Friday, December 12, 2014

Not Just Holiday Cookies, There are Cupcakes Too




I love the buttery goodness of holiday cookies as much as anyone. They're convenient to make ahead and fun to decorate. However, let's not forget the cupcake. How cute is this reindeer?

My go to dessert for this year is going to be champagne flutes filled with candy and topped with a cupcake. The possibilities are endless.

Chanukah


I filled the flute with blue and white M&Ms. Stores like It'Sugar and Party Stores carry a huge selection of colors.

Christmas


Red, white, and green chocolate covered sunflower seeds fill this base.

New Year's


White and silver will be my color theme for New Year's.

Let your creative juices flow. Please share photos of your creations. Feel free to post them on my fb page.

Wishing you health, happiness, and a year filled with chocolate.

Don't forget to gift books for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sipping Chocolate vs Hot Chocolate

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To say that writing about chocolate has been fun, is stating the obvious. The research was an adventure that teased my taste buds with exciting new flavors and textures.  One of my favorite discoveries is the different ways to prepare hot chocolate beverages

Sipping Chocolate

Sipping chocolate, also called drinking chocolate is a European concept. Usually it's made by blending chopped chocolate into hot milk. I've tasted it with a small chocolate bar melted in. It's so thick and chocolatey you're forced to drink it slowly. Trying to describe the sensation as the thick chocolate assaulted my taste buds is almost impossible.
My favorite is Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate. You can add milk to the powder to get the texture you prefer. I suggest drinking it slowly from a small cup.


 Hot Chocolate

Many of us grew up drinking our hot chocolate from a packet. Add hot water and a favorite topping and we had cup of hot chocolate. Not much has changed. Hot chocolate is ground cocoa powder mixed with sugar and dry milk. Different brands might appeal to different taste buds. 


Hot Cocoa

Blend in hot milk or cream to your favorite cocoa powder and Voila! - hot cocoa. Sweeter blends appeal to drinkers who prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate. My personal favorite is Godiva Hot Cocoa. The preparation instructions are explicit - prepare with milk only.

Cozy up with your favorite hot chocolate beverage and a good book.
Just in case you haven't had enough chocolate - Chocolate Couture is on sale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H0L1HAO
Here's an excerpt:

Lily Peradou watched as a tray of her lime-elderflower cupcakes toppled to the floor. Like a line of ballerinas falling into an orchestra pit, two-dozen of her most popular pastries now lay at her feet.
“Oh, Chef. What a mess.” Olivia, her assistant looked down at the floor. “I tried to warn you. It all happened so fast.” Friends and co-workers, embarrassed by Lily’s clumsiness, often tried to minimize the experience with excuses.
Lily knew better, she had no one to blame. She had caused the cupcakes’ demise. “I’ll clean up. You open the shop.”
Olivia stepped over the squished chocolate cakes and inched her way between Lily and the prep counter. A plethora of pans and mixing bowls hung from every available inch of wall space. Ovens, coolers, and baking appliances covered the opposite wall. In this cramped, but organized narrow kitchen, Lily managed to create the finest cakes in Brooklyn.
The shop at 4 ½ Smith Street would be considered limiting to anyone. No one suspected that the showcases filled with the sweetest desserts ever created held hidden dangers for a klutz like Lily.
Many years ago her brother, Zach had appropriately nicknamed her Clum,“a sticky matter in the universe that makes things go wrong. Being near Lily had the potential of a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. This morning’s big bang proved that not much had changed since that day when he bestowed the name on her.
This was not the time to think about past events. The mess at her feet needed immediate attention. She reached over the fallen sweets and grabbed her broom and dustpan. In minutes, the work-area sparkled.
Miraculously, two halves of the cupcake hung precariously at the edge of the counter. Lily worked best under pressure. Could she still make something out of this mess?”
 

