Pan de Muerto

Ever since I learned about it, Day of the Dead has been one of my very favorite holidays. There's something so cheerful and earthy and poignant and colorful about it. It's the very essence of Autumn. 

I knew when I began the Oberon series that I would have to set a story around this holiday. Visions Before Midnight is that book. When I found Chenoa, I knew I'd found the perfect character to tell the story of Dia de los Muertos...


Chenoa was decorating the bakery for El Dia de los Muertos; carefully placing Day of the Dead figurines among the trays in the display cases and hanging colorful tissue paper banners from the shelves.     
             Although she knew many people thought the holiday grim and the decorations morbid, Chenoa had always found the Mexican perspective on death––that it was no more than a change of worlds, the next stage in life––to be a comfort.  Especially after her parents were killed.
            It had always been her favorite holiday, even when she was a kid.  While her friends were busy selecting Halloween costumes and planning their trick-or-treat routes, she would spent her time helping her grandmother, and later her aunt, set up retablos.  And then decorating the little altars with photos of her parents and other relatives, plates of all their favorite foods, candles, mementos, and dozens of marigold and calendula blossoms.  
            The tradition––along with a lot of the decorations––had been passed down from her grandmother, to her aunt, and now to her; with each of the women adding her own personal touches.  And, even though she was only about one-eighth Mexican, Chenoa had always felt that this was one area where her blood ran true.
            She looked up from her work when the bell above the bakery’s door jingled; she couldn’t help but smile at the sound.  Just yesterday, she’d replaced the chimes that usually hung there with a set made of jangly, little tin skeletons hung from springs.  Now, the skeletons danced madly as the door swung shut.  The mousy looking, older woman who’d just entered the shop glanced up at them and froze in surprise.


Chenoa is a baker, which made picking out today's recipe extremely easy. Pan de Muertos is a sweet, cinnamon bread that's traditional for the holiday. You can see it in the picture at the top of the page. Enjoy!

Pan de Muertos


  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 6 cups flour
  • 4 eggs


Heat water until warm (slightly warmer than room temperature) Sprinkle yeast on top of water and allow to sit until it becomes foamy.
In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, cinnamon, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour. 
Beat eggs and add to mixture.
Add water/yeast to mixture and then gradually work in flour a half-cup at a time until mixture forms a dough. 
Knead dough on floured surface for approx. 1 minute. 
Cover with a slightly damp dishcloth and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size (approx 1 1/2 hours).
 Punch dough down. 
Knead for another minute and then shape into round loaf. 
Save approx. 1/4 of dough to shape into "bones" and decorate loaf with them. 
Let loaf rise for another hour or so.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes for larger loaves.

While loaf is still warm, brush with glaze made from combining 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice that you have brought to a boil. 

While glaze is still sticky, decorate with sanding sugar. 

To learn more about this series, click HERE

To buy this book on Amazon, click HERE


Moonlight Masquerade

When Girl Meets Vampire...

The picture at left could be symbolic of the main characters in In the Dark. Not that Suzanne (AKA Desert Rose) ever actually wears a blindfold in the book...

Hmm. That would have been interesting, wouldn't it?

But, as I was saying, Suzanne might just as well have been blindfolded, given how she willfully chooses not to see Conrad for what he is; as can be seen in this scene here taken from shortly after their first meeting...

