Friday, April 15th, 2016
Because every Pinkorama this year was, without doubt, a winner, the dominant theme in the voting being, “But how? How can you make me choose?”
The Convent of Peepsino edged out slightly ahead (Miss Gwen preens and blows a speck of dust off the tip of her parasol), but it was such a close-run thing all around that I’m just declaring it a group win.
Take a bow, Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel!
For anyone who missed them and would like to admire sugary artistry in action you can find (in the order in which they were submitted:
— The Convent of Peepsino by Kayse
— Amy and Richard’s Spy School Meets the Phantom Peep (plus video!) by Rachel
— Happily Peep After by Candace & Cassandra
— The Unpeepable Truth by Colleen
by clicking on either the title or the picture.
So many thanks for these amazing productions! Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel, if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know whether you’d prefer The Forgotten Room or Fall of Poppies (or one of the other books), I’ll send your prize your way!
The winning judge is… Maria! (Of Comment #20.) Congrats, Maria! Email me and I’ll send your book your way.
And now a word about Pinkorama to come: although the Pink series has officially wrapped up (although there may be some offshoots), I would be thrilled to keep the annual Pinkorama the, well, the annual Pinkorama as long as you’re still willing to Pinkorama with me.
What do you think? Shall we make a date for Pinkorama 2017?
Tuesday, April 5th, 2016
Miss Gwen is having a good gloat. (And no one gloats like Miss Gwen.) Our first Pinkorama of 2016 is her very own Convent of Orsino, brought delightfully to peep by Kayse.
Some background: in Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (aka Miss Gwen Explains Everything), each chapter begins with a snippet from the novel our intrepid chaperone, Miss Gwen, has been working on since, oh, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.
As one would expect from Miss Gwen, The Convent of Orsino (by a Lady) contains only the purplest of purple prose.
Kayse writes: My scene depicts the climatic scene from Miss Gwen’s own magnum opus, “The Convent of Orsino” (from Chapter 23 of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria): as the mirror lies between the wicked Knight of the Silver Tower and Amarantha, intrepid Plumeria (Peepmeria?) is ready to jump into battle.
And here it is, with editorial notes from Kayse!
Plumeria is dressed in purple, of course!…
…The Chevalier de la Tour d’Argent’s literary doppelgänger…
May I say that I love Amarantha’s floral dress? It’s so appropriate. And I am absolutely in love with the way the Knight of the Silver Tower’s green bunny ears stick out over his helmet. I think that would be a great look for Nicolas, don’t you?
Thank you so much, Kayse, for this gorgeous depiction of Miss Gwen’s magnum opus! Plumeria can say what she will, but I would very gladly move into that Tower. There’s even a wonderful musty old tome to read! Perhaps an early edition of The Convent of Orsino? Because we are nothing if not meta over here.
Stay tuned for Pinkorama #2, coming up tomorrow….
Thursday, October 15th, 2015
The winners of the The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, and The Lure of the Moonflower are….
— Jennifer (of Comment #16).
— Steph (of Comment #34).
— Georgia (of Comment #48).
— Kathleen (of Comment #4).
Congrats, all! If you email me at email@example.com, I’ll pop your Reids– I mean, books– in the mail to you.
More give aways coming up next Monday!
Monday, October 12th, 2015
When I introduced Alex Reid, way back in Pink VI, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, I initially had no idea that the Reid family would take over the Pink series.
Then Alex’s father popped up, around about Chapter Two of Blood Lily, and I knew, instantly, that there was the man for Miss Gwen.
And then, way at the end of the book, Jack Reid walked into the scene… and Jane’s future was sealed. (Although it was rather maddening not to be able to tell anyone, since Jane’s book was still many years in the future.)
So, for this Monday’s give away, I present the Reidiad, the three books in which the Reid family take over the stage: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, and the final Pink book, The Lure of the Moonflower.
Some day, perhaps, the Reidiad will stretch to five books, with one for Alex’s twin sister, Kat, and another for the irrepressible Lizzy. But, for now, it’s a collection of three.
