Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year: They're going by faster and faster!

I want to wish everyone a happy New Year! I have to admit that it seems like every year seems to fly by and before you know it, the year is gone. 

I look back on 2015 as a pretty good year and I hope I can sit here and type the same thing at the end of 2016. I appreciate so much all that I have right now. Many people have lost their homes during the past couple of weeks and some have lost their lives due to the weather. My heart goes out to them. 

I am glad that I've had the opportunity to enjoy living a simple life this year which includes watching some good movies, reading some good books, getting together with friends and going to see my family. 

2015 was a good year for me as a writer. It has been a very busy year and it appears that 2016 will really be a busy one. I'm officially a hybrid author now. I'm currently writing a contemporary series for Kensington Books. I'm working on Book 2 now and having lots of fun with it. I will have to write a third one in 2016 and I hope to finish up the second book in my historical series as well. 

As this last night in 2015 passes, enjoy it and be safe, dear friends. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Fun: Fireside Chat and Free Historical Romance.

I've always thought a fireplace is such a cozy place, but this Christmas there's no need for Santa to worry about getting his buns toasted. No need for a fire. Not with it over seventy degrees. Plus there's a chance for tornadoes to develop in a storm system that is heading over my area. I hope everyone who is traveling stays safe! I don't plan to be on the road. Just driving around town is crazy right now, much less being on a road trip during a major storm system. 

Today I went to see the new Star Wars movie! Even on a Tuesday afternoon, the theater was almost full. When the Star Wars theme started playing at the beginning, it was so exciting! Just like years ago. There is definitely nostalgia attached to Star Wars. It has spanned generations in my family. Just amazes me. 

I think that is what made this movie so big was the return of the characters from the original series. The moment Harrison Ford appeared on the screen, there was a huge reaction from the crowd. And I think this proves that characters are what makes a lasting impression on audiences. Especially the ones you have come to love in the movies or in books. As writers, we should all strive to create wonderful characters. The new characters in the movie are good. I don't think they have the magic of the original three. However, when Kylo Ren removed his black mask, that was a moment! He was fine! He looked like he'd just stepped out of a historical romance! 

Speaking of historical romance, my New Orleans historical, To Save a Lady, is free on Amazon. If you're looking for a romance with a good mix of adventure and history, you might find it a fun Christmas read. Link: http://amzn.to/1tz2HIq  

I hope to have the second book in this series out in 2016. I love Rafe and Simone's story and  I had planned to have it available this year. But, you know, fate has a way of changings things. I had gotten agent earlier in the year and this led to me signing with Kensington Books for contemporary romance series. So I've had to sideline the historical to work on these books. 

This past week my editor came up with a great title, which I loved, and marketing approved it. One Week In Your Arms will be the first book. These books are mainstream romances that are a blend of drama and humor. I'm working on the second book now and having a great time with the story.

Again, I wish you the best of times this week!   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Heating Up the Kitchen: Chocolate Pixies Recipe by Lorraine Paton, Romance Author

Today I'm welcoming Lorraine Paton. She has  has graciously provided a cookie recipe for this holiday season. It sounds yummy!


Lorraine works in a hectic office by day and writes romance novels by night. 
Her contemporary romance series, Morning Lake, is set in Alberta, Canada, which is where she lives. She loves bestowing happily-ever-afters on as many people--er, characters--as she can.This is a fun and tasty cookie that looks pretty on a holiday cookie plate. You can find out more about Lorraine and her books at www.lorrainepaton.com 



Chocolate Pixies

Makes Approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:
¼ cup               margarine or butter
4 ounces          unsweetened chocolate
2 cups              flour
2 cups             sugar (yep, that is a lot of sugar)
½ cup               chopped walnuts
2 teaspoon      baking powder
½ teaspoon      salt
3                      eggs
Icing Sugar

In a big saucepan, heat the margarine / butter and chocolate until melted. Stir constantly while doing this, and keep it at low heat. You don't want it to burn.
After everything is melted together, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
Now blend the flour, sugar, walnuts, baking powder, salt and eggs (aka all remaining ingredients except the icing sugar) into the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now it is time to get messy. Use your hands to make the dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each dough ball in the icing sugar. Make sure the sugar coating is even and heavy.
Put the cookie balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, spaced approximately 2 inches apart.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm.
Remove the cookies immediately from the cookie sheet. The chocolate cookie will show through cracks in the icing sugar coating.


This is just the kind of cookie Annie Bingley would make in Annie's Christmas Plan, my contemporary romance novel. Although it is listed as book 3 in the Morning Lake series, it can be read as a standalone.

