I’m hosting a cookie swap for the awesome Tule team this week and baking dozens of my favorite holiday cookies for the party, along with cookies and candy for the family.
Growing up, it was the tradition to begin holiday baking right after Thanksgiving and my mom would make roll out sugar cookies, butterscotch scotties, Spritz cookies, pralines, fudge, and so much more. But this recipe below is one my boys love, and so of course Trey Sheenan (The Kidnapped Christmas Bride) is one of my boys, too, so I’ve put McKenna in the Cray Cabin kitchen making cookies for Trey and TJ.
Trey’s Favorite Peppermint Pinwheel Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red food coloring
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and combine well. Divide dough in half; add extract and red food coloring to one portion.
On a work surface, roll out each portion of dough between waxed paper into a 16″x10″ rectangle. Removed waxed paper. Place red rectangle over the plain rectangle. Roll up tightly like a jelly-roll. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4″ slices. Place 2 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
And here’s another favorite from Harley’s kitchen that she loves to make for Brock Sheenan’s family (Christmas at Copper Mountain) every Christmas.
Harley’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups white vanilla chips or 8 oz. vanilla flavored
1 (3 1/2 oz) jar macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
candy coating, coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 375*F. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, margarine, and shortening; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in vanilla chips and macadamia nuts. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375*F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.
Do you have a favorite cookie you have to make every year for your family? Share with me—yes, I know, I know, I ask this every year but I love talking cookies!—and one of you will win a holiday box filled with great reads and festive cheer! I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, the 21st!
Thank you readers for your support of The Kidnapped Christmas Bride. I am thrilled so many of you are reading it and enjoying it, and thank you so very very much for the reviews. Those reviews really matter so I’m hugely grateful that so many of you have taken time to post one at Amazon!
I was asked recently about the inspiration behind the story, and this story really comes from Trey and McKenna themselves. They’ve been dating since high school and have a long, intense history…17 years of history…so their ‘story’ is emotional and bittersweet, and in Trey’s case, filled with yearning and regret. So when I sat down to write their romance story, one song really stood out in my mind, and that was Bon Jovi’s “Make a Memory”.
The song, “Make a Memory” even helped inspire the back cover blurb with “All he wants is a Christmas memory…”
Are you familiar with the song?
Let me know if you’ve read the story yet and I’m dying to hear what you think! I’ve got a thank you prize for one of you so comment and a winner will be drawn Monday morning, and the prize is a box of holiday cheer that includes the print anthology, A Very Marietta Christmas, a Starbucks drink card and lots of reader treats.
I think everyone knows that I find most of my favorite new authors through Megan Crane who knows great books, as well as my taste in books—emotional, tautly paced, compelling, and incredibly satisfying–and she raved about Dani Collins‘ first Harlequin Presents, insisting I read it. And Megan was right. It was fantastic. And so of course later, when Tule was founded and Tule was hungry for wonderful, compelling, sexy stories, we all thought of Dani.
As part of my holiday countdown, I’ve invited Dani to join me on my JaneBlog, to talk about her Christmas story, and the connected stories she’s writing for Montana Born.
Thank you, Dani Collins for joining us! I’m so delighted to have you here. –
If you’ve been following Jane’s Blog for a while, I’m sure you already know what a warm and generous person she is. I first ‘met’ her when she was starting out with Presents. She was signing her book at a writers’ conference in Victoria and we all whispered her name in awe. She was the first new writer that Harlequin Presents had acquired in years.
I envied her passionately for that and was quite intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the accomplishment. I’m not being funny. I’d been trying (continued to try) to sell to Harlequin Presents for years. Jane became one of those authors I watched with amazement as her career grew and blossomed. She flew so far up in the stratosphere, I knew I’d never touch her.
In 2012, my dream finally came true and I sold to Harlequin Presents. For a lot of reasons, I had pretty much dropped out of the writing community. I had moved and mostly lost touch with my local writing friends. Time was precious so I didn’t socialize online. I worked a day job, had a family, and wrote when I could. When I sold to Harlequin, I didn’t feel like a Presents author. They were all Jane Porters in my mind: brilliant and capable while I was pretty sure I’d be called out as a fake at any moment.
But I quickly learned they’re actually the most welcoming, bighearted bunch you could ever hope to meet. I had forgotten how supportive the writing community was. One of them, Megan Crane (Caitlin Crews), said to me at conference in 2013, “You should meet Jane.”
