Friday, June 29, 2007

The Winners Are....

Shari won with her Sugar & Chips Bars but disqualified herself. That left a three way tie between Pat's Stuffed Mushrooms and Pearl's Blueberry Crumble and Diane's Summer Squah and Zucchini Casserole which I must try because I have squash coming out my ears. So I had a drawing. Drumroll please......

Pat's Stuffed Mushrooms is the winner of Candy Halliday's book Dinner First, Me Later.

And a drawing of the voters reveals that Christyjan won a copy of any book from my backlist.

To claim your prizes just e-mail me you mailing address at loriwilde@aol.com.

Thank you all so much for the wonderful recipes. I'll be cooking up a storm.

Lori

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Recipe Swap/And Win a Free Book

I'm an amateur gourmet cook. I love playing with food and trying out new recipes. My favorite place to visit is the whole food store. I get so excited over fresh produce. Well, this weekend, my husband had a craving for soft pretzels. Rather than take a twenty mile drive to the closest mall for Auntie M's soft pretzels. I decided to make my own. While I love to cook, I'm not really much of a baker. Baking is so exact and doesn't allow for much deviation from the recipe, so I was a bit nervous since I usually measure ingredients with my palm inside of a measuring cup.


To my delight, the soft pretzels turned out delicious and dare I say, even better than Auntie M's. Okay, so maybe they're not the most handsome pretzels every twisted, but boy they tasted good.






Here's the recipe courtesy of Alton Brown and the food network.


1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (I used course sea salt crystals)

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.


Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.


Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Yum!

Recipe swap! Drag out your favorite recipe and post it in the comment section. What? You say you're not a cook? Well, you can play anyway, by voting on the recipe you find most appealing. Whichever recipe gets the most votes wins a copy of Candy Halliday's DINNER FIRST, ME LATER. And for those of you who vote, you'll be entered in a second drawing to win a copy of an autographed book from my back list, your choice. So potentially, you could win two books.


Contest runs until Friday June 29th. So get out those recipes!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Housewives Fantasy Club Winner !!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who shared their favorite fantasy guy with us!

When my husband got home from work a few minutes ago, he found me standing at the door waiting for him - HIS favorite baseball cap in my hand - and with everyone's name inside the hat so he could pick the winner.

Drum roll, please ...........

CONGRATULATIONS to Anne (fantasy pick Kiefer Sutherland) !!!!!!

Anne, if you will e-mail me privately at: hallidaybooks@cs.com with your full name and snail-mail address, I'll get your autographed copies of YOUR BED OR MINE? and DINNER FIRST, ME LATER? in the mail this week.

Thanks again to everyone who entered - and for sharing your favorite fantasy guy!

Candy Halliday

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Win the Housewives Fantasy Club Series!

THE HOUSEWIVES FANTASY CLUB

IS BACK IN SESSION!

Every Saturday night, best friends and neighbors Zada, Jen, Tish, and Alicia heat up their quaint little cul-de-saq with the Housewives Fantasy Club. Everyone has a secret fantasy to share - some have better secrets to hide.
Take Alicia Greene, for instance ......
IMAGINE! Retired baseball star Jake "The Rake" Sims living right across the street - in the flesh! So maybe his chiseled pecs and his grand slam physique once made him Alicia's secret famous fantasy lover - Jake's wild lifestyle squelched that dream. Now the only instant replay Alicia wants is keeping Mr. Playboy on his side of the street! That is, until Jake makes Alicia an offer she may not be able to refuse: one night of passion, no strings attached, and no one will ever know.
Hi everyone!
To kick off the new June release of my final book in the Housewives Fantasy Club series, I'm offering a chance to win an authographed copy of both books in the series.
What do you have to do for a chance to win?
Simply share your secret famous fantasy crush - and tell us why.
Names of those who post will be placed in a hat (not very original, I know - but hey - at least you have a fair chance of winning free books) and one name will be drawn at random.
Good Luck!
And don't be shy - we all have that one famous guy we like to fantasize about.
I'll even go first - Matthew McConaughey.
Why? HELLO! Have you seen Matt's picture on the cover of this months People Magazine?
All I can say is - Oh. My. Gawd!
Candy Halliday

Saturday, June 16, 2007

THE JOY OF READING

My name is Shari, and I am a reader.