Her Glittering Plans may not be Golden 

Desperate to prove to her ex and her daughter that she can be more than just a craft-obsessed mom, Annie moves to a small town and emulates the lifestyle she sees splashed in magazines in an attempt to win her family back. Living from holiday to holiday, Annie creates a picture-perfect house full of glitter and hope—and it works. Before the year is out Annie's house is packed with relatives and their pets, but it is nothing like what she'd expected. 

And she certainly hadn't anticipated her sexy new neighbor, John Quinn, changing her carefully constructed plans. 
Available at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JmRkbB (Also available on Kindle Unlimited)



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Free Book this week! To Save a Lady, a historical romance set in New Orleans during the winter of 1814, is free on Amazon December 21-25th! 




Monday, December 14, 2015

Heating Up the Kitchen: Chocolate-Dipped Cookies by Katherine Bone #HistoricalRomance

Today I have historical romance author, Katherine Bone,
heating up the kitchen with a recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Butter Cookies!


Chocolate-Dipped Butter Cookies from Southern Living's 2003 Christmas Issue
Impressive looking but simple to make with a cookie press, a dip of chocolate and a smattering of sprinkles giving them a crowning touch.
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. orange extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 (2-oz.) chocolate bark coating squares
Chocolate candy sprinkles
Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg and orange extract, beating until blended.
Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
Use a cookie press fitted with a bar-shaped disk to shape dough into straws, following the manufacturer's instructions. Press onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Microwave chocolate squares in a small bowl at HIGH, stirring twice, 1 1/2 minutes or until melted.
Dip ends of cookies in melted chocolate; sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Place on wax paper, and let stand until chocolate is firm. Delicious!!!

If you would like to know more about Kathy and her books, here are her links:




Here's the info/blurb for Once Upon a True Love's Kiss, the box set I've got coming out January 4, 2016. Up for preorder now!

USA Today Bestselling author, Julie Johnstone, joins bestselling, award-winning authors Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.

AFTER FOREVER by JULIE JOHNSTONE, USA Today bestselling author. Lady Julia is hired to turn a rogue into a gentleman and receives lessons in love and desire.

THE PIRATE'S DUCHESS by KATHERINE BONE, National bestselling author. A duke masquerading as a pirate to "rob from the rich and give to the poor" sheds his darkest-kept secrets to keep from losing the duchess his wife has become.

HER SCANDALOUS WISH by COLLETTE CAMERON, National bestselling and Award-winning author. A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.

MILADY AND HER SPY by JILLIAN CHANTAL, 2015 RONE Finalist. A lady, a spy, a traitor... a battle of wills.

KISSED BY A SCOTTISH ROUGE by SAMANTHA GRACE, Acclaimed, RITA-nominated author. Scottish land steward Fergus McTaggert calls a temporary truce with his employer's companion only to discover their passionate battles have been masking their hidden desires.

STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT by ALANNA LUCAS, National bestselling author. A rake, an heiress, and stolen kisses...this seduction could be his last.

TEMPTED BY A ROGUE by LAUREN SMITH, National bestselling, Award-winning author. Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart's best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can't resist the naval officer's brooding charm.

THE REDEMPTION OF JULIAN PRICE by VICTORIA VANE, National bestselling and award-winning author. She gave him a chance to bury his past...but the price would be his heart.

Once Upon a True Love's Kiss links:






Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quick and Crazy: The No-Stress Holiday List

 Here’s a list of tips to help you avoid a frigging holiday breakdown:


            Shop online. A no-brainer. No wrecks getting hit in a parking lot while racing to get that one open space closest to the front of Wal-Mart, or head-on buggy collisions inside the store. Not to mention that fight over the last Force Awakens play set. And does it not piss you off when all you have in your buggy is fresh lettuce, a six-pack, Windex, and Vaseline and you proceed toward the express lane,15 items or less where there is like only one person checking out, and a prissy shopper with an overflowing buggy cuts in front of you? You think about taking that rude bitch down. You know you do.

My advice is to wait until late at night like Santa, find a quiet spot, make yourself a great drink, relax and take advantage of free shipping.

            Decorations. You have to decide how much time and effort you want to put into creating a festive mood. The more decorations you put up, the more you gotta take down and store someplace. Keep in mind that due to iPads and smartphones, few people will notice your decorations because it requires looking up. Tips: Live poinsettias are lovely and last a while, then you can dispose of them. No packing up and trying to haul them up attic stairs.

