featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Holiday Blog Hop Starting December 11th

Holiday Blog Hop

Blog Hop begins December 11th. Click on the graphic above for a schedule and list of giveaways, including a $60 Amazon gift card.

Friday, September 29, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR BARBARA WALLACE

Barbara Wallace writes mystery and romance. Today she sits down with us for a Q&A session. Learn more about Barbara and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 
When I was eight years old, my best friend Kim told me she was writing a book. As best friends do, I decided to write one, too. From that day forward, I dreamed of being a novelist. Of course, dreaming wasn’t the same as writing, but then one day, while riding home on the commuter rail, I read Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel (the original, not the revised version – we’re talking the 90s here). From that day forward, I decided to take my writing dream seriously.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? 
Fifteen long years. I love to tell the story of how I finished my first novel right before my son was born, and got the call a few days before his fifteenth birthday.

Keep in mind though, that this was back when the only route to publishing was with a Big Five publisher. It took a lot of time and manuscripts to get past the gatekeepers. 

Since then, I’ve published 20 novels with a variety of romance publishers.  The Suburbs Have Secrets marks my mystery debut.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? 
I am a hybrid author.

Where do you write?
My muse is a very fickle creature, and often changes her mind as to what location works best. When I first started writing, I wrote daily at the local Starbucks. One summer she would only respond if I wrote on the porch swing. Lately, she’s been demanding I draft scenes by hand on the living room sofa and then go into my office to type them.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence for me. My husband bought me a pair of Bose headphones, and I wear those while alone in the house!

Lately, however, I’ve been trying to introduce music back into my writing routine. Nothing loud or with words, but some quiet classical music so that my house doesn’t feel so empty.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
The plots of my romance novels are definitely not drawn from real life. I’ve never had a millionaire sweep me off to a foreign country. My romance characters, however, share a great deal in common with me. I tend to write broken characters that suffer from similar inner wounds – wounds that are drawn from my own insecurities.

Sadie, on the other hand… Now, there’s a loaded question. Since I live in the leafy suburbs of Boston, the correct (and safe) answer is that there is no resemblance between the town of Woodbridge and my hometown!

Truth is, however, I’ve been writing this novel in my head for twenty years. There’s a great deal of me in Sadie. Her humor, her way of looking at the world, even her relationship with her son Tim, all have their roots from my life.

Her sidekicks, however, are completely fictional. Sadie’s best friend, Rob? Totally inspired by the actor who played Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey.

Describe your process for naming your character?
For first names, I tend to start by figuring out their age, and then Googling the most popular names from that year. Then I read the list until a name leaps off the page and sticks in my brain. I like to think this is character choosing his or her own name.

For last names, I tend to use a lot of English, Irish and Italian last names since most of my stories are based in New England, and we have such deep immigrant roots.

Real settings or fictional towns? 
Fictional

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? 
Sadie loves wine and coffee. Probably a little too much.  But her biggest quirk is that she hates having her photo taken and makes a point of avoiding it as much as possible. She even hides during the company Christmas card.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
At the risk of being carted off, I talk to my cats – and then mimic them answering back in a different voice. We have long conversations during the day.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why? 
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It was such a wonderful combination of romance and gothic mystery. The phrase “The first Mrs. De Winter” never ceases to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I would love if I could go back and re-live my high school and college years – but with the wisdom I have now. I wasted so much time during those years being afraid to take chances. Instead, I clung to the safe and sure. And, I was so afraid of being seen as smart and capable, because back then, in my town, smart and capable wasn’t cool. I think I could have achieved so much more sooner, had I been braver.

By the way, I chucked when I read this question, because it’s exactly what Marylou Paretsky asks Sadie during their last ride together.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who don’t cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze. Hello? Germs much?

