For the Love of Baked goods!

I know you’ve all been enjoying the recipes I’ve been posting, especially the Pumpkin Pie minis. I’m so glad! I’ve seen my blog go from very few hits to the over 300 hits in one day, thanks to the Pintresting of a recipe or two. It’s wonderfully gratifying to know that you all are enjoying them as much as I do.

I love to cook. Well, actually, I love to bake. This is especially true as the weather turns cooler and the leaves change to brilliant fall foliage. What is it about fall that just makes you want to throw ingredients into a pan and fill the house with the delicious scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, pumpkin, etc?

Perhaps it is the past memories of my mother spending hours in the kitchen preparing for her annual Christmas open house. As a good Norwegian she would bake Krumkake, Rosettes, Sandbakkels, Søtsuppe (Sweet Soup, we always called it fruit soup). Then she would always add a modern twist with new favorites such as the year she made a mint fudge. I have such warm memories of these times (even if she did make me dress up in traditional Norwegian garb for the occasion). As the holiday season nears (and in celebration of the wonderful world I came from) I will be posting some of these traditional Scandinavian holiday recipes.

So, stick around, kick off your shoes and get comfortable. There is much fun ahead!

S.J.

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

The Dagger of Aita: Retribution

Are you ready for a read that will transport you to a world where the Alimentatori and Cambiare walk amongst humans? Don’t know what the Aliments and Cambiare are? Then perhaps you should find out.  Consider picking up Book one in The Dagger of Aita series.

~ The Alimentatori ~

An ancient race of beings, fathered by The Grigori.
Though birthed by the Daughters of Men they are anything but human.

~ Jacen Trudeau of the House of Samsaveel ~

When a hedonistic Aliment who cares nothing for the traditions of the Alimentatori receives word that his beloved older brother has been murdered Retribution is what he seeks.

~ The Cambiare ~

Mythological creatures? Urban legend? Cold-blooded killers?
A near extinct race whose mere existence threatens everything Jace holds true.

~ Casa Sede di Alimentazione ~

High atop a cliff overlooking Lake Bracciano, the Sede’s pristine exterior hides ancient secrets, hidden agendas and political intrigues. Trust is non-existent and the truth is buried deeply within.

~ A Hidden Threat ~

Seemingly at odds with everyone around him,
Jace suspects his brother’s killer is not his only enemy.

On his quest for Retribution Jace finds
Enemies where he expects to find allies
And allies where enemies should lie.

Where were you?

NeverForget

Often during days of remembrance for great tragedies the first question asked is “Where were you?”

This day is no different. I invite all to tell me their tales. Where were you when the Towers were hit? When they fell?

In return, I shall tell you my tale, unique by perspective only.

You see, in spring of 1998 we moved from the US to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. When we moved there, we purposely chose to live in an area that was locally populated, not the Expat area. We wanted our children to have a true to life experience when it came to living in a foreign country. We were the only expats living out in Mirdif at the time and we loved it. For several years we lived a quiet life enjoying our Expat status and the sights and sounds of a foreign nation. Mosques surrounded us and the calls to prayer sounded five times a day.  As much a part of our lives as the sound of church bells ringing at a nearby church. It became the backdrop to our lives. We were not afraid.

But, on September 11, 2001 our sense of safety was shaken to the core. I had gotten up, like I did everyday and turned on my computer to meet a friend online for our morning IM chat. Immediately she asked, “Are you okay?” I paused and kind of laughed to myself. “Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Her response took the breath from my lungs. “Because a plane just flew into the Twin Towers in NYC. Go turn on the t.v.”

I immediately signed off and ran to the living room. I turned on CNN and watched in horror as they spoke about the first tower being hit. As I watched the second plane hit and my knees went week.  They began to banter about the word terrorism.  In a panic, I picked up the phone and called our house maid/nanny who’d taken our children out to a local grocery store to buy some candy. Suddenly the neighborhood where we’d felt safe seemed a dangerous place to be. The mosques around us started chanting over their loud speakers and the words America and Americans were interspersed with Arabic.  I know logically that they were calling people to prayer…to pray for our people and our nation, but in the moment it seemed almost sinister and frightening. The children arrived home with our wonderful housemaid (we loved her like family and that’s what she was to us). I hugged them and her and then told them what had happened. We all watched the news together. I cried as they talked about the lose of life. Then…then news of the Pentagon being hit…and my knees buckled. I sat on the coffee table and wept. As a Veteran, my heart ached for the men and women at the Pentagon. They were my brothers and sisters in arms. Then the news that another plane had been taken and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. I prayed for those people too. We watched the news all day. They grounded all flights within the US, including International flights. Those words sent a shock through us. For the first time since our adventure began we had no way of going home.

That night we stood out on our steps and looked at the sky above our gates and spoke in soft tones about the days events. We heard the mosques chants echoing around us and we clung together, comforting each other. The next day the embassy called with a request that all Americans bring their passports and come to the consulate for a meeting. We attended the meeting and listened as they tried to reassure us that we were safe in Dubai. One person brought up the fact that the Bin Laden family owned the construction companies doing all the work in Dubai. They told him that’s the Saudi Bin Laden’s and have no connection to Al Qaeda. Then someone said “Well, what about the picture in the paper today of Osama Bin Laden sitting on the beach? He was sitting in front of the Berj Al Arab.” The man from the consulate kind of laughed it off.  We were all scared and no amount of reassurance was going to keep our families safe especially when the news stated that terrorists flown from Dubai and some financing had come out of Dubai.

There is more to what happened over the days following 9/11 but this exercise was to tell you where I was.

Now, if you are so inclined, tell me your tale…

To speak or not to speak…

So this week I had someone pestering me, as apparently he feels it is his turn in the limelight.  Dante, the head of a Cambiare “Glaring” decided he would like to have a word with all of you. Unfortunately, I’m sorry Dante. I cannot allow you to have free reign and do as you will no matter how much you beg for a chance to speak.

Why, you might ask, won’t I let Dante address you? Well instead I’ve decided to let you, the reader, in on a little secret.

I am an organic  writer. I don’t use an outline. I don’t know the exacts of where my story is going or even how it’s going to get there. I sit down, slip on the persona and let go. My characters tell their stories and I am merely the one who types it in. It is my lot in life to be their conduit but as such, I also know that there are certain characters I cannot trust, who will take a mile if I give them an inch. Dante is a glorious character but his history, his life, is integral to the telling of Jace’s story. Allowing him his moment  to shine will surely give away far too much about what is to come. So, though he has much to tell you, he will keep his silence and remain a mystery. As time marches on you will have the opportunity to fully explore who he is and what makes him tick. But for now, suffice it to say, Dante is dark, dangerous and larger than life. He is a hero, a villain, and the one person you’d want on your side during a fight to the death. He loves hard, plays hard, and has a confidence that sets most people back on their heels.

Are you woman enough to be his lover? Are you man enough to be his friend?

Only time will tell…

An Angelic Devotee.

Hardly angelic, though I’ve been known to take men to heaven…figuratively speaking of course.

The name’s Evangilique. I’m not really sure what you all want to know. Hmmm…I guess I can start by saying, I’m human. I know. One might think this makes me subservient to my “master”. Bullshit. I’m no one’s pet. I serve because I CHOOSE to, not by the behest of someone else.

Granted, I’m not exactly your typical Vessel. In fact, I have never actually been merely a Vessel. I was born a Devotee. My parents, grandparents, even aunts and uncles have served some of the most prestigious houses in the world. My mother…oh my gods! My mother is fanatical. She adores the Aliment children in her care, almost more than she loves me. Though, I have to admit, sometimes I wonder. She works as a nanny for a wealthy Aliment family. She home schools the two little Lords during the day and sees them fed, bathed and to bed in the evening. Her’s is the face they see last thing at night and first thing in the morning. It’s one of the most honorable jobs a human can be given. And Sophia Aiello takes her status as Alla Pari seriously. She had hoped I would go that route as well. I had intended to. Really, I had!

Thankfully, the gods had other plans for me. I guess, in actuality that makes me the black sheep of my lofty family. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the position of il Scelto they disapprove of. There is no higher calling. It’s simply Jacen’s lack of status. You see, I was chosen by a nobody from a house with no standing. I may have been born to serve a Padrone but this wasn’t what they’d envisioned.

I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, he rescued me from a dull, thankless life and gave me more than I’d ever thought I’d get. I may be il Scelto of Jacen of Samsaveel but he is my chosen one. He ignited a desire within me I’d never before experienced. In a few short breath-taking days, I went from being simply the dignified daughter of a well respected Alla Pari to embracing the life of a Devotee in all it’s wanton glory. Plans to be anything else disappeared when he whispered Angel for the very first time. But, oh my gods, does he make it worth it!

Oh and before you tell me how foolish it is to love one of their kind, I must caution you. You have no understanding of the power of the il Scelto bond. They claim you body, heart and soul. You become theirs in every way possible. And you will love them despite your own reasoning. Somewhere deep within, a small part of you might resist…knowing that what you feel can never be shared…but you will feel it just the same. I understand that what we have can never be more than what he chooses it to be. It doesn’t matter. Jacen loves me in his own way. And I love him with all of me, I am his and he is mine.

Nothing will ever change this.

 

Hello. My name is Nathanial.

