I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have cooked four hundred meals in the last four weeks. We’ve only ordered take out a couple of times, and with a twenty-two year old son still living at home (who is lucky enough to be still working at his construction job), I can’t get lazy and open a can of soup for dinner. In order to keep boredom from setting in, I’ve started experimenting with new recipes, which is why I thought this week’s topic on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop might be fun for us all.
It’s recipe Swap time! Share your favourite dinner recipe. Can be as easy or complicated as you like.
I am sharing one of my favourite one-pot meals. I cobbled it together from two recipes in the Company’s Coming Pasta Cookbook.
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
Butter, margarine or oil
14 oz. can brown beans
28 oz. can canned diced tomatoes
Generous squirt of ketchup
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. salt
1.5 cup water
2 cups macaroni (or other small pasta)
1 cup (or more) shredded Cheddar cheese
There are two ways to make this recipe.
In a large, deep skillet, saute onion and green pepper until soft.
Add next six ingredients. Stir until well mixed.
Add macaroni and water (and ground beef if pre-cooked). Stir well. Cover and cook until macaroni is just tender.
Add cheese and stir until melted. Enjoy!
Now, hop over to Leslie Hachtel for another new-to-you recipe!
I got some GREAT news a couple of weeks ago. CROSSROADS CORNER, Book 3 in my Bendixon Sisters Series, has been nominated for a 2020 RONE Award in Steamy Contemporary!
The next stage is reader voting, which will be May 4 to 10. I'll be sure to include a link on my website to make it easy for you to vote.
If you haven't read CROSSROADS CORNER yet, maybe now is the time to pick it up! You'll find the first two chapters on a hidden page here, or buy links to most retailers are here. I hope you'll check it out!
Leslie Hachtel has set us quite the challenge this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. She says:
Name five fun things to do while staying at home.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
I have a sneaking suspicion that if we had done this exact topic in 2019, our lists might be completely different. But since it is 2020 and we are spending a lot of time at home those days, here’s my slightly tongue-in-cheek list of things to do while staying at home.
Spinster and poor relation Dorothea Hindley is in London for one reason: to help launch her cousin into society, something that would be a great deal easier if Dorothea’s aunt hadn’t revived a long-standing feud with the mother of a viscount. In trying to keep her family from becoming the laughingstocks of London, Dorothea finds a surprising ally in the son of her aunt’s rival.
Marrying a viscount never entered Dorothea’s head. But a moonlit kiss could lead to a scandal neither of them can afford. Can the accidental viscountess and her unexpected husband get their families to stop feuding long enough to save both the monarchy and their marriage?
On Romance Writers Weekly, we can talk books (especially romance, of course) all day long. This week on the Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
Other than the genre you write, what kind of books do you love to read and why?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I have to be honest – the vast majority of my reading is romance in one way or another. I don’t like to read books that make me cry (even those that friends say “But it’s in a good way!”) or that leave me feeling depressed about the state of the world. I like to know a happy ending is coming, or that the bad guys will lose, even before I read page one.
But Andrea’s question is “other than the genre you write,” so that means I can mention anything other than contemporary romance, right? I don’t have to stay away from all romance, do I? 😊
In that case, my favourite genre to read is historical romance. I love Regency, but also Victorian and even as “modern” as the 1960’s. If you’re looking for great reads set during the Space Race, check out the “Fly Me To the Moon” series by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner. It’s fantastic. Other historical authors I love are Eloisa James, Courtney Milan, and Julia Quinn.
Stepping away from the romance genre entirely, my favourite stories are mysteries and detective novels. I have a lot of comfort reads in this genre, including Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Rex Stout, and Dorothy L. Sayers. The most recent author in this genre I’ve read is Ian Rankin. It might be time to find some more current reads in this area – if you have a suggestion, leave it below!
Next on your hop is Caro Kincaid, author of historical romance! See what else she likes to read here!
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Leslie Hachtel asks:
Spring is just around the corner. What are you most looking forward to?
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
Let’s be honest – what isn’t there to look forward to about spring? Especially in these days of physical distancing (I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy!) the advent of spring is even more to be longed for.
Here in Northern BC, just because the calendar says it’s spring doesn’t mean the weather agrees. We’ve had some lovely sunny days, but most nights are still well below freezing, which means the daytime melt isn’t enough to rid our lawns of snow. I’d love to be outside cleaning gardens and prepping for planting, but I can’t even see most of my flower beds yet. And as I write this, the sky is low and threatening, with the promise of more snow to fall today.
