Monday, December 14, 2015

December Harlequin Spotlight: Marie Ferrarella, Patricia Davids and RaeAnne Thayne

Marie Ferrarella – Her Mistletoe Cowboy

Holiday Bon Appétit and a Book: A delicious holiday recipe of your choice to enjoy alongside the book with an image. I think Christmas and everyone I know thinks of my mint chip brownies and my marzipan bundt cake. The brownies are more or less a standard recipe, except doubled (so the brownies are nice and thick) and add in lots of mint chips.  Here’s the marzipan cake:

Marzipan Cake


1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white (or yellow) cake mix
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup of vegetable oil
¾ cup of Amaretto
4 eggs
½ cup of almond slivers
1 tube of almond paste (marzipan)


1.         Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10 inch bundt pan with Pam (with flour)

2.         Cut almond paste into approximately 14 slices, then put into blender (or something that resembles coffee bean grinder). Object is to break up the slices into tiny pieces to distribute the flavor throughout the cake.

3.         In medium bowl combine all the above ingredients then beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.

4.         Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes (insert knife in center, cake is done when knife comes out clean) Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert and remove cake from pan (with luck!). Let cake cool completely, then drizzle with powder sugar.

5.         Enjoy.

Song Playlist: A prepared playlist of songs that embodies the book’s characters and their love story.
Dean Martin’s Baby It’s Cold Outside,  Johnny Mathias Sleigh Ride, Travis Tritt Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy. Elvis I’ll Be Home For Christmas

How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers: Tips for those looking to get their work published/break into the industry.
Read your favorite authors. Now dissect the book. What did you like about it?  Can you write something like that and yet make it your own? Make it real (include bits and pieces of everyday life in the book so that the reader can relate). Always strive to entertain your audience.  Then light candles (not around a bubble bath, but in a church).

Writer’s Space: Photos and a brief description of the place where you do your writing.
I write anywhere, any time I can find. I do a good deal of my writing in the first floor back bedroom which is half order, half chaos. I have a large desk I put together from Office Max that houses two printers, my desk top computer (I have worn out at least 10 computers), a landline and lots of notes. It’s buffered by two bookcases stocked with my books, research books plus an old fashioned record player (with a CD player) because music is important to my process.

Love Lessons Learned: Real life romance lessons learned from the book.
Love isn’t about a location (the heroine is a big city girl), it’s about a person. When you find the right one, you hang on even if where you find them was never part of your life’s plan.

Movie Star Cast: The author picks movie stars to play the characters in a movie.
Ideally Kim would be played by a vulnerable Maggie Q and Garrett would be played by a younger version of Lou Diamond Phillips


Patricia Davids - An Amish Noel

Holiday Bon Appétit and a Book:

Merry Christmas from me, Patricia Davids. If you love pecans the way I do, you'll want to enjoy this delicious holiday recipe all year round. They are called Kentucky Pecan Bars and they are YUM. Pair them with a cup of hot peppermint cocoa and you'll have a real treat to savor while you enjoy my latest book, An Amish Noel.
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1 2/3 cups pecans
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup honey
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons bourbon
Zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust: Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the butter is pea-sized. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, gather together and pat into a rectangle. Roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle that measures about 13 by 15 inches. Trim the rough edges and ease the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides (trim the dough more on the sides as needed). Prick the dough a couple times with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the dough starts to set up, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the crust is just golden, about 5 minutes more. Let it cool completely.
For the filling: Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and spread the pecans out on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and then coarsely chop.
Bring a couple of inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Put the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl that sits comfortably in the saucepan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread it evenly on the crust and let it set up.
Beat the honey and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Pour in the melted butter and continue to beat. Add the flour, bourbon, orange zest and vanilla. Sprinkle the pecans over the white chocolate and pour in the honey mixture.
Bake until the top of the filling is golden brown and the center sets up, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover and put in the refrigerator until cool. When ready to serve, cut into 36 even bars.
Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips, From The Food Network website.
Song Playlist: My playlist of songs that embody the book’s characters and their love story. As you can see, I have a broad love of music with country music at the top closely followed by oldies, classical and more. I left off the reggae titles from this list, but I do listen to reggae when I write. 
1.         The Promise: Tracy Chapman.
2.         At This Point in My Life: Tracy Chapman.
3.         The Man I Want To Be: Chris Young.
4.         Who I Am With You: Chris Young.
5.         If I Give My Heart To You: Joni James
6.         The First Noel: Josh Turner.
How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers:
I have three tips for new writers.
1. Write a complete novel. Get all the words down on paper. Until you do, you're just dreaming about being a writer.
2. When the book is done, that's just the start. Find people to read it. Don't give it to your family or your friends unless they are willing to give you a brutally honest critique. People who tell you it is great aren't doing you any favors. Have them tell you what doesn't work. Where is the plot weak? Are there enough setting details? No one writes a perfect book. You need critical feedback to improve your skills. No one pitches in a major league baseball game the first time he throws a ball so don't think your book is ready to go up on Kindle as soon as it's done.
3. Most importantly, don't give up. All writers get rejections. I've written 30 books and I still get rejections on projects. Dogged persistence and an undying belief in your talent is your most important writing skill.
My Writer’s Space:
I write in a corner of my bedroom these days. My daughter and her two children recently moved in with me following her divorce. My office became my granddaughter's bedroom. That's okay. People are more important than things. I don't have as much space now, but I have everything I need on my desk. I have my favorite print in front of me. It inspires me to keep moving forward. I have mementoes of my travels and trinkets from friends and family and my research books. It's a place where I can shut the door and work.
Love Lessons Learned: Real life romance lessons learned from the book.
In all honesty, I have never learned a lesson about love from a book. Not in reading one and not in writing one. My love lessons were all learned in person. I met and married a sailor when I was 21. He wasn't a perfect man. I wasn't a perfect wife, but we loved each other. We worked through the bad spots in our lives. It wasn't easy. It wasn't fun, but we made it work because underneath all the stress and strife, we dearly loved each other. And there were so many good and wonderful times, too many to count in almost 40 years. We held hands. We always smiled when our eyes met. We talked about everything under the sun. I never ever stopped loving him until the day he died and I love him still. Lesson learned? Cherish the ones you love.
Movie Star Cast: This was fun. I got to pick movie stars to play the characters in a movie.
I want Emma Stone to play my heroine Emma Swartzentruber.

