Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall

I’m pleased to have on my blog author Rayne Hall, the creator of the polarizing character of Dahoud. Read the following post to understand why I can’t wait to read Storm Dancer or simply be mesmerized by the great cover*. Then, enter the Indie Giveaway. Storm Dancer is one of the books you could win.

Dahoud Potrait Horizontal


Dahoud is a troubled hero with a dark past. As a siege commander, he once razed, raped and killed… and he enjoyed it. Now he needs to atone.

He has sacrificed everything to build a new identity and a life of peace, and he devotes himself to protecting women from harm.

But Dahoud is not alone. Inside him lives a devious demon, a djinn that demands he subdue women with force. It torments him with pains and tempts him with forbidden desires.

When the women in Dahoud’s life repay his kindness with betrayal, his hard-won control over the djinn breaks.

Would you dare an alliance with this man? Could you forgive his evil past? Could you trust him with your freedom, with your life, with your love?

STORM DANCER cover published  11Jan13Storm Dancer is a dark-epic fantasy novel. It deals with dark issues and may not be suitable for young readers.

Don’t forget to enter the Indie Giveaway for a chance to win this book! a Rafflecopter giveaway




*Dahoud, art by Paul Davies and Erica Syverson. Copyright, Rayne Hall.

Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall

Indie Giveaway

Blog Hop Banner 1Welcome to the Indie Giveaway! Eleven talented indie authors have banded together to offer you the chance to win two great prizes. The first haul is 11 ebooks. The second is three signed paperbacks and a $20 Amazon gift voucher. Fantastic prizes? I think so! The giveaway is open from midnight GMT on the 25th February until 11:59pm GMT on the 11th March and there’s loads of ways to gain entries.

First, check out the authors and their books below:

 blog hop version 300 pixelsSky Song, by Sharon Sant: An unknown past. An unwanted destiny. A fight for survival.

DR cover 300x225pxDominant Race, by Elisa Nuckle: Lilia, a genetically altered human called a modified, and her allies must choose: help a tyrannical government in the business of killing their kind, or defend someone in the business of killing everyone else?

EA ThumbnailEarth Angel, by Ruth Ellen Parlour: Earth Angels of Eardecia, fighting against their chosen destiny, discover a secret the God’s never told and use it against their sworn enemy.

GraveyardShiftCover4HopGraveyard Shift, by Angela Roquet: Lana Harvey is a reaper, and a lousy one at that, but when Grim promotes her to a high risk assignment, all hell breaks loose…

Blood Roses FULL cover_Rev B_300dpi (198x300)Blood Roses, by Jason Graves: Madeline and Marissa Owen are identical twins who, with their paper-white skin, look a lot like vampires… well, sometimes, looks can be not at all deceiving.

scironsmallSciron, by David Rashleigh: History, mystery, ghosts and a touch of romance in a Lancashire town.

STORM DANCER cover reduced 300 pixelsStorm Dancer, by Rayne Hall: Dahoud fights to save the woman he loves from the evil inside him.

thepriest_200pxThe Priest, by Monica La Porta: Love doesn’t look at skin color/social status/gender. Society can’t restrain our hearts.

tvf200The Violet Fox, by Clare Marshall: The Violet Fox is Cinderella meets Robin Hood with a dash of The Little Mermaid.

Torched_300Torched, by Andrea Lynn Colt: When cheerleader Rose Whitfield is framed for arson, she sets out to clear her name and take prime suspect Paxton down hard—not necessarily in that order.

TrinityTrinity, by Clare Davidson: Three unlikely companions set out to restore a trinity of gods, which was destroyed a millennium ago.

And now for the giveaways! Both are open internationally.

Giveaway one: A fantastic haul of 11 ebooks! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway two: 3 signed paperbacks and a $20 Amazon gift voucher a Rafflecopter giveaway Good luck!

Indie Giveaway

Monday Drawing #15

Today’s Painter’s drawing is yesterday’s didl, which in turn was my personal take on a picture I saw on facebook. Can’t we always be that original, can we?

Moonlight Enchantment

Moonlight Enchantment



Monday Drawing #15

Friday Snippet #33

Gaia OcchioToday, the sun is shining and I went for a 2 hours walk with Nero. More of a slow procession than a real stroll, but he was in the mood for sniffing at the same leaf for more than it was appropriate and I had my kindle with me. All in all, it was a success. As I feel it was the rest of this eventful week.

