Happy New Year! I hope 2016 is off to a great start for you. I’ve been crazy busy writing and I just returend from a plotting retreat. I’m going to revisit a blog that I posted last year because the sentiment is timeless.
I had lunch with one of my oldest buddies the other day. She and I have been friends for a long, long time. It seems like only yesterday we met and formed that bond that (little did we know then) would span years. Sadly, even though we live in the same town, we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. Juggling work and family and other obligations, life takes over and before we know it another year has passed. That’s when we put on the breaks and carve out time to sit down and catch up. Of course, when we do get together we pick up right where we left off. Isn’t that the mark of a good friendship?
On my way home from lunch, I was thinking about the power of girlfriends and how lucky I am to have so many wonderful women in my life. The connection I share with them runs deep and rich. In addition to my friends who go way back, there’s a group of moms I grew close to when our kids were in school. Even though our daughters are in college in different parts of the country, we’re still in touch. I have a small group of trusted friends who are also writers and we know we can count on each other to be there through life’s ups and downs.
I love this quote from Elizabeth Foley, “The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”
That’s so true and so important. Even though miles (or even cross-town traffic) separate some of us and we don’t get to see each other often, what’s important is that we always pick up right where we left off and we feel good and uplifted by our time together. Which reminds me of another quote: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.“
Isn’t it wonderful that we have girlfriends who inspire us to keep singing?
Tell me about your best friend. I’ll give one person who responds a $5 Amazon gift card and a Kindle edition of one of my books – your choice. I’ll announce the winner on Sunday – along with the winners of Allison Leigh’s January 5 blog.
Happy New Year!
I can’t believe it’s 2016. Last year went by like a bullet train. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was fortunate to join five fabulous authors — Allison Leigh, Stella Bagwell, Karen Rose Smith, Michelle Major, and Judy Duarte — to write the 2016 Harlequin Special Edition’s Fortunes of Texas continuity. It’s always a fun project because it’s a treat to collaborate with friends. But this year it’s extra special because it’s the twentieth anniversary of the beloved Fortunes series.
It’s hard to believe that after all the hard work and anticipation, the first book in the All Fortune’s Children series has finally hit the shelves. More on that after I tell you a little bit about the series as a whole.
After two decades, Fortune’s Children live on…If you’re a Fortunes of Texas fan, this year, you’ll reunite with some old friends and meet a potential new branch of Fortunes who live in Austin, Texas. If you’re new to the series, now is the perfect time to jump in. Each book stands alone, but harkens back to past years. You’ll be able to join the party no matter which book you pick up first.
A great place to start is with Allison Leigh’s Fortune’s Secret Heir. Allison kicks off the anniversary celebration with the first book in All Fortune’s Children, the 2016 series. I’m so pleased she could join us today to get this party started.
Nancy Robards Thompson: Welcome, Allison! I’m so happy you could join us. Tell us about the hero of Fortune’s Secret Heir? Why will we fall in love with him?
Allison Leigh: Ben Robinson is the hero of Fortune’s Secret Heir and I hope readers will fall for him the same way that I did—because I’m a sucker for a powerfully confident hero who’s hiding a marshmallow interior. He thinks he has his finger on the pulse of his world, only to have learned recently that he just might not.
NRT: Tell us about the heroine. Why is she the absolute perfect woman for the hero?
AL: Ella Thomas is perfect for Ben because she sees the world without the cynicism that the wealthy Ben possesses. Aside from the chemistry between them, she provides a soft place for his heart.
NRT: Since this book is part of Harlequin Special Edition’s Fortunes of Texas twentieth anniversary celebration, tell us about your experience writing connected stories with other authors.
AL: This is the first book in the 6-book continuity, The Fortunes of Texas: All Fortune’s Children. I’ve been extremely fortunate in having been involved with several Fortunes of Texas miniseries, and it’s a little like coming home with each one. I get to work with fabulous authors again, and also meet the newcomers to each miniseries. It’s always exhilarating.
NRT: What was your favorite scene to write?
AL: My favorite scenes to write in Fortune’s Secret Heir were the ones set in Boston. My husband and I visited there a few years go and really had a fabulous time. It was fun to revisit through Ben’s and Ella’s eyes.