I’m pretty sure Jane has better things to do, was my first thought, but I did meet her and she was funny and normal (in her bubbly, vivacious way) and I was intimidated all over again. Then she invited me to submit a story to Tule’s Montana Born Homecoming series. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into. I just figured, if Jane Porter invites you to do something, you say a firm “Yes” and show up in your best frock.
Writing for Montana Born has turned into one of the best experiences of my life. After focusing on writing tycoons, I wasn’t sure I could write novella length small town ranchers, but I’m a small town girl at heart and I love Marietta. I love writing about the tight community and I love that I feel part of a community in all the ways we wind up interacting with Tule’s amazing staff.
I realize this post was supposed to be about my two—yes I’ve already written two books for Montana Born and I’m working on my third. They came out in September and October and I’m so proud of them I’m completely impossible to live with.
So I’ll tell you that, like me returning to the writing community, Chase in Hometown Heroreturns to Marietta and is surprised by how real the sense of Homecoming is for him. And Liz in Blame The Mistletoe is pretty intimidated by the tight circles at the cocktail party she attends, but it only takes one friendly face—Blake’s—to make showing up the best chance she ever took.
Thanks Jane (and Megan!) for inviting me to Marietta.
Have you ever been new to a community? Or gone back to an old one? Has anyone reached out to help you feel like you belong?
“You don’t have to walk me in,” she insisted as she shifted the leftovers to the floor and swung her legs out the open door.
“All part of the service, ma’am.” He steadied her as she slid to her feet in front of him then started to reach past her for the leftovers.
“Wait, I won’t eat all of that. You should take some.” She started rearranging the contents of both boxes. They dithered over the different items while the snow fell and the door crowded them into the tiny space next to the truck. “Coconut?” she asked.
“Hate the stuff,” he said.
“Good, I love it, so I’ll take yours, but here, you have the mushrooms—”
“Ah to hell with it,” he muttered, stealing the container from her hands and dropping it on the seat as he swung her to face him. “Come out to the ranch tomorrow and I’ll give you whatever you want.”
He kissed her. Pulled her into the wall of his hard body and kissed the hell out of her and she locked her arms around his neck and kissed him back like it was the only kiss they would ever have. They kissed until she didn’t feel the cold, until she sensed by the way he locked his hand on her butt and pressed her into him that he was very aroused behind their layers of clothes. She was. God, he tasted good. They French kissed and breathed heavily and finally came up for air.
Little clouds puffed around them as they panted and stared at each other.
“I don’t know how to get to the ranch,” she said.
He grinned, kind of triumphant, while she mentally shook her head at herself. Just say no, Liz, but for once she didn’t have the sick feeling in her stomach as she searched for the word and couldn’t find it. She felt melty and yearning and like she’d been smiling for so long her face would stay that way.
“I’ll call you in the morning, get your email and send you a map.
Award winning author Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and lately, small-town rancher novellas. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:
The last couple of weeks have been intense with lots of gorgeous changes here at JanePorter.com and tons of late night writing but it’s finally time for the reward! I am beyond thrilled to share that The Kidnapped Christmas Bride, Trey Sheenan’s story is finally available for download.
I started the Taming of the Sheenans series with Brock Sheenan’s story in Christmas at Copper Mountain and followed it with Troy’s story in The Tycoon’s Kiss and now it’s Trey Sheenan’s turn. I loved writing his character and I hope you’ll love him too!
Read an excerpt for The Kidnapped Christmas Brideand if you love it, download the story right away for the special ‘loyal reader’ price of just .99 cents! It’s only going to be .99 cents for a short time so do grab your download soon. I’m so excited about this book and I really want to hear what you think. I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts with me! I’d love to hear from you.
Since I’m in the mood to celebrate, I’ve also got a fun giveaway for you too!
For a chance to win, leave a comment and tell me what you think of the Sheenans so far. Is there a Sheenan Brother you’ve loved better than the others? Or tell me what you think of my new website. It’s so gorgeous and shiny and I simply love the fabulous job my web team did for me. Share your feedback and you’ll be entered to win! I’ll pick a winner on Saturday!
I’ve done some re-decorating here at my home on the web. Welcome!
My old site served me well and through it I have connected with so many of you. But it was time for a make-over, and besides, I wanted to make sure that I was accessible to those of you who come here to visit on your phones. Yes, JanePorter.com is now fully responsive — visit me here via your phone or your tablet, the site will now be as easy-to-read and easy-to-interact-with regardless of how you come here.
Why make this big change? Because I adore you all.