I am Nathanial Briggs. S.J. asked me to stop by and introduce myself to you…though, what interest any of you young humans would have in an old Aliment I know not. However, as S.J. and I have been friends for a very long time (and quite frankly I was in the mood to oblige) I saw no harm in making myself known to you.

Where to begin? Perhaps at my rather humble beginnings. In the spring of 1397 A.D., Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II, the Union of Kalmar was established between Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and I in my insignificance was born.  My parents, lesser nobles than those who ruled Houses, had a small but comfortable abode at the heart of Venezia…what is now Venice.  My siblings all older than I had been born there as well. But then, my father was called to present himself to the King. He was made Second to a nephew of the Queen and as such our family was required to move so that father could take his position. I grew to be around eleven human years, just an infant really by our standards when a younger sister was born. Cira. Beautiful little dove, I remember her tiny wings, a cocoon of soft black down, cradled her chubby body. She looked every bit the part of cherub as she lay within her bassinet. We…we lost her during The Rending. Though I was very young, I remember so clearly the day they came for her…and me. Her wails as they took her from our mother’s arms haunt me to this day.

I must apologize.  Such dark thoughts for our first meeting. Please excuse me. In my advanced age I often get lost in the memories of long ago times. Perhaps one day, when I know you a little better I will tell you that tale, but today I do not wish to burden you with such things.

As an adult…if I recall correctly…it was late in the 1750’s when tragedy struck again. Our King was struck down in his prime and another rose in his place. Supporters of the old regime were forced to flee or be killed while they slept at home in their beds. As a staunch supporter of the House of Semjaza, I knew my days were limited. I’d made arrangements to flee, booking passage for myself, my wife Alessia and our son, Armand along with his family on a cargo ship bound for the Americas. We boarded the ship to await the arrival of our family. When word reached us that Armand had been taken by the royal guard, I went in search of his wife and my grandchildren. Alas, when I arrived at their home, the only thing left was a burning pile of rubble. I asked others who might have witnessed the event and found that Armand was dead and his wife, Lina had been the one taken by the royal guards. A servant in their home had spirited the children away before the home was burned to the ground. I went to them immediately. Never in my life had I been so glad to embrace my son’s children.  Claudina and Aletta were not only alive, but no worse for wear.  I took them to the ship and handed them over into Alessia’s care. Knowing what the new king would do to my son’s wife, I could not in good conscience leave her to them. I pleaded my case to a friend who had sworn fealty to the new king. He agreed to help me find Lina if I agreed to take someone with me when I left for the Americas. I readily agreed, knowing it was my only chance to find the mother of my grandchildren. I returned to the ship to negotiate for passage for another person. The Captain was a surly, hard man. He agreed but for a very high price I could not pay. When a family arrived, I was stunned. I’d expected one person, not four and by the crest they wore a high ranking one at that. He introduced himself as Marco, the Padrone of the House of Samsaveel. His regal wife stood before me in all her grandeur. Though she presented a brave face, I saw behind the mask a frail, frightened woman who desperately wanted nothing more than to disappear with her husband and children. She grasped an infant to her chest and a young boy to her side as if she would protect them with her dying breath if the need arose. Little did I know then that she would in fact do just that.

But, I digress. Our passage was secured with two gold coins from the purse of the Padrone and both families were settled in. Yet I had to return to my friend’s home to see what had become of my daughter-in-law. By the time I made it to his side, he had nothing but dire news. Lina had died at the hands of the very men who’d killed my son. Devastated, I left his home intent on seeing my remaining family away from the shores of Italy, I never made it. I was taken by the King’s guard. To this day I do not know if my friend betrayed me. But, my family and that of the Padrone of Samsaveel sailed that night for the Americas. I would not join them for another seven years when I was finally released from my prison and banished from Italy.

What I found when I reached the shores of America is a whole other story…and one I haven’t time to tell tonight.

Ciao Vessels…

Hello my friends. My name is Alrigo Gattoli. Those who know me well call me, Rigo.  I am the proprietor of Eros, a well known Covo in Anguillara Sabazia. I am of course not the first proprietor of Eros, as it is the oldest Covo in the world. Though not always in its current location it dates back to the first days of our arrival in Italy during the early fourteenth century. Then we were housed in a small tavern, a true hovel hence the name Covo di Iniquità. Suffice it to say, things then were a bit less…civilized then they are now. My Covo is home to only the most exclusivo clientele. Padrones, Seconds, all the most well-respected houses come to Eros. Even the new American Padrone and his Second spent time here while they were visiting the Great Council.

