Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

martinlutherking

Today is Martin Luther King Day, an American federal holiday that marks the birthday of an inspirational clergyman, activist, and leader who is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights in the United States.

My favorite quotations from Dr. Martin Luther King…

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

The time is always right to do what is right.


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10 Interesting Facts About Calamity (Callie) Barnstable

I’m happy to welcome Canadian author Judy Penz Sheluk to the Power of 10 series. Today, Judy shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her Marketville series. I enjoyed reading and highly recommend Book 1, Skeletons in the Attic, and look forward to future installments.

Here’s Judy!

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is the protagonist in SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC, the first book in Judy Penz Sheluk’s Marketville Mystery series. PAST AND PRESENT, the second book in the series, is scheduled for publication in early 2019.

1) Calamity (Callie) is named after Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman of questionable repute, although her mother actually named her after the considerably softened Calamity portrayed by Doris Day in a 1950s movie of the same name.






















2) Callie is the only child of two only children, whose parents disowned them, and by association, their only grandchild, when Callie’s mother got pregnant at the age of 17.

3) Callie worked in the fraud unit of a bank call center in Toronto until she inherited a house in Marketville from her father, who died in an “unfortunate occupational accident.”

4) Callie has also inherited her father’s black-rimmed hazel eyes, unruly brown hair, and stubborn streak.

5) When it comes to love, Callie believes she is a victim of the “Barnstable family curse.” Her last boyfriend dumped her on Valentine’s Day, when Callie was expecting an engagement ring. Enough said.

6) Callie’s favorite take-out comfort food is cheese pizza with extra sauce and hot peppers, though she does make a great homemade lasagna and mac and cheese. Maybe cheese is the not-so-secret ingredient here.

7) Callie’s favorite alcoholic beverage is Australian chardonnay. Her favorite tea is Vanilla Rooibos.

8) Callie is a runner who runs in temperatures from -30 to +30 (that’s Celsius for you Fahrenheit folks…translation -22 to 86+)

9) Callie is “addicted” to cocoa butter lip balm and has tubes of it stashed everywhere.

10) Callie is both fascinated and doubtful about tarot and all things psychic.

Blurb

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Bio

Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries (THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE), and The Marketville Mysteries (SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC). Sequels to both series are scheduled for 2018. Judy’s short crime fiction appears is several collections.

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. She is also on the Crime Writers of Canada Board of Directors as the Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario (2017-2018).

Where to find Judy…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Find Judy’s books at all the usual suspects, including Audible and the publisher Barking Rain Press.


10 Interesting Facts About Jason Davey

I’m happy to welcome Canadian author Winona Kent to the Power of 10 series. Today, Winona shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her latest release, Disturbing the Peace.

Here’s Winona!

I first wrote about Jason five years ago in my novel Cold Play, which took place on board an aging cruise ship sailing from Vancouver to Alaska. Jason was one of the ship’s entertainers; he spent his evenings in the TopDeck Lounge singing, playing his guitar and observing his audience, several of whom ended up having rather more to do with Jason than merely sharing his voyage north.

Jason left the sea after Cold Play and after some adventures in Australia and Hong Kong, ended up back in London gigging at The Blue Devil, a jazz club in Soho.

In my new novella, Disturbing the Peace, Jason discovers he has some excellent investigative skills, and ends up in northern Canada attempting to find out what happened to a legendary musician who’s been missing for four years.

When I wrote Disturbing the Peace, I wanted to make sure I could actually handle a true mystery. I’ve been writing gentle time travel stories for the past couple of years, and I felt a complete change would be good for my creative soul. I ended up falling in love with Jason all over again. The result: I’m going to give him more adventures, full-length novels that fall squarely within the mystery genre. The next one is tentatively titled A Diminished Seventh, although I’m toying with renaming it Notes on a Missing G-String. I hope to have it finished by the end of 2018.

Here, then, are ten things you might not know about Jason Davey…

1. His real name is Jason David Figgis. His parents, Mandy Green and Tony Figgis, formed the folk-pop group Figgis Green in the early 1960s. Although he could trade on his parents’ fame, he doesn’t. He hates nepotism and would rather be recognized as a musician in his own right. In fact, very few people in the business in London know about Jason’s musical pedigree, and he wants to keep it that way. As a result, he sometimes finds himself struggling for recognition.

