July 30 is National Cheesecake Day so treat yourself to a slice of this decadent dessert made of cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and a graham cracker crust. We won't judge you! Celebrate National Cheesecake Day with a slice or two or three of your favorite cheesecake. When did it start? Cheesecake was known in ancient Greece, (and anywhere you might have cheese, honey and eggs, so I'm betting something like it might have been available in Ancient Egypt too!) Cheesecakes, whether baked or chilled, have become a restaurant and bakery staple around the world. There are many different regional variations of the cake. For example, the Germans use Quark and a freshly made pastry as the base for their version of the cake. In Brazil, on the other hand, cheesecake is served with a thin layer of guava jelly or marmalade. How to Celebrate? With a big slice of cheesecake of course! Add some fruits to it, and you can claim that it is healthy! Bake a cheesecake at home and add new twists to the traditional recipe. Here are some ideas: replace the graham cracker crust with chocolate cookie crust, add bacon to the crust for a salty and smoky flavor, or replace the cream cheese with ricotta or goat cheese.
Make a savory version of the cake for dinner and a sweet version for dessert. In honor of National Cheesecake Day, many restaurants and bakeries have cheesecake specials on their menus. Take your family and friends out to try out one of these specials. Did You Know… …that a turophile is someone who loves and fancies cheese? of this decadent dessert made of cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and a graham cracker crust.
Did You Know…
…that a turophile is someone who loves and fancies cheese?
A tale of Imaginary Cheesecake
When I was growing up my favorite dessert was something my mother called "Key Lime Pie" It was delicious and fluffy and something I (as a mid August birthday) wanted along with "Angel Food Cake" for my birthday. Years went on. I grew up and met Dr. Jackie and we decided to marry. On our honeymoon in Orlando (We went to Disney World) I saw Key Lime Pie on the dessert menu. I was overjoyed and thought that since we were in Florida, the restaurant might have a real one. What came out was not what I expected. "This isn't Key Lime Pie, this is Lime Cheesecake." I exclaimed. The waitress looked at me as if I had just stepped off the vessel belonging to the Children of Stone, but I ate the yummy dessert anyway. I asked Mom later about it and she said she always made what she thought was Key Lime Pie. She was as surprised as I had been. I did a little research and found that she and other Moms of the 1950's and 60's were making Chiffon Jell-O pies with whipping cream and condensed milk. Later on prepared whipped creams had been substituted in this classic recipe. I was stunned, but delighted. This was a lighter cousin of the often heavy and rich Key Lime Cheesecake Pie, and the flavor could change according to the flavor of Jell-O one used. It's still an easy no-bake refrigerator treat just right for summer!
1 ready-to-use reduced-fat graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)
Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to cold water to make 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until ice is melted.
Whisk in COOL WHIP, zest and juice. Refrigerate 15 min. or until mixture is thick enough to mound. Spoon into crust.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.
So have a great Cheesecake or "Imaginary" Cheesecake Day. I understand that the restaurant chain Cheesecake Factory has specials today...so take a friend and have a half-price piece!
Last week I interviewed author Leighton Dean. This week his character from the Novel Save Our Souls speaks to us. We welcome Sharon Greaves
Go ahead and introduce yourself.
“Okay,” I say. “I’m Sharon Greaves, second technician on the Jian Seng. Is that enough?” I ask, but Mary shakes her head. Great, I think. Crudge is going to kick my ass if I’m late for departure. “I’ve worked a number of deep space haulage vessels. Took me a while before I found a place to call home.”
“I hit it off with John, sorry Captain Dahl, right away. It’s a family business and he treats the crew like his own. His wife died last year, which was really sad – but he’s been a rock for his kids, Ford and Becca.”
“I work directly under Chief Engineer Crudge, which means that I get to run my own duty shift. We have thirty-five crew in total and travel long distances so five of us run a shift at a time. Two months awake, and twelve months in stasis with a two-day hand over period.”
“The Jian Seng is really old, I can’t remember exactly, but she’s at least a couple of hundred years. Thankfully she’s a generational ship, built before stasis technology, and built to last, but she does enjoy keeping me busy.”
Tell us where and when were you born.
“I’m an earther,” I say, “Yes, I’m one of the few who left Homeworld. My parents weren’t thrilled about it either, but they supported my decision. In the end.”
How would you describe yourself?
“Curious, I like facts. I can’t get enough of them. More so if its technical, I just have to know how it ticks. I love to pull things apart and put them back together. It’s a severe hindrance on my love life.” Sadly, that wasn’t a joke.
Tell us about where you grew up.
