Monday, October 12, 2015

Adventures of a Bookish Foodie: Meet Guest Host Stella McLeod

Hi there I’m Stella McLeod. I write paranormal and contemporary romance but like all authors there’s more to me than that. I am a Clinical Psychologist and I’m also a trained chef. (Elizabeth Russell’s French Cookery School, London and The Cordon Bleu, London). 

My new release is a paranormal romance, Always Have and Always Will, about an Immortal ancient warrior and his long dead partner who has been reincarnated after 2000 years as a modern woman.

Some people say authors are born not made, I think authors are just people who decide they want to write. The only problem is that once you begin you don’t want to do anything else.  I decided I wanted to write when I was a teenager. I was abysmal at Maths, Physics and Chemistry but I was good at English so I entered competitions and started winning awards. And that old adage about positive reinforcement strengthening behaviour is true. But what I didn’t know and wasn’t to learn until I became a Clinical Psychologist was that intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful force human behaviour.

The biggest problem about being an author is it’s sedentary. You sit in a chair for hours on end and when you’re on a roll you don’t want to even get up for a loo break or a cuppa! And when it’s going slow or you’re editing or writing in the middle of the night you have to think a lot which requires sustenance, nibbles, coffee, chocolate, often alcoholic beverages. And then there are all your writer friends you have to keep up with or keep informed through emails, face-book, blogs, websites, launches, cover reveals, writing holidays, get togethers, etc etc. So there is a tendency for even the youngest, beautiful, tanned and slimmest of authors to get a little older, paler, tubby or bottom heavy as the years go by. It can be an occupational hazard which is why it’s better to have your author photography done early in your career, head shots preferably. (Romance authors love each other regardless of poundage but fans can be a little more sensitive to change especially the ones who confuse their authors with their favorite heroines!)

I have lots of pinterest boards including many food ones as well as book ones. You can find my one there for this book. (I also write a series of cook books under the pseudonym D & P Gramp which sell through Amazon).

My love for food is something that’s never going to change and I have a successful food blog with one of my daughters. It’s, so you can also visit me there.

Rather than select a recipe today I’ve included some images from my food blog, ones that don’t need a recipe, ones that will hopefully inspire some creativity.
I hope you enjoy them while you’re reading Always Have and Always Will.
The digital download is available here:
The printed book is available here:

Kind regards

Stella Mcleod

Always Have and Always Will
The Omega Series
Book 1
Stella McLeod

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: October 1, 2015

ISBN: 1500270598
ASIN: 978-1500270599

Number of pages: 264
Word Count: 70,000

Formats available:         pdf

Cover Artist: Hang Le

Book Description:        

Reincarnation is easy until you have to face being murdered a second time. A life destroyed 2000 years in the past, a buried Greek temple with the secret to Immortality, ancient families torn apart by betrayal and a modern reincarnated woman who holds the key.

Ana Black thinks a villa on a Greek Island will be the perfect summer holiday but her plans don’t include Alexander Petrakis. He’s an ancient warrior who thinks he’s Immortal, says he’s waited 2000 years for her to return and claims she’s his reincarnated lover, a woman he freely admits he failed to protect in her past life. Even if she believes him and gives him a second chance, what hope he won’t fail her again?

With a past she cannot escape and a future he cannot accept, all they have is the present. Will they find a way or are they both out of time?

Available at Amazon

Chapter 1. Island of Monemvasia, Greece. Present day.

“I would rather be tied to the soil as another man’s serf ...than be King of all these dead and destroyed.” ~ HOMER, The Odyssey