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 
A giant notebook, a never-ending supply of pens, and bug spray. Lots and lots of bug spray.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Selling overpriced, organic peanut butter in Faneuil Hall. We had to stand at the counter holding globs of peanut butter on a stick, and ask people if they wanted to try a sample.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I always hate this question. I know I’m supposed to answer something like Jane Eyre or And Then There Were None, but the truth is, I read so many different types of books, and loved so many of them, that no single one sticks out as my absolute favorite.

Interestingly, the one book that sticks out most in my mind was a book I read in elementary school.  I can’t remember the title, but it was about a young girl on a wagon train.  In the back of the wagon her family had a portrait of her grandmother when she was a young woman. The protagonist was a young girl who thought the portrait the perfect image of the lady the woman wanted to be. I remember reading that passage about her studying the portrait over and over when I was a little girl, and crying for the protagonist when the portrait was later lost.

I think it was the first time I realized how deeply a book could affect you.

Ocean or mountains? 
Mountain lake

City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 
Country girl so long as there’s coffee nearby.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m working the second book in the Sadie McIntrye series, which I hope to have out this spring, and I have a new romance novel, Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss, coming out in November.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? 
Only that The Suburbs Have Secrets truly was a labor of love.  I’ve wanted to write a mystery novel for as long as I could remember, and I’m thrilled to have finally done so. I hope readers will check out the story on Amazon.

The Suburbs Have Secrets
Think Murder She Wrote meets Desperate Housewives. When Sadie McIntyre gives a drunken Marylou Paretsky a ride home on a rainy night, little does she realize it's the last time anyone will see Marylou alive.

What first appears to be a tragic accident becomes far more complicated as Sadie discovers Marylou wasn’t as sweet and timid as everyone thought. Turns out Marylou spent her spare time digging up dirt on her neighbors and left behind a list of their secrets. Much to her horror, Sadie’s name is right on top. 

Eager to keep her past buried, Sadie, with the help of her best friend Rob and Dan Bartlett, the town’s sexy new chief of detectives, sets out to who on the list was desperate enough to kill. Will she discover the answer before the truth gets out? 

Or will the killer find Sadie first? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

#FASHION WITH GUEST AUTHOR ANNA DURBIN ON WHAT THE WELL-DRESSED REGENCY LADY WORE

Regency era walking dress
Anna Durbin grew up reading sagas of gallant heroes and spirited heroines and began crafting her own elaborate stories in her imagination at a young age. It was only natural that she would one day write them down. She also enjoys weaving the symbolism of the tarot deck into her storylines. Her first novel, King of Swords, was a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist. Learn more about Anna and her books at her website. 

It’s March 1816. You’re Lady Cassandra Gardner, and you’re attending a house party in the Lake District. You’ve just had a heated discussion over breakfast with the gentleman who broke your heart years ago. Essentially, he won the argument, so you decide to go for a walk to clear your head. What do you wear?

First of all, a lady couldn’t go anywhere without the basics—her undergarments. Since you’re already up and about, you’re already wearing your shift, stays, and petticoat (in that order). A shift was a short-sleeved or sleeveless white garment worn beneath everything else. It most closely resembled what we think of today as a slip. Over the shift, you’ve fastened your stays. Regency stays were similar to Victorian corsets, only more comfortable and with less boning. They were designed more to lift and augment the bosom than to cinch and shape the waist. Next came your petticoat, which was a full length sleeveless garment made of linen, flannel, or cotton that frequently featured a decorative hem of lace or ruffles. This hem was designed to show beneath the outer gown. Note that you wore no drawers because drawers were considered racy at the time.

You trade the silk stockings you wore to breakfast for a pair of warm woolen ones, since it’s likely to be chilly outside. Garters that were tied, hooked, or buckled either above or below the knee hold your stockings in place.

You wore your morning dress down to breakfast, but since you’re going out, you must change into a walking gown. Regency ladies had dresses for every occasion, including dresses purposefully made for walking out of doors. These dresses were made to be seen, so they were fancier than a basic morning dress. Fabrics chosen for walking gowns varied from muslin to velvet, depending on the season. White was a favorite color, though other colors were often displayed in fashion plates of the day.

