I’m very excited to announce that my novella Decadence has made the finals in the RWA Passionate Plume Awards! To see the full list of finalists in all categories, please click here. Winners will be announced at the RWA convention in July.
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Many thanks to fellow Samhain and Ellora’s Cave author, Lynne Connolly, for inviting me to do this blog hop! Please take a moment to visit Lynne’s blog and find out about her books and her writing process.
Here are my answers to some often asked questions. Be sure to check out Margaret Ethridge, Holly Gilliatt and Karen Booth’s blogs later this week to see their answers! (And stay tuned for a special offer on a box set of all four of our novels…)
*1) What are you working on?
That’s not an easy question to answer! I have several projects under way at the moment. They’re at various stages of completion and I don’t want to give away all my secrets yet so I’ll just say I’m working on a sequel to one of my existing titles (Joey gets his own book), two NA contemporary projects (friends to lovers stories, my favorite), a 4-book contemporary series (featuring some smoking hot brothers), and one super secret project that’s not only a different genre but is my first time writing first person point of view. I’m hoping to have some news to share on some of these in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!
*2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
The biggest difference between my books and a lot of the books in the genres in which I write (erotic romance/contemporary romance/NA) is that my stories don’t feature alpha heroes. The majority of my heroes are beta heroes (the long term best friend or the sweet sexy neighbor). You’ll never find a MMA fighter or a billionaire CEO or a dark Dom as the lead in one of my books. That doesn’t mean my heroes aren’t strong. Quite the opposite. Sensitive and caring doesn’t equal weak in my eyes. My heroes are passionate, witty, charming and know how to romance their heroines. They’re just not traditional macho alpha men.
Likewise, I enjoy writing characters who go through serious emotional growth in the course of a story but I don’t tend to write the kind of angst that leaves you sobbing your eyes out for half a book. My goal as a writer is to pen relatable characters that readers fall in love with—people they will feel as if they know by the end of the book. My favorite compliment is when readers tell me that they’ve made that kind of connection with someone I’ve written, where the characters feel like their lifelong friends. Those are the characters I love to find when I’m reading. They’re the reason I write. To meet them, get to know them and introduce them to my readers.
*3) Why do you write what you write?
I write character-driven love stories because those are my favorite kind of books to read. I write romance, specifically, because in real life you’re not guaranteed a happy ending, but in my books, where I get to make the decision about how things work out in the end, I can give every character the perfect happy ending in a way that’s still believable. If I could figure out a way to do that for real people I’d do it in a heart beat. Until then, I’ll do it for my fictional friends and let everyone live vicariously through them until they find their own happily ever afters.
*4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process is very simple. I try to write as much as humanly possible. And then I write some more. One of the most important parts of my process involves making sure I take notes when I have an idea. Scenes, plot points, lines of dialogue, sometimes even entire stories, tend to come at me fast and furious in my mind, often when I least expect it. If I’m on line at the grocery store or at a meeting or in a waiting room I know I need to find some paper—any paper—ASAP and get the thoughts down as I’m having them. If I don’t, I never recapture it quite as clearly as the first time I’ve had it. It’s like waking up and remembering a dream with total clarity and then a half hour later you can barely recall it. The idea has faded, the specifics are blurry. Once I’ve captured those ideas it’s really just a matter of sitting down and writing. I’m a cross between a planner and a pantser. I don’t write out elaborate outlines but I do see a story in my head, from beginning to end, before I write. If I can’t see it all play out in my head, I can’t write it. But at the same time I can’t say “Okay, I’m going to have x number of chapters and this will happen here and that will happen there”—I have to just write and let the story unfold as it wants to unfold. I guess that makes me a plotser.
Welcome to the HUNGRY HEARTS HOLIDAY HOP! We are so excited to CELEBRATE the holiday season with mouthwatering cookie recipes and delicious EXCERPTS from today’s hottest food-loving ROMANCE writers! Hop around and fill out the Rafflecopter form on each author’s site to enter our GIVEAWAYS: a spectacular mix of Harry & David Truffles, books, gifts cards, and Hungry Hearts author swag! Lots of awesome prizes to win!
In addition to the HUNGRY HEARTS HOLIDAY HOP prizes, Amanda Usen will be featuring Hungry Hearts authors on her site and giving their books away to lucky winners. Visit Writer.Chef.Romantic to get in on the fun!
When the holiday season arrives, our hearts fill with CHEER. Life is a gift, isn’t it? Hop with us for the chance to win, and share your holiday JOY while we share our favorite COOKIE recipes with you!
