EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Kim Boykin’s Red Velvet Pancakes/Just In Time For Christmas


Food=love in my books…especially around the holidays.

56eaa4b4aec52808a10efb54cbcf08e2Today’s contribution is from my friend Kim Boykin. I spotted this recipe on the Tule Author’s Holiday Facebook Party and I knew I had to share on my blog.

Take it away, Kim:

Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay’s tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own.

Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda’s very sexy skin, and it’s only fair. She’s been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can’t stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her.

Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas.




Red Velvet Pancakes
Recipe Type: breakfast
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Kim Boykin
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Warm, sweet…and red–how positively festive! Share the love this holiday season.
  • Magnolia Bay Red Velvet Pancakes
  • 1 can cream cheese frosting
  • 1 cup whole pecans toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  2. Whisk the flour, white sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together in a bowl until evenly blended; set aside. Beat the eggs in a separate mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup milk with the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, vinegar, and food coloring. Stir in the flour mixture until moistened. Drizzle in the melted butter, and stir until the butter has incorporated and small lumps of flour remain.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Top with syrup and pecans (and an optional dollop cream cheese icing) to serve.




Kim Boykin

 “Everyone. Wonderful to see y’all. Logan.” Miranda should have slapped herself silly for gawking at him.

“You can’t imagine my surprise when Logan here, nabbed me Saturday night at Crusoe’s,” the mayor said, like the man was the second coming. The sexy smirk on his face wasn’t helping Miranda at all. “Put a great big donation to your mother’s foundation in my hand and said he had some fabulous ideas for our little Christmas events. Even asked if he could co-chair. Of course, knowing you wouldn’t mind, I said yes.”

Miranda nodded. She’d been at Crusoe’s Saturday night and had seen the mayor and her husband. Miranda had been on a date with John Jackson, a yummy attorney from Charleston whom she recently met at one of the gallery crawls there. He had talked her into taking a break from decorating the house, and she was glad she had. The food and the wine had been as good as his company.

Although there hadn’t been any real sparks at dinner, they were just getting to know each other and the night was young. After a lovely dinner, John had asked Miranda if she wanted to take a walk on the docks the restaurant overlooked.

When she’d stood to leave, she’d noticed Logan coming into the restaurant with a friend. Miranda had rushed past him but then suddenly remembered she’d forgotten her wrap. When she’d turned around to retrieve it, she’d run smack into a wall of hard muscle. Logan. Adrenaline shot through her and her heart beat faster than it had at any point during the evening. 

“I’m sorry,” she said. He’d been smiling down at her, holding her in place. Until she came to her senses. “Excuse me.” She’d tried to pull away, but couldn’t budge.

“No Problem,” he said leaning in close enough to whisper. “But I believe you owe me a kiss.”

“What?” she’d hissed. “I do not owe you anything, Logan, not to mention that I’m on a date.”

Logan had glanced at the door where John looked extremely curious as to what was going on. “He looks like a nice guy, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”

“You’re nuts,” she’d snapped. But maybe she was nuts because her body was humming with anticipation, and it wasn’t for John.

“And you’re standing under the mistletoe; it’s tradition.”

“Good. Night. Logan.” She threw on her wrap and rejoined her date, but she’d felt the loss of the connection long after she pulled away from Logan.

And now he was here at her committee meeting, trying to upend things in the ninth hour. Usual sexy smirk. A big fat donation with strings attached. What did that mean? That he was definitely nuts? They were oil and water. This would never work.

“Miranda.” He extended his hand. “Always a pleasure.”

She sat in the only available seat beside him, determined to get down to business. When she gave his hand a firm shake, her heat fluttered.

Damn heart.


Happy reading…and eating, my friends. And don’t forget to stock up on great holiday reads to last the whole year! Celebrate Romance is still only $.99. You can read a Hanukkah story AND a Christmas story for under fifty cents apiece.

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5 heartwarming holiday romances for just $.99

AMAZON                 BN                   iTunes 


EAT=LOVE=THANKSGIVING “Chocolate Pecan Pie” from the Celebrate Romance authors!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

The five authors of Celebrate Romance would like to wish you a wonderful day shared with family or friends. Below you’ll find a cherished family recipe from author Karen Sandler. I’m planning to make this with my granddaughters on Thanksgiving morning. Yum. My mouth is watering.

If you can squeeze in a little “me” time, I know you’d enjoy reading Barbara McMahon’s sweet Thanksgiving novella: “Love and All the Trimmings.” — An unexpected reunion at Thanksgiving changes a growing relationship
 when an old flame shows up dashing Juliana’s hopes for a future with Matt.


 5 heartwarming romances for just $.99


AMAZON                 BN                   iTunes 




Harry’s Chocolate Pecan Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Karen Sandler
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5-6
My stepdad, Harry Williams, was a baker with the Matson Shipping Lines as a young man. Later, he and my mom ran the family restaurant, The Mono Inn, at Mono Lake, California. He specialized in home-baked bread and luscious desserts like this one.
  • 1 9-inch pie crust
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  1. Partially bake pie crust for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate with corn syrup over low heat. Beat eggs and sugar by hand until well mixed, but do not overbeat. Add vanilla and salt to chocolate mixture.
  3. Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix well.
  4. Pour filling into pie crust and arrange pecans on top. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 275 degrees. Bake another 30 minutes, or until custard is just set.