Your walking dress emulates the high-waisted neoclassical style so popular in the Regency Era with a closely fitted bodice ending just below the bust and a skirt that hangs straight down the body. The Regency silhouette was simpler than the fashion silhouettes of the earlier Georgian or the later Victorian periods. Whereas Georgian and Victorian fashions called for all sorts of embellishments to be worn beneath the outer dress to enhance the silhouette, such as paniers, bustles, and crinolines, Regency ladies wore just a basic shift and petticoat beneath their dresses.

Now that you’re dressed for walking, you’re ready to step into your half boots for outdoors. Regency Era boots were often made of nankeen or kid leather, and sometimes, even denim. Unfortunately for women of the day, their shoes—including their boots—were not very sturdy. Half boots were an improvement over dress slippers for outdoor wear, but they were still not very resilient.

Before going outside on a chilly March day, you put on your pelisse, or your coat. You then slip on your kid gloves and don a bonnet to protect your delicate ivory complexion from the ruthless rays of the sun. You grab your reticule in case you need your handkerchief, hussif (sewing kit), or box of comfits while you’re out. And let’s not forget about your Tarot cards! As Lady Cassandra, you never go anywhere without your Tarot cards.

Ready to face the elements now, you head outdoors for an isolated country lane to forget about the disastrous conversation you had at breakfast. The last person you want to run into is that pesky gentleman with whom you argued earlier, but he is the first one you meet. Naturally. You can’t say how you feel about the situation, but at least you look marvelous.

King of Swords

A fiercely independent spinster who desperately needs assistance . . .

Lady Cassandra Gardner will inherit fifty thousand pounds when she turns thirty, and just in time. She has a special purpose for her money, one no man could understand. But when her brother the duke tries to cheat her out of her fortune, she has no choice but to accept the help of the man who shattered her heart years ago.

A gallant nobleman who can’t resist rescuing a damsel in distress . . .

Lord William Poniard is looking for a wife, but the last woman he should consider marrying is his archenemy’s sister, the woman who hates him with a vengeance. Yet, when she is compromised by a silly nitwit, he sees an opportunity not only to rescue the lady by marrying her but also to exact revenge on the duke for his past betrayal.

Will she accept his offer of help and at what cost?

Sparks fly between them when their attraction to one another ignites into a passion neither saw coming. Will one night of rapture unite them or drive them apart? Can she forget past wounds and let him into her heart? And can he convince her that she is the only woman he wants?

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

HEALTHY LIVING--AUTHOR CHARMAINE GORDON ON HOW LIFE ISN'T OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER

Charmaine Gordon spread her wings at age fifty-four to drive alone to New York City and find a career as an actor. She worked on One Life to Live for eleven years, All My Children for two, and Another World. She also has roles in many movies, including Working Girl and When Harry Met Sally. She had fun with Harrison Ford, lunched with Anthony Hopkins, and sang with Carrie Fisher. Then one day while performing on stage, she noticed her voice felt odd. The next day, a voice specialist confirmed she had spasmodic dysphonia, which put an end to her acting career. That’s when Charmaine started writing. Today she stops by to tell us why age is just a number. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

No Time for Green Bananas

Writers get their ideas from strange places. While visiting with a dear friend in Chicago a while back, she told me about a cousin who mentioned the phrase “No Time for Green Bananas” and laughed his head off. He stretched it out to say, “I’m too old for green bananas.” I found it funny yet true. After I returned to New York, the words blossomed in my head. A story was born. At least the title held firm and I fleshed out two characters to fit. I pictured a seventy-five-year-old woman, now widowed, who owns an airline for pleasure trips. Very upscale. The man is a sixty-year-old widower whose wife’s last words were, “Find a good woman to be with.” They meet on the trip to the Saranac Lake Region where people enjoy scaling the mountains and dancing by night.