“Isn’t this place fantastic?” Suzanne sighed, as they strolled in the shadows of towering redwoods, breathing in all the cool, night scents. The fog was settling in—between that and the trees, it should have been too dark to see. It wasn’t. Flickering torches, set along the winding paths that cut through the property took care of that. Given the costume she was wearing and the autumn breeze, she should have been shivering with cold. She wasn’t. The man walking beside her—with his electric voice and simmering smile—took care of that. “I don’t believe any of the rumors about it being haunted though, do you? I think it’s more like...well, like being in fairy tale, or something.”
The sound of Conrad’s soft laughter made her cringe. He smiled indulgently. “A very dark fairy tale, perhaps, yes? Populated with monsters and demons and things too terrible to mention.”
Suzanne bit her lip. Fairy tales. What must he think of her, hearing her talk about such silly things? He was older—how much older, she couldn’t say, but definitely over thirty—and more worldly and cultured and altogether fascinating than anyone she’d ever met before. And here she was, when she should be trying to act as sophisticated as possible, saying things that only a baby would think to say. “I just meant...well, it’s just such a...such a gas to be here, don’t you think so too? I wonder who owns it?”
He slanted a curious look her way. “Don’t you know? Who brought you here, anyway?”
“No one, really. I was with some friends the other day and I guess they’d overheard some other people talking about it. They said they throw parties like this almost every weekend and that it was a real happening scene. So I thought I’d come and see for myself.”
“A happening scene. I see.” They walked a few more steps before Conrad asked, almost hesitantly, “So...is that...is that a good thing then?”
“Conrad! Of course it is!” Laughter bubbled up before she even considered that, perhaps, he was making fun of her. But the look in his eyes told her he wasn’t. “Look around you,” she said, slipping her arm free of his so she could twirl in place, her arms spread wide. “It’s all so...dreamy.” Older and worldly he might be, but there were still things he didn’t know about. She liked that. Liked the rush of power she got from the thought there were things she could teach him, things she could show him and tell him about—new things, things he might never even think of on his own. The realization left her so jubilant, she didn’t even protest when he took hold of her hand and pulled her into his arms.
His kiss was nothing like she’d expected. Earthy and dark, with just a hint of buried sweetness; and a taste that was almost familiar. Tempting, yet somehow...forbidden. Like the baker’s chocolate she’d once watched her foster mother use to make a cake. 
The tantalizing scent as it melted in the top of the double boiler had made Suzanne salivate. But, no matter how much she’d begged for a piece, she wasn’t allowed even a taste of it. So, that night, she’d crept down to the kitchen and stolen a square. It, too, was nothing like she’d expected. Bitter, intense, but exciting, all the same. Like her first sip of coffee. Or her first taste of love.
The press of Conrad’s mouth on hers was hypnotic. She couldn’t break the spell his kiss laid on her even if she’d wanted to; no more than she could stop the moan that crept up her throat when, after what seemed like an eternity, he pulled away. His hand slid across her bare back, took hold of her hair and tugged. She let her head fall back as his open mouth ghosted, warm and wet, over her neck, as though he was searching for just the right spot. Her heart seemed to stop. The night grew still. Even the breeze seemed to settle as she waited, breathless for...something.
It never came.
Instead, Conrad’s mouth reversed course, traveling back up her neck to her ear where he whispered. “So much sweetness. It would be a shame to rush what should be savored. You’ll spend the night with me.”
That stopped her—almost. Stifling a gasp, she pushed out of his arms. His eyes blazed red-gold in the light reflecting from the torches and his expression was one of faint surprise, as though her actions startled him, as though he hadn’t been expecting her to show even this much resistance.
But, why shouldn’t she resist? He was The Unknown personified. So much older, worldly, cultured...different. So very unexpected.
On the other hand, why would she resist? Wasn’t it for exactly this reason she’d left the no-name town she’d grown up in, vowing to put her past, with all its unhappiness, behind her? Wasn’t it for exactly this reason she’d come to the city; or that she’d come here tonight, to this very house—to experience life, to taste freedom, to embrace the unknown?
“All right. I’ll stay.” Nodding assent she melted back against him, lifting her face for his kiss. It was even headier this time. Darker, somehow. Definitely intoxicating. It made her head spin and her eyes grow heavy. She felt her knees give way an instant before he lifted her into his arms, as though she weighed nothing at all.
“Just so you know,” he murmured, his voice laced with amusement, as he carried her back towards the house. “I wasn’t offering you a choice.”
A choice of what, she wondered, lazily. But, nestled safely in his arms, she didn’t care.
She did know one moment of anxiety however, when he stopped in the hallway to speak to Armand. Something in the way the other man looked at her, the predatory gleam in his eyes, the subtle flaring of his nostrils, sent shivers running down her spine; had her closing her eyes again, more tightly than before. Had her pressing her face into the silk of Conrad’s shirt, curling instinctively closer to him. Like the rabbits she’d once watched in the fields back home, hunkering down on the ground when a hawk passed overhead.
When they started up the stairs leading to the mansion’s upper floors she roused herself enough to ask. “Where are we going?”
“I’m taking you to my room.” A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he watched her, as though awaiting her reaction.
She blinked in surprise. “Your room? Do you live here?”
“I do,” he replied, his smile even more evident. “I own this house. This happening scene into which you’ve stumbled? It belongs to me. And, you, my sweet, little uninvited one, are about to pay the penalty for trespassing.”
“Things too terrible to mention,” she murmured, trying to think back to what they’d said earlier, causing Conrad to almost miss a step.
His eyebrows rose as he stopped in his tracks and looked at her. “I sincerely hope not. Is that how it seems to you?”
Yawning, she closed her eyes and nestled closer. “No. You said that. I said it was like a dream.”

* * * * *

To learn more about this series, click HERE


New Orleans Style

I've been in New Orleans this week, having a great time with some of the other Nine Naughty Novelists. So here's a recipe for my favorite New Orleans dessert,  Enjoy!

Bread Pudding


1 loaf French bread
6 cups milk
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4  teaspoons  vanilla extract
2 teaspoons  pumpkin pie spice
8 tablespoons butter, melted
 1 cup raisins


Soak bread in milk until it crumbles
Break bread up into small pieces
 In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar together
Add butter, raisings and egg mixture to bread and mix well
Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
Bake for an hour, or until pudding is firm
Serve in individual dishes with whiskey sauce

 Makes 6 servings.

Whiskey Sauce


1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup bourbon


Combine milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Combine cornstarch with water until smooth.
Add cornstarch/water mixture to milk and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (approx. one minute).
Remove from heat and stir in butter and bourbon. 

And check out these other blogs for more tasty treats:


Bewitching Blog Hop

The Moon of the Dead

Through all the hills and forests that surrounded Oberon spirits roamed the night.  The long dead, the newly dead, those who merely craved death, either for themselves, or for others; the energy in the area seemed to draw them all.
It was the ‘tween of the year.  The time when veils grow thin and worlds collide.  It was a night made for dark deeds, for desperate measures and dire undertakings.   There were rituals to enact, on nights like these, and sacrifices to be made. 
It was a good night to pray.  A good night to cast spells.  And, in a small corner of the local cemetery, it was a good night to party until dawn. 
The graves, and all the paths that led to them, had been strewn tonight with marigold petals; to help the spirits of the departed find their way back.  Booths, set up along the narrow roads, sold food and toys and flowers.  A Mariachi band was playing.  People danced and sang.  Families made picnics on the grass.  Children ran among the markers, laughing and shouting, chasing after each other.  And everywhere you looked, it was plain to see that, even in the face of death, life would always go on...

Welcome Blog-Hoppers! The excerpt up there is from the seventh book in my Oberon series, Visions Before Midnight and the hero of that book, Chay Johnson, is my eye-candy for this post. Isn't he cute? 

He's also just a little too sure of himself when the story opens, but don't worry. We take care of that!  Chay's  grandmother was Mexican, so he grew up celebrating Día de los Muertos. It's a holiday I love as well. Here's a video clip of how it's celebrated in my neck of the woods: 


Chay Johnson is a traditional man; and the educator, flute maker, apprentice shaman has a lot of traditions to uphold, especially when it comes to choosing a life mate.
 Erin Allridge is a modern woman, with modern ideas about relationships and a painful personal history she has no intention of repeating.
 When terror and tragedy strike the small town of Oberon, the pair are forced to re-think their visions for the future.
 In this world of form and spirit it can be hard to find balance and harmony, but  sometimes, particularly when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, love can find a way to bridge the gap.

