Friday, February 26, 2010

Delia's Honey Spinach Salad

Delia, this one's definitely on my TBE (to be eaten) list. I am a spinach junkie and lemon addict. Thanks for spending time with me this week!

Honey Spinach Salad

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Light sprinkle of red wine vinegar (optional)

3/4 pound of fresh spinach
3-4 boiled eggs, sliced
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
5-6 slices bacon, fried crisp

Sprinkle salt in a saucepan; add garlic. Mash garlic and salt to a paste using the back of a spoon. Add honey, olive oil, and lemon juice and warm over low heat.

Remove stems from spinach; wash leaves and pat dry. Combine spinach, eggs, oranges, almonds and bacon in a large bowl; toss well. Pour honey mixture over salad, tossing to coat. Serve.

Note from Delia: This is a personal kind of thing, but I usually serve the dressing on the side. Allowing each guest to dress his/her own salad prevents it from wilting under the warm honey mixture. If you prefer to serve the salad ready to eat, add the honey dressing immediately before serving.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meet Delia Latham, CAPA nominee!

Here's a tidbit about DELIA LATHAM, who's joining me at The Write Stuff today. She's is a born-and-bred California gal, recently transplanted to Oklahoma where she lives with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—but above all, she treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. Delia enjoys big, loud, happy family gatherings. When she’s not writing, she loves to play piano and sing, read, enjoy nature’s beauty, and design marketing products for authors. Her inspirational novel, Goldeneyes, was released in March 2008, and was nominated for The Romance Studio’s CAPA awards; Yesterday’s Promise is pending release through White Rose Publishing.

Congrats on the CAPA nom, Delia. When did you first know you were meant to be a writer?

My third-grade teacher assigned the entire class a one-page essay on the topic, “What I was Like as a Baby” She offered prizes—one for the best girl’s essay, and one for the best boy’s. I won the girl’s prize. That’s when I discovered that I loved to write. I just never stopped.

Describe your first sale. How many manuscripts had you completed when this happened?

My first experience was not a good one. I submitted to an online publisher someone recommended, and the manuscript was accepted within a week. That should have told me something, but I was too “green” to know it. I won’t go into all the details. Suffice to say, I was on my own as far as promoting that book. To give the publisher credit, they did everything they said they would do in their contract, I just didn’t know enough to understand that it wasn’t much. They were basically a glorified printing company. That was the first full manuscript I ever completed.

My second publisher was Vintage Romance Publishing. They published Goldeneyes—a historical fiction—and the entire experience was different from start to finish. I consider that my first real experience with a legitimate publisher, and I will be forever grateful for Dawn Carrington’s guidance during that process.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet that you want to aspire to? (I know this is a dreadfully awkward sentence LOL.)

I would love to write a suspense chiller. I’m accustomed to writing “sweet” romances, and the suspense genre—especially crossing over into “chiller” territory—seems like worlds away from that. Still, maybe someday.

Any advice for up and coming authors? Any advice you wish you’d ignored along the way?

Write, write, write. I think the most important piece of advice I ever received was to find a space—whether it’s an entire room, a closet, or simply a corner in an existing room—and make it yours. Go to that place every day, preferably at the same time every day, and WRITE. Sooner than you realize, it becomes a habit that’s hard to break.

On the other hand, I certainly wish I’d ignored the advice to visit that online publisher that printed my first book. I guess all I can advise along those lines is to thoroughly research any publisher you don’t recognize, before you sign a contract.

Do you have a critique partner or group? If so, tell us about it.

I have a wonderful critique partner. Sally Laity lives in California and I live in Oklahoma, but I can’t imagine getting through an entire manuscript without her valuable input. I also have a “reader” who goes through my manuscripts and advises me on flow and readability, typos, etc. If something slows her down, chances are it will slow other readers down as well. I cherish Saundra Randolph’s advice.

Tell us about your upcoming release!

Yesterday’s Promise will be released March 12, 2010, through White Rose Publishing. Here’s the back cover text:
A whirlwind romance amidst the natural splendor of Yosemite National Park. A spur-of-the-moment wedding at the foot of Bridalveil Fall. A young bride who awakens the morning after to find her new husband gone with the mountain wind.

Songbird Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill-fated union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon suite.

Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peace with her painful past, Hannah returns to Yosemite, only to have Brock show up hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered it the first time around.

