Welcome to Fall with Jenn Langston

texasholdem_cover (2)Hi, Everybody!  I have a very special guest today, here to share about her favorite season and her debut book which is soaring up the Regency Historical Romance charts!  His Perfect Bride by Jenn Langston was released this year by Soul Mate Publishing to rave reviews and I’m lucky to have her.  Stick around and leave a comment and I’ll be giving away two copies of her book to some lucky commenters!  Take it away, Jenn!

Hi, Christie!  Thanks so much for having me!

Fall is my favorite season of the year. As the cold slowly arrives, it brings an aura of happiness and excitement. The leaves change to a lovely shade of orange or brown before gently flowing to the ground to create a natural playland for the children. Then the breeze comes and teases as it tickles your hair and brushes against your body.

Another pleasant gift from the fall is the wonderful scents. Cinnamon pinecones grace the shelves at many supermarkets and craft stores. Outside you can smell hints of wood burning in fireplaces. Then to top it all off, the light aroma of pumpkin or apple pies baking can be found.

In order to welcome in the glorious season of fall, I have some delightful recipes to share with you.

Caramel Apple Cups: I came up with this recipe to create a less messy version of a caramel apple but keeping the spirit of the caramel apple. It also gives more caramel so every bit has both apple and caramel.

 You will need:

4 Apples

11oz bag of Caramel Squares

½ c. Milk

 Directions:

Cut the apples in half and scoop out the center, leaving apple around the edges but making sure to leave enough room for the filling. Melt the caramel in a pot with the milk, then pour it in the apple halves and refrigerate for an hour. Tip: Placing your apple halves in a muffin tin keeps them upright and captures any leaking caramel. Take them out and take a bit or eat with a fork and knife. Enjoy!

Wassail: I received this recipe from a friend. I have not altered it in any way. After all, why change a good thing. This is also a wonderful drink to serve to guests. However, it’s so good, you might not want to share.

 You will need:

4 c. Apple Juice                              ½ t Ground Cinnamon

5 c. Pineapple Juice                       1 ½ Cinnamon Sticks

2 c. Cranberry Juice                      ¼ T Ground Cloves

5 c. Water                                       ½ T Whole Cloves

1 ½ T Allspice                                 1 ½ c. Brown Sugar

1 orange

Directions:

Put the juices, water, brown sugar, juice from the orange, and half of the allspice in the bottom of a percolator and stir until the sugar melts. Put the remainder of spices and half an orange cut up in the filter part of the percolator. Brew then enjoy! Or for an adult version, you can splash a little rum in your mug of wassail.

These two recipes are a great ways to welcome in the season and lighten your mood. I hope you enjoy them as I do. Thank you for joining me today, and I wish you all a wonderful fall!

***

HisPerfectBride_850(1) Richard Carrack received the title of Marquis of Stonemede upon his father’s death six months ago. Knowing of the duties associated with the title, he decides to marry and spend the remainder of his days tending to the estate. His requirements for his bride are simple; he wishes her to be obedient and calm-spirited. When circumstances place him in the path of Lady Brianna Denton, whose wild ways make her an unsuitable candidate, he lies about his identity to discourage her from pursuing him for his title.

Brianna Denton knows what she wants out of life. She wishes to marry an untitled lord and live the remainder of her days in the country with no obligations. Only then can she spend her free time painting. When she meets Mr. Richard, she decides he would make the perfect husband. Little does she know, her boldness puts her in a position where she must decide between what she always thought she wanted and what her heart is telling her.

Available now from Amazon:  amzn.to/10BEXHk 

***

Sounds delicious, Jenn!  And your book sounds wonderful!  I love Fall, too.  So, tell us, what’s your favorite season?  Do you have any special recipes that go with it?  Two lucky commenters will win an Amazon e-book copy of Jenn’s book.  Good luck!

***

JennLangton1 Jenn Langston is a writer and a lover of historical romances. She developed her love of reading romance novels at a very young age. What began as the simple joy of reading developed into a passion to write. She lives in the beloved state of Texas where she was born and raised. With her husband, three beautiful children, and three cats, she has a full house. There is never a dull moment, but always time to read and write.
You can visit her at www.jennlangston.com

Her Next Release, His Perfect Game, is slated to be released in December 2013 from Soul Mate Publishing.

 

Moving On and Saying Goodbye

texasholdem_cover (2)It’s hard to leave something you’ve had in your life for twenty years.  Hard to say goodbye.  But then again, the grass does look greener on the other side.  But even considering the greener pastures, I’m smart enough to know that I’m gonna miss what I’m leaving behind.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking divorce.  Mr. Craig, with all his flaws, is still a keeper and he’s been around longer than twenty years.  I’m literally talking about moving.  Leaving the house that I’ve called home for almost two decades.  Leaving a place that holds a heck of a lot of memories. 