2. Jason’s a smoker. He gave it up for a few years after his wife, Emma, died, but picked it up again after he left the sea. He also gave up drinking – and that’s lasted. His favourite non-alcoholic concoction aboard the Star Sapphire was a hand-made melon-juice concoction supplied by Samuel, the bartender in the TopDeck Lounge. His favourite non-alcoholic drink now is a spicy tomato juice he creates himself from tinned crushed tomatoes, vinegar, sea salt, stevia, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, minced onions and horseradish. The drink doesn’t show up in Disturbing the Peace but I’m going to introduce it in the next story. It’s my favourite drink too – I make it in bulk every couple of days and keep it in a jug in the fridge.

3. Jason has four guitars, which he keeps in a locked room at The Blue Devil: two solid body Fenders (a Tele and a Strat), a handsome black Phoenix hollow-body similar to the one Brian Setzer plays, and a Gibson ES-175, an archtop that’s a favourite of traditionalists, although he finds it uncomfortable because of an injury he sustained on board the Sapphire. He had six different guitars when he was gigging at sea, including an original Fender Strat that once belonged to his dad. You’ll have to read Cold Play to find out what happened to them.

4. Jason believes in ghosts and guardian angels, and intuitive and psychic powers. He had a guardian angel named Jilly in Cold Play, although he spent much of the novel assuming she was just one of his Twitter followers. She ending up proving she was much, much more than that. I suspect Jilly may put in a return appearance in future stories. She could definitely have helped him out in Disturbing the Peace.

5. Jason was married to a makeup artist named Emma. He has a son, Dominic, who’s now at university studying film production. Emma died in a fire which Jason believed he caused and the guilt he felt was what originally drove him to run away to sea. In Cold Play he met and fell in love with a travel agent named Katey Shawcross. Some years have passed, but he’s still on very friendly terms with Katey – and, indeed, we meet her again in Disturbing the Peace, where she proves to be very useful.

6. Jason’s favourite restaurant is Rules, in Covent Garden. He’s well-known there. His favourite dish is the Steak and Kidney Pie, although he has been known to order Wild Boar Pie, much to Katey’s disgust.

7. Jason’s a frustrated actor at heart. He loves situations where he can play at being someone he’s not. In Disturbing the Peace, he harnesses his acting skills to impersonate an accountant. Not the most exciting of roles – but it excites him, because it allows him access to information he might not otherwise have been privy to.

8. I love looking in peoples’ fridges to see what they keep there. Jason’s little fridge in his crew cabin on board the Sapphire contained the following: eleven G&B chocolate bars in assorted flavours, two jugs of fresh melon juice (see above), four bottles of Starbucks Mocha Frappucino, a four-day-old tray of take-out sushi from Ketchikan, a package of Brie, a package of Kerrygold Dubliner and a box of artisan whole leaf teabags (assorted varieties, many from obscure places in Africa). In Disturbing the Peace, Jason calls a tiny flat in a converted Georgian townhouse on Pentonville Road home. I didn’t have time to explore what was in his fridge there, but I promise in the next story, I’ll investigate! I suspect these days he’ll still have different cheeses and packets of pate from Waitrose. And a bread maker on his kitchen counter.

9. In Cold Play, Jason was a Twitter addict. His Twittername was @Cold_Fingers. I have yet to find out if he’s still driven by social networking. I suspect if he’s in touch with any of his old Twitterfriends, they’ve probably now all migrated over to Instagram or Facebook. Hopefully none of them include SaylerGurl, his Twitterstalker who had a fondness for sending him obsessive love notes featuring dreadful poetry.

10. Jason loves watching films on Netflix. His favourite is Mission: Impossible – he loves how they use their skills to solve problems. His favourite music these days is jazz, of course, but he’ll always have a fondness for Cliff Richard’s old backing group, The Shadows, and Hank Marvin particular. He absolutely loves Hank’s more recent Gypsy Jazz tunes.

Blurb

Disturbing the Peace is a 22,000 word novella introducing professional musician and amateur sleuth Jason Davey, who first appeared as a cruise ship entertainer in Winona Kent’s 2012 novel Cold Play.

Jason’s last job was aboard the Star Sapphire as she sailed from Vancouver to Alaska. Now he’s back on shore, and he has a regular gig at The Blue Devil jazz club in London.

When Dominic, Jason’s film-student son, asks his dad to help track down a missing musician for a documentary he’s making, Jason leaps at the chance.

Ben Quigley played rhythm guitar in Jason’s parents’ pop-folk group Figgis Green in the late 1960s. And, after living a life that in many ways paralleled Gerry Rafferty’s, he dropped off the face of the earth four years ago.

Jason’s search ultimately takes him to Peace River, Alberta – 300 miles from Edmonton in Canada’s frozen north. And what he discovers there is both intriguing – and disturbing.

Buy Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (U.S) | Amazon (U.K.) | Amazon (Germany)

Bio

Winona Kent was born in London, England. She immigrated to Canada with her parents at age 3, and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she received her BA in English from the University of Regina. After settling in Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.

Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. Her writing breakthrough came many years ago when she won First Prize in the Flare Magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all-night radio newsman, Tower of Power. More short stories followed, and then novels: Skywatcher, The Cilla Rose Affair, Cold Play, Persistence of Memory and In Loving Memory.

Winona’s sixth novel, Marianne’s Memory, will be published in 2018, along with a new Jason Davey mystery. tentatively titled A Diminished Seventh.

Winona currently lives in Vancouver and works as a Graduate Program Assistant at the University of British Columbia.

Please visit Winona’s website at http://www.winonakent.com for more information about her writing.

She’s also written a blog about the inspiration behind Disturbing the Peace: https://winonakent.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/disturbing-the-peace

When I heard that Ms. Kent was planning to explore another genre, I was curious to see if she could successfully transfer her well-honed writing skills. I needn’t have worried. In Disturbing the Peace, she demonstrates ample proof of her wonderful eye for detail and gift for creating a strong sense of place. Riveted from the start, I found myself immersed in Jason Davey’s journey as he traveled from London, England to Peace River, Alberta. I strongly recommend setting aside an afternoon or evening to read this well-plotted, character-driven novella.


10 Facts about 18th Century Food and Drink

I’m happy to welcome The Wild Rose Press author Kathleen Buckley to the Power of 10 series. Today, Kathleen shares interesting facts about eighteenth century food and drink and her novel, An Unsuitable Duchess.

Here’s Kathleen!

I have enjoyed reading about the history of food since I was a child, and have done a good deal of research on the subject. Now that I write Georgian (18th century) romances, this hobby is becoming useful. This deals specifically with English/British eating habits, although most of this will apply to the American Colonies, too, with additions of foods specific to the New World.

1. They ate things we don’t: syrup of turnips, brain cakes (brains mixed with flour, salt, nutmeg and raw egg, fried in butter), calf’s foot pie, mutton ham, larks, lampreys, calf’s head surprise. Yes, really.

2. They pickled things we don’t: not only cucumbers and onions, but walnuts, beetroot, pigeons, barberries, celery, kidney beans, oysters and almost anything else you can think of.

3. Candy was completely different. No candy bars, no bon-bons, no fudge. An 18th century confectioner’s cookbook contained recipes for drying or preserving fruit, making jam, candying flowers (and other things), making wafers, biscuits (cookies), puffs, almond paste, creams, jellies, including hartshorn jelly, caraway comfits, clotted cream, and chocolate almonds (sugar and chocolate sifted together with musk and ambergris and some binding ingredients, molded into the form of almonds). The Compleat Confectioner, or The Art Of Candying & Preserving In Its Utmost Perfection, by Mrs. Eales, Confectioner to Queen Anne, 3rd ed., 1742.

4. Chocolate was used almost exclusively as a beverage until the 19th century, when the discovery of the “Dutch process” made chocolate’s use in candy and baking feasible. The “chocolate almonds” mentioned above would have been nothing like modern chocolate candy, as they were evidently made by grinding cocoa nibs. Though cocoa nibs are now a “thing” among foodies. Go figure.

5. Wafers, biscuits, cakes and tea cakes were plain. Cakes tended to fall into two categories: pound cakes and fruit cakes. They and the small cakes—the equivalent of cookies or cupcakes—often contained caraway seeds, rose water, wine or brandy, and a spices like nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, caraway, caraway comfits, and raisins or currants. Oh, and macaroons? They were made with ground almonds, not coconut. Very few cakes were iced.