The three Reids are very different sorts of heroes. Alex is hardworking and serious; Colonel Reid is a charming, carefree rogue (at least on the surface); and Jack is a cynical soldier of fortune. For a chance to win, here’s your question:
— Which of the three sounds most like your cup of tea?
I’ll be giving away four sets of the Reidiad this week. The winners will be announced on Thursday!
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
The winner of the copy of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is…
Beth! (Of Comment #19.)
Congrats, Beth! If you contact me with your details, I’ll pop your copy in the mail to you as soon as I get back from Texas next week.
Thanks so much to everyone for participating– and especially to Sharlene for all the lovely Purple Plumeria e-cards!
Monday, July 21st, 2014
Pink XI, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, comes out in just two weeks!
So, for this week’s Monday Give Away, we have a flashback to the previous book in the series, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. (Just to remind Miss Gwen which book is actually about her.)
Here’s the official blurb:
Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.
Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.
Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…
Throughout The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, Miss Gwen is hard at work on her magnum opus, The Convent of Orsino (which those of you who have followed the series from the beginning may remember her starting way back in Pink I!). As you can tell from the title, it is the most gothic of the gothic, with more than a little bit of The Castle of Otranto about it. (Although Miss Gwen resents the implication that her work is in any way derivative.) Miss Gwen’s Convent of Orsino, the smash hit of 1806, plays a major role in Sally’s book, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla….
Here, for your amusement, are some e-cards that Graphics by Sharlene made up for me to celebrate the release of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria last year.
For a chance to win a copy of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, here’s your question:
Which of these e-cards do you like best?
The winner will be announced on Wednesday….
Saturday, April 26th, 2014
As many of you have heard, my writing process has a great deal to do with caffeine consumption. Just as I swap out music from book to book, I also have a different signature drink for each manuscript– my go to beverage, so to speak.
For your amusement, here’s the (updated) coffee chart for the last four books:
— The Ashford Affair (winter/spring 2012): grande caramel mocha with whip.
— The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (summer 2012): grande caramel macchiato. (Miss Gwen scorned whipped cream as excessively fluffy.)
— That Summer (winter 2012/spring 2013): grande skim cinnamon dolce steamer with whip. (Since I wasn’t allowed caffeine, I tried to make up for it with a super dose of sugar.)
— The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (autumn 2013): venti decaf peppermint mocha with whip. (I still wasn’t risking caffeine, but decaf was a step closer! And Sally Fitzhugh strikes me as a peppermint mocha sort of girl, don’t you think?)
Right now, I’m working away on the next stand alone novel, aka the 1927 Book. I haven’t come to a drink landing yet, but so far this is looking like a decaf skim venti hazelnut latte kind of book. Because if I can’t go caffeinated, at least I can go up a size?
What are your favorite coffee beverages?
Thursday, April 17th, 2014
For this month’s adventure in Pink Carnation cookery, Christine brings us… Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes in honor of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!
I cannot tell you how excited I am about these. Caramel and chocolate are among my favorite combos (chocolate and peanut butter are also up there, but work less well in latte form). Grande caramel mochas have fueled me through the writing of at least one of my books.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Miss Gwen needed a little chocolate/caramel snack to help her along at points during the writing of her 1806 blockbuster hit, The Convent of Orsino….
Without further ado, Christine’s molten caramel brownie cakes!
Without giving away too much, we all learned in The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that Miss Gwen is full of secrets. Like Miss Gwen, these brownies have a secret too, but this secret is caramel.
This recipe for Molten Caramel Brownie Cakes was taken from Christina Marsigliese’s blog. The original recipe called for peanut butter as well as caramel. I skipped the peanut butter. The blog also contains a link to a caramel recipe, but I used one I’ve used in the past, from the New York Times. The video is really helpful but doesn’t tell you how long it’ll take. It took me about 15-20 minutes this time, but the first time I tried it, it was more like 30 minutes.
