Saturday, July 21, 2012

First batch of canning for 2012!

Today in WI it was hot and I was busy...but it was still a good day. Yesterday I'd picked some cucumbers from the garden, but didn't have enough to can more than a couple jars. Well, thanks to my generous neighbors (thanks guys!) who are already done canning their pickles and offered to fill up my bucket, I was able to can 15 quarts of dill pickles.

And every one sealed! My cucumber plants will really start to produce in a few days, so there will be a couple more batches. I need them with the way my youngest eats 'em.

We have hamburger dills, baby dills (those two jars are mine), and pickle spears that are a favorite of my youngest son and my sisters, who put them in their Bloody Marys up at the cabin (my sisters, not my son!).

Next up...BEANS

Have a great weekend everyone ~


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FREE @ Amazon! Dale Amidei's The Anvil of the Craftsman

Welcome to Dale Amidei today! He's sharing his book that is FREE at Amazon July 18-19 only! Get your copy while you can...

The Anvil of the Craftsman

Genres: Political Fiction, Edgy Christian Fiction

Heat level: Some real-world language and wartime violence

A doctoral candidate in Theological Studies accepts recruitment by a friend in the U.S. State Department for an initiative to the most troublesome province in 2006 Iraq. The many challenges of nation building expand the mission from diplomacy to a survival situation as local and international interests position themselves to oppose a State Department initiative: one vital to progress in an uncertain theater.

Terrorism and counter-terror operations threaten to keep the team from leaving the relative safety of Baghdad. Until, that is, a former USAF Special Tactics operative hunting the men who want to kill them draws duty as their protector. The simple questions posed during a tribal council threaten provincial and regional stability; the conclusions reached explode into a clash of faith, loyalty, schism and betrayal that will help shape the future of two nations.

The Anvil of the Craftsman, the debut novel by author Dale Amidei, will be appreciated by fans of a broad range of fiction; from aficionados of the haunting themes of Ernest Hemingway to readers of the tightly woven plots of Tom Clancy and popular titles of authors like Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, W.E.B. Griffin and Richard Marcinko.

Excerpt from Chapter 8 - PsyOps

 “Mr. Colby, may I introduce you to Lieutenant General Peter McAllen. General, I present Mr. Thomas Colby, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.” The Ambassador moved back slightly as McAllen extended his hand.

“Mr. Colby, the Ambassador was just telling me of your initiative. It is … ambitious, sir, considering recent events.”

Colby nodded and transferred his drink to his left hand, freeing his right to shake with McAllen. “It’s a pleasure, General. I see that we’ve heard of each another.”

Dinner at the Embassy, this first evening in Baghdad, was usual. Colby recognized it as unavoidable though a hardship from which he could spare all but his most necessary staff. Schuster was here, and surprisingly the man was enjoying himself. Colby had tried to give his Chief Electoral Administrator, Carol Addams, the night off but she was irrepressible. She circulated now giving not a clue of having endured the same trip as he. Carol, who had insisted that Colby not attend without an escort, was working her set of people across the room. He had his own territory to defend.

The Ambassador looked pleased to have brought them together. “General McAllen could be of immense help to you, Tom. Few people in Iraq, much less one so accessible to us here, have as good a grasp on what is happening at any moment.”

“You’re too kind, sir. I have the benefit of an outstanding organization that has devoted as much talent as it can spare to the theater.” In his formal blue mess uniform, miniatures of McAllen's many awards stretched down his lapel, topped by Parachutist and Combat Infantryman badges.

Colby and the other civilians were in black tie and evening dress and made for a show here in the Embassy, one of many former Presidential palaces in Baghdad now under new management. He took the Ambassador’s cue. McAllen was someone he would need on his side. Information was power, a fuel that could move mountains, and a shield that could save lives. Diplomacy and intelligence intertwined wherever they roamed. The problem was that they did not often share coordinated objectives, Colby thought, except perhaps this time. “We hope to be of assistance to the military as well, General. Hearts and minds, if that isn’t too trite a phrase, are what will eventually transform Iraq into a peaceful nation, and an allied nation,” he offered.

McAllen looked thoughtful. “Your objectives, Mr. Colby,” he said after lowering his voice, “this direct engagement of the tribal influences in the provinces, and especially the one that you seem most interested in, is unprecedented.”

Taken off guard, Colby glanced at the Ambassador, who shrugged with a "don’t look at me" expression on his face. The bastard was enjoying this, Colby thought. “General, I’m impressed. We have just arrived, but that is our objective stated most succinctly. We have people already working to maneuver us into positions of trust in the rural areas.”

