Writer Life

#Giveaway

Y’all know at my age it’s hard to make friends #momlife .. etc. So of course I gotta talk about it and boast (yes.. just as I do when I am carded in the grocery line when buying my wine)Image result for celebration gif  victor cruzRelated imageImage result for celebration gif derek jeter

I met a FB friend and she’s awesome. Her name is Jen Doyle . She is a romance writer and you can see she likes baseball  … click here and check out her books and she put together this really cool get-into-the-Christmas-spirit give away.

Can you see all these talented authors? Kelly Bowen , Brownen Evans, Anna HarringtonSheryl Lister Farrah Rochon Reese Ryan , Shannon StaceyTara Wyatt , and Jen Doyle ….Well guess what? One lucky person is going to receive 10 books–one from each of the participating authors PLUS a $25 Amazon gift certificate. If you want a chance to win, you’ve got to enter…. go to: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c00761f51/? 

Image result for liam neeson good luck gif

 

 

 

Confessions of an RWA Virgin

That might be the last time you see my name associated with virgin…. but anyway…

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I attended the annual RWA (Romance Writers of America) this year. Prior to going I saw lots of comments and posts about attending and people saying how they looked forward to meeting people. I was so excited. I mean finally! I was going to get to meet these people that I became Facebook friends with and shared intimate details about my hectic life.

Like everyone else… I was excited… that quick-pulse excited feeling you get when you’re next in line at the county fair for the fastest right. And if this were a fair and a line … I did something I’ve never done before.Image result for scary roller coaster rides I chickened out.

Again… let me reach into my bucket of excuses.

I like to put things at school grade levels to give an idea. Y’all know the hierarchy I’m talking about.

I will equate RWA to my 10th grade year at boarding school—but for a moment just imagine RWA as the new school that goes 7th through 12th. When I first arrived at boarding school I remember seeing these really cool girls. We all had to wear uniforms yet somehow they managed to make their plaid skirts, penny loafers and cardigans look cool. So when I saw how awesome these RWA authors were together, I had them in my mind like the popular upperclassmen. Related image They walked around in their cool spiky heels and I kid you not… a heavenly clouds parted through the crowd. They were every John Hughes 80’s movie of cool crowds–the kind of people you wanted to hang out with, be friends with, or even be like. Related imageImage result for the craft gifRelated image

First day of the conference… The cool kids—I would put them at 10th or 11th grade with drivers’ licenses and being able to go off campus for lunch—sat on a welcoming committee in all fabulousity. Image result for fast times at ridgemont high  I lost my nerve to be like… “Hey! We are FB friends”…Because upon seeing them… I realized pretty much everyone on FB knew who they were.

But that was okay… some of the other folks I knew who were goingRelated image…. Well let’s just pretend we’d gone to summer camp together before I started this “new school” and we were all like.. yay! Cool! We’ll be at the same school.

<True story—I had the Joneses who lived across the street from me before I really did start 7th grade. I would hang out with them every summer when I came to visit my dad… and on the first day of school.. the girls did not acknowledge me at all. Strange… but I realized it was a their issue and didn’t want to be seen with me for one glaring obvious reasonImage result for iggy judy blumeImage result for sweet valley highImage result for sweet valley high the new girl>

Anyway-back to my tale of my first RWA. In no way do I mean to accuse anyone of anything. These are strictly my over exaggerated insecurities. But people drove to town together. They took flights together. They shared rooms! They had their own agenda and didn’t need me tagging along. Related image

I saw posts about “hey who wants to get drinks?” And me being my confident-internet-self agreed to drinks, meeting up, and lunch, and all other kinds of things. But when no one passed on any contact info & I saw these folks out and about with their new fabulous friends I was like.. Image result for invisible me“Oh, uh.. okay you wanted drinks or whatever with anyone else but me.”