      Of course, the easiest way to decorate is outdoor lights, which you hang all over the exterior of your house and you leave the lights hanging there year round. Then just plug them in during Christmas time. No taking them down or storing them. #RedneckTip

 Holiday Cooking. If you love cooking, go for it. But if you don’t love it and you don’t want to clean up a huge mess or deal with some of the recipes that you labored over for hours not turning out so well, take the family out to eat. Much less hassle and the kids will prefer it. Or go someplace like KFC or Kroger and get you a big bucket of fried chicken or rotisserie chicken, sides, a pecan pie, bring it home, put it in serving dishes, set the table. Toss a little flour on your clothes, dampened your hairline with a wet towel, exhale a lot when you sit down at the table. Remember the iPads and the phones? They’ll never know the difference.

Yesterday, I was talking with a wonderful lady who is 89 years old and we were talking about cooking for Christmas. She was like “I’ve always cooked for Christmas, but, you know, I don’t think they appreciate it.” I encouraged having her family eat out for holiday and she said that is what she was thinking she would do. But it was sad to me to think she felt like that.

So I would like to conclude this by saying that whatever you do this season, do it with joy and love and appreciation.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Heating Up the Kitchen: Cuban Pulled Pork Recipe by @MVFreeman

We're gonna heat up the kitchen this holiday season with author MV Freeman and her recipe for Slow Cooked Cuban Pulled Pork. 


Slow Cooked Cuban Pulled Pork—(and it’s easier than one thinks)

The best thing about cooking is the scent—this recipe which I make mostly in the winter (including Christmas) is Cuban Pulled Pork—it is EASY and divine.
You need at *least* a 5 lb Pork Shoulder –pat dry. (I use boneless, and sometimes I use a bit more—because this goes fast.)
The rub: (Mix in a bowl)
·         2 Tablespoons of Oregano
·         1 Tablespoon of Fennel Seeds
·         1 Tablespoon of Thyme
·         1 Tablespoon of Kosher Salt (or Sea Salt)
·         1 ½ Tablespoon of Ground Pepper
·         4-6 Cloves of Crushed Garlic (I usually add more, because I love this spice)
·         ¼ Cup of Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees (Yes, you want it low, trust me)
Smear the rub over the meat, use ALL of it.
Put it in a roast pan; and in the oven.
Cook *uncovered* for 8 hours. (Not joking—that long)
I swear, you will love this---the scent is divine. It is aromatic and fills the house. You’ll have to try hard not open the oven. I love making this dish. 
*Note:  You can use beef roast if you want, still is awesome.
What you can do with the Meat:
·         Cuban Sandwiches:  Shred it, slice Cuban bread the long way, put on mustard, pickles, cheese of your choice--- there you go!
·         Tacos
·         Soup
·         Burritos
·         Put on a Salad
·         The ideas are endless

This dish allows one to curl up with a fiery Paranormal Romance, with a stubborn Russian, and a determined heroine it will be sure to warm you up on an a cold winter’s day:  INCANDESCENT.
Some gifts are unwanted, and Laurie Hudson's affinity for fire is one she hates. It has destroyed her relationship with her family and she has few friends. She's fought hard to keep the fire inside suppressed, living a low key life as a bartender, until a brutal and charming man blows into her life.

Around Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Her options are taken away when he kidnaps her, forcing her into a fight she wants nothing to do with. As she learns to survive, Laurie faces the hardest choice of all, her freedom or the destruction of the frustrating man she's come to care for.

A formidable Tri-elemental, Mikhail Petrov commands earth, air, and water. He will use anyone or anything to free himself from the oppressive rule of the Mages, including the untrained fire element he discovers, Laurie. Most of his family has been wiped out in an effort to manipulate him. He thinks he has nothing left to lose. To him, Laurie is a tool, a rare and powerful elemental that is his to use. He fights his feelings for the fire elemental because with caring comes weakness, another opening for destruction. Rarely are emotions as easy to control as his elements.

As he trains Laurie to work with him, he doesn't expect his growing attachment to her. With the Mages closing in, Mikhail faces a choice: destroy the fledgling relationship with Laurie to gain his coveted freedom, or sacrifice himself for hers.
  
Buy Link:  Amazon:   

MV Freeman is a writer of Urban Fantasy and Fantasy, with a love of strong coffee and cream late night writing. "I adore dark stories with anti-heroes, determined heroines, and happy endings. I am represented by Victoria Lea from Aponte Literary Agency."