For this Friday’s snippet, I have decided to post a small excerpt from the original version of Linda of the Night.  As I said in a previous post, Linda’s tale was written as a bedtime story a father narrated to his daughter in my fantasy, Magical Glasses. Erratic at best, Magical Glasses was my first Nanowrimo project. I finished it at 56k words and never looked back at it. Until I remembered the story of the ugly girl who lived isolated from the rest of the world because of her hideousness. This is how Linda’s tale was introduced:

“Today, I was walking through a dusty street crowded with stalls selling all sorts of things, when I saw an old, older than old, ancient lady with a face full of wrinkles, so many of them that it looked like she had a spider web on her face. She looked at me and asked if I wanted to hear a story.” Dad paused to let Luce make her usual comments.

“And you said yes.” Luce laughed.

“And I said no!” Dad laughed too and then waited for her reply.

“Why?” Luce seized one rosette without noticing. Mom caressed her hand to relax her fingers.

“Because you should never say yes the first time a bruja offers you something. They always, always, want something back from you.”

“So, what did you do?”

“I asked her directly what she wanted for the story, and then I said yes.” Dad loved the dramatic pauses and sometimes Mom complained out loud he overused them, but Luce could never have enough.

“What did she ask that you said yes?” Luce mangled another rosette. This time Mom let her be.

“The ancient bruja asked me to tell her a story in exchange for her tale.”

“What story?”

“I told her the story of when I saw you for the first time. I described the joy I felt when you held my finger with your little hand. I told her that I’d travel to the end of the world for you.”

“What did she say?”

“She said that a love so big deserved a gift.”

“What gift?”

“She told me the most beautiful story…”

Friday Snippet #33

Linda of the Night, genesis of a cover for a short story

Copertina Finale AmazonBlessed be Skype and the abundance of technology that makes possible for people living thousands of miles apart to work on a project as if they were in the same room. Three days ago, I didn’t have a finished cover for Linda of the Night, my short that went live only a few hours ago. Linda was a long time in the making project, but only recently I decided to send it to Amy Eye, my editor, to have it polished for publishing. Last Friday, I contacted my cover artist, Alessandro Fiorini. I had already sent him some material to work on, but working by email can be frustrating. Especially when the person you are corresponding with is nine hours ahead of you. Three days ago, we connected through Skype and Alessandro shared his desktop with me so I could watch as he worked on the final version of the cover. I was able to give immediate input and cut considerably the waste of time between steps. In less than one hour, we finished the cover.

From picture to final product:

Everything started as my weekly exercise in practicing patience:  aka working with Painter. I received the software as a gift for Christmas and I still struggle with it.  Monday, I decided to play with one of my daughter’s pictures.


First, I gave the picture a dreamier look with Paint.Net by altering the balance of the luminosity. I probably tinkered with it some more, but I can’t remember all the steps I took.

Gaia Polinesiana

Then, I used the altered image as a canvas and painted on it with Painter. I used a mix of oil colors and airbrushes.

Gaia Bionda Capelli Mossi

I went back to Paint.Net, applied the ink sketch filter, and then tinted the whole background in a flesh tone I picked from the image.

Gaia Bionda Capelli Mossi Paint.Net

Having a sudden inspiration, I cropped the eyes to make them stand out.

Gaia Occhi Blue

Knowing that Alessandro is quite busy, instead of sending him several emails explaining what I had in mind for the cover, I worked on my idea with Paint.Net and sent him examples instead.

Linda of the Night 3Linda of the Night 2Idea Preliminare per Linda of the Night


Finally, on Tuesday, early afternoon in Redmond and late at night in Marsciano, Alessandro and I started working on the final stages of the cover. The following images were all created by Alessandro in one fruitful Skype session. The whole process lasted the whole of one hour. Not bad, ah?

First try

Linda of the Night Cover 3

Second try

Linda of the Night Cover 2

Third try

Linda of the NIght Cover 1

You already know my final pick

Copertina Finale Cartacea

Copertina Finale Amazon

Linda of the Night, genesis of a cover for a short story

Linda of the Night: a sweet short story

Copertina Finale Amazon

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

My first short story is out. Linda of the Night, is a sweet, fairytale-style love story. It’s a piece I wrote—in a shorter and more children’s book prose version—during my first Nanowrimo and it was part of a longer novel. Originally, Linda’s tale was narrated by a father to his daughter as a bedtime story. The whole 56k words project was soon forgotten, but there was something about this character, at the time nameless, that made me think of resurrecting her story more than once. Eventually, I did.

Linda of the Night: a sweet short story

Carnevale Masks & Sugar Paste

While writing the recipe for the castagnole, I was looking for some pictures and I found those Carnevale masks I had almost forgotten about. I made them for a Carnevale party I hosted five or six years ago. I made the big one with the intention of decorating a cake with it, but then decided to use the small ones instead. As usual, my friend C. helped me putting the cake together.