NRT: What was the most difficult scene for you to write?
AL: The hardest scene is the end. Because I’m not always ready to say goodbye to these people who’ve become my friends along the way.
Stay tuned between now and June, because each month one of the authors from the Fortunes of Texas: All Fortune’s Children series will stop by the JQ blog for a visit. Here’s how the lineup looks:
Stella Bagwell, author of Fortune’s Perfect Valentine (paperback available January 19, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on February 1.
Karen Rose Smith, author of Fortune’s Secret Husband (paperback available February 23, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on March 4.
Michelle Major, author of Fortune’s Special Delivery (paperback available March 22, 2016 ) visits the Jaunty Quills on April 1.
Nancy Robards Thompson – I’ll blog about my book, Fortune’s Prince Charming (paperback available April 19, 2016 ), on April 19.
Judy Duarte, author of Wed by Fortune (paperback available May 24, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on May 27.
In addition, our fearless leader, Harlequin Editor Susan Litman, will stop by to give you special insight into what happens behind the scenes of a series like All Fortune’s Children. Watch the JQ “Events” sidebar for specific details.
Now, for some prizes — Do you like on-going series like the Fortune’s of Texas? What’s your favorite book series? In celebration of the Fortune’s 20th anniversary, I will give away an e-copy of my 2015 Fortune’s of Texas book My Fair Fortune to THREE people who comment. Winners will be announced Sunday, January 10.
About Allison: A frequent name on bestseller lists, Allison Leigh’s highpoint as a writer is hearing from readers that they laughed, cried or lost sleep while reading her books. She’s blessed with an immensely patient family who doesn’t mind (much) her time spent at her computer and who gives her the kind of love she wants her readers to share in every page. Stay in touch at www.allisonleigh.com, @allisonleighbks, and facebook.com/allisonleighbks
…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 tomorrow night, try one of these.
* 2 chilled, 12 oz bottles of beer
* 12 oz frozen limeade concentrate (slightly thawed)
* 12 oz tequila
* lime wedges
* Salt to rim glasses
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Mix until the limeade concentrate is dissolved. Pour into glasses rimmed with salt. Enjoy immediately.
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.
Kristan Higgins’s St. Germaine Martini
1 parts vodka
1 part St-Germaine
1 part lemon juice
Combine, shake gently, add a splash of vanilla seltzer water. Supremely delicious!
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 [http://www.benefitwines.com/beechbrook_s/480.htm].
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.
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 2016!
No matter how busy the holidays get, I always carve out time to do some baking. Sugar cookies, gingerbread and seven layer cookies are standard Christmas favorites in our house. My mother-in-law was the reigning Queen of the Snickerdoodles. I’ll make her recipe, too. I’m just waiting for College Girl to get home so the fun can start.
This year, in addition to making our old favorites, I decided to try some new recipes. I’ve been inspired by my Christmas-set Special Edition HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE, book 9 in my Celebrations, Inc. It features all sorts of good holiday cheer as Dr. Nick Ciati and Becca Flannigan fall in love.
Here are is one of the new recipes I’m going to try.
Mini Linzer Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 2 3/4-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a heart or spade shaped cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confectioners’ sugar on the top.
What are you baking this holiday these days?
I’ll give away e-copies of HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDS and THE BILLIONAIRE’S BETRAYAL to one person who comments on this blog.
RT Book Reviews gives HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE 4 1/2 stars! ”…Love conquers all in this fantastic, emotional Christmas story. Thompson’s poignant page-turning dialogue is intimate and informative. Her spectacular, stupefied prospective parents who find love in spite of both their dysfunctional family issues are marvelous.”
Happy November, everyone! Even though someone forgot to tell Mother Nature to switch off summer and turn on fall – it’s still muggy and the mercury is hanging in the high eighties here in Florida – my heart is giving thanks for this most wonderful time of the year.
I love fall and particularly November. It’s a festive time at Chez Thompson. We celebrate a couple of family birthdays this month; it seems like College Girl can find a few extra days to come home; and, of course, we close out the month with Thanksgiving. I always find myself counting my blessings even more than usual because in November, more than ever, I’m reminded of what’s most important.
