneself in their shoes. Sometimes we treat our characters with empathy. Sometimes we don’t. Either way, I think that too is one of the more honest things—and by definition for me one of the best things—about being a writer.


Fantasy comes in….always. The worlds we create whether small-town, big-city or middle-earth-esque, are all products of imagination. Jim Butcher’s Chicago is like no one else’s Chicago. Every romance I’ve ever read (or written) is a work of fantasy to one extent or another. For example, I just watched the Veronica Mars movie last night. No one…I mean no one is that quick with the one liners. For those of you Lee Child fans, I very much doubt Jack Reacher travels without deodorant…only a toothbrush? Yeah, right. Fantasy, pure and simple.


The best fiction involves defining identity, empathetic reaction—or lack thereof—and fantasy. So does  everyday life.

However you write, however you live, may your story (or stories) sing! And may spring come to Wisconsin sometime this year.


Happy St. Paddy’s Day

Breath Mint Sized Irish Rental Car

Breath Mint Sized Irish Rental Car

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to spend twelve days in Ireland driving around, seeing the sights. It was a trip for my mother, a birthday present when she turned 50. Although her health limited her from some of the activities, we managed to have an amazing time.
We opted out of the bus tour and set out on our own in a little rental car. Twelve days of driving a 5-speed, breath mint sized car – on the wrong side of the road (to me) and using the wrong hand (left) to shift our way through the highways, countryside and small towns of Ireland.

St. Finnabare Cathedral County Cork

St. Finnabare Cathedral County Cork

Was it green? A common question, yes in June of 2011 it was gloriously green with temperate weather and mostly blue skies . We spent a lot of time on the road between sites and each County had something wonderful to see and share with us tourist types. We got the chance to see some of the most well respected thoroughbred horses in the world, Irish dancers and musicians and my mother insisted on chatting up every store clerk that would indulge her whim, to my impatient dismay almost all of them indulged. 🙂

Mares @ National Stud Farm

Mares @ National Stud Farm

Dublin was all that I expected. We took a tour of Guinness – fun times and good brew. We got a chance to see historical buildings and churches, the new modern downtown area and of course the famous rows of houses with each door a different color. I could have spent another week just in the city, walking around and enjoying the beauty of the people, the architecture and the Guinness. 🙂
It was a glorious trip, one I won’t ever forget and neither will my Mom. She got the chance to visit the small town where her grandparents were born and raised, which I know meant a lot to her. We hope to one day make it back, because it turns out twelve days just isn’t enough to see an entire country to satisfaction.

Downtown Dublin

Downtown Dublin

So, although I have to admit we were highly disappointed in traditional Irish food – it seems being genetically linked to the cuisine does not adjust ones palate for enjoyment. We were thrilled when we found a restaurant that popped up in a couple of the counties where we stayed called Milano – yes we are Italian food in Ireland. We might have starved were it not for the pizza! LOL!

I think about my heritage at this time of year and try to share bits of it with my son. However, since we don’t eat meat (well okay we cheat and eat bacon from time to time, shhhhhhh!), we will forgo the corned beef and cabbage this year and observe our tradition of toasting our heritage with green apple cider – he is only eleven, so beer is out of the question. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by our blog today, we love hearing from you, so comment away. Any questions about Ireland or my trip are welcome and encouraged. Please enjoy the photos from my trip, the recipe below and  take this Irish Blessing with you today on this lucky, St. Patrick’s Day.
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.”



Chocolate Mint Smith Island Cake via

Chocolate Mint Smith Island Cake via

  • 1 box(es) (1 1/4 pounds) Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 2 tablespoon(s) buttermilk
  • 7 ounce(s) (about 4) large eggs
  • 2/3 cup(s) water
  • 2/3 cup(s) oil, vegetable or canola
  • 7 ounce(s) chocolate ganache (recipe below)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 pint(s) (16 ounces) heavy cream
  • 16 ounce(s) semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon(s) light corn syrup

Cool Mint Buttercream

  • 2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup(s) (8 ounces) egg whites
  • 1 pound(s) butter, softened
  • Peppermint oil (or extract), to taste
  • Green food coloring, to preferred shade
  • Chocolate sandwich cookies (optional), for decorating
  • Chocolate syrup (optional), for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease 2 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Make the ganache: Mix heavy cream and corn syrup and heat just to a boil. Pour over chocolate pieces in a bowl. Let stand a few minutes for the cream to start melting the chocolate. Mix until smooth and glossy. Set aside.
  3. Make the cake: Combine cake mix, buttermilk, and eggs for 1 minute on medium speed, or 2 minutes by hand. Scrape the bowl and add the water and oil. Mix for one minute on medium speed, or two minutes by hand.
  4. Add melted ganache (7 ounces) and mix until incorporated, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between mixing.
  5. Fill each pan with about 2/3 cup of cake batter and spread evenly. (This is very important as you want an even layer. An uneven layer will yield a cake that isn’t evenly baked and will also increase difficulty when stacking the cake.)
  6. Make the buttercream: Whisk egg whites and sugar together and gently heat over a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 120 degrees F.
  7. Remove from heat and whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add the softened butter a few pieces at a time. Continue to mix until the mixture is incorporated and fluffy. Add flavorings, and mix until combined. Taste and adjust as necessary.
  8. Assemble the cake: Once cake layers are cool, begin icing and stacking. If thin layers are desired, slice cooled cakes in half horizontally to create more layers. Spread a thin, even layer of chocolate ganache onto the first cake layer. (Works best when ganache is set at room temperature. It should have the consistency of spreadable icing).
  9. Spread a thin, even layer over buttercream over the ganache.Repeat with cake and icings until all the layers are used up. We like to measure our cakes to 3 inches tall. Refrigerate until set.
  10. Coat the outside of the cake with the mint buttercream. If desired, grind chocolate sandwich cookies into crumbs. Coated the sides of the cake with crumbs. Decorate the top of the cake with chocolate syrup.

*recipe via