This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop…
What is the one dish or treat you can't do without during the holiday season? If you make it yourself, share the recipe.
This topic is right on schedule! Last year, my mother, two daughters, two grandchildren, and I gathered for a Christmas baking day. We each did one recipe and then we all took some of everything home. It was so much fun we decided to make it a tradition. This Saturday, it will be my mother, two daughters, my son’s girlfriend, three grandchildren, and I getting together. I love how our family is growing.
I am not much of a baker, but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without butter tarts and chocolate haystacks. Those treats are staples from my side of the family. But on my husband’s side, a Portuguese sweet bread called massa is the treat that must be made.
Now, yeast and I have never got along very well, but I took over this task a few years ago. It requires patience (which I don’t have in much abundance) to wait long enough for the dough to rise properly. Now I go for a dog walk or do some other longish task to take my mind off it, LOL!
Below is the recipe I’ve adapted. Since I only make this at Christmas and Easter, I’ve laid it out really clearly so I don’t forget anything! And be sure to hop over to PG Forte for another holiday recipe!
Massa (Portuguese Sweet Bread)
1 c. milk
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp yeast
¼ c. warm water
1 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
3 c. flour* (total of 5 – 6 c. needed)
½ c. butter, softened
2-3 c. flour*
Warm milk and lemon zest, being careful not to bring to a boil. Set aside.
In a LARGE bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. While milk is cooling, let yeast start to work.
Once milk is cool, add to yeast mixture. Stir in sugar, eggs, salt, butter and 3 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).
Place in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until it is double in size (about 3 hours).
Punch down dough and divide into 10 “bun” size pieces. Grease round pans and arrange in in a flower pattern (5 to a pan).
Cover and let rise until double (another 2 to 3 hours). The longer you let rise at this stage, the lighter the bread will be.
Beat remaining egg and brush over tops of loaves.
Bake in 300F oven until golden brown, about 50 - 60 minutes.
What readers are saying about Turn the Next Page...
"I love reading about seasoned characters and this author writes real people. A cozy, second chance romance set in a friendly town." Tracey - 5 Stars
"What I’m Starry-Eyed Over: Second-chance romance—but make it a double. Unique and interesting meet again. Fun & spunky older generation." Leigh-Ann - 4 Stars
Get it now before the price goes up!
Only One Week to go!
Her love will light up his night. If they can both survive that long.
Heather is having the worst Christmas ever! Or, at least, the worst Christmas since she was forced to become a vampire. Her sire's distracted, her nestmates have forgotten her, weirdos have taken over the lair. The only bright spot in her life right now is Drew--who didn't even used to like her! She knows he's fond of her now, but that's not good enough. She wants more. She wants everything. She wants him. And she's not giving up.
Drew Geiger gave up on love a long time ago. Such tender emotions have no place in a vampire's heart. But, somehow, the girl he once described as a "feral kitten" has got her claws in him, and she's not letting go. That would be fine, if only someone didn't want her dead--and if her sire didn't recall that it was Drew who once suggested that maybe she'd be better off that way.
Light Up the Night Releases December 13! Pre Order Now!
We’re opening the cupboard door on deep dark secrets today on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop…
What's the weirdest thing you've ever Googled in the name of research for your writing?
Okay, maybe not too deep and dark, LOL! It’s not like I write murder mysteries or horror, so my Googling isn’t too macabre. I do honestly wonder how writers did it before the internet, though! I find myself searching for all sorts of things, from big to small.
I recently used a business name generator to come up with a name for the motorcycle shop in my work-in-progress (Book 5 in the Silverberry series, Too Good for Words). And I frequently use an online thesaurus.
Whenever my stories take me away from my hometown (where most of them are set), I spend a lot of time using Google Streetview to get the little details what bring location and setting to life. For After Words, I searched for videos of a tidal bore in Nova Scotia so I could give a credible description.
I’ve studied black bear poaching (Mountain Fire) and university tenure qualifications (When Time Falls Still). I took a free online course to learn basic computer coding (Gateway Crescent) and looked up what it felt like to do a polar bear dip (The Promise of Frost). I spent a lot of time reading about the Barkerville Gold Rush (Richly Deserved), cancer diagnostic procedures (Secrets Under the Covers) and DNA testing (Turn the Next Page). I’ve even used Vancouver’s public transit website to get a character where she needed to go (Reservations of the Heart).
Even though I write fiction, I like the details to be correct, even if most readers won't know (or maybe even care!). I also greatly enjoy learning new things and always have.
