Posts tagged with: 12 days of Christmas

On the 2nd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…two disgruntled gladiators.

tumblr_static_mistletoeSven: Move it a little to the right. We want it centered on the doorway.

Demetrius, hammer and nail in hand: Why is it you’re making us hang these balls of greenery and white berries in all the doorways of the Lair?

Lucien, moving the extra large ball of greenery tied with a red bow at the top of the center of the main entrance into the Lair: Why are you complaining to the Viking? He makes us hang these every year. And it would help if you’d hammer in the nail before my arm falls off.

Demetrius: Hold it steady. I can’t help it if you have weak arms.

Lucien: Weak arms! I’ll show you weak arms when we meet in the training arena. You’ll be sitting on your…

Sven: Enough arguing, gentleman. There’s no time for chest beating today. That’s the perfect spot right there. Besides we’re not doing all the porticos, just the ones in the public areas. And we’re hanging extra mistletoe because of that book.

Paolo, holding the foot of one of the ladders the two Gladiators were perched  upon. (The doors to the Lair are over seven feet tall. How else does one get a dragon in and out without breaking down the place?): Uhm, Sven, sir, which book? The Banditas are all writers and all have books filling up the bookshelves.

Sven, consulting his map of all the doorways in the main part of the Lair: Oh, you know that Christmas book. Next we’ll do the four doors to the bar. Come along.

The two gladiators, Paolo and Mario, one of the hockey hunks who’d been volunteered to help, carted the ladders and box of mistletoe balls through the Christmas decorated foyer down the steps to the door that led to the bar/swimming pool area. The room was a blur of activity as the Hockey Hunks and some cowboys decorated the tree, lighting the lights around the windows and helping set the tables with green and red plaid table cloths.

The gladiators climbed the ladder again with Paolo and Mario holding the bases, this time with Demetrius holding the footwide mistletoe ball and Lucien hammering away. As they moved to the doorway leading to the men’s locker room, Paolo couldn’t help pressing the issue.

Paolo: Sven, sir, not to be dense, but which Christmas book are we talking about, last count the Banditas have published almost a dozen different Christmas books. (He should know he dusted the library shelves weekly.)

Sven stopped, nearly causing a train wreck collision as everyone came to a hault behind him.

Sven: Bandita Suz’ newest one, CLOSE TO THE MISTLETOE. The one with the scene….Close to the Mistletoe final for Barnes and Noble

“Let’s get you out of here.” His voice sounded gruff in his own ears.
Grabbing her little leather jacket in one hand, and her elbow in the other, he guided them through the crowd to the exit. That’s where their progress stopped.
“What’s going on?” Holly pressed in close to ask over the noise.
“I don’t know,” he said, stretching his six-foot-two frame to see what was causing the bottleneck. It looked like an old-fashioned kissing booth, or a mass make-out session. Then he got a glimpse of what was hanging over the doorway. He bent to talk in Holly’s ear, trying to ignore the lemony scent of her dark hair. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“What?”
“Someone’s hung a ball of mistletoe over the exit door.”
The line in front of them moved a little more.
“So, what? People are stopping to kiss before leaving?”
He looked over the crowd again. “Nope. Appears to be two guys stopping everyone.” Just as he said it, the pair stopped two girls, grabbing each in a good-natured kiss. The next pair was a couple who had a long kiss before heading out the door. “Actually, they’re kissing the single girls, but standing in front of the door making couples kiss before letting them out.”
“Is this some tradition here?” She’d drawn her brows up in question.
He laughed. “You’re asking me? I just moved to town, remember?”
“What are we going to do?” she asked as they moved another foot closer to the exit.
“I’ve got this.” He released her elbow and twined his hand in hers. “You just hold my coat together, okay?” While he might have enjoyed the glimpse of her ass and that wicked little thong, the idea of anyone seeing it didn’t set well with him, not at all.
She nodded, but he could feel how tight she gripped his hand. Another set of single ladies, then another couple, before they were at the front of the line.
“What’s going on?” he asked the big guys that looked like football linemen standing in front of the door, even though he’d already figured out their game.
“Just a little holiday cheer,” blue-plaid shirt said. “A little mistletoe excise tax.”
Tree“Yep, kiss your girl, or let us do it to get out the door,” red-plaid shirt chimed in.
He looked down at Holly. “Guess we don’t have any choice.”
“Guess not,” she said with a little smile.
He laid her jacket over their joined hands, then brought his free one up to cup her soft face. He’d meant it to be a quick peck like some of the other couples before them, but the moment his lips met hers, heat seemed to course through him. Holly parted her lips and he slipped his tongue in to sample her. Sweet as a Christmas cookie, but a little spicy like mulled wine. He felt like a starving man who’d just got to sample the most delicate of deserts. All he wanted was more.
Sliding his hand back into her hair, he pulled her in tight. He slanted his mouth tighter over hers, the need for her growing hotter.
“Woohoo!”
“That’s some kiss!” the pair in front of them shouted, breaking the sensual spell that seemed to enthrall them.
Nick pulled back, but almost groaned as Holly licked her lips before opening her eyes, her cheeks turning pink at all the ribbing from the crowd around them. Luckily, the plaid-shirt twins pushed open the doors. “You’re free to go!”
“Thanks!” he said with a wink and a smile, pulling Holly out into the cold, snowy, December night.

Sven: It’s got the Banditas planning to do the same to their guests, the male ones. Except they’re planning a twist to it. Kiss a Bandita before you ENTER or leave.

Paolo: Oh, that explains the crate of lip balm you ordered!20151214_160458

So, dear readers I have a question for you. If you had to kiss someone under the mistletoe, who would you like it to be?

I will gift an ebook copy of last year’s Christmas novella, CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS and one of these cute little Christmas ornaments to 2 lucky people who comment!

COCONUT JAM THUMBPRINTS

1 cup butter, softened                                            1 cup sugar

2eggs                                                                         1 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. baking powder                                              ½ tsp. salt

3 cups flour                                                             Flaked coconut

Egg white                                                                Blackberry or raspberry jam

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Stir in eggs and coconut extract.
  3. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Roll into ¾ inch balls.
  5. Roll into slightly beaten egg white.
  6. Roll in coconut and place on baking sheet.
  7. Indent each ball with thumb and fill slightly with jam.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Bake for 11-16 minutes or until coconut is slightly browned.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…one rooster with delusions of grandeur.

Delusions of something, definitely.  Or maybe he’s been just overindulging in the holiday spirit.  (Holidays spirits, judging from the smell of him.)  It’s the only explanation I can come up with for the following exchange, which occurred this morning & which I will now reproduce for you as faithfully as memory allows.

Rooster at RWA National 2008Golden Rooster [slides into the Lair’s kitchen, reeking of rum balls, coxcomb askew under a shiny party hat]:  Bonjour, mes amis, mes amours!  Fear not, I have arrived!

Susan [cautiously moves her pile of just-written Christmas cards to high ground]:  So I see.  You can stop using the plural, though.  It’s just me.

GR:  Just you? [Takes a significant look around the empty kitchen]  And just me? Just us two alone?  Cheri!  You flatter me!

S [sighs]:  No, I don’t.  Seriously.  I’m baking cookies & writing my cards.

GR [ignores her easily]:  Such machinations to get me alone in your lair!  Such lengths to which you go for a private moment!  I confess myself touched.  [Flips open bow tie, swaggers closer, a trifle unsteady on his drumsticks]  Well, perhaps not touched just yet, but if we truly are alone…? [trails off with suggestive brow waggle]

reinventing ourselves rooster bash 08S [straight arms the GR to a halt, leans in for a good sniff]:   Are you drunk?

GR: Mais oui…[Lowers voice to husky whisper]…on your beauty.

S:  Oh for Pete’s sake. [Grabs a cookie from the cooling rack, stuffs it into his beak.]  Give it a break, Lone Free Ranger.

GR [mumbling around cookie]: Ah, cruel mistress, how you wound me!

S: I gave you a gingersnap, didn’t I?

GR:  And it was a sweetly spicy as you, ma petit chou.

S [blinks]:  I’m sorry, did you just call me your little cabbage?

GR:  I did.  [grins foolishly]  You are.

S [palms face, blows out calming breath.  Hands over another cookie.]: Why don’t we soak up some of that alcohol while you tell me what’s got you starting the party so early.

Donna and the Rooster - RWA Conference 2008 - San FranciscoGR [happily munching]: Early?  It’s the First Day of Christmas, my sweet ignorant lass!  And I’m on the job!

S [eyes party hat]:  There’s a job that requires you to be sloshed before noon on a Monday?

GR:  There is, and I have the honor to call it mine.  [Hic.]  I’m pleased to announce that, after an extensive recruitment process, I have been selected as this year’s Lord of Misrule.

S [skeptical]: Lord of what now?

GR:  Misrule. You know, the one the Celts call the Year King?   Perhaps you’ve heard of me as the Minister of Mischief?  The Rooster of Riots?  [Slides wing feather up Susan’s arm]  Some call me the Cock of the Chaos.  Does that suit you?  You like your cocks…chaotic?

S:  Um, no.  I don’t believe I do.

GR [shrugs elegantly]:  As you like, ma petit.  That’s the point, after all.

reinventing ourselves Jeanne with roosterS:  What is?

GR [seductive grin]:  What you like, dearest.  Your pleasure.

S [interested]:  Really?

GR:  Vraiment!  I am charged with facilitating your holiday pleasure, darling.  Everybody’s holiday pleasure, actually.

S [skeptically]:  You got yourself elected Mayor of Party Town?

GR:   The Lord of Misrule, cheri. And, yes, I have been. [Points at an elaborately beribboned badge pinned to his breast.]  Unless you prefer the Cock of Chaos?

S:  Uh, no.  We’ll go with the Lord of Misrule.  What are your job duties precisely?

GR: To upend the humdrum of your pathetic little lives for the twelve glorious days of Christmas.

S: And how precisely do you plan to do that?