May your day of giving thanks and enjoying family be the sweetest ever!  

Deb, Linda, Barbara, Karen and Rogenna!




EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Rogenna Brewer’s Beer Batter Wahoo


Food=love in my books.

photo My guest blogger today is my On Fire Fiction pal, Rogenna Brewer,  whose Celebrate Romance story takes place on the 4th of July. You’re  going to love this great story, AND check out the amazing cover Ro designed for our bundle.

If you’re an author looking for that perfect cover at an affordable price, check out Ro’s website: SweetToHeat. Wait till you see what she’s come up with for my “naughty novella” bundle, coming later this fall. Did she find the perfect Judy? You be the judge. 😉



She made a new cover for each of our  stories. See the little fold back up in the corner? That’s where you’ll see the title that goes with that cover. How cool is that?

If you haven’t read this series, please check it out. Only 99¢ for 5 authors, 5 holidays, 5 great reads: BN  AMAZON

And I will feature a special recipe from each author for that holiday’s cover reveal. Today’s recipe is called: Beer Batter Wahoo.


Ro is a Navy veteran who writes from experience–I’m guessing the part about the T-shirts is authentic, too. 😉 According to Ro: “A T-shirt makes a handy pot holder as long as it doesn’t catch on fire. Although the guys may try to convince you it needs to be your T-shirt, DO NOT let them fool you. Point to the nearest sailor and tell him to take off his shirt. The rest will follow. Sit back and enjoy the show.




EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Rogenna Brewer’s Beer Batter Wahoo
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: American as you get
Author: Rogenna Brewer
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-10
Beer Batter Wahoo: there’s a good chance you have to join the Navy to do this recipe right, but…what the heck, improvise! And have a great 4th of July!!!
  • Flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 can of beer. Your preferred brand will suffice.
  1. Spend the day deep sea fishing with your fellow sailors from a converted military landing craft. Bring a couple coolers full of beer so you have leftovers.
  2. Catch the biggest Wahoo while the guys are heaving over the side. Talk one of them into filleting the fish. This is best done out to sea or off the dock to attract sharks. Sharks are not repelled by heaving sailors (though you may be).
  3. When drunken sailors start playing with sharks it is time to return to base.
  4. Build a fire on the beach. Mix the first four ingredients to a batter-like consistency. Coat fish. Wrap loosely in aluminum foil and toss onto fire. Poke with a stick until done. Please note poking does not decrease cooking time.
  5. Do not let drunken sailors grab the aluminum foil from the flames. A T-shirt makes a handy pot holder as long as it doesn’t catch on fire. Although the guys may try to convince you it needs to be your T-shirt DO NOT let them fool you. Point to the nearest sailor and tell him to take off his shirt. The rest will follow. Sit back and enjoy the show.






    Chapter 1

            Hat in hand, he stood in her office doorway. From spit-shined shoes, up military creases, to the eagles pinned on khaki collar points, he commanded attention. The rank of captain gave him the authority to demand it.

            Lieutenant Lindsey Alexander marked her already forgotten place and closed the ancient tome. Her desk chair creaked as she straightened her spine. How long had he been standing there, staring?

            How long had she?

            Removing her reading glasses to cover her embarrassment, Lindsey set aside the funky frames and theology lesson before pushing to her feet, the proper show of respect for his rank. “May I help you, Captain?”

            From his superior height he frowned down at her, at the world in general—she couldn’t be certain. Lindsey smiled her brightest, but he didn’t seem to appreciate the effort. His scowl deepened, drawing jet-black brows above nefarious jade green eyes in a potentially lethal combination.

            “You’re a woman.”

            She didn’t need to hear the affront behind his words to know he’d assumed chaplain and man were synonymous. She stretched her smile in spite of, or perhaps because he’d insulted both her gender and profession in just three little words. It wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last.

            “And you would be, Captain…Reese.” She read his nametag above his right breast pocket. On the left, his rack of ribbons read like an impressive resume. The gold wings above the neat rows further identified him as a naval aviator.

            Top Gun plowed a hand through jet-black hair threaded with silver, spoiling the severe effect of the barber’s precision military cut.

            No doubt about it, the gender confusion was all one sided.

            “Doug Reese. I have an appointment.”

            It was Lindsey’s turn to draw her brows. The name Reese didn’t ring any bells. Should it? She unburied her appointment book and flipped it open. Despite his obvious impatience, she took her time going through the day’s schedule.

            No Reese, Captain or otherwise.

            In truth, she wasn’t very well organized, but she never forgot a name or a face or a scheduled appointment for that matter. Knowing her tendency toward disorganization, she always wrote everything down.

            “I’m early.” Holding his hat by the brim, he crossed his arms. “My ship just pulled in for repairs two weeks ago.”

            Something about the way in which he emphasized the words my ship sent those alarm bells clanging like a five-alarm fire.

            Flipping the calendar page, she found Commanding Officer, USS Enterprise CVN-65 penciled in the yeoman’s neat hand under, 1300–tomorrow. “Looks like an hour and a day early–”

            “I’m a busy man, Chaplain, I’d like to get this over with.” The scowl remained a permanent fixture, but he tempered his demand. “I won’t take but a minute of your time.”