I know, moving is my choice, but even the right choices, and the ones we want, can bring about nostalgia.  My son was three when we moved here, so I watched him grow up in this house.  There is his closet where I found five frogs that he’d hidden when he went off to kindergarten, the breakfast nook where I had to help him do his homework every night.  There’s the dining room where I sat him down and had a long talk about getting his first speeding ticket. 

My daughter was twelve when we moved in, and I watched her become a woman in this house.   Here is where she was picked up for her first dates. Here is where she walked down the stairs all decked out for her school proms and dances.  There is her bedroom, where we argued about the messy state of her room. 

There was the painful walk by both of my kids’ bedrooms after they moved out, and the tears I cried standing in their empty rooms. There’s the fun hubby and I experienced in the house after discovering the joy of being empty nesters. 

There are the pets buried in the backyard.  The memory of the wine I’ve shared with friends in the house.  The reflections of the family dinners served in that little corner of the kitchen.  There are the books I wrote at the certain spot in my study.  The holiday dinners spent with friends and family in that dining room.  And I sigh when I glance at the crowded corner in the living room where the Christmas tree always went.

But I’ll be honest, we bought this house because it was in the right price range, in the right school district, and close to all my daughter’s friends. 

Our new home, we bought because we fell in love with it on first sight.  Envision a house with red brick, white columns and a wrap-around porch.  We were looking at model homes in several new neighborhoods because we were thinking of buying a new home.  But we couldn’t find one in our price range that met our criteria.  And yes, I was going to be picky this time. 

We’d driven to one new development, left a little unsatisfied, and were turning around in an established adjoining subdivision to head to another area with model homes.  I glanced at my husband and said, “Maybe we need look at existing homes.”  He nodded and continued to turn around, but when I looked up I spotted a ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign in the driveway he was turning around in.

I pointed it out to my hubby and he turned off the engine.  There was something about the moment that almost felt like fate. The house was behind a fence so we got out of the car.  Both of us were skeptical.  What was the chance that it would be a one story and we would actually like it?  That it would be in our price range? 

When we peered at the one-story house behind the gate, hubby was in awe at the three car garage.  It was the porch and porch swing that seduced me.  But there was even more.   When I was a child we lived in Millhouse village in Alabama.  There was an old library that had red brick and white columns that eventually sold as a home.  I’d told my husband every time we went there to visit my dad, “If that house comes back on the market, I might have to buy it.”  And I’ll be darned if that house behind the fence wasn’t reminiscent of that property. 

_MG_9927-2We haven’t moved to the new house yet.  We’re having some work done first. But we go there almost every night.  Last night as we sat on the porch swing, hubby said, “Isn’t it funny every time we come here, we love it more?  But the house we’re living in now, every time we went there we found something else that we wished was a little different.”  And it was true.  The kitchen was too small, the master bedroom’s cramped, and the tiny master bath left tons to be desired.  Closets were small.  The master bedroom was upstairs.  Don’t get me wrong, in the twenty years we lived here, we learned to love the house.  We turned it into our home.     

As much as I’m thrilled to be moving, the other day as I pulled into the driveway of my old house, I got tears in my eyes.  I realized I might not miss the outdated floor plan, the small rooms, or going up and down stairs.  But a lot of life has been etched into these walls—life that brought on laughter as well as tears.  The life we lived has become part of the patina of this home.  I will miss that patina. 

_MG_9699-2So as I pack up boxes, I’m trying to make sure to take all the memories with me.  I know we’ll create more memories at the new home. We’ll cook great dinners in our bigger kitchen.  We’ll spend many happy nights in our larger master bedroom.  I’ll soak until my skin wrinkles in my new large bathtub.  I’ve already picked out where the Christmas tree goes.  Our dining room table will welcome more friends and family and there’ll be plenty of bottles of wine shared there.  I’ll write other books in my new study, and the memories I can make on that wonderful front porch are endless. 

_MG_9697-2I’ll be posting more photos of the house later so stay tuned.  Now tell me, how many of you have changed addresses and felt the nostalgia of moving on?  I know I’m not the only one.

Savannah: The Sweet Spot in the South

texasholdem_cover (2)WINNERS!  WINNERS!  The winners from last week’s blog are:  Barbara Bettis (The 25th Hour,) Charity Drake (The Witch on Twisted Oak) and Maura Troy (Elvis is a Keeper.)  Email me at christie (at) christie-craig.com to claim your Amazon e-books. Congrats!