I want Trevor Donovan for my hero Luke Bowman. He has that hard edge that a reformed bad boy needs.

And as long as I'm wishing, I want Clint Eastwood to direct it. No one brings emotion to the screen the way he does. I deeply admire his work.


 RaeAnne Thayne -- A Cold Creek Christmas Story

Holiday Bon Appétit and a Book: A delicious holiday recipe of your choice to enjoy alongside the book with an image.

Luxurious Hot Chocolate
4 cups of milk (whole is best)
8 ounces of high-quality chocolate … I like Guittard semisweet chips. White chocolate works too, for a different taste.
3 teaspoons of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (pure, not imitation)
1/8 teaspoon salt

Finely chop the chocolate. Even if using chocolate chips, the smaller the pieces, the better it will dissolve in liquid. On low heat in a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a low boil, whisking occasionally to keep from scorching. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, salt and chocolate and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has melted. Heat for another 4 minutes, constantly stirring. Serve with a dollop of real whipped cream.
You can add lots of things to this recipe: Mint, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick. Whatever your preference. Just add herbs or spices to the milk while simmering. After it boils, remove from heat and let the milk steep for 10 minutes then strain off your add-ins and return to simmer before adding the chocolate and other ingredients.

Song Playlist: A prepared playlist of songs that embodies the book’s characters and their love story.

Hallulujah – Chris Botti
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Please Come Home for Christmas – Kelly Clarkson
I Want to Come Home for Christmas – Marvin Gaye
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – Dean Martin
My Favorite Things – Tony Bennett
Merry Christmas Darling – The Carpenters

How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers: Tips for those looking to get their work published/break into the industry.

* Read broadly to determine the sorts of books you love best.
* When you find a book you love, read it twice in a row – the first time for pure enjoyment of the story and the second time to study craft and to analyze all the reasons that book worked for you.
* Sometimes you don’t figure out your voice until you’ve written several books. Once you do, protect and nurture those things that make your writing uniquely you.

Writer’s Space: Photos and a brief description of the place where you do your writing.

I love my office! I wrote my first 15 books in a corner of a dining room, usually with kids running around me. Eventually, we moved to a new house where I actually had an office, which was wonderful – but it was in the basement, with only a view of a window well. A year ago, I was able to move my office to this spot that has huge windows with a beautiful view of my northern Utah mountains (though I have to look past the neighboring houses!). It’s been perfect. I love writing in front of the fireplace – and I keep the Christmas tree up until spring, since I’m writing Christmas books for several months out of the year and it helps keep me in the mood.

 Love Lessons Learned: Real life romance lessons learned from the book.

Love can heal even the deepest wounds.
Love can often be found in the most unexpected places.

Movie Star Cast: The author picks movie stars to play the characters in a movie.
Celeste – Michelle Trachtenberg
Flynn – Henry Cavill

1 comment:

penney said...

Thank you for the reviews on all of these they all sound good,
Merry Christmas!