To make things even better, I have a release out this month – HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE. It’s the 9th book in my Celebrations, Inc. series. RT Book Reviews gave it 4 1/2 stars and said, ”…Love conquers all in this fantastic, emotional Christmas story. Thompson’s poignant page-turning dialogue is intimate and informative. Her spectacular, stupefied prospective parents who find love in spite of both their dysfunctional family issues are marvelous.”
The story spans Thanksgiving through Christmas. So, if you need a little help easing your way into the holiday spirit, this story might help.
Here’s a little taste of the Thanksgiving scene. The hero, Dr. Nick Ciotti, has arrived at the heroine’s parents’ home after working Thanksgiving Day.
On the porch, Nick could see through the illuminated windows into the dining room where a crowd was gathered around the table enjoying dessert.
Maybe he should’ve texted Becca before he came, but he was already so late that he’d been in a hurry to get there. Now, it seemed pointless to text from the front porch.
He rang the doorbell and heard the sound of running feet and a couple I’ll get its—a herd of children, no doubt—racing to answer the door.
He was right. When the door opened, a small crowd of kids clustered around the threshold.
“Who are you?” asked a boy who may have been six or seven years old. His nose was covered with freckles, and he was missing his two front teeth.
Nick shifted his weight from one foot to another. “I’m Nick. Who are you?”
“My mom says I can’t talk to strangers,” said the boy, who was obviously the spokesperson for the munchkins.
“Probably a good idea,” Nick said. “Would you please go get Becca so I can talk to her?”
“He’s here to see Becca?” a little blonde girl asked. “How come he’s not at his house having Thanksgiving?”
“Because he’s here to see Becca,” the freckle-faced boy said, in that way older and usually self-designated wiser kids talked down to younger kids.
“He’s right,” Nick said. “I’m supposed to come over and have Thanksgiving with Becca. Right here in this house with you.”
The little girl ducked back behind the door.
The freckled kid assessed him for a moment before bellowing, “Beccaaaaa!”
He drew out the aaaa until a startled-looking Becca came to the door.
“Oh! Nick. It’s you.” Her face brightened. “You’re here. How long have you been standing there?”
“Not long. They were just telling me that they’re not allowed to talk to strangers.”
Becca laughed. “Right. Well, uh, thanks, Jesse. This is Nick. He’s my friend. It’s okay to invite him in.”
Becca ruffled the kid’s sandy brown hair.
“You can come in,” Jesse said, stepping back. “But I don’t think we have any turkey left. We have Brussels sprouts, though.”
“What are you talking about, Jesse? We still have some turkey.”
As Nick stepped into the foyer, the kid frowned at Becca and then put his finger to his lips and made a shhhhshing noise. “I’m taking that home. Auntie Bel said I could take it home. He can have the Brussels sprouts.”
“Jesse, you need to share. Nick just got off work, and I’m sure he’s hungry. Believe me, there will be plenty of turkey for you and everyone else to take home if Nick has some. It’s cold outside. Please, move out of the way so he can come in.”
Jesse was either easily convinced or he lost interest, because the next thing Nick knew the boy and his wolf pack had run off, leaving him gloriously alone in the foyer with Becca.
“Hi,” he said, leaning in a little bit.
“Hi,” she repeated, meeting him halfway. “I’m glad to see you.”
He kissed her, and suddenly her lips were the only thing in the world he craved. He was lost in the taste of her cranberry and spice lips until he heard giggles coming from around the corner.
“See!” Jesse said, victoriously. “I told you if we left they’d kiss.” This was uproariously funny to the brood, who were holding their stomachs and throwing back their small heads in laughter. Then, when Jesse started chanting, Kissing! Kissing! his band of mini-minions began following him around the house reciting in unison.
“That’s embarrassing. Sorry. Welcome to Thanksgiving with the Flannigans. You can run now and save yourself.”
I’d love to give away a couple of copies of HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE. In the comments below, tell me something for which you’re grateful and I’ll choose a winner from those who post. Also, I haven’t yet posted the winner to my October 20 blog. I’ll post both winners on Sunday.