6. Chelsea buns were the wildly popular specialty of the Chelsea Bun House (1712 to 1839), and no wonder. From contemporary descriptions, these yeast buns were filled with currants or raisins, lemon peel, butter, sugar, and spice, rolled up like our cinnamon rolls, baked and then coated with a sugar and water glaze. Other bun recipes of the period are very plain indeed. The families of both George II and George III visited the Bun House to indulge.

7. People ate what was in season, and what they could afford. Fruit and vegetables were not available all year as they are now, thanks to modern transportation. If you wanted fruit in the winter, you preserved it when it was available. Meat and fish were dried, pickled, salted or potted (by cutting it up, pounding and seasoning it, baking until it was soft, draining off any liquid or fat, putting it into a pot and covering the contents with clarified butter which presumably then sealed it).

8. Tea was the most popular non-alcoholic beverage, although it was expensive. Men socialized in coffee and chocolate houses. Everyone drank beer as a thirst-quencher. Gin was the scourge of the London poor.

9. Your 18th century dinner will probably not include potatoes. I found occasional recipes for potato pie and potato pudding. The 1805 edition of Hannah Glasse’s popular cookbook suggests boiling potatoes in their skins, removing the skins, and either buttering them or browning them on a gridiron or in beef dripping.

10. Meals were … different. If you could afford to eat well, your diet was heavy in meat and light in vegetables. Susanna MacIver’s late 18th century cookbook, intended for the “genteel and middling classes” suggests family dinners of five to fifteen dishes. This is a sample of a ten dish dinner (taken in the middle of the day):

Salmon – roast turkey – stewed celery – fried fish – marrow pasty – soup – baked pudding – veal cutlets – sliced turnips and carrots with melted butter – boiled tongue and udder with roots (root vegetables)

Supper was lighter and simpler. MacIver lists a page of possibilities, including hot or cold meat or fowl, pies, tarts, creams (think custardy things), anchovies, poached eggs with sorrel, and vegetables, from which “any lady of the smallest experience may form suppers of any extent according to the articles that are in season.”

If you were wealthy, your meals would be more elaborate. The poorest seldom had any cooking facilities, and probably bought their food in taverns or from street vendors. Bread, cheese, gin and beer were staples of their diet. Riots occurred when the price of wheat rose.

Blurb

After her guardian’s death, Anne Sinclair comes to Town seeking a man with broad interests, rather than broad estates. She possesses a competence and a pretty face, so why did her late guardian think it might be difficult for her to make a match? The question becomes urgent when she discovers that London can be perilous for a young lady of inquiring mind—especially when she has a hidden enemy.

Lord John Anniscote unexpectedly inherits the title and responsibilities of his dissolute brother, the Duke of Guysbridge, including houses, servants, tenants, and the need to provide himself with an heir. Formerly poor, cynical, and carefree, he finds himself hunted by marriage-minded females. When a plot against a young lady up from the country touches his honor, can the new duke safeguard her reputation and repair his own?

buynow

Bio

Kathleen Buckley became interested in history before she learned to read (every Saturday when her mother took her to the Anchorage library, she insisted on going through the library’s fascinating exhibit of Eskimo artifacts). As soon as she learned to read, she wanted to write, and began with a dictionary of all the words she knew how to spell. This led to a Master’s Degree in English literature and a series of non-writing-related jobs: customer service in a hospital billing department, accounts receivable bookkeeper in a commercial print shop, paralegal, and security officer.

She has lived in both Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, in Seattle, Washington, and now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico (warmer than Alaska; dryer than Seattle). Favorite authors in no particular order: Jane Austen, Louise Penny, Sir Walter Scott, J.A. Jance, Lois McMaster Bujold, Robert B. Parker, Fiona Buckley (no relation), Georgette Heyer, Anne Perry, John Dickson Carr, Mary Balogh, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Andrew Vachss.

Where to find Kathleen…

Blog | Facebook | Goodreads


Are You in Your Book?

I’m happy to welcome back author Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine explains how she has inserted herself in her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet.

Here’s Catherine!

Curious readers often want to know if a writer is in their book. I never thought I inserted myself into my books until recently. However, as I write more stories, I discover more of myself in each book. Here are 10 places I found myself, or my life and family experiences, in my latest book Bidding on the Bouquet, an inspirational contemporary romance from Forget Me Not Romances.

1. Flowers usually make an appearance in my books. Considering I’m a gardener, that’s probably not an unusual thing. Bidding on the Bouquet is no exception. Not only does the story revolve around a very special bridal bouquet, but there is some courting done with flowers.

2. I also have some interesting floriography references I think readers will love. Floriography is the language of flowers. Victorian couples often sent each other secret message based on the language of flowers. In Bidding on the Bouquet there is one scene using floriography that readers have already commented that they love. I won’t spoil your read by telling you which one it is.

3. Tinsy, one of the secondary characters in the book, quotes a family proverb that is often used in our home. “Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on God.”

4. Food frequently appears in my books. My daughter hates a particular vegetable, and it got a role at the dinner table in this book.

5. I love roasted Brussel sprouts. They also ended up on a dinner plate.

6. My hero and heroine shared a steak meal the first time they ate together. Steak was also the first meal my husband bought me when we were dating.

7. The name of the steak house in Bidding on the Bouquet is the name of the steak house where my husband took me on our first date the summer between our junior and senior years in high school. Back then the guys had to wear a suit coat and tie for senior pictures. He thought he’d take a date out so as to not waste the effort of dressing up.

8. Pies are a motif in Bidding on the Bouquet. I hadn’t thought much about them recently, except we get a free slice every week at O’Charley’s restaurant. But as I was writing this book a lemon meringue pie appeared, and I remembered I used to make that particular pie—from scratch—for my husband when we were first married. It was his favorite back then.

9. Second-hand clothes have a role in Bidding on the Bouquet. My heroine wears them a lot. As a teen, I often shopped at Goodwill or other thrift stores. Some of my favorite outfits back then came from Goodwill.

10. Something my nephew did at Thanksgiving also appears in Bidding on the Bouquet. He called Cerri on his cell to ask a question. My phone’s not that smart, so I would have never thought about doing that. I’d have googled it instead. A few days later the hero unexpectedly (on my part) asked his Cerri assistant to tell him the meaning of a word. The hero did not like what the internet guru told him.

Well, that’s my Power of Ten for today. Thanks for dropping by. If you’re a writer, I’d like to know if you’ve ever appeared in your books. If you’re a reader, do you like to know if a writer has inserted themselves into a story?

Blurb

The chance to catch a bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose makes underprivileged, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson pawn everything she owns to come up with a bid to win a bridesmaid spot in the most prestigious wedding of the season.

When he discovers his sister is auctioning off bridesmaid spots in her wedding party, wealthy, elitist Chip Vandermere is appalled. Not only is it in poor taste, but no self-respecting lady would stoop so low as to bid. Convinced Marietta is a gold digger, Chip sets out to thwart her plans.

A social climber and a social misfit. Can a bridal bouquet unite them?

Buy Links

Bidding on the Bouquet | Groom for Mama | The Nun and the Narc (Amazon) | The Nun and the Narc (Barnes & Noble)

Bio

Catherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author who loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet, from Forget Me Not Romances, is an inspirational contemporary romance. Her books are available on Amazon.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Google+


10 Interesting Facts About Martinis

When it comes to food and hospitality, Chef David Korba is the consummate pro. In addition to developing signature entrées and desserts, David also offers trademark martinis with such tantalizing names as Babyface, Bellini, and Long Kiss Goodbye.

Definitely an auspicious start to Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. But the VIP dinner quickly spirals out of control and the guests leave with empty stomachs. Well, almost empty stomachs…those trademark martinis provided a pleasant interlude before all the drama started in Too Many Women in the Room.

Continue reading on the Just Romantic Suspense blog.


10 Favorite Holiday Traditions

I’m happy to welcome author Linda Bradley to the Power of 10 series. Today, Linda shares her favorite holiday traditions and her latest release, A Montana Bound Christmas.

Here’s Linda!

1. A Fir Tree is the only tree for me. I love the mossy color, short soft needles, and woodsy aroma.

2. Decorate with loving care. My collection of ornaments includes vintage glass, handmade crafts my boys created as youngsters, a crocheted Santa that was my mother’s favorite childhood ornament, an eclectic brood of snowmen, a moose, and a ceramic disc depicting a girl catching snowflakes on her tongue. This ornament is on my latest book cover and was a gift. It reminds me of childhood dreams and pristine snowflakes that make winter shine.

3. Hang boughs of greens lit with white twinkle lights. White lights remind me of candlelit services, starry heavens, sleigh rides, and wonder.