            Lindsey met Captain Reese’s continued glare with the unwavering dedication of her profession. She would have taken responsibility for the mistake regardless, but she had a feeling the man knew exactly what he was doing, showing up a day early and on her lunch hour.

            She was just curious enough to want to know why. What was one more counseling session out of her overbooked day? It was her job to help. If the Captain needed her…

            Well, then, she was here to serve.

            “Have a seat.” She gestured toward one of two overflowing chairs.

            The walls seemed to move in as he stepped into her crowded cubby with its floor to ceiling shelves. He cocked a dark brow as he picked up a stack of files from the seat, and then looked around for a place to put them.

            “Sorry, packing. Our office is on the list of base closures.” Lindsey plucked the files from his hands. If military budget cuts didn’t elicit a comment from the good Captain, what would? He continued to hover over her five foot five—in sensible boon dockers—while she maneuvered around him, dumping the stack of papers on the floor by the shelf before closing the door.

            He probably wasn’t an inch or two over six feet, but the too small space became suffocating, filling with the tang of saltwater on skin—not an all-together unpleasant scent—except the hint of JP-5. Lindsey had never been stationed aboard a ship, but she could identify carrier crews by the smell of jet fuel that permeated their pores.

            With surprising consideration, the Captain waited until Lindsey settled beside her corner desk, and then took up the now empty seat across from her. He looked around her office with the same disdain he’d directed toward her.

            Captain Reese had his strong, silent and judgy act down pat.

            Tension radiated from the man. Although the only outward sign was the way he fidgeted with his hat, now balanced on his knee as he tapped a folded piece of paper impatiently against his cover.

            He may have been trying hard not to project his discomfort, but she could sense it, feel it. “Would you be more comfortable with another chaplain?”

            It was a legitimate question, and since he’d expressed some reservation about her gender, one she felt compelled to ask.

            “Would you?”

            Did his scowl switch to a smirk?

            “No,” Lindsey answered honestly.

            Though if they were following strict protocol, she should refer the Captain to her superior, Commander Elliot. However, being short staffed, down to only herself and the Catholic Priest, Father Elliot was just as overworked as she was. Between them, they shared one chaplain’s yeoman, a Religious Program Specialist Third Class.

            Perhaps the Captain had chosen her in accordance with his own beliefs despite his prejudicial comment.

            “You’ll do,” he said.

            “Fine.” Lindsey exhaled the word. Had she actually been holding her breath, waiting for his decision? “I just need you to fill out this counseling form and then we’ll get started.” Stretching across the space, she handed him a clipboard with attached pen and paper.

            A knock sounded on the door. The RP poked her head in, “Chaplain Alexander, I have your lunch,” she announced. “Oops, sorry. I didn’t know you were in session.”

            “It’s okay, Brenda.  We’re just getting started.” Lindsey got up to meet the yeoman at the door. Thanks,” she said, taking the containers of Chinese food.

            “Your change.” Brenda handed over lose coins and a couple wadded bills as Lindsey juggled containers to take the money.

            “Maybe the Captain would like a cup of coffee—”

            “No, the Captain would not.” He cut her off without bothering to look up from the clipboard. On the other side of the door, Brenda mouthed another apology for the interruption.

            “Hold my calls,” Lindsey instructed. “But buzz me when my one o’clock gets here.”

            “Sure thing. I mean, yes, ma’am.” The RP closed the door.

            “I’m sorry,” Lindsey apologized. She suspected she’d gone down another notch in his estimation. Then again, he was the one who’d showed up on her lunch hour uninvited. “LoMein?”

            “No.” He extended the clipboard, all business.

            Lindsey wrestled her lunch down to the desk and stuffed the loose change and bills into the middle drawer. Taking the clipboard from him, she released the counseling form and then groped for her reading glasses. She put them on and sank back to her seat, staring in disbelief at the blank page. Almost blank page.

            Name, rank and serial number had been filled in.

            “Captain Reese—”

            “If I were a prisoner of war that’s all I’d be required to give.”

            “This isn’t an interrogation.”

            “No, it’s not,” he agreed. “Thank you for your time, Chaplain.”

            Her gaze followed his upward movement. He’d certainly been right about only taking a minute of her time. Even though it looked like her curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied, she’d have a hot lunch as a consolation prize. Small comfort compared to the satisfaction she got from doing her job. “How can I help—?”

            “You can’t. I just want it to go on record that I was here.” He slapped his cover against his thigh. “Good day.”

            Lindsey beat him to the door and barred his way with a crossed arm stance.

            “Lieutenant,” he said, calling deliberate attention to her rank. “Step aside. That’s an order.”

            Her short-lived career flashed before her eyes and she swallowed hard. She couldn’t keep him here against his will. Still, she could get her point across. “If it’s important enough to come here in the first place, it’s important enough to stay and talk.”

            “I’m not going to warn you again.”

            “Fine.” She edged away from the door. “But uncooperative is going in my counseling notes.” She tried to infuse a little humor into the situation that had quickly gotten out of hand.

            “You can write whatever you want, Chaplain. As long as you don’t share that information with anyone, I don’t care.”