Chocolate Dipped Butter Cookies (aka Snowballs)
Holiday times are busy and with all the baking that I do I’m always excited when I find a simple recipe that not only tastes fantastic but is capable of doing double duty. This butter cookie recipe is one of my absolute favorites for both of those reasons. The cookies themselves couldn’t be easier to make. They’re rich and buttery on decadent. They’re perfectly round and look temptingly delicious. And after they’re baked you can serve them one of three ways: coated in powdered sugar (snowballs), dipped in chocolate, or dipped in chocolate an sprinkles (or jimmies depending on where you live).
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or regular if you don’t have kosher)
Semisweet chocolate (for dipping, amount will vary by number of cookies you dip, approximately 6 oz for a whole batch), sprinkles (chocolate or holiday colored), confectioners sugar (if you’re going for the snowball look)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix butter and confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla until well combined. Add flour and salt in small increments and continued stirring until the dough is firm. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc that is approximately an inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour hands and counter top. I prefer to use a pizza wheel to cut the dough but a knife works just fine. Slice the chilled dough into strips then cut the strips into pieces and roll each piece until it’s smooth an spherical. You should get approximately 36 balls out of a batch of dough.
Place the balls on a cookie sheet (nonstick or ungreased) about an inch apart. Press down just gently enough that they won’t roll off the sheet, but don’t flatten them at all, you want them nice and round.
Bake 10-12 minutes until set but not yet browned. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 2 minutes. Roll in confectioners sugar OR dip half in chocolate and then sprinkles if desired.
Allow cookies to cool completely on a rack (and allow chocolate to set up) then store in air tight container. Separate layers with wax paper to prevent sticking.
What’s your favorite Christmas cookie? Leave a comment below and I’ll choose a winner at random to receive an e-book of his/her choice from my backlist!
CLICK BELOW TO VIEW THE OTHER HOPS!
Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!
Black Friday has different meanings to different people. For some it’s a day of watching TV, for others it’s a time to gorge on leftovers, many spend time with relatives, some spend the day trying to avoid their relatives and lots of us debate whether or not to brave the crowds at the stores or do some online shopping to take advantage of the holiday sales. Tell me how you spend Black Friday and you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win an e-copy of one of my books.
To see the other fabulous bloggers involved in this hop and have a chance to visit their sites and see what awesome giveaways they’re offering click HERE.
Since my books tend to be a bit naughty and a bit nice (kinda like me!) I’ve decided to do the Naughty or Nice Blog Hop giveaway. Leave me a comment and tell me if you’re naughty or nice and one lucky commenter will win TWO of my novels (one on the naughtier side and the other on the nicer side, but neither all naughty or all nice—where would the fun be in that?)
Note: This contest is for e-books only and is open internationally to anyone over the age of 18.
Follow the hop on Twitter using the hashtags #naughtyBookGIVEAWAY or #niceBookGIVEAWAY. And be sure to check out the other prizes offered by the tour host by clicking here. After you’ve left a comment, be sure to stop in on all the bloggers below to see whether they’re offering naughty or nice prizes!
Good luck, everyone!
Chocolate. It’s one of my favorite words. It’s one of my favorite things. I don’t think of it as a guilty pleasure. I regard it as a food group. A necessity. For me, chocolate is like pizza, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good, but when it’s really good it can be amazing.
I can’t say I have a favorite chocolate. A good chocolate truffle can make me weak in the knees. The sight of melted chocolate for fondue or to be poured over ice cream makes my mouth water. A chewy chocolate cookie, fudgy brownie or moist piece of chocolate cake can brighten my darkest day or sweeten my worst mood. I love it with caramel, with marshmallow, whipped into chocolate for mousse or ganache, melted into milk for a hot drink, turned into frosting, or eaten plain. Chocolate melting on my tongue is one of my favorite indulgences.
Anyone who’s familiar with this blog has seen (and possibly tried) some of my crazy-good chocolate recipes. For those who haven’t please check out the Ultimate Brownies, the most amazing Chocolate Cake (with homemade ganache filling and fudge frosting), and the delightfully delicate Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I promise you’ll love them.
Chocolate is such a passion of mine that it’s no surprise to those who know me that it makes a guest appearance in pretty much all of my books. There are three things you can count on finding in every one of my stories: love, sex and food. And chocolate is usually one of the foods.
