Weekly Reading Round-Up
November 21st, 2014

This week, I’ve been trying to read through some of the book pile as I tackle my The Other Daughter revisions. I’ve been blessed with a couple of good friends who send me book care packages (hi, Vicki and Claudia!), so this week’s haul is mostly from them.

– Isabelle Holland, Counterpoint. Thanks to the care packages, I went on a huge Isabelle Holland kick two summers ago, when I was writing Purple Plumeria, but I somehow missed this one. Her books are 1970s set Gothics, a little Elsie Lee, a little Katherine Neville. This isn’t one of my favorites, but it did still provide a fascinating look back to the New York of forty years ago.

– Linda Howard, Kill and Tell. Confession: I’ve never read any Linda Howard before. This one involves a New Orleans cop and an Ohio nurse who are drawn together when her absentee father is murdered on Bourbon Street.

– Wendy Webb, The Vanishing. This is such a house book. Woman who needs to disappear finds refuge in a mansion in the wilds of Minnesota. But will the shades of the house’s past be too much for her?

What have you been reading this week?

 

Pink Carnation Cookery: Strawberry Tarts
November 20th, 2014

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day. The knave of hearts, he stole those tarts and took them clean away….

If ever there was a candidate for the Queen of Hearts, it’s Mary Alsworthy. And while we’re speaking of knaves…. Hello, Lord Vaughn!

So it seems particularly appropriate that the ever-resourceful and talented Christine chose strawberry tarts (okay, cakes, really– but for some reason, I keep thinking of them as tarts) for this month’s Pink Carnation cookery, in honor of Lord and Lady Vaughn.

The first three Pink Carnation books were all set during the summer. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was my first autumn book: waning days, darkening skies, and a slightly older, more cynical hero and heroine.

So, for November, Christine brings you… Lord and Lady Vaughn’s Strawberry Tarts (or Cakes)!

And now over to Christine:

I was scouring the Internet looking for something that Lord and Lady Vaughn would approve of. I found a picture of adorable mini sponge cake towers with strawberry frosting in between the layers, adorned with a tiny strawberries on top. What’s sexier than strawberries and frosting? But, darn you, Pinterest! No links to the actual recipes! So I had to make do and try to recreate them on my own.

I started with Martha Stewart’s pound cake recipe and an AllRecipes strawberry frosting recipe, paired with a heart-shaped cookie cutter I got as a wedding favor years ago.

Pound cake:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease pan.
2. Beat sugar and butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
5. On low speed, gradually add flour, being careful not to overmix.
6. Martha used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan and baked for an hour. I used a 9 x 13 pan because I wanted a thin cake that I could use the cookie cutters on. My baking time was 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool completely then cut as desired.

Frosting:
A lot of frosting is based on personal preference – how strong you want the strawberry flavor, how thick you want the frosting to be, how much you want to layer. I personally don’t like very sweet frosting. There was an unfortunate incident in which I tried to make Elmo cookies for my son’s birthday. The entire face had to be frosted with a thick royal icing. It was so overly sweet that I couldn’t eat any, which is sad because I spent a good 3-4 hours making them.

These are the steps as listed in the recipe, but if you like a stronger flavor, add more strawberries. If you want a thicker frosting, add more sugar. The original recipe is for 18 servings. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than I needed. Husband and son were glad to have plenty of frosting to dump on their cakes for the next few days.

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh strawberries (and a few saved for decorating the cakes)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Steps:
1. Puree strawberries in a blender.
2. Pour puree into a pot and let boil until puree is reduced by half. This will take 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly.
3. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
4. Beat 1 cup of sugar into the butter.
5. Add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree.
6. Repeat with another 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of puree.
7. Beat last 1/2 cup of sugar into mixture.

Putting it all together:
Layer the cakes with frosting in between, decorating the top as you want.

IMG_0799

I loved how the frosting came out a bit glossy. I ended up using about a full cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup butter and 1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar.