This admission shouldn't surprise anyone, and everyone in this Cafe likely shares the same addiction. I'm also convinced not a one of us is looking for a cure. In fact, I'd be willing to wager that some of us (hand waving in the air!) would like to read more books in the time available to us for reading.






In one of the romance booklovers groups on MySpace, we're engaged in a June Challenge to decrease the height of our To Be Read stacks. So far I've read four books -- and I've purchased 8. Isn't this the way it always goes? Just when I think I'm making progress, I'm looking for more room to stack a few more books.



You'll notice that none of the books I've posted here are historical romance. I can read historical romance while I'm writing, and it's usually my preferred choice. However, we're working on that TBR pile, and some of these books have been there for awhile, so I decided they must come first. And I've enjoyed them all!


So now the question is, how do I get to read MORE in the time available? We have a two week vacation coming up, which would be a great time to get a bunch of books read. Except we're taking the Harley so there isn't much room to pack books, and I couldn't read anyway because of the bouncing (can't read in the car, either, for the same reason :-( ).


My friends tell me the answer is an iPod. And here I thought iPods were just for music!

I've listened to audio books before, usually in the car when I'm by myself and have a long distance to go. Not quite the same as reading, but close. With an iPod, so I understand, I can download an entire book.

So I think I might try this. No, it won't put any dent in my TBR pile, but I could read while on the back of the bike, cruisin' down the road, and that sounds pretty good to me.
Have any of you tried this? All helpful hints are welcome! Like, what books have you listened to that you thought were well done, and from what sites did you download from?


Shari Anton
TWILIGHT MAGIC, available only in book form, darn
www.myspace.com/sharianton

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

100 BOOKSTORES IN 1 MONTH!



I'm beginning to think I'm a little nuts. This is my first day off (it's my birthday) on a whirlwind entire month of June book-signing tour of southern California. My fellow author, Karen Kay, and I have an itinerary that includes over 100 bookstores! If you can find a copy of KNIGHT'S PRIZE in southern California that HASN'T been signed, it'll be a miracle.

But that's not what makes it crazy. What makes it crazy is that I'm actually having a great time!

We're meeting lots of memorable booksellers, including a fire-dancing rock climber, a dude covered in tattoos, and a guy in a kilt, as well as loyal fans, new readers, and even other authors (Kathleen Givens stopped by one of our signings!).

We've named our GPS unit–Gail Penelope Storm. We don't always agree with her. She frequently scolds us with a snarky "when POSSIBLE, make a U-turn." Driving in southern California can be tricky. Not only is the gas expensive, but Gail Penelope doesn't know anything about the traffic patterns in L.A. We've learned about alternate routes and avoiding rush hour (that's the two three-hour periods around 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.).

We've also come up with a new slogan, "Where there's a mall, there's a Macy's." We're not allowed to spend more than our margarita budget on clothes. Okay, I'm kidding. We don't have an actual margarita budget–they have some weird rule about drinking and driving here.

Since we're both organic food buffs, we pack our lunch and/or dinner in the car. But we've discovered you can pretty much bring your own banquet into the Starbucks at the big bookstores, and nobody really cares. For my birthday, Karen bought me a gift card so I can spoil myself on iced coffee for the rest of the tour!

On the 17th, we're parting ways for a week. Karen is signing in Nevada, and I'm joining my husband on his tour bus in Connecticut, where I'm stopping by 15 bookstores between concerts. I'll report back on my rock-and-roll adventures next month!

But today, I'm off to the beach with my daughter to have a relaxing birthday.

(Check my website at www.sarahmckerrigan.com for the tour schedule, and stop by to say hi if you're in the area!)



Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Title Contest!

I need your help! We are deep in title hell for my new Order of the Blade series that’s coming out next summer (6/08, 8/08 & 10/08). So, since all you blog readers are so very brilliant, I’m going to run a little contest. Anyone who submits an idea in the comments will be entered in a drawing to win an autographed copy of DATE ME, BABY, ONE MORE TIME (the first book in my current series), and the person who submits the winning titles will get autographed copies of all three of the books in my current series AND an acknowledgement in the front of the books. I’ll leave the contest running until we pick a title, so please keep adding ideas when you come up with them. We are looking for three titles that go together (maybe share a common word or play off each other) that denote the sexiness of the series (it’s very sexy!) as well as the dark and dangerous nature of it.