As Colby could tell, McAllen was not trying to be intimidating or overbearing but merely attempting to broach the nuances of his situation as gently as possible. “I can appreciate your efforts, Mr. Colby, and to an extent you are correct. Understand something though, sir. If I know, they know. I am speaking of political elements, here and back home, who might not benefit from your success. Intelligence elements exist with a greater native depth than we have available, some of whom may share your goals and some of foreign influence that will not. Your team will not remain hidden from any of them if you make progress in building up your contacts as you expect. They will know. I hope you can appreciate that.”

Colby sipped his single-malt Scotch. The General’s advice had the tone of a warning. “Risk comes with any worthwhile endeavor, General. I hardly need to say that to a man with your experience. Not doing can cost as much as acting recklessly. What we want to do needs to be done. If we can achieve it this year so much the better in the lives that are spared, in the financial resources that could go into rebuilding instead of prosecuting campaigns, and in the stability of the region. We will be as careful as we can be, sir. There’s not a martyr among us.”

McAllen looked grave. “If there is anything I know on the subject, it is that you pick out the martyrs after the fact, Mr. Colby. Gentlemen, it is getting late for an old man or an early riser, and I’m blessed to be both. If I can be of any use, do please let me know. I wish you a good night.”

Colby and the Ambassador nodded then watched him slip out of the sizable room gracefully, making a stop or two where he said his good-byes. Colby felt unsettled. The Ambassador turned his attention back to him. “You did well, Tom. He’s worth listening to, but he’s a soldier not a diplomat. His world is uglier than ours.”

“Is it, sir?” Colby wondered aloud. “It’s all the same world. Diplomacy can be war in slow motion. War is the most aggressive form of negotiation. Politics may be the thousand-foot view of both.”

The Ambassador raised his glass. “Tom, you understand Iraq better all the time.”

Personal note: Thank you, new readers, for taking the time to check out my debut novel. AOTC currently holds a five-star ranking on Amazon with eight reviews. I would love to hear what you think.
Get your copy now:
The Anvil of the Craftsman (FREE July 18-19, 2012)

Bio: "Dale Amidei lives and writes in the beautiful Texas Hill Country near San Antonio. His fiction defines the inner spiritual processes that he believes occur naturally in all human beings. It features faith-based themes set in the real world, which can be violent. It contains real-world language, which varies between personalities. His characters are realistically portrayed as caught between heaven and earth, not always what they should be, nor what they used to be. In this way they are like all of us. As Dale says: "A novel begins with having something to say. Everything that comes next, developing the characters, the plot, the first draft, the editing, the polishing, all follow this. First have something to say, and then start writing."
Dale Amidei on Facebook
@DaleAmidei on Twitter

Thanks for reading and enjoy the book!


Monday, July 16, 2012

CHASIN' MASON ~ contemporary western

Catch the stallion ~ win the ranch.
A simple competition between bitter enemies...until
passion flares in the simmering Texas heat.

When his father announced his engagement to a gold-digger with a lying, scheming fourteen-year old daughter, seventeen-year old Tripp Warner left Warner Ridge Ranch and never looked back. Until the day he got the phone call that his father had died unexpectedly.

Reggie Reed lives with her guilt every day but can't quite work up the courage to track down the son of the man who raised her as his own. When Tripp shows up at his father’s funeral eleven years later--and a hell of a man to be reckoned with--he has no interest in her too-late apology. Worse, they’ve inherited half shares of the family ranch—but only if they work together to catch Mason’s Gold, the stallion a young Reggie let escape and made sure Tripp took the blame for.

Tripp proposes a secret competition to the beautiful witch who stole his life: whoever catches the stallion first gets the ranch all to themselves. It sounds simple, but once they’re out on the range, tempers and passions flare in the Texas heat and nothing goes as either of them expects.
“Stacey Joy Netzel is at the top of her game with CHASIN’ MASON. I was hooked at page one and stayed hooked until the’ll love it!” Becky ~ Dark Angel Reviews 5 Stars

“I loved the twists and turns the author embedded throughout and I couldn’t help but want to see Tripp and Reggie reconcile their differences in the end. The story was quite vivid and if you’re looking for a contemporary cowboy/cowgirl story, this one will fit the bill perfectly.” ~ Diana Coyle Night Owl Reviews Reviewer TOP PICK


He should’ve arrived earlier than eleven p.m. on Friday to get a good night sleep before hitting the trail, but the last thing Tripp wanted was to spend any more time in Regan’s presence than he absolutely had to. It’d been bad enough the haunting scent of peaches had invaded his senses at odd moments over the past couple days, he didn’t need to look at the damn woman, too. He had to keep his objective in mind at all times—like when he’d delivered his last cutting remark the other night.