What do you think? What would Vaughns approve?

If you need a break from the pumpkin pie next week, just give these a whirl! Thanks so much, Christine! These look scrumptious.

If the Vaughns are all about strawberries and the Fitzhughs have their thing about raspberries, which fruits or berries belong to the other Pink characters?

Miles would now like to know whether “ginger” counts as a fruit.

 

The Book Fair
November 18th, 2014

Tonight, I’m signing books at my old school’s book fair. There’s something about going back to your old school that creates its own time warp. In my head, it’s suddenly 1989 again and I’m in a kilt. Or 1995 (still in a kilt!). And I remember, very vividly, just what that book fair meant to me.

The second we were out of class, we would race upstairs to the library, everyone eager to be the first one on the spot, to get dibs on the best Victoria Holts and Jean Plaidys before they were all gone. I can close my eyes now and tell you just where those books were sitting: The Time of the Hunter’s Moon, The House of a Thousand Lanterns, My Enemy the Queen….

I don’t know who did the book-buying for the book fair back in those days, but I am grateful to them from the very bottom of my heart. I found some of my favorite books and authors there at the book fair. It was there that I bought my copy of Gone with the Wind in fifth grade– and then read it again and again until large chunks of pages had fallen out and it had to be replaced.

I discovered Elizabeth Peters at the book fair, both her contemporaries and her Amelia Peabody books, starting with Legend in Green Velvet and The Curse of the Pharaohs. At the same time, I grabbed up Barbara Michaels’s Someone in the House (it was years before I realized that Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters were the same person).

Other notable book fair finds? Dorothy Cannell’s Down the Garden Path (the same battered old copy that I re-read last week) and Elsie Lee’s Mansion of Golden Windows, both of which had a formative effect on my developing prose style. (Hello, snarky heroines!)

And that’s not all. My very first Georgette Heyer novels– The Nonesuch, The Corinthian, and Faro’s Daughter– all came from the Chapin Book Fair.

Thank you, O Book Fair. I lift my signing pen to you– because it’s a pretty sure thing that I wouldn’t be writing the books I’m writing today without first reading the books I found there.

Where did you find your favorite books?

 

Weekly Reading Round-Up
November 14th, 2014

Since I’m immersed in dread revisions, the horrible, scary bit where you’ve torn apart the book but haven’t put it back together yet (and are beginning to wonder whether the original version was really that bad or if maybe you should be giving it all up and trying sheep-farming), it was time for some serious comfort reading from the back of the Old Books I Haven’t Read In A While section of the bookshelf. Which produced:

– Dorothy Cannell’s Down the Garden Path, a madcap mystery in which a young woman goes in undercover in a stately home to discover the truth of her origins (hmm, not like that has anything in common with my manuscript). I found this back in the Middle School Book Fair when I was a tween and I have such warm, fuzzy memories of the joy of discovering Dorothy Cannell’s prose.

– Joan Wolf’s Royal Bride, in which our Regency heroine, the younger sister, marries the ruler of a small European principality when her sister, the intended bride, elopes with the Prince’s cousin day’s before the wedding. Political intrigue in a made-up European sovereign principality? Yes, please!

– Carla Kelly, The Wedding Journey, in which a shy physician in Spain during the Peninsular Wars marries the daughter of a scapegrace officer in order to save her from being prostituted to pay her father’s debts. Cut off from the rest of the regiment by the spite of the would-be despoiler, they then have to make their way back through Spain and Portugal to the British lines. As always, Carla Kelly tells a compelling story. (Confession: this wasn’t one of the Old Book Brigade. This was part of a recent care package from my wonderful college roommate. But it has that comfort read feel.)

And I think that’s about it for me…. What have you been reading this week?

 

EMERALD RING Give Away!
November 10th, 2014

It’s The Deception of the Emerald Ring month over on the Bubblebath Reader!

