Several of the Jaunty Quills were in San Antonio last week for the Romance Writers of America conference. We thought you’d like to see some photos from the conference (at the bottom of the page, there’s a legend telling about each photo).
1. Cindy and Nancy with former Jaunty Emily McKay at the Harlequin Party.
2. Cindy and Nora Roberts.
3. The gorgeous decorations at the Harlequin party.
4. Friday was Cindy’s birthday. Harlequin threw a big party just for her. Shhh! Don’t tell her they the party was for everyone.
5. The annual Jaunty Quills breakfast.
6. Kristan and Alexander Rodriguez.
7. Nancy at the Harlequin authors book signing (signing Cindy’s birthday card).
8. Kristan at the Harlequin authors book signing.
9. Nancy and Kathy before the workshop they presented.
10. Nancy, Jane Porter, and Kathy at the Harlequin party.
11. Raeanne Thayne, Nancy, and Kristan.
12. Cindy, Nancy, Kathy and Harlequin editor Susan Litman at the Harlequin party.
13. Harlequin editor Patience Bloom and Cindy at the Harlequin party.
14. Nancy and Kathy.
15. Robyn at the RWA Literacy signing.
16. Shana looking beautiful before her publisher’s party.
17. Shana and Mia before the Golden Heart and Rita awards.
18. Shana at the RWA Literacy signing.
19. Nancy at the RWA Literacy book signing.
20. Nancy, Kathy, and Mary Louise Wells realize former Jaunty Terri Brisbin was on their flight home.
21. Kristan, Gail Kirkpatrick Chianese, Virginia Kantra, and Jesse.
…and the Jaunty Quills are celebrating! Today we’ve compiled our favorite drink recipes for your pleasure. If you’re looking for a cocktail to mix up tonight, try one of these.
Cindy Kirk’s Crazy Coyote Margarita
½ tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 ½ ounces Coyote Gold margarita mix
1. Use a cocktail shaker to mix together 1/2 tsp. of granulated sugar, 3 tbsp. of fresh lime juice, 1 1/2 ounces of Coyote Gold margarita mix, and a handful of ice. Shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds.
2. Rub a slice of lime along the rim of a margarita glass. Turn the glass upside down and coat the rim with salt from a plate.
3. Pour the margarita mixture through a strainer into the salt-rimmed margarita glass. Add a lime wedge to the rim.
Vanessa Kelly’s Kir Royale
One of my favorite Christmas drinks is a Kir Royale, which is basically a champagne cocktail. The Kir Royale is a dash of creme de cassis topped off with champagne!
Nancy Robards Thompson’s Classic Manhattan
2 ounces bourbon (or if you want a slightly sweeter drink, use one ounce of traditional bourbon and one ounce of honey bourbon)
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Kathleen O’Brien’s Max’s Hot Apple Pie Cocktail
This was created by Max Scherff at The Fairmont in San Francisco.
3/4 ounce(s) Stoli Vanilla Vodka
1 1/2 ounce(s) Butterscotch Schnapps
4 ounce(s) apple cider
1 ounce(s) whipped cream
1 cinnamon stick
Cinnamon powder, for garnish.
Combine spirits and cider, steaming until warm. Add cinnamon stick to footed mug and pour in liquid. Top with whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon powder.
Kristan Higgins’s St. Germaine Martini
1 and a half parts vodka
1 part St-Germaine
1 half part lemon juice
Combine, shake gently, add a splash of vanilla seltzer water. Supremely delicious!
Katherine Garbera’s Sorbet and Champagne Cocktail
1 tsp. sorbet (perhaps raspberry or passion fruit)
Chilled champagne or Prosecco
Scoop sorbet into a champagne flute. Fill with chilled Champagne or Prosecco; stir.
Robyn’s no whiz behind a bar, but she does love eggnog with a little kick of rum. Good choice, Robyn!
Mia Marlowe’s Hot Wassail (for the kids too!)
This is a seriously easy recipe that makes the house smell like Christmas. Here’s what you need:
1 QT Apple Juice
1 QT Cranberry Juice
Pour the juice into a 5 quart pot and heat on low setting. Stick the orange with cloves. (This is a great project for kids. They love poking the cloves into the orange in fun patterns!) You can leave the orange whole or cut it into quarters. Float the cloved orange and the cinnamon sticks in the juice. Let it simmer till you’re ready to serve!
If you prefer the vino…
Jesse Hayworth with our wine selection.
I’m more of a wine girl, and love to celebrate with a Benefit Wine.
They taste good—though I’ve been known to enjoy Cardboardeaux (aka boxed wine), so take that for what it’s worth—have cool labels, and ~30% of the sale price goes to the charity you select.
Shana’s Sparkling Cider
I usually celebrate by toasting with my daughter and a glass of sparkling grape juice. However you choose to celebrate, we hope it’s a wonderful beginning to 2014!