So far so good, I thought, and start a new story. This is how it begins every time. I fall in love with my characters as they fall in love with each other. It’s a joy to create and write. I never realized this would be a career until I lost my good voice and could no longer be in show business. I’m a woman who believes in Survive and Thrive. That’s what I do. No matter what happens, chin up, smile, and get over myself.

“No Time for Green Bananas” is one of three stories of mature love, passion, and suspense in The Beginning…Not the End. I never dreamed a 5-star review would appear after publication. To dream the impossible dream is not out of reach, dear readers. The Golden Years can sparkle with love and romance combined with humor. Thank you for helping my dreams come true, and all you had to do was turn the pages to be swept away with the knowledge that life isn’t over ‘til it’s over. So enjoy every moment.

My name is Charmaine Gordon, a senior and the author of these Mature Romances. Welcome to my world.

The Beginning…Not the End
Three stories of mature love, passion, and suspense

“No Time for Green Bananas”—Celeste Hamlin, seventy-five year old widow, has a goal to conquer the six mountains in the Saranac Lake region before deciding to do with the rest of her llife. Sixty-two year old Professor Paul Harris meets the dynamic Celeste, and recalls the last words his wife said before she passed. "Find another love and begin again." Will they begin again?

“She Didn't Say No”—Grace didn't say no to the Big Man On Campus, Scott Dwyer. And then her life changed...Years later. a too-close encounter of an unpleasant kind with a skunk and Scott's German Shepherd reunites the former lovers. What happens in between are their stories of beginnings and endings and love lost, then found.

“Dr. D and the Dad”—A trip over a mound of sand on the beach begins a journey for Diane O'Rourke and Tony Flannigan. She's a pediatrician, a bit over weight; he has a foster care home with three children under his sheltering wing...and a dark secret. Can they overcome the past and make the future work for them? They might just find the initial trip was well worth it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR CONSTANCE WALKER ON AUTUMN AND APPLE PIE

Constance Walker is the author of several Gothic and contemporary fiction works. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Ode to Autumn

Autumn is my favorite season – there’s an orderliness about it that I like and after long, hot sunny lazy days of “where shall we go, what shall we eat, what shall we do?” summer, there’s a return to planning in almost every part of our lives. It’s time to get back to the routines of jobs, school, family, and friends. As the Professor in my new novel, Storytime at the Villa Maria, believes, it’s really the beginning of a new year. And it is!

It’s goodbye to summer meals that you never felt like cooking and hello to thick vegetable soups and stews and lasagna and spaghetti. It’s hello to winter pears and juicy oranges and baked potatoes and hot cocoa in the evening, fragrant teas in the afternoon. It’s fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and sponge cakes and hot fruit pies. (Ella, another Villa resident, always baked “sweet apple pies” for her war-wounded veteran husband.)

Autumn has its own language of clothes:  it conjures scarves and jackets and gloves and heavy sweaters – Sophie, who also lives in the Villa, loves to knit them for her family and friends. It’s taking out that old soft sweatshirt that you’ve had for years – the one you swear you’re going to throw away “soon” but somehow never can because it’s your lucky sweatshirt that has so many good memories.

There are autumn words and phrases that convey feelings of home and family and peace and calm:  “Brisk” walks on city streets and country roads, “chilly” nights that require a blanket or afghan, “windy” days and nights like when, Ben, another character, has to retrieve the hat of a Villa resident that has blown down the street.

Even autumn light is different – somehow the sun is a deeper gold, the sky bluer and the clouds whiter and more distinct. The season’s colors – burgundy and crimson and deep yellows and purples and oranges are reflected in big pots of chrysanthemums and pumpkins, and golden tans, scarlets and dark green shades show in just-about-to, or already, fallen leaves.

There’s a refresh/reset button for people in September, October and November – it’s a getting back to order before the cold comes. It’s a vow to straighten closets and drawers, to read a book, to listen to the sounds and rhythms of the family. It’s children’s arithmetic homework, it’s taking care of the family and having lots of “sniffle” tissues in the house, and it’s a “must lose ten pounds before the holidays” promise to yourself. It’s getting back to old friends – Saturday night get-togethers for adults and board and electronic games with the children, and the promise of Hallowe’en fun for the kids and the excitement of many religions’ holidays to come.