Now hop over to Leslie Hachtel and see what she's researched!
Pre Order Turn the Next Page here!
Only two more days until you can read Aubrey and Phillip's sexy second chance love story. They haven't seen each other for thirty years...but the attraction that burned between them in high school hasn't dimmed over the decades.
Fifty+ year-old character
Steamy open-door sex
Search for family
The Dream Dancer
The Lady Bryce has a gift. She can enter dreams and persuade. It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father's choosing.
When she encounters Lord Rowland, she knows he is a man who likes women. Bryce decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others.
When she has driven Rowland to the edge of longing, she extracts a promise that he will marry her. She goes to Court to ensure he keeps his word. When he finally agrees to honor his word, Bryce is consumed with guilt. She knows she has extracted his promise unfairly and tried to demur. But he insists and they are wed. But what will happen when he finds out the truth?
Get ready for some photos on this week's Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Here’s our topic:
Where do you write? Do you need to be in the same place all the time or do you move around? Share photos if you like.
I do have a desk in a corner of our family room that is my official writing place, but I LOVE to write in different places – both around the house and around the world (well, maybe not world, but you get what I mean).
I’ve written in Mexico, on airplanes, on our boat, and in our trailer. When the weather is good, I write in our backyard and when it’s not I have a favourite armchair. Often I decide to write somewhere other than my desk because it helps get the creative juices going.
Here are just a few places I’ve written over the years. Be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel
when you’re done to see where she likes to write.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, we’re talking about what's special about our books and are being encouraged to share a snippet or two.
If someone were to ask you “What makes you as a person special” what would you say? It might take a bit of introspection before you could answer. As much as we like people to tell us nice things, it can be hard to say nice things about ourselves.
That’s what I felt like when I read the topic this week. As proud as I am of each one of my books, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes them different and unique.
One of the things I try to do as a romance author is make my characters authentic to my own experiences. I enjoy reading about rockstars and billionaires, but I don’t write them. I also believe we all deserve a happy-ever-after and don’t have to be shaped like a supermodel to get it.
Romance is often promoted as fantasies or fairy tales for modern day women, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. In my books, however, you’ll find people you might meet at the grocery store, people making a living but not mega-rich, people with sullen teenagers and aging parents.
Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming release Turn the Next Page. I think it is a good example of what I’m talking about. And don’t forget, you can pre-order it in both print and ebook right now!
As Phillip had predicted, it hadn’t taken Marjorie long to become deeply involved in the life of the Riverbend residents, so it wasn’t a surprise when, a couple weeks after she moved in, she invited him to the communal birthday celebration that was held on the first of every month.
“But your birthday isn’t until December,” he’d said.
“It’s not for me,” Marjorie had replied in the patient tone that made him feel twelve. “I want you to meet my new friends, and this seems like as good a time as any. Besides, at my age, you have to party when you can.”
Which was why he’d left work at two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon. In years gone by, skipping out early would have made him nervous and anxious, and sent him back to the office in the evening to catch up on what he’d missed. Today, it had been a relief, and he had no intention of returning until tomorrow.
He’d tried to drum up his old enthusiasm by negotiating to takeover a smaller landscaping company. It hadn’t helped. Even completing that deal today had left him feeling flat and lacklustre. His enthusiasm had been waning for a while, but since accepting his son's decision to have no role in Twin Rivers it was even more challenging to generate any level of excitement.
His attitude was in danger of affecting his business, and it was time he made some difficult decisions. But right now, he was in the Riverbend dining hall, seated at a table with Marjorie and two other elderly ladies, and he pushed aside his gloomy thoughts to focus on the party.
Phillip let the conversation between his aunt and her friends wash over him as he ate his cake. Even his usual sweet tooth was dulled, though, and he had little appetite for the treat. He really had to break out of this funk. He was starting to drive himself crazy.
His chair faced out of the dining room, giving him a view past the administration desk and lounge with its huge fireplace, straight to the main entrance. The glass doors opened and in walked Clarence Windt, closely followed by Aubrey.
He lowered his gaze before she could make eye contact. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about her accidental reappearance in his life. He knew one thing, though. She still had the power to make him feel. The ennui blurring the edges of his everyday life vanished whenever he thought of her. Which was more often than he should, given everything else he had going on.
His attempt to ignore her was foiled by Marjorie, sitting at his side, which gave her the same view.
