Thanks for having me back to JQ, Nancy! It’s such fun to be here. <<NRT: Happy to have you, Michelle!>> Living in Colorado during the winter that might never end, you hear lots of ski terms bandied about–first tracks, back bowls, fresh powder, bluebird days. Friends use these phrases to caption Facebook photos where they are smiling from the top of some mountain resort. These people are about to launch themselves down an icy, snow-covered slope with oversized popsicle sticks strapped to their feet and…they are grinning. It sort of makes me want to push them.
I don’t have time to smile when I ski because I’m too busy praying to make it down the mountain in one piece. Yep, I ski. Despite the constant trembling in my knees, the stomachache that starts as soon as I put on my (never flattering) ski pants and an internal monologue that involves lots of cursing, every few weekends we pile the kids into the car and hit the slopes. Why? For the same reason moms do most things we don’t want to – for the kids.
This season my daughter broke through her fear (unlike me) and now we’re taking lifts to the more advanced blue runs. My son is busy detouring into the trees and looking for jumps as we hurtle toward the bottom. I can barely keep up and I love it! Because it means soon I’ll achieve my ultimate ski dream—to be the mom camped out in the corner of the toasty warm lodge surrounded by coats and gear, sipping hot cocoa and wearing boots I can walk in without feeling like I’m going to fall over. I have happy visions of a full Saturday spent alternating between my laptop and Kindle while I smile at the cold, wet, red-faced suckers who take a break from risking life limb on the mountain. I’m going to be the best lodge mom ever.
Among friends my views on skiing put me in the minority, and I sometimes wonder if I’m a total wimp. I probably am a total wimp, and I’m okay with that. But I’m also curious how people outside of ski-crazy Colorado feel about it.
Would you be carving the slopes or hanging in the lodge? Either way, I’ll have the hot cocoa waiting.
I’ll be drawing two winners from the comments for a copy of my March release, A Second Chance At Crimson Ranch. The heroine, Olivia Wilder, has come to Crimson, Colorado to find place she can feel at home. Lucky for her, there’s a new (and a few years younger) contractor in town that might be the perfect guy to help her. I’m excited to invite readers back to Crimson because it’s a town filled with wonderful people and lots of opportunities for falling in love (yes, there is a ski mountain but I haven’t forced any my characters onto it…yet).
When I was young, my mother used to bake the most delicious red velvet cakes. Even the icing was from scratch. She’d stack it high and sprinkle it with flaky coconut. It was heaven on a plate. Mostly, she made it for special occasions like birthdays and Valentine’s Day, but every once in a while she’d surprise us and make one just because. Maybe that’s why I always associate red velvet cake with comfort, happiness and love.
I associate other foods with love, too: My grandma’s pumpkin bread; my mother-in-law’s snickerdoodle cookies; and just about every meal the Norwegian prepares. He really is a fabulous cook. As a family, we put a lot of time and thought into our weekly meals and we make a point of sitting down together for dinner every night. We like to cook together, too.
The two of us have passed on our love of cooking to College Girl and when she feels homesick, she’ll fix some of our family favorites. She says it’s the next best thing to being home.
Given my love affair with food, it’s no wonder it usually plays a starring role in my books.
Do you associate certain foods you with good memories? If so, what are they?
Christmas Wishes… A Royal Christmas Proposal… and a drawing for a Gift Card!
I’ve always loved the Christmas season. Sure, things get hectic and the crowds and traffic aren’t always fun, but to me there’s a wonderful sense of excitement and expectation in the air. Even if Santa doesn’t come down my chimney, maybe I can play Santa to someone else and make one of their wishes come true. There’s magic in that.
In A Royal Christmas Proposal, there’s excitement in the air, but it doesn’t start out as all that romantic. Fredericka Devereaux is no pushover princess. She’s determined to provide the best life possible for her infant son, Leo. So when her brother, the ruler of Chantaine, insists that she and her hearing-disabled son need a protector, Ericka objects. But her new bodyguard, handsome Treat Walker, warms her heart as he cares for her baby… and proves himself deserving of his name…
Treat keeps telling himself that he’s not into Ericka and her little family. She’s stuck-up and a royal – hardly his type! Despite his best efforts, the former football player finds himself charmed by the sexy single mom and her adorable infant. This Christmas, all Treat wants in his stocking is the royal twosome he’s sworn to protect…
If you get a chance to read A Royal Christmas Proposal, I would love to hear from you at leannebbb@ aol.com (no spaces)
*What I’d love to know right now though is what is your favorite part of the Christmas season? Tell me and I’ll draw a name from the responders to receive a $10 Amazon gift card!
