Comfort Songs Wins Again!

November 8th. 2020

My inbox was buzzing this morning as I woke to news that Comfort Songs, book two in the set of stories based in Comfort, Texas finaled as Best Women’s Fiction of 2020 from IAN (Independent Authors Network). Whew, this feeling never grows old, and it’s my hope that with every shiny sticker and confetti shower that these stories will find their way before more and more readers. The stories of women discovering their grit transcends time and place, and I hope the characters that travel through Comfort resonate with readers all across the globe.

Join me in sharing a moment of celebration!

Books Make Wonderful Gifts

October 26th. 2020

Spoiler alert: I’m biased. I’ve loved receiving books since I was a child and understood that I was the weird one and that if people gave me a book, it’s because they related to the quiet child who preferred to play in her imagination. Fast forward a few decades, and I’m now I’m the one giving books. Not only the ones I write, but also ones that I find in bookstores and resale shops that reflect a person’s interests, tastes, and preferences. Books don’t have to match, be a perfect size, or be fashionable to be appreciated. They’re also consumable and 100% recyclable. They can be passed on, re-gifted, and donated to a worthy cause. Are they the PERFECT gift–probably not, but they’re pretty darn close.

I’ll be touring around bookshops, libraries, and stores in the next few weeks with my newest novel, Comfort Foods, and quite happy to inscribe a message to a special someone in your life that needs a sweet, second-chances novel to enjoy during the holidays. If you want one mailed to you, just shoot me an email with a request, payment options, and I’ll help you with that gift delivery from the home office. Happy reading!

Comfort Foods Offers a Delicious Read

October 19th. 2020

The beginning of a book release always makes me ill. All the fun I had in writing, then the pain of editing, crashes in together in some weird surreal experience when the finished book arrives at my house. Those first weeks, when readers are just discovering the book, is fraught with short breaths. Will they like? Do they think this was the dumbest plot they’d ever seen? Can anyone identify with these characters? Should I get a second job?

Comfort Foods is the third book set in the gritty town of Comfort, Texas, and it’s another second chances story for a young woman faced with crazy, big obstacles. Like the other two novels–Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs–this story deals with family dysfunction, BFFs, frenenmies, discovering talents, and the potential for a surprising romance. With all the vivid restaurant scenes, Hill Country experiences, emotional peaks and valleys, and a relevant social issue making a headline story, I think it’s a recipe for a mental vacation away from the politics and medical issues plaguing our media these days.

I hope those who choose this novel in paperback or e-Book, will come away with the notion that though things look impossible now, the worst is never really the worst. I’ve learned the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity, and I hope readers see that too.

Cover Reveal for Newest Comfort Book!!

October 2nd. 2020

It’s reveal day in my bookish world of Comfort, Texas–the setting for the set of Hill Country fiction that has won awards and hearts across the country. New characters are served into the ever-growing friends group of women who have found their grit to overcome obstacles, and Lacy Cavanaugh, a disgraced social media blogger and former beauty queen, will fit right in. She’s kind of a hot mess, and yet has a heart as soft as lightest meringue. Soon, I’ll reveal more nuggets about the plot, and the sexy chef that is on the verge of disaster, but without any further delays, here is the cover that I hope will tempt you to read my newest book:

2019 Bloggers Choice Award BIG Winner–Comfort Songs!!

September 18th. 2020

In a week I couldn’t have seen coming, the Texas Hill Country fiction, Comfort Songs, won the 2019 Bloggers Choice Award for Best Texas Book, Best Romance, and runner-up for Best Cover!! WOW. All that glam, confetti, and swag for contemporary fiction about a woman discovering her grit. Complex family drama, lavender farms, friendship, and unexpected romance grow from the pages of this follow-up novel to Comfort Plans.

With the debut of Comfort Foods (third in a series of books set in Comfort, Texas) the friend group expands to include Lacy Cavanaugh and her story of recovering from a social media flameout of epic proportions. I can’t wait to share the beautiful cover for Comfort Foods in the near future, and of course, reveal a debut date for book orders. I’ll have all the Comfort books with me when I visit The Twig Bookstore in San Antonio, Texas and the 8th Street Market in Comfort, Texas later this fall.

Recipes Inspired by a Character

September 7th. 2020

In creating the character Rudy Delgado, the male lead in novel, Comfort Foods, I had to get into the head of a creative chef. Not knowing what that space would look like when I began writing, I decided a pan, a knife, and good ingredients would be a leaping off point. Here’s a recipe for burger sliders and bacon jam, that Rudy might approve.

Burger Sliders: 1lb. ground sirloin, 1 lb. ground sirloin, 4 tablespoons salted butter (room temperature), steak seasoning/salt/pepper to taste. Mix all together by hand, and shape into slider sized patties. Indent the middle to allow juices to collect. Grill on a 350 degree surface, until cooked through. Serve with toasted Brioche buns (buttered and grilled) and bacon jam.

Bacon Jam: 1 packaged thick sliced bacon, 3 large shallots, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, dash of Worcestershire Sauce. Cook bacon in a hot skillet, remove when cooked. In remaining bacon fat sauce onions and garlic, until tender and liquid reduced. Add in brown sugar, and return cooked bacon to the mixture, stirring to coat. Add balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire Sauce. Let simmer for 30 minutes until thickened. Serve warm or room temperature over burgers.

