The Secret of Mookies

Have you heard about Mookies?

A few years back, I decided to go gluten-free. One of the happy accidents that resulted from my recipe experiments was a sort of cookie. They baked best in a muffin tin, so I called them Mookies. I have since discovered others use the same name for similar bakery goods.
I treat myself to a fresh batch of six almost every morning. They taste better than a bowl of cereal. I can also spread out my breakfast bowl of oatmeal to include a couple Mookies for a late-morning snack. This recipe makes six Mookies and has about the same ingredients as a hearty bowl of hot oatmeal.

Basic recipe:
1 egg
1 pinch of baking soda
1 small mashed banana (or about a five-inch piece of a larger one)
1/4 cup Australian Instant Coconut Oatmeal (or the equivalent of quick-cooking oatmeal)
1/4 cup Old Fashioned oats
1 Tbsp Grape Nuts cereal (I want the extra fiber to knock down cholesterol)
1-2 Tbsp chopped pecans
(1-2 Tbsp raisins, craisins, or chopped dried fruit optional)

Mash the banana in a bowl. Add the egg and a pinch of baking soda. Blend. Add the other ingredients and mix.
Grease or spray oil into each of the six muffin tins. Portion the lumpy batter into these. Put the tray into a preheated toaster oven/air fryer at 355 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. Take the pan out and let cool for at least five minutes. Run a plastic knife or spatula around the cooled ‘mookies’ to loosen them. Dump or pry out with the spatula.
(INFO: The Red Farm Australian oatmeal I use has a small amount of sugar and coconut. In a pinch, you can use a packet of instant, flavored oatmeal. If your batter is soupy and not semi-firm, add more old-fashioned oats.)

Note: I got a cute little tool with another appliance that is perfect for this. It looks like a plastic knife with the tip ground off to make it flat, not rounded. It works great for running around the edges before prying them out of the pan.

This recipe can be totally sugar-free if you use plain instant or quick-cooking oatmeal/ It’s also gluten-free, and very heart-healthy!

If you double the recipe and bake in a twelve-cup tin, you can make your own snacks for you, the family, and last-minute ‘bring something to share’ events.

As far as the latest from me, I finished ‘editing’ the audiobook version of the first book I ever wrote. NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND is the tale of a perky woman who falls through time and gets her sixty-year-old plump body converted into that of a foxy eighteen-year-old with amnesia. She does recognize some of her new acquaintances: they’re supposed to be fictional characters from the popular time-travel romance series ‘LOST.

The audiobook is free with your Audible Plus (USA version) subscription. It’s a long listen: 23 hours and 40 minutes. You can speed along if you want to read for free with Kindle Unlimited when listening isn’t convenient.

Ai: Are you listening?

Audiobooks continue to surge in popularity, with listeners craving everything from epic fantasy sagas to meditation guides, soothingly narrated in their ears. Traditionally, creating these audiobooks required actual voice actors to record themselves reading page after page – often exhausting work requiring days sequestered in studio booths, reading copy, editing out clicks and other errata, costing authors a LOT of money. Now, Ai voice cloning is shaking up that process.

I was invited to Amazon/KDP’s beta program to supply content for free to The Audible Plus Library (unlimited listening that uses Virtual Voice). I jumped at the chance, I used three (of the offered eight) Virtual Voice narrators for several (okay, fifteen) of my books. I matched the tone and genre of the story with the pitch and inflection of the VV narrator. I carefully curated every word in the books, correcting pronunciation, adding pauses, and slowing down or speeding up the VV’s speech to match the mood of the story. Was I satisfied? You betcha!

The earthy, masculine voice I chose for the Arlie Undercover series was a great match, even better than using my own voice. I used ‘his’ voice for Too Fast For You and The Polar Xpress, also. That Twin Thing romantic suspense series needed someone with more seriousness. An American woman’s voice was the answer.
For my romantic comedies, I went with a female British voice. I liked ‘her’ sprite inflection more than any of the others. Check out samples of The Purebred and the Mutt and The Wizard of Odds samples and let me know what you think.