GR:  Why, I shall make fools of kings & kings of fools!  I shall supply drink to the men, steal kisses from the women, slip sweets to the children and give bones to the dogs.  [Slides Susan the side eye.]  I give very good bones.  Just so you’re aware.

golden roosterS:  Good to know, thanks. [Takes a moment to get past that one.]  And your price for this…uh…service?

GR:  A song!  A Christmas carol preferably.

S:  Seriously?  You’re going to make people sing?

GR [shrugs]:  I would also accept a trick or a joke.  Any little trifle that keeps the mood merry and the heart light.  Any who fail to bring a smile to my beak shall be tossed ignomiously from the Lair without food or drink, doomed to wander the cold, dark wilderness in the company of the humorless & ill-favored.  Unless, of course, they pay the penalty.

S:  Which is?

GR:  Why, to join my court!  I shall grant them a knighthood and they shall pledge to serve me for as long as the holidays shall last!  [Eyes Susan assessingly.]  You, for example, I would dub Spicy Sugarbottom, & you would see to the demands of my…appetite.

S [quickly]:  I have a joke.

GR:  You do?

S:  If the alternative is being called Spicy Sugarbottom all week & slapping your hands away from my rump?  You bet I do.  It’s even chicken-related, sort of.  Okay, here goes.  Make a fist & hold it out between us.

GR: [sighs but complies]

Pets free stock chickenS:  Now cover your fist with your other hand.  Er, wing.

GR: [rolls his eyes but obeys]

S:  Now say the word “wing” three times in a row.

GR [nonplussed]:  Wing.  Wing.  Wing.

S [takes the GR’s wing off his fist, holds it up to her ear]:  Hello?

GR: [silence]

S:  Oh come on!  That one always brings down the house around our holiday table.

GR [reproachfully]:  You disliked Spicy Sugarbottom so much?

S:  My mother didn’t raise a Bond Girl.

GR [wistfully]: More’s the pity.

 

Seriously, folks, this is what we’re up against this Christmas in the Lair.  So here’s the deal:  Either you sing us a verse of your favorite Christmas song, tell us a joke or recount an amusing story in the comments, or you’ll be joining the court of the Cock of Chaos.  You will, of course, accept without whinging the humiliating nom de party he bestows upon you.  The best song/story/joke (as determined without rhyme or reason by the Golden Rooster) will be rewarded with a bag of CRAPOLA Granola (a Minnesota favorite!) and a Kindle copy of TROUBLE, the Blake Brothers Boxed Set by yours very truly, Susan Sey.

Good luck.

Oh, & for all you Spicy Sugarbottoms out there, here’s a recipe for you:

cookiesAuntie Pat’s Famous Ginger Snaps

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) diced dates (optional)

Instructions:

  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and mix well.
  • Add molasses and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (except dates, if using.)
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, mixing well after each addition.
  • Stir in dates, if using.
  • Chill 1 hour
  • Shape into 1” balls and bake on ungreased cookies sheets at 375 for 10 minutes.
  • Makes 3 dozen.

Note: If you want big, fat, soft gingersnaps (which I often do), make the balls bigger and underbake them slightly.   You should make sure to have some really good vanilla ice cream on hand, though, because you’re going to want to eat them like chips and salsa.

The Ghost of Christmas Past…a

Ah, Christmas.  It’s a season heavy with tradition–the songs, the decorations, the food.  

IMG_2747

Oh, yeah, the food.  

Now I’m a pretty traditional girl–it’s not Christmas for me without a big ol’ hunk of my mom’s Dutch apple pie.  It’s not the day after Christmas without a hunk of that same pie posing as breakfast, either.  

For my husband, it’s not Christmas without a giant pan of mac-and-cheese on the table.  (My mind boggles at the idea of mac-and-cheese for Christmas dinner, but whatever.  You marry a guy, you marry his traditions.)  

But on the very first high holiday we spent together as a couple, just the two of us, we went outside the box.  We made pasta.  

IMG_2756

Yeah, pasta.  By hand.  

Don’t ask me what we were thinking.  We were giddy with love & having an adventure.  We had no idea we were even getting married someday, let alone hatching a life-long tradition.   We just happened to both be family free for the holiday & decided to do something crazy.

Like make pasta.

By hand.

So, fast forward about fifteen years.  Throw a kitchen aid mixer with the pasta attachments into the mix.  Throw in a couple of kids & a few in-laws.  Cover the whole thing in flour, & you’ve pretty much got the pasta adventure we staged last Christmas chez Sey.   The pictures really do say it all, but here’s the basic recipe & procedure: 

IMG_2765

Basic Egg Pasta:

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon water

3 1⁄2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl.

Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

IMG_2777Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment.

Okay, at this point, you’ll have four balls of dough.  When they say “process with the pasta sheet roller,” they mean to run it through the attachment on your mixer that essentially squeezes each ball between a couple of rollers that look like a mini-laundry mangle.  (Anybody old enough–or read enough historical fiction–to know what a mangle is?  I know I do!)