As a special treat today, I asked some of the Quills about their most memorable Valentine’s Days. Here’s what they said:
Shana: When I was in high school, there was one Valentine’s Day that I didn’t have a boyfriend, and I felt so sorry for myself. I moped all day, didn’t get out of my pajamas, and didn’t put any make-up on or fix my hair. This was in the days of lots of make-up and big hair. My mom kept telling me to get dressed, but I was having a pity party. What I didn’t know was that a guy I’d dated a few times had called her and asked if it was okay if he stopped over and surprised me with flowers. He showed up, and I was so embarrassed. It was actually very sweet of him to bring me flowers but being all of sixteen I was too worried about how I looked to be as excited as I should have been.
Nancy: I don’t know that I can single out one most romantic Valentine’s Day in particular. That’s because The Chef is a master at making all Valentine’s Days special and romantic. He never forgets and always brings me a dozen red roses, champagne and the perfect card. Usually, he gives me chocolates, depending on how loudly I’ve proclaimed I’m on a diet. Still, calorie counting or not, there’s always a fabulous meal: lobster or filet with cognac peppercorn sauce. Or Lobster AND filet with cognac peppercorn sauce…. One of the best touches is that he also gives our daughter flowers-a bouquet of pink carnations. There’s something extra romantic in him not only being a great husband, but also being such a wonderful father.
Kristan: My first Valentine’s Day out of college, I was alone in a new city, worked for poverty wages and didn’t have too many friends. Boo hoo! Valentine’s Day with a guy? As probable as running into a Saudi prince at the pizza place on the corner. Imagine my surprise when a beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to work! “From your secret admirer,” the card said. I called my dad and thanked him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, but I could tell he was smiling. He died that same year. I think of him every day, but I always smile on Valentine’s Day, remembering how dear old Dad made sure I got flowers from someone who loved me a whole heck of a lot.
Kathy: One of my favorite Valentine’s days was when my kids were about 8 and 13 and they got totally into the holiday picking out stuffed animals and chocolates for each other and my husband and I. They even made Valentine’s for us from our dog. It was such a fun time for us all.
Mia: This Valentine date was the first time I’d gone out with this red-headed guy I knew from church and it promised to be a lovely one. He took me to a dance at the Surf Ballroom, a place that epitomized romance in my little corner of the upper midwest. And I did enjoy the evening of dancing, but then he ran out of gas (Does anybody ever really do that?) on the way home (which was about 20 miles away). He had to hike back into town for a can of gas while I froze my tootsies in the cold car (February in Northern Iowa is no joke!) To make matters worse, we were cutting things close on my curfew. I’m a railroader’s daughter. At my house, not being on time was regarded as only slightly less heinous than becoming pregnant out of wedlock! I knew I was going to catch it when I got home.
However, my date was not in a hurry to let me out of the car once we got in my driveway. I managed to pull out of his grasp, but he tailed me to the pool of yellow light at my back door and forced a kiss on me. It was our first date and I really didn’t want to kiss him. I wanted to get inside so I could explain to my folks that it was not my fault I was seriously late. I finally told the guy I didn’t think things were going to work out between us and made a break for it. Then he stalked me for the next six months and made creepy phone calls. So the moral of the story is…beware of red headed men!
Cindy: Worst Valentine’s Day? Most memorable Valentine’s Day? I racked my brains but couldn’t come up with anything. My husband and I have been together since high school. We’re the kind of couple who goes out the weekend before the big day, so we don’t have to fight the crowds. We buy the boxes of heart-shaped Valentine’s Day candy after the big day (when it hits 75% off )because it’s a better deal. I’d call us practical. You might call us boring. But we’ve been together a
long time and hey, it works for us!
Robyn: Valentine’s Day is one of those I’ve had a love/hate relationship with. As a little girl, I loved it because my Daddy would give me sweet cards and my own (small) heart-shaped box of chocolates. I loved that. But with a series of disappointments through high school and college, I pretty much ignored the holiday for a few years. Then I met The Professor. Our first Valentine’s Day together was actually a month before we got married. I was trying to eat healthily so that I could fit into my wedding dress so he went to a gourmet chocolate shop here and bought me sugar-free candies. I thought that was so sweet and thoughtful. Every year he brings me a sweet card (that I know he spend so much time trying to find the perfect one) and roses. I know that might seem too traditional and not creative, but I love it!
Margo: The absolute best Valentine’s Day gift was from my mom. Our kids were about 2, 4 and 6, and Mom called and said she would take the kids overnight if we wanted to make reservations somewhere. Omg, it was hard to know what to do! Stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet? Go to a Red Wings hockey game, drink some beer and go home? (not) When it came down to it, we went to a play, had a late, romantic dinner, and then stayed the night at the Ritz Hotel. In those days when it was non-stop kid stuff, that night out was absolutely heaven!
Do you have a Valentine’s Day memory that stands out? Tell us, and we’ll pick three random participants who will each receive a copy of one of our books. Come on – what was your most memorable (good or bad) Valentine’s Day?