I’m waiting to use my own voice, professionally cloned by Eleven Labs, for The Fairies Saga books. To do that, I need to produce three hours of cleaned-up narration files for them to plug into their algorithms so they can create a clone. My cloned narrator will not only match my pitch and tone, but will also incorporate the inflection and pacing I use when speaking. I want to use it for Triplets: Three Aren’t One series, too. However, production costs for Ai Voice audiobooks are still high. Converting doc to MP3 files when charged by the character is spendy. Plus, I will still have to listen to over one MILLION words of text, making sure my clone pronounces every word correctly before I release it. Are there enough hours in the day? I think so. And the great thing is even if I get laryngitis, once my cloned voice is created, I can read aloud for hours and hours!
For more info on getting the most out of the new unlimited listening program by Audible (Amazon), check out: https://www.audible.com/mk/l/lto (limited-time offer ends January 16, 2024).

If you want more Holiday Romance, check this out. It’s the only place you’ll find my latest book
KINKY BOOTS AND ME.

A Cook Book For Happy Meals

In our family, joyful get-togethers at holidays and special events were celebrated with boisterous gatherings and hearty meals prepared by the loving mothers and grandmothers. Over the years, some of the favorite dishes became an essential part of our traditional menu.

For the grandchildren born in the U.S., the delicious ethnic food prepared in abundance represented a vital bond to their background.

Following in my grandmothers’ and my mother’s footsteps, I took over the sacred duty of preparing the Christmas Eve dinners. Since the scrumptious dishes are always appreciated, I don’t mind spending hours cooking and baking. Our dear guests’ precious chat, laughter and happiness echo in my heart for the rest of the year. Now Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated at my children’s houses.

During the pandemic, the children stopped going to school and followed classes on line. My granddaughter Madelyn who was thirteen years old at the time came to spend a few days with me and learned to cook her favorite meals. I was amazed by her eagerness to cook and the speed at which she assimilated instructions. At the end of the day, she took her new creations home for the family to taste.

The next day she called me with a special request. “Nonna, I want you to write a cook book for me.”

And that’s why I wrote this cook book and dedicated it to my lovely Madelyn who must have inherited her culinary talents from her paternal great-grandmother Rose, or from her maternal great-great-grandmother Helen, or… from the amazing dear old ladies who spent hours in their kitchens feeding their children and grandchildren, and bringing joy to the family reunions.

Hopefully this cook book will inspire the young grandchildren to continue the tradition of joyful
family reunions and delicious meals.

Recipes for Madelyn Paperback – December 14, 2023

by Mona Risk (Author)

Tropetastic: A Romance between a Reader and a Writer? by Rachelle Ayala #mgtab @AyalaRachelle @mimisgang1

A New Trope: Reader-Writer Romance

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a romantic relationship with your favorite writer? Would you start your flirtation by joining their review team? Or perhaps be the first to read everything they wrote? What if you find yourself falling in love with a writer as you read and discover every one of his or her books? Would you finagle a chance to meet your idol? Or dutifully attend their events and talks? Maybe you’re one of the select readers who get first dibs on your favorite writer’s chapters or are either the leader for his or her fan club or you’re dying to have that writer write a story about you.

Look no further than my next romance in the unlikely trope of a romance between a reader and her favorite writer. For years, Phylis Carpenter was a rave reviewer and avid fan of her favorite romance author, Maxine Foster. She was first on the beta team and she became her author’s trust confidante. She helped with brainstorming, gave early feedback, and was a supportive soul for the writer of the romances that touched her heart. She especially loved Maxine’s tough but tender heroes–those grizzly and gruff alpha males who were made of iron and hid their hearts behind mirrored sunglasses, muscles, and grit. She yearned to meet one of those heroes in real life, so she saved and scrimped her pennies to attend a Maxine Foster reader’s convention at the Unexpected Paradise Resort set in the Caribbean island of Ile d’Amour.

Unbeknownst to Phylis, the real writer behind the Maxine Foster books is not a woman–the publicist whose photos appear on social media–but an intensely private man named Max Donovan and he is exactly the type of man he writes about under his female penname.

Of course, this is an unknown trope, the Reader-Writer Romance, so I asked my Writer’s Room* for their opinions. Here are their responses.