Some of my friends stopped and asked how it was going ….sure I said I was horrified .. but left it at that because I didn’t want to be THAT girl. Image result for pity party gif

 

Image result for never been kissed gifI wore a tag that indicated I was a first timer… I was sure—thanks to the welcoming committee— it would be an ice breaker or conversation-starter for first timers. In my imagination someone fabulous would say.. “oh you’re new here, come sit with me” And then I would have lifelong friends…. But it didn’t happen like I imagined. I sat down Image result for writing and wrote—because this is an event for authors.

 

Image result for never been kissed gifI attended a pajama party and I wanted to wear my pajamas but chickened out because I would have to walk this long trek across the hotel. So I didn’t. I attended the party and no one else wore pajamas…whew! And then I saw her… a pretty blond in guess what?! Pajamas! I loved her instantly in the sense of… omg I could totally see myself calling you up and crying over a scene I’m trying to write… but of course I couldn’t tell her that.

By the 2nd day I was like.. whatever. I’m just here for the lessons, publishing houses and books ….oh yes the books!Image result for books my precious gif

 

 

 

I sat in these workshops and listened to the authors on the panels and felt I finally found my friends. I wanted to be friends with THEM! They got me. They understood the anxiety of deadlines. They knew the guilt for feeding your kids pizza and the shame when the 5 boxes of pizza hit the curb for the neighbors to see. I took comfort in knowing I wasn’t the only one who is introverted and just wants hide in a room and write rather than socialize.

Image result for new kid in the lunchroom I skipped the luncheon (I paid for it in the registration) because the room was crowded… tables were shoulder to shoulder and there was no way I could possibly sit down at an empty seat next to groups of people who traveled out of state together for this conference. A few of the kids from my “summer camp” suggest I just sit down somewhere (which I interpreted as sit somewhere else just not near me). So I ate my hamburger by myself at a bar seated across from another author on one side and a group of more popular kids… let’s just refer to them as the Related imagemythical angel club to my left (editors—yes I eavesdropped—and you know good and well I wasn’t going to open my mouth and talk to them!)

Later on that evening after a pep-talk from my hubby who asked WWYCD (what would your character do) and I swallowed my pride, donned my long yellow gown and headed over. I didn’t let the broken escalator stop me. Although I was tempted to turn around.Image result for new kid I walked right into the room and found a table of ladies and asked if I could sit and they all welcomed me. They were from Dallas. One of them bought a bottle of champagne for the table and I started to feel a lot better and included.Image result for popping champagne gif Thank you for that!!

 

 

 

 

Back to the hierarchy of this event… There were the upperclassmen seniors (not age) I got to hug and talk to Ms. Bev

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and I got to see and hug RITA Finalist Synithia Williams 20374506_10210941181983081_5730909337333444079_n

 

Oh! And let’s not forget

BTW.. someone saw a picture of me at this party with Ms. Bev (previously posted above), Brenda, and Farrah Rochon and commented… “Three of my favorite authors”……. um Image result for chopped liver meme

 

lol

By Friday I still had the mentality of being here for the books and workshops  Image result for college classes gifBUT…I was able to smile and the now somewhat familiar faces. It helped to walk through the lines to get autographed books and talk to people who encouraged me. I developed a girl crush on another one of the ladies in the cool kids group simply by her to-die-for shoes (that’s normal, right?)

Image result for rush week gifI attended the publishing houses and looked at it like Rush Week (y’all know my Kimani line is ending the end of 2018).

 

I attended my current publishing house’s annual party Related imageand ran into a fellow friend from on line and was brought into the circle. Look…. We even did a group picture20294017_10210945175522917_8952633838902596147_n I met up with other with the fabulous authors

Cathy Mann  20429829_10210945170002779_3187069175699502998_n

Brenda Jackson20294297_10210947853669869_7733179276341589747_n

Christy Jeffries 20374441_10210945252604844_3383639917255971781_nYahrah St. John  20293153_10210941182823102_2597671586539355655_n

Taryn Leigh Taylor   20525417_10210945646054680_8646361132919551618_n and Katie Meyer

Janet Lee Nye20294169_10210945171362813_8488232496604515702_n

And I saw my in-my-head-BFF who said the magical three words …

Dance. With. Me.

