Moodboard Of My WIP

I’m currently drafting book 7 in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series. It is quite some work. By a list of blog post ideas, I felt challenged to publish a mood board of my work in progress, using 9 pictures. It took me forever to decide what the most important parts of the plot are and how to express them. Then I had to pick the images and, of course, spend another few hours to choose the ones I think express best the feelings of the story.

Picture courtesy of: https://spark.adobe.com/make/mood-board-maker/

This is the mood board of book 7.



I hope I could give you an impression of how the emotions will be within this book, caused by the story and the plot.

This is the first mood board I ever created. I’m curious to read in the comments what you think about it.

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The Story And The Cover – Finding The Right Model

While working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I built character by character, developed, considered their look, decided who they are and in what direction they would head within their story.

But also, I was ‘creating’ their look; dark hair, blue eyes, black hair, bronze eyes, tall, muscular, petite, almost ethereal. I will deliver many descriptions while ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series progresses.

In my head, the characters and their personality formed together with their look, and while creating them, I didn’t consider any consequences – like the book cover to the story.

Let me give you an example:
Katie is a breathtaking beauty with caramel colored hair and brown eyes; her cream skin makes her look almost fragile.

To find ‘Katie’ I was busy looking through hundreds of pictures on several websites. In a way, it was an exciting task, and my excitement grew with every picture. But after a while I got slightly bored, my hope slowly dying that I would find “THE” Katie… the woman I had created in my head.

I wish I could say, ‘suddenly’ I found her, just as she was in my fantasy… but the fact is, I didn’t. Katie was not one of the models, but the Model I found has caramel colored hair and is stunningly beautiful. I set the first mark on her picture. Whenever I discovered a model who got close to her beauty or my description, I tagged her. In the end, I compared all the models and by process of elimination, I ‘rejected’ one model after the next until I got ‘my Katie.’

I took some time to get used to ‘combine’ my fantasy with the model and then went through the different pictures of the model. Finally, I picked the one that’s on the cover now.

By now that’s ‘my Katie’ on the cover.

I was talking with my cover designer about the cover. I could deliver her Katie, but what about the rest of the cover? The man, the background, the font? I’m lucky to have a cover designer who knows her stuff. I informed her that I couldn’t go through the model search again. I wanted some mystery, some secret.

Soul Taker isn’t a love-story-romance where a man and a woman are kissing on the cover…


I wanted something different; a man every reader can connect to, and has the chance to create the character’s look in their own fantasy. And my cover designer found the solution. I’m very proud of the ‘Soul Taker’ cover.

Since the second book in the series is completed and only needs to return from the Copyright Lawyer, we had to get together and discuss the next cover.

Believe it or not – I was sitting on the monitor and dully clicked through hundreds of pictures.

Let me tell you – the thought of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is planned to contain 13 books, scares me.

How are you designing your covers? At what point do you start considering what should be on the cover, and if you have cover models – how do you pick them? Let us know about it in the comments. We’re curious.


Buy Soul Taker here:


Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
Amazon Kindle DE
Amazon Paperback DE
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
SCR|BD
Kobo
iTunes

Soul Taker Secrets – The Council Of Twelve PicNic (Vegetarian)


In several of my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ books the members of the Council, together with their consorts meet to spend some time together, relax, talk, enjoy nice conversations, jokes and laughter. Sometimes they meet in one of the member’s houses for dinner, but occasionally they organize a picnic. Today I decided to provide you with the recipes of the latest ‘Council Of Twelve’ picnic. Enjoy! (And feel free to try out the recipes!)

Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
Amazon Kindle DE
Amazon Paperback DE
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
SCR|BD
Kobo
iTunes

 


Fruit Platter

Ingredients
Figleaves
Golden pineapple, peeled, cut in 8ths lengthwise, core removed and sliced crosswise
Cantaloupe, peeled, cut in half and sliced
Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Fresh raspberries

Directions
Arrange the fig leaves on a platter. Place the pineapple and cantaloupe on top of the fig leaves, and artfully arrange the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries over the top of the pineapple and cantaloupe.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com


Cheese Plate

Cheese of your choice:

Roquefort
Camembert
Cotija
Chèvre
Feta
Mozzarella
Emmental
Cheddar
Gouda
Taleggio
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Manchego
Monterey Jack

1. Brie. Brie is a soft ripened cheese with a rind that helps to preserve the interior. Brie has a very creamy texture and a strong aroma that develops with age. Brie is great with fruit, crusty bread, crackers or toasted fruit bread.