When the last shutters close nothing moves but the wind in the trees and the thin fabric of my dress as it drums and billows in the air.
I knew it was a mistake, like my hair. When I’d left it had been neatly arranged in a loose knot and now it’s unraveling out of control. Like my life.
The streets are quiet and everyone is inside but I try not to think about the shitty weather, try to pretend it’s not a bad omen. The oppressive summer heat has given way to warm autumn days that gave no hint of the winter to come, the blue skies were bluer, the air cleaner.
Until today. Today the grey started and rain threatened.
A short while ago I felt safe, now my imagination creates danger where there is none. But it doesn’t matter, just like the rain and mist in the darkening streets don’t matter and the shutters closed against the coming storm don’t matter. The local villagers snug and warm behind those shutters though, are smarter than me.
But I have no choice. I have to meet him or the Greek authorities are going to burn my passport, lock me up and throw away the key.
I rub my arms, not for warmth but to brush away the goose bumps that thinking of Alexander Petrakis brings. I should be scared and I am, I should abandon my crazy plan but I can’t, and if I try walking any faster in these high-heeled shoes skipping the country is going to be a lot harder with a broken leg.
So I keep my head down, watching for rising cobblestones that might trip me up and see a scruffy dog instead. He’s too happy to see me, too sad to be anything but a stray. If he were mine I’d have him inside on a night like this. So I stop for a few minutes to give him a scratch behind the ears and a few words of comfort.
“Gotta go now,” I say shooing him off gently, making promises I can’t keep, watching him amble away with his hunched shoulders and limp tail in search of comfort and shelter he will never find. I walk away fast, think of other things but my hearts racing and breaking for not turning around and not doing the right thing. I should take a lesson from him, do a runner and take him with me. But it’s too late for me for that.
I pass an ancient olive tree that flashes its leaves to me in the wind, flipping them silver to green then silver again, sending me a thousand SOS’s. I ignore their warning and instead look out to sea at the jutting island with its crumbling relic and ancient ruins that fills tourists with awe. I shudder. It makes my flesh crawl and affects my mood. Dark weather stirs dark thoughts, and dark thoughts are perfect for dark deeds.
Across the narrow straight of choppy sea I estimate distance, current, and opportunity. It’s far, but not too far to steer a boat against the tide. I calculate the risk of missing the dock against the likelihood of being smashed against the rocks; glad I didn’t make that mistake.
That mistake I avoided by going the long way around and walking across the long causeway, but I’ve made plenty of others.
He’s chosen the place. I would have preferred the plush Chrisovoulo or the Kastraki for our meeting rather than his stuffy restaurant but he’s insisted, owns it evidently. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end because I doubt I’ll feel safe anywhere in Greece at the moment. At the moment I just feel betrayed.
I walk along the waterfront then turn into the small lane and make my way carefully up the steps to the Bellagio. I don’t want to open the door. That fact alone should chill me to the bone, instead
I’m on fire, feel slightly sick, getting a temperature maybe. I take a deep breath, push harder and step across the threshold into my future and a blast of hot air where my skin is cold, then hot, then cold again; tingling with dread or excitement, I’m not sure which. My senses are confused. My life is confused. Same old, same old, nothing new tonight then for Ana Black.

About the Author:

McLeod’s books deliver exotic and interesting locations with characters flawed in quirky everyday ways and as a Clinical Psychologist, she draws on psychological insights into human behaviour and motivation to bring her story and characters to life. Published for over twenty years in a variety of media including television, books, electronic and print media, with additional qualifications as a London trained chef, food writer and lecturer means her readers will always find psychological complexity, tension and food written into her books. Stella McLeod is a member of the Australian Romance Writers Association.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Need Some New Spooky Reading Material for Fall? Win this Book Bundle!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Adventures of a Bookish Foodie: AUTUMN & the Annual Schlacht

Photo Credit:
Autumn season connotes many things: falling leaves, warm fires, cozy mysteries, and pumpkin spiced low-fat no-fat chai lattes (hmmmmm). Putting the garden to bed, fretting over a non offensive, yet creative costume for that annual Hallowe’en party you love going to also comes to mind.
But for me there’s something else: something not forgotten, but no longer practiced because it is culturally specific, based on a country that no longer exists, spurred along by people no longer living.
Can this intro form part of a foodie blog? You better believe it! For that thing I pine for, that singular thing that meant AUTUMN to me when I was a child was none other than the annual Schlacht.

Schlact? What’s that? Well, gentle reader, it’s complicated. Schlacht is a German word that literally means ‘battle’.  But to a family of Danube Swabians, it meant quite another. Danube Swabians once formed a colorful community in a part of the former Yugoslavia that covered sections of modern day Serbia and Croatia. German speaking (sort of), these one-time settlers busied themselves with farming operations both small and large, while maintaining vibrant little village (town) main streets that featured the usual butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.
After the Second World War, many Danube Swabians relocated to parts of Western Europe and North America. My crew came to Toronto, Canada, bringing with them feather beds, pots and pans, an unusual dialect that few Germans could understand, and a recipe for bratwurst that could challenge Johnsonville Brats for sausage supremacy…ON A WORLD SCALE.
Schlacht to them, did not mean ‘battle’ but a machine-like operation that saw fine ground pork reduced to a culinary masterpiece that polemics could not decry; in other words: a seasoned dialectic contained gorgeously in brine soaked intestines (you thought sausage casings came from the store?) hung up to cure and dry all in the sanctity of grandma’s basement.

Sausage making, like most things these days, need not be carried out at home. It’s far easier to just jump in the car and pick up a pack from the grocery store. Right? But that wasn’t the point behind the Schlacht. In the 1970s everybody was struggling. There was no internet, no reality television and not a lot of money for highbrow-lowbrow entertainments. Gathering the family every fall to make sausage was something like Christmas, and for a little ethnic kid looking forward to Hallowe’en, what could be better than stirring up the contents of a giant cauldron on Oma’s basement kitchen stove? While dad ground the freshly carved meat, Oma parsed out the secret seasonings that would keep her brats moist while maintaining a rich red color through the drying and smoking process.