Now here's a brief excerpt. To read the entire scene just click on the link at the top of the page; the one that says:  "Bewitching Blog Hop Excerpt

This scene takes place shortly after Chay and Erin have been reunited. He's still convinced they belong together, she's not so sure. 


           Chay was in the parking lot when Erin left the building.  Leaning against the back of her ancient Volvo, arms crossed over his chest, he watched as she approached. 
            The closer she got, the slower her footsteps became.  Her heart was beating uncomfortably hard.  “What are you doing here?” she asked, coming to a stop while she was still several feet away from him.  “How did you know this was my car?”
            “This is your car?  Really?”  He glanced at it, briefly, and then back at her, eyes narrowing as he asked, “What makes you think I’m waiting for you?”
            She felt herself coloring.  “Oh.  Good point.”   She’d just assumed he was.  From the fact that he kissed her.  From the way he kept staring at her all night long.  But, really, when you came right down to it, what did she really know about him?  He could be waiting for anyone.  “I’m sorry.  I guess I just assumed–”
            Chuckling, he straightened away from the car.  “Of course I’m waiting for you, Rain Woman.   Who else?  But, I can’t tell you how I knew which car was yours without revealing all of my Indian Medicine Power Secrets, and I know you don’t want to hear about those.”
            Indian Power Secrets?  Sheesh.  She ought to smack him one, right upside the head, but she found herself smiling, instead.  “Okay, very funny.  But, seriously, Chay.  What is it you want?”
            “We need to talk,” he answered, as his smile disappeared and he turned obligingly serious.  “Give me a ride?”
            She looked at him in alarm.  “A ride?  But– Where’s your car?”
            “I don’t have one,” he said, and then shrugged.  “Well, I do, actually, but I hardly ever use it.  I walked here.”
            “Walked?  From where?  Where is it you want a ride to?”
            “Home.  I have a house out in Black Oak Canyon.  It’s nice there.  You’ll like it.”
            She knew she had to look like an idiot, standing there with her mouth hanging open.  But, Black Oak Canyon?  That had to be…what?  Five or six miles out of town?  Was he joking?
            He smiled, as if he’d read her thoughts.  “It’s shorter if you go cross country.  A lot shorter.  Believe me.”
            “I’ll take your word for it,” she muttered, thinking hard.  Drive?  Out to the foothills?  Tonight?  She thought about driving through the canyon.  Narrow, twisting, unfamiliar roads.  Steep grades.  No streetlights.  And, then, when they got there...they’d be alone in his cabin.  Shit.  “Chay, I–”
            He sighed.  “Okay.  Fine.  Maybe another time, huh?  Let me ride with you as far as the school gates, then.  I really do need to talk to you.”
            “Okay,” she said, feeling both grateful that she’d been let off the hook, and guilty about it, too.
             She’d slept with him.  And, even though it had been a while ago, a one-time event, as far as she was concerned, and, judging by how annoying he was being tonight, a really big mistake, he obviously felt it entitled him to certain things.  Such as favors.  Explanations.  Special treatment.  A fair amount of her attention, a few moments of her time.  Perhaps a ride home, on occasion.  And, maybe, although he hadn’t actually come out and said it yet, the chance to sleep with her again.
            She couldn’t even say that he was altogether wrong.   Maybe she did owe him some of those things. 
            “So what do you want to talk about?” she asked as she started the car.  She was pretty sure she knew the answer to that, but there was always a chance she could be mistaken.  She hoped she was.
            She turned to stare at him.  Okay.  So.  Not what she’d been expecting.  Not even close.  Whatever planet Star Man’s mind was orbiting tonight, it obviously wasn’t even in the same galaxy as hers.  “Excuse me?”
            “She doesn’t like you,” he said.  “I mean, I don’t think she likes a whole lot of people, to tell you the truth, but I’m not that concerned about the rest of them.”
            “But you’re concerned about me?” she was surprised into asking.
            He shot her a look that fell just short of exasperated amusement.  “What do you think?”
            Oh.  “Well, don’t be.” She felt herself blushing as she tried her best not to feel flattered.  Damn it, she would not get suckered into thinking they had some kind of relationship going on here.  It was too soon, for one thing.  And for another...she hadn’t been joking when she dubbed him a heartbreak.  The writing was on the wall with this one.  If she fell for him, she’d fall hard.  And she could already tell that he was someone she didn’t want to be dependent on.  He struck her as the kind of guy who’d always been able to walk away from anyone, or anything.   Why should she be an exception? 