Series Concept: The Order of the Blade is an elite group of nine Calydon warriors whose mission is to protect innocents from rogue Calydons. All Calydon warriors have a black brand on their forearm in the shape of an ancient weapon that is theirs to call out during battle. Immortal, they are destined to die by violence. Every Calydon warrior has a sheva, the one woman who is his soulmate. But the moment he meets her and bonds with her, they are destined to destroy each other and everything they care about. No Calydon can afford to meet his sheva, and no Calydon can resist her once he does.


Book #1 Overview: Baden (his weapon is a sword) has spent his life adhering ruthlessly to his Order oath, only to suddenly find himself faced with his sheva, the woman who destiny ordains will bring him down and possibly the entire Order. Meghan needs Baden to find her missing sister, who has been kidnapped by the same man who is murdering other Order members for a very dark and deadly purpose. Each moment Meghan and Baden spend together tightens their bond and sends them closer toward their fate, but they need each other’s help to defeat their enemy, so they can’t afford to separate. Their only hope is to prevail before destiny tightens the noose and forces them to destroy each other and everything they care about.


Book #2 Overview: After spending two years imprisoned by a sociopathic Calydon, Lily Davenport has finally been freed after his death…only to find herself being stalked by her captor’s partner, a far more evil and dangerous man who needs Lily to accomplish his goals. Lily must rely on Gideon (double-sided throwing axe), the Calydon warrior who killed her own grandmother, if she has any hopes of staying alive long enough for the Order to bring down the man stalking her…and if they don’t stop him, the ultimate evil will be released from the prison that’s held him for two thousand years, bringing death and destruction upon the world.


Book #3 Overview: Calydon warrior Hecktor (throwing star) has spent the last five hundred years trying to stay ahead of a tortured past that is always threatening to push him over into the edge of insanity. But when he is taken captive by a man who knows his past and preys on it to break him mentally, Hecktor descends into a world where he can no longer tell reality from fiction, where he is constantly haunted by horrors from his past, and new ones that are inflicted on him daily. Everyone becomes the enemy, and the honorable and reputable warrior he fought so hard to become is lost in the mire that used to be his mind. But the ultimate evil, Bezoar, has escaped from prison, and Hecktor is the only one who can stop him. But Hecktor is so torn apart mentally that he’s useless…except when he’s in the presence of Kendra Baxter. When she touches him, the bond between them clears his mind, giving him sanity and the ability to function. But Kendra is an Illusiionist who represents his brutal past, and she’s also the woman who has been used to torture him during his last few weeks in captivity. Kendra is Hecktor’s worst nightmare, but she’s also his only sanity in a world that’s sliding out of his control. He has to stay with her in order to stay grounded enough to have a chance at defeating Bezoar, yet every minute in her presence threatens to send him into insanity forever.

Please let me know if you need clarification on the series or concepts. I’m so excited to see what you guys come up with! My editor definitely wants a sexy/romance element for the titles, so anything about only weapons is out.


Stephanie


HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME HOT, available now!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Iconic women

I recently read a nicely written essay about intelligent women that threw me by one underlying assumption. It started by taking for granted that Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson represent womanhood in our age. They are what we value. We judge all women by how they live up to the Simpson/Hilton ideal.

I kept thinking: "What society are we talking about?"

Is there anyone who holds those two women up in that way? Anyone? I'm looking all the way to the back of the room. Please raise your hands high so I can see you!

I mean, sure, Jessica Simpson is pleasant looking and she occasionally exhibits a bit of goofy charm. But Paris Hilton? It is seriously news to me if anyone finds her vaguely attractive on even a superficial physical level. As far as I can tell, she is nothing but a joke.

(I'm sure she'd say the same about me.)

It made me think about who would be an ideal American woman. As an author, I thought I should be able to name an example. Not that all heroines should be idyllic icons. But if we, as a culture, have an image of the perfect woman, I ought to know who it is so that I can do some healthy comparing and contrasting.

