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Harlequin August Spotlight with Deb Kastner, Delores Fossen, & Janice Maynard

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A Lawman’s Justice by Delores Fossen

Bon Appétit and a Book

This is such a simple cake recipe. Some call it Crazy Cake, others Wacky Cake. I’ve even seen it called Cockeyed Cake. You mix all the ingredients in the pan and bake at 350 degrees:

 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup water

 

Song Playlist:

Rod Stewart: I Don’t Want to Talk About It

Ed Sheeran: Make It Rain

Rhianna: Stay

Dustin Lynch: Hell of a Night

The Stone Poneys: Different Drum

Aaron Neville: Tell It Like It Is

Tom Petty: Walls

 

How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers: 

Two things: learn the craft of writing and the business of writing. First comes the craft, of course. You have to write a great book for it to be published, but learning the business is necessary to turn writing into a career.

 

Love Lessons Learned:

Don’t give up on love! I think that’s an important lesson not just for Seth and Shelby but for everyone. These are two people whose families were feuding, and no one in either family wanted them together. Still, they found a way.

 

Movie Star Cast:

Timothy Oliphant for Seth. He’s got the quiet edge that Seth has.

Rachel McAdams for Shelby. I think she’s both tough and vulnerable at the same time, and so is Shelby.

 

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The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby by Deb Kastner

BON APPETIT AND A BOOK

Folks in Serendipity, Texas love to socialize and will make any excuse for a potluck celebration. The annual June BBQ is a key setting in The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby and is actually the catalyst in the plot.

Serendipity potlucks aren’t organized, yet there’s always more than enough great country cooking in every category, from salads to main dishes to desserts.

Phoebe Hawkins from Cup O’ Jo’s Café is a world-class baker whose pies and pastries are renowned throughout Serendipity, but there’s always room for more. Here’s a recipe for an ooey, gooey Earthworm Mud Pie.

 

EARTHWORM MUD PIE

INGREDIENTS

1 Large Package Oreos

1 Jar Hot Fudge Topping Sauce

2 Cups Milk

1 Large Box Chocolate Pudding Mix

1 Small Bag Gummy Worms

1 Can Spray Whipping Cream

 

THE CRUST

Crush the Oreos in a large bowl, leaving 10 aside for topping. Mix the hot fudge into the Oreos to a dough-like consistency. Mash Oreo mixture into a pie tin on bottom and sides. Let sit in refrigerator while mixing other ingredients.

THE CENTER

In a large bowl, mix chocolate pudding mix and milk according to the pie instructions on the pudding box. Crush 5 Oreos (not too finely) and mix them into the pudding. Pour the pudding mixture into the pie tin over the crust. Let sit in refrigerator for 1 hour.

TOPPINGS

Remove pie from refrigerator and place on counter. Press several gummy worms into pie mixture, some all the way, some sticking out a little. Spray whipped cream in a swirl pattern on the edges of pie. Crush remaining 5 Oreos (not too finely) and sprinkle over top of pie. Place 3-5 gummy worms on top of pie. Serve chilled.

 

SONG PLAYLIST

I am entirely obsessed with The Texas Tenors so they accompany me through every book deadline. That said, here are some songs specific to The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby.

Brighter than the Sun (Smash Cast Album)

The Climb (The Texas Tenors version)

You Are Music (Phantom—the Kopit/Yeston version of the musical that never hit Broadway)

Feed my Lambs (John Angotti)

Bless the Broken Road (The Texas Tenors version)

You Should Dream (The Texas Tenors)

I Send You Out (John Angotti)

HOW-TO TIPS FOR ASPIRING WRITERS

If you’re an aspiring writer I’m going to assume you’re first a voracious reader. I imagine you’ve read across many genres and have your favorites. You may even know exactly which sub-genre you wish to pursue. Once you have an idea what you’d like to write, read some more—everything you can get your hands on specific to your sub-genre. Who are your favorite authors? Why? Analyze your favorites and see why they work for you. Get a feel for the publisher and imprint.