            “It would be unethical for me to reveal any information about your visit.”

            “I’m counting on that.”

            He paused long enough to look her in the eye. She hoped he saw the disappointment reflected there because if ever a man needed her, Captain Doug Reese did. She couldn’t be expected to save the world. She just wanted to help one person at a time. Unfortunately, her heart took a hit every time she failed.

            Lindsey stared at his departing back. The man’s visit was obviously a desperate cry for help. Yeah, right. Captain Doug Reese looked about as self-sufficient as they came. It was her need to butt into everyone’s business that made her the desperate one. How many times had Brenda told her to get a life? How many times had Chaplain Elliot counseled her against getting overly involved?

            With a heavy sigh, she scooped up another stack of folders occupying the one remaining chair. She’d need both for her one o’clock. Her next appointment was a young couple in premarital counseling.

            No real problems there. In fact, the upcoming wedding on July 4th—her first as an officiate—was something she actually looked forward to. She’d met the bride-to-be. The intended groom was just back from sea.

            Lindsey stopped and let that sink in a moment. Followed by a quick glance toward the door. “Nah.”

            The bride was closer to Lindsey’s age, mid-twenties.

            The Captain had to be at least forty and most likely married.

            Not that a May, December…more like September, romance was out of the question. The Captain was fighter pilot fit and handsome to the extreme—despite the permanent case of indigestion apparent in his facial expression. What she couldn’t remember was whether or not he wore a wedding band.

            Which should matter to her, why?

            Arms full and looking for more nonexistent floor space, Lindsey noticed a folded piece of paper by the chair leg. Setting the stack back down, she picked up the missive and unfolded it. The letter was addressed to Captain Reese from COMCARSTRIKEGRU THIRTEEN, Commander Carrier Strike Group Thirteen (CCSG-13). She quickly folded it back up, but not before the word counseling jumped off the page.

            The Good Captain had been ordered into counseling.

            The shrill ringing of the outer office telephone gave her a guilty start. Brenda answered in quiet tones while Lindsey tucked the paper into her skirt pocket and grabbed her cover from beside the door.

            “Chaplain, it’s for you,” the RP called through the open door.

            “Take a message, Brenda. There’s something I need to do.” Like catch up with the Captain. She checked her watch. She had plenty of time before her next appointment.

            Brenda covered the mouthpiece. “It’s Rear Admiral Dunning.”

            “Commander Carrier Strike Group Thirteen?” Lindsey had never had the occasion to meet a flag officer before, let alone speak with one. “What could he possibly want…?” Her hand went to her skirt pocket. “I’ll take it in my office.”

Bon appetit! Happy reading! And…Happy 4th of July!!



EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY: Barbara McMahon’s Truffle Cookies



Food=love in my books.

So, I’ve decided to start sharing recipes that have some connection/significance in my books and/or my life–and I’ve asked some writer friends to join me.

Today’s recipe comes from my fellow CELEBRATE Romance! author, Barbara McMahon.

She told me: “When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, we often spend the Friday after–not at sales, but in baking Christmas cookies.  One of our favorite recipes is for chocolate truffle cookies.”

Sounds like a plan, Barbara. Black Friday? Not me. I’m staying home to bake these!

Truffle Cookies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Barbara McMahon
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3 doz
When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, we often spend the Friday after–not at sales, but in baking Christmas cookies. One of our favorite recipes is for chocolate truffle cookies.
  • 4 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups (12 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tps vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbls baking cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • confectioner’s sugar
  1. In a microwave or double boiler melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of chocolate chips and butter–cool for 10 minutes
  2. in a mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs for 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and the chocolate mixture. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; beat into chocolate mixture.
  3. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
  5. Remove about 1 cup of dough. With lightly floured hands (I use cocoa as “flour”) roll into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly puffed and set.
  7. Cool 3-4 minutes on pan before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough.
  9. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners sugar. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


And here’s a snippet from Barbara’s Celebrate Romance! contribution, Love and All The Trimmings (Why, yes, this IS a Thanksgiving story. How’d you guess?):

          “Surprise!”  Stephie called when Juliana stepped into the kitchen.  She jumped off the stool and ran to her sister.  She gave her a hug, then saw Matt behind her.

            “Matt, darling!”  Dashing from Juliana, Stephanie threw her arms around Matt’s neck and pulled his head down for a kiss.

            Juliana stared at her sister and Matt, her heart thumping in her chest.  He’d kissed her last Saturday night, a kiss that she’d thought had been full of promise.  How could he turn right around and kiss her sister like that today?

            How could he not? 

            Stephie was gorgeous with platinum blonde hair, deep blue eyes and a figure to die for.  Plus she had the sophistication and glamour of a career most women could only dream about.

            “Let the man get inside, Stephie.  The cold’s getting in.  Shut the door,” Joel Hargraves said gruffly.  He looked at Juliana.

            “You knew she was coming?” he asked.

            “She told me when she phoned earlier, but not when.  She asked me to keep it a surprise.  I didn’t know she’d be here today.”  She glanced at the couple by the door.  Stephie was smiling up at Matt, her arms still locked around his neck, talking a mile a minute.  His cowboy hat had fallen on the floor, but neither seemed to notice.