Excerpt From: Zelda Benjamin. “Chocolate Couture.” 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Every Dessert Has its Day


Eat Dessert First

 Every dessert has it's day, but today the possibilities are endless. It's National Dessert Day. Eating dessert is one of the simple pleasures in life. Don't deprive yourself. Studies have shown that there is meaning to eating dessert first. Depriving yourself can lead to increase binging later.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911125332.htm


Don't Wreck a Dessert Experience by Feeling Guilty

Pie, cake, ice cream, the list is endless.
Indulge today. You deserve it. 


On sale in honor of National Dessert Day.

Warning: reading these books may lead to an increased chocolate consumption

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Clean Indie Reads Fall Sale Blog Hop


FALLING LEAVES, FALLING PRICES

CLEAN INDIE READS (CIR), THE HOME OF FLINCH-FREE FICTION IS HAVING A SALE  OCT 5TH - OCT 11TH 

HERE'S THE LINK TO ALL THE SALE BOOKS  http://arcaniarts.com/index.php/fall-clean-book-sale

Chocolate Couture can be found on the 99 cents sale list.  If you prefer romance check out my Amazon Listmania: romance books on sale


Some of the participating authors have joined together to create this fun blog hop. We have been asked if the changing seasons influence our writing and/or the choice of books we read.

My writing style doesn't change with the seasons, but I am always aware of seasonal details when I write. What's going on outside the window? Is there a holiday associated with the time of year?
Although, I'm a sucker for sappy holiday movies, I'll read a holiday themed story anytime.

I live in S. Florida where Fall and Spring don't exist. We do have a winter which I'm sure many of you living in those snowbound places would debate.



PRIZES

What do you think? Do you read seasonal books year round or only during the season?
Leave a comment with your email and you'll be eligible for a random drawing of a jute peace, love, and chocolate bag. (USA only)



 BLOG SCHEDULE (not all bloggers are offering giveaways)

Follow this link to discover some new and exciting flinch-free authors and their blogs:
Disclaimer: Comment by 11:59:59 PM Central time on October 10, 2014 for your chance to win. Please leave your email address with your comment. Winners will be contacted by the blog owner by October 13, 2014. Only one entry per ISP address. The contest is open to international readers unless stated by the blog owner. No purchase necessary to enter. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. The giveaway is the sole responsibility of the blogger. Clean Indie Reads is in no way responsible for providing prizes during this blog hop. Void where prohibited

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Snippet Sunday

Weekend Writing Warriors


On Snippet Sunday, writers from all genres share a work in progress, a soon-to-be released story, or a recently published work. Reading these snippets is a great way to meet and discover new and exciting authors.
Check out the link.  
 www.wewriwa.com

Back story

Every character has one. In today's snippet Noah meets someone who has her own reasons for sharing Lily's story with him.

Snippet - Chocolate Couture

  “The name Peradou Chocolate means nothing to you?” Agatha was digging deep, but Lily’s family was no concern of his.
  “Should it?”
  “I know you don’t over indulge in sweets, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous international chocolate company.”
  Noah remembered a bogus discrimination suit against a chocolate company based in Manhattan. Even thought the name Peradou was unusual, he never put the two together. 
  "Your new friend, Lily Peradou is the equivalent of chocolate royalty," Agatha said.




 To find out more about Lily and Noah and the other books in my Love by Chocolate series visit my website


Thanks for stopping by. 
Eat Chocolate Everyday.





Saturday, September 27, 2014

Snippet Sunday

Weekend Writing Warriors





On Snippet Sunday, authors from a variety of genres post snippets from a work in progress, a recently published work, or a soon-to-be released novel. The snippets are fun to read and a great way to discover new authors.
Check out the link  www.wewriwa.com

Chocolate Couture 

Lily accepts an invitation to the grand opening for Noah's restaurant.

Snippet

   “It’s a welcome to the neighborhood gift.” Maybe she had been a bit too presumptuous, assuming he would see her cake as the friendly gesture she had meant it to be.
    Pointing to the delicate pearls Noah said, “The cake looks like it would be more comfortable surrounded by champagne and caviar, not burgers and fries.”
    “I thought you might like to add some class to the event.” She hadn’t meant for her comment to sound so harsh.  If she hadn’t decided at the last minute to accept the invitation, she might have considered designing a more compatible cake to go with the food. Something resembling a burger, or cowboy boot, or maybe even a loud, towering, slightly trashy red velvet cake would have been more suitable.