4. Wrap the gifts in simple paper and rustic ribbon.

5. Give to the less fortunate. Donate clothing and toys for families in need.

6. Carry on traditions from my childhood. Cookies and letters for Santa, socks, underwear, new pajamas for little ones on Christmas Eve, and pecan sticky buns on Christmas morning.

7. Watch the original, cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My favorite scene is when the Grinch straps antlers on his dog. So comical! I don’t think my Maisey would go for that.

8. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. Love the music and the speech Linus gives.

9. Light a candle and say a prayer for peace.

10. Bake cookies. And lots of them! I make the recipes my mom made with me as a child. Some of the family favorites are Humpty Dumpty Sugar Cookies, Shortbread, and Chocolate Chow Mein Cookies. This is a platter of cookies I baked for my A MONTANA BOUND CHRISTMAS: Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays! book release party. This batch is complete with character names and book details.

Sugar Cookie Recipe from Humpty Dumpty Magazine

This recipe is most near and dear to my heart. My mother made these cookies every year. It meant staying up past bedtime and baking with the woman I loved most. Fond memories of unwrapping sticks of butter, measuring sugar, sniffing the scent of vanilla, the sound of my mother’s wedding ring clanking against the yellow glass bowl as she mixed, and the anticipation of Santa on Christmas Eve haven’t faded even though the recipe card has.

*I was unable to locate the Humpty-Dumpty Magazine issue this recipe came from. I believe it to be circa late 1950’s or early 1960’s.

Cream together:
½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar

Beat in:
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add and alternate:
1 Tablespoon milk
Dry flour mixture

Dry Flour Mixture:
Mix these ingredients in a separate bowl.
2 cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ salt

Chill overnight before rolling out and doing cut-outs.

Oven 400 degrees. Lightly greased cookie sheet. I prefer parchment paper. Bake 6-8 minutes.

Frosting
Cream together:
½ cup Crisco
1 teaspoon almond
½ teaspoon vanilla

Add 1-pound confection sugar. Add ice water until it’s the consistency you want. I add coloring and use piping bags to decorate the cut-outs.

*This frosting recipe came from a friend.

Several of my holiday traditions appear in A Montana Bound Christmas. White lights symbolize the spirit of Chloe McIntyre’s late grandmother. Maggie Abernathy and her mother Glad, love sugar cookies and I imagine they’d adore the recipe above. Grandfather, Winston Ludlow McIntyre wraps his gifts in Sunday funnies adorned with twine. Chloe’s father, John gets sentimental when he unwraps ornaments he’d made with his mother as a child. No one ties antlers to Bones’ thick head, but I suspect Chloe may contemplate the act.

The holidays have a way of sneaking into my heart when I least expect it. Regardless the weather and hustle and bustle…somehow I’m always reminded to Believe!

Blurb

Chloe and John McIntyre await Maggie Abernathy’s arrival at the 617 Ranch, but snowfall has halted flights from Michigan to Montana. While Maggie and her mother prepare for a delayed departure, eight-year-old Chloe prepares for disappointment by inviting her Hollywood mother to the ranch in hopes of filling the void. Brook’s unexpected acceptance raises the stakes for John who longs for the perfect Christmas. This cast of misfits bands together in true Montana Bound style when unexpected guests arrive and a curious dog goes missing.

Here’s a five-star review I received on Amazon: “What fun! From the first chapter to the last, this story is a like a warm hug. Linda Bradley weaves the different worlds of each of the characters together in a rich tapestry that mirrors the story line itself. This could easily become a beloved holiday movie classic, if it were given the chance. Maggie, John and Chloe will feel as much like family to you as they do to each other. Open a wonderful gift of the holidays, when you open A Montana Bound Christmas.” – Annette Rochelle Aben, Amazon.com Bestselling Author

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

John

“DAD, WHEN’S MAGGIE going to get here?” Chloe’s breath fogged up the picture window. Her gaze scanned the snowy Montana mountains. “I hope she makes it in time for Christmas.”
Ruffling Chloe’s dishwater-blond mane, I prayed like hell Maggie and her mother, Glad, would get here soon. Traveling had come to a halt across the country thanks to the winter storm, but at least Maggie and Glad were safe at home and not sleeping on some airport floor like the many interviewed on the news.

Feeling anxious, I massaged my temples. Wrapping my arms around Maggie and kissing her lips were the only Christmas presents I needed.

