The Perfect Holiday Anthologies!

Phew! You survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday! But, the holidays are approaching fast. Perhaps you still have some last minute shopping to complete…or maybe you need to prop your weary feet up on the nearest end table and take a break. No worries, I’ve got the reading cure no matter what the ailment!

The holidays are stressful enough; don’t let your fun holiday gatherings get you down in the dumps if you’re riding solo this holiday season. Are you single, but still dream of finding “The One?” Well, look no further. And for those of y’all who are coupled up, but you’ve hit a speed bump or have “lost that loving feeling,” I’ve got you! Here are two heartwarming anthologies from four fantastic African American female authors!

If you answer yes to any of the following, then you’ll love Holiday Brides:

  1. Dreading another holiday party?
  2. Single and ready to mingle?
  3. Tired of repeating your life story at dinner parties?
  4. Sick of hearing Grandma Jane ask when you’re going to get married?
  5. Still believe your soul mate is out there?

Don’t fret! Farrah Rochon, Stefanie Worth, and Jewel Amethyst put a holiday spin on many women’s dilemma: will I ever find “Mr. Right?” Holiday Brides “is most certainly geared to the romantic at heart.” —RT Book Reviews.

Farrah Rochon’s “No Ordinary Gift” has a little Pretty in Pink feel, as it features Kemah, a single female who falls in love with Tyson, the guy from the other side of town. You’ll be rooting for this couple to conquer their differences the whole way through. Stefanie Worth’s novella “Heavensent.com” shows how wonderfully fate and online dating mesh together. Worth’s protagonist, Brenna, never paid attention to her attractive co-worker, Evan, but one day she decides to throw caution to the wind and join an online dating site. Once Brenna logs on, she’s hooked! Who would’ve thought that the man on the other side of the computer was her hot co-worker, Evan! If you’re like me, and think snow is a dirty four letter word, then you’ll enjoy Jewel Amethyst’s tropical vacay novella “From SKB with Love.” Here, Venetta, a single female vacationing on the tropical island of St. Kitts, falls in love with an islander. Who would’ve imagined she’d be a Christmas bride!

I promised those of y’all with a plus one some reading too, and now I deliver! Are you a fan of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married movies? Yes? Then come on down to the Holiday Inn! Let’s face it, it’s tough keeping the spark in a relationship. For those of you attempting to rekindle that special something with a loved one this holiday season, find inspiration in this anthology. Phyllis Bourne, Farrah Rochon, and Stefanie Worth team up in The Holiday Inn, highlighting the struggles of three couples on the rocks and trying to save their relationship.

There’s wide acclaim for this anthology, and I have to agree with the critics! “The Holiday Inn is excellent. Each story was refreshing, funny, romantic, and realistic. Each couple was faced with dilemmas that are constantly being asked. I found myself rooting for each couple as they struggled emotionally to hold on to each other. This is the perfect holiday story for anyone who loves and believes in happily ever after.” —Priscilla C. Johnson, The APOOO Book Club

Farrah Rochon’s “A Change of Heart” novella features a couple at their wit’s end. They’ve traveled to the Holiday Inn to throw in the towel on their relationship. Well, mother nature has a different idea! A snowstorm derails the couple’s plan to end their marriage. With some snuggling by the hearth and some qt (quality time) in a cozy setting, this marriage isn’t going anywhere! Stefanie Worth combines the contemporary with the classic in her novella “Can You Believe.” Worth borrows elements from A Christmas Carol in this story of newlyweds given the foresight of what their future together could be. Add one part distraught newlyweds, and one part Holiday Inn and you get a romantic tale of a passionate new beginning! Phyllis Bourne Williams is my kind of author! Her novella “By New Year’s Day” details my favorite part of the holidays: kisses! Whether it be under mistletoe or the Holy Grail of kisses—the New Year’s Eve kiss—I’m a sucker for a pucker! “By New Year’s Day” shows a loving husband doing whatever it takes to renew the passion in his marriage. His thought: plant a big, fat, wet one on his wife as the clock strikes midnight!

There’s something about the holidays that makes you feel all warm inside, right? Stoke the fires and pick up these anthologies for you, or for your favorite romance reader! I guarantee it’ll be a great read!

ReCOVERy Room: NO PLACE TO DIE

Happy Monday Y’all!