To find out more about Chocolate Couture and the other books in my Love by Chocolate series go to my website



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday

WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS






Sunday weekend writing warriors post 8 lines of something they are writing, something they are editing, or something that is already unleashed on the public. The snippets are fun to read and a great way to discover new and exciting authors. Reading as many snippets as I can has become a Sunday routine .
Check out the link
http://www.wewriwa.com


Chocolate Couture 


Lily and Noah  discover a secret compartment in the vacant store between her pastry shop and his soon to open restaurant. A hidden letter could hold the secret to the success of each of their businesses.


Sunday Snippet

    “Don’t worry about me.” Noah shrugged. “I’m just a burger jock. I have no interest in secret compartments.” 
     She narrowed her eyes and looked up at him. “Be warned, I’ve got an arsenal of recipes that will increase my sales beyond your imagination.”
    “You have no idea what I’m imaging right now.” His confident smile and sexy voice soaked into her like her apricot rum sauce soaking into dry sponge cake. 







Visit my website for more info about Chocolate Couture and the other books in my Love by Chocolate series.

Keep life exciting, eat dessert first.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Snippet Sunday

Snippet Sunday

Weekend Writing Warriors





Sunday weekend writing warriors post 8 lines of something they are writing, something they are editing, or something that is already unleashed on the public. This is my second weekend post for Snippet Sunday.  
Check out this link and read the snippets from new and exciting authors.

Here's my snippet
Last week, pastry chef Lily Peradou discovered a man roaming the alley behind her shop.

"Why are you snooping around the alley?”
“I’ve been meaning to stop in and introduce myself.”
“Why would you want to introduce yourself?” She was strangely flattered by his interest. Perhaps he had heard about her elderflower or chocolate cherry cordial cupcakes. Her ego slipped away as she thought of the risk of speaking to a stranger in a deserted alley— especially, a handsome stranger with a charming smile.



Time for me to check out the other snippets. Last weeks snippets were exiting and thought provoking.

Check out my website for more info about the other books in my Love by Chocolate series.
www.zeldabenjamin.com

Peace, love, and chocolate.
Zelda


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Discovering Twitter


 Zelda Benjamin

Where to Start

If you're Twitter savvy this blog post is not for you. There are still many people out there who just don't get the whole Twitter thing. The first thing they need to do is create a Twitter account. 

There are lots of reasons people use Twitter. I'm not a celebrity junkie so I don't follow any stars, but that could be a reason you might want to Tweet. Do you like to hear the news as soon as it happens?  Do you have a book or product you want to promote? Do you want to help your friends promote a product or book? Once you follow someone you can just click retweet and their tweet will retweet to your followers. 

Tweets

The best part of a Tweet is that it is short and sweet. Each Tweet is limited to 140 characters including punctuation and spaces. Twitter will automatically shorten any link you include. As you Tweet, the number of characters you have left appears next to the Tweet button. Did you bake a cake, review a book, or have a cover reveal? Tweet the info and include a link if you want to. No need to try and condense the entire recipe into 140 characters - just add the link.:) You can pre-schedule Tweets just like you do a blog. You can also pay Tweeting companies to put your Tweets out there. I've never done this so I can't say if it works or not. Many of my writing groups are very supportive and we retweet often. Here's one of my Tweets from this morning.

Followers

In the search box put in a name or email of someone you're interested in following. Start with mine if you'd like. My Twitter name is benjaminzelda. If you want to mention me in a tweet you would type @benjaminzelda. People will follow you, but you don't have to follow them back.

Hashtags

Words preceded by a # sign are hashtags. They are used to categorize keywords and topics. Chocolate Couture is a story that has a fashion component. I want people with a kindle, romance readers, and anyone interested in fashion to check out my book.  Step out of your comfort level and use different hashtags.