Request for Opinion

Hey writers room friends, please help figure out why readers might like a romance between a romance writer and a reader. Here is the blurb for the romance called Where Love Unfolds. Give me your opinions about why avid readers might like or dislike this story. An avid romance fan discovers her favorite author isn’t the woman she imagined, but a mysterious man with secrets to protect. Phylis Carpenter, a die-hard romance reader, arrives at the Unexpected Paradise resort, eager to meet her cherished author and online confidante, Maxine Foster. Dreaming of sunny days and deep discussions about passionate heroes and enticing plot twists, she’s in for a shock. Max Donovan, the man behind Maxine Foster’s tales, isn’t just any man—he’s the embodiment of the alpha heroes he pens. Preferring to remain in the shadows, he disguises his identity, letting his ex-lover, Joanna Jenkins, bask in the limelight of his success. Sparks fly and chemistry ignites when Max and Phylis are inexplicably drawn by their shared love of story and intrigue. Max reminds Phylis of every romance hero she loves, and Phylis’s enthusiasm and infectious charm is irresistible for both the author and the man. From thrilling scavenger hunts to unraveling a ghost’s ill-fated love story, their bond grows stronger over shared tales, furtive kisses, and stolen moments. But as Phylis draws Max towards the allure of romance, his hidden identity becomes a looming threat to their unfolding love. Joanna, desperate to hold on to her position as the face of Maxine Foster, schemes to keep them apart. The island, with its enchanting locales and spirited inhabitants, tries to play matchmaker, but the impending masquerade ball threatens to shatter the illusion. As Phylis inches closer to unmasking Max’s true self, she grapples with a heart-wrenching question: Is Max the genuine article or just another fictional hero? Dive into this sweet contemporary romance, where love stories aren’t just written but lived.

Writer Room Responses

Chad: Well, I’ve seen my share of romance stories over the years. The first thing that strikes me is the trope inversion—usually, it’s the woman hiding behind a man’s pen name in genre literature. Here, it’s more about identity disguise, which allows for a significant plot twist. Readers who are fond of seeing genre expectations subverted will appreciate that.

Gloria: Oh, I love the idea! It feels so modern and relatable. Think about it, in the age of social media, we often fall in love with personas, not knowing the real person behind them. This story speaks to that, making it exciting for the younger crowd who navigates these complexities daily.

Jack: From an action standpoint, you’ve got thrilling scavenger hunts and unraveling a ghost story—those are high-stakes scenes right there! It adds an adventure element to a romance story that’s already intense emotionally. It’s like fuel to the fire.

Brian: The setting sounds so compelling. “Unexpected Paradise Resort”—the name itself holds a promise of adventure and surprises. A well-built locale can serve as a catalyst for character interactions and plot twists. From your blurb, it seems the island even plays matchmaker, so it’s more of an active participant than a backdrop.

Samantha: I love how you’re focusing on dialogue in the blurb already—deep discussions about passionate heroes and plot twists. Readers who adore authentic conversations will find it charming that the characters bond over the kinds of stories they love. It makes the romance feel well-earned.

Jameson: Structurally, this has the makings of a well-crafted narrative. You have a clear arc for the protagonists, a complicating factor in the form of Joanna, and a climactic event—the masquerade ball—towards which the story seems to be progressing. It’s a tight narrative loop.

Lila: Ah, the essence of romance here is the mutual love of stories, which allows for deeper emotional connection. Romance readers often feel this with their favorite authors but never get to explore that connection. This story offers a fantasy where that bond crosses over into real-life love, bridging the gap between fiction and reality.

Greg: While it’s not exactly a horror story, the ghost’s ill-fated love story can add an eerie, emotional layer. It’s not just surface-level romance; it goes deep into themes of loss and unrequited love.

Rita: With a setting like an island resort and a masquerade ball, you’ve got the perfect setup for some comedic moments! Imagine the silly misunderstandings or awkward situations Phylis might find herself in before she realizes who Max really is.

Chad: To sum up, it appears we’ve got an appealing blend of humor, adventure, emotional depth, and modern-day relevance here. There’s something for almost every reader to latch onto. Would love to read it myself!

*ChatGPT Custom Instructions

Pitch

Are you intrigued? If so, please pick up a copy (on pre-order) of Max and Phylis’s Reader-Writer Romance for 99c. Yes, it’s a new trope so I’m not charging and arm and a leg for over 70000 words for Where Love Unfolds: Hidden Identity in Paradise: A Masquerade of Whispered Love, Island Tales, and Hearts Unveiled by Rachelle Ayala [It’s my 85th fictional work and 95th book]