If you’re a chocolate fan click here or on the image above to blog hop over to a list of writers and bloggers who are all devoting today, 9/10/12, to posts about chocolate. Seriously, what’s not to like?
Happy Chocolate Blogging Day to all!
It seemed appropriate that my first guest blogger should be my lovely and talented critique partner Karen Booth. Aside from having co-written the book Long-Distance Lovers, Karen and I are solo authors in two of the same anthologies. The first anthology to contain both of our short stories is Foreign Affairs. (The other is the upcoming Felt Tips Anthology, due out 12/12/12.) In honor of the smoking hot Italian man who stars in Karen’s Foreign Affairs story she’s agreed to share with us one of her fabulous recipes—Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Biscotti.
Italian Treats by Karen Booth
My story for the Foreign Affairs anthology stars the sigh-worthy Antonio, a sweet and terribly romantic artist living in Florence, Italy. My heroine, Liza, is in Florence forcing herself to relax while trying to decide why her career has left her unfulfilled.
One morning, Liza sees Antonio at a café. From the word go, she can’t bear to pry her eyes off him. In fact, he’s so impossible to forget that she returns to the café the next morning to see her mystery man. She sips cappuccino and watches him, imagining all manner of steamy, sweaty liaisons.
On the third morning, Antonio sits at the table next to her. Although Liza is certain she was quite discreet while spying, he makes a quip about her being there again. This throws a nervous Liza off kilter, but it starts a conversation that ultimately changes the rest of her trip in a very satisfying way.
In honor of Liza and Antonio and Italy, I’m sharing a recipe for Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Biscotti. This one is a real crowd-pleaser in my house. My hubby isn’t a big fan of super sweet desserts, one kid always wants cinnamon, the other always wants chocolate. Whip up a batch of these and cozy up with Foreign Affairs and Antonio!
Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Biscotti
1 C sugar
2 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 T vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 t ground cinnamon
6 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
2 T sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, 1 C sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine oil, vanilla and eggs and add to flour mixture, stirring until well-blended. Dough will be dry and crumbly at first. Give it a few minutes for the flour to absorb the moisture from the eggs. Fold in chocolate chips. Knead lightly 7 to 8 times. I knead mine in the bowl.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the dough to the pan. Flatten the dough into two long rolls approximately 1” thick. Most biscotti recipes suggest doing two rolls and I usually follow the rules, but I tried doing one out of laziness and it did not work as well—still yummy, but way too big.
Sprinkle the roll with cinnamon sugar topping and gently press into dough.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet—they should have cracks on top and look cooked through. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Cut rolls diagonally into 1 inch thick slides. Place the slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes at 325. Turn cookies over and bake an additional 10 minutes. The cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.
About the author:
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. When she isn’t creating dreamy fictional men, she’s listening to music with her kids, honing her Southern cooking skills, or sweet-talking her astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a cocktail.
On Friday, June 1, you’ll all finally get to meet yummy British drummer Ben Davis! To read an excerpt now click here: Ellora’s Cave
When British drummer Ben Davis lost his childhood sweetheart, he was certain he’d never love again. He focuses on music as his band rises to stardom. A never-ending stream of groupies satisfies his needs until he meets intriguing clothing designer Julia Jones.
Julia’s career rocketed from seamstress to up-and-coming designer for the A-list, but her personal life didn’t fare as well. Her last boyfriend crossed from controlling to violent and she vowed never to be in that position again.
Sparks fly the instant Ben and Julia meet, but she resists his intoxicating charms, certain a celebrity romance will bring only trouble. But before long the heat between them becomes undeniable and she allows him into her bed and her heart. The more in love Ben falls, the more he fears losing her. When Julia’s life is endangered, Ben’s reaction terrifies her, forcing them both to confront their biggest fears if they want a chance at a future together.
Once again I’ve taken an extra long hiatus from the blog—too much going on, but thankfully it’s all been good!
My lovely critique partner Karen Booth and I have our fabulous cover to share with you and we’ll be getting to work on edits very soon. Our novel, Long-Distance Lovers will be available by the end of this year or beginning of next!
Karen and I have been putting together our new website TheKarens and it will be up and running soon. In the meantime you can follow us on Twitter @realTheKarens
I’ve been hard at work formatting Meant To Be and Holding On for my editor at Turquoise Morning Press. I’ll be beginning edits on them in December. Can’t wait! (And hope to have covers to share by early next year.)
I’m also hoping to have good news to announce in the next few days regarding another project, so stay tuned….