Analytical Dashboard

This is something new. Twitter is allowing you to see your Twitter activity. Don't panic if you're just getting acquainted with Twitter. You don't have to do this.  It's not on your Twitter page. You have to go to analytics.twitter.com to find the info.
What I like about this feature is that I can check to see if certain hashtags are engaged more than others. I can correlate the number of impressions and engagements with the sales number of my Montlake books on my Author Central page. Do weekends get more impressions and engagements than weekdays? Does the time of day that I Tweet make a difference?

Read Tweets to see what engages you. Which hashtags get your attention. I've found that starting my Tweet with a quote related to the subject of the book I'm promoting gets more engagement than just Tweeting the link.

Happy Tweeting.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate.
Zelda


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Snippet Sunday


Weekend Writing Warriors



 Sunday authors post 8 to 10 lines of something they are writing, something they are editing, or something that is already unleashed on the public. Visit this site to read their snippets and discover some exciting new writers.    Weekend Writing Warriors



Background to my snippet

Pastry chef Lily Peradou steps into the alley behind her shop and discovers she is not the only one interested in the vacant shop next door. 

Snippet from Chocolate Couture

The man jiggled the door handle. It was locked, of course.
Maybe he was a relative of Sally’s. If he were related, she would like to talk to him and make an offer for the store. The perfect solution for her space problem was 5 Smith Street.

Dwarfed by the giant metal container, Lily felt a temporary sense of security. She used her advantage to assess the situation and the stranger. He didn’t look like a tourist. There was no sign of a camera or guidebook. He didn’t walk with a leisurely stroll of someone sightseeing. His stride was with purpose.

Hope you enjoy these snippets and follow the wonderful authors who wrote them.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate
Zelda

Monday, August 25, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Hop


Everyone loves a Character. Are you ready to meet some interesting ones?

I'd like to thank Ariella Moon for inviting my to take part in this fun blog hop. I've been introduced to some fabulous authors and their great characters.



Ariella Moon is the author of the Teen Wytche Saga, a sweet Young Adult paranormal series. Ariella writes about magic, friendship, secrets, high school, and love in Spell Check, Spell Struck, and Spell Fire from Astraea Press.
Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. Ariella is a Reiki Master, author, and shaman. She lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and an enormous dragon.

Connect with Ariella Moon

Are you ready to meet my sassy New Yorker? 

What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or historical?




In my mind I had a vivid image of Lily Peradou. She's a fictional character, but reminds me of so many talented women determined to prove they can make it on their own. My cover artist did a fantastic job of portraying her image exactly as I imagined Lily.




When and where is the story set?



The story is set in Brooklyn, NY . Most of the story takes place in Lily's tiny shop, Pastry Art at 4 1/2  Smith Street.




What should we know about your character?

Lily is daring, independent, and loyal to her friends. She has just enough New York sass to get the job done. She is the equivalent of chocolate royalty, but has chosen to make it without help from her family of chocolate snobs. When life takes a sudden turn, she steps back and re-evaluates what's really important.


What is her main conflict? What messes up her life?



Lily's problems are compounded when she meets a former lawyer, Noah Adler in the alley behind her shop. She discovers he's the new owner of the burger place on the other side of the vacant store she inherits. Noah's interest in the shop between them makes Lily cautious. When Noah offers to help her with her legal battle against the heirs of the vacant property, she knows it will come with a price. Lily refuses his help, insisting she can defend herself against their ridiculous claim. Determined to prove that her chocolate cherry cordial cakes did not influence the late dress designer's will, she soon finds herself over her head in a melting pot of chocolate complications and love.


What is the personal goal of your character?



Lily is determined to make her business a success by following her own ideas and passion. If she finds the right man to share her dreams - why not.



Is there a working title for this novel, can we read more about it?