It’s the beginning of a new year and time for all those Best Of lists. My Jaunty Quills want to let you know some of their bests from 2012. These recommendations are not to be missed. Add pine nuts to each, and they’re even better!
Terri Brisbin has a suggestion for Best TV show of 2012—IMHO “Once Upon A Time” is the best TV show of 2012. It draws on familiar mythology and fairy tales, tweaks and twists them, makes characters come alive and shows the power of true love, too. How could a romance author not love a series that does all that?!
Robyn DeHart says, Okay I’m probably jumping on the proverbial bandwagon here, but the best new website of 2012 was Pinterest! I love being able to have a visual collection of recipes and ideas for my house and my biggest obsession, organization ideas! Long before this lovely website came along I used to cut things out of magazines and put them in photo albums, having a way to store ideas of cool things to do. This makes it so much easier and everything is in one tidy location and I can sort to my heart’s content.
Personally, I like to pin pictures of pine nuts.
For Best Book of 2012, Shana Galen recommends THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass–romance, mystery, intrigue, royalty…what more could you want?
Best chocolate of 2012. Okay, I say this as a professional chocolate taster (or as close as one can get to being a professional chocolate taster). I love Lindt, Ghiradelli, Godiva. I love me some of the Whitman’s Sampler, and I love Hershey. White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, malted chocolate balls, chocolate Santas…I think I probably eat chocolate every day, and I have no intention of stopping. But the best chocolate I tasted this year was in Seattle at Fran’s Chocolates. A salted milk chocolate caramel that tasted like angel tears and unicorn kisses. Try them. I command you. And happy new year! –Kristan Higgins
In 2012 Cindy Kirk discovered J D Robb’s In Death series and was hooked! If you like a suspenseful tale mixed with a health dose of romance, Cindy recommends you check out this series.
Margo Maguire: My most amazing experience this year was surviving a nasty case of appendicitis, in spite of myself. On December 1st, I overcame my denial (yes, denial that I had a serious problem that wasn’t going to just go away) and went into the ER. Within a couple of hours, I’d had an appendectomy, managed to get past a crash in blood pressure, and a post-operative spike in temperature. I went home the following day and walked a quarter mile – and kept at it until I was up to my usual 2 miles a day. Thank heavens for modern medicine! And Hooray for the timing. I didn’t have to do any Christmas shopping this year!
Emily McKay has a recommendation for Best new recipe of 2012—
This is a great pot pie recipe if you:
a) love pot pies (and I do!)
b) are trying to eat more veggies (and I am!)
c) are trying to eat less meat (and, again, I am!)
d) just love ridiculously yummy food (duh, who doesn’t?)
I really can’t stress how yummy this was. The ingredients seem very humble, but somehow the result is amazing. You might be tempted not to make the crust yourself, but I urge you to try. I didn’t roll mine out, so mine looked nothing like hers. I just patted them into big fat circles and plopped them on top of the bowls. They weren’t pretty, but they weren’t around long enough for it to matter.
One question, Emily. No pine nuts?
Best 2012 Smartphone App: Christmas night, Nancy Robards Thompson and her family went to see the Les Miserables movie. While they were waiting in line to get into the theater, they struck up a conversation with the family in front of them. This is where they learned about a phone app called “Runpee.” It tells you the best times to run and er… do your business so you don’t miss anything important during the movie. Among other features, it even has a timer that makes your phone vibrate to give you the heads-up on when you can “go.” It’s available for all smartphones.
Readers, your turn. What’s on your best of list?
I think we can all agree that it’s essential in a romance novel to get a good feel for the hero and heroine. Think for a second how we as readers usually get to know these characters.
We learn what a character is like based on:
* How they act in in different situations.
* What they say (and how they say it)
* What they don’t say and why
* Through a card game
What? Through a card game? How can that be?
In the book I’m currently writing that will be out in May 2013, I invented a card game. It’s called Heart to Heart (who said I couldn’t be creative?). Supposedly the heroine had received this game/deck of cards from her friend several years earlier.
The game consists of a deck of cards with questions on them. Each card also has one or two hearts on it. The deck is shuffled and each player takes turn drawing a card. They have to answer the question on the card they’ve drawn. If there is one heart on the card, only the one who’s drawn the card answers. If there are two hearts on the card, everyone playing answers that question. Pretty clever, huh?
I thought it might be fun to give you one of the questions the hero had to answer. I had him get this question specifically because he’s having issues with his father, who is the person he’s most like.
The question he got was: Who do you think you are most like in your family?
Let’s pretend there are two hearts on this card and we all have to answer this question. Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win one of my books (their choice–as long as I have one in stock). I’ll draw the winner Sunday night…so check back then.
I’ll go first. Here’s my answer. “I’m not sure. My mother and I shared many similiar characteristics so I’d have to say her. My brother and I were nothing alike. My father was more quiet…and I’m not that quiet….so final answer: my mother.
See how easy this is? Your turn…