I will never forget my ten year old self stress-working the bratwurst press, an ancient gizmo hauled over on the boat. Barrel like, it held about ten gallons of meat at a time, all to be pressed into brine soaked casings (see above) by means of a hand crank that forced the contents into their proper place through a long, narrow stainless steel tube. The PSI behind this operation must have been staggering, as only my dad and older brother were strong enough to operate the crank.
The task of getting the meat into the casing evenly (without air bubbles) and then twisting them at the right moment into perfectly equal-sized links fell to me and Oma. Try catching ground pork out of a wurst press under high pressure. I dare you to!

Dad and Oma are gone along with the aunts and uncles who joined in on the annual Schlachterei. But the memories are vivid. Every now and then, my brother will make a small batch – his cask select if you will. I, too, make it, but without stomach casings and large cauldrons.
I don’t know if dad would approve of this Dude method of sausage making—I do them up in the fry pan without casings-- but I’m sure he’d smile at the effort.
The Schlacht is the tradition, and keeping the tradition alive is the battle.
Have a great autumn, everyone.
Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I am

This is a tough share for me, in that my grandmother always left out at least one or two ingredients so that no one else’s wurst would match hers. To honor her, I present the modified recipe. Modification is also a tradition:

25 lbs ground pork
1.5 cups of paprika mixed with REAL beer to make it nice and pasty (this is a visual thing people)
.5 cup of salt
.3 cup of pepper
7 cloves of garlic smooshed und chopped
15 shakes of cayenne
Pinch of sugar
1 bottle of beer and balance water equal to 2 cups of liquid

Mix in a big ol’ bowl with bare, well-washed hands, and load up the wurst press.
I don’t have the brine recipe anymore for raw sausage casings. Don’t need them. Cured casings can be purchased at many large grocery stores and butcher shops.

Find me and my varied interests at:

Heuer Lost And Found
Unapologetic Lives
Book 1
A. B. Funkhauser

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction,
Metaphysical, Paranormal, Dark Humor

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Date of Publication:  April 23, 2015

Number of pages:        237
Word Count:                66,235

Formats available:       Electronic, Paper Back

Cover Artist: Michelle Crocker

ISBN/EAN13:  1625262043 / 9781625262042


Book Description:      

Unrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.

At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.

Is it really worth it?

“Heuer” as in “lawyer”: Heuer the Lawyer

Short Excerpt:

Jürgen Heuer did many things in his lifetime, but murdering another human being was not among them. Of course he considered it at times—having Fuhrer blood in his veins practically demanded it—but logic always trumped emotion and that was what kept him from breaking the law this time. Standing over enough explosives to level a half block, he replaced the matches in the pocket of his pimp suit, leaving Werner to curse and mutter at the 61 Division cops who had better things to do than visit the hermit house a second time.

Irmtraut, understandably, was not impressed when he appeared before her to explain. “Since our first meeting, you have forced an angina attack on your neighbor, preyed on the wits of the only person who loves you, and wreaked havoc at the office juice bar.”

“That, I can explain—” he interjected, relishing, somewhat guiltily, all the drama he’d created. “I merely sought to dispatch any papers incriminating to me. Instead, I found a bunch of tawdry shits besmirching my name.” He flapped his arms chicken-like. “They decided I was peculiar and with all these rainbow flags going up over town, they were making allegations.” He was not gay. He was nothing at all. Why did everybody insist on assigning labels? He was dead. It didn’t matter. And he hadn’t meant to set all the juice-o machines to malfunction in tandem, nor had he intended for Miss Samantha to go ass over heel and break an arm.

Irmtraut laughed at his childish protests, suggesting that he busy himself with the World Cup soccer scores. “Germany is leading, and the betting octopus is expected to weigh against the Spaniards.”

He scoffed at the suggestion; a German victory was a foregone conclusion. “Why waste time on a sure thing?”

“Indeed?” Irmtraut said. “Let’s look at something unsure then—your peccadillos, for example.”

“My what?” He was not familiar with the term ‘peccadillos.’

Irmtraut wiggled her ponderous mid-section to an unheard smoky beat.

“Oh, that,” he recalled, cringing over his play at self-release.

“Yes,” she said. “When you thought I was sleeping, only I wasn’t.”

He would gladly discuss the arsenal in the basement, the strange paste covering his bedroom walls, or his intriguing disdain for the prodigal father. What was not up for examination was his
 wandering hands and the miracles they accomplished.

“You will not do that again,” she commanded.

About the Author:

A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it. Her debut novel, HEUER LOST AND FOUND, released in April 2015 after five years of studious effort, has inspired four other full length works and over a dozen short stories. Her sophomore effort, SCOOTER NATION, is in edits for a 2016 release.


“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book! You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”

—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER

“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”

—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7

“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”

“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”


“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”


“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”

—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario

Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.

—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS