Tag Archives: Mistaken Identity

Sometimes, I get it right…..

You never know if what you are writing is going to be received well. It’s like a comic performing in front of an audience for the first time. He knows he’s funny. He likes his jokes, his routine, but he’s just not sure the audience is going to “get it.”

That’s typically the way I feel when I write. Is anyone going to “get it?” Are they going to understand what I mean? The intention behind the innuendo? My weird sense of humor?

Well, today I know someone got it – and a big someone at that. I received my first professional review for a story that is as near and dear to me as my own family – A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS.  I’ve included a link to the review here because I sososososo want to brag about, er… share it! The review is from LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS and I’ve been hoping they would review something of mine since my first book was released. It took two years and 7 books, but they finally did and I just have to pull a Sally Field and say “she liked it! She really liked it!!!”

Here’s the link to the review LASR

Here’s a little about the book:

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

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:

After an hour of helping people move supplies from cars, I passed by mama who was carrying a humongous plastic swaddled baby Jesus statue for the crèche when she called out, “The new guy is here.”

“Where?” I put down the ladder I’d been carting and looked in the general direction of where she’d pointed her chin since her arms were full of the Lord.

I found him in an instant. It wasn’t difficult to do because he was the only guy in the parking lot I didn’t recognize who was under sixty. Plus, he was dressed head to toe in basic clergy black. Black long sleeved shirt under a black vest over black trousers and standard issue shiny black boring priest shoes.

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.

The old masters would have used him as a springboard for their work, and I could actually picture him in a Botticelli fresco, garbed in Roman robes, lounging with naked, buxom-breasted plump women surrounding him, feeding him grapes and sweetmeats.

In the time it took for a hummingbird to flap its wings once, I pictured myself as one of those women.

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

When I’m not basking in the fabulousness of this review, you can find me here:

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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 –

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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

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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:

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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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A Christmas Wedding Story that could have been a nightmare!

With the publication of my first holiday-themed romance novel, A Kiss Under the Christmas lights, I thought I’d give you a little insight into my own Christmas-centered love story.

I was married the day after Christmas. Yup, December 26. Boxing Day in the UK; 1/2 price retail day in the US. Everyone I knew was surprised, and I think a little anxious, about a wedding at Christmas time because, really, sosososo many things could go wrong and spoil the day. Since I was getting married in New York, we could have had a terrible snow storm, ruining the day and the travel plans of my guests. Because so many people travel on the days leading up to and including Christmas day, you need to plan for twice the travel and drive time than you’d  usually give to getting somewhere, so the thought I’d be late – or anyone in my wedding party would – was great.

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Booking a Catholic church for a wedding the day after the Lord’s birthday was a nightmare. My regular church was already taken, and I “shopped around” for weeks until I found one that had an opening. It wasn’t my family church, but it was an old, neighborhood one, complete with ecclesiastical frescos and stained glass windows. So pretty. Oh, and its name was serendipitous because it was St. Margaret Mary Church. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why it was so fitting.

The holidays are typically met with joy, fun, and in many cases, depression. I had two invited guests tell me they weren’t coming because they usually felt blue this time of year and didn’t want to ruin my day with their grumpiness. Thanks for that. Oh, and btw – they didn’t send a gift.

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The holidays are also usually met with weight gain. Do you  know how difficult it was for me not to eat the wealth of delicious holiday food my family always served because I couldn’t afford to gain not–even an ounce–just so my dress would fit??? Torture, it was. Simply, torture.

In addition to the excesses of food offered, the holidays are also a reason to imbibe. And over imbibe, at that. I had more than one relative tell me that Uncle SoandSo or Aunt What’sIt was known to hit the bottle a little harder and faster during the holidays and that I shouldn’t (a.) invite them to the wedding, or (b). if I did invite them, cut them off at the pass ( and by pass, they meant the BAR!), or else I was going to have either a drunken fight, a drunken sound-off, or a drunken mess on my hands.

But….

The day arrived crisp, cloudless, and clear. Not a flurry in sight and the wind was minimal. My dress fit, the limos arrived on time- as did the guests and the wedding party despite the ridiculous, back-up everywhere, shopping traffic- and the ceremony started when it was supposed to.

Because it was the holiday season, I’d chosen the traditional green and red colors for my wedding theme. I know: not very original, but they are a tradition for  a reason! My bridesmaids wore Scarlett O’hara style, hooped green velvet and satin dresses, my flower girl the same dress in red. My groomsman had green bowties, my ring bearer donned red plastic glasses so he’d match my flower girl. I had red and white roses with baby’s breath for flowers and boutonnieres. All in all, it was a very festive looking party.

So when I came up with the idea for a Christmas inspired romance story, I knew I needed my hero and heroine to meet, fall in love, and then commit to one another during the holy season and find their happily-ever-after during such a joyous time. Exactly like I did.

