Monday, January 12, 2015

Are you ready for some football?!!

After decades of debate, and the hot mess that was the BCS scoring system, we're finally having an NCAA football championship game! Although this isn't going to be an easy one for us to watch. 

The Oregon State/Oregon rivalry goes back to 1894, so it's difficult for this Oregon State Beaver Nation family to ever root for the Oregon Ducks.  

When Sweetie was attending OSU, this was the logo for the Beavers:

Then they updated it: 

Another update to this current, more streamlined one: 

Unfortunately, Benny Beaver won't be at the game tonight. He'll be sitting home watching it like most of the rest of us.  I don't know who he'll be rooting for, but we're reluctantly going to be for Oregon. Because 1) we just can't vote against any PAC team and 2) unfortunately, they're deserving off all the accolades. Because they're really, really good. 

Still, betting on college football, when emotions run so high, is never a smart thing and Ohio State is definitely under appreciated by the national press. So an upset is certainly possible.

Meanwhile, if you're watching, who will you be rooting for?  And if you're not a football fan, may I suggest reading a good book?  :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

This is me. Post Holidays.

It's a new year!  Filled with possibilities!

We're beginning a busy week with many meetings for our new house we're building, Sweetie has two doctors' appointments, and I'm finishing up Beyond the Sea, Sedona Sullivan's story formerly known as A Sea Change (before readers on my FB page voted for my initial choice.)

But surely I'm not the only person finding it hard to get up to speed after the holidays? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Teaser: Shelter Bay's Sunset Point & sneak peek cover art

Here's a Tuesday Teaser from Sunset Point, the late January Shelter Bay novel I slipped into the schedule in front of A Sea Change for story reasons. Which still could change back, so my best advice on how to stay up to date on release dates is to subscribe to my newsletter.  

But first, for fun, here's the initial pencil sketch I received for the cover from Paul Janovsky, the fabulous illustrator who's created all but two of my Shelter Bay covers.  

And here's the gorgeous watercolor painting I received yesterday. Now all I need is for my cover designer, Syd Gill, to turn it into a cover.  I'm going to ask that she drop the title down over more to the right of the house and make it a tad larger.

And here's the excerpt.  Enjoy. . .

How much?"

The more furious Tess became, the more she fascinated Nate. He'd made a few discreet inquiries about the deputy district attorney last evening. Everyone he had talked with described her as possessing remarkable self-control. On the rare occasion she permitted her anger to surface, it was reported to be more likely to resemble an Arctic ice floe than the fire Nate was observing now.

“I'm not talking about money, Ms. Lombardi.”

“That’s it.” She went rigid. “I'm calling a bailiff”

Nate forced himself to remain outwardly nonchalant. He slipped both hands into the pockets of the chinos he’d dug out of the back of his closet to wear to the courthouse. Another perk of the writing gig was that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d worn a suit. 

“I can't stop you. But I'd certainly appreciate it if you didn't have me thrown in the slammer until you hear me out.”

“You said I was driving you crazy,” she said. 

She was looking at him. Hard and deep. Like a hostile witness she was about to begin cross-examining. Nate wondered what she was going to say when he told her that a ghost had mysteriously slipped her into his dreams night after night.

Friday, December 5, 2014

You Again contest winter and Friday photo

The winner of my You Again contest, who'll receive a box of truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate, Oregon's premiere chocolatier, a book of Oregon coast photos, AND the opportunity to name a character in A Sea Change (Shelter Bay's Sedona Sullivan's book) next year is -- ta dah -- Joyce Arebalo.  Congratulations to Joyce!

Thanks to all who entered and I hope you'll sign up for my newsletter because I'll be having another contest when Sunset Point, my next Shelter Bay novel, comes out in January. 

Sweetie and I went up for our annual visit with the Round Table Readers group in Tacoma this week. He took the opportunity to wear his holiday burgundy sweater for the first time this year and although it didn't have a reindeer on it, like in Brigit Jones' Diary, I promised everyone I'd share a photo of him wearing his Rudolph T-shirt. 

 I fell in love with him the week I turned fifteen, but if I'd known this cute, serious boy on the day this photo was taken, I'd have fallen right then and there. 

Have a great weekend!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I hope everyone in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving and safe, uneventful travels!  