Here is the in-my-head-BFF. Her kindness.. and my imagination really helped me overcome my insecurities and introvert-ism (that’s a thing, right?) Thanks Chica!!

 

 

I danced until the end of the party.

By Saturday morning I entered workshops with a bit more pep in my step. I even had a few people tap me on the shoulder and say hey and sit down next to me like we’re friends (which by now we are).

Needless to say by the end of the conference I wasn’t as overwhelmed.  I survived and I came home with A TON OF BOOKS

New Knowledge

Image result for i learned today meme

And great places to look for dresses!

Image result for where did you get that dress gif Related imageImage result for where did you get that dress gifImage result for where did you get that dress gif

 

Until next time!

Swag on a Budget

Remember the old skit Eddie Murphy did about his mom making him a hamburger rather than going to McDonalds? Yea… I’m now that mom except this is about swag. My author friend/#GirlCrush Kassanna showed me some cool sites for swag. Since I’m signing at #RWA19 this year for #Harlequin… I didn’t want to be the only person not giving away stuff….so I brainstormed and got crafty. There will be tradition swag.. but these were too cute to not do….

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I’m signing Southern Seduction. If you haven’t read it.. you can find it here at one of these many many wonderful sites.

http://bit.ly/Kindle_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/Harlequin_PB_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/kobo_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/BAM_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/Nook_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/BarnesAndNoble_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/GooglePlay_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/Walmart_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/indiebooks_SouthernSeduction

 

Hope to see you there…

XOXO

Carolyn

Christmas in July

christmas-in-july-slide

Christmas in July means Christmas movies on Hallmark and HMM! I am still going through my list of movies saved on my DVR. Check out my reviews over on my FB page if you’re interested. It’s exciting.. but what’s most exciting is the countdown to the 2019  Holiday movies. I am totally looking forward to it. It seems everyone is getting wise with the diversity. This year there’s going to be a Hanukkah one (maybe 2)! So far there isn’t a time and date for the 2019 list but this is what I’ve found so far.

Christmas movie envyClearly I’m on a deadline because I have taken the time to even research how many movies these repeat offenders has been in.

I can’t help myself. I have goals I tell ya!

2019 Christmas Movies Xmas Movie Repeat Offender Reason to watch Diverse story Diverse Cast
2nd Chance for Christmas AA characters Vivica Fox
Merry & Brite Andrew Walker
Holidate Kristin Chenoweth
The Christmas Song
Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses
Holiday for Heroes
A Very Vintage Christmas Tia Mowry-Hardrict
Christmas Camp
A Merry Christmas Match
Christmas Town Candace Cameron Bure
Christmas in Rome Lacey Charbet
A Christmas Wish AA characters Pam Grier,
Five Cards for Christmas Chad Michael Murry
A Very Country Wedding Harlequin Book
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby
Christmas in the Wild
Holiday Rush African American AA Cast
Klaus animated some
The Knight Before Christmas ehh
A Family Under the Christmas Tree (WIP)
Christmas Duet African American Rome Flynn
Two Turtle Doves

 

All this Christmas talk gets me all in the mood for some holiday romance books. I feel like I just might be a Christmas Repeat Offender #DebbieMacomberGoals

Merry halfmas

PS… there are 23 weeks and 5 days until Christmas.

Pineapple Tiaras

beauty queen pineapples  Southern Seduction Cover

Next month you’ll be able to get your own copy of Southern Seduction.

I love to add food into my books. I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie” but I do like to eat…a lot. If you’ve read any of the Once Upon a Tiara series you visited The Cupcakery. Each season this bakery develops a cupcake to die for. Yes, as the author, I have made all of these cupcakes at one point in my life. Since this series is winding down, I thought I’d share the tiara for the hummingbird cupcake. By the way… did you know that this particular cake originated in Jamaica? #DessertHistory

 

Maggie Swayne, a one-time-beauty-queen, tops her hummingbird cupcake with a pineapple tiara. It’s fitting of course. No matter what Maggie’s going through…which pineapple memeright now is being cut off from the family-funds, she’s going to make her way….one way or another.