2. Camembert. Camembert is also a soft and creamy cheese with a powdery rind. Similar to Brie, there are some differences as they are ripened differently.

3. Blue Cheese. Traditional Blue Cheese has cultures added to it so that the final product has fine blue veins running through it. Blue cheese has a distinct smell and can be crumbled or melted over other foods. Types of blue cheese include Gorgonzola, Blue Stilton, and Bleu de Gex.

4. Gouda. Gouda is a yellow cheese mainly produced in Holland. It is made in a round mold and has a distinct taste and a complete rind. Gouda can be aged for varying periods of time so the taste and texture depend on how long it is aged.

5. Maasdam. Maasdam cheese is creamy, but a bit sweet and fruity. Great for sandwiches, grilled cheese or eaten with fruit.

6. Grana Padano. Grana Padano is one of Italy’s most popular cheeses. It is a hard cheese and very tasty shaved over pasta or salad.

7. Smoked Cheese. Smoked cheeses are smoked in a traditional way so the outer skin is usually a brownish color. It has a smoky flavor and is sliceable, great on toasted sandwiches or with crackers. Types of smoked cheese include Gruyère, Smoked Gouda, and Provolone.

8. Edam. Edam cheese comes in a sphere, it is pale yellow and has a red paraffin wax coating. Edam is a semi-soft cheese with a mild taste and little smell but as it ages the taste and smell increase.

9. Swiss Cheese. Swiss Cheese is an ‘eye cheese’ or ‘hole cheese’, it has a smooth satiny texture and is slightly sweet in taste. It is a firm cheese which has a wide appeal so it is great for cooking, sandwiches, or a cheese board.

10. Feta. Feta has a deliciously soft and creamy texture. It has a slightly savory flavor and crumbles easily so it is good for salads, antipasto, savory pastries or served with crusty bread and crackers.

11. Cheddar. Cheddar cheese if a hard cheese with a sharp taste. It is one of the most popular cheeses and can be used in a variety of ways such as cooking, for sandwiches or with crackers and wine.

(Source: Weekendnotes.com)


Bread

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour, White Whole Wheat Flour, or Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

Instructions
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. For easiest, most effective kneading, let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the bowl; this gives the flour a chance to absorb some of the liquid, and the bran to soften.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

(Source: Kingarthurflour.com)


Yogurt

Ingredients
4 cups whole milk, the fresher the better
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt with live and active cultures

Instructions
Rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of a heavy pot to prevent scorching (or rinse the inside of the pot with cold water). Add milk and cream, if using, and bring to a bare simmer, until bubbles form around the edges, 180 to 200 degrees. Stir the milk occasionally as it heats.

Remove pot from heat and let cool until it feels pleasantly warm when you stick your pinkie in the milk for 10 seconds, 110 to 120 degrees. (If you think you’ll need to use the pot for something else, transfer the milk to a glass or ceramic bowl, or else you can let it sit in the pot.) If you’re in a hurry, you can fill your sink with ice water and let the pot of milk cool in the ice bath, stirring the milk frequently so it cools evenly.

Transfer 1/2 cup of warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Stir yogurt-milk mixture back into remaining pot of warm milk. Cover pot with a large lid. Keep pot warm by wrapping it in a large towel, or setting it on a heating pad, or moving to a warm place, such as your oven with the oven light turned on. Or just set it on top of your refrigerator, which tends to be both warm and out of the way.

Let yogurt sit for 6 to 12 hours until the yogurt is thick and tangy; the longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become. (I usually let it sit for the full 12 hours.) Transfer the pot to the refrigerator and chill for at least another 4 hours; it will continue to thicken as it chills.

