Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

The holiday season is in full swing. Santa is getting millions of letters from all the boys and girls of the world. Parents are scrambling to find that most cherished of gifts. And we are all hoping for a better world. I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and love this year.

In this Issue:
Quote of the Month    
Check This Out
Featured Author   
Christmas Traditions
Recipe of the Month 
Upcoming Book Signings/Appearances
Coming Next Month

Quote of the Month: “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.” 
~~ Dale Evans (American Actress, 1912-2001)

Check This Out: Maxine’s Musings will be revamped starting in 2017. There will be two new features: New Releases and Author Favorite Recipe. I hope you’ll find some new and exciting things to try.  Also, the paranormal erotic romance, Eternally Yours, is now available in print as well as ebook.  AmazonAuthorPage / MuseItUpAuthorPage

Featured Author: Susan A. Royal

Not Long Ago was published in 2012. For the opening scene, I pictured a young woman in her twenties hurrying down a busy city sidewalk. On her way past a coffee shop, she notices a handsome stranger through the window. Their eyes meet and what she sees leaves her reeling. Not only does she recognize the man, she knows things about him…but how? And why?
From there, the story could have gone anywhere. Turns out it did. The idea of time travel has always fascinated me. Imagine getting up close and personal with your favorite time in history. Experiencing what life is really like. Just think of the possibilities. And, of course, there had to be romance involved. My main characters, Erin and Griffin, meet and fall in love in his world, a harsh and sometimes violent place.
I never planned for Not Long Ago to become a series, but when my daughter read it, she insisted there was more to the story. At first, I was skeptical. I’d never written a book before. This was the first. On top of that, it hadn’t even been published. How could I even think about writing a sequel? After I began promoting Not Long Ago, I realized she was right. The more I talked about it, the more I knew I wanted to revisit Erin’s world. Learn more about it. See what happened next.
From Now On came out in June 2014, and it takes up where the first book left off. Some of my favorite characters are back. Arvo: the tall gangly young man with a disreputable shock of red hair who befriended Erin. Sir Edevane: Griffin’s fellow knight and comrade. Kat: Griffin’s feisty teenage sister.
In this book, Griffin travels across centuries to find Erin. Before they can begin their new life together, he’s sent on a mission to a strange island. When he doesn’t return as planned, Erin assembles a group of his friends to search for him. Followed by his strong-willed sister, Kateryn, they travel to Swansea and secure passage with the notorious Captain Akin.
Erin discovers firsthand how the island has earned its dark reputation when she battles freakish weather, encounters a race of little people known as “Prowlies” and experiences ghosts of the long departed.  Even worse, she discovers there are “ley lines” crossing the island’s mountain peak, creating all sorts of strange phenomena.  Yet these obstacles pale in comparison to the secrets she uncovers while trying to rescue the man she loves.
If you like a time travel adventure with a twist (and a love story) and haven’t read Not Long Ago, please do. You can continue Erin and Griffin’s story with From Now On. As for what’s going to happen to them in Book 3? It’s too soon to tell, but here’s a hint. As the relationship between the two love birds grows, they’ll have more obstacles to overcome. In addition, you’ll likely see something about the caves in Wales, blood moons and ghost stories.
The It’s About Time series is available at MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads.

Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times-- somewhere around 600 years. 
Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something is not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. However, Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.
Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as a squire for Sir Griffin.  She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty.  Only she must deny her feelings.  Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home.  But Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.

Christmas Traditions:

ü Christmas Markets:  Popular across central Europe, the Christmas markets are famous for their elaborate decorations, lights and shopping stalls Throughout some of Europe's biggest cities, vendors, craftsmen and women, bakers and more gather to sell and showoff their talents.
ü Boxing Day:  After an Australian bbq'ing, beach-going Christmas, the day after Christmas in the country is known as Boxing Day, it's an Australian public holiday. Similar to Black Friday in the United States, on this day, stores put on huge sales and people pour in to get the best deals.
ü St. Lucia Day:  This year, Dec. 13, 2015, marked St. Lucia Day in Sweden and Denmark. This Swedish tradition is linked back to a folkloric figure named Lucia, who brought light to the country during the dark winter days. The annual candlelit procession has origins back into the late 1700s but the tradition became more popular in the 1900s, according to the Swedish Institute's website.
ü Nativity Scenes:  While these have become a staple for the Christmas holiday, perhaps one of the largest nativity scenes is set up in Saint Peter's Square in Rome, Italy. Just outside Saint Peter's Basilica, also accompanied by a large Christmas tree, the life-size scene is not unveiled until Christmas Eve.
ü The Glass Pickle:  While this story's origins are said to be Germanic, the tale goes that the glass pickle is the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree, hidden somewhere among the decorations. On Christmas morning, the first child to discover the pickle gets an extra present.

