Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention in Las Vegas. If you’ve never been and you love books, you are missing out. It’s packed with readers, authors, panels, booksignings, and lots of parties and free books.
It’s also fun for us authors to catch up with friends. My roomie this time was my old friend Sophie Jordan. Here we are with our morning coffee.
I also did a little shopping. I found this super cute storm trooper wallet in the hotel sundry shop. Who knew the Rio had such cute stuff in its shops?
The highlight of the convention was, of course, the giant bookfair. It’s so much fun to chat with other authors and readers who walk by. Here I am ready to sign!
I also saw two good friends and readers, Susan Knight and Kristy Birch.
Finally, I recognized Vikkas Bhardwaj walking around. He’s on the cover of lots of books, including my Christmas anthology, Christmas in Duke Street. Of course, I had to snag a picture.
By the end of the conference, I was ready to head home and catch up on sleep. But I had room in my bag for a few goodies! One of them is this cute gift bag my publisher gave to librarians and booksellers filled with books and other goodies. Want it? Just comment below, and one person will win it. (Winner chosen randomly and announced and contacted Sunday.)
On the morning of March 25, I got a fabulous phone call: Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress was named a finalist in the Short Historical category of the RITA® awards! The RITAs are the most distinguished award in romance writing, and for the rest of the day (and, ok, more time than that) I alternated between disbelief and happy freaking out.
My husband, Mr. R, has heard enough about romance writing over the years to know about the RITAs. So he suggested a celebration. “Whatever you want,” he kindly and perhaps unwisely suggested.
Me: Really? Like, I could buy a thing?
Mr. R: I was thinking dinner out, but…yeah, sure.
Because I had an idea in mind. And it was this.
The cotton candy maker promised to turn my house into the sort of candy paradise that Hansel and Gretel found in the woods (minus the evil witch, of course). We–meaning Little Miss R and me, though Mr. R was soon led by curiosity to investigate–began that evening with plain sugar, honing our craft.
Just kidding. There’s not really a craft to it. You try not to smack the cone against the heating element, that’s all.
Anyway, we had a good time making these little twirls of cotton candy. Not bad, I thought. It’s not exactly professional-grade floss, but then again this machine is the size of a toaster.
Then I invited some friends over for cotton candy, and for fun they pulled up a YouTube video featuring a cotton candy artist. Um, it was pretty amazing. And what we discovered? If you hold the cone horizontally, it doesn’t matter how little your machine is. You can make some big, fluffy treats. Behold: me looking like a goofball while making an impressive twist of cherry.
What did we learn from all this? Well, first, Mr. R probably learned not to give me carte blanche on celebrations, or I will turn our house into a carnival. But I also learned that making cotton candy is just as much fun as eating it. (Seriously. I made like five batches in a row.) I also learned that it’s good to have smart, curious friends who actually, y’know, try to figure out the best way to do things.
Tell me, what are your feelings on cotton candy? Or is there something else that makes you feel like a kid again? To one random commenter, I’ll send a print copy of my RITA-finaling book, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress. International entries welcome. Winner announced on Sunday.
Maybe it’s because I have an older sister, but I’ve never really been competitive. What would be the point? She could whup me at any sport (and honestly, she still can, because I’m no more coordinated now than I was as five-year-old). She was faster at all those horrid card games where you have to put cards down at a furious rate, or remember to say “Uno” or “Squeak” or whatever. I’d play with her, sure, but I always figured I wouldn’t win.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t WANT to win. And hey, I still do. Though I get involved in fewer foot fights and hard-core games of Crazy Sevens than I used to, so the stakes are different now.
This week, I somehow found myself embroiled in two bookish competitions. Kensington Publishing Corp. is running a tournament of romance heroes, and Benedict Frost—the hero of my upcoming romance Fortune Favors the Wicked—got a nod to participate.
It would have been cool to advance to the next round—except for the fact that then Benedict would have been pitted against Vanessa Kelly’s hero. How could I ever ask people to vote against one of Vanessa’s heroes? They are marvelous. I love them. Instead, Vanessa and I concocted an elaborate bromance between our heroes. Just check #UltimateHero on Twitter to see what I mean. (Baked goods figure heavily. In a manly way, of course.)
Now we move on to the DABWAHA, the excellently-named tourney for the past year’s romance novels. I was gobsmacked and delighted that The Sport of Baronets got a nod in the novella category. Yay! Woohoo! Oh…wait. It’s up against Jeannie Lin’s The Warlord and the Nightingale in the first round. If you’ve never read Jeannie Lin‘s romances, you are missing out on excellent books. Go get her entire backlist. I’ll wait.
I’m not sure how to campaign against someone whose work I admire so much, so I’m mainly resorting to ridiculousness. Like this.
DABWAHA voting starts tomorrow at http://dabwaha.com. If you want to cast your vote for The Sport of Baronets, that’d be excellent—and if you vote for Jeannie’s novella instead, hey, I totally understand. Either way, I hope you get the chance to check out the finalists and find some new authors for your TBR.
By the way, if you haven’t read The Sport of Baronets yet, it’s FREE this week. Hannah and Bart’s love story is available from your favorite ebook retailer. Happy reading!
People (usually not readers) often ask me if my books mirror my real life. Since my books are set in the Regency period when iphones, flushing toilets, and motorized vehicles didn’t exist, my life isn’t like my books at all.
But every so often real life does inspire fiction. On Tuesday, my new book, I Kissed a Rogue, released. In one scene a mama cat and her kittens made an appearance. As I was staring into space, thinking of a way to describe the mama cat, my gaze settled on my sweet cat Maisy.
No Maisy is spayed and has never had kittens, but she is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever been privileged to know. I’m certain she would make a wonderful mama, just like the cat in the book.
Maisy must know she’s famous now, because when I received my author copies, she was happy to pose with “her” book.
The dog in another of my books, The Rogue You Know, wasn’t modeled on my dog Sparky. I didn’t have a dog when I wrote TRYK. I adopted Sparky shortly after finishing edits on the book, which has always led me to wonder if writing about a dog made me want to have a dog. Beauty, the big white dog in the book, is such a loyal and smart creature, and my Sparky, though she be small and black, is loyal and smart too.
Currently, I’m writing a new book, and it too has a dog—a white and brown puppy named Wellington. Wellington, or Welly for short, is constantly in trouble, as most puppies are. There’s quite a bit of Sparky in Welly too. Sparky loves to make mischief.
What are your favorite books with animals? One person who comments will be randomly chosen to win a print copy of I KISSED A ROGUE. Winner announced and contacted Sunday.
For the past several months, I’ve been cooking at home more. Maybe that’s why I’m also noticing more foods in the books I’m reading.
Not long ago I read Darcy Burke’s The Idea of You. In a short scene, characters have oatmeal for breakfast. But not just any oatmeal! They made it in a slow-cooker. I didn’t even know this was possible, and naturally I had to try it THAT DAY. I started with Alton Brown’s recipe, but since I had quick oats instead of steel-cut, I went poking around for other recipes to help me with the proportions. In went chopped, peeled Granny Smiths, some brown sugar, and pie spices too.
In the morning, the kitchen smelled SO good. My daughter asked for a big bowlful of the oatmeal. But when she tasted it, her face fell. “It tastes like nothing.”
Whatever. This kid eats plain oats out of the canister, so I don’t know what she was talking about. It was GOOD. If you make this, don’t skimp on the brown sugar, and you’ll be so happy.
A surefire book-recipe is Laura Florand’s chocolat chaud, printed in the back of her ah-may-zing The Chocolate Kiss. I checked for the recipe on her website, and I couldn’t find it, but I went down a rabbit hole of other delicious pictures. Anyway, get The Chocolate Kiss and roll around iin its gorgeousness, then make the hot chocolate. It’s about as rich and sweet and tasty as anything you can imagine.
Sometimes a recipe is more for fun than for practicality. In my historical romance Season for Desire, the characters make Yorkshire Christmas pie. Here’s the recipe, taken from a 1788 cookbook.
The TL;DR on that is “ten pounds of butter” and “pigeon inside partridge inside fowl inside goose inside turkey.” The Georgians were Not Messing Around with their holiday recipes. There was no way I was going to try this recipe myself, but it sure was entertaining to learn about.
What’s your favorite story with food in it? Or a new food you learned about from a book? (I guess cookbooks count…ish.) To one random commenter, I’ll send a print copy of Season for Desire. Open internationally; winner announced on Sunday.