I have fun news! River's Bend will be in a Romance to the Rescue boxed set with a bunch of your favorite authors -- Bella Andre, Lauren Royal, Glynis Campbell, Eliza Knight, Debra Holland, Kathryn Shay, Julianne MacLean, Shelly Thacker, and Marie Force -- in January.  Since we've always had rescued/pound dogs, and currently are owned by two, this is a super important cause for me! Our Shadow, in real life the little guy on the left, is the dog Gabe rescues in Shelter Bay's One Summer.

Romance to the Rescue is now available for preorder and since today's "Giving Tuesday"-- a backlash to Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- here's your chance to buy 10 e-romances for only 99 cents and save a pet!  While you're on the page,vote for Cooper Murphy's dog Hummer to win people's fave, which enters you in a contest!  

100% of proceeds are going to Elyane Boosler's animal non-profit charity. How cool is that?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday sales email cartoon

The tsunami began hitting my inbox even before Thanksgiving this year!  This is me:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Teaser -- River's Bend

Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving???

Today's Tuesday Teaser if from River's Bend, a spin-off of my Shelter Bay series and set in Oregon ranching country where Sweetie and I grew up.  

And yes, to those who've asked, the other brothers will get their own books.  Sawyer and Austin's story will be out next fall. (I have Sedona's story and two other Shelter Bays coming out before their book.)

"Would you accuse me of police harassment if I kissed you, Rachel?"

"I suppose that would depend on what type of kiss it was."

Cooper smiled, accepting the dare.  "Why don't we try it and find out?"

Monday, November 24, 2014

House progress & last week's giveaway winner

Our house is almost wrapped!  

Also, the winner of last week's giveaway is Ronna Lord! Thanks to all who commented!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday photo: library on wheels

I think this is my new dream job. . . Opening up a library like this in Tuscanny.   With a wine bar. Because it is, after all, Italy!

Have a wonderful weekend!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Layered Cranberry Apple Pie Recipe & giveaway

Since Thanksgiving's nearly here, I'm reposting this 2012 recipe for those who may have missed it.  Enjoy!  One person who comments will receive a Shelter Bay or Castlelough backlist book of their choice. Ebook or print (if available.) Winner will be announced here, on FB, and twitter Monday. 

When I decided to make a cranberry/apple pie for this year's Thanksgiving dinner,  I found a bunch of recipes online. But none of them really hit home with me.  Also, I'm sorry Martha Stewart, but after reading the recipe notes on Cook's Illustrated, I decided that just tossing the cranberries in with the apples didn't sound right.  

As Cook's points out, an apple pie is a balance between sweet and tart, crisp and tender.  If you add cranberries into the mix, not only does that upset the balance, but the juice the berries release while cooking can make for a soggy crust.  It took me some tasting and adjusting, but here's the recipe I came up with, which Sweetie swears is the best pie ever:

2 pie crusts (I'll share my no-fail crust recipe at the end of the post.)

For the cranberry layer, which should be made first:


2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt.
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (you may not need this, but I wasn't taking any chances because I didn't have time to make a second one if the berries didn't set up.)

Bring to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  
Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing the berries against the side of the pan to break them down.  (I used a flat wooden spoon.)   They're done when you can drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan and the berries don't fill in the clear trail.

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. About 30 minutes, although mine sat longer because I hadn't peeled or sliced the apples yet.

Apple layer:


5-7 cups of peeled baking apples.  You want an apple that's both tart and sweet, but won't break down while baking. To get some difference in tastes and textures, I used 3 Granny Smiths, 2 Jonagolds (Jonathons in some places)  and 1 Braeburn. 

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
white of one egg, lightly beaten
finely grated orange zest

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, along with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon orange zest.

Add apples, sliced about 1/4" thick, and lemon juice and mix them together until all slices are coated. (I started with another wooden spoon and ended up using my hands.)

Let sit for about ten minutes for the juices to come out of the apples. 

Brush the pie crust you've already put in the bottom of your pie pan with lightly beaten egg white and let dry to prevent a soggy crust.  

Spread cranberry mixture across the bottom of the crust.

Add apple slices, arranging so they build toward a dome in the center.  Don't worry if it seems like too many apples, they break down while baking. 

Top apples with cut-up pieces of cold butter.  

Lay top crust over the pie and seal/flute edges.  (There's a video at the end of the post if you need help with this.)

Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar 

Cut four diagonal slices in the dough.

Place pie pan on a pre-warmed baking sheet to protect against spill over and put on the middle rack in the pre-heated oven.

Now, normally, I'd start at 425 degrees for the first ten minutes, but -- oops -- we forgot to clean the oven after last week's roast chicken, so it began to smoke.  

I compromised by turning it down to 375 degrees, which stopped the smoking.  I covered the edges with a pie crust shield for the first 25 minutes.  You can use folded strips of aluminum foil, but they're more difficult to take off without tearing the crust.  After the first 25 minutes, I took the shield off, baked it for another 30 minutes, and it turned out such a pretty color (a bit darker than this picture), I think I'll stick with this way.

Let cool on a wire rack, then serve with a good vanilla bean ice cream.  (With all the calories in the pie, it makes no sense to go with a much less flavorful low fat ice cream.  This is all about yummy indulgence and not the time to scrimp!) 

As far as I'm concerned, pies are just as much about the crust. In fact, I've had more than one restaurant pie ruined by a thick, tasteless crust.  This one, adapted from Joy of Cooking (adapted because one time I made it and accidentally took a bit from two difference recipes, but it worked, so I've stuck with it), is no fail and I've been using it forever. Well, since Sweetie bought me my first edition of Joy of Cooking our first Christmas together when I was nineteen. 

I made 1/3 more dough than I usually make because I knew I was going to pile the apples high in the pan, and I'd rather have crust left over than not enough.  When our son was little, I'd cut the scraps of pie dough into strips, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and bake them, too, as an extra occasional treat. 


Sift 3 cups of flour
Stir in 1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter flavored Crisco  (or half Crisco and 1/2 cold butter, but all Crisco is flakier.) 

Gradually cut half the the Crisco into the flour and salt mixture.  I use two dinner knives, criss-crossing them.  When the flour's the grain of cornmeal, cut in the other half of the shortening. Again, I use my knives, finishing up with a few chops with a pastry blender, then working it lightly with my fingers until it's pea size. 

GRADUALLY, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stir in approximately 7 1/2 Tablespoons of ice water, lifting it into the dough with a fork.  You want to do this gradually, because you can always add more, but it's difficult to take away.  You want just enough water to hold the ingredients together. When you can gather it into a ball, STOP HANDLING IT!  

Wrap the dough in waxed paper and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough before rolling. Normally, I'd do half and half, but for this pie's height, I went  with1/3 for the bottom, 2/3 for the top.  (I did end up with extra dough, but again, more is better than not enough.)

Place the 1st ball on a sheet of waxed paper and smash it down with your hand. Then cover with another sheet of waxed paper.  This makes for an easy way to get the dough into your pan, plus, you don't have to add extra flour for rolling.  

Whether you use a rolling pin, a wine bottle, or a glass, always roll the dough from the center out in all directions. Don't go back and forth.  Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness or less. Don't worry if you have a few tears. You can patch them later.

When you have a circle a bit larger than your pie pan, turn it over and peel off the bottom waxed paper.  (The bottom piece usually ends up with more wrinkles and is a bit more difficult to work with.)  Then lift the remaining piece, flip the dough over and ease it into the pan, peeling off the paper once it's in the pan.  I've found it's best to tear it in strips.   Then firm it in place with your hands so there won't be air between the dough and the sides of the pan. 

Brush it with a light bit of egg white.  Don't prick the crust for berry pies.  

After you've added your berry/apple mixture, do the same to place the top crust over the apples. Cut off extra bits from the overhang dough to patch any holes.

Then it's important to pinch the bottom and top layers together.  (Cut off any excess before making your edge.) I use my thumb and forefinger; you can also use a fork. The important thing it to seal it well to release the steam so your filling won't bubble out.  

Brush with a dusting of egg white, sprinkle with sugar and don't forget to cut those slices in the top.  You can also make a lovely lattice top, but it's more difficult and I was making this late at night. Besides, this crust is super tasty, so the more the better. :)

Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Hump Day Hot Guy

Yikes, hugs, and mugs of cocoa to all of you buried in snow!!

 But I have a fix.... Wednesday hump day hot guy is waiting to Warm. You. Up!

So, a question...Do you prefer manscaping in your heroes?  Or some manly chest and underarm hair?