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#RWA17, So, we come to the end….

It took me almost 2 weeks to tell you everything I wanted to about RWA 17, but there are still a few things I want to mention.

There was a new format this year for the Golden Hearts and the RITA awards ceremonies. In the past, both events have occurred on the last night before the end of the conference, and usually the only food you see are desserts. This year, the RWA Board decided to split the ceremonies into 2, with the Golden Hearts a luncheon and the RITA’S a…dessert. Yes, again. But I digress. It was actually great splitting the two for several reasons, not the least of which was that we didn’t need to sit in a noisy, crowded ball room for more than 2.5 hours while the awards and the speeches were done. The Golden Heart luncheon took about an hour, the lunch was great and the dessert wasn’t bad, either, although I was allergic to everything in it, so had to rely on the reactions of the others at my table to determine if it was good.

The RITA awards took place the same night, featured many desserts which again I was allergic to,

and a cry-induced speech by the amazeballs Beverly Jenkins, who was the Nora Roberts LIfeTime Achievement award winner this year. It’s no wonder this woman is such an amazing writer- she is a phenomenal speaker!

Now, many of you may know I was a Stiletto Finalist this year for my holiday novel A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS.

Stiletto Finalist 2017

I didn’t win…but there’s always next year, and in all honesty, it was fabulous to be a finalist in such a prestigious RWA chapter contest! Thank you CRW!

Now, I can’t forget my two favorite events: The Kensington Book signing and the Literacy book signing. For Kensington, I gave out my books along with my hand painted produce bags that I schlepped with me as a swag item. Let me tell you, people lovedlovedloved them!!!

Here’s me at the Literacy signing – which was packed to the hilt with readers!

So Sunday morning, after a very busy and HOT week, I got myself to the airport via Shuttle ( nightmare, again!!! But that’s for another blog post) made it through security because of TSA pre-check( Thank you, Jesus and the TSA!) and settled down to wait for my plane to leave while I listened to some of the workshops I missed via the flash drive.

I listened on the plane home, too!

Le Sigh…. Now I have to wait a whole year to go to RWA18 in Denver. I’d better start painting more bags….

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#Celebrating some good news.

Just found out that my Wild Rose Press book from last Christmas holiday season A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest from the Contemporary Romance Writers RWA chapter! I’m one of 3 finalists in the Contemporary Romance – short division.

Can you just say “YOWZA!!!”

I am uber-stoked. A KISS came in 3rd in the NECRWA 2017 Reader’s Choice awards, and now this!!! My little romance writing heart is all aflutter today. And probably will be until July 28 when the winners are announced at RWA2017.

Yikes! I need to get to the gym so I can fit into a nice dress for the announcements…

See ya……………………

But before I go, if you haven’t read A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS yet ( and why not???) here’s a little taste:

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not. Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

 

Excerpt:

At twenty-four I still lived under my parents’ roof, had no full-time paying job other than helping my father with his business books and those of a few of his business associates, and my love life was nonexistent.

It wasn’t that I didn’t get asked out or date. I did. Often. Plus, I was perpetually being set-up by the aunts and uncles. I’d had a steady boyfriend all through high school, but we went our separate ways when we each left for college. My choices had been limited in recent years to guys I met in college–who were all looking to score, not forge a lifetime commitment—and then in accounting school who were, for lack of a better word, boring and absorbed either in numbers theory, finding jobs after graduation, or in just getting into my pants. The men my extended family routinely set me up with were mostly thick-necked, uneducated, wiseguy wannabes who wanted a conventional Italian bride they could keep barefoot, pregnant, and cooking.

So. Not. Me.

I needed to make some decisions about my life and make them soon. First, pass the exams and get licensed. Then, look for a real job so I could afford to live on my own. This one might be the hardest to accomplish since my parents were old-school thinkers who believed girls should stay home until they were married. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go from their house to a husband’s house, and never experience what it would be like living on my own.

Lastly, I wanted to find the one special guy I could commit to. A guy who’d be family oriented like me, want kids, the minivan, a house in the ‘burbs, the whole family-comes-first-and-always mentality I’d been breastfed on.

I wasn’t too picky. Obviously, I didn’t want him to look like a troll, but nice looking wouldn’t hurt since I’d be spending eternity staring across the kitchen table at his face. A good-paying job would be nice in a career where I didn’t need to worry he’d make one wrong move and wind up as fish food in the Meadowlands marshes.

Don’t laugh: have I mentioned my Uncle Sonny?

BuyLinks:

Amazon // Wild Rose Press//  Kobo // Nook

When I’m not celebrating, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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The final tally in #Predators&Editors

Finished in 5th place!

Finished in 5th place!

So, for the past several weeks, the Predators and Editors 2016 readers poll has been in effect. I will tell you truthfully, I was lobbying hard for a  place in the ROMANCE SECTION and after all my arduous begging – I mean– hard work(!) I tied for 5th place. Not too shabby, considering the hundreds of entries.