“I’m from a small town called Avila, near Madrid. It’s beautiful.” It really is. “It has a wall, an ancient wall surrounding the town which proceeds the cataclysm. Its impressive in the day, but at night its lit with Angel-Flame torches. The family still lives there. Papa had this telescope, vintage, very big and very ugly. We used to spend hours staring at the night sky. I guess that’s when I decided I wanted to be up there. I’ve always looked to the stars.”
How old are you?
Cheeky. “Twenty-four, biologically. Add another twenty and change for stasis.”
Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
“As good as it can be when you’re a heathen in a devout family. My mother took it the hardest, but they love me, and I still love them. But it didn’t stop them trying to change my mind. They had me joining every child and teenage support group that was available. If it was devout, my name was on the invite list.”
“It didn’t change anything, I know the Trinity exist. I could see the Cathedral of Glass through papa’s telescope. And they do their annual communication to the masses of course, but something is off about them. They’re orbiting Earth, constantly watching the planet. It’s creepy.”
“When the church groups didn’t work Mum decided to give me one last chance to change my mind. I know it was from a place called ‘love’, but let’s face it, it was also from a place called ‘I don’t want my friends and neighbors knowing I have a heathen for a daughter.”
“I did six months in a psych-ward. They wanted me to find faith and I did, but not the way they wanted. I found faith in myself.”
“Plus, the telescope,”
Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
“Being put in a psych-ward gave me some trust issues. I understand why my parents did it, but I haven’t forgiven them.”
“As a non-registered devout, when I left Homeworld I got bunked with the other heathens. It took me a while, but I opened-up eventually.”
“The Seng is where I’ve felt most at home however, the heathens out number the devout two to one. Captain Dahl only has them on board because they give him tax cuts and access to certain ship upgrades which wouldn’t be available otherwise.”
“I have done something stupid recently though. I met a guy on shore-leave two days ago. Hilarious, charming and good looking. It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It is. Turns out I was too drunk to recognize the Cap’s son. I had a one-night stand with Ford Dahl. I’m fairly confident that will cause some issues.”
“In my defense he’s been off ship for nearly three years. So, he’s been growing while I’ve spent most of my time on ice.”
What do you value above all else in life?
“Freedom, that’s why I’m out there. You may think its romanticizing space travel, because we all know how dangerous it is. But being out there, visiting different worlds and meeting new people. That’s what its about, man. Our differences are our similarities, we’re not inherently bad. We just grew up somewhere different, where survival is different. Where beliefs are different.”
What are you obsessed with?
“Technology and ship engines. As much as I love being on the Jian Seng, its well out of date. The only thing it has going for it is the navigation computer. However, most of my time is spent on the engines. I’ve started building models, there’s 3D printer onboard. One of the crew, Natalie, has been building models since she was knee height and we’ve bonded over them since I joined the crew. I guess that’s an obsession, maybe more of a hobby. Oh – and Bacon. I lurve the bacon.”
How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
“I don’t follow the Trinity’s teachings directly, but I do agree that we should look after each other. We’re all human after all. The only sentient life form in the known ‘verse. And that means more…” I point to the sky. “Up there. Its dangerous, things can go wrong. You must have each other’s backs.”
“Not being accepted for who I am.”
What line will you never cross?
“I’d never kill anyone, or intentionally harm anyone else. I think every argument can be talked through. If not, some cheap liquor helps to grease the wheels.”
What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
“The best thing would have to leaving Earth, with a close second to joining the Jian Seng. The team are great, and I’ve gotten to see fourteen different planets since leaving home. Fourteen!”
“The worst would be the night Papa told me I was going to the Psych-Ward. He’d drawn the short straw, but I was sixteen and got into huge argument with him. I threw his telescope out the window.”
Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
“Sleeping with Ford,”
I really like Ford, ginger hair and all, but I say, “I like chic flicks.”
What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
What is your current goal?
“The same goal I’ve been aiming for all my working career. I want my own ship. Nothing too big, a light freighter will do. The ability to go where I want, when I want.”
The Jian Seng is an ancient freighter and a generational family run business in space where the crew members work in shifts taking their cargo to various destinations in the galaxy. Some work and others are in stasis chambers, reminiscent of the cross-country trucking businesses of the 20th and 21st centuries on Earth. Religion as we know it has become societal law and worship of "The Trinity". Those who are not devout are classed as "heathens" and have fewer rights.
Save our Souls by Leighton Dean tells the story of the family manning the ship. The Captain and his son Ford are some of the main characters. Right away, the story takes off as "something" collides with the aging vessel, totaling it. The "something" is a deserted vessel much like a Flying Dutchman. As the crew struggles to care for its injured and to find out more about the vessel that hit them, the situation becomes frightfully complicated with events, dangerous wreckage, the undead, an alien menace, and space pirates. It would be too much of a spoiler to reveal any more of this wonderful and fast-paced space opera. As a reader, I loved the fact that I didn't want to put my phone down. The characters and pacing was well developed. Even though I don't usually read hard sci-fi, I could envision the troubled wreck and the "souls" on board in a life and death struggle. My only surprise and confusion was a "Wow, I didn't see that coming" ending. A great job, Mr. Dean.