And here’s a little excerpt:

Fury washed over her in a sudden, unexpected wave. She emitted an icy little bark of laughter and shook her head. "Do you? I can't believe you, of all people, can get that look on your face because I have a son without the benefit of a husband. At least I'm there for my son, and I will be as long as God allows me to walk this earth. I would never, under any circumstances—never abandon someone I love. Never.
"It's right there." She pointed a trembling finger at Lissy's house and fumbled for the handle as Brock swung the car to the curb. By the time he brought the vehicle to a full stop, she had the door open and one foot outside the car. Tears burned her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.

"Hannah, I-" Brock's bewildered expression almost passed for convincing. "I'm sorry, really. I didn't mean-"

"Lissy will take us home." She ignored his apology, then slammed the car door and marched up the sidewalk, head high, back ramrod stiff.

Davey flew out the door to meet her, his dark curls bouncing. "Mommy! Mommy, I missed-ed you!"

Hannah picked him up, hugging him to her. "Hey, big guy! I missed-ed you too." She rarely encouraged his mispronunciation of words, but at the moment she wanted Davey to stay little for a very long time.

""Who's that man, Mommy?" One arm around Hannah's neck, her son pointed to the car where Brock sat watching them. "Huh? Who's that?"

"Nobody, Davey." She set the small boy on his feet. Taking his hand, she led him to Lissy's door. Behind her, she heard the BMW pull away, but she refused to look back.
Only your daddy, sweet boy. He's only your daddy.

Any future releases in the works?

I have a manuscript off to Steeple Hill right now. Of course I’m anxiously waiting to find out if they like it.  It’s called Karissa’s Dream and is the first in a collection of three books that center around a Christian dating agency.

What are you working on next?

The second book in the trilogy I mentioned above. This one has a working title of Kylie’s Kiss.

How can readers and fans get in touch with you?

Interviews & Reviews:

Delia, I'm so glad to have you here, and I look forward to your Weekend Recipe. Everybody out there, make sure you come back for that treat! And I am more than likely going to be a customer of those lovely bookmarks of yours!

Hope to see you hanging out at The Write Stuff in future, Delia!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ah, Central Park

New York, New York...

I always wondered what all the hoopla is about. Why so many books and movies and TV shows are set there. Until I went. OMG. What a fantastic place to visit. I can barely imagine how it is to actually live there.

Thing is, I don't think New Yorkers take any of it for granted!

We celebrated my hubby's life in NYC...after the battle with T.C. Planning the trip gave us hope, something to aspire to, when he got his life back. We plan on going back in 2011. I'll already be there for the RWA National Convention. He'll join me at the end.

Right now...I'll relive those memories and play the slide show in my head as we wait on the next round of follow-up blood work and CT scan. Routine but scary as hell. Oh, my personal hero's fine. Grabbing life close, hitting the links often as he can and hanging out with his little grandson. Life can't get any better than it is.

It's just that...after that ugly thing came to live with us, there's always something there to remind us...

Keep him in your prayers. Thanks.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Maverick Mac and Cheese

I must confess right off this recipe has nothing to do with the Maverick Saloon. I just couldn’t resist using this picture of a great little place full of history in Santa Ynez, California, a tiny super-Western town once part of a historic stage coach route, now surrounded by ranchland, California live oaks, vineyards and olive groves.

The saloon itself hosts country singers every weekend, and visitors tack dollar bills on the ceiling. Sure hope the place never burns down. There’s a fortune up thar.

Some years ago, I got this recipe from my friend Nancy, a Nebraska native. I’m worshipped by my family when I serve it and am adored on our cul-de-sac whenever I bring it to block parties. Someday I think I’ll kick things up a notch and use pepperjack cheese. As they say on Top Chef: Enjoy!

You need:

1 pound elbow macaconi

8 tablespoons (one stick) plus 1 tablespoon (one pat) butter or margarine

1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese (or 1/2 cup mild, 1/2 cup Muenster)

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (or 1/2 cup sharp, 1/2 cup Jack)

2 cups half-and-half ( I use fat-free version. Why, I dunno, considering all the cheese.)

1 cup (8 oz) Velveeta, cut into cubes

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. (I’m a pepper junkie so I use WAY more than 1/8 teaspoon.)

Optional: 1/2 cup bread crumbs sauteed in butter to scatter over the top before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or PAM a deep 2 1/2 quart casserole.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook macaroni until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and return to pot.

In small saucepan, melt 8 ounces of the butter and stir into the mac. In a large bowl mix the shredded cheeses. To the mac, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheeses, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs.

Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to the casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheeses and dot with one tablespoon of butter. Add optional bread crumbs which I highly recommend.

Bake until bubbly around the edges, maybe 35 minutes. Serves about 6.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Win a copy of Marrying Minda...and meet The First Mailman of the Old West!

Current read: Tate, McKittricks of Texas, by Linda Lael Miller

Why not stop by the all-western romance site Petticoats and Pistols today and blog with me? You might win a copy of my current release, Marrying Minda.

To celebrate my good news at selling my FIRST contemmporary as well as FIRST inspirational Western novella, I'm going to draw a name from all who comment at Petticoats today. It might be you.

(I'll be posting here details on the above-mentioned up and coming novella as soon as they're finalized. I'm absolutely on Cloud Nine!)

Hope to see you at'll meet Snowshoe John A. Thompson, pictured in the vintage picture above: The first mailman of the Old West!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Santa Ynez, and then

Just finished: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane; disturbing but awesome plot twists! I'm eager to see the movie. Grade: B+

I took this picture myself while I walked in a Livestrong fundraiser in this beautiful valley where Lance Armstrong has trained, near Ronald Reagan's ranch. It evokes such Western passion in me that my fantastic niece Kelley is using this pic and Photo shopping other elements so I can update my website with a new look.

It's not just the Western feel of the place that gets to me. It's where my brave and healthy hubby rides a half-century (about 32 miles) through the hills, raising funds to fight cancer. He did his first ride only 5 months into remission. I was and am so proud of him.

Just as the bikers and hikers do their thing raising money for this great cause, I can easily imagine the cowpokes and stagecoaches of yesteryear traversing the roadways. It's still rural and ranchy enough around here to make such imaginings easy.

Santa Ynez is so dear to family...our son-in-law took our daughter there to propose! He and she are right by my hero's side during the ride. (Or...maybe just a BIT ahead of him LOL, being younger and fitter.)

Anyway, it's a beautiful place to be.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Deborah Schneider's Favorite Wintertime Drink

I'm thrilled to have had Deborah Schneider spend these last few days at my blogspot. When I suggested she contribute to Weekend Recipe, her directions for making a Hot Toddy came promptly. It's not only her favorite cold-weather beverage, but it's also important to her sleepless heroine in Promise Me.

When hero Sam and heroine Amanda first meet in the kitchen of the hotel, she admits she can't sleep and Sam offers to fix her a Hot Toddy.

Here's an excerpt:

Swallowing her apprehension, she tossed her braid over one shoulder and crossed the small kitchen to take a chair at the table. She settled her candle next to the oil lamp and gave him an inviting smile.

"A hot toddy sounds perfectly wonderful. Are you sure it won't be too much

The man leaned forward. The corners of his lovely mouth lifted slightly. "It
would be my pleasure to assist an angel to bed."

She warmed from her cheeks down to her bosom. She had never in her life done
anything as brash as this. What would Father Mikelson say? She didn't want to
think about the penance she'd do when she confessed. Flirting wasn't the same as adultery, was it? Could she be an adulteress if her husband was dead?

Good Lord, why was she eve thinking about such a thing?

Now, here's the recipe for a Hot Toddy

• 2 oz Applejack (or you can use Apple Brandy)
• 1 tsp honey
• hot apple cider
• cinnamon stick for garnish
• 2-3 whole cloves for garnish

1. Coat the bottom of a cup with honey
2. Add the Applejack/Brandy
3. Fill cup with hot apple cider
4. Stir well
5. Garnish with cinnamon stick and cloves

Yummy! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Welcome, Deborah Schneider: Writing the Love Scene AND Valentine's Day Contest!

I’m thrilled to welcome Deborah today to The Write Stuff. She’s not only a talented romance author but also the 2009 Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year! She and I have had many similar pit stops on our writers journey, but many joys too, including having the same terrific editor for our current releases. I’m so glad she can spend a few days at my blog.

Please follow her blog tour for her recent four-spur release, Promise Me at Each time you make a comment, you're entered in a
contest to win a free copy of Promise Me, chocolate, a $10 Starbucks card.

Wow. A fantastic Western romance, chocolate and a hot cuppa coffee. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Hi Deborah!

Hi, Tanya! Working for a huge library system and being a romance author can sometimes be a balancing act. It’s wonderful to work with people who love books, and I get a lot of respect from those readers who enjoy a romantic romp.
But, there are also those who raise their eyebrows and say, “you write that kind of book?”