For me, the best part of spring is turning off the furnace and opening all the windows in the house to blow out the fug of winter. Tradition is Mr. C and I turn on The Gypsy Kings and toast the new season with a beer in the backyard. Only then it is truly spring!
Be sure to hop on over to A.S. Fenichel and see what she’s most looking forward to. Andrea has a brand new book out (It’s doing really well on the Amazon charts, so congratulations are due!!). If you enjoy historical romance, you should be sure to check it out!
Left standing on the side while their contemporaries marry into society, four young ladies forge a bond to guard each other from a similar fate . . .
Finishing school failed to make a proper lady of Penelope Arrington. But as a Wallflower of West Lane, Poppy has a far more vital role—she and her three best friends have made a pact to protect each other from the clutches of dangerous, disreputable men. So when one of them is about to be married off to a duke sight unseen, Poppy makes it her mission to divine the prospective husband’s true character. If only she didn’t require the aid of London’s most unsuitable rake.
Rhys Draper, Earl of Marsden, has known the headstrong Poppy since she was a young girl naïve to the ways of men. To her eternal chagrin—and to his vague amusement—they have been at odds over the memory of embarrassing first encounter all these years. Now, with his services in need, Rhys sees a chance to finally clear the air between them. Instead, he is surprised by the heat of their feelings. If the two do not tread carefully, they may end up in a most agreeably compromising position . . .
A couple weeks ago, I was reading (as one does) and I came up with a great idea for the blog hop. I decided to ask:
What’s your favourite book that “no one” has heard of? That’s a tongue in cheek way of asking you to name your favourite book that isn’t a classic or by an author that consistently sits on the best seller lists. It can be fiction or non-fiction.
I blithely added the topic to the list, and promptly forgot it. So when it came up in rotation, I had a bit of a panic attack. Luckily enough, I remembered the book I wanted to mention! Whew!
If you joined me from, A.S. Fenichel, welcome (BTW, Andrea has several books on sale if you are looking for new reading material during your self-isolating).
I know of dozens of romance writers whose books haven’t hit any bestseller lists but who write engaging, wonderful stories. But I’d hate to miss anyone, so I’m going to mention two non-romance books to avoid making a faux pas.
The book I was reading when I came up with the topic was SOCIAL CRIMES by Jane Stanton Hitchcock.
When her husband dies, New York socialite Jo Slater is shocked to learn that he left his sizable estate to a mysterious French countess. Obsessed with recovering her place as queen of New York, Jo concocts an audacious scheme of revenge. Can she pull it off?
When it was first released it hit the bestseller lists, but I was unfamiliar with Hitchcock’s work. It’s hard to pin down genre-wise—it has a women’s fiction vibe, but is wrapped around in a mysterious plot. All in all, I enjoyed it enough to mention here, though I wouldn’t say it is my favourite in this category.
That distinction goes to WORD NERD by Susin Nielsen.
Twelve-year-old Ambrose is a glass-half-full kind of guy. A self-described “friendless nerd,” he moves from place to place every couple of years with his overprotective mother, Irene. When some bullies at his new school almost kill him by slipping a peanut into his sandwich — even though they know he has a deathly allergy — Ambrose is philosophical. Irene, however, is not and decides that Ambrose will be home-schooled.
Alone in the evenings when Irene goes to work, Ambrose pesters Cosmo, the twenty-five-year-old son of the Greek landlords who live upstairs. Cosmo has just been released from jail for breaking and entering to support a drug habit. Quite by accident, Ambrose discovers that they share a love of Scrabble and coerces Cosmo into taking him to the West Side Scrabble Club, where Cosmo falls for Amanda, the club director. Posing as Ambrose’s Big Brother to impress her, Cosmo is motivated to take Ambrose to the weekly meetings and to give him lessons in self-defense. Cosmo, Amanda, and Ambrose soon form an unlikely alliance and, for the first time in his life, Ambrose blossoms. The characters at the Scrabble Club come to embrace Ambrose for who he is and for their shared love of words. There’s only one problem: Irene has no idea what Ambrose is up to.
I met Susin at the Surrey International Writers Conference a few years ago. This in no way influences how much I enjoyed this book. It is juvenile fiction at its best—clever and witty and uncondescending. I strongly encourage you to check it out.
Now it’s time to move on to Jenna Da Sie and see what her favourite “unknown” book is!