I had a few people who are not involved with writing, publishing or anything related to either, ask me why I pushed so hard for a place in the contest results. I don’t get any prize money, or anything lucrative for coming in the top ten;  I don’t automatically have an influx in my books sales. The answer, though, really is a simple one.

I wanted to come in as high as I could because of the exposure an event like this has. I am still a relatively unknown author. Yes, I’ve had 7 books published in 18 months and I have three more due out this year. I have begun to build my — for lack of a better word — following. But I still need to grow more readers and a good way to do that is with global exposure such as the P&E poll. Hopefully, since I did finish so high up, people who don’t know my work will take a chance and order the book that came in 5th place – A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. And if they like that one, they might try the others, as well.

The snowball effect of finding a new author is a proven thing. When I discovered Jill Shalvis 3 years ago I went out and bought as many of her backlist as I could find and now I have all her new stuff on pre-order. I don’t think I’m the only reader who does this. In fact, I know I’m not, after talking with other readers.

So, thanks to all who voted for me. I promise I won’t hound you anymore. Well, at least not until next year when P&E rolls around again!

For those of you who haven’t read A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin; to whet your appetite and — hopefully — you’ll want to read the rest!

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Blurb:

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

Excerpt:

His back was to me and he was carrying a table, but after he put it down and turned around I got a good look at the front of him.

And Holy Mary, Mother of God, what a front he had.

Close cropped military style hair the color of wind blown wheat topped a head which stood – truly – head and shoulders above everyone else around. The guy had to be six-three at least. Sharp, etched cheekbones God cut with a knife, sat under oval eyes which looked deep and dark from where I stood. His face was a composite of planes and angles, the carved cheeks meeting up with a chiseled-from-stone chin. Hardened concrete looked softer than this guy’s jawline. His nose was perfectly fixed in the center of his face, the slight aquiline bend at the tip bringing to mind Michelangelo’s David, the cupid’s bow under it deep and pronounced. Clean shaven, his mouth was full and thick and – God help me – looked utterly kissable.

I could tell even with the chunky vest covering his torso, he was closer to thin than stocky, but if I could guess from the way his biceps pulled against his sleeves, he had some muscle to him.

And some pair of legs. They went on forever, from heaven to earth in a full, hard line.

I don’t know how long I stood there, just gawking with my mouth open looking like a cannoli waiting to be filled, but I’m being truthful when I say I couldn’t move. My feet were frozen to the ground, my knees had locked, and my hips weren’t taking me anywhere soon.

This was one beautiful man.

Buy Links: Amazon //  Wild Rose Press //  Nook

When I’m not begging people to vote for me, you can probably find me anywhere here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

 

 

 

 

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A #sale, a #ValentinesDay gift, and a good #romance

3wishessale

My lovely Publisher, The WILD ROSE PRESS is having a Valentine’s day sale and all the Candy Heart eBooks are now 40% off. My addition to the crew, 3 WISHES, is one of these! If you read A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights and enjoyed it ( I hope, I hope!) you’ll love 3 WISHES because it introduces you to the large, loving, and crazy San Valentino family.

Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to whet you candy day appetite from 3 WISHES.

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Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

Excerpt:

At about five minutes of ten I was almost ready to turn the Closed sign on the door when it opened. I heard Janie’s breath hitch and turned from where I was sweeping up. Staying open late is always a risk, with the thought thieves will invade at the end of the day.

If the guy standing at the door glancing around the shop was a thief, then Dio mio, I wanted to be robbed.

About six foot, his hair was the color of a deer’s pelt, with autumnal golds and browns shot together in a glorious patchwork that grazed the collar of his jacket and curled a little at the ends. He wore a faded brown bomber jacket over a shirt I couldn’t see, but he had shoulders almost as wide as my doorway. A pair of well-worn jeans covered his mile long legs, and the fabric on the stress points at his knees was practically white.

“We’re about to close,” I heard myself say. “Can I help you?”

It was at that moment he looked over at me.

His face could have been sculpted by Da Vinci or Michelangelo. A broad, smooth, forehead housed naturally arched eyebrows I knew some of my gay guy friends would have paid a fortune to have on their own faces. His cheeks were carved from marble, high, smooth and deep. And his mouth, mother-of-God, his mouth. Full, thick beautiful lips sat perfectly over a chin with a dent you could shove a button into and have it stay put.

“Sorry,” he said, those fabulous lips pulling up a little shyly at the corners. “I got stuck at work and couldn’t get here until now. I’ll be quick. Promise.”

So here’s the thing: the guy was gorgeous. But even if he’d looked like a frog with raw antipasto smothering his face, I would have dropped to my knees when he opened his mouth. Warm honey, a shot of raw whiskey, and a little hot puff of smoke wafted from his mouth like a fine and rare brandy being decanted.