I loved my red site, and over the years I poured all kinds of content into it to help extend your reading experience with me. To be honest, I’d forgotten about some of the cool stuff I’d posted years ago to support so many of my books, classic romances and modern lit alike. It’s been like getting surprised with a This is Your Life party each time my webmistress asked me: “And what about this feature?” There is no way I could have gone through it all at once — fourteen years of Book Extras and cool photos and articles and videos… But as it was fed to me piece by piece, and I got to enjoy the content all over again, I got to thinking… And then it hit me: THROWBACK THURSDAYS!
Right now this new JanePorter.com features dedicated pages for only a handful of my books — just the most recent ones (and even for these, not everything is in place yet — the website is a work in progress, thanks for your patience!). If you go to my bookshelf, you’ll see them all, of course. But while some click over to excerpts for you to enjoy, many simply lead to the Kindle page on Amazon. With so many of my previously out-of-print books now available in eBook format, I didn’t want anyone to have to look that hard while Team Jane was working at converting all the wonderful old content into this new format. There’s a lot more coming, including longer excerpts, more international covers and links (because I know so many of you are coming here from outside of the English-speaking world), all that previously buried content, and then, here and there, I might be able to dig up something totally new.
These Throwback Thursdays won’t start up until after the holidays… But in the meantime, please head over to mybookshelf… Help me grow this new site. Please tell me which of my books that click over to Amazon and not yet to a JanePorter.com page you would like to see come back to your viewing enjoyment first? Leave the title below in a comment, and I’ll pick one commenter before December 1st to receive a fun package of some vintage promo swag from years gone by, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and a book, too, of course.
I hope you all enjoy the new site, and how easy it is to get around. Of course, as with any brand new site, there are bound to be hiccups — please don’t post those in the comments or on social networks, my web team doesn’t check there. But if you report errors via my site page, the web team can fix it quickly. I appreciate the assistance.
I’m really looking forward to lots of reader interaction here on the new JanePorter.com. Welcome!
I became a huge fan of New Zealand author, Jackie Ashenden, the very first time I read one of her books. Her strong writing style coupled with a sharp wit and intense, sexy characters made it all too easy to get hooked. Then Jackie wrote Never Seduce A Sheikh, featuring a bad boy who is also a Sheikh… two of my very favorite types of heroes rolled into one. Isma’il is a delicious bad boy and so very easy to fall in love with! What more could a girl ask for?
Okay so I LOVE a bad boy. Especially their flaws because it’s their flaws that make them human and not just some cardboard cut-out, perfect man. But a bad boy who’s also a sheikh? Well, that’s one of my ultimate, alpha fantasies. A sheikh is a king, a warrior, a man whom no one can say no to. He rules his domain with an iron hand, is strong and in total command of himself. Yes, he may be arrogant, but if you’re a king you need a certain amount of arrogance, not to mention confidence, because who wants an uncertain, unconfident king?
So why is he an ultimate fantasy? I think the appeal of this kind of hero lies in the idea of a strong man brought low and changed by the love of his heroine. And it’s appealing because it makes the heroine a very powerful force. And what woman doesn’t want to feel that powerful?
Thank you, Jackie! For those of you who haven’t yet read Tule’s Bad Boys series, do be sure to grab Jackie’s Never Seduce A Sheikh soon. This Sheikh is simply irresistible!
I also have a special giveaway for you. For a chance to win, tell me if you’ve read any of Jackie Ashenden’s stories before and if so, which title you enjoyed most. Or just tell me about your weekend reading! One lucky winner will win this awesome prize package!
I love stories about hearth, home and happiness, especially during the holidays and Terri Reed‘s Home For Good was a perfect fit. A sweet story that delivers on it’s promise of love and family and second chances, and packed with lots of emotion too.
Terri is an award winning multi-published author with lots of romance and romantic suspense novels on her list of impressive accomplishments. She also loves to cook and I invited her to share one of her wonderful recipes with us. I’m so glad she’s writing for Tule! Please help me welcome Terri Reed!
Thank you Jane for hosting me and for giving me the opportunity to write Home for Good. This story was born out of preparing for a workshop that I was giving to my local Romance Writers group. Once the characters grabbed ahold of me they wouldn’t let go. Setting them in Marietta was a perfect fit. I so enjoyed living in the world of Marietta Montana and getting to know the other characters in town. I’m planning on writing one of Home for Good‘s secondary characters story next.