IMG_2781

This will get to you the point you see in the first picture where I’m dealing with an incredibly long, flat sheet of pasta.  At this point, I flour a bunch of parchment paper & cut the sheet of dough into noodle-sized lengths–maybe a foot?  I let them sit between layers of floured parchment while I switch out my pasta roller for my pasta cutter.  I like the fettuccine one.  I feel like this width cooks nicely.

So then you run the sheets through the cutter (as seen in picture #2) & you end up with…fettuccine!  It truly is like magic.  (Picture #3 shows some of the sheets waiting to be run through the fettuccine cutter, & some that have already been through.)

Drop each little coil of fresh pasta into boiling water, cook for about 6-7 minutes, & voila!  You have actual, honest-to-goodness, edible pasta.  

IMG_2773

It might look like a flour bomb went off in your kitchen, but you can deal with that after dinner.  

Just drain that gorgeous pasta, top with your favorite sauce–we went with pesto, though at least one of my girls went with just straight up olive oil & salt–and eat that deliciousness right up. 

And if you lick your plate, I’m not going to judge you.  

So how about you?  Have you ever done anything strange for the holidays, & had it turn into a tradition on you?  Share!

And to reward you for swinging by the Bandit’s 12 Day of Christmas, we’ll be gifting one lucky commenter with a copy of Susan’s last release TASTE FOR TROUBLE, kindle or paperback, winner’s choice!  (And you’ll want to read it soon as the follow up TALENT FOR TROUBLE is coming out in January!) You’ll also receive a fabulous Rooster ornament for whatever you choose to decorate this time of year!

To and From Winner – Day 2 of the 12 Day extravaganza

BanditBootyThank you to everyone who celebrated the 2nd day of our 12 Days of Christmas partying!!! The winner of a Rooster Ornament, and an autographed copy of Naughty Christmas Nights is Debbie Oxier.  Send me your shipping info and we’ll get your goodies out to you!  Happy Holidays, everyone 🙂  

To and From

Wooot!!! It’s time for the holidays!  I’m one of those people who is all about the wrapping. Yes, what’s inside counts, but I love a pretty package.  So I do take a little time with my wrapping and bows. I’m not fancy pants in my wrapping skills like some are, but the presents are pretty when I’m through.  One thing that I love about wrapping is using cute gift tags.  I’ve done the foil ones, the stick on ones and those little ones with string that you tie onto the package (where, I ask?)  I’ve also used the cute mini cards before and am always tempted to decorate them so they aren’t so simple. 

giftwrap

Now, one of the best things about the holidays to me are traditions.  I adore traditions and carrying on fun memories from my childhood into my children’s lives.  One year my mom put all our gifts under the tree without a single tag or declaration of who they belonged to. I know she did it to mess with me, because I tend to be able to guess what the gift is just by holding it.  Yes, maybe I shake a time or two, too, but I was accurate enough that I guess I was ruining the surprise.  So all the gifts under the tree, unless they came from someone outside the family or were for someone other than me or my brothers, had no tags.  None!!! She’d cleverly written a number on each, though, so we couldn’t see it, that let her know whose was whose on Christmas morning.   Now, I thought this was so fun that I had to do it to my kids.  But they’d heard the story before, so I figured I’d better make it a little more complicated.  I still used a number, but it was multiple digits, with only the 4th digit designating who the gift was for.  The problem was–as my daughters keep telling me–that I lost the paper I’d written in order to decipher the code, so there was quite a scramble Christmas morning.  Needless to say, they groaned and whined a LOT this year when I told them we’d be having surprise gifts again.  Only this time, I’m not using numbers.  I made my own gift tags, and used a code on each of them (the border designates whose gift is whose) and they have no clue whats up.  I’m figuring this will be a lot of fun 😀  

tags

The wrapping is an important factor in my latest release, too.  Naughty Christmas NIghts opens with a holiday costume party, with all of the guests coming as their favorite holiday character.  To take the wrapping theme a little further, they both represent lingerie companies.  Talk about wrapping, right?  

Here’s a fun little scene from the story:

“You don’t know?  You’re supposed to be portraying your favorite holiday character.” 

   “I lost a bet.” 

     “So you’re not really all Grinchy about the holidays?”  She tilted her head to one side as she asked the question, her bells tinkling as if to dare him to deny the joy of the season.

     Gage hesitated.  He never tried to hide his disdain for the holidays, nor was he worried about offending a potential business associate over differing views.  But he couldn’t quite bring himself to dim the sparkle in Hailey’s eyes.  Sharing his opinion of Christmas would be akin to telling a four-year-old that Santa was a sleigh-load of crap.  Which was exactly what his stepmother-du-jour had done to him. 

     Instead, he did what he was best at. Sidestepped the question with a charming smile.  “I promise you, I’ve never been called Grinchy in my life.”

     The speculation in her big eyes told him he might need to toss out a little more charming distraction.  Otherwise, she seemed like the stubborn type.  The kind who sweetly nagged at a person until they’d spilled their every secret, then thanked her for dragging them through the ugly memories. 

     “How about you?” he asked.  “Why is an elf your favorite holiday character?”