Click to see the original cover copy

It’s that time again…time for another ReCOVERy Room where we strip down Dorchester cover copy and you and your friends make it your own! This week’s ReCOVERy Room is inspired by thrill-seeker James L. Thane’s No Place to Die. A “two-in-one treat,” says Sam Reaves, author of Mean Town Blues, “a convincing police procedural bolted to a nail-biter suspense novel.”

Get your pencils, printers, and friends ready! Stretch out your facial muscles and prepare for laughs! “Just another Manic Monday,” huh? Not with this edition of ReCOVERy Room! Enjoy!

Fans of the new blog series? Let us know what you think in the comment thread and be entered to win a collection of genre fiction worth over $30. Happy Holidays!

* * *

Right click the image to print or click the link below for a printable PDF.

No Place to Die ReCOVERy Room

#Booksarebetter: Great Gifts for Dad

Confession: I’m one of those people that believes books make the best gifts. If you don’t agree, then you’d better hope you don’t ever get me as your secret Santa. If you do agree, read on for a few great gift ideas for that genre lover in your family!

For the thrill seeker:

Pair our paperback original with Lionsgate’s Blu-ray for some serious thrills. Released in July 2011, House of the Rising Sun by Chuck Hustmyre is a critically-acclaimed New Orleans-set crime thriller that plays a dirty cop against the mafia, and there’s no saying who will come out alive.

 

 

 

For the chill seeker:

Consider this a cautionary tale about the repercussions of succumbing to a siren’s call, mythical or not. This title and all horror paperbacks are 30% off this week!

 

 

For the gunslinger:

When you think of the West, you think of Zane Grey.” —The American Cowboy. It doesn’t get much more classic than this, folks. Wrap it in a bow, secretly throw it on his e-reader. Either way, Dad’ll be saying “Don’t bother me. I’m reading” before you know it.

 

 

 

For the Indiana Jones fan:

Indiana Jones is dead. Long live Gabriel Hunt”—Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians. From the towers of Manhattan to the jungles of South America, from the sands of the Sahara to the frozen crags of Antarctica, one man finds adventure everywhere he goes: Gabriel Hunt.

 

 

 

Can’t get enough of genre fiction? Stop by the Dorchester Web site for more classic gift ideas in thriller, horror, and Westerns!

Happy gifting!

NaNoWriMo: Oh, What Fun!

Hey Y’all,

It’s official! NaNoWriMo is over! It has been a crazy journey, but a fantastic adventure through and through. I’m still  happy with my progress, even though I didn’t meet the 50,000 word count goal to achieve an official NaNoWriMo badge.

I made it through many of my speedbumps, aka Modern Family, and made some new friends along the way, through the NaNoWriMo forums. Many people thought I was crazy for taking on this challenge—a 50,000 word novel in thirty days—but everyone still encouraged me to push forward. In the end, I was my own worst enemy. Old, bad habits sprouted up again, and it seemed like I always found something better to do. Believe it or not, I actually hunkered down over the Thanksgiving holiday. I completed a bulk of my novel with the football games as background noise. I didn’t do much Black Friday shopping, so that freed up some time to write as well. I met some personal goals through this process. I organized the plot, developed the main and supporting characters, and (pretty much) adhered to my schedule. I feel great! I’ve never participated in a challenge like this before, and I have to admit, it’s a nice feeling.

If I could do it all over again, I would…on one condition: I participate with a friend. I’m a social butterfly, and truly enjoy people’s company. In college, I was like a fly to the yellow light with study groups. I tend to perform better on team sports than individual. Basically, I like being around people. If I had a friend participating in NaNoWriMo as well, I’d have someone to commiserate and laugh with…sometimes at the same time. The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program has a fun widget to challenge your friends; perhaps I’ll use this next year.

One final link for all you aspiring authors—Writer’s Relief is an author submission service that debates the good, bad, and ugly of all that is NaNoWriMo. As a former teacher and a Pisces, I want to encourage and nurture the free-spirited nature associated with writing. While NaNoWriMo presents a difficult challenge, it also presents a bigger purpose: promote creativity. Even if, like me, you didn’t reach 50,000 words, you’ve got a jumping off point. You’ve got a start, and that’s the toughest part. I will come back to my story about Teagan. I don’t know when I’ll return to writing it, but I have a clearer idea of what will develop, and now all I need is some more downtime.