(Source: Cooking.nytimes.com)


Cajun Nuts

Ingredients
2 tablespoons bacon grease
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup whole unsalted almonds
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
Cajun Seasoning
1/4 cup Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for Cajun seasoning. (You will only use 1/2 tablespoon of this mixture. Save the rest for other uses.)
In a small pan heat bacon grease over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Place nuts in a large bowl.
Drizzle bacon fat/garlic over nuts and toss to coat.
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of cajun seasoning, salt, sugar, and black pepper over nuts. Toss to coat evenly.
Pour nuts onto a large baking sheet and place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

(Source: Spicysouthernkitchen.com)


Devilled Eggs

Ingredients
10 hard cooked eggs, peeled and halved
½ cup homemade mayo
4 tablespoons melted butter
salt
paprika

Instructions
Scoop out the yolks of each egg and set aside.
Arrange the whites on a platter.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the yolks, mayo, and butter until smooth.
Season to taste with salt.
Put the yolk mixture in a piping bag, and pipe the mixture into the halved whites. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Ranch Salad Bites

Ingredients

16 slices French baguette
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup green onions (finely chopped)
40 sprays salad (wish-bone, spritzers ranch dressing)

Instructions
Combine arugula, roasted red peppers and green onions in medium bowl. Spritz with 24 sprays Wish-Bone® Salad Spritzers® Ranch Dressing.

Evenly top bread with vegetable mixture, then spritz with remaining Dressing. Serve immediately.

Arrange bread on serving platter; set aside.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Beet, Goat Cheese, and Grapefruit Salad

Ingredients
1 cup roasted beets
2 ounces of goat cheese (crumbled)
1 grapefruit (cut into segments)
1/4 cup hazelnuts
2 sprigs fresh mint
4 cups mixed greens
balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon EVOO

Directions
Preheat the oven at 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and spread the hazelnuts over the tray. Roast for 5 -10 minutes until golden. Allow the hazelnuts to cool and then chop roughly.
Remove the peel from the grapefruit and cut it into segments.
Crumble the goat cheese, and finely chop the mint.
Cut the beets into small wedges.
Layers the greens, beets, grapefruit, goat cheese, hazelnuts and mint on a large serving platter. Dress the salad with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Super Fruity Beet & Pear Salad

Ingredients 
1/2 cup wish-bone superfruit berry vinaigrette dressing
2 beets (large, peeled, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 pears (large, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 head Boston lettuce (torn into bite-sized pieces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

Directions
Toss Wish-Bone® Superfruit Berry Vinaigrette Dressing, beets, pears, tomatoes and parsley in large bowl.
Arrange boston lettuce on serving platter, then top with beet mixture, goat cheese and pecans. Sprinkle, if desired, with freshly ground black pepper.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Wedge Salad Platter

Ingredients
2 heads of iceberg lettuce look for light weight heads
4 ounces blue cheese crumbled
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
3 boiled eggs see below for perfect boiled egg instructions
1 1/2 cups store bought blue cheese dressing

Instructions
Boil eggs: Put eggs in large sauce pan. Fill with cool water about an inch higher than the egg. (Add 1 tablespoon vinegar which will make them easier to peel). Bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover pan and let sit for 10 minutes for a perfect medium hard boiled egg. Remove eggs to a pan of cool water to stop cooking process. Peel when cool
Slice both heads of lettuce into 4 equal size portions for a total of 8 wedges and place on tray.
Sprinkle with blue cheese dressing, bacon, eggs and cheese crumbles. Add an additional bowl of dressing in the center.

(Source: Laughingspatula.com)


Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients
Baking spray, for spraying custard cups
1 stick butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.
Microwave the butter, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a large bowl on high until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is also melted. Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups.
Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Invert on individual plates while warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


Blackberry Cheesecake Squares

Ingredients
Crust:
Cooking spray, for spraying foil
One 11-ounce box vanilla wafers
1/2 cup pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
Filling:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Topping:
4 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: Line a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Place the vanilla wafers and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. (If they come up the sides, that’s okay!)
For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix again.
Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and allow the pan to sit in the open oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
For the topping: Add the blackberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water to a saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the juices thicken slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, make a slurry by stirring together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Add the slurry to the berries, return to the boil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture.
Pour the blackberries over the cheesecake and place the pan into the fridge to cool and set for at least 2 hours (several hours is better).
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the pan by lifting the edges of the foil. Slice into 15 pieces with a long serrated knife.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


