Kelly’s back! She’s got an awesome chili recipe you can either eat right away or age for primo flavor the next day. (And y’all, I just love the kind of dishes that get better overnight.) She’s also got a peek at her new release – a fun paranormal, Best in Show, (on my e-reader, now!) AND she’s giving stuff away (scroll down!). Now, aren’t you glad you stopped by?
Sleeping on it is practical advice for big decisions. Sometimes we need a little distance before we commit. This is something Julian Wilkes understands very well—he’s a methodical man. As a mystery writer, he’s used to plotting, cataloguing facts and considering everything before committing. He orders his days by moving from one comfort zone to another. He plans his meals a week in advance and spends a day cooking. Adopting a pet will disrupt his ordered life, but Julian is above all else a people pleaser, so if his sister thinks he needs a pet, then he will get a pet.
Enter Macavity Birch, Julian’s opposite. Mac is impulsive, disorganised and directionless. He never sleeps on it. Why, when opportunity is right there? While his reckless nature often lands him in trouble, Mac has a sweet and generous heart, however. His pranks aren’t ill-intentioned. More, he’s simply looking for his place in the world, for his thing. For something he cares about more than the fun of day to day.
When he is adopted by Julian (who thinks Mac as a cat is just a rather large, but ordinary ginger tabby), Mac feels an instant affinity with the mystery writer. They seem to have nothing in common, but Mac can see that Julian is a Nice Guy, and…that appeals. Really, really appeals. Mac finds he enjoys being cared for, and in return, he enjoys returning that care. He also really enjoys Julian’s cooking, in particular, Julian’s chili.
Here’s Julian’s recipe, which comes from my own personal collection! Like most stews and casseroles, this is one you’ll want to sleep on. It’s delicious the day you make it, especially if you make it in the morning and let it sit on the stove all day. Just heat it through before serving. Or make it the day before so that the flavours have all night to mingle.
2 lbs. lean beef for stew (chuck), cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (16oz) diced tomatoes
1½ cups beer
1 cup barbeque sauce
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cans (15oz) beans (red kidney or pinto), drained
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the beef one layer at a time. Add green pepper, onion, celery and garlic and sauté until slightly softened. Stir in tomatoes, beer, barbeque sauce, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To serve: ladle into bowls and sprinkle with shredded cheese, corn chips, green onions and/or sour cream. Having some bread on hand to wipe around the bowl afterwards is also a good idea!
“Everything all right?” Julian asked, coming into the room.
Mac let out a sigh, which wasn’t as satisfying in cat form, and looked away.
“Aren’t you going to change? I wanted to finish talking about the journal. You should read it first, or I can just sum it up for you.”
The journal. Right. Julian had been telling him something about that when Alicia had arrived.
“You’re upset about me locking you out while I napped, aren’t you? Look, I just needed a little time alone, okay? The past few days have been weird, and I was tired. I’ve been staying up late talking to you. And the whole ‘talking to a cat’ thing has sort of worn me out too. Trying to figure out if I’m going crazy or not. You sitting there looking at me with a disdainful cat expression isn’t helping. Will you change, please? So we can have this conversation in person?” Julian winced slightly, then rubbed the side of his head. “Or just so I know I haven’t taken a trip to crazy town.”
If Mac could chuckle at that, he would have. Asking a cat to change into a man in order to confirm he hadn’t gone nuts?
“I made coffee and heated up the leftover chili. It’s really good after a few days. Gives the flavors time to mingle.”
With another unsatisfactory sigh, Mac stood and wandered toward Julian. He leaned against Julian’s leg, nudging him toward the door. Julian took the hint and stepped back outside of the bedroom, giving Mac some privacy to shift. It wasn’t really the naked thing, or a secrecy thing. Julian had seen him naked and had seen him shift. The thought of both had Mac flushing lightly beneath his fur. More, it was that the pain increased every time he changed, and he didn’t want Julian to see that. And maybe he needed a moment to himself too.
Julian was waiting downstairs with the promised coffee and meal.
“Thanks.” Mac slid into his customary seat at the kitchen table and smiled as he realized he had a usual spot. His smile dimmed as he further realized this wasn’t a forever deal. He didn’t actually live with Julian. Well, he did now but wouldn’t once the curse was done. Would they remain friends afterward?
They were friends, right?
“Need me to heat the chili up again?”
“No, it’s fine.” It was better than fine. “You’re a really good cook.”
“Thanks. I don’t cook every night. I sort of go crazy for a day, every week or so, and cook a lot of meals. That way, when I get all caught up in my writing or whatever, I’ve got good stuff to choose from. Otherwise I’d probably live on frozen pizza.”
“I do live on frozen pizza.”
“Don’t you live with your parents?”
“I live on their property, but I try not to do meals and stuff with them. Otherwise it’d be like I’d never left.” Which he hadn’t, really.
“Did you go to college?”
“I did a couple years.” Mac shrugged. “I basically failed out after not being able to decide what I wanted to study and making a half-assed job at taking in whatever I did end up studying. I don’t think I’m a college kind of guy.” Time to change the subject. “So, want to tell me about the journal? The rest of the story?”
Best in Show
Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.
Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.
Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. A lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Prize: A copy of When Was the Last Time and Out in the Blue plus a $25 credit at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Terms: Rafflecopter runs from 12:00 AM EST 7/23/2016 to 12:00 AM EST 8/3/2016. Giveaway is open internationally. Gift card value is US dollars. Winner will be contacted via email.