Autumn is the beginning of everything in its place, everything in order. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to it. I revel in it.

Autumn is…

The characters in Storytime at the Villa Maria are in the late-autumn/early winter of their lives, but that doesn't stop them from enjoying whatever the golden years may bring.

Dutch Apple Pie

Ingredients:
1 deep dish pie shell (everyone has their own favorite way of making pastry) 
6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (I use a combination of tart and sweet apples like Granny Smith McIntosh, Johnathon Gold, Winesap, etc.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar. Packed
1/3 cup butter or margarine at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375F degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the sliced apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Place mixture in pie shell, mounding the apples higher in the middle.

In another bowl, blend together the topping ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until it begins to crumble. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the sliced apples.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the crust and topping are deep golden brown.

Storytime at the Villa Maria

Meet…

Dominick, who married “the most beautiful woman in the world”…

Sophie, who is haunted by terrifying memories of the Holocaust…

Ella, who made “sweet apple pies” for her war veteran husband…

Tom, whose music lured women into his arms…

Artie, who is plagued by the ghosts of long-dead soldiers…

Frank, who can't let go of his yesterdays, though a better tomorrow beckons…

Join them and others as they gather every Monday night in the library at the Villa Maria to share their memories, their fears, and their dreams.

Storytime at the Villa Maria—the unforgettable book about life lived and still to be lived, and about the mysterious threads of joy and heartache and love that are woven into every life—including your own! 

A charming novel of senior citizens, storytelling, nostalgia, and a world gone by but not forgotten
    
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Monday, September 25, 2017

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--EMBROIDERED ALTARPIECE



When author Lois Winston isn’t placing me in situations where I’m tripping over dead bodies, she designs needlework projects for the world’s leading manufacturer of embroidery floss.


As you know, if you’re a regular follower of this blog, Lois recently vacationed in Montreal and Quebec and has been sharing her vacation with us, especially interesting crafts and artworks she’s come across. Today’s installment features the embroidery that surrounds French artist Antoine Callet’s Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, an altarpiece painted c. 1820 that now resides in the Quebec Museum of Art.


The central medallion, c. 1818, is oil on canvas, surrounded by a combination of polychrome silk and chenille threads, Japan gold, Japan silver, gold and silver twist with plate, spangles, purl and cabochons on a silk velvet background.

Friday, September 22, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR ANNE LOUISE BANNON

Anne Louise Bannon has made not one, but two careers out of her passion for storytelling. Both a novelist and a journalist, she has an insatiable curiosity. In addition to her mystery novels, she has written a nonfiction book about poisons, freelanced for such diverse publications as the Los Angeles Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Backstage West, and edits a wineblog. On the fiction side, she writes a romantic serial, a spy series, and her Kathy and Freddy historical mystery series, set in the 1920s. Her most recent title is The Last Witnesses. Learn more about Anne and her books at her website. 

Freddie’s First Day in Los Angeles
From the diary of Frederick G. Little, III, author of The Old Money Story and one of the protagonists of the Freddie and Kathy series, set in the Roaring 1920s. In their latest adventure, Freddie’s sister Honoria finds a body in her apartment. Freddie and Kathy take up the search with Honoria, and the three find themselves caught up in a conspiracy that could get them killed, no matter how unbelievable it is.

October 16, 1925, 10 a.m.
Amabassador Hotel, Los Angeles

Good Heavens, what an amazing day was yesterday. Joshua offered to drive me into Los Angeles, itself, all the way from his home in Placentia. He said it was only about forty miles and thought nothing of driving it.

The weather was and remains exceedingly fine. No, scratch that. It’s out and out hot. But then a breeze springs up from the ocean and it’s very pleasant. I can well see the attraction of the area, if this is normal for October, as I am told it is.