* * * * * 

Among his other talents, Chay is a very accomplished flute player. So, in his honor, I've included a musical interlude for you all to enjoy...

To learn more about this series, click HERE

To buy this book on Amazon, click HERE

The ‘tween is an endless mystery.  A world of secrets and sorcery.  A place without time or space.  Ordinary rules do not apply here.  Anything might happen and, all too often…it does.  The gods of the ‘tween pity no one.  They favor no one, either.  And, anyone foolish enough to think they do, is doomed to disenchantment.
            Throughout the long night, vigils were kept.  Candles set in pumpkins, in paper lanterns, in little glass jars, all burned slowly down, winking out like the stars, like the night itself, as dawn filled the sky.
            The party in the graveyard burned slowly down, as well.  Singing gave way to storytelling.  Laughter became the soft murmur of voices talking.  Children fell into their parents’ arms and were rocked to sleep.
            Finally, the sun began to rise.  The spell the night had cast upon the world was broken.  Another day was ready to begin.  And, ordinary life…resumed.


Get Yer Basil Buzz On

Clip art copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey, 
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my fellow Tasty Tuesday bloggers and I decided to  dedicate today's blog to foods and drink that are pink. 

My contribution is a purple basil gimlet, which, as you can see from the picture below, is a beautiful magenta shade. Isn't it pretty? And, mmmm, anything that combines basil, lime and vodka...how can you possibly go wrong?

This picture also puts me in mind of the following excerpt from Visions Before Midnight (Oberon, book 7) which is fitting, since most of the book is set in October...

Erin Allridge stared dubiously at the drinks the bartender had just deposited on the bar in front of her.  Electric blue with a lemon twist, and neon green with a cherry.  Colors so virulently bright, they hurt her eyes. 
            “You’re sure they’re safe to drink?” she asked uncertainly.  They looked...surreal, futuristic, and, very possibly, radioactive.
            Her friend, Melissa, rolled her eyes.  “Well, duh.  What do you think?  Would I be trying to poison us?”
            Erin shook her head.  She wasn’t sure what Melissa was up to.  It had been a surprise when her friend had called and insisted she come out for a drink with her.  Erin thought they’d have some wine, or a beer, maybe even a shot of scotch.  Something vaguely familiar.  But not these.  These looked like the kind of drinks they might be serving right now on another planet, somewhere in a far distant corner of the galaxy.
            Maybe it was culture shock.  She’d spent most of the last six months living on the Traansveldt in South Africa following a pride of endangered white lions.  Or, to be accurate, following her husband as he followed the lions.  There was nothing in the veldt that resembled these drinks, she thought sadly.  The land of the singing grasses was gold and dust beneath a faded blue sky.  It was all the rusty shades of heartbreak, like old bones, tear stains and dried blood.
            Tear stains and dried blood?  What the hell am I thinking?  She shook her head in hopes of clearing it.  It was the jet lag.  It had to be.  She didn’t even recognize her own thoughts anymore.  Shades of heartbreak.  Jeez

Read the rest of the scene HERE.


But enough about that. Now, on to the recipe, which, by the way, I should probably mention comes from Venus.

No, really, it does! 