I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this global crisis. As the world practices self-quarantining and social distancing, the ability to escape into your imagination has never been more useful. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What fictional characters (from tv, books, movies) would you be friends with if you could?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Making friends is a risky business. Even if you like someone after a superficial interaction, you can still be disappointed when the relationship deepens. But sometimes you just know someone is going to become a good friend…and it’s like that with fictional characters, too.
Has anyone seen the Netflix mini-series of Dracula? I really enjoyed this retelling of the old tale, and my favourite character was Sister Agatha Van Helsing, who investigates Dracula in the first two episodes. She was snarky and intelligent and fearless, just what I want in a friend!
I have met so many wonderful characters in the pages of books that fixing on one or two to be friends is nearly impossible. I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Crusie, and her female protagonists are right up there when it comes to women I’d like to spend time with. Courtney Milan also writes amazing women. If I had to narrow down which of her characters I’d like to be friends with, I think I’d choose Miranda Darling from Unravelled. She’s scrappy and loyal and fiercely independent. Besides – Smite Turner is one of my all time favourite male characters, so I’d get to spend some time with him, too!
Speaking of male characters, there’s no reason why I couldn’t be friends with them, either. In that case, I think I might pick Spenser, from Robert B. Parker’s amazing series. He’d be a great man to have at your side if you ever got in trouble!
What about you? Which fictional character would you like to call friend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments (I promise I’ll reply back). Now hop over to the instigator of this topic, Jenna Da Sie!
I have a love/hate relationship with Flash Fiction. It is both fun and difficult to do. My mind starts whirling with all sorts of ideas when I see the words, but when it comes down to writing something coherent it is not a ‘flash’ to write! This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Leslie Hachtel says it’s…
Flash Fiction Time! 500 words using rosebush, knees and mascara.
Judith was on her knees, scrabbling around under the rosebush for the contents of her purse. The bag had gone flying, vomiting its cargo in a looping arc, after she’d collided with a solid wall in her haste to escape the wedding reception.
“I’m so sorry,” a deep voice said, “let me help.”
Judith froze. The wall was talking.
A large hand entered her field of vision. It was lightly tanned with a dusting of dark hairs on the back of the wrist, and it was holding a bright pink tube of mascara.
She lifted her eyes, following the line of muscular forearm, bicep hidden by a bright white fabric with a rolled cuff, and strong neck rising from a crisp collar to a face that stopped her in her tracks.
“I think there’s something else under here,” the wall said. She was mesmerized by his lips—thin but not too thin, with a hint of an upward curl at the corners. The face vanished from view, but before she could move, reappeared. “Here.” Dark blue eyes framed with black lashes and heavy brows gleamed.
She tore her gaze away from the fascinating face and looked down. In his palm lay a paper-wrapped cylinder with the word Tampax in a feminine script stamped on it. She snatched it from him and stuffed it back in her bag.
“Are you okay?” the wall said. “You were in a real hurry there.”
“I’m fine,” she muttered, finally finding her voice. Well, she would be fine, once a hole opened at her feet and swallowed her. It was bad enough she’d just watched the man she’d once loved marry her best friend. Now she’d humiliated herself with her usual klutz routine in front of the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen in real life.
“I’m Quentin,” the wall said. “I am sorry I got in your way. Let me buy you a drink as an apology.”
“I don’t drink.” Keeping her face averted, she closed her eyes in despair. Now she sounded rude and ungrateful.
Her surly words bounced off Quentin, much as she had done earlier. “Not even a soft drink?” he asked. She could hear the amusement in his voice. “Tomato juice? Water?”
Amazed she hadn’t chased him away like she did all other men, she took a deep breath. Gathering her courage, she raised her head and looked him in the eye. “A sparkling water would be great,” she said. And when he stretched out his hand, let him help her to her feet.
Maybe there was hope for a happy ever after for her yet.
I’d love to hear your comments on this little scene. Then, hop over to read what Clair Brett has come up with!
We’re having fun this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! A.S. Fenichel says:
Leap Year! This is it folks - you get an entire extra day to do with as you wish. We’re always wanting more time and this year we actually get it. I got married on Leap Day in 2008, so this year I get a “real” anniversary. What will you do with your extra day?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Leap Year has always had a special fascination for me. For one thing, I am AMAZED that hundreds of years ago someone figured out we needed to do this, in order to keep a completely arbitrary set of numbers (which make up the calendar we use today) on track. Talk about paying attention to your sun and moon!