            Suddenly he looked over at her.  Juliana quickly looked away.  The delight of the afternoon vanished in the second it took to see Stephie in Matt’s arms.  So much for hopes and dreams.

            “I’m going to freshen up,” she said, heading for the safety of her room. 

            “Juliana,” Matt called.

            She didn’t even slow down in her haste to escape the reunion of her sister and the man she loved.




ON SALE for ONLY 99¢ at: Amazon BN

Here’s wishing you a delightful Hanukkah and/or Thanksgiving.




EAT=LOVE=TUESDAYS: Linda Barrett’s Rugelahs


This is a story about how a written family recipe was born…

 Once upon a time, long before I became a grandma, I believed that real grandmas had big, jiggly arms.  My grandma did, and when I cuddled up to her on the couch, my head fit perfectly against her unique pillow.  She’d read to me in her accented English, “Vee, Villie, Vinkie vent through the town…” It sounded just fine.

I was certain, too, that a real grandmother knew how to knit.  When my grandma started a sweater, she actually finished it.  Long after I’d go to bed, she’d continue to knit and leave her work-in-progress where I could see it first thing in the morning.  I was always amazed at how navy blue string could turn into a bulky garment, a thing of substance, just by moving two long needles against each other.  It seemed like magic, but Grandma could do it.

My real grandma also filled the house with scrumptious aromas, and needed the special assistance of a ten year old granddaughter.  She made apple pies so delicious, they’d disappear in an hour. And her strudel had dough so thin you could see through it. But the specialty that remains most strongly with me was her rugelahs–rolled out dough covered with sugar, cinnamon and raisons, then cut into triangles and rolled up into crescents. All of these delights are in my mind’s eye as clearly today as when Gram and I shared my mother’s kitchen so long ago.

“Lindala, you’ll scrape the orange and lemon like this,” she said as she gave me the four-sided metal grater used for such work. I took the grater proudly. This was not a baby job! She crushed walnuts, set aside raisins and kneaded the dough. The finished products looked like miracles to me, but Grandma just nodded at her efforts and brushed the flour from her hands.

Those delicious fragrances filled my childhood home, but no recipe was written down.  How could she write: a pinch of this, a little of that, with enough of the other until it was right?  Grandma’s kitchen methods extended beyond baking.  She made chicken soup in exactly the same way.  This artistic style continued until I was about twelve years old.  

Whether I had a flash of insight or whether I slowly forced myself to acknowledge Grandma’s age, I don’t honestly recall.  But I do remember thinking and worrying about her dying some day.  After my initial grief at this realization, I took action.

“Grandma,” I said, while holding pen and paper in my hand, “exactly how do you make rugelahs?” 

And she told me.  Slowly.  We worked the amounts out together.  A written recipe was finally born in our family and it was perfect.  Anyway, that’s what my boys told me years later as they snagged an extra rugelah on their way through my kitchen. Rugelahs baked by their mother!

At that time, my boys had two grandmas, both in their mid-seventies. One did aerobics and one played catch with them using a hard ball and a baseball glove. My sons thought that real grandmas were athletes, worked full-time until forced to retire at 75, and that the only food grandmas knew how to cook was chicken, the quintessential low cholesterol choice.  They never saw either grandma bake so much as a chocolate chip cookie or knit the ubiquitous scarf.  But if you’d ask them about their grandmothers, as I did, they’d tell you that those ladies were absolutely perfect, and that they were very real grandmas.  Just like mine was.

Grandma Annie’s Rugelahs
Recipe Type: pastry
Author: Linda Barrett
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
Recipes, like great books, are often passed down from one generation to the next. Here’s a great one from author Linda Barrett.
  • ½ lb. Crisco
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs or equivalent
  • substitute
  • 1 cup orange or pineapple juice
  • Enough flour until dough is workable
  • sugar/cinnamon mixture
  • raisins
  1. Mix first four ingredients together. Need elbow grease!
  2. Add eggs. Mix.
  3. Add juice. Mix some more.
  4. Add flour about a cup at a time until dough is formed.
  5. Take section of dough and knead on floured table. Roll out with rolling pin.
  6. Spread sugar/cin. mixture
  7. Cut into triangles. (Hint – dipping knife into flour will help cut through the dough without sticking)
  8. Sprinkle raisons on each triangle
  9. Roll from wide end until you have crescent.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  11. Should be golden brown.

To read more of Linda’s from-the-heart blogs and books, check out her website: Linda Barrett. And here’s a little excerpt from Linda’s book Man Of The House, which is part of Celebrate!



ON SALE for ONLY 99¢ at: Amazon BN



           My mom doesn’t understand anything. Especially about guys. She thinks that Phillip and the others really care about pulling their grades up. They don’t give a flying you-know-what about their grades.  I’d use the F-bomb but that would make me as gross as those jerks. No better than guys I’ll have to keep beating up if they call my mom a MILF one more time. 

          I bet she doesn’t even know what that means. My mother is very pretty, real-ly pretty, and she doesn’t even know it. But they know it. That’s what guys my age do.  They look at girls…and women…and maybe they look harder at a woman without a husband.  Well, they’d better stop staring at her. And Steve Duggan had better stop, too. He’s been hanging around Mom for the last few months, and I think she likes him! The whole thing gives me a stomach ache. And I don’t get bad stomach aches anymore, not since after Dad died.