Learn to write. I’m not being trite. There’s certainly a lot of room for natural talent, but talent will only take you so far. Every single published author out there is constantly learning more about writing and working at their craft. Read how-to books. Join a professional writer’s organization or two and attend a conference. Rub elbows with other writers as well as agents and editors. Make use of social media to meet and follow your favorite authors.

When you’re ready to pitch to an editor or send in your query, consider associate and assistant editors and newer agents who might be wanting to build their stable of authors. I was astounded when my editor said the majority of her pitch slots at the latest Romance Writers of America conference remained empty. Apparently everyone wanted to pitch to the senior editor of the line, while all the while writers were missing an opportunity to pitch to a lovely young editor with slots to fill!

Don’t chase after the latest fad. Publishing moves at a snail’s pace. Even if you were to sell that dystopian vampire book, by the time it is released in two years the reading public will have moved on. Write what you would love to read. Yes, write it within the boundaries of your potential publisher/agent guidelines, but write the book of your heart.

Finally, write a book. A whole book. Not a ten-page contest entry. Not a proposal that you plan to pitch to every agent and editor in the country. A book. You’ll never know if you can write a book until you’ve done it. The truth is, many people can’t, or everyone would be publishing books. Your final manuscript may take permanent residence under your bed, but you’ll have written a book! It’s something to be proud of.

LOVE LESSONS LEARNED

At first glance, The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby is a reunion romance. The hero and heroine were high school sweethearts who encounter each other nearly two decades after they originally broke up. Time and life experiences have given them a new perspective on relationships. They needed to mature individually to become the people God wanted them to be. Then they can approach each other with a combined love and maturity they did not have as youths, putting one another’s needs over themselves.

But there are deeper love layers in the book. As one would expect from the title, hero Cole Bishop finds out he is the father of a child born out of his one and only one-night stand, whose mother had no wish to raise the baby. While he could have taken the easy way out, Cole cowboys up and takes his responsibilities as a father seriously, even so much as to retire from the Navy just shy of benefits to return to his hometown to raise his son. He is ashamed of his actions but accepts his obligations and the responsibilities inherent in raising his son. What a delight for him to learn that no matter how he was conceived, Grayson is one of God’s greatest blessings to Cole.

Also within The Cowboy’s Surprise Baby is the story of a teenage girl pregnant by one of her college-professor father’s students. She has nowhere to go and when Cole comes upon her, she tentatively puts her trust in him. He believes he is nobody’s mentor, especially an impressionable teenage girl, but he learns that a man can change the world, one life at a time.

MOVIE STAR CAST

Cole Bishop              Bradley Cooper

Tessa Applewhite   Cassidy Freeman

Alexis Haddon                      Jennifer Morrison

Griff Haddon             Jack Davenport

Jo Spencer                 Sharon Gless

Frank Spencer                       Terry O’Quinn

Marcus Ender                        Sam Claflin

 

 

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Second Chance With The Billionaire by Janice Maynard

Bon Appétit and a Book

My grandmother was an amazing cook. Most Sundays when I was a kid we would go to her house to have lunch or dinner. The smells were tantalizing. She always had some kind of special, freshly baked item in the kitchen.

Summers were particularly wonderful, because she bought fresh corn, squash, green beans and watermelon from local farmers to include in her bountiful feasts.

Second Chance With the Billionaire takes place during the long hot days of summer. In weather like that, any meal deserves a light, perfect treat for dessert. Even the name of this recipe makes me smile. Lemon Love Notes.

This sweet, tart delight is straight from my Grandmother Morrison’s home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s made from scratch, but even an inexperienced cook can handle it. And as a bonus, your kitchen will smell wonderful when you’re done.

 

Lemon Love Notes:

Combine the following three ingredients and pat evenly into an 8 x 8 inch pan. (1/2 cup of softened butter, 1 cup of regular flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar) Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside to cool.

Next, in a medium bowl beat two eggs with a fork. Add 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of sugar, ½ teaspoon baking powder, and the grated peel and juice of one lemon. Mix well by hand.