Since the holidays are fast approaching and we’re all starting to think about our menus I wanted to share this recipe for Italian Sausage Spaghetti–Squash.
Italian Sausage Spaghetti–Squash
½ pound butter
1 pound Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
5 gloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp fresh sage
¼ cup Sherry wine (I substitute Marsala wine)
½ cup chicken broth (more if you want it soupier)
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 large spaghetti squash(depending on the ratio you prefer of veggies/sausage to squash)
Pre-heat oven at 450 F degrees.
Split the squash in half, scrape out seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil. Use a non-stick baking tray or line an oven tray with foil. Place flesh side down and roast for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked. The shell will be soft. Remove from over and let rest until cool enough to handle.
10 minutes or so before the squash is done, heat butter in a sauté pan, add sausage and brown. Add veggies, garlic and spices and sauté until the veggies begin to cook. Add the wine, salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from heat and cover.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, using a large fork or kitchen spoon, scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin, it will unfurl like strands of spaghetti. Toss the spaghetti squash with the ingredients in the bowl. Serve and enjoy!
Thank you, Terri, for sharing your favorite holiday recipe! I can’t wait to try it!
Readers, please get your copy of Home For Good today and please help Terri feel welcome too. Leave a comment for a chance to win this awesome prize Terri’s offering to one lucky winner!
Sebastian had everything ripped from under him when his car crashed and his best friend died. Left grappling with a lot of questions as to why he’s still alive and Judd isn’t, he runs as fast as he can to ignore them. He’s living his life for two now, making sure that Judd didn’t die in vain. He sleeps with twice as many women, doubles up on danger and races through life because that is the only time he can forget for a few moments and truly feels alive.
Everyone deals with grief in different ways and I wanted to explore loss/death causes a change that we really can’t control. When I as in high school there was a horrible accident that left one student dead and the other severely injured. The injured boy/man sat next to me in World History and walked with a cane when he returned to school. He’d changed almost overnight from the fun loving guy to someone who was more somber. But he’d flirt with me sometimes and I saw a glimpse of the boy he’d been before. From that moment I think I wanted to write about a damaged man. I really love exploring that dichotomy.
The appeal of Bad Boys is that they are tempting. We are all told to be good and play by the rules and they don’t. They take what they want, they invite us along for the wild, crazy ride that life can be. And we go for it. In romance novels they appeal because they can and will be redeemed. They will be find a sort of redemption in through love and for me at least that damaged part of them can be healed.
Billionaire Sebastian Warren has one simple motto: live fast and don’t look back. He’s never met anyone who makes him want to change. Until he meets enticing, fascinating Celeste Beacon.
Celeste believes that there’s a heart of gold beneath Sebastian’s bad boy image, so she challenges him to overcome his demons and be a better man.
Will Sebastian lead her down a path to wickedness, at his own peril – and hers? Or is Celeste the one woman who can finally bring him peace?
Thank you, Katherine, for popping in to share with us! Readers, you simply Must read No Rest For The Wicked! It’s deliciously entertaining and totally delivers on the promise of bad boys.
I also have more fun for you with an awesome Happy Endings giveaway! For a chance to win, tell me what you find most appealing about bad boys and you’ll be entered to win this great prize! Winner announced Saturday.
My guest today is the hugely talented and absolutely fabulous author, Kathleen O’Brien. With well over 40 titles to her name, Kathleen has penned all types of romances that range from dark, brooding suspense to hot and sexy contemporaries and it’s no wonder she’s captured the hearts of millions of readers!
Kathleen’s new book from Tule Publishing, and book 4 in the Homecoming series, The Long Way Home captured my heart once again as I fell in love with her beautifully drawn characters. She graciously agreed to join me here on my blog to share with you all more about her new release so please, help me welcome Kathleen O’Brien! —
People always ask whether my books and characters are taken from my own life. My answer is always some variation of “I wish!”
But I do have to love and identify with each character I create….writers live very intimately for long periods of time with these people. So I often give each person a trait that is either a quirk I have, or a quality I would love to have.
In THE LONG WAY HOME, Joe’s feisty mom, Mary, got my rotten cooking skills, poor lady. She loves her four boys, but she just can’t make herself concentrate on cooking for them all day long. She has good intentions, starts off with high hopes, then inevitably gets distracted, grows bored, wanders off, and lets everything burn.
To my eternal regret, that’s me! I admire people who are creative in the kitchen, and I wish so much that I could learn to be that way…but I’m afraid I’m hopeless. All the recipes I work with have to be super easy.