Until next year! It’s been real y’all!

Word Count: 39,008!

STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL Discussion Questions

Ahhh, bookclubs. Don’t you love them? Friends, a good book, great conversation, and insights into a book you might have missed on your own (and hopefully a Cosmo or two!). If you’re part of a bookclub and are looking for your next engrossing read, consider The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker  from award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber. Think Victorian Ghostbusters + mythology + Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet-esque romance + the camaraderie and magic of Harry Potter. Really, there’s nothing like it out there. Your bookclub will thank you.

To get you started, Leanna has kindly provided some discussion questions to keep you on track during your obsess-fest (’cause you surely will be obsessing!). Right click the image to print or click the link below for a printable PDF.

Strangely Beautiful Discussion Questions

NaNoWriMo: Tips to Cross the Finish Line!

Happy belated Thanksgiving, y’all!

The infamous Turducken!

Perhaps you’re reading this while waiting on line at your favorite retailer for their Black Friday deals. Maybe, like me, you’re reading this while lying on the couch, half asleep in a turkey coma—still trying to recuperate from indulging in too much fried turkey or Turducken, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie—or for all you vegetarians out there, too much Tofurky®. Well, fellow NaNos, you and I have got to snap out of it! We’ve got writing to do! There are only five days left until our deadline! Let’s do it to it!

I’ve cracked the whip and buckled down. My last update expressed my concerns with finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge. With the help and support of my friends, family, colleagues, and NaNoWriMo community, I’ve gone into a writing frenzy. I’ve put off some of my favorite shows…only the ones that show reruns online :). But, I’m happy to report that I’m getting closer to beating the clock! Plus, I’m not just tossing words on the page (well, computer screen). I’m actually developing the characters and plot. Now, my only problem is…how do I end this? I want the ending to be memorable and unique. Maybe my problem is that I don’t know what is going to happen yet. Wasn’t it J.K. Rowling who said she knew exactly how the Harry Potter series was going to end? Apparently, I’ve made a rookie NaNoWriMo mistake. I’m toying with the idea of stretching my novel into a series; but, it took me nearly 25 days to simply get going on this novel. I can only imagine if I attempted a series! It would then be called NaNoWriYr! Any and all suggestions from the NaNo community are greatly appreciated!

How cute are these Bugle® cornucopias!

During this entire process, I’ve been wishing there was more time. “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” I’d complain. So, for my final piece of motivation I turn back the clock. As Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In the Churchill spirit, I’ve found thirty NaNoWriMo tips from last year. I wish I knew about #14 and #20 before I started all these shenanigans! Maybe I’ll have to start catching up on #25, ha! Anywho, I thought these thirty tips were helpful, encouraging, and funny. What do y’all think? Do you have any other pieces of advice for our last stint in NaNoWriMo?

This is our last leg, our final hurrah! So, let’s put on our thinking caps and bust out the quill pens! Homestretch, here we come!

Word Count: 31,717 and counting!

Hot off the presses! Well, oven.

First and foremost, from all of us here at Dorchester, we sincerely wish you a very happy Thanksgiving! Now, what’s the recipe for success you ask, oh ravenous blogging lurkers? The following is a delightful compilation of our favorite office recipes. Feast your eyes on this, dear readers, and be sure to share your own recipe as well.

Hannah starts us off with her mother’s homemade candied yams!

LouAnn’s Candied Yams

  • 8 yams
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • Half & Half
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly chopped thyme and/or rosemary
  • Mini marshmallows

Roast the yams in the oven at about 350 until tender and oozing (30-45 min). Separate flesh from peel and put in large mixing bowl. Add about 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, a splash or two of half and half; about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of brown sugar (taste as you go…add more or don’t depending on the sweetness level you want). Add freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste. Add a few teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme and/or rosemary. This makes it a sweet and savory dish, all in one. Mix/mash thoroughly. You can use a food processor, but using a hand masher gets the ‘rustic’ texture. Put into large baking dish and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Cover with a layer of mini-marshmallows. Put in oven EITHER under broiler for just a minute to brown (don’t walk away or the marshies will expaaannnddd, then deflate horribly) or at 350 for approx. 15 minutes until browned and slightly melted.