Pour into cooked shell. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool, and sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting. Enjoy!

 

SONG PLAYLIST –

 

  • Home by Chris Lee (this song was actually written specifically for my Wolff Mountain series. But it underscores my Kavanaghs as well,  because the theme of home runs throughout many of my books)
  • Next to Me – by Emili Sandé
  • Come to Me – Goo Goo Dolls
  • I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
  • The Giving Tree – Plain White T’s
  • Run – Matt Nathanson
  • I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
  • Peace – O.A.R
  • Try – Pink

   10) I Choose You – Sara Bareilles

11) I Could Have Been Your Girl – She & Him

 

 

How-To Tips for Aspiring Writers –

 

  • Pick a book that you really love. With highlighters in two colors, mark the sections of dialogue versus other paragraphs. This will give you a sense of the rhythm in the fiction you like to read.
  • Take online classes from writing organizations.
  • Attend regional or national conferences where you can request pitch appointments for agents and editors.
  • Enter two or three contests a year. Study the feedback. If judges hit on the same weaknesses, address those in your writing.
  • If you want to be published, ignore rejection and keep going!

 

Love Lessons Learned

 

It’s important to understand what you’re looking for from a relationship and from life. Other people can’t make you happy. But when you find that person who makes you want to be your best self, don’t let the opportunity slip by.

 

Movie Star Cast

 

Chris Pine and Emma Stone

 

Q & A:

  1. Silver Glen, North Carolina, is home to the seven Kavanagh brothers. In an environment where the rich and famous come for a little rest and relaxation under the radar, the Kavanaghs stand out. They are fiercely loyal, wickedly sexy, and generally stubborn. In Second Chance With the Billionaire, Conor Kavanagh comes face to face with the first girl he ever loved. But tragedy has touched each of them. They have to decide if the spark that still simmers between them after all this time is strong enough to overcome any barriers.
  2. Baby books are always popular in romance. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of an innocent infant with a big, strong man that makes women weak in the knees. A man who can and will care for a helpless child is a man worth loving.
  3. I had my first date with the man I eventually married when I was sixteen. What were the chances I would choose wisely? How do we ever know we’re doing the right thing? Ellie Porter loved Conor Kavanagh when they were young, but she walked away. Exploring the themes of regret and second chances is a rich experience for any writer.
  4. I love heroes who keep their innermost thoughts hidden. They don’t like showing weakness, especially when it comes to the women they adore. I like watching a tough man made vulnerable when he really doesn’t want to be.
  5. I probably identify most with Liam Kavanagh (A Not-So-Innocent Seduction), because he’s the firstborn. My husband and I are both first children. With that birth order comes a tendency to be “too” responsible sometimes. You have to remind yourself that life needs to be balanced between work and play. When Zoe drops into Liam’s life, his “wants” end up in direct opposition to what he thinks he “should” do.
  6. I have no clue what it’s like to have unlimited money. But my billionaires are defined more by their character than by their bank accounts. I love making each hero a personality who stands out in a reader’s mind. My Kavanagh heroes (and earlier, my Wolff men) are bold, interesting guys with or without the money.
  7. I attended the Lori Foster Reader Author Get-Together in June and the annual Romance Writers of America conference in July. Nothing planned for the fall so far.
  8. I’ve had fans suggest to me that I should write a romance for the “parents” of my characters. Though I haven’t had that opportunity yet, I love the idea. It means that readers are really coming to love the Wolffs and Kavanaghs the way I do.
  9. I don’t know how good I would be at collaboration. In school, I never really enjoyed “group” work. But I very much admire the writing of Diana Gabaldon, Lori Foster, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Emma Holly, and Tiffany Reisz.
  10. I’m multi-tasking at the moment! I still have one more Kavanagh story to write, but I’m also gleefully working on a contemporary Scottish romance called Hot for the Scot that will be out in March of 2016. Kilts and Kavanaghs. What else could I ask for!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Kathy Valentine says:

    Shared on my socials

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