Remembrances of Thanksgivings Past

cranberriesAs I think I’ve mentioned before, on occasion I’ll use this blog to reminisce about the past. With Thanksgiving (for folks in the U.S.) just a few days away, I’ve started pulling out recipes for dishes that are traditional in my family. One of these recipes, Cranberry Salad, has been around so long, I have no idea how it came into the family originally, but I clearly recall my mother making it when I was a child.

Back then, it was quite a chore. First of all, the recipe calls for black walnuts. If you had black walnuts back then, you’d probably cracked them yourself, so they needed to be looked carefully to be sure no hulls lurked among the meat of the nuts. (Invariably, it seemed, at least one hull escaped detection and ended up in someone’s mouth.) Today black walnuts can be purchased in many supermarkets, but it’s still a good idea to look them before adding them to a recipe.

grinderNext was the chore of preparing the cranberries. Since this was well before the days of food processors (or even blenders), Mom used a food grinder. She attached it to the end of the kitchen table and then placed a chair beneath the grinder so she could position a bowl in the chair to catch the juice of the cranberries. I happen to have Mom’s food grinder and thus can share pictures for those who’ve never seen one in person. As you can see, the grinding involved manually turning a long handle. The whole fruit was placed in the large spout at the top grinder-feedand the grinding motion fed it through the end grinder-endwhere it was forced through small holes. Juice ran down the back of the grinder and was collected in the bowl Mom had placed below. One nice thing about this method was that the processed fruit was usually uniform in size, which is not always the case with modern methods.

And speaking of modernizing, I’m sharing the original recipe below, with modern-day changes given in parentheses as needed.

CRANBERRY SALAD

  • 1 pound cranberries (Cranberries are now packaged in 12-ounce bags, so one and a half bags are necessary to achieve the one pound called for in the recipe. I usually wash and look them a couple of times. I then use my food processor to grind them.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 #2-1/2 size can of crushed pineapple, undrained (I use a 20-oz can or as close to that as I can find.)
  • 1 orange (grind both pulp and rind) (I also grind this in my food  processor. I cut the orange into small pieces, but even so, the food processor doesn’t do a good job with the rind and I usually end up throwing some of the larger pieces away.)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup black walnuts
  • 2 packages cherry jello (I’ve also used cranberry jello, but either is fine. You can also use sugar-free jello if you wish.)

Grind cranberries and soak in sugar. Add pineapple, orange, celery and nuts. Dissolve jello in 2 cups of boiling water and pour over cranberries. Pour mixture into bowl and chill until ready to eat. Enjoy!

 

Rules or Passion? Can the two coexist?

the-mysterious-merriana-webI wrote my latest release, The Mysterious Merriana, about a quarter of a century ago. At that time, I had no education in the craft of writing. I knew grammar but not the nuts and bolts of the rules as applied to writing fiction. It’s little wonder that my early manuscripts were roundly rejected by editors.

Then, several months ago, I decided to see if I could revise The Mysterious Merriana without having to rewrite most of it from scratch. I discovered that this old manuscript contained a very good story (in my opinion) along with many amateurish mistakes. Some of these errors required rewriting or omitting paragraphs, and in some cases, I had to decide between following the rules and striping away the passion I’d felt while writing this book. Knowing I might get dinged by some readers (and especially other writers) for breaking the rules, I nevertheless decided to leave the passion. I don’t regret that at all. After all, as they say, “You need to know the rules in order to break them.” If you’d like to visit the ebook on Amazon and see for yourself, click HERE.

Following is a brief description of The Mysterious Merriana.

THE MYSTERIOUS MERRIANA, a Regency romance

On his way to France to extract an English agent, Justin Foster, Earl of Cardleigh, stops overnight at his favorite country inn, only to discover a mysterious female in the kitchen. This gorgeous woman claims to be the daughter of an English farmer, but she cooks like a French chef and sings French songs like a native of that land. When Justin learns that the agent who was supposed to travel with him has been mysteriously disabled, he insists the female accompany him to France and serve as his guide.

Having recently arrived in England on a smuggler’s boat, Merriana de Mérchan has no desire to return to France, but the distrustful Earl of Cardleigh, who assumes she is a French agent, gives her no choice. Although aware that she presents a suspicious image, she dare not attempt to tell him the full truth for fear of an unknown enemy who seemingly wants her dead.

As Justin and Merriana struggle toward opposing goals, the attraction they feel keeps drawing them closer. The question becomes, can they trust each other long enough for love to triumph?

Hurry for sale prices

If you’re one of my newsletter subscribers, you already know about this sale. (And if you’re not, why not sign up soon so you, too, will be one of the first to hear about new releases and sales.)