Her stricken expression had ignited a spark of guilt, but he ruthlessly doused it by reminding himself of all her lies. Fourteen was hardly a child, and she had known exactly what she was doing back then.

After retrieving his bag from the back seat, he made his way around the truck to drag his tired feet up the porch steps. The ranch house was dark, but Nana had given him a key so he’d just let himself in and go straight upstairs to bed. Tomorrow would be soon enough to deal with the hell his life had become thanks, yet again, to Regan.

“That’s far enough.”

Tripp froze at the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being cocked. A second later, the porch light flared bright.

Lifting his free hand to shield the glare, he squinted and caught sight of Regan, the shotgun in her slim hands pointed straight at him. In sharp contrast to the danger of the gun, she wore a silky-looking, butter-colored night gown that belled around her creamy thighs.

He didn’t believe she’d shoot him, but strangely enough, the thundering of his heart did not let up.

“I’d rather a kiss than a belly full of lead, Princess.” Now what the hell had possessed him to say such a thing?

“Tripp!” She lowered the double barrels.

He lowered his gaze—straight to her lips. Dangerous territory, especially when they glistened after a sweep of her tongue. So he shifted his attention, taking in her dark, glossy hair tumbling over her shoulders to cover her breasts that’d brushed his chest three nights ago. Blood rushed to his groin, same as it had then. He suppressed a groan. Further down, he noticed the hem of her nightgown ended too far above her knees to be considered a gown, showing off long, shapely legs that were only slightly less sexy in a pair of snug jeans.

She busied herself un-cocking the shotgun and removing the shells. The screen door creaked loud when she turned to go back into the house. Over her shoulder, she said, “I didn’t think you were going to be here until tomorrow.”

How in the world had he not heard the door open when she first came out? He hadn’t been that lost in his thoughts. Making his feet maneuver the rest of the steps, he couldn’t tear his gaze from the silhouette of her curves as the light shone through her filmy nightwear.

Heaven help me.

Turning away from temptation, he shut and locked the main door while pointing out, “I said I’d be back on Friday.”

“It’s after eleven.”

“It’s still Friday.” He wondered at the breathless quality in her voice—then again, he’d probably just scared the daylights out of her. When he turned back, she was reaching to place the shotgun back in its rack on the wall between the foyer and the kitchen.

Holy hell. Her flimsy hem lifted, then dropped, flirting with his libido. His hands fisted at his sides. This was the exact reason he’d arrived so late, but in true Regan-form, she’d ruined it for him, again.

Unless...Could this be deliberate? Had she waited for him in the skimpy outfit, so they’d be alone? His pulse sped up before his exhausted mind could decipher the full implications of her attire and control his traitorous physical reaction.

To prepare for an extended leave from his business, he’d worked over sixty hours in almost four days, then driven twelve hours from Galveston to the ranch. All he could think to ask now, was, “Why aren’t you in bed?”

“I couldn’t sleep, so I came down to make a cup of tea. I was just about to go back upstairs when I heard the truck door slam.” Facing him, she planted her hands on her hips, the gesture raising the hem of her nightgown once more. “We don’t normally get visitors at this hour, and with just me and Grandma in the house, I can’t be too careful.”

An unexpected surge of protectiveness surprised him, but he thrust it aside. Her explanation was plausible, and she had seemed relieved when she realized it was him on the porch…but the Regan he knew had always been a superb actress.

“I didn’t hear the door open.”

She frowned with a hint of suspicion. “The screen door only creaks after the half-way point—I slipped through.”

“And it didn’t occur to you it was me?”

She threw her hands up. “Excuse me, but the truck out there doesn’t exactly look like the car you had earlier this week. Besides, I expected you hours ago, not the middle of the night.”

“Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Hardly,” she said with a delicate snort.

Yet her eyelids lowered as her gaze swept down and up, taking stock of the comfortable T-shirt and old jeans he’d worn for the long drive from Galveston. Something flickered in her eyes, something hot and erotic he instinctively recognized as more dangerous than a rattle snake.

Thankfully, she shut it down quick and lifted her chin so her cute little nose stuck in the air. “And now that I can see there’s no danger to Grandma, I’ll see you in the morning.”

Her bare feet whispered across the floor toward the stairs. He opened his mouth, then closed it. Shut up. Don’t go there. Don’t— “What about you?”