Renee goes on to suggest Paula Deen’s version of ‘Turducken’—the three-bird extravaganza only the bravest of culinary experts can hope to achieve. (I’ll nab the stuffing while the rest of you can have the meat. Savvy?)

Paula Deen’s Turducken

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 gallon water
  • 18 to 21-pound turkey, skin intact and boned except for drumsticks
  • House seasoning, recipe follows
  • Cornbread Dressing, recipe follows
  • 3 to 4-pound duck, boned
  • 3 to 4-pound chicken, boned
  • Paprika

To make the brine: Mix salt and sugar with the water. Brine is ready when the mixture is completely dissolved. If the water is heated to quicken the process, make sure it is cooled to room temperature before placing meat in. Let the 3 birds sit in brine in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat roaster to 500 degrees F.

Lay turkey skin side down on a flat surface. Dust turkey with House Seasoning and add 1/4-inch layer of cornbread dressing. Lay duck skin side down on top of dressing. Dust duck with House Seasoning and add 1/4-inch layer of dressing. Repeat with the chicken. Read more!

Sam spares no expense when it comes to her former roommate’s superb dessert recipe.

Strawberry Frangipane Tart

Filling:

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds, ground fine
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto (your preference)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup strawberry or raspberry jam, melted and strained
  • 2 cups melted dark/milk chocolate

(Note! Trader Joe’s almond flour works just as well as ground up almonds.)

Place the dough 1/8″ thick into a 10-or 11-inch round tart pan with a removable fluted rim, and chill the shell while making the frangipane. In a small bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar and beat in the egg, the almonds, the almond extract, the Amaretto, and the flour. Spread the frangipane evenly on the bottom of the shell and bake the tart in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the shell is pale golden. (If the frangipane begins to turn too brown, cover the tart loosely with a piece of foil.) Let the tart cool. Heat the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl until melted, stirring periodically. With a spoonula, spread the melted chocolate on top of the cooled tart. Place tart in the fridge to cool for another 20 minutes (or until the chocolate hardens). While waiting for the tart to cool, cut the strawberries lengthwise into 1/8″ thick slices, arrange the slices, overlapping, decoratively in rows on the frangipane. Warm up the jam, then brush it over the fruit. It makes it really shiny and pretty!

Tressia presents her signature Southern dish!

Crazy Crust Peach Cobbler

  • 1  8oz. can of Delmonte peach half in heavy syrup
  • 1 cup of self rising flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of  vanilla flavor
  • 3 dashes of nutmeg
  • Square baking pan glass or aluminum disposable square 9×12

In large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, the 3 dashes of nutmeg and lightly blend so that contents will be well mixed. Add milk and blend all together—can use mixer or by hand. Next, pour mixture into the baking dish of choice. Add can of peaches with most of syrup from the can in no particular order, hence the name crazy crust cobbler. Now slice up stick of butter on top over the entire mix and bake until golden brown at 350 degrees F.

What are your favorite turkey day traditions? Let us know on your way to the table! :)

Signing off—

(A very hungry) Jillian, The Zombie Intern

ReCOVERy Room: THE RUBY KISS

Click to see the original cover copy

Mondays just got a whole lot better! I’m tickled to introduce ReCOVERy Room, a new series on the Dorchester Community Blog. Now, it can be said that a book’s blurb, or cover copy*, especially among the genre fictions, is already quite comical in its own right. But this takes it a step further and puts you in the driver’s seat.

Easy to play, alone or with a group, ReCOVERy Room is inspired by the beloved childhood word game we all seemed to have played on long car trips growing up—Mad Libs®. But instead of filling in the blanks for newscasts and history reports, you exploit your vocab to turn already steamy cover copy into hilarious, and perhaps even steamier, cover copy—the perfect word game to bring a chuckle and a chortle to any genre lover’s lunch hour. And who knows—you might just find your next read!

Every Monday we’ll post a new edition ReCOVERy Room for your enjoyment (we realize today is indeed Tuesday, however yesterday belonged to The Ruby Kiss as well with this Sexy Snippet). So grab your co-workers, friends, enemies and what have you, then print and fill in those blanks (the more wicked the better)!