Emerald Paperback

As part of the festivities, Ashley has a signed copy of The Deception of the Emerald Ring up for grabs. Just head over there for a chance to win.

Happy Monday!

 

THAT SUMMER has a new look….
November 4th, 2014

In honor of the cover of The Other Daughter (coming out in hardcover in June!), the amazing folks at the art department at St. Martin’s Press have given That Summer a new look:

That Summer Paperback

They even managed to include the summer house!

That Summer hits the shelves in paperback on May 19, 2015.

Which cover do you prefer?

That Summer (3) That Summer Paperback

And here’s That Summer and The Other Daughter together!

That Summer Paperback The Other Daughter

 

THE OTHER DAUGHTER has a cover!
November 3rd, 2014

The Other Daughter, aka the 1927 Book, aka the next stand alone novel, has a cover!

The Other Daughter

Tres snazzy, no?

The Other Daughter will be coming your way from St. Martin’s Press on June 2, 2015.

Usually, by now I’d have a The Other Daughter page up and running here on the website with description and excerpt and all that other fun stuff. Apologies for the delay! That should be up in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, just keep your eye on the News page for more The Other Daughter updates….

Since the people at St. Martin’s love the Other Daughter cover so much, they’ve redesigned the That Summer cover to match! I’ll be unveiling the new That Summer cover here on the website tomorrow.

 

Pink Carnation Still Life
November 3rd, 2014

I hadn’t realized when I posted the Pink Carnation Fall Back in Time contest on the spur of the moment last week that it would yield, not just selfies, but gorgeous still lifes!

We have Betty’s Betrayal of the Blood Lily:

Fall Back in Time Betty

(I have serious cookie envy! Betty, I may have to badger you for your recipe at some point.)

Lois’s Pink Carnation/ Phantom of the Opera combo:

Fall Back in Time Lois

(This may have changed the course of one of my plots…. More on that later!)

Paige’s Pink Carnation with carnations:

20141102_104809_resized

Winnie the Pooh snuggling up with Sharlene’s paperback edition of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation:

Fall Back in Time Sharlene

And two beautiful productions by Heather. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, rocking those autumn accessories:

Fall Back in Time Heather 1

And The Deception of the Emerald Ring, just in time for the Emerald Ring read along on the Bubblebath Reader!

Fall Back in Time Heather 2

Take a bow ladies! (And let me know which mug you’d like….)

Did I miss a picture that should be here? If so, send it to me and I’ll add it to the gallery!

Thank you for these wonderfully creative pictures!

 

Get Your Camera Ready….
November 1st, 2014

It’s time to Fall Back in Time, Pink Carnation style!

Today, the Historical Romance Network is encouraging everyone to Fall Back in Time by taking pictures of themselves holding their favorite historical romance novels and posting them with the hashtag #FallBackinTime.

HRN

So we’re having… Fall Back in Time Pink Carnation edition!

Just take a picture of yourself holding your favorite Pink book and post it today on either my author Facebook page or your own Facebook page with the hashtags #FallBackinTime #PinkCarnation.

If you don’t like appearing in photos, feel free to take a picture of your favorite Pink book with your cat, garden gnome, Halloween pumpkin, or whatever else seizes your fancy. The more creative and silly, the better!

From among everyone who posts a picture today, I’ll choose two people to receive Pink Carnation mugs. (Winners can choose their preferred mug here.) Winners to be chosen and announced on November 2.

Ready, set… Click!

 

MIDNIGHT MANZANILLA Winner!
October 31st, 2014

And the winner of the copy of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla is…

… Joan! (Of Comment #71.)

Congratulations, Joan! If you let me know where to send it, I’ll pop your book in the mail to you.

Happy Halloween, all!

Oh, and just for fun, if you’re not a Facebook person, check out these adorable Halloween cards that Sharlene made for me to celebrate The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla!

Manzanilla Halloween

Manzanilla Halloween 2