“Clarence!” she called. “And Aubrey!” She rose to her feet, the heavy chair screeching on the vinyl floor. “Come join us! Phillip, pull over a couple more chairs.” Her lack of surprise at seeing the father and daughter made it apparent she’d met Clarence at some point during the last two weeks. He wondered why she hadn’t mentioned it and felt a tug of unease. She had said she wanted Phillip to meet her new friends. Did she include Clarence in that group?
He rose, intending to follow Marjorie’s direction to procure more chairs.
“Oh, don’t bother,” said Imelda, the tiny, dark-haired lady seated across from him. “Mary and I will join Stan and Laura.”
Clarence’s face retained its calm, judicious expression—one that had made a teenage Phillip queasy with nerves—as he strode to the table, limping slightly, cane in hand. Despite Aubrey’s casual dark denim jeans and teal T-shirt, she still had that perfectly put together, shellacked appearance he’d noticed the day they’d first met. But her eyes revealed an inner turmoil—wide and anxious yet somehow pinched around the edges. She looked like she was searching for a reason to refuse. Then she met his gaze and her shoulders lifted, as if preparing for battle.
His initial instinct to ignore her dissolved.
A slow-motion flurry of activity followed as Marjorie’s friends rose to their feet and rolled their walkers to another table, allowing Aubrey and Clarence to take their vacated seats.
“Well, now.” Marjorie nodded with approval. “Isn’t this nice?”
Phillip regarded her with exasperated affection. She did the fluttery old lady act well, though she was anything but. His suspicion that she’d insisted he come to the birthday party specifically for this contrived meeting strengthened. He sipped his coffee and waited for her to make the next move.
“It’s so good to see you again, Aubrey. How long has it been?”
He repressed a snort. There was nothing wrong with Marjorie’s memory. He’d be willing to bet she knew exactly how long it had been.
“About thirty years.” Aubrey quirked a small smile, a pale imitation of the blazing brilliance he remembered. Was the incandescent woman that had left a burn mark on his soul nothing but grey ash?
“My, how time flies.” Marjorie reached out and patted Aubrey’s hand where it lay on the table. “You look just as lovely now as you did then.” She turned to Clarence. “You must be so proud of her. A lawyer, a Member of the Legislative Assembly. So successful.”
“She’s not an MLA anymore,” Clarence said gruffly. The slight frown on Aubrey’s forehead smoothed out and her eyes went blank.
The bastard hasn’t changed one bit. His old instinct to protect her clawed its way out of the cave where he had entombed it long ago. “The last election was a blood bath for her party. I am sure her loss had more to do with the leadership being rejected than Aubrey herself.”
Clarence’s pale eyes met his dismissively. “Doesn’t change the result.”
He opened his mouth to defend Aubrey again, but stopped at the tiny jerk of her head. Right. Not my place. Not anymore. Switching gears abruptly, he turned to Marjorie. “So, when did you discover Clarence was living here, too?” And why didn’t you tell me?
“Oh, a week or so after I moved in.” She fiddled with her teaspoon, her face averted. “It was lovely to find an old friend here.”
“Old friend?” Aubrey’s dark eyes flicked questioningly from Marjorie to Clarence.
“Acquaintance,” he muttered. “Old acquaintance.”
Phillip watched Marjorie as Clarence spoke, and her eyelids twitched, an odd expression flashing on her face, gone an instant later. “Yes, of course. Acquaintance,” she said brightly. “Now, who would like cake?”
I'd love to hear what you thought of that little scene! Leave me a comment below, and then hop over to PG Forte to read what's special about her books.
Did you have a spooky Halloween? We had the grandbabies come trick-or-treat with us. They are still too young to understand it all, but they are so cute it doesn't matter.
The reason I mention this is that some of the costumes I saw yesterday were so creative! And that’s what we’re talking about this week on the Blog Hop:
How do you stay creative? How do you feed your muse? What tips and tricks do you recommend to stay in the creative zone?
You know the saying “a change is a good as a rest?” Well, changing things up is a great way for me to stay creative. When the weather is warm, I love to write outside instead of at the formality of my desk. When it cools down, I take my laptop to our sitting room and work there.
Another way I stay in the zone is to be creative in ways other than writing. I never thought I’d say this (because I am not a crafty person at all) but I love crocheting. Certain stitches are mindful and relaxing and other patterns require fierce concentration (on my part, at least). Using different parts of my brain seems to help with the words.
One of the ways I’ve been feeding my muse lately is by not being creative with words. I’ve been taking a break from writing since I finished a short story in early August. Until last week, that is, when I wrote the blurb for the fourth book in the Silverberry Seduction series.