    “Elves are clever.  They bring joy and create beauty, but they stay behind the scenes.  They’re the cute and cuddly part of the background.”  To emphasize her point, she offered a bright smile, tilted her chin toward her shoulder and twirled around so her skirt offered a tempting view of her stockings.  Which, Gage’s mouth watered to realize, were thigh-high and held up with garters. 

     “But elves don’t have their own movie,” he pointed out.  “As grumpy as he is, even The Grinch gets top billing.”

tags ribbon

     “Elf is a movie.   And top billing usually comes with top headaches,” she pointed out.  “Expectations and demands of excellence.  Appearances, groupies, haters.  Is all of that really worth the spotlight?”

     Gage frowned. 

    Hell, yeah it was worth it.  The other option sounded kind of… forgettable.  Who aspired to that? 

     Maybe that’s why she was an agent instead of striving to be the star, he guessed. 

     Still…

     “Being on top is better than being on the bottom,” he pointed out.

     “Not always.”  Her words were low, teasing and lilting with innuendo.  The look in her eyes was hot, sexy.  And way more appreciative of the view than he figured his costume warranted.  But who was he to dissuade a gorgeous woman from appreciating him? 

Naughty Christmas Nights -Weber

     His momma didn’t raise no fools.  Of course, she didn’t raise her sons either, but that was beside the point.

Right now, the point was seeing how hot this spark could flame between he and the deliciously naught elf.

     He stepped closer.

     Amusement and desire both clear on her face, Hailey stepped back.  With a quick glance over his shoulder, as if gauging their privacy, she wet her lips.

     Gage almost groaned.

     He probably could have walked away before.

     Probably.

     But now?  Seeing that full mouth damp and inviting?

     He wasn’t leaving without a taste. 

And because we’re celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, here is a yummy holiday treat that I love to make this time of year. I actually got the recipe a few years back from our own Bandita Buddy, Fedora!!! Thanks, Fedora 🙂

giftwrap2

Graham Cracker Bark

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (two sticks) butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 box (about) graham crackers (not crumbs)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped  nuts

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with non-stick foil. Arrange whole graham crackers to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham crackers. Sprinkle with the chopped macadamia nuts, pressing down gently into the chocolate.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Peel foil from chilled bark. Break into 2-inch irregular pieces.

tags more

So… tell me, are you a fancy wrapper or not?  Do you do gift tags, and what kind?  Share your wrapping secrets and stories for a shot at winning your own autographed copy of NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS NIGHTS, as well as one of our fabulous Romance Bandits rooster ornaments!!! 

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR MORE HOLIDAY FUN WITH THE 12 DAYS OF BANDITA CHRISTMAS!!  LOOK FOR MORE INFO ON OUR BIG CHRISTMAS DAY PRIZE!!

High Drama

It’s that time of year.  

No, not for decorating the tree or making cookies.  Not for addressing cards or–in my case–feverishly trying to dig up everybody’s current address because evidently I only befriend the highly mobile.  

No, it’s time for the annual….church pageant. 

We go to a small church, so everybody who has kids involved in the pageant is pressed into service.  And I–much to my eternal regret–am no exception.  I have pleaded everything from over-scheduled-ness to a terrible singing voice to no avail.  I have been cast.

Over the years, I’ve exercised my dramatic nature to play a number of roles, everything from the Virgin Mary on down to a custodian.  My most memorable role of all, however, has to be the year I wrangled the angels.

That was my official role–Angel Wrangler.

And why did we need an Angel Wrangler, you might ask?  Because in every group, there’s That One Kid.  And that year, in our church, That One Kid was an angel.  And he needed minding.  

We discovered this the previous year when he was  a shepherd.  He took out all three wisemen and was perilously close to knocking down the lit candles before we managed to get the shepherd’s hook away from him.

As an angel wrangler I had one job:  To get the angels into the sanctuary in time to climb up on the risers for their big line.  (“Be not afraid for we bring you good news…” etc. & so on.  You know the one.)  My fellow angel wrangler & I (yes, there were two of us & we were both necessary) gathered our charges around the door to the sanctuary & waited for our cue line.

As it happens, there was a table of snacks next to the door.  That One Kid helped himself to a banana. 

“Hey,” said my fellow angel wrangler.  “There’s no time for a snack.  Put that down.”

That One Kid looked her right in the eye & peeled the banana.  Slowly.

“Don’t you dare,” she said.  “Put that down.”

That One Kid looked her right in the eye & helped himself to a leisurely bite.  A big one.

Then came our cue line.  It was show time & That One Kid had a massive mouthful of unchewed banana. 

“Go on,” I told the other wrangler.  “I’ve got this.”

So she bolted for the stage, a flock of obedient angels at her heels.  That One Kid tried to follow & I grabbed him by the wings.  

“Yeah, I don’t think so.”  I put myself between him & the door.  “Chew.  Swallow.  Then we go hark the herald whatever.”  

He glared at me.  I folded my arms & waited.  He evidently came to the conclusion–accurately–that I would be delighted to stand between him & on-stage glory until he obeyed instructions.