 

 

 

 

How did she make the pineapple tiaras you ask.. Well let me show you!

Pineapple Tiaras

1-Let’s start with an apron… this can get messy. 61849613_402497290344580_7964773033728540672_n

2-Find a not-so-ripe pineapple. The firmer.. the better to slice.61845360_731958930554414_4234596037391548416_n

 

61910335_906157309721863_3571039872380567552_n 3-Trim off the outside of the pineapple.

4- using the tip of a potato/carrot peeler,

dig out the “eyes” until it looks like this 61831967_682290408892789_220771042820358144_n

 

5- Turn the pineapple on its side and slice super thin slice through the core and then lay flat on a paper towel flatten pineapples

 

6. bake at 250 degrees for an hour. Flip after 30 minutes. When the hour is up, you may need to flip again. If they’re still wet, continue baking at 15-minute intervals. These are going to be sticky to the touch and that’s okay. You don’t want them juicy. Once they’re crispy/dry enough, pull them out and push them into a cupcake pan. While they’re drying, this will give them that upright crown appeal.

pineapple tiara shapes

7. Let them dry over night.

 

 

8. Once they’re dry, crown your cupcakes!

Cool note.. they’re totally edible.. but don’t expect that candied-dried taste that comes from a trail mix.

 

 

 

Voila! 

pineapple tiara and books

Don’t forget to pre-order this fantastic deal!

I’ve been paired up with the fabulous Pamela Yaye   this month. Check out her books.

http://bit.ly/Kindle_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/Harlequin_PB_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/kobo_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/BAM_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/Nook_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/BarnesAndNoble_Southern_Seduction

http://bit.ly/GooglePlay_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/Walmart_SouthernSeduction

http://bit.ly/indiebooks_SouthernSeduction

 

Tiara Under the Tree is on SALE!!

A beauty queen with a bad reputation and a morality clause… what’s a belle to do?

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A Tiara Under the Tree is just $1.99 for a limited time!
If you don’t already have it… get it now with #OneClick amzn.to/2riM3PM

Dominic is just your average hunky hero, new to town with a garage. According to his sister he needs to acclimate with the townspeople of Southwood, GA…maybe sponsor a team or perhaps a contestant in the upcoming Miss Southwood Beauty Pageant. The problem is, Dominic hates drama. Pair him up with a dethroned beauty queen with her eyes on the Miss USA prize, and drama is what he gets.

 

 

 

Teacher Gift Ideas While Watching Tonight’s Hallmark Movie

8f40b4905494129abfaf10341f8cdaccTeacher Gift Ideas to Come Up with While Watching Tonight’s Hallmark Movie

Tonight’s Hallmark movie is… It’s Christmas, Eve.  It’ about a school superintendent with a knack for turning around schools meets a single father who works as the head of the school’s bankrupt music department. As she rediscovers her passion for music, she works to save the dreams of the kids who love music.

Since this movie deals with a school setting, I can’t help but be reminded to start making my gift list for teachers. Now way back in the day I used to get all creative with my cupcakes and packaging.

But then my kids got older … Now don’t get me wrong… I still give Teacher Gifts but usually it comes in the form of gift card in an envelope with a holiday hand-sanitizer attached to it and a lil’ something else.  DSCN2181best-bus-driver-gift-idea

There are some cute labels here at Darling Doodles.

 

 

Now that I’m raising five boys (Yes five. …1 senior, 2 sophomores, and 2 eighth graders) I have to get a little creative with what I can do. Being a baker helps. I like to pair up a $10 gift card (to like a Starbucks or a fast food place where they can pick up breakfast or run out and get lunch) with a plate of goodies.