          I guess I haven’t been afraid of anything much since I passed my thirteenth birthday last year and stopped being a kid. Personally, I think thirteen is where the line is drawn. On one side, you’re just a boy. Step over it, and you’re a man. As soon as I hit thirteen, I looked at my little family—Mom and me—and realized I was the “man” of the house. The idea felt comfortable. I felt comfortable. It seemed right.

         But as soon as Mom introduced me to Steve Duggan, my comfortable world shifted. I thought the earth jumped right off its axis. When I looked into Duggan’s face on that first day, I knew I was looking at trouble. It wasn’t because he was big—heck, some of my coaches are bigger–or because he had these gray eyes that gleamed like the sun shining off metal, or because those eyes stared right at me, maybe even through me. His strong handshake didn’t scare me either. Not then. I could have handled all those things easily, except for one small hitch: my mom. 

        The person who scared me most on that first day was my own mother. And that’s how I knew Steve Duggan spelled trouble.

Happy reading! Don’t forget to CELEBRATE! life and love, every day.




Food=love in my books.

So, I’ve decided to start sharing recipes that have some connection/significance in my books and/or my life–and I’ve asked some writer friends to join me.

To start us off, Barbara McMahon, Rogenna Brewer, Karen Sandler and Linda Barrett–my fellow authors of CELEBRATE! will each share a recipe that has some connection to the holiday they’ve chosen to write about in CELEBRATE (5 authors, 5 holidays, 5 heart-warming love stories).

But because I only thought of this yesterday, I’ll go first:

Christmas (my story is My Christmas Angel) wouldn’t be Christmas without my mother’s Sticky Buns (served with a Ramos Fizz or Mimosa).

Grandma Daisy’s Sticky Buns
Recipe Type: sweets
Cuisine: American
Author: Debra Salonen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
Don’t count the calories, only the love and yummy goodness that goes into these delicious treats. They’re a holiday favorite at our house.
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 pkg cooked vanilla pudding (not instant)
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or freshly ground cardamom)
  • bread dough, either homemade or frozen
  1. Prepare your favorite recipe for bread dough OR thaw frozen dough. Cut dough or form into cubes about the size of a walnut. Assemble in a greased 10X12 pan leaving enough space for the dough to expand.
  2. Bring other ingredients to a boil. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour over the dough. Cover and let rise 1-2 hrs (depending on type of dough)
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Invert on wax paper when slightly cooled.


We lost Mom five years ago, but, fortunately, she taught my son how to bake. He’s taken her recipe and made it his own–adding freshly ground cardamom to the caramel. This means waking up at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning to mix up the yeast and flour, but he does it. And we are all very grateful. With every bite. He also makes these for special occasions, like his mother’s birthday. 🙂


There you go. My first Eat=Love=Tuesday.

If you enjoyed this, please come back. Or sign up for regular updates.

And don’t forget to check out Celebrate! 5 holidays/5 authors/ 5 heart-warming love stories.


Amazon BN

Happy reading,


Cool Friends/Hot August Snippets – LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT



My August CONTEST opens up a whole lot more choices of great books to pick from, PLUS, you’ll still receive a $25 gift card from #Amazon, #BN or #iTunes.


To introduce you to these authors and their awesome books, I thought I’d give you “snippets” pulled straight from the stories. ENJOY!


Today’s awesome choice: Karen Sandler’s sweet romance LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT. This book is one of the three books bundled in On Fire Fiction’s UNSUITABLY PERFECT.  So, if you pick that choice, you’ll get to read Karen’s book PLUS two other fab reads!

Live, Love, Laugh


Chapter 1

STEVE WALKER PLUNGED his hand into the murky depths of his daughter’s backpack. As Corazón regarded him with her coffee-colored eyes, Steve probed past fruit snack wrappers and pencil stubs, fingers encountering a soft, sticky lump.

He dislodged the gooey mess and held it out to his almost seven-year-old daughter. “What might this be?”

“Might be peanut butter an’ jelly.” She leaned closer and sniffed delicately. “Starbaby jelly.”

How many days ago had that particular sandwich taken up residence in the bottom of her backpack? With trepidation, he reached again into the black hole. His imagination displayed Technicolor fantasies of first his arm, then his entire body being sucked into the bottomless pit.

His mouth widened into a slow grin. Real potential here for his next smart phone app. Backpack Abyss. Hapless parents battling globs of bread and peanut butter, skewered by pencil stubs.

Finally, he struck pay dirt. He pinched the edge of the crumpled piece of paper and pulled it free. He held it out to Corazón’s earnest face.

“When did Mr. Harper give you this note?” He tried to be stern, but he wanted to hug her, and feel her thin caramel-colored arms wrap trustingly around his shoulders.

She shrugged, the gesture an imitation of his own. He brimmed with parental pride, marveling at how quickly she’d adapted in the eighteen months she’d been his.

With an effort, he returned to the matter at hand. “The message is from the principal and your teacher wanted you to give me this right away.”

She nodded solemnly. “Yes, Daddy.”