Despite nearing middle age myself, (another 40 years and I'll be there!)I guess it's true that it's hard for me to think of feminine ideal as being too far into adulthood. I don't see myself selecting Barbara Bush to represent the femininity of all women, for example. I realize this is probably ageist and sexist, a dreadful combination. But there you have it.

I guess I think that if I were forced to pick a celebrity that represented American womanhood, I would pick someone like Soledad O'Brien or Katie Couric or Mia Hamm or even Kelly Ripa. Someone who contributes something.

They may not be promoting world peace, but they're at least getting the kids fed and clocking in somewhere. Who would you nominate?

Judge a Book by Its Cover at Your Peril! by Diana Holquist

I'm mad. Stinkin' mad.

I don't usually get the chance to spend money wantonly in bookstores. But my husband is la-la-ing off to Europe and leaving me for SIX WEEKS with THE CHILDREN who have only TEN DAYS left of school (sorry for shouting...I'm a little tense here). So it was perfectly rational to get a little reckless.

I bought a very reasonable armload (wheel-barrow-load, whatever) of romance novels. Yummy.

And then I thought, why not splurge on a trade paperback? We're talking fifteen bucks here folks. I went for the new Irvine Welsh, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. I love Irvine Welsh. I love bedroom secrets. I love master chefs. What could go wrong?

Got to page 131 and I threw it at the wall. Threw it. At. The. Wall. (Those trade paperbacks make a nice, satisfying thud as they hit.)

WTF?!? (Sorry for cursing. Did I mention dh was out of country/kids almost out of school?) First--no bedroom secrets. I wanted bedroom secrets, durnit. Second--no chefs. Third--don't you HATE it when a book is moving along and then suddenly, on page 132 it takes a weirdo-paranormal turn?

Hey, I write paranormal. I love paranormal. But I foreshadow. I put it on the back cover copy. You know what you're getting. And I certainly don't wait for page 131 and then drop it on the reader. Bleh.

Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs indeed.

Good thing I have that wheelbarrow full of romance novels.

Have you ever picked up a book and it wasn't what you expected? Want to come over and rant with me? You bring the wine.

--Diana Holquist
Make Me a Match, in stores now
Sexiest Man Alive, Coming Oct 2007
Watch my newest Book Trailer Video, Why The Sexiest Man Alive Has No Head

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Books Are Alive and Well

Hi all,

I am just joining my illustrious fellow GCP authors at this blog, so I'll take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Andrea Pickens and I write historical romance set in England during the Regency era. My first book for Grand Central Publishing, "The Spy Wore Silk", hit the shelves yesterday, so I am celebrating that debut as well!

As I live in New York City, I took the opportunity to visit the Book Expo of America yesterday, which runs through the weekend at the Javits Center. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is the annual get-together of the publishing world, a time for editors, agents, media and salespeople to schmooze with each other and showcase their new lists to the crowds of booksellers who come to see the new lines.

It's a huge event, with acres of fancy booths featuring all the big names in books, along with a host of esoteric imprints. For a reader, it's absolute heaven! I spent hours prowling the aisles, perusing the latest blockbusters, gorgeous coffee table picture tomes and a myriad of fascinatingly obscure titles. (Not to speak of getting serious back strain collecting all the ARCs they offer! One of the wonderful perks of the show is all the fabulous free stuff that the publishers lavish on the attendees. I collecting a bagload of interesting books that will come in handy for research, including a history of the condom. See, I told you there were esoteric titles!)

But I came away with something far more important than an armload of reading material. I came away with the heartening impression that reading is alive and well, despite the internet and video games. The wealth of choices from the smaller houses was mind boggling. There was an imprint devoted to cooking with heirloom herbs, regional publishers preserving vanishing crafts, and lots of foreign publishers offering works on different cultures. Literary fiction, history, politics, sports, cooking, religion—you name it and there were people showing quality works on the subject. As someone who just loves books—all books—I was overwhelmed. Delightfully so!

And it also got me thinking about all the possibilities for titles . . . so I thought I'd ask everyone here: what books or subject do you wish you could find at your local bookstore?

Best, Andrea