My first glimpse of the city was not overwhelmingly impressive. The skyline is not particularly distinctive, although there is a great deal of construction going on. And the oil derricks. They are everywhere. It’s one thing to hear and know that oil is a major business out here. It’s another thing completely to see it. I can well believe that they are pumping millions of gallons of oil.

The hotel is quite comfortable. However, Lowell did not do its splendors justice. Better yet, the concierge was able to provide me with excellent valet service and that went a long way to making me feel more at ease. Lowell, of course, was far more impressed with the easy availability of liquor in the hotel.

That being said, I remain profoundly grateful that my dearest friend is here. Not only are the reasons that brought me here utterly unsettling, there is the fact that we are in the heart of the movie business. In fact, Lowell introduced me to a couple of gentlemen from Riverwind Pictures. Never heard of them, but they’d heard of my book. I suppose I should be flattered by that, and their supposed interest in turning The Old Money Story into a film. Except that they clearly had not read it! How would they know what kind of film it would make if they haven’t read it? Lowell says that’s quite immaterial, which is not entirely reassuring, either.

All in all, there is a certain brash exuberance to this city that I confess, I did not anticipate. There is a great deal of money to be made here, whether one is in the oil business or the picture business, or in both, as I suspect many are. And the city is clearly growing. It’s not New York, but I do believe there is something special here, and it’s not just the weather.

Off to my meeting with Mr. Walsh. More to come.

The Last Witness
It's back to the 1920s with socialite author Freddie Little and his editor and not-so-blushing bride Kathy Briscow. In fact, Freddie and Kathy are happily enjoying their newly married bliss when Freddie's sister Honoria finds a dead body in her apartment. Honoria had taken the young woman in as a favor to a friend, but it soon becomes clear that the favor caught up. Honoria goes into hiding, and Freddie and Kathy take up a chase that will lead all three of them across the country and into a conspiracy that, no matter how unbelievable, could get them all killed.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

#TRAVEL TO THE JERSEY SHORE WITH GUEST AUTHOR CARIDAD PINEIRO

OG Surf and Skate Shop, Ocean Grove, New Jersey
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Caridad Pineiro has sold over a million romance novels worldwide. She’s a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with pork roll and the Jersey Shore but still can’t get the hang of tomato pies. As a founding member of Liberty States Fiction Writers and a speaker at writing conferences and writing organizations around the country, she uses her passion for writing to help others explore and develop their own writing skills. Learn more about Caridad and her books at her website. 

First of all, thank you so much, Anastasia, for letting me come by and share some of the location inspiration for my new release, One Summer Night, the first book in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance series from Sourcebooks Casablanca.

As you might guess from the series name, the stories are set at the beach in Sea Kiss, a fictional town that is a melding of several of my favorite towns along the Jersey Shore. Today I’m going to share a little bit about one of those towns, Ocean Grove, which is one of my favorite shore towns.

Located just south of neighboring Asbury Park, Ocean Grove is a quaint town filled with lovely Victorian homes and a shopping district with a hometown feel. You’ll get to taste some of that atmosphere in One Summer Night as the characters stroll through town. There’s even a little homage to my daughter’s surf and skate shop on Main Avenue.

Ocean Grove was originally founded by the Methodists and is today still owned by the Camp Meeting Association. For that reason, the town is dry and many of the homes are on land that is owned by the Association and only leased to the homeowners. Not that long ago, residents could not park their cars in town on Sunday and to this day, the beach does not open until noon on Sundays to allow residents to attend religious services. Some of those services are actually held in a small pavilion on the boardwalk.
Ocean Grove tent camp
One of the most interesting elements in town that track to its faith-based mission are the tents which are erected every May and taken down in late September. The tents are a holdover from when the Methodists would hold their camp revival meetings on the beach. At some point the structures became more permanent with small sheds to hold the kitchens and bathrooms and the tented area for sleeping. They are lovely to see and are decorated quite nicely by the summer residents. Some of the residents are descendants of the original Methodists who constructed the tents. More than 100 of them remain in town.