Lime Poke Cake

Ingredients
Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, well shaken
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
One 3-ounce box lime gelatin
Topping:
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Green sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla in a spouted measuring cup; set aside.
Beat the granulated sugar and butter in a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer) at medium speed until very light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer still running on medium, slowly add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting; with the mixer running, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, then 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and beat until well mixed.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Use a large fork to poke holes an inch apart in the top and all the way through the cake.
Bring 1 cup water to a boil, pour over the gelatin in a medium bowl and stir until completely dissolved about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Pour the mixture evenly over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Put a large bowl (for whipping the cream) in the refrigerator.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Whip the cream with the granulated sugar and vanilla in the chilled bowl until fluffy. Spread it over the cake and sprinkle the sanding sugar on top. Slice and serve.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


P.S. Don’t forget that these lashings of food are calculated for 17 people, 12 of them huge and strong warriors.

A Kiss – A Memory – A Scene In The Book

It’s been a long, very long time I’ve been kissed the last time. I already started feeling like an old withered shed on the edge of the woods.

But last month, exactly April 18, at about 1 pm, after lunch, I experienced the sweetest, cutest kiss in about ‘a century.’ It wasn’t an ‘intimate’ French kiss, as some would suspect. It wasn’t a long, lustful, greedy ‘smooching,’ nor was it just a peck.

It was a gentle, soft touch of lips, filled with affection and attraction, tender and delicate.

Someone else might think: “Where’s the point? What’s the big fuss about it?”

That kiss, however, didn’t go out of my head. In silent moments I remember it and catch myself wistfully smiling at the memory.

Currently, I’m writing book seven in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series and yesterday the story turned into a situation where a kiss like that would be just the perfect thing to happen.

But for some reason, I cannot describe what I felt when I got that kiss. I’m at a lack of words for my emotions.

Now I’m lost. I’m writing paranormal romance. In the six books, I wrote for ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I described several scenes with wonderful loving and tender kisses – and each one of them is good the way it is.

But in this case, I don’t know how to describe my own experience and wake the feeling I had when I got that particular kiss a month ago.

What am I doing wrong?

Does anyone have a hint or tip for me how to do that? Did anyone try to interlace their own experiences into their stories, and how did you do that? Let me know in the comments. I need your help. Thank you.

P. S. I was asked about the man who kissed me that day – I hope you’ll understand I won’t mention any names here. That’s my secret.

picture courtesy of: pexels.com

Soul Taker Got Its Third 5-Star Review

I’m very excited to let you all know that ‘Soul Taker’, the first book in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, got its third 5-star review. This is wonderful, I’m literally bouncing through my day.


Nice Debut!

New author A.J. Alexander excites us with her debut novella Soul Taker. Kate is an angel of death, taking the soul into the afterlife. After a job that went bad Kate wants to call it quits. Her request is granted in that she is now a Guardian angel and will learn under the tutelage of the great charming, and alluring Archangel Raphael. While Kate is being trained to be a Guardian demons attack kidnapping Kate. She has something they want. After her rescue by the Council of Twelve, we learn Kate does not have something hell and Lucifer want she IS what they want. You have to read the rest of the book to find out why.

Soul Taker is nicely written. Alexander pulls you into her world that is warm and welcoming. The characters are well written. Kate is written with a large innocence and vulnerability, yet it is also her strength as well. Lucifer is luxurious and I love him and Kate’s banter. This book is to be a series and it’s a nice beginning. Alexander is on my radar and will be interested in what else this series brings.

Check out where to find the book:

Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

 

Soul Taker Secrets – Katie’s Family Gathering Dinner

Kate is a warmhearted and nurturing person. From the very beginning, she felt the need to tighten the connection with her new ‘family,’ the Council of Twelve and invited them over for dinner. Kate loves to cook, which doesn’t necessarily mean she’s good at it. The Council members keep teasing her about her cooking, but still, they bravely show up to every single one of her invitations, grateful for the two members of the ‘chef-crew’ who are supporting Kate in her ambitions. This is one of the first courses Kate serves to the Council of Twelve.


 

Pecan and dill crusted salmon

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
6 tablespoons butter,
melted 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb.) boneless, skinless side of salmon
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Parchment paper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400°. Pulse first 4 ingredients in a food processor 5 or 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper; place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread pecan mixture over salmon. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or just until salmon flakes with a fork.

(Source: SouthernLiving.com)


If you feel like trying out the recipe, please let us know in the comments how it tastes. We’re curious.