So he chewed approximately twice then gulped down the banana mostly whole.  It went down his throat in a visible lump, like he was a snake swallowing his prey.

“Fine,” I said.  “Great.  Now run.”

It was the run I regret.  I shouldn’t have said that.  

Because That One Kid took off into the sanctuary at a dead sprint, his eyes on the empty riser he was supposed to be standing on.  

He evidently didn’t see the giant pillar between him & it.  

He ran into the pillar face first.  Kid went down like a sack of wet cement.  The middle Wiseman gave a startled yip but nobody else seemed to notice.  And it would have stayed that way if That One Kid had just gone down and stayed down.  But did he?  No.  

He had knocked himself a good one, but sadly it wasn’t good enough to remove him from consciousness.  Not fully, anyway.  Standing was beyond him but he did manage to drag himself to his hands & knees.  I watched, stunned, as the kid crawled up the steps to the altar, making this horrible HUUUUUUUUNGHHHHH sort of noise.  The kind of noise you make when you’d like to breathe but your lungs are still all, “Dude, what the hell?” 

Bad enough, right?  Unfortunately, the kid’s sense of direction was as compromised as his ability to take a decent breath.  He heaved himself onto the stage but instead of crawling toward his riser, he veered left.  Toward the sheep and shepherds and angels innocently admiring the baby Jesus in the manger.  With their backs toward him.  

He took them all out like a human wrecking ball.  

(“HUUUUUUUNGHHHHH.”  “Wha…?”  Wham.  Down.  One after the other after the other.)   

I, horrified into utter paralysis, stood there watched the whole thing unfold.

Finally the kid gave up & rolled onto his back, at which point his mother hopped onto the stage & handily removed him from sight.  

Evidently, she’s used to this sort of thing.  

Well, I thought to myself, at least they’ll never ask me to help out with the pageant ever again. 

Yeah, right.

  I shall be an angel, an acrobat AND a dove in the morning.  If you’re the praying sort, you might consider sending one up for me today.  

But at least I’m not wrangling angels.

So what about you?  What’s the craziest thing that’s ever hijacked one of your holiday events?  I’m giving away an e-copy of my latest release KISS THE GIRL to one lucky commenter, so don’t be shy!  Share!  

Check back tomorrow to see if you’ve won!  And also to enjoy the bewitching Christie Kelley who takes the wheel to continue the Bandita Twelve Days of Christmas!  In fact, come back every day between now & Christmas  for your chance to win prizes, books and gifties leading up to a HUGE GRAND PRIZE of books and goodies on Christmas Day!!

All images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net, mouse over photo for attribution.

Coming Attractions, December Style!

December is always a big month in the Lair. In addition to all our usual book releases, guest authors, witty thoughts and pithy observations, we also have a HUGE Christmas Celebration Blowout! Those of you who have been visiting us for a while are likely rubbing your acquisitive hands together in delight in anticipation of our 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!!

SPECIAL EVENT

Yes friends, starting on DECEMBER 13, we will have extra-special treats in store for you EVERY DAY until Christmas! So shake off your Bah Humbugs and get ready to par-tay! Each day will feature a holiday recipe AND a special prize giveaway for a commenter. Golden Rooster ornaments! Ermingarde the Dragon cookie cutters and sugar cookie mix! Books galore!! On Christmas Eve day, we have a Rooster goodie!!! Then, on CHRISTMAS DAY, we will give away a HUGE prize bundle to one lucky commenter. So be sure to come by each day and see what splendid goodies are on offer.

 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

 And speaking of splendid goodies, here are some of the scintillating events coming up in the Lair this month:

 

 

December 2 – Right out of the gate, Caren Crane hosts authors Regan Black, Kimberly Hope, V.R. Marks and Jay Keelan to discuss their Christmas anthology The Season For Romance. “They say home is where the heart is…” and we’ll have fun finding out just where that is for each of these talented authors!

 

 

December 3 – To keep our month rolling along, Anna Campbell hosts Lair favorite Maggie Robinson. Maggie will tell us about her latest steamy historical Lord Gray’s List. Maggie is always great fun so you won’t want to miss that!

 

 

 

December 4 – Suzanne Ferrell helps us delve further into the Alpha Pack’s fight with the Unseelie King in J.D. Tyler‘s (our beloved Jo Davis in disguise) Black Moon. Is there any hope for the team or mankind when the Sorcerer Kalen Black is tempted by the dark arts? We’ll find out, but I may still be distracted by Kalen’s picture…

 

 

 

December 5 – Our incredibly talented Regency author Christie Kelley is having a book launch party for her December e-book from Kensington, Bewitching the Duke. I will admit that I am bewitched already!

 

 

December 7 – Aussie author Christina Ashcroft/Christina Phillips visits the Lair to tell us about her great new paranormal series from Berkley, starting with the very delicious Archangel Of Mercy. Merciful archangels, what a cover!

 

 

 

 

December 10 Anna Campbell is hosting a Christmas launch party in the lair when she tells us all about her latest release, The Winter Wife. We might just get to see Santa do the cha-cha!