After my big writing convention in Atlanta, Georgia, Hubby and I wanted to take off somewhere to unwind.  We wanted to go somewhere we’d never visited before, and Savannah quickly came to mind.  We weren’t there but a few hours when I decided that Savannah was truly the sweet spot in the south.  The charm of this town is abundant.  Small shopping venues, friendly people, history galore, fabulous food, and did I say charm?  Visually, Savannah is also a feast.  Walking around with my camera, I had a blast capturing some of the quaintness and beauty of this great town.

savannah4We stayed at the Double Tree in the Historic District.  Really nice room, comfortable bed, and it was right in the hub of things.  We walked to dinner at Belford’s Savannah, 315 W. Julian Street.  The steak and wine were perfect, as was the location. Belford’s is right in the mix of the City Market, where I ended up buying eight different beautiful prints for my new home.  If you like to amble through galleries, and just do some casual shopping, the City Market is the place you need to be.  Here’s the link if you want to check it out:  http://www.savannahcitymarket.com/

market1 market2 market3

The next evening we ate at The Shrimp Factory.  They served up some great wine and shrimp and grits that was to die for.  The service was excellent as well.  Overlooking the Savannah River, the restaurant is in a great location that invites you to stroll around the streets and shop while watching the boats go by.  http://www.theshrimpfactory.com/home. 

Per a recommendation, we also visited LuLu’s Chocolate Bar.  All I’m going to say is yum. http://luluschocolatebar.net/  Our first morning in Savannah, we got in our car and took a ride to Tybee Island for some early morning ocean views.  The stroll around this island was so nice that we worked up an appetite.  Sunrise Restaurant spoiled us with a breakfast so affordable and delicious that we went back the next day.   http://sunrisesavannah.com/sunrise-menu/   And, before leaving we even snuck in a quick tour of The Tybee Lighthouse.

tybee2 tybee4 tybee3 tybee1

Overall, Savannah was a wonderful place to visit and I know it will be just as delightful when we return.

savannah3 savannah2So now that I’ve told you all about my great getaway, I’d love to hear about your favorite vacation destinations.  What makes them so special you just have to go back?

Elvis and Witches in The 25th Hour . . . Three Critique Partners Make Good

texasholdem_cover (2)WINNER! WINNER! The winner from last week’s blog with Sharon Saseen is: Mary Alice Brown! Email me at: christie (at) christie-craig.com to claim your prize.  Congrats!

Today I have a very special blog for you.  I have not one, not two, but three wonderful authors for you!  I’ve introduced you to a couple of them before, but one is a debut author, and they share something unique . . . they all started out in a critique group together, and they all had book releases on the same day last week!  How exciting!

First, debuting with her novel, The 25th Hour, is Jaye Garland.  Then, with the second in her series of Paranormal romances, The Witch on Twisted Oak, Susan Muller.  And, rounding it out, a Contemporary romance with a hint of a mystery, but separate from her Cupid Chronicles, Elvis is a Keeper, by Shauna Allen.

So, since these gals are friends, instead of my typical interview, I’ve asked them to share a bit about their books, about being critique partners, and to give up the goods on each other. And, stick around and comment, because I’ll be giving away a copy of each of their books next week!

Jaye, why don’t you go first . . .

Given the chance to work with other authors who also needed to find their perfect-match critique partner(s), I finally fell into a group that works with my crazy-busy writing schedule. Hint: Some of us might fit as Looney Tunes characters, but Speedy Gonzales, I’m not. I’m the wordiest writer in the bunch, and you know what that means, heavy edits. <sigh>

There are four members in our group. Janet Nash and I had already been critiquing each other’s work for a while. Enter Shauna Allen and Susan Muller who had also connected with each other prior to the four of us working as one group. Wow! Quadruple Magic!

We’ve exchanged scenes, chapters, and whole manuscripts. We’ve traveled to exotic writer’s retreats [read: rough, arrive in a 4-wheel drives, bring-your-own-bug-spray and bed linens.] We’ve stayed awake long into the night as we brainstormed, giggled, plotted, giggled, edited our pages, and hunted for the mysterious singing Christmas carol cup hiding in the cupboard.  

What are my “Release date mate’s”, Shauna’s and Susan’s, Looney Tunes characters? Okay here goes.

While Tweety Bird appears to be an innocent, vulnerable canary, underneath his delicate, yellow exterior beats a crafty heart. This would be Susan. She’s the epitome of Southern grace and charm, and she refuses to see the negative in any situation, but her rapier wit catches you by surprise—every time. She’s also a chocolate lover, but it doesn’t like her.  

Confident, cool and usually three steps ahead, Bugs Bunny also has a few surprising quirks, not the least of which is having cartoon characters as his best friends. This would be Shauna. In truth, she gives no-nonsense advice, and is the heart and soul of her loving family. She also sleeps like a rock and writes with sound canceling headphones.

I’m truly blessed to know these women and share this awesome release day with

them. Thanks, ladies!