Joe, my hero, has learned to be a pretty good cook, in self defense. All the Carlyle boys have, which, in my opinion, goes a long way to making them the perfect heroes!
Here’s a recipe for the blueberry pancakes he makes for Abby at the Marietta High pancake fundraiser. It’s super yummy, and easy enough that even I can make them!
Mix the dry ingredients together, and, in a separate bowl, mix the liquid ingredients. Then combine and put in fridge for about 45 minutes. Cook by ladling batter onto hot, no-stick greased griddle, creating whatever size pancake you prefer. When first side begins to bubble, add blueberries to taste. Flip only once.
Serve while piping hot, with the rest of the fresh blueberries piled on top. If you like extra coconut flavor, add toasted shredded coconut, which you can easily toast right beside the pancake as it cooks.
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing with us! Readers, as always, if you haven’t downloaded a copy of this book, please head to your online retailer and get it today and help me spread the word about this wonderful story. And to make it more fun, I’ve got an amazing JP Fall prize including books, giftcards and treats for one lucky winner! For a chance to win, tell me are you creative in the kitchen? Or share what one trait you wish you had. Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Happy Reading!
I can be such a book girl sometimes, nothing makes me happier than talking books and themes. One of my favorite themes is second chances and that’s partly why I’ve really enjoyed Tule’s Homecoming series. Have you read any of the Homecoming books yet?
Eve Gaddy‘s novella, Sing Me Back Homekicked off the Homecoming series. I read it some weeks ago but still find myself thinking about Jack and Maya. Such a sweet, delightful story about second chances and full of strong characters, it’s a quick read and has a good dose of humor and heat too. Eve was kind enough to sit down to a quick Q&A with me about Sing Me Back Home —
What did you love best about the idea of writing a homecoming novel like Sing Me Back Home? I love second chance romances. I like to think that two people who belong together and break up finally make it back together. I also had fun with the characters. Jack and Maya and their kids were a lot of fun to write. I also enjoyed being able to set the story in Marietta. What a great place to write about.
What sort of journey was it for you, writing this book? Did you struggle to find the words and get the characters to talk or did it all flow smoothly most of the time? I think on the whole it flowed pretty smoothly. But as with nearly everything I’ve ever written, I had times when the words didn’t want to come. Once I immersed myself in the book and really got going, it flowed. My characters are often chatty to me. Of course, sometimes they refuse to talk to me at all. Very frustrating!
Do you have any special memories in relation to homecoming? I was a cheerleader all through high school so homecoming holds some fond memories for me. I can’t think of one particular memory that stands out, though.
How did you come up with the title of your story? That was fun! I often find inspiration from song titles. I was looking through some I’d googled that had the word “home” in the title. I saw Sing Me Back Home and instantly fell in love with it. I always make a playlist for my books so naturally, I downloaded the song by Merle Haggard. I had never heard it before. It was quite a shock when I found out it was a song about a man in prison about to be executed. He wanted his friend to sing a song for him that would take him back home before he died. While neither of my characters were ever in prison, I do think that songs are very evocative. There are many songs that take me back to a different time or place, so the song fit. And I found another Merle Haggard song I really liked so it was a win-win!
In 5 words, describe your Romance Writing Style. Fast paced, witty, sexy, emotional and realistic.
Name 5 words that fit your personality according to you. And 5 words that fit your personality according to your best friend.
Dr. Jack Gallagher, one of Marietta, Montana’s most eligible bachelors, hasn’t been serious about a woman since his wife died five years ago. He’s been content to date occasionally, practice medicine and raise his teenage daughter.
Then happily divorced former fashion model, Maya Parrish, moves back to Marietta, with her own teenaged daughter in tow forcing Jack to rethink his casual dates only rule. Maya, Jack’s high school girlfriend and almost fiancée, may have broken his heart the night of their high school graduation, but the moment Jack and Maya meet again, all the sizzle and sparks, and then some, come rushing back.
Maya is ready to give love a second try. Jack isn’t sure he can take that chance again. He knows how quickly happiness can be ripped away, leaving heartbreak in its place. Can a mad, passionate affair last or will it burn itself out as quickly as it began?
Thank you, Eve! Readers, put Sing Me Back Home on your to-read list if you haven’t already. I know you’ll love it! I also have a fun prize here for one of you. For a chance to win books, gift cards and some fun reader swag, tell me about your favorite themes. What types of stories are your favorite to read? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win! Winner announced on Tuesday. Happy reading!