In One Summer Night, the families of the heroes and heroines have lived in Sea Kiss for nearly a century and have grand Victorian homes on the beachfront. It was so much fun to craft these homes and the nearby town to give you a taste of what I love about the Jersey Shore and Ocean Grove in particular. The town is a unique gem, so much so, that the entire town has been designated a National Historic landmark.

But for me it’s not just the beautiful homes, main street and of course, the beach, it’s about the wonderful sense of community that exists in the town.

I remember going there with my daughter a week after Hurricane Sandy hit the area to see how her store had fared. She was lucky not to have damage, but the boardwalk area was hit pretty hard. When we got to the boardwalk there were dozens and dozens of residents out there cleaning up the mess. From little ones picking up small pieces of wood to adults of all ages, they were there trying to put things to right.

You’ll see some mention of that in One Summer Night as well, since the hero and heroine, Maggie Sinclair and Owen Pierce, are quite involved in Sea Kiss and helping to keep it thriving.

I hope you enjoyed this look into the inspiration for Sea Kiss, my little town in the At the Shore series. I hope you’ll check out One Summer Night, which is now available for pre-order and will be out in print and e-book on October 3. The second book in the series, What Happens in Summer, will be out in late Spring 2018, and you’ll get to spend some more time with Owen’s brother Jonathan and Maggie’s best friend Connie Reyes. Plus you’ll get to see a little more of Sea Kiss!

One Summer Night

An offer that’s impossible to accept…

Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family’s business, including mortgaging their beloved beach house on the Jersey shore. But now, she’s out of options. 

The Sinclair and Pierce families have been neighbors and enemies for almost thirty years. That hasn’t stopped Owen Pierce from crushing on Maggie, and he’s determined to invest in her success. Now he has to convince her that he’s more than just trouble with a capital T…

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

JUDY BAKER'S HERB GARDEN

Judy Baker writes historical western romances and as Anna Sugg, writes contemporary/paranormal/fantasy stories Learn more about Judy/Anna and her books at her website. 

Now that fall is here – almost, September 22, 2017 and time for me to harvest my herbs, I thought I would share with you all the herbs that I’ve been growing throughout the season.

I decided to make a mixture for use during the fall, winter, and spring months. I’m excited. I took all my herbs that I grew in my herb box and flower garden: basil, red peppers, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. I also grew chives, dill, Anaheim peppers, and Jalapeno peppers. By the way, I also grow lavender, spicy bell peppers, and pumpkins.


I cut and dried my herbs, then combined a mixture and put them in an air-tight jar. I labeled the jars (decided to give them as Christmas gifts to my family) and gave one to my husband who does a lot of grilling and smoking. He sautéed a spoonful of the herb mixture in butter, then coated the meat. It was delicious.



It seems that once fall arrives, it’s the holidays (my hubby is looking forward to using his herb mixture on his Thanksgiving turkey). My favorite holiday is Christmas, so of course, my newly released novel is a Christmas story. Who doesn’t love Christmas stories? You’ll be introducted to Santa’s brother in a fun romantic Christmas in the fictitous western town of Karibou, Wyoming

Karibou Magic
An old veterinarian brings Christmas magic back into her life with his special reindeer. Will his handsome son shatter that belief? 

Christmas is magic. At least that’s what Eva Mars Bowman thought until that tragic night. Running from her past, she accepts a job with an old veterinarian in a small town in Wyoming. With Doc’s help and his magical reindeer, she has a reason to believe in Christmas magic once again.

Her newly found Christmas magic shatters. Doc’s estranged son, Trebek Nickolas, returns with plans to change all that his father has built, including getting rid of the reindeer.

Compared to his father, Trebek is coldhearted and wants nothing to do with Christmas. Can she convince him that forgiving and loving will bring back the Christmas magic he knew as a child? Will Christmas magic be stripped away from her life again, forever?

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