 

 

 

 

December 12 As the Demon Trappers series comes to an end with the release of Foretold, Jana Oliver joins Nancy Northcott to chat about saying good-bye to a series and characters she loves writing. Even the cover echoes the beauty and melancholy of the series end!

 

 

 

December 13 – Bandita Joan Kayse unveils her debut release The Patrician. Yes, Joan’s Romans have life at long last and we will be partying hard to celebrate their unleashing! (Well, Joan said she would unleash them. Not so sure what will happen once the sangria starts flowing, though! 😮 )


 

 

December 21– We’ll be Stepping Back In Time with Superromance author Jeannie Watt as she talks about preparing for and attending the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco!

 

 

 

December 27 – Bandita Tawny Weber throws another wild shindig in the Lair to share her latest Karma Cafe novella: Sweet Nothings!  What’s a girls determined to get rid of her reputation as being pure as driven snow to do? Find a prince of a guy to help her out, of course. Oh, my! Tawny’s books are always sweet, sexy confections. This one promises to be delectable!

 
 
 
 

CONTEST NEWS

What would the holiday season be without contests?!? Here are a few you’ll want to be sure to enter:

Anna Campbell is giving TWO lucky people the chance to win a matching Seven Nights In a Rogue’s Bed tote bag and signed book. It’s what the fashionistas are carrying this festive season, as you’ll see from the stylish photo of Anna’s good friend and Harlequin Medical Romance author Sharon Archer on the website. All you need to do is tell Anna the name of Book 2 in the Sons of Sin series. You might just find the answer in her latest news: http://annacampbell.info/latest.html. Email Anna on annacampbellhistorical@hotmail.com with your answer to be in the draw. For more information, please check out Anna’s contest page: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html.

 

Nancy Northcott is running a contest on Fresh Fiction to win an art glass Christmas tree bottle stopper and a download of Renegade (US residents only). (Also, be sure to check out Nancy’s guest post at Romantic Times where she talks about a girlhood crush!)

 

MEMBERS ONLY WINNER

We are excited to announce that JOAN WOODS has won the November Members Only prize bundle! Congratulations, Joan, you get rewarded for being our friend!!  🙂

To qualify for December’s Members Only prize bundle, simply sign up for access to our Members Den and receive the always-entertaining Romance Bandits Newsletter. Be sure to open the e-mail and read the newsletter. We will choose a randomly-selected winner from the list of those who opened our newsletter. It’s as simple as that!

The Members Only December prize bundle will include:

  • An e-book Keeper Kase from Nancy Northcott, with a signed card for her debut release Renegade
  • A Kindle or Nook download of Nancy Northcott’s Renegade
  • A download of Anna Campbell’s The Winter Wife
  • A Kindle or Nook download of Joan Kayse’s The Patrician
  • A copy of Tawny Weber’s Nice and Naughty
  • An e-book download of Jo Robertson’s The Perfect Gift
  • A $10 Amazon gift card from Caren Crane

What are you waiting for?!? Sign up right now!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow! I am exhausted just telling you what’s going on this month. It is sure to be super-busy and extra-exciting! Now it’s your turn to tell me a few things.

So, Bandita Buddies, what are you anticipating most highly this holiday season? Lighting candles? Singing songs? Feasting with friends and family? Opening a highly-anticipated gift? Curling up with a terrific book? Hm…my answer may be “all of the above”… 😛

More Bandit Booty!

The winner of a copy of Sandra Hyatt’s LESSONS IN SEDUCTION is:

Gail Nichols!

The winner of an ebook copy of TEXAS SECRETS along with a print copy of its original incarnation, A FAMILY SECRET  by Jean Brashear is:

Cate S!

You’ve both also won a 12 Days of Christmas goody! Please contact me through the mailroom with your snail mail addresses! Congrats 🙂

Yummy Holiday Treats to Kick Off the 12 Days of Christmas

I adore baking.  I delight in candy making.  Clearly, I’m a fan of the yumminess of the holidays.  So much so, that when I found that SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE would be a December release, I decided that my heroine, Pandora, would use her experience as a baker to turn the family business around.  A gift for creating delicious yumminess combined with her grammy’s old *magic* recipe books give her the idea to open a café in Moonspun Dreams, the new age store she’s inherited.  But she won’t serve just any food in her café.  Thanks to those recipes, she’s stirring in a little something extra to each dish.  The town of Black Oak is thrilled, since that something extra has added a whole lot of heat to their libidos!    Talk about adding a little spice to the holidays!  Pretty soon, the sex lives of her customers are as great as her sales! 

This was such a fun thing for me to bring into the story, not only because, well, hey what’s not fun about turning up the heat on a whole lot of love lives?  But also because it let me combine two of my favorite things.  Baking, and writing (you thought I was gonna say sex, didn’t you?!)  Using the yummy aphrodisiac inspired food as a challenge between Pandora and the hottie badboy, Caleb, was even more fun.  He especially liked her chocolate cake.

Thankfully, since baking at the holidays is something I love to do, my family all loves to eat the goodies as well.  Many a’year, they will request food instead of gifts.  Well, the adults.  My kids want toys.  Lots of toys. 