Venus Restaurant, that is, one of my favorite Berkeley hang-outs.

Oh! And, you can, of course, make this drink using regular basil, if you don't have the purple variety handy, but then you won't get the pretty pink color.

Purple Basil Gimlet


  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
  • 2 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 of the basil leaves with the Simple Syrup. 
  2.  Add the vodka, lime juice and ice and shake well. 
  3.  Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the remaining basil leaf.
Please check out these other blogs for more tasty treats:

And, later this week, be sure to stop back here for the Bewitching Blog Hop!


The Besto Pesto Biscuits

I love this time of year. It's cool enough that you yearn for something warm at most meals. But still close enough to Summer that fresh fruit, veggies and herbs are still plentiful. That's where the inspiration for these biscuits comes from. They can easily be made gluten-free. Just use rice flour instead of wheat. But be sure to let the biscuits cool before you remove them from the pan, or they'll crumble to pieces

Pesto Biscuits


  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt 
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese 
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic (depending on size) grated 
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, minced 
  • 3/4 cup milk 


preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, either in a food processor or in a mixing bowl by hand. 
  2. Drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. 
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. 

 That's it. Enjoy. :)

And please check out these other Tasty Tuesday blog posts for more tasty treats:

Also, this Wednesday Night, It's Game Night!

Join Kelly Jamieson, Erin Nicholas & I for Twenty Questions.  The game will be held at the Oberon Chat Room in a chat format on Wednesday, October 10th from 7-9 p.m. Central Standard Time

Check This Week's Excerpt for a pesto related read!


Moon Magic

Welcome to another Tasty Tuesday! 

Today's recipe is in honor of  the Chinese Moon Festival, which coincides with the full Harvest Moon (which occurred this past weekend). For some reason, the elementary school my kids attended was very big on Chinese culture. Why I don't know. Proximity to San Francisco, perhaps? It was never made clear. But, as a result of this focus, we all learned a lot about various Chinese traditions and, every year, someone was sure to bring in mooncakes to share with the class. 

Actual mooncakes are gorgeous and require a lot of ingredients that most people here don't have read y access to. However, the internet is a wondrous place and I was able to find a simplified version. I bet you'll enjoy them just as much. 

Chinese Mooncakes 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can red bean paste or 1 cup jam


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl
3. Add one egg yolk and beat until combined
4. Add the flour and mix until dough forms a ball
5. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
6. Form the chilled dough into small ballls with your hands.
7. Make an indentation with your thumb in the center of each ball
8.  Fill  each indentation with approx. half a teaspoon of  the red bean paste or jam and place on greased cookie sheet.
9. Brush each cake with beaten egg yolk.
10. Bake the mooncakes for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown. 

Makes about 24 moon cakes.

And here's a Full Moon Magic scene from A Sight to Dream Of:

Daylight was dying in the air when Marsha arrived at the cabin.  It was still a little early in the day for a full moon ceremony, but she just couldn’t handle the trip both ways in the dark.  It would be hard enough driving back, but her need to come here tonight--to ground herself and find peace and balance--had overwhelmed even the fear she harbored of being on the road at night.
            It was Alex’s fault.  Try as she might to forget about the scene with him earlier this evening, she had not been able to let go of the nasty, painful emotions he had stirred up.  Grief and loneliness had roiled around inside her all evening, pushing her ever closer to the edge of a seemingly bottomless well of despair.  Even after all this time, even after all her vows of indifference, he still could get to her.  She was still tied to him with emotional threads she had woven herself—with spells and prayers and incantations.  Threads she couldn’t seem to sever no matter how badly she might want to. 
            Never again, she swore, taking a couple of slow, deep breaths.  Never again would she make herself so vulnerable.  Never again would she allow herself to become so dependent on anyone that the fear of losing them would lead her to make the kinds of mistake she had made with Alex.
            Never again would she use magic to hold someone—she’d seen firsthand the damage it could do.

Read more HERE