To read more about Chocolate Couture and all the other books in my Love by Chocolate series visit my website 
Available on Amazon
                      Nook



Next fun and fabulous tour - September 1

   Tara Fairfield
Dr. Fairfield is a licensed psychologist and author with her doctorate from Northern Arizona University. She released her first YA fantasy novel, Makai Queen, in Feb. of 2013 and the sequel, Makai King, splashes onto the scene September 1st! She has been a featured guest on Teen Talk and Parent Talk radio with Nicole O’Dell (ChooseNOW Ministries) and writes a monthly column for parents of teens. Tara loves spending time kayaking, romping with her dogs or just hanging out with her grandchildren. She currently lives in Washington State where she can be close to her family and still smell the salty air of the Sound. 

Amazon


D.B. Schaefer


D.B. Schaefer is the author of Me & Georgette, a quirky time-travel to famed 
Regency historical fiction writer Georgette Heyer. A former journalist, she was born and raised in the American Midwest, but headed to more exotic locales after university. Me & Georgette is her first novel.




Mary King

My name is Mary King, and I'm a mature writer with decades of life and work experience. The youngest of three children, I was born in 1956, in Jacksonville, FL. I was fortunate to grow up during a time when some of the most profound and exciting historical events changed the world. English grammar and composition were favorite school subjects, as was music. By the time I reached my teens, I was a church organist and worked to become a violinist in the Jacksonville Youth Symphony. I also became a caregiver at a very early age, surrounded by family members with physical and cognitive disabilities. I attended Jacksonville University (FL), graduating with a BS in psychology in 1979.
I've held numerous employment positions, some of which I combined with my passion for driving. Driver education was my starting point. From there I became a defensive driving classroom instructor, and then finally, a driver for Greyhound Bus Lines. By a stroke of luck, I eventually came to work in a spinal cord rehabilitation center, where I developed the first state-licensed driving school that specialized in adaptive driving for persons with disabilities.
In 1996, I began to pursue my passion for writing fiction. My greatest achievement thus far (besides raising my kids) is creating The McFadden Series, a self-published saga featuring an adoptive family of teens with disabilities and the professional couple who cares for them. In addition, I write nonfiction material, having published online over two hundred informative articles. I've covered everything from caregiver support to southern living, environmental issues, senior topics, hurricanes, health issues, teenage topics, recipes, human interest stories and more. At present, I have fifteen Editor's Choice awards.
Some of my other interests include reading, writing book reviews, work-related research, listening to classical music, gardening, photography and cooking. I don't have much time for anything else, but in my leisure time, I enjoy reality TV shows, especially DIY-related programs.
My future goal is to move to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, where I can indulge in a lifestyle filled with the arts and music. Of course, I plan to continue writing my novel series and nonfiction articles. Currently, I live in northwest Florida, on the gulf coast.
Barnes and Noble: http://goo.gl/vrdDJM 


Amanda Kay


I am a Paranormal/Fantasy Adult Romance Author. I am a Navy Wife and a mother of two. My daughter was born December 4, 2010 and my son was born July 18, 2013. My husband and I have been married for almost seven years, but we have been together since our junior year of high school and we have known each other since 8th grade, yes a long time.
I am a Florida girl at heart, but since getting married I have lived in Washington, South Carolina, and our latest move Connecticut. I hold a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
My Motto: Not your average Fairy Tales



Jennifer Pitkin



Ever since she was a little girl on a farm in rural Iowa, Jennifer M. Pitkin's heart has been filled with wanderlust and adventure. She started writing at an early age, and has never stopped. After exploring Italy, Ethiopia and South Korea, Pitkin's desire to transport others to those places and to raise awareness of important humanitarian and social issues took hold in the form of her second fictional novel, Watchmen for Morning. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Iowa State University and her Master's Degree from Pacific Oaks College. Her areas of both professional and personal interest and research include: adoption, global orphan care, Interpersonal Neurobiology, social justice and humanitarian aid work. Her adventures never stop as she raises her four small children with her beloved husband in Iowa. Pitkin will be releasing three more books within the next year - connect with her online to stay updated! Links: Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorJenniferPitkin Twitter: @Jennifer_Pitkin Blogger: authorjenniferpitkin.blogspot.com