Oh, and just so I fully disclose here: Uncle SOandSo did get drunk and pass out behind the poinsettia-ed dais.

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 

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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 deep and dark oval shaped eyes. 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 well-defined and pronounced. He was clean shaven, and 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 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 like an empty cannoli shell 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.

The old masters would have used him as a springboard for their work, and I could actually picture him in a Botticelli fresco, garbed in Roman robes, lounging while naked, buxom-breasted chubby women fed him grapes and sweetmeats.

In the time it took for a hummingbird to flap its wings once, I pictured myself as one of those women.

I’m giving away one free e-copy (KINDLE) of A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights to anyone who comments below by telling me: what month did you get married in?

Bio:

View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/peggyjheadshots

I write about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

When I’m not writing feverishly into the night, you can usually find me here:

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

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RELEASE DAY!!

I think it’s a little serendipitous that today is the last day of NaNoWriMo and the day my newest book gets released into the world from my publisher.

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A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is here! I’ve been waiting for sosososo long to share Gia and Tim’s story. I’ve read it so many times over the past few months, waiting, just waiting until it could be released as a holiday novel that I’ve got pages of it memorized!! The San Valentino family is one I’d like to call my own for so many reasons. They laugh loudly, live broadly, and love unconditionally. Who wouldn’t want to be a member of such a clan??!!

SO if you like romance/love stories centering around family and you need a little comedic break during these busy holidays, you’ll love this story.

Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin to whet your book reading appetites. Since I never had a sister to share with and learn from, I created sisters who mean the world to one another, Chloe and Gia:

Excerpt:

Sometimes living in such a close-knit family was a little suffocating and lot of claustrophobic.

How to be a good Italian, lesson 3: family comes first, last, forever, and you do everything together. Always.

“Gia,” Chloe said, breaking into my thoughts, “come and help me with your goddaughter. She needs to be changed.”

She rose, as did I, and grabbed the diaper bag sitting in the living room with one hand, her other hand holding her two-month-old. “Lorenzo, be a good boy for Nonna and Papa,” she told her two-year-old son with a kiss to his head.

Up in Gianni and Paolo’s old bedroom, which now served as an all-things-bambino warehouse, Chloe held the baby up to me and said, “Here. You do the honors.” Once she handed her over, she plopped down into the rocking chair Mama had rocked all six of us in and let out a sigh that tugged at my heart.

I laid Arianna down on the changing table Nonna had brought over from Italy with her seventy-five years ago and tickled her little belly. Her toothless grin stared up at me. She was already a heartbreaker and owned my own heart and soul completely.

“Okay, baby sister.” Chloe folded her hands across her stomach. “Spill. What’s up?”

“What do you mean?” I popped open the crotch of the onesie, pushed it up to Arianna’s tiny waist, and bent down to kiss her soft, swollen, little baby belly.

“Your face went the color of Mama’s tomatoes when they started discussing the new priest. What gives?”

Chloe is nine years older than I am and one of the smartest women I know. At times she’s been more of a mother to me than our own, like during the horrible two years Mama went through chemo treatments for breast cancer when I was eleven. Chloe was the one who helped me buy my first bra, taught me about my period, and listened to me when I had questions about boys, sex, and what constituted appropriate dating behavior for girls who came from families like ours: overprotected.

BUY LINKS: Amazon// Wild Rose Press//  B&N

 

 

 

 

 

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One Week Countdown!

I’m all aglow because in just 7 days ( the time it took God to make the world!!!) I get to introduce you all to Gia San Valentino and Tim Santini. My new Holiday/Christmas novel A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS releases on  11.30.16 and I am sosososososos thrilled the time is near.

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Gia could, truthfully, be one of my best friends if she were, you know, real! I loved writing about her and how she deals with her crazy family. As you all know,  family is a big topic for me when I’m penning a story, and a loud, loving, full of life family is one I just love to write about.

Families are a complex network to deal with, navigate through, and survive! Truth, no? The San Valentino family lives hard, loves even harder, and they are a loyal bunch who put the welfare of one another ahead of everything – and everyone – else. Gia, the “oops” baby in the clan, the last of 6 – five planned and, well, you figure it out(!) is the last kid left at home. At the age of 24,she longs for a home of her own, filled with bambini she can spoil and love, and a man who will love her unconditionally.

Into her life walks a man who just might fill the bill. Tall, dark, ridiculously good looking. And best of all: Italian/American and Catholic! But…. he’s forbidden to her, in every conceivable way.

Or, is he? You’ll have to read the story to find out, but I’ll tell you this: love can find you anywhere – even under a set of  glowing and festive Christmas lights.

Preorders are available here: Amazon  //The Wild Rose Press  // B&N //Kobo

Here’s a little sumthin’ to whet your romance reading appetites:

          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 life-time 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, wise-guy 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?

See? I love families and all the crazy that goes with them!

When I’m not basking in this glow of new release-dom, you can find me here:

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

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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press