To round out a menu that might be served from the grill, consider adding sweet corn on the cob and a potato salad. Enjoy!

Lavender for supper??

July 20th. 2020

While working on my next novel, Comfort Foods, I’ve dabbled, sampled, cooked, and consumed many recipes involving lavender. Why, you might ask? I’ll tell you–it’s a critical ingredient in the new book. Yes, my last novel, Comfort Songs, was set at a lavender farm, but this new book picks up where that one ended, and lavender is drifting across these pages too.

If you’re yawning because, well, what more could be said about lavender, I’m going to surprise you. Lavender is not just for looking at, smelling, or rubbing into your skin as a fragrant cream or oil. It’s edible! The buds adds an aromatic quality to foods from cookies to beef. (I know because I’ve been playing in the kitchen with it.) The plot of Comfort Foods involves a chef starving for his next level of creativity–and its delivered to him in the unlikely context of a food festival set at Lavender Hill. Without going into too much detail about that, let me share a few recipes that have inspired me.

The book is in the final swing of editing, and I’ve been drooling over the cover suggestions the talented Holly Forbes has whipped up for Comfort Foods, but you’ll have to wait until autumn to see those results. In the mean time, try cooking with lavender and see if you like the lift you feel on your tongue. I’ll post a recipe every few weeks until it’s time to announce the new book is released for readers to enjoy.

Courtesy of the 2nd edition of Lavender, by Ellen Spector Platt

Aromatic Chicken

3 whole chicken breasts (skinned, split)

1 tabl. butter

1/2 lb baby white onions, peeled

1/2 c dry white wine

3 cloves garlic

1/2 teas. dried lavender buds (you can buy these at health food stores)

3 strips of orange zest

Melt butter in saute pan, brown both sides of the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients, and cover pan. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove garlic and strips of orange zest. Serve over boiled rice or couscous. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.

Blood on the Pines, chapters 2 and 3, of a serial story.

July 1st. 2020

Thanks to the Longview News-Journal for allowing me creative freedom to write an alternative history version of Margaret and O.H. Methvin the couple credited with beginning the city of Longview. It’s alternative because not a lot is known about them, and I may have fudged a few dates of Texas history to try a “what would have happened if” perspective. Hope you’re intrigued. The chapters roll out every other month in the Charm Magazine addition to the local paper.

Kirkus Review of Comfort Songs!

June 24th. 2020

I’m thrilled the world premiere book review service, Kirkus Reviews, gave a glowing endorsement of the 2019 novel, Comfort Songs. I had such writing this story, and watching the reactions from readers, that I didn’t think there could be more icing for the cake. I was wrong. This review will open new doors for the book and introduce Comfort, Texas to a whole roster of readers I may have been unable to reach.

Hope you agree with their remarks!

Heroes at Home.

May 23rd. 2020

I was born into the U.S. Army in September of 1964, and surrendered my privileges when I turned 18 and gave back my I.D. card—the days in between feel like the pages of a myth. My father was training at the Ranger’s Camp outside Dahlonega, Georgia when I came screaming into the world, and in that scenario my mother was the real trooper. I learned quickly what it meant to travel light, don’t get attached to things or places, and how to make friends fast—and forget them with a wave of goodbye. As I didn’t know any other way to live, I thought my childhood was quite normal, and it many ways, it was stuff of dreams. 

It does something to a kid to hear that your father is a hero—and mine truly was having served three tours in Vietnam and a member of the elite Special Forces. Having a dad that can walk into any room and mobilize it for covert activities puts a mind at rest about where we’re traveling on vacation or how we are going to adapt to a remote assignment. I was one of the lucky ones. My father didn’t need to prove his authority by beating my mother or his children. Nor do I have memories of him venting about the terrors of war in our living room. Somehow, he was able to process the atrocities he witnessed and carried on. I think that’s at the heart of what it means to be a solider. I do think the unsung champion in my childhood would be my mother. The military doesn’t view dependents with ease, and she had to endure countless planting and tearing of roots, the only parent to sick children, loneliness of a breadth I’ve never known, and fear of being widowed like the countless other women who watched a green vehicle slowly ease into their driveway. That kind of daily fear must eat at a soul, but my mother stood proudly at all the ceremonies and never let on that she was dying inside. I think that’s at the heart of what it means to be a soldier’s wife.

I, on the other hand, learned what it meant to adapt. Complaining wasn’t something tolerated, and that bred a resilience that held hands with optimism and both hoped a better day was coming. It usually did. I learned to find something interesting about all the places we lived, the houses we called ours for a short time. Toys were pieced together from what survived a move, and freedom to roam came easily on property governed by the military police. I was not unique. Every child in every desk at DOD school knew the same reality that I did, and we became a fraternity of followers. We’d save something from all our addresses, small touchstones of a story or a place that would help us remember the long line of doors we’d walked through. No one talked about this process, it was just understood. 

I look back on what the Army taught me about living in this world, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been born into a family that knew their purpose, had their marching orders, and held their friendships with open arms. I look around and see so many unhappy people searching for some peace, some understanding, and realize they don’t know how to gather their touchstones and appreciate what they have. They don’t know how to adapt to their moment. That’s unfortunate, because contentment lies in that blink of an eye. Life was not easy in Army. Nor was it without uncertainties, but to be able to adjust—with little notice—was a skill I have applied at every hiccup in my life, and I’m glad for my time in the Army.