Yup! I sure do, the kind where two adults meet, (sometimes in a cute or funny way), they’re attracted to each other, they become a couple and eventually, they make love.
Just like in real life. Because sexuality is a part of being a grown up in a relationship and pretty much expected between two consenting adults when that relationship reaches a certain stage.

Some people wait until they’re married, which was what happened to Sinclair and Jefferson in my first book, Beneath a Silver Moon. But sometime, the circumstances, the relationship and the couple themselves dictate that they will make love before being married.

And that’s fine too, because it’s the story and characters that provide the impetus for scenes of all kinds. It can’t be rushed and despite what many critics of romance might think, I don’t know any publisher that dictates what page the first love scene will appear by.

As an author, in the initial draft of the book I’m telling myself the story first. I do work from an outline, but those are plot points, things that have to happen in order for the story to move along. What I can’t outline are the character reactions, the dialogue and the way the relationship unfolds.

For me, that’s the fun of the first draft – chipping away at it until I’ve found the story. And when my characters finally “do the deed” you can bet that they’ve had a lot of fun working up to it. After all, who doesn’t like a little slap and tickle?

Stay tuned for Deborah’s Weekend Recipe feature starting Friday. Please make sure you get a copy of Promise Me soon at The Wild Rose Press.

And please remember to leave a welcome comment today to enter her Valentine's Day Contest!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Weekend Recipe: Oral Sex chili

The fam holds it every Super Bowl Sunday. The chili cook-off. And the prize is a well-seasoned bronze pot that the winner is expected to take with him (or her!) everywhere they vacation.

Yes, indeedy. The most enviable award in cooking is up for grabs on Sunday. It's already been to Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, the island of Kauai...Disneyland. Even our daughter's wedding.

Here's my recipe from last year. Hot, spicy and I named it Oral Sex.

Here goes:

2 1/2 pounds of cooked, chopped chicken. (I cooked mine with garlic and onions.)

32 oz. chicken broth (I used fat-free, low sodium)

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can pinto beans with jalapenos, gently rinsed to retain more jalapeno flavor

1 1/2 7-ounce cans Herdez salsa

1 cup nopalitos, drained (these are green cactus leaves and very yummy)

1 4-oz can diced green chilis

1 tblsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. red chili flakes

Combine everything BUT THE CHICKEN in a big pot. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, then add chicken and heat through.

Sprinkle with cilantro before serving. Serves about 6.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Research: The Morgan Horse

Just finished: Daniel's Bride, by Linda Lael Miller, A++++

Howdy ya'll! Join me today at Petticoats and Pistols, the wonderful all-western romance site, for some factotems on America's first and original breed of light horse. You've seen police officers mounted on Morgans, and cowboys riding the range on 'em.

"Justin Morgan" was born to breed...and became the foundation sire of this wonderful horse. Read about his pre-potency. What?

See you there!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow in late May...Lake Tahoe, the big water

Two years yesterday the nightmare started. As my hubby was wheeled into surgery (a right inguinal orchiectomy), the urologist told me the tests had confirmed the tumor was malignant.

My daughter and I held each other, sobbing, in a waiting room where some other woman yelled about everyday nonsense to her friend. I was angry that her husband’s operation was some minor thing with his ear, so minor she could whine, loudly, about jewelry and leftovers. And toss her empty Starbuck's cup toward a wastebasket and miss.

Well, the three months of treatment that followed (3 x BEP) still make me shudder. While the diagnosis was terrifying, I have to admit the prognosis always was hopeful. But chemo itself can kill, and there were mornings I woke up and was positive he wasn’t breathing. After a collapse at a CT-Scan, I saw him flat on the ground, his arm wearing the yellow Livestrong bracelet flung unnaturally across the tile. It was like my eyes were in someone else's head. I can't explain it any other way. I was sure he had died…and how would I find the words to call our kids?

In all the horror was the hope. We took a “live like you were dying” Tim McGraw approach and planned some trips several months ahead, when he would be well.

One of those places was Lake Tahoe. It was late spring, 90 degrees in Placerville down the mountain, snowing three days later at Echo Summit. Dang, he wore his warm knit hat over that bald head on a good day! Snow was a no-brainer.

But it was here, in God’s country, that the two of finally talked about it, about the darkness and the terror. About him getting to watch our grandbaby grow up. About him giving his daughter away at her wedding someday.

I didn’t have to be strong anymore.

And we let the healing begin.

“I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords,” said Mark Twain upon his first sight of the “big water” on a summer day in 1863.