Leanne Banks is a national #1 best-selling author with over 65 books to her credit. Leanne’s heart-warming books have been published in many languages. Leanne loves writing about the miracle of the transforming power of love. You can learn more about Leanne at www.leannebanks.com Friend Leanne on facebook to get the latest news and fun giveaways! https://www.facebook.com/leanne.banks
Halloween marks the start of the busiest time of year in our house. There are so many birthdays mixed in with the holidays we’re pretty much celebrating through Valentine’s Day. Still, no matter how busy we are, I always carve out time to do some baking. Birthday cakes, sugar cookies, gingerbread, and bourbon balls are standard holiday favorites in our house. My mother-in-law was the Queen of the Snickerdoodle cookie. My mom used to make these incredible seven layer cookies. But the thing that really signifies the start of the holiday season – or at least “fall” is my grandmother’s pumpkin bread.
In my latest release A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS, Lily Palmer is a nanny for Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids. What better way to keep them occupied and out of trouble than to keep their hands busy baking holiday treats? She teaches them to make sugar cookies and her grandmother’s Christmas bread.
Even though I’ve been busy in the writing cave working hard to finish up deadlines before the festivities begin, Lily inspired me to pull out the mixer and whip up a batch of my grandma’s pumpkin bread.
Here’s her recipe:
Grandma’s Pumpkin Bread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Sift together the first eight ingredients.
In a separate large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the pumpkin puree, vanilla and milk. Beat in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix until smooth.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds (if desired). Bake for about 1 hour.
I guarantee you it will make your entire house smell like fall.
What says “fall” to you? I’ll give away a $5 Amazon gift card to one person who comments.
RT Book Reviews gives A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS 4 Stars!
“Dr. Cullen Dunlevy is in need of a holiday nanny for his for grieving, misbehaving wards. What he gets is a curve a shares beauty who is making him all hot and bothered. Celebration schoolteacher Lily Palmer needs this temporary job and is prepared for everything these kids throw her way. What surprises her is how fast she falls for them and their guardian, Dr. Dreamy. Thompson takes us back to celebration, Texas, to check in on old friends and create new memories. It’s fun to watch her complicated commitment-phobic hero and nurturing nanny take the ultimate plunge, but it’s the four hurting little co-stars who add heart rending-poignancy.”
Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad?
Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…
* Where did you get the idea for A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS?
The Sound of Music has always been one of my favorite movies. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. Later, I shared it with my daughter. I hope someday she’ll continue the chain. In the meantime, I wanted to write a book that was a nod to that classic story that shows that with love and family you can overcome just about anything.
Of course, I changed it up enough to make it my own. First, it’s set during the holidays. Cullen, the hero, is a doctor rather than a wealthy navy captain; and Lily, the heroine, is a teacher rather than an aspiring nun. There are four kids rather than seven. Actually, in the first incarnation of this book, I gave Cullen seven foster children, but then I came to my senses. He and Lily were grateful because as it turned out, four feisty Thomas children were more than enough.
* Tell us about the hero and heroine of the book? Why will we want them to fall in love?
We met both Cullen and Lily in previous books. I introduced you to Lily inCELEBRATION’S BRIDE (she was the woman who won the wedding of her dreams, only to have her fiancé back out on national television). Cullen first appeared inCELEBRATION’S FAMILY. He was the stern chief of staff at Celebration Memorial, who insisted that the hero of that book participate in the bachelor auction that raised money for the hospital’s pediatric wing.
Lily’s nurturing, never-give-up-on-love spirit softens Cullen’s hard exterior and together they realize that through love and family they can heal hurts of the past.
* Is there any particular significance in the setting?
I think Debbie Haupt of RT Book Reviews said it best, “Thompson takes us back to Celebration, Texas to check in on old friends and create new memories.”
* What was your favorite scene to write?
This book was so much fun to write, that it’s difficult to pick just one scene, but I guess the scenes with the kids were my favorite…or maybe the scenes at the Holiday market…or maybe when the hero and heroine go to the Christmas ball… Wow! Choosing is kind of like naming my favorite child.
* Were there any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?
I infused several personal details into the book. Like Lily, I lost my mother and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. My grandmother’s recipes are very special to me. I cook her food when I’m missing her.
My father remarried a wonderful woman, who was first generation German American and my lovely step-mother shared her mother’s recipe for a German Christmas bread called stollen, a confection filled with dried fruits and marzipan. In the book, the stollen recipe came from Lily’s grandmother and to bring some holiday cheer into the house, she teaches the kids how to make it.
* Do any beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?
Oh, yes! Sydney and Miles from CELEBRATION’S BRIDE and Pepper and A.J. from Celebrations, Inc. Catering Company among others. It was fun revisiting everyone.
* Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?
I wanted Lily to tell the children the story of Christmas stollen and when I was researching it, not only did I learn all about where stollen came from (Lily will tell you all about it in the book), I learned there used to be an annual stollen festival in Germany. They’ve recently revived it and now it’s called Stollenfest.
That makes me wonder about your holiday traditions. I know it’s a little early for some of you to talk about Christmas and Hanukkah, but we are getting close to Halloween and Thanksgiving. What are some of your fall/winter traditions?
I will give away an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS to one person who posts on this blog.
If you’d like another chance to win, I’ve joined with a group of authors from Tule and we’re a prize package worth $500 in the Great Thanksgiving Giveaway. Follow the link for details on how you can win.
I can’t wait to hear about your fall/winter traditions!