Today a Charissa Dufour tells us about her writing!
What made you want to be a writer?
When I was in junior high, I became very sick and had to drop out of school. During that very lonely time, I started writing. In fact, I wrote my first novel during that time. It was terrible, of course, but I never stopped writing after that.
Tell us your book’s genre?
I write in three different genres within four different series (thus far) including science fiction, paranormal fantasy, and epic fantasy. I hope to also dive into post-apocalypse fantasy one day.
Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback etc.)
While I love all four of my series, today we’ll be discussing my bestselling series The Echoes of Sol. “Bit” is an indentured servant, stuck paying off her father’s debt, when a space pilot accidentally wins her in a lucky hand of poker. Her sudden addition to a burly crew of undisciplined men makes for a fun, exciting, and sometimes romantic backdrop for many misadventures. The seventh book in this series was released May 31st, and I foresee it stretching on for many more books to come.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
Eeek… um… well, while I know it is vital to becoming a successful author, I do not do it well myself. I have found I have lost the joy of reading since becoming an author. Reading feels a little too much like work and thus is not relaxing. All that said, it is still vital to be partaking of other people’s writing to help better build your own style.
How did you come up with this fantastic idea?
The idea for Echoes of Sol came to me while I sat in a theater at Chicago’s Alder Planetarium. I don’t recall what the video was on… but I think it was on getting to Mars. As I sat there, bored with the hard core science of it all, I began to imagine a ship going to Mars and from there things kind of developed over time. In fact, I think after the video ended, I told my friends we have to hang out for a second while I write down on my ideas. Thankfully, they are used to the eccentricities of an author.
Which character do you identify with most in your novel?
In my first series, A Series that Just Plain Sucks, (Yes, it is about vampires) my main character is a cross between myself and a good friend. She doesn’t know when to shut up or when to say no, but at the same time, she has a deep love for doing what is right.
Did the Bible or other spiritual works have anything to do with your idea for this novel?
Absolutely. I am a believer of Jesus Christ, and while I do not write “Christian Fiction” I try to include facets of my faith in my writing. One example would be The Void Series where a male character is encouraging a female character to wait for sex until marriage. In the conversation, he tells her how beautiful she is and how valuable she is, and that any man worth having will wait for her. I try--and hopefully succeed--in not being too preachy. At the same time, though, I try to keep my characters from being prudes. They’re real, doing and saying what real people say and do. Saints don’t make great fiction.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
I think this changes from book to book and series to series. Generally speaking, I like to encourage the underdog. I like my characters to be the lowest of the low and rise to highest. What they do when they get to a place of the highest is the big question!
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
Editing. Once the story is told, my brain is done and already thinking about whatever the next project will be. But editing must be done, and so I trundle through.
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
I don’t tend to have ONE zone in which I can write. It varies depending on day, project, and whether my husband is home or not. For example: right now I am answering these questions while playing an extremely old computer game so I have one laptop on one knee and one on the other. I love doing this, but I admit it is not the most productive use of my time. Other times I watch movies while I write. I have a group of movies that work especially well for writing including the Bourne series, Captain Phillips, Speed, and _____. Back when I was better at being productive, I would choose one movie and have it on a continuous loop while I wrote that day. Sometimes I would even keep the same movie going for an entire week. I got a lot written that way, but after having to take a medical leave, I haven’t gotten back into that habit. Bad Charissa
!What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
Watermelon… I know, strange.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.
Can editing be my answer? Lame, I know, but it’s true. I am not a detail-oriented person in general, and editing is all about the detail work. This is an area where I have had to greatly improve myself over the years.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
Due to convenience, I think I run to whoever is on Facebook at the time of any difficulty while writing. If a friend is online, I message them and talk through the hiccup. When I need a deeper encouragement, I tend to find it--whether I sought it there or not--from my experiences as a Christ follower. Sometimes during my morning devotions I come across a portion of scripture that speaks to me, or meeting with other Believers, they give me encouragement not even knowing I’m needing it.
How do you market your book?
First and foremost, I keep up four active and fun social media where I interact with fans, play games, and, of course, share about my books. Beyond that, I pay for ads with companies like Bookbub and Bookbarbarian.
Has readers every contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
I get contracted by fans all the time. I can’t think of one specific favorite, but I do love the ones asking when the next book will be out days after a new release. They always make me chuckle inside--like don’t they know how long it takes to prep/write/edit a new book.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
I have a close friend who gets first dibs. After her, I use a small circle of “beta readers,” maybe three or four. Then, of course, there is my editor.
Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.
Never done one. I only sell ebooks, which are kinda hard to sign.
Some silly questions!
What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
I don’t think chores count as something I enjoy, but they are what I do when I am not writing. Beyond that, I guess I watch TV (I love period pieces) and play old computer games like Strongehold and Caesar.
Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is.
Tell us your favorite novel?
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
A live drama or the opera?
While I enjoy both (I better considering that my husband is a Tech Director for a school’s fine arts department), I prefer live drama. Opera is more likely to get old with nonstop singing.
Chips or crackers?
Meh. Neither. Cereal is my real achilles heels. But if I had to choose I would say chips. I could go through a whole can of Pringles without blinking!
Hamburger or chicken sandwich?
Hamburger! Oh for sure!
Fries or onion rings?
Fries. What the hell do I want a vegetable for, even if it is deep fat fried.
Milk shake or smoothie?
Well I’ve recently been forced to go dairy free. :( Aging is the pits. But I would kill for a Cake Shake from Portillos, so let’s go shake!
Thunderstorms or star gazing??
Neither… I’d rather be in bed sleeping. So since I can’t star gaze during the day, let’s say Thunderstorms.
Kindle or paperback novels?
Kindle. As I get older and move more, the ease of not having boxes and boxes of books is really nice. Mind you, my father’s library once had over 2,000 books in it, so the difference is severe.
Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?
Hahahaha, like a thousand of them. For example… not having a clue how in the world I was going to end that stupid thing.
What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors?
Write the story you want to read. If you’re writing a scene and thinking it is boring, then your readers are gonna probably think it’s boring. If you don’t like it, it will show through.
When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?
If you mean in the world of writing, I have a number of people who help me by reading works-in-progress.
As to the real world, my husband is a pretty obvious answer. After him, I have one of those rare friends of nearly twenty years that would drop anything to come to my aid. He is like my second brother and other husband all at once. I don’t know what I would do without his friendship.
When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
I just released a book on May 31st, so it is hard to say when the next one comes out. This book was the seventh in my Echoes of Sol series, which is my bestselling science-fiction series. I spoke of the plot earlier.
The book I am working on, and thus next to come out, will be book six of my Void Series. This series is about paranormal creatures being known to mankind and thus locked up in a sort of reservation. It centers on a unique fae who is slowly learning the true nature of her fae gift.
Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome book?
As always, My own books are always available too! Here are some links!
Begin the journey into mystery:
CHILDREN OF STONE
The Mystery of Ancient Egypt wrapped in a speculative and fantastic ride through history, mythology and magic.
EMOTIVE, EXOTIC & BEAUTIFUL!!
WALK WITH THOSE WHO ONCE BECAME GODS.
Voices in Crystal is Book 1 of the Sci-Fantasy Series Children of Stone.
The adventure begins.
A shepherd named Marai discovers a ‘fallen star’ What he finds inside changes him forever.
In distant Kemet a young prince, feeling slighted, begins a lifelong quest to control or destroy this shepherd and those he loves.
Going Forth By Day is Book 2 of the Sci-Fantasy Series Children of Ston
The Adventure continues
Marai, has been separated from those he loves.
His companions, Ariennu, Deka, and Naibe-Ellit must go on without him. As they become involved in the lives of the royalty of ancient Kemet, new alliances form, loyalties shift, and the comfortable lives of some are shaken to their core.
This is the women’s story.
2017 Gold winner - Diverse Fantasy, Silver Winner - Historical Fantasy
Opener of the Sky is Book 3 of the Sci-Fantasy Series Children of Stone.
The Adventure moves on
Marai's magical search for his companions
It is also the story of Maatkare Raemkai, a sadistic shape-changing warrior-prince, whose twisted relationships once propelled him into power, then nearly destroyed him.
Through sorcerous manipulation of the women Marai loves, he has planned his own revenge.
The sojourner Marai is just in the way.
And COMING SOON!!! Watch for promos, launches and specials
Heart of the Lotus is Book 4 of the Sci-Fantasy Series Children of Stone.
As Marai makes plans to return to Ineb Hedj, he knows not all is settled.
Old and new foes position themselves, each seeking control of the Children of Stone.
New allies find strength and wisdom from beyond the stars, while older foes emerge from that which is hidden.
Each destiny interacts and becomes a lotus petal in the Flower of Life.
WHO – WILL – WIN??
August 6 National Root Beer Float Day
A few surprises - Making a pronunciation Guide and Glossary
Paul White Interview
August 13 Left-Handers Day Paul White excerpt +
Lynne Stringer Interview
August 20 National Radio Day
Lynne’s review, Sarah Fenhart +
+ Bill Nash Interview
August 27 National Just Because Day Bill Nash Character – Jack Slater +