3 oz baking chocolate (I used semisweet)
6 tbsp butter (it’ll melt faster if they’re cut up into 1 tbsp pieces)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
(the original recipe also includes 1/4 tsp salt, but she didn’t actually incorporate that anywhere in the recipe, so I’m leaving it out)
Caramel sauce ingredients:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
another 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
2. Set up a double boiler with a heatproof bowl and a pot with 1/2 inch simmering water.
3. Stir together the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in the double boiler until melted and smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs enough to break and blend the yolks.
5. Add the sugars to the eggs and whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth and thickened.
6. Whisk vanilla extract and chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth.
7. Whisk flour into mixture, just long enough for everything to become well blended.
8. Set aside mixture while you make the caramel sauce.
Caramel sauce directions:
1. Heat a pan until it is very hot.
2. On low heat, sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar all around the pan and shake the pan so sugar is evenly distributed. Sugar will quickly start to melt.
3. Add the second 1/3 cup of sugar.
4. Swirl the pan every so often to make sure the sugar cooks evenly.
5. When the sugar is dark brown, it’s ready (the video says until it’s the color of an Irish setter, but I’m not a dog person so I have no idea what that color is).
6. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream. Turn the heat back on.
7. The caramel may try to ball up, but keep stirring it around in the cream. Once the caramel is dissolved and smooth, add the vanilla extract and salt.
8. Once the caramel is syrupy and thick, but a little thinner than you would want it, remove from heat and pour into heatproof container.
This is a slow process and requires you to keep a close eye on the pan so make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Not particularly difficult, just requires some caution. This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of caramel sauce, which is far more than you need for the brownies, but plenty of other uses for delicious caramel sauce!
Combining the parts:
1. Fill each cup of the muffin pan about halfway with the brownie mixture.
2. Add about a teaspoon of the caramel sauce to the center of each cup.
3. Using a spoon, cover up the caramel with the brownie mixture as best you can. Or if you’re not going for the molten effect, use a toothpick to swirl the caramel into the brownie.
4. Put in the oven at 325 degrees until slightly puffed. Original recipe says about 13 minutes. Mine took more like 25-30 minutes, but that may be because I was using a silicone pan.
5. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
For some reason, I could only make 9 cakes out of this recipe, even with the cups filled halfway. The molten effect will only happen when they’re fresh out of the oven. Afterwards, it will be more fudge-y. The brownies in general were pretty fudge-y.
The brownie batter had thickened up a bit while I was making the caramel sauce, so I would recommend creating a well in the individual cups before pouring in the caramel sauce. My sauce ran all over and it made it harder to try to cover up the sauce. Mine definitely came out more marbled than molten, but they seemed to be a success – I came home from work the next day and my husband had eaten all of them.
Interested in more molten lava cakes? Buzzfeed has this fantastic list!
Thank you so much, Christine! I meant to make these this weekend, but circumstances (and a small person) intervened. But, at some point soon, they will be mine! And when I make them, I’ll post the pictures here and on Facebook….
(Miss Gwen not included.)
Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Last but not least, we have Winter’s dramatic rendition of Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid spying on a meeting of the Naughty Hellfire Club.
(Did I mention that Miss Gwen is currently gloating SO hard over the fact that she inspired all three Pinkoramae this year?)
I cannot improve upon the caption that came with this entry:
You can see Miss Gwen thinking “Oh, a Hellfire Club Meeting. I’ve always wanted to see one!”
Complete with sacrifice, man with skull, and drugged orgy participants.
(If that were on a Barbie box, wouldn’t you buy it?)
The pictures are just as much fun as the description:
Behold the meeting of the Naughty Peepfire Club, deep in the ruined Roman baths below the city of Bath…. (And check out the detail on those walls!)
The sacrificial maiden (well, broadly speaking) is carried forth on the bier…
… as the celebrant raises the skeletal chalice…
… and Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid watch from the safety of their hidden ledge.
Have you ever seen such glee on a peep’s face? Miss Gwen is having way too much fun.
Thank you, Winter! Seeing the Naughty Hellfire Club transformed to peep form just made my week. (And, clearly, Miss Gwen’s!)
A Pinkorama round-up is coming up next!