For this coming week (ending Friday, September 30, at midnight), you can buy three of my Barbourville books for 99 cents each. These three books tell the stories of the triplet Vance brothers—Dallas, Denver, and Dayton.

FallingforDallas

To buy, click on the cover above.

In the first, Dallas Vance travels to Barbourville, Tennessee, expecting his visit to his niece to be a relatively short one. However, he soon finds himself drawn to the lovely widow who lives across the street in a monstrosity of a house that gobbles up all her extra cash, cash she needs for her young son. Wanting to help Beth Ann, Dallas talks her into allowing him to renovate an old-fashioned cottage situated at the back of her property, and soon his interest in returning to his upscale condo in Chicago takes second place to making a home in Barbourville with this woman who has an independent streak as wide as the state of Tennessee.

 

denver-web-cover-copy

To buy, click on the cover above.

In Denver’s case, neither he nor the heroine, freelance writer Mattie Meadows, is originally from Barbourville. When they meet there on the front porch of the cottage that Dallas had renovated, neither is pleased by the other’s presence. Although he’d been on his way home to Chicago, Denver reluctantly agrees to help Mattie on a secret quest in this small town, and that leads them not only to a surprise discovery but also to the realization that they want to spend the rest of their lives together in Barbourville.

 

 

dayton-web-copy

Click on cover above to buy.

Dayton, the third brother who is now left alone in Chicago, is horrified that Denver and Dallas have given up their lucrative law careers to start new lives in Barbourville. Thus, he decides to consult an old friend, psychologist Jill Taylor, to help him understand why they’ve changed so radically. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that Jill has left her counseling practice in Atlanta to move to Barbourville and open a small restaurant. Determined to confront her, he arrives unannounced on her front porch one evening and the next day ends up peeling potatoes in the kitchen of Jill’s Soup Bowl. Still, he’s determined not to end up like his brothers, never dreaming that his ambitions will soon change. Now he just needs to convince Jill that he has changed too.

 

If you want to know more about any of these or my other books, I encourage you to check out my website. And if you’re not already a subscriber to my newsletter, be sure to sign up soon. I assure you that I won’t inundate your mailbox with emails.

 

 

Bargains in Christmas Reading

As December arrives, many of us begin “getting into the Christmas spirit,” and for me, that involves unpacking Christmas ornaments, listening to Christmas music, and, of course, reading Christmas stories.

If you, too, love reading stories set during the Christmas Season, you might be interested in three Christmas ebooks that are bargains at just 99 cents each.

christmas wishes box set3First, the recently published anthology titled Christmas Wishes: Seven Stories of Second Chances is an extra special bargain because it contains seven stories for a total of 99 cents. I’m honored to be included in this anthology along with award-winning authors Leanne Tyler, Mallory Kane, Kate McKeever, Juli Alexander, Donna Wright, and Karen Hall. You’ll definitely want to buy this limited-edition anthology before it goes off sale. Just click on the following link to go to Amazon and buy Christmas Wishes.

forgotten christmas web copy 3 Next, one of my own Barbourville novels, The Forgotten Christmas Tree, winner of the 2014 HOLT Medallion in the short contemporary category, is on sale at the moment for only 99 cents. Although it’s the fifth book in the Barbourville series, The Forgotten Christmas Tree can certainly be read alone. I’m happy to say that Amazon reviewers have rated it 4.6 stars. The price will soon revert to the usual $2.99 so grab it before it goes up by clicking on Forgotten Tree.

christmas-at-tiffanys-web-versionLast, and certainly not least in my opinion, is the short novella titled Christmas with Tiffany. This somewhat older story was first published in November 2012. Because of its length, it stays at 99 cents the year round, but it’s popular enough to rate 4.5 stars on Amazon. If you’re in the mood for a heart-warming Christmas story, click on Tiffany to buy.

And here’s wishing you all the joys of the Season!

Barbourville prequel is free today!

celebration-of-joy-web-copyI’m pleased to share the news that Celebrations of Joy is free from August 4 through August 8. In case you don’t already know, Celebrations of Joy is a prequel to the Barbourville series. Events in Celebrations of Joy take place about a year earlier than those in A Summer Sentence, the first book in the series. Following is a listing of the books in the series in chronological order (although they can be read in any order):
Celebrations of Joy
A Summer Sentence
Falling for Dallas
Dealing with Denver
Dreaming of Dayton
The Forgotten Christmas Tree
At Home in Barbourville
The Bow Wow and Meow Campaign

If you’re wondering what this freebie is about, here’s a brief rundown:

The day Melody Mills buried her mother was the day she vowed to save enough money to buy herself a one-way ticket out of Barbourville, Tennessee. Trouble is, she has no job, no home, and very few possessions.