Her right foot hit the bottom stair, her nightgown swaying with the enticing movement of her hips. She paused and turned. “What?”

Hooking one thumb in the front pocket of his jeans, he took slow, measured steps across the floor. Tension spread through him like the flush sweeping across her pale skin. Her fingers tangled in the material of her gown, tugging the hem lower as he came to a stop in front of her. Unfortunately, she also succeeded in lowering the neckline. The thud of his bag dropping to the floor made her flinch.

Tripp lowered his tone. “You said there’s no danger to Nana, but what about you?”


Her voice cracked and her throat muscles worked fast. He dropped his gaze to the rapid flutter beneath the rosy skin at the base of her neck.

“I’m f-fine.”

He lifted a hand and rested it on her shoulder. With one finger, he felt her life pulse beneath his touch. Anticipation hummed along his nerve endings, making him excruciatingly aware of every shallow breath she took. “Fine doesn’t begin to cover it, Princess.”

When he slid his fingers into her silky hair to rub the back of her neck, her eyelids lowered, then closed. Her hands rose to press against his chest and the simple touch stoked the fire in his blood higher.

God, he was pretty sure he hated her, yet he damn sure wanted her. It was the craziest thing.

He shifted closer, slid his other hand over the curve of her hip to press against the small of her back, leaned in to inhale the evocative scent of peaches. The heat of her skin burned through the thin, satiny material of her gown to warm his hand where it rested along her spine.

The lure of her moist lips pulled him until his mouth hovered above her mouth; his unsteady breath mingling with hers.

“You hate me,” she whispered, her hands fisting in his shirt.

“Such a strong word—hate,” he murmured, even though he’d just thought the same thing.

Avoiding the sheer entrapment of her mouth, he lightly brushed his lips over her smooth cheek with its charming freckles. But it wasn’t enough to simply sample her. With the hand buried in her hair, he angled her head to give him access to the delicate column of her neck. He pressed his tongue to her pulse, licked, then sucked gently.

Sweet as pure honey. She made a small noise deep in her throat. His body throbbed in response as his arm curled tighter around her waist.

“You…d-don’t like me, then.”

Stubborn witch wouldn’t let it go. That hadn’t changed. He worked his way back to her mouth. If the outside of her tasted so delectable, the inside must be positively sinful. “Do you like me?”

Her violet eyes opened and locked with his, making his heart thump hard.

“Don’t mess with me, Tripp. Please.”

The sincerity in her voice was astounding.

“Who’s messing?” he asked, making light of her plea while brushing his thumb over her moist lower lip.

“You’re going to take the ranch from me—this isn’t playing fair.”

The reminder of what was at stake in this game was just what his mind needed to finally override his body. Sensing her weakened defenses, he deliberately lowered his head to whisper against her mouth. “Like you played fair all those years ago?”

In a heartbeat, she stiffened and shoved against his chest. Tripp held on. Let her see who’s in control now. Her eyes widened, and then darkened with a fury that turned him on even more. As the fierce thunderclouds in her eyes paralyzed him, his heart pounded beneath her palm, keeping time with her uneven, incensed breaths.

And just like that, something changed, struck so deep inside his chest it terrified him.

Tripp released her and spun away. As she grabbed the railing for balance, he braced a hand on the wall and hung his head, fighting for a lungful of air.

“Go to bed,” he rasped. “We leave at dawn.”

She didn’t reply. When he dared a glance, she was halfway up the stairs, white silk panties playing peek-a-boo with the hem of her nightgown. Tripp uttered a low groan and made for the porch like the hounds of hell were on his heels.

Saddle up and enjoy the ride! 

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Share: Flowers

This post is dedicated to my wonderful friend Casey Clifford who's been experiencing not only landscaping project issues, but a severe drought in southern WI. Because she hasn't been able to enjoy her usual beautiful landscaping and gardening, this Sunday I'm sharing some of mine to brighten her day. (And though I think they got some rain in the past couple days, I know it's not near enough.)

I'll start with the moss roses. Remember last year when the storm blew down part of our willow tree? Well, thanks to my daughter planting some grass in the broken part of the tree, I got the bright idea of planting flowers in there instead. She wasn't too happy with me for ripping out her carefully nurtured grass (I didn't know she did it!), but it turned out real pretty. Nice bright surprise for cars driving by.

Willow tree planter...sorry Morgan!

Up close of willow tree.

Moss roses in one of my pots on the porch.

Next up is a sampling of my day lilies. I have some of the 'regular' yellow ones that are all done flowering now, but here's some of my other colors.

