Saturday, July 19, 2014

Banana Split Dessert - my husband's favorite!

I make this dessert for my husband's birthday every year or on Father's Day! It's his absolute favorite! There are several variations, some that use raw egg in the spread that doesn't get cooked (which I'm always leery about), but this is my easy-peasy version using instant vanilla pudding, instead.

Photo by Elsie Park
Banana Split Dessert

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 (5 ounces each) packages instant vanilla pudding*
4 cups milk
3 bananas sliced thinly (lengthwise or in little rounds)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (16 ounce) carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed in fridge
1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (peanuts are good, but mixed nuts are too)
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries (without stems), drained
9x13-inch cake pan

Mix softened butter and sugar together in bowl then add graham cracker crumbs. Mix until all crumbs are moistened with butter. Press crumb mixture into cake pan. You DON'T need to bake it, but you can put it in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 5 minutes if you'd like. This melts the butter a little more and helps glue the crumbs together. Do NOT overbake or the crust will be too hard. Cool completely.
Photo by Elsie Park
Prepare vanilla instant pudding with the 4 cups milk (this gives you a firmer, thicker pudding). Mix thoroughly. It set up quickly, so pour over cooled graham cracker crust and allow to set in the pan (this takes only a minute or so).
Photo by Elsie Park
Slice bananas and layer them onto the set pudding, then spread the drained crushed pineapple over the bananas.
Photo by Elsie Park
Spread the whipped topping over everything, sprinkling chopped nuts on it afterwards. Last, put cherries on top, placing them in spaced out rows so that each slice of dessert will have a cherry on top.
Photo by Elsie Park
This dessert can be made the night before. Keep refrigerated.


*One variation is to use 2 packages of softened cream cheese mixed with 1 cup of confectioner's (powdered) sugar in place of the instant pudding - your preference

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who would play my characters in the SHADOWS OF VALOR movie?

If my medieval romantic fiction, SHADOWS OF VALOR, was made into a movie, which actors would I choose for the roles?

Lady Elsbeth Rawley would be played by KATE BECKINSALE (I remember her most from 1993's Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen's Emma)
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Other possible actresses for Elsbeth: Jennifer Connelly, Katie McGrath, Keira Knightley

Sir Calan Beaumont (The Shadow) would be played by STEPHEN AMELL from the TV series Arrow and Hallmark TV movie When Calls The Heart
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Other possible actors for Sir Calan/The Shadow: Chris Hemsworth, Richard Armitage

Lady Genevieve Shaufton would be played by Maggie Grace from When Calls the Heart and Lost
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Other possibilities for Jenna: Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Rachel Skarsten

Sir Giles Beaumont would be played by Bradley James who was Arthur in the TV mini series Merlin
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Other Possible Actors for Sir Giles: Channing Tatum

Sir Randall Bolkin would be played by Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
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Other possible actors for Sir Randall: Mike Vogel, Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Walker

Lady Cecilia Shaufton would be played by Alice Krige from Thor: The Dark World and Star Trek: First Contact
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Other possibilities for Ceclia: Susanna Thompson or Susan Sarandon

Bartram McCaulch would be played by Rufus Sewel from The Legend of Zorro & A Knight's Tale

Other possible actors for Bartram: Sean Bean

Lord Rupert Shaufton would be played by Sean Bean from The Lord of the Rings
& Game of Thrones
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Other possibilities for Rupert: Hugh Jackman

Monday, July 7, 2014

Attending Fantasy Con - AN AWESOME ADVENTURE!

I attended the 2014 Fantasy Convention in Salt Lake City on the 3-5th of July, and although I was a vendor and didn't get to walk around as much as I would have liked, the experience was still a wonderful one. I shared a booth with two fellow authors from Jolly Fish Press: Adrienne Monson with her vampire/immortal trilogy and Teri Harman with her contemporary witch trilogy. We helped promote each other's books as we sat together for 9 hours each day for three days in a row. Aside from being tired and my bum getting a little sore from sitting so long, I met so many wonderful and interesting people. 

I got to attend a one hour panel for actor Billy Boyd from The Lord of the Rings. Hilarious  and uber talented man! What a treat to see him in person.

My brothers, Kit and Nathan Rees, co-owners of their animation company Squishy Animation, part of the Fantasy Con staff, were busy making sure the convention ran smoothly, but stopped by to say hello once in a while. Fellow authors Lehua Parker (MG books: One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim) and Johnny Worthen (books: Eleanor the Unseen and Beatrysel) also swung by to say hello before they were off to speak on a panel with Teri and Adrienne. Always good to see Lehua and Johnny!

This is a picture of my brothers, Nathan Rees (dark red shirt in back) and Kit Rees (dark red shirt in front), with The Hobbit dwarf actors Jed Brophy (Nori), Peter Hambleton (Gloin), Graham McTavish (Dwalin), John Callen (Oin) and Adam Brown (Ori) - AWESOME!!! But I'm so jealous!!! 
My father was so wonderful. He drove me to and from the convention all three days (my being 7 weeks pregnant, nauseous, and feeling unable to drive the long distance myself). Here's a picture of my tall dad standing next to an even taller sentinel.
My sweet mother, not only watched my kids one of the days while I was at the convention, but also helped me make my 1300s medieval-style kirtle and surcoat out of two bedsheets. Thanks mom!

I was delighted to see our old family friend, Chance Thomas, approach my table after he did a panel. He's an inspiration to me, being called "the composer's composer." So talented and knowledgeable in music and video/animation scores. Thanks for stopping by to chat, Chance!

Our dear friend, Rebekah Grow, visited briefly in her ring wraith costume from The Lord of the Rings. She was accompanied by two adorable Disney princesses (her little girls) plus her baby only a few months old.
One of the best surprises was the arrival of one of my cover models, Brady Knighton, decked out in the full leather armor he wore for the Shadows of Valor photo shoot. Can I just say AWESOME! His photo appears on the back of my book. He was at Fantasy Con helping another booth by the name of "Heroic", a wonderful group who has super heroes show up at charity events for children and others. Brady usually plays Captain America at these events (he has to shave his face for that, of course). I was pleased to find that the leather armor company, Rose and Thorn Armory, who made Brady's outfit, was at the convention as well. They displayed my book with Brady's picture and had my business cards at their booth. I, in turn, gave out their business cards to anyone interested in their armor. Win-Win!

Another surprise was a knight in chainmail who walked up to my booth, pointed at my book and said, "That's my wife on your cover." I thought he was joking, but then he told me her name (Paulina Baykova) and what she was studying at school. He bought her a book and I signed it, dedicating it to her. COOL! Paulina's husband is on the left with the headgear. Too fun!

Paulina's sister, Yelena Baykova, also visited our booth. Yelena was the film director who did my book trailer on Youtube for Shadows of Valor and who took the photos of Paulina and Brady for my cover. I'd never met her in person before the convention, so it was a real treat to finally see her. SO GREAT!

I was able to take pictures of the giant dragon, fountain, sentinels and a few other things the day before the convention kicked off. I hope Fantasy Con returns to Salt Lake next year and that I'll be able to be a vendor there again.
Front view of the smoke-breathing dragon designed by my brother, Nathan Rees
Side view of the smoke-breathing dragon designed by my brother, Nathan Rees
My brothers Kit (right), Nathan (center) and Nathan's wife, Heidi (left) in front of dragon
Banner designed by my brother, Kit Rees
Fountain designed by my brothers Kit and Nathan Rees which will be enlarged and placed in Las Vegas.
Here are more pictures of some of the great costumes I caught on camera as the different characters passed my booth (Jaba didn't pass my booth. I had to go to him - the lazy blob - haha :)