Buy Links: The Wild Rose Press  // Amazon

And when I’m not out promoting sales, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Of #ChristmasCookies and #recipes…

So yesterday I told you about the San Valentino family’s predilection for baking like there was no tomorrow during the Christmas season. Cookies, tarts, sweet breads, cakes and pastries can be found everyday cooling on baking racks, eaten almost before they are sufficiently cooled down. I thought you might like a recipe or two from Francesca and Nonna Constanza’s files, so here you go…and you’re welcome. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: once you make these and the word gets out – you’re gonna be chained to the kitchen making batch after batch after….to appease the sweet teeth of your friends and family.

PIZZELLES –

sancookie

first, you need to have a Pizzelle Iron, so make sure you do otherwise you won’t be making anything but batter!

Ingredients for the batter:

2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1 cup sifted granulated sugar

3/4 cup melted and cooled unsalted butter

2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla extract OR ANISE extract ( Nonna uses Anise only!)

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 slightly beaten eggs

Method: Heat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mix all the ingredients together in large bowl by hand using a wooden spoon until you have a pasty batter.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into each pizzelle design and close the lid. Bake about 30 seconds or until the cookie is an even, golden brown. Carefully remove from the mold and cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes about 42 cookies, give or take depending on how many you eat before they cool completely!!!

Nonna’s Favorite Biscotti with Royal Icing

san5

Make sure you have a cup of strong coffee or tea on hand when you eat these. You’ll know why once the cookies are baked!

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick of real, unsalted butter, softened ( not melted!)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon zest ( Nonna prefers to zest the lemon right before she adds it to the batter so the flavor is fresh and pungent.)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure lemon extract

4 oz white baking chocolate – shredded or chopped

1/3 toasted and sliced almonds

Method:

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Sift: flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and zest in another bowl until well incorporated. Then, add the eggs one at a time with the mixer set to low speed. Add in the extract and then the flour mixture. Fold in the almonds and the white chocolate.

Roll out onto a floured surface and dived the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each into a foot by 1 inch roll/log then place on a floured, greased baking sheet

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until each roll is equally golden brown. Cook for 15 minutes then cut into slices, like bread, using a well sharpened or serrated knife. Once they are sliced, put them back in the oven for another 4-6 minutes until the are darker golden brown and crisp ( like toast.) Once they are completely cooled, drizzle with royal icing. ( recipe to follow)

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon salt

4cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

3/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup meringue powder

Add all the dry ingredients together  into a mixing bowl and mix with a whisk until incorporated

Add the water a little at a time,  continually mixing on a very low setting until the water is fully incorporated. Then, swtich to a higher speed and beat until the icing looks fluffy ( like marshmallows). You can either dip the biscotti into the icing, or if you want to drizzle it like Nonna does, over the tops, you need to thin it up a little by adding tiny drops of water until you can put a fork in it, pull the fork up, and have the icing drizzle down.

If you want to read all about the San Valentino and Gia’s Christmas story, here’s where you can get a copy of A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS:

akissucl_850-1

Amazon // Wild Rose Press//  B&N

 

and when I’m not baking and eating cookies you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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The power of a blog hop…

Recently, I was privileged to be included in two Halloween Blog Hops, chock-filled with romance authors of every genre. Whenever an author is part of a blog hop, there is usually some kind of prize or giveaway attached to it – called a rafflecopter ( why? I don’t know!!) – where readers who visit the blog can get a chance to win prizes if they do certain things, such as  “Like” an author’s FB page, or “follow” them on Twitter. For one of the hops, my prizes were a free ecopy of my book FIRST IMPRESSIONS for two readers who responded to a question I put up in the blog post, plus I was involved in the bigger prizes of amazon gift cards.  One of the choices was to “follow” me on Twitter for a chance at a gift card. The day the blogs started I had roughly 600 follows on Twitter. Can I mention that I don’t even KNOW 600 people personally!! When the blog hop ended I had 1270 plus followers. This, my friends, is the power of social media…and bribery.

Now, when the hop officially ended and the prizes had been awarded, I was prepared to loose a few new followers. Let’s be honest, most probably FOLLOWED me because there was a prize involved and once it was paid, there was no need to continue with me.

But….

Several days after the hop ended I was still pleasantly surprised. I only “lost” 2 followers. Now, I may lose more as the days progress, but I am doing my darndest to hold on to them by blogging frequently, and by thanking them for the follows. I am not above pleading and whining, folks! If these new people decide they want to try me on as a new author, well, happy day!! The hop was worth it.

So, this, to me, is the power of social media, folks. Oh, and BTW my FB page followers tripled!!!

Gotta love an author holiday blog hop!!

When I’m not hopping around you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+

And don’t forget, my newest release, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS releases on 11/30!

akissucl_850-1

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