After decades of writing for anthologies and magazines, award-winning author J.E. (Jayne) Barnard saw her first novel published at age fifty-five and has now published six novels. Her writing year is split between Calgary with her cat and Vancouver Island with a resident owl. Both creatures ignore her office hours. Learn more about Jayne and her books at her website.
The Sweetest Launch Party for my Saddest Novel
Getting a book published is a huge deal in every new author’s life, and a launch party provides a focus for that excitement. Friends show up, you read an excerpt and answer some questions, sign books and accept congratulations.
I launched four books in a row like that at my great indie bookstore, Owls Nest Books in Calgary, Canada. We had decorations, snacks, and music to match some element of each book. We sold enough books each time to get onto the local bestseller list. But I was looking to change it up. To surprise the guests while still keeping to the new book’s theme.
Where the Ice Falls takes place from early December through to Orthodox Christmas Eve on January 6th. In it, Lacey and Dee and their two Irish setters, are spending a last Christmas with Dee’s dying mother. Together they decorate Christmas cookies amid their grieving and their murder investigation. Those cookies spread out to friends and soften up suspects.
So, for the launch, I made (gluten-free) Christmas cookies. I didn’t decorate them all, though. Instead, guests gathered around festive holiday tables in the bookstore with tubs of sprinkles and tubes of icing. Everyone decorated cookies while I read that scene to them, then we all talked about favourite Christmases and best friendships.
It was my sweetest launch not only for those sugar cookies, but for the fun shared around those tables filled with icing and sprinkles.
Gluten-free Sugar Cookies for decorating
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon or ginger
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (reserving 2 Tbsp for rolling out with)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (if your flour blend doesn’t have it)
Cream together butter and sugar, add egg, water/milk, and your chosen extract and blend well.
Mix together dry ingredients and add gradually to wet, blending thoroughly. Dough should be slightly sticky.
Wrap dough with wax paper and chill in fridge at least 1 hour. Keeps well in fridge for a week.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Let dough sit on counter 15 minutes ahead. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and assemble your cookie cutters.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut out 18-24 cookies. As this dough is a bit more fragile than gluten dough, lift cookies carefully to the lined pans so they don’t break apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for at least 5 minutes (10 is better) before moving to a cooling rack.
When completely cool, decorate as you choose. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (although they may become a bit crumbly in a humid climate.)
Where the Ice Falls
The Falls Mysteries, Book 2
Found by a psychic who wasn’t looking for him, the dead intern disrupts a ski chalet’s sale and everybody’s Christmas plans. Can ex-Mountie Lacey cope with a murder investigation and the reluctant psychic on top of her best friend’s absence, her roommate’s visiting mother, and her car getting stolen?