Next up I'd like to share the new additions to my front porch landscaping. I got the frog first, and then fell in love with the toad.

"FROG parking, all others will be TOAD"
I love this!
Yes, I am my daughter's mother--I still LOVE toads!
Ceramic ones and live ones.

Lastly, here are of some of the other pretty colors in my different pots.

Pretty in pink.

Someone else likes my flowers...see that little moth?

I took this one for the purple, but the rest are just as beautiful.

Mix of everything pot

So those are my flowers this year. Yeah, I went a little overboard, but all the pretty colors seduce me in the green house and I just have to bring them home!

I visit them as I'm watering, then unfortunately, it's so darn hot I head right back inside and don't get to enjoy them so much. I look forward to the days of cooler evenings when I can go outside on my porch and read in the evenings. (or in the morning)

Next up for me will be a ton of canning in the next two months or so to last us for the next year. Beans, dill pickles, salsa, sloppy joe sauce, diced tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce. Yum, yum, yum!

What are you up to this summer?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate our nation's Independence Day, I realized that I totally missed mine.

June 29, 2011
was the day my first independently published book went live and it's been a great year that I wouldn't take back for anything. Taking my career into my own hands and believing in myself is the best thing I could've done. I'm happier, my family's happier, and I see hope for the future that I can be a full-time writer and nothing else. (Job-wise, anyway.)

I'm thankful for this free country we live in and I'd like to call attention to an AWESOME blog post by Michael Gallager at Free Kindle News and Tips about the amazing men who helped fight for our independence. There's a lot in his post I had no clue about and I'm glad to have had the short history lesson. It's worth the read!

Wishing you a Happy and SAFE 4th of July!!

Stacey Joy Netzel

Sunday, July 1, 2012

News, Cover Reveal, and Poll for Readers

Good morning! This Sunday, I have a some news to share and a couple poll questions for readers.

First bit of news is a month old already, but still super cool for me.

LOST IN ITALY *WON* first place in the romantic suspense category of WisRWA's Write Touch Readers' Award!!

Romantic Suspense 1st Place - Lost in Italy by Stacey Joy Netzel**
2nd Place - Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant
3rd Place - In Close by Brenda Novak
(see all results here)

This is my second win with the WT Readers' Award (Mistletoe Rules won in 2010 for Single Title) and what makes it so special is that it's judged by READERS. I was honored to be a finalist with NY Times bestselling author Brenda Novak and award-winning bestselling author Kylie Brant, but imagine my excitement when LOST IN ITALY won! It was a great day at conference and I now have the plaque hanging by my writing desk to keep me going. Thank you!!

My second bit of news is that I received the rights back to my books Chasin Mason and Mistletoe Rules and plan to re-release them with new covers and in the case of Mistletoe Rules, I'll be making each of the three stories available individually this fall before offering a boxed set with a bonus free story about Santa Butch and Judy.

Today I share with you...

The new cover reveal for CHASIN' MASON!

Catch the stallion ~ win the ranch. A simple competition between
bitter enemies until passion flares in the simmering Texas heat.

Available July 15, 2012

I loved my original cover with The Wild Rose Press, but I LOVE this new one because it speaks more to the romance and sexy tone of the book. Is that man hot or what??!! *grin* And I got to add "Award Winning Author" to my cover! This beautiful work was done by Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs and I will definitely use her talents again.

Okay, question time, with a bit of a lead up...Chasin' Mason has been available since 2009 at most distributors. With the re-release, I'm considering enrolling it in Amazon's Select program, where it will be sold there exclusively for 90 days. Since it's a re-release, I'm thinking friends and family would've already bought a copy if they wanted it, so I shouldn't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings if they own an e-reader other than Kindle.

When I did Select for Lost In Italy, it gave me some good visibility and sales for a few months, and even better, it got my book into over 40 thousand reader's hands and garnered me some great reviews.

Keeping that information in mind, if I enroll Chasin' Mason in Amazon Select for one 90 day exclusive period, my question for you is...

Also, I have a Nook and love it, but I've been considering getting a Kindle Fire so I can read some of the Kindle versions of books I've downloaded for free without having to sit at my computer. I'm curious about other readers out there.

And one last question...

As a THANK YOU for taking the time to satisfy my curiosity, leave a comment below and on July 13th I'll draw a winner who can choose any one of my ebooks for me to gift to them for whatever ereader device they own.

Or if you already have all my books (I love you!), give me an ebook on your wish list (up to $10) and I'll gift you that book instead.
Have a great day and Happy Reading!

Stacey Joy Netzel