 My family has a list of favorites they request.  My favorite is my mom’s Pecan Caramels.  My dad and my FIL both love my Almond Toffee, and my mother’s favorite is my Cranberry Bread.  My husband loves it all, and my girls both want fudge.

My Mom’s Favorite Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease 1 large loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before taking out of pan to cool completely. 

Mmmm, it’s so yummy.  I can’t wait to make my first batch this evening!  How about you?  What’s your favorite treat this time of year?  Does your family all have special requests that you bake for the holidays? And the big question… would you try a dessert purported to be an aphrodisiac?  

 

Ho! Ho! HO!  Happy ChrismaHannaKwanzaYulicah!  No matter how you celebrate the holidays in December, come join the Romance Bandits for the 12 Days of Christmas!  We have prizes and prezzies and recipes every day, along with bigger presents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Commenters go in the drawing to win….so make sure you speak up!

In December of 2011 Tawny launched her Undercover Ops series with SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE.  The second book in the series, SEX, LIES & MIDNIGHT is on shelves in January 2012, quickly followed in February by SEX, LIES & VALENTINES.  Be sure to follow her Holiday Survival Tour as she celebrates these three books with contests, giveaways and lots of fun.  You can read the first chapter of SEX, LIES & MISTLETOE on her website, all you have to do is join the Reader LoveFest!

Holly Jacobs Is In The Lair!

hosted by Beth

It is my pleasure to welcome author Holly Jacobs to the lair today! Holly’s latest book for Harlequin Superromance, HOMECOMING DAY, is out now. Here’s Holly…

Homecoming Day


by Holly Jacobs

I love Christmas. And no, it has nothing to do with my name, or a possible holiday birthday. I was actually born in August and Mom named me Holly because she didn’t want me to have a nickname, which would explain why I’ve spent most of my life known as “Hall.” LOL But I digress. I love Christmas because it’s a holiday that’s all about family. As my four children have aged, they’ve started talking about Christmases past with a hint of nostalgia. “Mom, remember when we were little and you made us sit at the top of the stairs while you turned on the tree and lights on Christmas morning?” “Mom, remember that Christmas you let us have Christmas cookies for breakfast?” “Mom…” You get the point. They have great memories of the holiday. So do I.

Maybe that’s why I so enjoy writing holiday stories. For me, the holidays mean family, and it doesn’t matter if I’m writing straight up comedy, or my more dramatic, emotional romances, my books all tend to have family and community at their heart.

This month’s SuperRomance, Homecoming Day, certainly does. I introduced the Keller family, who live in Whedon, PA, in last winters, Unexpected Gifts. They had a cameo in February’s A One-of-a-Kind Family. I had so many wonderful letters from readers, and many people asked for Seth (the quiet, alienated Keller brother) and Tucker (the heroine of Unexpected Gift’s best friend) stories.

Homecoming Day is Seth’s (Tucker’s story will be out in Sept. of ‘11). In it, I explain why he’s estranged from his parents. Now, I’ll confess, I don’t always agree with my character’s actions or reactions. I understand why Seth is alienated, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how I’d react. That’s the gift writers receive…the gift of seeing the world through another set of eyes. Seth’s story broke my heart more than a little as I wrote the book. And the heroine of the story, Laura, broke it the rest of the way. Helping them heal…well, that was my joy as a writer. I have mottos or high concepts for most of my books. Their story centered around the idea that “Life gives second chances…sometimes so does love.” As a writer, I loved helping Seth and Laura find their second chances!

I guess that’s another reason I love this time of year. It’s not only that it’s about family, it’s the idea that the new year is just around the corner and that’s a time of new beginnings and second chances. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions…we’re hoping to change something about ourselves or our life–to allow ourselves to start over. A few years ago, I started giving myself a word of the year, rather than a resolution. Something to reflect on as the year plays out. I don’t like the winning/losing aspects of resolutions. If you don’t accomplish it, you lose. With a word of the year, occasionally thinking about it and try to incorporate it into your life…well, you’ve won! And if you pick the right word, it can certainly make a positive change in your life.

I’ve used the word AWARENESS and OPTIMISM in past years. I write the year’s word on a neon Post-It and stick on my desk, where I’ll see it regularly. I haven’t settled on a word for this year. I’m thinking of Glee…a word I tend to use a lot in my day-to-day life. But I’m not sure. Has anyone else ever had a word/motto of the year?? If not, and you had to pick one for next year, what would it be?

Holly

PS. As part of the blog’s 12 Days of Christmas, I’m going to pick a random name from those who respond and send them a copy of the first Whedon book, Unexpected Gifts!

It’s FINALLY here! The Romance Bandits 12 Days of Christmas Booty. Every day between now and Christmas, one lucky commenter per day will win a daily prize and on some days, additional goodies from that day’s blogging Bandita or guest. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we’ll give away more booty including autographed books, GR mugs and much more! Come join us! Tell your friends! Let’s make the Season BRIGHT!

Next Page »