You are quite fortunate to have received an invitation to explore our world. Rarely are those from the outside allowed a glimpse into the mysteries of the Alimentatori. As a vessel, which at this point is all you are, you must mind all the rules. You will stand in the queue  with the others. You must await notice from an Aliment. Never approach an Aliment without permission. If one finds your…assets…pleasing, a meeting shall be arranged.  Do not worry if you are not chosen quickly. The Alimentatori have a predilection for something that you can provide. Eventually you shall find your home amongst the fold.  When you do, perhaps then you shall sit at the right hand of your Lord, as il Scelto, their chosen one.  If that day comes it will change your world in unexpected ways. Once you are chosen, your rank will elevate. Your children will be born as Devotees and never be subjected to the trials of being merely a Vessel. So, by all means, give yourself over to the experience and hope for the selection to come soon.

Ah, but until it does enjoy their hospitality and order something tasty. The party is just beginning.

My Bio

While I sat around waiting for my car’s safety inspection to be completed I thought through the many possibilities of where to start my blog. After much hemming and hawing I came to the conclusion that I should start at the most logical place…the beginning. How did I become a writer? Have I always been a writer? What inspired me to this end? 

The simple answer to the first question is I don’t think I became anything more than what I was meant to be, which gives away the answer to number two. Yes, I have always been a writer, it just took that little bit of something to wake up inside me, stretch, yawn and greet the day. That happened for me during my fifth grade year. But the story doesn’t start with my love of writing. It actually starts with my love of reading.

From a very early age I discovered the joy of reading. My first solo sojourn into the world of the written word occurred when I was in third grade. My third grade teacher tasked us with our first ever book report. Yes, we actually had to read a chapter book all by ourselves. A collective groan rippled through the class. To be honest, I don’t remember if I was part of the groaning or part of the cheering. Perhaps, this is because what came from that experience was so life altering that nothing else seems to matter.

I chose to read Winnie the Pooh. As I progressed through the stories, I grew more and more enraptured with each adventure until finally the end came. Christopher Robin held a party for Pooh and I had to say goodbye to my new friends. I closed the book and sat there on my bed for several minutes. Never had I experienced such a moment in my young life. For the first time the thought ‘I love this. I want to do this’entered my mind. Though I didn’t have an understanding of what it took to do that, I knew I wanted to make magic with words. I wanted to be able to make someone feel what I felt that day. Every day I read something I fall in love with I get to experience it all over again. So, whenever I find myself questioning my desire to be a writer, I need only pick up a book I love to read. Throughout the read I absorb the magic. Then when I quietly close the back cover the mantra whispers through me yet again reminding me of that childhood dream.

In my quest to live that dream I attended a small liberal arts college for a year. I took literature, poetry, journalism, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. Anything to help me better understand the human condition.

As a young person I believed in order to achieve my goals I needed to have a better understanding of the world we lived in as well. So, without hesitation, I turned in my school books, caught the wind in my sails and set off for adventure. I could think of nothing better than to join the Navy, after all their slogans at the time were “Join the Navy. See the world” and “The Navy. Not just a job, it’s an adventure.” My young, mind reveled at the possibilities. Within a year I was at my first duty station in Misawa, Japan. While taking in the sights the Japanese landscape offered I met my beloved. During our twenty-two year marriage, we have embraced the spirit of adventure going wherever the wind takes us. Among the more exotic locations we’ve landed are Honolulu, HI, Las Vegas, NV, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During this period in my life I set aside my writing to raise a family but the dream never wavered. I always dabbled.

Today, I find myself in Upstate New York nestled between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains. And it is here where my writing has taken on new life. I guess, in a way, the Gods in their infinite wisdom must have seen fit to smile on me in that moment so long ago as my ability with the written word has grown, my voice has strengthened and I have come into my own as an adult and a writer. Now, I can see the work that A. A. Milne must have put in to tell his tales so effortlessly. I have a true understanding of what it takes to be a full time writer.

In the end, this is what I’ve learned. Though magic is woven by powerful words, there is no magic wand to physically write them. Words can spring forth like a gushing, raging river. Without the ability to stem the flow, filter them and commit them to paper there will only ever be overflown banks and fertile soil washed down stream.

This is my job as a writer. Contain the flow within the pages of a book. Have a beginning, middle and end that is equally fierce, powerful and magical. If I can do that then I will create magic with words and I will bring the reader along with me from the heights of elation to the depths of despair and everywhere in between. Writing is magic made real and I am the sorcerer!

Wecome to My Covo di Iniquità!

For those who don’t know me, I am S.J. Wolff, creator of The Dagger of Aita series.  Within the world of the Alimentatori, an ancient race of beings, fathered by The Grigori and birthed by the Daughters of Men, strict adherence to tradition rules. These creatures enjoy a luxurious life by day with humans serving their every need. By night they frequent clubs known as Covo di Iniquitàs, Den of Iniquities.

This is my online Covo and you are cordially invited into my world. Each week we will explore this world, meet new and exciting people, and if you’re very lucky, Jacen, himself might just drop by for a drink.