And can I just say – it felt so good to be writing again!
I really needed the break, though. I’ve been writing pretty constantly for almost three years, with only short intermissions between projects. I still need to write the fifth book in the Silverberry series, and I was really struggling to build the enthusiasm for it. But in the last few days the ideas have started flowing and I can see the book now. It’s right there, laid out all shiny and sparkling, and I can’t wait to get started. However, I am not going to jump right in. I’ve learned that starting a book is easy. It’s keeping on to the end that’s hard. But I think by this time next week I might be ready to get going on it, and I’m so excited for it!
How do you stay creative – in whatever way you define creative? I’d love to hear from you. Then hop over to Andie Fenichel (who has had an amazingly prolific year of publishing, by the way) and see how she keeps the words flowing.
This week on the RWW Blog Hop…
Time to get random. What's in your fridge right now? No cheating!
To prove I’m not cheating, here’s a photo LOL! To be honest, my fridge is kind of boring, although it is very full! We had Chinese food for dinner last night, so there are leftovers. Also, I baked spaghetti squash on Saturday and we haven’t eaten that yet. Then there’s a couple of pancakes remaining from our “breakfast for dinner” last Thursday.
Other than leftovers, there is wine, red pepper paste (homemade by me) , several jars of jam and relish (homemade but not by me) and a couple of tomatoes that are getting a little squishy.
Once when I was a child, I opened the fridge to discover an entire cow’s tongue laid out on a plate inside. Now that would have made for an interesting blog post!
Maybe you’ll see something more exciting in Leslie Hachtel’s fridge!
It’s time to get to know each other better on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop.
Let's share about ourselves! What are three things most people don't know about you or your books?
What about you? What are three things most people don’t know about you? I’d love to read your comments. Then be sure to hop over to PG Forte to learn more about her!
In a lot of ways, September feels more like the start of a new year than January. I’m sure it has to do with the decades of years either going to school or shepherding my children off to their new classrooms. Even without kids at home, though, the end of summer and the start of cooler nights signals a “back to normal” vibe that hasn’t faded.
Which is what makes this week’s topic on the Romance Writers Weekly blog hop rather appropriate, I thought, since the beginning of a new year often means setting goals and resolutions.
What are your goals for the next six or even 12 months? What books are you working on? What's next for you?
At first, I thought I’d have only a couple things to mention in answer to this question. I’m not currently writing anything, which is where I usually focus my goals. But while my brain seems to have declared it is taking a writing sabbatical, I’ve realized I still have a lot on the go for the next several months. Here the (not comprehensive, because I’m sure I’ve forgotten something) list…
Then hop over to Leslie Hachtel and see what she has lined up in her future!
Sorry I’ve been MIA in September. This is my first blog of the month. To be honest, I’ve lost a little bit of my writing mojo, so I’m hoping this week’s challenge will kickstart me. It’s Flash Fiction time! A.S. Fenichel says…
Let's celebrate the equinox. Write a scene set in autumn using the words leaf, water, and coffee. Try to keep it to 500 words.
Here we go…
Fog draped the golds and oranges of the birches in the park across the street. She stood at the window and sipped her coffee. The quiet of the house still rang with the echoes of the kids banging and bickering their way out the door as her husband shepherded them to the van. He would drop them off at school on his way to work. As much as she enjoyed the unstructured, spontaneous days of summer, getting back to regular routines in September was its own delight.
Despite the misty morning, the sun was supposed to shine this afternoon and the temperatures reach an unseasonable high. Many of the baskets and containers she’d planted in the spring had already been composted, but a few were clinging to life, and she should water them if she wanted the enjoy their blooms a little while longer. It seemed pointless, though. Hard frosts weren’t far off, and the first snowflakes would appear soon after.
With a sigh, she headed to her home office. She always felt a little melancholy in the autumn. In the spring, the lengthening days held the promise of summer wonders. In the fall, the dark drew in earlier and earlier, mourning the end of yet another year. Maybe not by the calendar, but by the rhythm of her life.
At her desk, she pushed aside her laptop. She didn’t feel up to staring at a fierce white screen and blinking cursor this morning. Instead, she opened her journal and turned a leaf over to a new page. After a few moments chewing on the end of her pen, she set the nib to paper, and began to write.
“The fog draped the golds and oranges…”
I’d love to hear what you think! Leave me a comment below. Then hop over to Jill Haymaker to see what she wrote about fall.