For more Christmas Traditions:
·        History Channel
·        Reader's Digest
·        Santa's Net
·        How Stuff Works

Traditional Christmas Pudding
110g shredded suet
25g whole candied peel, finely chopped
25g whole almonds (skin on is OK)
1 small cooking apple cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
grated zest ½ large navel orange
grated zest ½ large lemon
2 tablespoons rum
75ml barley wine
75ml stout
2 large eggs
50g self-raising flour, sifted
110g white breadcrumbs
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
225g soft dark brown sugar 
110g sultanas 
110g raisins 
275g currants

1.     Begin the day before you want to steam the pudding.
2.     Take your largest, roomiest mixing bowl and start by putting in the suet and breadcrumbs, spices and sugar. Mix these ingredients very thoroughly together, then gradually mix in all the dried fruit, peel and nuts followed by the apple and the grated orange and lemon zests. Don’t forget to tick everything off as you go to make sure nothing gets left out.
3.     Next in a smaller basin, measure out the rum, barley wine and stout, then add the eggs and beat these thoroughly together. Next pour this over all the other ingredients and begin to mix very thoroughly. It’s now traditional to gather all the family round, especially the children, and invite everyone to have a really good stir and make a wish!
4.        The mixture should have a fairly sloppy consistency – that is, it should fall instantly from the spoon when this is tapped on the side of the bowl. If you think it needs a bit more liquid add a spot more stout.
5.        Cover the bowl and leave overnight.
6.        Next day stir in the sifted flour quite thoroughly, then pack the mixture into the lightly greased basin, cover it with a double layer of baking parchment and a sheet of foil and tie it securely with string (you really need to borrow someone’s finger for this!). It’s also a good idea to tie a piece of string across the top to make a handle. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan filled with simmering water and steam the pudding for 8 hours.
7.        Do make sure you keep a regular eye on the water underneath and top it up with boiling water straight from the kettle about halfway through the time. When the pudding is steamed, let it get quite cold, then remove the baking parchment and foil and replace them with some fresh ones, again making a string handle for easy manoeuvring.
8.        Now your Christmas pudding is ready for Christmas Day. Keep it in a cool place away from the light. Under the bed in an unheated bedroom is an ideal place.
9.        On Christmas Day: Fill a saucepan quite full with boiling water, put it on the heat and, when it comes back to the boil, place a steamer on top of the pan and turn it down to a gentle simmer.  Put the Christmas Pudding in the steamer cover and leave to steam for 2hrs 15 mins.  You'll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit. When you are ready to serve the pudding, remove from the steamer and take off the wrapping. Slide a palette knife all around the pudding and turn it out on to a warmed plate.  Place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top. Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat and, as soon as the brandy is hot, turn out the flame and ask someone to set light to the brandy using a long match.
10.    Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding - but don't pour it over until you reach the table (if you don't have a gas hob, warm the brandy in a small saucepan).  When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company!  When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with Christmas Rum Sauce, Cumberland Rum Butter or Brown Sugar Brandy Butter - see below.
11.    If you have any left over, it will reheat beautifully, wrapped in foil, in the oven next day.
12.    If you want two smaller puddings, use two 570ml basins, but give them the same steaming time.
13.    If you want to make individual Christmas puddings for gifts, this quantity makes eight 175ml pudding basins. Steam for 3 hours, then resteam for 1 hour before serving. They look pretty wrapped in baking parchment and muslin and tied with attractive bows and tags.
14.    To make this recipe gluten-free: Replace the suet with either gluten-free or gluten-free vegetarian suet. Use gluten-free white flour and breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread, and replace the stout and barley wine with the same amount of sherry.  If you are using gluten-free flour, you will need to add a pinch of baking powder to the gluten-free white flour.

Upcoming Book Signings / Appearances:
©     3rd Saturday of Month:  OKRWA Monthly Meeting, OKC Museum of Art
©     July 14-17,2017:  A Weekend With The Authors, Nashville, TN

Coming Next Month:  New month features, and featured author Linda Carroll Bradd.

With much gratitude, until next time…keep reading.

Spark your imagination and entice your mind
Be adventurous in your own home
Take a journey into a new world and be inspired
Enjoy the pleasures of reading ~~
It does the mind and body good.

Above photo found on
White Christmas movie clip found on


  1. Thanks for having me here today!

  2. Thanks for including the gluten-free version. I'm going to try it. Good luck with your book.

    1. You are so welcomed Kayden. One of our DIL's and our eldest grand-daughter are gluten intolerant. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays!

  3. Love the way you do this newsletter!
    Good luck and God's blessings

  4. I love your story premise, Susan. And I admit I've always wanted to try Christmas pudding.

    1. Thanks so much Lisa. I'm glad you stopped by. I tried Christmas pudding once...can you believe it came from a can?

  5. Really interesting post, Susan. Your series sounds wonderful. Best wishes!

  6. Thank you, Susan. It's good to see you.

  7. Loved your book trailer, Susan! And the story sounds fascinating! I'm a "five ingredient" kind of gal when it comes to cooking. Reading of all the ingredients and the time required for Christmas Pudding wears me out, LOL. I'd love to try it sometime--but making it takes stamina!

  8. Thank you so much for stopping by Kathryn. It's been great fun writing this series and I plan to continue Erin and Griffin's story. My son and daughter are responsible for the trailer. Aren't they talented? As I said in my email yesterday, I couldn't get this to post. Fingers crossed it will work today!