As for the extra day that we get this year, I look on it as “found money.” My mother always says that any money you find on the street (I have a vague memory she discovered a $20 bill in the gutter once) MUST be spent on something frivolous. In the case of Leap Day, that means it can’t be used to catch up on chores or get ahead on the tax return. It should be spent doing something you love that you haven’t had time for recently – and NOT feeling guilty about it!
For me, that would probably be a day of reading, curled up on the couch with tea (or a glass of wine later in the afternoon). Yes, I read every day. But to “waste” a whole day doing nothing but that would be like a beach vacation for me.
The other way to spend the extra day would be to do something completely out of the usual. I was talking with a cousin of mine yesterday and she and her husband have recently started going to the local climbing wall. For someone that dislikes heights as much as I do, I’ve always wanted to give rock climbing (in a controlled environment, LOL!) a try. That would also be a great way to celebrate Leap Day - doing something totally out of character!
What about you? What are you going to do with your extra day? Leave a note in the comments, then move on to AJ Andersen to see how she’s using her bonus 24 hours!
The middle of February in Northern British Columbia is about the time I have to start reminding myself that winter will not last forever. When the ground is covered in four feet of snow it can be hard to remember was grass looks like. So, when it was my time to set the topic for the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, is it any wondering this is what I came up with?
Do you get the winter doldrums? How do you deal with cabin fever?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
The good news is we’ve been having a very mild February, so getting out and about hasn’t been too difficult, and true cabin fever hasn’t set in. There have been years when all we can see outside our ground floor windows is a narrow strip of sky because, between the snow on the ground and the snow that slid off the roof, it is piled so high it blocks our view.
I’m lucky that I love to read for many reasons, but in the depths of winter it is truly a blessing. I can escape to Regency England or Australia or outer space whenever I want. When I do get too twitchy to just sit and read, jigsaw puzzles are a good option. Usually we only do them in December and early January, but we have been known to bring them out to get through the final dregs of winter.
Now that I’ve left my career in broadcasting and am focusing on my writing, I think I may have to come up a few alternate activities. With no day job to go to, there is no reason to get out of the house some days, and when the weather is bad even less incentive to do so. Luckily we have a dog that requires daily walks, and cold and snow doesn’t seem to bother her at all. Bundling up and getting out into the fresh air (even if it does crisp your nose hairs) is always a good way to blow out the cobwebs.
How about you? What time of year gets you down the most, and how do you get through it?
Be sure to continue your hop with Clair Brett!
Clair and I each have a contest you might be interested in joining!
I’ve teamed up with 80 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Contemporary Romances to 2 lucky winners. The Grand Prize winner also gets a BRAND NEW eReader! You could win my novel, ALLEGRO COURT, plus books from authors like Lorelei James, Piper Rayne, Mia Kayla, and more.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here!
Clair is also taking part in a BookSweeps Giveaway with other historical authors. That means you have another chance to win another eReader and more than 55 historical romances. Check it out by clicking here!
Hello, there! I’m back after a couple weeks away from the Blog Hop. I’m going to cheat a little this week. Today’s topic comes from Leslie Hachtel:
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Tell us your favorite Valentine story.
I’m afraid Mr. C and I decided a long time ago that we wouldn’t “do” Valentine’s Day, so that’s my story about this date for lovers. 😊 But that sounds cynical, and that's not true, really. My sister-in-law and her husband were married on this day, and I love them both, so that’s my favourite Valentine story. They went on a holiday to Jamaica and were married in a very private ceremony there. Only their parents knew about it so we were all delightfully surprised when they returned!
Since my contribution this week is so small, I thought I’d skip back to last week’s topic, which I missed blogging about. Last week, A.S. Fenichel set the subject:
Teaser Tuesday: What are you working on? Give us a sample of your work in progress.
On January 18, I finished the first draft of my eighth manuscript. It doesn’t have a title yet, as the one I originally gave it no longer suits the story. But I really like that title, so I’m saving it for another book, which means I don’t want to mention it here. Let’s just call my work in progress Book 8 for now, shall we?
Book 8 tells the story of a forty-eight-year old bookstore manager with an irritating ex-husband and a failing business, who is obsessed with identifying the author of the World War Two journal she unearths, which leads to an unexpected new romance.
When I was searching for my next idea, I knew I wanted to have a mature heroine. While I love writing about twenty/thirty-somethings, I haven’t been one for a while (LOL!). Also, I would love to read more books with older heroines – so why not write one?