Cheers,
Hannah

*For those of you not familiar with the industry term ‘cover copy,’ it simply refers to the descriptive blurb on the back cover of a book.

Right click the image to print or click the link below for a printable PDF.

 
Like this cover copy? The Ruby Kiss is now available in e-book!

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 18

Hey All,

We’re halfway to the NaNoWriMo deadline! I can’t believe it! While excitement is still in the air during this marathon writing session, I’m gathering that other NaNos are running into similar obstacles as I am. The task of writing a 50,000 word novel is a daunting one. At the beginning of this process, I thought I could manage work, life, and writing. I scheduled when I was going to write, where, and which part of my plot outline I would tackle each day. Apparently, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…and all other applicable clichés. Or, there’s my grandmother’s theory: I don’t have any willpower other than when it comes to football. So, I confess—I’m not meeting my word count goal, and it’s all cable TV’s fault!

No, I can’t blame my TV. I can only blame myself. Well, I can blame the Giants for playing some really close and exciting games these past couple of weeks. It doesn’t help that the G-Men play the Eagles this weekend to continue their domination of the NFC East!

During this writing process, I’ve had flashbacks to my time in graduate school. You really have to be disciplined in order to succeed in NaNoWriMo. I procrastinated on some projects while I was in school, and that trait is rearing its ugly head during my writing now. So, to get myself out of a funk, I scour the Internet for fellow NaNos’ encouragement. My go-to-guy, Nathan Bransford, had a guest writer on his blog, author Shawn Thomas Odyssey. The post’s title, Success and Motivation, really struck a chord with me, as Shawn asks fellow writers to “take a moment every so often to remind ourselves what we are doing all of this for.” My goal for NaNoWriMo was to finally get a chance to write something fun. I want to enjoy the process and feel joy after accomplishing this goal. This has reminded me why I started all this madness. I feel rejuvenated, and ready to continue.

The Dorchester team has also been über supportive. Hannah even loaned me her writer’s block! There are even more people out there taking on the challenge with encouraging stories. Check out some of the inspiring stories of these Northwestern University students taking the NaNoWriMo challenge! I’m excited to keep on keepin’ on! Wish me luck NaNos!

Word Count: 13,488 and counting!

Casting call + giveaway!

Put on your director’s hat and send that assistant off for coffee, my dear blogging lurkers! It’s time to break out those resumes and get the camera rolling—we’re kicking off this Monday morning by casting your favorite books! As an avid film aficionado, I confess I’ve always indulged in literature with something of an eye for show business. If I were to direct the book adaptation, who would I cast in the leading roles? (This is all a bit of fun, of course—purely for entertainment purposes and my own wishful thinking.)

Ever since I first embarked upon the romance genre by traversing the pages of the Sylph series, I can’t seem to shake the stunning world out of my mind. Now, my soft spot for The Shattered Sylph and the rugged ruffians Leon and Ril begs that I cast them first—which is the most difficult! L.J. McDonald’s characters are so thoroughly layered that fitting any one actor into the role feels a bit constraining. I’ve finally settled on the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Go on, laugh! I’m certainly finding this amusing. Kevin Costner as the battle-worn warrior and Christian Slater playing the sarcastic, youthful right hand simply fit the bill, in my opinion. They have to work well together in order to fend off the opposition after all! Their at first strained relationship matures into one of trust and respect, mirroring the struggles of Leon and Ril.

Let me tell you, casting A Lily Among Thorns was equally challenging! Rose Lerner’s unlikely characters are worthy of catapulting an acting career into stardom. A hero with an eye for excellent tailoring and a staunchly independent business owner for a heroine? It was quite by accident that my final decision manifested itself in the form of Becoming Jane (2007), the film starring James McAvoy and Anne Hathaway, where the roles simply fell neatly into place. The scene where hasty confessions are made in light of the danger that is ever looming reminds me of Solomon and Serena’s late night rendezvous, coupled with a spy plot that will leave you reeling. Their quirky chemistry is undeniable, and who better to set the regency period ablaze?

Don’t think I’m letting you off easy! How would you cast your favorite book if you were in the director’s chair? I promise I won’t laugh. :) Reply to be entered to win a prize package of $20 worth of books in the genre of your choice!

Signing off—

Jillian, The Zombie Intern

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