So fun! Now how about your book, The 25th Hour?

the25thhour2_850 - 200-300Chased through time by her father’s murderer, an architect lands in the arms of a 19th century rancher. The two lovers realize they must find the killer before another life is taken…and the window of time separates them, forever.

Sounds fantastic!  Now, how about you, Shauna?

Ooh, not sure how I can follow that!  Looney Toons?  Couldn’t she just make me sexy and give me Gerard and call it a day?  LOL!

But seriously, I began writing as a solitary journey, until I realized I couldn’t go it alone and I stepped out and joined my local chapter of RWA.  I quickly joined our large critique group, which parred down to our much smaller group and we “babes” were born.  It was amazing how we clicked, each with our own skills and writing genres.  (A grammar queen, one who looks at the “big picture,” an Inspirational writer, the historical girl, the mystery writer, and me. They apparently think I write the sexy stuff, LOL!)

And I can tell you I wouldn’t be near the writer I am, nor as happy without them.  We’ve celebrated the highs, and they’ve scooped me out of the low valleys when I’ve been down.  That is what a critique group is all about.  Love them.

Now, onto the dirt!  Hmmm . . .

I think Jaye might have closet OCD. That, or maybe she just really loves the historical times she writes about so much that she tries to live there.  You see, she still prints manuscripts.  On paper.  And highlights them and writes notes on them and everything.  And she has time to do all this because she gets up before the roosters.  Seriously.  I don’t think the woman sleeps.  But, that’s OK, because she’s a woman after my own heart in the junk food department.  On our last weekend retreat she brought the candy and Twinkies.  <3

As for my Susan, I have shared a bed with her a few times on our weekend retreats, but, again, I’m not sure she sleeps either.  (Am I the only one who sleeps?)  I’ve accidentally seen her in her (almost) birthday suit, but I’m relieved to say we have all the same parts and I have much sexier panties.  And, lastly, she’s a dog whisperer.  Caesar Milan better look out. If writing doesn’t work out, she could take his job.

LOL!  How about your book, Elvis is a Keeper?

ElvisIsAKeeper3_850

Hook, Line, and Sinker . . . Elvis is alive, he’s brainy, and he’s a Keeper!

A spunky female fishing guide’s life is turned upside down when her beloved father is accused of a brutal crime. The last thing she needs is a brainy Elvis clone to waltz in and tempt her heart.

Intriguing!  OK, up last is Susan . . .

Because I write mysteries, and usually keep secrets well hidden until the end of my story, I’ve been tasked with revealing some of those secrets about my writing partners, Jaye Garland and Shauna Allen.

I’ve know these ladies for four years, and like any good mystery, the things I’ve learned about them have come to light slowly, gradually.

Take Jaye Garland for example. I knew from the beginning she was a solid craft writer, but I soon discovered the she’s a grammar queen. Have a question about commas? Ask Jaye. A little trouble with your tenses? Get Jaye to help you out.

Jaye also gives every appearance of a mild, suburban housewife. Appearances can be deceiving, because Jaye has a wild side. She grew up in Wyoming and can ride and ranch with the best of ‘em. Now that she’s in Houston, she substitutes a little blue Beamer for a horse and zips around town with the top down. Zip is the operative word here. Stay out of her way on the freeway.

She spent several years living in Saudi Arabia. When she returned to American soil, she had trouble adjusting. Every time she wore short sleeves or a V-neck blouse, she felt like a harlot and worried about going out in public. Fortunately, she seems to have gotten over that.

Shauna Allen on the other hand, looks exactly like what she is: a crazy combination of loving wife and mother, hardworking nurse, devoted Christian, Gerard Butler super-fan, and half-Aussie rock music lover. She’s a lightweight in the drinks department, though. She claims to love Margaritas, but I’ve yet to see her finish one.

Shauna has a play list of music for each of her characters and puts it on when writing their scenes. If you see her head bobbing and her fingers flying over her laptop keys, she’s in the groove. Don’t disturb her. Fun fact (well, fun for us, maybe not so much for Shauna,) she is legally blind in one eye.

We all know Shauna loves tattooed heroes, and most of you know she has at least one tattoo of her own. I know how many and where they are located, but that’s one secret you’ll never get out of me.

I’d love to know, but you’re a good friend!  But go ahead and tell us about your book, The Witch on Twisted Oak . . .

WitchonTwistedOak_850Murder. Secrets. Revenge. A detective must use himself as bait to protect all he holds dear. . .his family, his career, and the Witch on Twisted Oak.

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for being here, ladies!

I cannot wait to read all three of these books!  How about the rest of you? Now, it’s your turn to leave a comment.  Do you have a fantastic friend?  Or two?  Or three?  Leave your comment and let us know which of these books you’re most interested in, and I will be giving away one Amazon e-copy of each to some lucky winners.  Check back next week to see if you’ve won.  Good luck!