I also enjoy reading dual timeline novels, where the past and present are linked and we see scenes in both eras. As I was researching for an idea that could have this structure, I came across the Canadian Letters and Images Project. It is is an online archive of the Canadian war experience as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves. I found myself fascinated by the voices I read here, and when I came across this diary by William Henry Smith I knew I’d found the germ of my new book.
After reaching out to the Project, I discovered that no one has managed to link this diary to any currently living person. Despite the wealth of information in it, including his regiment, when he shipped from Canada, and the last date he wrote in it, no one knows if William survived the war, or if he died, where he was buried. His family has not been found, either.
I couldn’t resist writing this real-life mystery. Here’s a sneak peek at the scene where the diary is discovered.
It didn’t look dangerous. It looked like a grubby and slightly damp-damaged journal, with less than half of the unlined pages covered in loopy, childish handwriting.
Leeza Boychuk should have known better. She knew words were weapons, knew that, whether written or spoken, they could destroy happiness, batter pride, and bring the haughtiest low. But it was only much later that she realized the power of the book she held in her hand.
It was barely bigger than her palm. The spine was black leather, as were the curling corners. The rest of the cover was a thick, rough, red cardboard. How had it ended up jammed between a trade paperback of Robert Ludlum and a hardcover of Clive Cussler? She put it in the big tote she used as a purse to examine later, and continued to fill the box at her feet with the books remaining on the shelf.
“Did Grampa-Great really read all of these?” Drew, a stack of novels clutched in his large hands, gazed with disbelief at the dozens of books still lining the walls. Her son had offered to help clear out the backroom, but she didn’t think he’d anticipated quite the amount of work it would be.
Mind you, neither had she.
“I imagine so. He loved to read.” She folded the flaps of the box and tucked them neatly under each other to hold them down.
“What are you going to do with them? You don’t sell used books at Millar’s.” Drew handed her what he held so she could start filling a new box, and reached to the top shelf for more. At just over six feet, he was almost a foot taller than her, his height inherited from his father.
She was not going to think of her ex-husband. Not when she was already emotionally drained from dismantling her grandfather’s life.
“No, we don’t. I’m donating them to the thrift store the Hospice Society runs.” In fact, most of the contents of the house were heading that direction. Her grandfather had lived alone, amazingly independent for a man who died only weeks shy of his 100th birthday. He’d spent those last weeks at the local Hospice, and supporting that society was the best way Leeza could think to thank them for their warm and loving care.
It took the rest of the afternoon, but they finally packed the last of the books away. The boxes were stacked two and three high, and filled much of the floor space.
“Almost ready for the new renters,” Leeza said, stretching her back. “The thrift store truck is coming tomorrow.” Drew grunted acknowledgment as he guzzled water from a bottle. Grampa-Great might have read all the books at one time, but it had been a long while ago if the dust coating them was anything to go by. Leeza could feel the grit on her teeth and took a long swallow from her own bottle. “They’re taking everything that’s left. Are you sure there’s nothing else you might want?”
Drew nodded. “I have the photo of him during World War Two, with him on the tank, and the one of the two of us at my high school graduation. That’s enough. If I was staying around, I might have taken some of the furniture, but since I’m not…”
Leeza’s heart pinched, but she kept her expression open. “Yes. It will be easier to buy what you need once you get there.”
“I’m hoping to find a furnished placed to rent. Or maybe share an apartment. Or flat, I supposed I should say.” He grinned, brown eyes glowing.
“Well, when in England…” Leeza smiled, determined not to shadow Drew’s grand adventure with a melancholic mother. When he’d first told her he had quit his job at the bank and was heading to Europe for an indeterminate amount of time, she’d assumed he meant weeks, possibly a few months. She’d known he was restless and dissatisfied at work, even though a job in finance should have suited the Bachelor of Commerce degree he’d completed a couple of years ago. She figured he was going to take some time for himself before settling into a new career path. But that was before she knew he’d accepted a placement at the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom—specifically, London. He had been blazing with excitement when he announced he’d been accepted for the position. She would do nothing to dim that joy.
They stepped out the front door into the chilly briskness of a darkening last-day-of-November afternoon. Drew headed off in his soon-to-be-sold sporty sedan to have dinner and spend the evening with friends. He only had a few more days in town, and she wanted to share every second she could with him. But he had his own life and she had…well, her work, at least.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my next book. I’m hoping to release it this summer, but there is still lots of work to be done. For now, why not hop over to Leslie Hachtel and read about her favourite Valentine story!