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And because I’ve most of my kids have some of the same teachers over the years, I’ve learned what they like. I have I also like to get to know kids’ teachers. I know for a fact there are at least 6 teachers that will receive a batch of my delicious chocolate chip pecan cookies, 3 will get a pan of lasagna, 4 will get a loaf of banana bread. For the teachers just getting a $10 gift card, I sometimes put the cards on top of a plate of homemade ugly sweater cookies. That’s always a fun thing to have your kids do over the weekend.

So you’re not a baker? That’s fine. There are lots of ways to show your teachers you care.

-Go to their web page at the school and pick up their wish-list supplies.

-Gift cards to the local grocery store.

-Volunteer your time in the classroom.

-Join PTO

-Join SAC

-Gift cards to the movies.

 

And if you really know your teachers and you’re not a baker…here’s a cute thing to do for the ones you know… but …. you must know them and only you have to give this to them when you guys head off for happy hour after school! Adult lunchable.jpg

Cute wine labels… again… just for the teachers you know.

Holiday Romance Book Countdown

Christmas book treeAs much as I love my Christmas movies, I know they all had to start somewhere–usually as a book. And oh how I love to read. Romance books are my stay-cation…. they take me to exotic places, small towns, royal families, and even big cities. Sprinkle on a little Christmas …even better. So I did my countdown of Christmas movies.

Movies only last 2 hours. What are you going to do for the rest of the time? Read, of course!

Ready to read now…

51cSQVqOWkL First up, my #DestinDiva Vanessa Riley has her adorable Regency The Butterfly Bride 

Frederica Burghley wants to be married by Yuletide. Or else her father will set her up with one of his friends. The bonbon-loving illegitimate daughter of the duke wants to choose her own husband. Advertising in the newspaper seems like the way to go. But a sinister response, with threats against her life, leads her to enlist the help of her very handsome, dear friend Jasper Fitzwilliam, Lord Hartwell.
A father and widower, Jasper is not only tasked with keeping Frederica safe but also with helping his vibrant friend choose a suitable husband. The more he tries to keep the ever-surprising woman alive and find her a good match, the more Jasper realizes he cares for her. The two friends risk their lives for each other, so they should be able to risk their feelings for a chance at a deep and true love together. But he’s not looking for marriage and she’s not looking for convenience.

41UMiwOUIzLDiamonds for the Holidays by my #KimaniSister Nicki Night

From rivals to romance…

Tall, dark and incredibly handsome, Nixon Gaines has a reputation for mixing business with pleasure. Especially with someone as captivating and intelligent as Jade Chandler. Jade is determined to stop the self-made millionaire from stealing her family’s company…but his mind-blowing kisses test her resolve. Can the beautiful executive risk opening her heart for the holidays? Or will she be another conquest on Nixon’s Christmas list?

51DhPZO599LThe Maverick’s Christmas to Remember by my friend, Christy Jeffries

All She Wants for Christmas is a Cowboy! 

Rust Creek Ramblings

A few weeks ago, local wedding planner Caroline Ruth took a tumble off a ladder, and when she came to, she believed Thunder Canyon cowboy Craig Clifton was her boyfriend. Trouble was, they’d never met before. What was an upstanding rancher to do? Now, until Caroline’s memory returns, Craig is acting as reluctant faux fiancé. But with Christmas around the corner, dear readers, we’re hoping for a real-life happy ending for this unexpected couple!

51guRwWotTL._SY346_Her Festive Flirtation  by the romantic Therese Beharrie

The bridesmaid, the best man…

A Christmas wedding they’ll never forget!

A year after being jilted, Ava Keller finds herself forced back up the aisle — as bridesmaid at a beautiful Cape Town wedding. Best man — and Ava’s first crush — Noah Giles is the perfect distraction from her painful memories. But their flirtation turns serious when Ava’s feelings for him resurface! Hurt when Noah left after their kiss years before, will Ava give their chemistry a second chance?