Enter Judge Robert McCray, the most influential man in Barbourville, not to mention the most annoying, at least in the opinion of Connor Webb. The judge wants Connor to hire Melody to manage the bed and breakfast that Connor is trying to establish in the neglected Kessler mansion. Connor can’t really afford an employee, especially one he doesn’t need, but he can’t turn his back on this frail, impoverished woman who, for some strange reason, packs her depleted wardrobe in luggage that’s worth at least half a year’s wages.

With both Melody and Connor working hard and exploring new options for the old Kessler estate, the launch of a promising business is just around the corner. Unfortunately people they thought they’d left behind suddenly reappear and seem determined to derail their plans.

Will their love for each other be strong enough to help them overcome the challenges from their past and secure their dreams for the future?

If you would like to read more about these characters, hurry and download Celebrations of Joy while it’s free. Just click on the following link: CLICK HERE. And remember, on August 9, the cost will go back up to the usual $2.99.

A Simple Lady gets a second chance

We’ve all heard stories about manuscripts being stored under the bed or in the back of a drawer for years, then pulled out and published.

a-simple-lady-webWell, my newest release, a Regency titled A Simple Lady, has a similar history, although, in addition to my having relegated around 300 printed pages to the back of a drawer twenty years ago, I also had the manuscript stored on floppy disks. What? You don’t know what a floppy disk is? That’s okay. I barely remember them myself, but fortunately I had hung on to mine along with the paper copy. More about that later.

But back to A Simple Lady’s history. Back when I wrote the novel, I entered it in the Romance Writers of America’s contest for unpublished writers. The manuscript finaled and was kicked around in New York by a major publisher for a while before being rejected. By this time, I’d moved on to other books and decided there really wasn’t anything else I could do with A Simple Lady.

Fast forward to 2015. I ran across the paper manuscript and decided, what the heck, I’d get some use out of it by printing my current book on the back of the sheets, which I did. Then, as I was proofing my new book, I started reading the backs of the twenty-year-old pages and discovered I really liked that old story and wanted to publish it myself (an option that didn’t exist twenty years ago).

Fortunately I remembered that I had those floppy disks that contained various revisions of the earlier version of A Simple Lady. I also had a reader for the floppies and an older computer that worked with the reader. It took a while for me to locate the original version of the manuscript (before I’d messed around with it trying to satisfy the New York publishers). After that, I realized the original needed quite a bit of work. Two more revisions were required before I was happy with the final product, which went live on Amazon today (July 11, 2015) as an ebook. A paperback will be available soon.

I always had a soft spot for this story but allowed others’ opinions to convince me that it wasn’t worth pursuing publication of A Simple Lady. I’m so glad I ran across that old manuscript and decided to give it a second chance. If you enjoy historical romance, I hope you’ll give A Simple Lady a chance too! To get the ebook, simply click on the following Amazon link: A SIMPLE LADY.

Barbourville series prequel now available

Okay, I’ll admit it: my main reason for writing this post is so I can show off the cover for my latest Barbourville novel, Celebrations of Joy. I think it’s gorgeous, and major thanks go to my cover designer, the extremely talented Dar Albert.

While I’m at it, I’ll mention that this ebook is on sale on Amazon as an introductory special for 99 cents but will go up in price soon. In addition, I’ll add that this book is a prequel that serves to introduce the Barbourville series. Following is a brief summary of the book.

celebration-of-joy-web-copy

The day Melody Mills buried her mother was the day she vowed to save enough money to buy herself a one-way ticket out of Barbourville, Tennessee. Trouble is, she has no job, no home, and very few possessions.

Enter Judge Robert McCray, the most influential man in Barbourville, not to mention the most annoying, at least in the opinion of Connor Webb. The judge wants Connor to hire Melody to manage the bed and breakfast that Connor is trying to establish in the neglected Kessler mansion. Connor can’t really afford an employee, especially one he doesn’t need, but he can’t turn his back on this frail, impoverished woman who, for some strange reason, packs her depleted wardrobe in luggage that’s worth at least half a year’s wages.

With both Melody and Connor working hard and exploring new options for the old Kessler estate, the launch of a promising business is just around the corner. Unfortunately people they thought they’d left behind suddenly reappear and seem determined to derail their plans.

Will their love for each other be strong enough to help them overcome the challenges from their past and secure their dreams for the future?

Be sure to take advantage of the sale price by clicking on the following link: Buy Celebrations.

And thanks!