Maschera di carnevale in sugar paste

Torta di Carnevale

Particolare torta 2Mascherine di Carnevale in sugar paste

Carnevale Masks & Sugar Paste

Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Castagnole ready to eat

Today, I was reminded it’s Martedi’ Grasso, Mardi Gras, on facebook. All my Italian friends posted pictures of the parties they had just attended and I felt left alone. So, I baked some deep fried goods.



1/3 cup of sugar

1 and 1/2 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoon of butter

2 eggs

the zest from 1 lemon

vegetable oil (I used canola oil) for frying

powdered sugar to dust the castagnole once cooked

How to prepare the castagnole:

Soften the butter and then mix all the ingredients together . Work the dough until a firm ball forms. Roll the dough on a working surface and then shape several thin logs. Chiacchiere dough

Cut the logs in small pieces and roll each piece between your fingers to make small balls.Gnocchi di chiacchiere

Chiacchiere crude

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil in a pan and let it reach frying temperature. Then, deep fry the castagnole for a few minutes until they are golden brown.Friggendo le chiacchiereChiacchiere cotte

If you have a dog, he’ll probably wait patiently behind you, hoping for some castagnole to fall on the floor.

Nero waiting for the castagnole to fall on the floor

Let the castagnole dry on a baking tray if you have one, otherwise get creative.Castagnole cotte al punto giusto

Dust the warm castagnole with powdered sugar and enjoy. Have a fantastic Mardi Gras!Castagnole ready to eat

Castagnole di Carnevale, Mardi Gras a la Italiana

Nero vs. Nature Calls: the baguette wins, although temporarily

Mommy, It wasn't me

When I think Nero has finished surprising me, he proves me wrong. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, a few nights ago, after eating my supper, I went upstairs to work on some editing. I was happily committing mass-murdering of the “thats” disseminated in one of my oldest manuscript—a project I’ve been writing and rewriting for the best part of the last four years—when I heard soft whining and crying. Wondering what’s Nero’s done now, I left my desk only to find him halfway through the stairs, still whining despite his mouth is full. Half baguette is still visible. I didn’t even bother to reprehend him. It was my fault after all. I should’ve removed the baguette from the table. It doesn’t matter it was lying at the very center of said table. Nero knows how to lower the tablecloth to bring food closer to his reach. Anyway, after dancing a little bit on the stairs, we went downstairs and still whining he tapped on the French door leading to the backyard. I opened the door for him and waited to see what he was up to. Normally, when he steals food from the garbage can he likes to go out to eat it. It was cold and he kept whining so I told him he could get inside and have his way with that piece of bread. Again, I should’ve known better. While looking at me with his big, liquid eyes, he squatted and pooped, baguette firmly secured between his teeth. Yes, nature called and he couldn’t let go of the baguette, so he went looking for me to have the door opened. Otherwise, I would’ve only discovered the baguette-napping by the mangled bread wrapping on the kitchen floor. Somehow, the whole experience must’ve been traumatizing because, for the first time ever, Nero didn’t eat the fruit of his bounty right away. He came back inside, went to his couch, gently laid the bread down and played with it for a while. The next morning, after a night of sleep, he went back to the couch and snatched the baguette with a vengeance, commanded to have the door opened, and then proceeded to finish what he had started the night before. Like a boss. On the same spot he had pooped. I guess he wanted to teach the baguette a lesson.


Nero and the French Baguette

Nursing the baguette

Nursing the Baguette

She made me do it

A Very Guilty beagle

Bad baguette, bad

Bad Baguette

That’s right

Eating Al Fresco

Nero vs. Nature Calls: the baguette wins, although temporarily

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup

Zuppa di Lenticchie e Orzo perlato

Soups are among my favorite dishes. They are for the most part easy to prepare and rewarding both in taste and calories counting. Since my household has recently acquired a pescatarian, I’ve been trying old and new recipes to feed the repentant carnivore. Lentil and pearled barley soup was on the menu yesterday night.

What I had in the pantry:

1 cup and 1 quarter cup of lentils

half a cup of pearled barley

1 can of organic tomato sauce (Kirkland brand)


French baguette

extra virgin olive oil (half of tablespoon per plate)

How I prepared the soup:

I filled a pot with water and added the tomato sauce, lentils, and barley. I let it cook at slow heat for two hours until the soup was creamy and only then added the salt. Meanwhile, I cut the baguette in pieces and toasted them. When the soup was ready, I arranged a few pieces of bread in each plate, sprinkled them with the evoo and some red pepper, and finally covered with the soup. Delicious. *

Pane Tostato per Zuppa

*After finished eating, I went upstairs to edit some writing and forgot about the half baguette on the table. Nero happened…

Stay tuned for more details.

Lentil and Pearled Barley Soup