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tues Writing Tips and Making Cornflake Cookies

Hope you're having a great Tuesday! I'm over at MV Freeman's blog today presenting a recipe for No-Bake Cornflake Cookies! Can't get any easier than that! Check out the recipe here: MV Freeman
And I made a little meme of some inspirational writing tips that may perk you up today! 

Happy Holiday Rush! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Holiday Cooking~Hurricane Recipe (Maybe That Should Be Holiday Drinking!)

The Hurricane was rumored to have been invented in the 1940’s at Pat O’Brien’s bar on St. Peter in the French Quarter. It is said that during World War II, bar owners had to buy several dozen cases of rum before liquor salesmen would sell them a case of scotch because rum was much more plentiful. The bartenders at O’Brien’s came up with a recipe mixing fruit juices with rum to try to get rid of all the extra rum. They called it a Hurricane for obvious reasons. 

Hurricane recipe:


2 ounces light rum
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces red passion fruit syrup
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice

Fill a tall glass, preferably a hurricane glass, with ice.
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into glass. You can
add a pineapple or orange slice for garnishment.

(Of course, I’m gonna admit to taking the easy route myself. I used Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane mix and add rum and ice.)

You can enjoy a Hurricane while reading my romantic novel, TO SAVE A LADY, which is set in the French Quarter during the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.

 A DARING MASQUERADE
A move from Paris to New Orleans brings disaster to Elise Plaisance’s predictable life as a lady’s maid. The son of her grief-stricken mistress disappears, and Elise is drawn into a dangerous web of espionage and deceit as the threat of war divides the city.
A CAPTAIN BEWITCHED
Captain Jesse Cross doesn’t fancy himself as a lovelorn soldier desperate for a woman until a mysterious French spy captivates his imagination. Their romance is a frail illusion, born in the darkness of a moonlit courtyard and never meant to last forever.
A FUTURE IMPERILED
The enemy strikes. Both on the battlefield and in the Quarter. Torn between loyalty and love, Elise must risk everything to rescue her mistress’s son before all is lost. Jesse has to stop her even if it means sacrificing his honor and losing his life to save a lady.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Friday Fun: Supernatural, Coven, Black Hats and Decadron

Black Friday Hoot

I hope everyone had a fun Black Friday last week! I did get the Amazon deal on Season 10 of Supernatural for $10. If you haven't seen this series, this is a great binge! Watched the new episode last night and they do so much great humor with Dean. He has great timing and I love his one-liners. I love a good mix of humor and drama. Plus good-looking guys are an asset!

American Horror Story: Coven

Talking about binges. I decided to check out American Horror Story: Coven on Prime because it is set in New Orleans. So I watching it and there was a scene with Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange in a courtyard and I'm thinking that is familiar. They are walking under an arbor. Is that not the townhouse courtyard where I was doing research? Yes. I checked my photos. I have one of the arbor in front of the fountain. It appears they did a lot of location shoots. I found myself missing my New Orleans characters. It is like I have too many children and not enough time for all of them. Is that weird? It probably is.

Coolest witch duds ever.

I LOVE the Coven costumes. The hats especially. They have some of the greatest black hats and dresses ever! I love this Musketeer-style hat and dress. It is my favorite so far. Awesome.

Go Juice and Writing

I went to the doctor for routine visit and got a Decadron shot for allergies. Who can't use a little Go Juice ever now and then? Then I was off to work downtown to get my part-time job done for the week so I could have a writing stretch ahead of me while I'm energized. Strangely enough, my phone went berserk. Like numbers 456 didn't work. They rang up as 7 or 8 or 9. Jamie, my pal at work, was like I've never seen that before. Maybe it was from watching Coven?? I wish I could have put a spell on some of the calls. There were times when I heard that recording about "As of October 1st we will no longer accept claims without ICD-10 codes blah blah blah" I  wanted to jerk the phone out of the wall. Dear Insurance Carrier: Especially Blue Cross Blue Shield, It is ALREADY December. You have been playing that frigging message all year. Who in hell doesn't know it? Here, I'm getting out my voodoo doll now...

The scene I'm working on now for Book 2 is with the hero, Hot Rod, and his buddy, Jerry, at a bar. It is sooo funny. Jerry is one of those great secondary characters. He runs an auto parts store and I'm having fun with how he compares stuff to car parts. LOL!!  Lots of humor in this book. Especially with the secondary characters who are colorful to say the least. For Book 1, my editor asked me for any and all ideas for the cover. He probably wishes he hadn't asked as I sent him plenty of wonderful ideas. Seriously.

That's it for Friday Fun this week!!! If you scored well on Black Friday, let us know! XOXO!