He lay the jelly-smeared sheet on the kitchen counter and picked up a damp rag. “I bet Principal Tipton thinks I ignored this note. She’s probably angry at Daddy. ”

“Ms. Tipton is always mad anyway.”

As Steve wiped the note clean, he had to agree. He’d never met the woman, only spoken with her on the phone after each of Corazón’s spirited antics. The Jell-O in the water fountain, the corn snake in the teacher’s desk drawer… Okay, the haircut she’d given her friend Jenny would take a while to grow out, especially the spot Cora had colored with permanent marker….

But where he saw high spirits and harmless experimentation Ms. Tipton saw signs of budding juvenile delinquency. The woman had no sense of humor. Her tone was judgmental, her attitude unforgiving. Talking to her, he felt the urge to pull on a sweater to keep warm. After a half-dozen rancorous phone calls with her, he was convinced she had snakes instead of hair.

Now there was an idea—Gorgon Schoolmistress. He could program each writhing snake on the Gorgon’s head with different venoms, and the hero would have to find the right shields to protect himself. Maybe Ms. Gor—Ms. Tipton would agree to model for the graphic artist.

When he’d swiped enough strawberry jelly off the paper, he read the appointment time penned neatly on the note. She’d expected him at the school at three o’clock. An hour-and-a-half ago. Principal Tipton would be furious.

“Daddy!” Corazón gasped. He looked up and saw her staring in fascinated horror out the front window. “She’s here!”

Steve moved behind his daughter, settling his hands on her shoulders. “Who’s here?” He squinted through the cut glass of the window, glimpsing the lines of a severe navy suit. The face above the suit shifted and fractured Picasso-like through the ornate glass.

Corazón craned her neck up at him, excitement bursting in her dark eyes. “Ms. Tipton!”

He heard the sharp tip-tap of steps on the porch then the doorbell rang.

“Daddy, what’re we gonna do?”

Even the doorbell sounded angry as it trilled a second time. “We let her in, mija,” he answered, using the Spanish endearment like a talisman. As he sidled to the door, Cora wrapped her arms around his legs.

“Tell her our dog ate the note, Daddy.”

“But we don’t have a dog, mija. Cousin Denny is allergic.”

She gripped him tighter. “Then a time-morpher took it. Came out of the ‘puter and gobbled it up.”

“I don’t think Ms. Tipton believes in time-morphers.”

“What’re we gonna do?” Corazón said again as her tight grip cut off the circulation in his legs.

“I’ll think of something, mija,” he soothed as he gripped the doorknob.

By the time he opened the door, he’d come up with several creative excuses, each sillier than the last. But it turned out not to have mattered. Because when he saw her on his doorstep, her slim ankles in navy spiked heels, the dangerous curves at hip and waist, the milk chocolate brown hair framing a delicate heart-shaped face—all coherent thought fled.

As a tantalizing scrap of red—red!—lace peeked from the edge of her skirt, he realized he was wrong about one thing. Ms. Tipton was no Gorgon. But he was absolutely right about another. She was blazing, spitting mad.

 Ah, yes, a wonderful start. Love the hero already. Poor Ms. Tipton doesn’t stand a chance, does she? Check all of Karen’s eclectic list of books here!

Good luck to everyone who signs up for this CONTEST. I hope your friends are as COOL as mine, and your hot August nights are filled with fun and good books! Look for more Snippets all month long.



More Bang! For Your Buck

Just released! Click HERE to buy:

More Bang! For Your Buck – A third short, erotic encounter of the Judy Banger kind

Kudos to my wonderful cover artist Kim Van Meter. She found the perfect “vector” to represent my heroine Judy Banger, tweaked the image as needed added the great lettering and special accents–notice the handcuffs. And lips.

When I showed the first draft to my husband, he said, “Where are the lips? You gotta have lips.”

Be still my heart. He noticed. 🙂

I may have mentioned that when I started this series, I assumed there’d be three books. Who doesn’t love a good trilogy? But when I came to the end of this book something amazing happened. Someone unexpected showed up and took Judy’s–and my–breath away. Suddenly, I knew Judy had a chance at her very own HEA (happily-ever-after, for you non-romance junkies).

Here’s Judy’s first glimpse of the man (from More Bang! For Your Buck):

Fletcher’s annoyed snarl gave way to a sigh of resignation. He swallowed a big gulp of wine then said, “Hello, Dad. Imagine meeting you here.”

He made a sweeping gesture with his free hand. “Gang, let me introduce you to my father, Judge Wilson Canby.”

“Judge?” Lewis repeated before levitating off the bed to disappear into the bathroom.

Pru, Judy noticed, had apparently snatched her purse and hightailed it at the first sign of trouble.

Judy shrank against the cushion pinned by the blue steel gaze that surveyed her from toe to head. The man’s expression was as unreadable as his son’s, but tightly clenched fists and the rigid cast of his shoulders spoke volumes. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. And something else. Grief? Despair?

She’d seen the same look on Buddy’s face when he talked about the pain of losing his wife or the regret he felt over the vast chasm of disconnect between him and his son. Buddy had thrown in the towel and let Lewis manage their relationship. This man, Judy guessed, wasn’t the type to give up without a fight. His Armani suit might as well have been made of chain mail.