“Not sure, Pumpkin. Depends on the flights.”

Crossing paths with Maggie the summer before last was like finding a rose bush on top of a mountain while searching for gold. As much as she resisted, her heart finally won. We all won. Acquiring Glad in the deal was a bonus. Without hesitation, she’d taken a special liking to Chloe. They’d bonded instantly through their love of mischief. Glad was like the grandmother Chloe never had, and her sense of humor cut to the quick. Glad wore her heart on her sleeve and was the only one capable of giving Maggie a run for her money when Maggie needed a challenge. Glad was Maggie’s mother first and foremost, but their relationship—built on sarcastic wit, middle-naming, and genuine love—was most unique.

“Maggie has to get here.” Chloe drew a heart in the moisture on the frosty glass pane. She wrote her initials above Maggie’s, then she added a plus sign. “The snow is so thick you can barely see through it.” Chloe hummed a holiday tune between thoughts. “Just think, Dad, next year at this time, I’ll be nine and Maggie will have been here a whole year.”

Nudging the hat back from my brow, I thought about the woman who’d stolen my heart. I never dreamed in a million years I’d fall head over heels for my Michigan neighbor lady, Maggie Abernathy. Living in Grosse Pointe hadn’t been on my agenda originally, but the picture was crystal clear why I’d established residency in the Great Lake State before coming back to Montana. If I didn’t believe in fate before, I did now, and I wanted Maggie to get here as much as Chloe.

We had big plans of starting a life together and this was only the beginning.

“Why couldn’t Maggie and Glad come earlier?” When Chloe spoke, deep lines appeared along the bridge of her nose.

“I told you, Chloe, Maggie’s settling things with her house. Remember when we sold our house in Grosse Pointe? It takes time. Papers have to be signed, things need to be packed, and besides Maggie wanted to spend some extra time with her momma. You can understand that, right? When Christmas is over, Glad’ll fly home. I don’t think Maggie has ever really been apart from her momma.”

I lifted Chloe’s chin with my index finger. My daughter’s soul shimmered behind her green stare. Hope should’ve been Chloe’s middle name because my girl never gave up when the chips were down.

“Glad’s house is where Maggie grew up. Maggie’s saying her last goodbye.”

Chloe’s expression tugged at my heart like the snap of a lasso when wrangling a wild pony.

“I know what you mean. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten used to being apart from my momma, but maybe that’ll change someday. Hollywood sure is a far way away.”

Chloe’s momma was nothing like Maggie, and I wondered if I’d ever shed the guilt from our failed marriage that had left my daughter living with her old man. Chloe longed for a normal household, whatever that was in this day and age. Smiling at Chloe, I wished she’d see the well of hope I carried myself.

“I guess so, but I want Maggie to be here. It’s almost Christmas. We have so much to do.”

“I want Maggie here, too, Peanut, but it is what it is.” Resting my hands on Chloe’s thin shoulders, I prayed for the skies to clear so our Maggie’s arrival was sooner than later.

“Maggie promised she’d make cookies with me. Christmas will be here before you know it. This is our first Montana Christmas, and I want it to be perfect.” Chloe leaned her forehead against the window, closed her eyes then whispered in the sweetest of voices, “Please Lord, it’s me, Chloe. I know I can be kind of a pain, but can you please help Maggie and Glad get here, and fast?”

“Come here, Peanut.” Opening my arms, I scooped my little girl up. My cheek grazed hers. Nothing compared to her soft touch when pangs of disappointment bristled.

On the outside, my daughter was as tough as they come, but on the inside, she was soft and cuddly. Chloe rested her head against my shoulder, her warm breath like butterfly kisses upon my neck.

“Are you going to marry Maggie?”

“Without a doubt.” My heart pounded as I imagined sharing life with the woman I loved. “Don’t you worry.”

“Good,” Chloe whispered. “I can feel your heartbeat against mine. I think we both love her.”

“This is where Maggie needs to be, Peanut.” Holding my daughter tight, I breathed her in. She was a wee one, but something told me the years would pass in a blink of an eye if I wasn’t careful.

“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, too, Munchkin.”
Outside, heaping mounds of snow grew deeper with each passing hour. If Maggie and Glad couldn’t get to the 617 Ranch before Christmas morning this was going to be some Montana-bound holiday.

Where to find Linda…

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