51Q8v8qjXqL Want Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates…. cool fact.. I danced next to her at a Harlequin Party a year ago. And this one time.. on her live chat…she answered my question about her playlists when writing.  Yes, I am aware I am a #NerdyGirl

Her rancher boss is looking for the perfect wife…

and she wants the job!

Poppy Sinclair kept her feelings for Isaiah Grayson secret for a decade. When her infuriatingly gorgeous Stetson-wearing boss enlists her help in finding him a convenient wife, she threatens to quit. Until Isaiah counters with an interesting proposal: Why doesn’t she marry him? Can she say yes to sharing his life and his bed, but not his heart?

 

41Hf7bjnjcLAn Enchanted Holiday Box Set Check out The White Lady by Beth Trissel, my fellow blogger at Smart Girls Read Romance
It’s just two weeks before Christmas, and Avery Dunham cannot change Ignus Burke’s mind. They must travel back in time to rescue the White Lady in the portrait above his fireplace. The magic-wielding wizard is obsessed with her. Avery was right: this adventure is not going to be like any other.

 

Coming November 19th

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A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie … damn girl! Look at you!

Of all the weddings in all the world, Angie Roux had to be mistaken for a bridesmaid in this one.

Caledon, South Africa, is supposed to be just a stop on the way to Christmas in Cape Town, part of Angie’s long-avoided homecoming. She never expected to star in a bizarre comedy of errors, but here she is: convincing a handsome stranger to be her fake boyfriend for the day.

Ezra Johnson, the handsome stranger in question, turns out to be a pleasant distraction from both the wedding and thoughts of her first family Christmas without her father. And he seems to loathe weddings just as much as she does. He’s the perfect temporary companion.
But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours. Including a connection so strong it tempts them both into thinking of something more permanent…

 

November 20th

41S71JjjMkL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_ A Los Angeles Rendezvous by Pamela Yaye… little fact.. I’ll be paired with her for my next book.. I am so honored but I feel bad for her having to carry me on the ticket.

The woman he’s never considered…

Might be the only one he’ll ever need

Jada Allen’s Christmas wishlist is simple: her gorgeous boss. A-list talent agent Max Moore counts on Jada to handle his life—and help him get through to his tween daughter. Yet workaholic Max never really notices her until a makeover reveals the vibrant woman he’s taken for granted. Will one hot night shatter their working relationship or lead to something far sweeter?

 

41JkYhRzBLL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_tenor (1).gif

Christy Jeffries is back with The Firefighter’s Christmas Reunion

Can a chance reunion spark a Yuletide proposal?

Anything can happen in Sugar Falls!

Home for the holidays with her adopted son from Ghana, Hannah Gregson runs straight into her former flame—fire chief Isaac Jones. Though the pair are determined to keep their distance, the local matchmakers throw them together at every holiday event, and Hannah’s son worships the brave ex-soldier. If Isaac isn’t careful, he just may go from hero to family man by Christmas!

 

 

So that’s my list for you now. I welcome any upcoming books you have if you’re an author or reader with recommendations.

 

Got a favorite Romance Trope? Let me know.

 

 

While you’re reading your holiday romances, here’s something to sip on!

 

oreo-hot-chocolate-2hot cocoa with oreos

The pretty one on the left is by the Nicole Harris at Wonky Wonderful. The ehhh okay-ish one is the batch I made. It was yummy though!

Oreo Hot Chocolate
Servings: 4
Author: WonkyWonderful
Ingredients
Instructions
4 Cups Whole Milk – divided
1/2 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
8 Regular Oreos
3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch optional
1. Blend 1 cup milk, sweetened condensed milk, Oreos, cocoa and cornstarch until smooth.
2. In 3 quart saucepan over medium/low. heat remaining 3 cups milk until just barely steaming. (8-10 minutes)
Whisking occasionally.
3. Add chocolate Oreo mixture and continue to heat while whisking for 5-10 more minutes. Do not allow mixture
to boil.
4. Remove from heat. Serve topped with whipped cream and Oreo Cookie crumbles

read christmas

 

PS …there are 45 days left until Christmas