Poor Judy. Caught in a most compromising position by the man of her dreams. How could any writer write her out of this mess?

That’s a very good question. I’ll let you know as soon as THE BIG BANG! THEORY is published (hopefully mid-June).

In the meantime, please help me get the word out about this series. Every review and social media “share” is greatly appreciated. And please sign up for my May Contest.

You may be the lucky winner of a $25 Amazon gift card,

your choice of any one of these three current Screw Senility titles

AND a free copy of On Fire Fiction’s LOVE ME SOME COWBOY, a box set of five great books by five awesome authors.

So, Happy May Reading, my friends!  Deb

The Magnificent Eleven

As the adage says: There’s strength in numbers.

Like the number SEVEN…as in…The Magnificent Seven.

The Magnificent Seven made box office magic.

Ask Yul Brynner. If he were alive, he’d tell you: The right group of people can make magic happen.

And, it doesn’t hurt if one of the seven is Steve McQueen. (Be still my heart.)

Steven McQueen AND Yul Brynner...where have all the sexy cowboys gone?

So, what does The Magnificent Seven have to do with writing?

Well…um…seven rhymes with eleven…and since I belong to On Fire Fiction, a creative cooperative made up of ELEVEN published authors…okay, that’s a stretch. You’re right. You know me too well. I’ll use any excuse to post photos of Steve McQueen.

On Fire Fiction

But, obviously, the main purpose of this blog is to introduce On Fire Fiction and its ELEVEN members –and to explain about this growing trend in publishing: authors working cooperatively–and creatively–to share the daunting and at times overwhelming task of promoting their work.

Why do authors need to worry about promotion?

We all know publishing, along with book buying habits, has changed. Ebooks, ereaders and online retailers like Amazon, iTunes and B&N make it easy to buy a book. But have you looked at all the titles out there?! Eek!

Smart, well-focused promotion helps your loyal readers find out about your latest release. Promotion raises your “discoverability” to attract new readers. Hopefully, promotion begets sales, which, to be frank, is how today’s author makes a living so he or she can continue to write books to promote.

So, let me introduce my wonderful, magnificent-if you will–cohorts:

  • Linda Barrett
  • Jean Brashear
  • Rogenna Brewer
  • Ginger Chambers
  • Annie Jones
  • Julie Kenner
  • Day Leclaire
  • Barbara McMahon
  • Lisa Mondello
  • Karen Sandler
  • and, me, of course.
    • If you follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you may have seen this photo from a get-together of the “West Coast” members of OnFireFiction. We used Facetime and Skype to work with our members on the east coast, Texas and Colorado. We covered a rigorous agenda. But, yes, we did break to eat. I learned that I really like Vietnamese Pho. Yummm. 😉
    From left: Barbara McMahon, Ginger Chambers, me, Karen Sandler

    There is never a shortage of new things to learn in this ever-changing business–especially when it comes to marketing your books.

    But knowing you’re not alone in your efforts really makes a difference. Plus, writers are the most generous professionals I know. We’re eager to share our experiences–good and bad. We’re happy to trade tips on what type of advertising works and what flops. We eagerly share and post the best sites for getting the word out about a new release. And we may be setting up a data base for finding the best Pho. 🙂

    One exciting and very tangible thing to come out of this meeting turned out to be a win-win for both readers and authors. Offering “boxed sets” isn’t a new sales technique, but offering three complete books by three different authors for one super low price is just plain awesome.

    Unsuitably Perfect, OnFireFiction’s first 3-in-1 “Boxed Set” is now available at Amazon for just $.99.

    On Fire Fiction's first Boxed Set!
    On Fire Fiction’s first Boxed Set!
    So, that’s my magnificent news. Our fabulous OnFireFiction team has a whole bunch of exciting things planned. Here’s the link to the OFF Facebook page. Or follow OnFireFic on Twitter to stay abreast of what’s happening.
    Happy reading!

    Spring blossoms with great books…

    Oh, happy day — a very Good Friday!

    Spring has arrived in wild, reckless profusion. The birds are carrying on something fierce outside my window. A small green and black snake just wound his way through my newly planted garden.

    I love Spring. And the Easter Holiday is one of my personal favorites. I have great memories of dressing up in all my newly purchased finery–hats and gloves were a must–to go to church.

    Competitive egg dying is a more recent thing, but when my nephews showed up at Grandma’s, egg hunting became a contact sport.
    Nowadays, I’m seeing all sorts of toys, games, hair ties, kites and non-candy goodies showing up in Easter baskets.

    This Sunday, several generations will gather at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s home to watch the “old” kids hide eggs for  the “new” kids while parents snap pics and grandparents snap pics of their kids snapping pics.

    I will be taking the day to turn the “online” off and reconnect via “face time,” not Facebook. But, since this is a writer’s blog, I thought I’d spread some reading goodness in case you’d like to treat yourself to some fun, spring books for your eReaders libraries. Click on any image to take you right to the Amazon page.

    Now $1.99!

    $.99 Fun read!

    A great Kindle buy at $.99

    LOL fun! $.99

    Double RITA nominee! Now, just $.99

    May you begin next week and the new month with hope renewed.
    Happy Easter! And Happy Spring!