Posts tagged with: Cross Springs novella

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

Three listing snowmen. Listing because certain snowman builders had likely overindulged in the holiday wassail Sven had warming over a low, slow flame all last evening. Yes, I fear Paolo and a couple of his cabana boysin-training had far too much wassail and not nearly enough cookies to soak it all up last night.

leaning snowman 1This gentleman was found in the formal garden. I can tell Paolo made this one because it shows a heavy bent toward the traditional while displaying a marked lack of creativity. Note the big, goofy smile and lumps of coal placed disturbingly close to the ground. Paolo: cute, but not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree!


leaning snowman 2I suspect newbie Henri of building this snowman out near the fire pit. He appears to be wearing a beret of some sort, as well as a saucy neckerchief, and displays remarkable flexibility. Henri has shown similar limber inclinations. How do I know? Erm…the boys were were practicing…diving. In the indoor pool. Yes, diving. That’s exactly where I saw Henri bending and stretching and flexing his beautiful…but I digress. Henri’s artistry, even when inebriated, far surpasses darling, dim Paolo’s.


leaning snowman 3And then there is this inebriated redneck snowman. I’m pretty sure we can blame our equally redneck cabana boy-in-training, Travis. Travis is already on Sven’s shit list and has managed to rack up more demerits in his three weeks in the Lair than any other cabana boy ever. We would get rid of him altogether but…


Travis the cabana boyWell, here is Travis as I found him this morning, passed out on a bench outside the cabana boy bunkhouse down near the pool area. Don’t you feel the teensiest bit sorry for him? I sure did. He looked plum worn out from all that snowman building! Plus, he’s probably still growing or something and just needs extra sleep. Poor Travis. He just lives life a little bigger and louder than some of the others. I’m sure he’ll get trained right up and learn to mind his manners well enough to please even Sven the Taskmaster!


Swedish GloggJust for funsies, here is the recipe for Sven’s wassail. It actually isn’t wassail at all (which is English) but is a Swedish drink called Glögg. Glögg is served in Finland and Sweden during the six weeks leading up to Christmas. This is a cold, dark time of year in Scandinavia. This glögg recipe resembles a variety of historical mulled wines, such as wassail and gluwein. Here is Easy Swedish Glögg, courtesy of (though Sven claims he posted it there!):


2 cups water or orange juice
1 (3-inch) piece orange rind
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
5 whole allspice
2 cardamom pods, bruised
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Burgundy
1/2 cup sugar

Combine first 9 ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer, being careful not to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Strain mixture, and serve immediately, or gently reheat before serving. If you prefer a stronger flavor, steep spices longer before straining.

Yummy! Nice and warming on a cold winter day. Just be sure not to overserve yourself or others. You may end up with listing snowmen and hungover cabana boys like we did! I must talk to Sven about appointing someone (other than Paolo) minder of the Glögg pot…

Forget Me Not_Meanwhile, I will give a copy of the Forget Me Not anthology (all proceeds benefit Alzheimer’s and brain health research and I have a Cross Springs prequel novella in there) to a commenter who tells me this: If you found a leaning snowman on your lawn one snowy morning, who would be your likeliest suspect for drunken snowman builder?

If you’d like to get your own copy of the FORGET ME NOT anthology, hurry! It will only be on sale through December 31. Here’s the Amazon link, but it’s available at all e-tailers:

Cross Springs In Bloom WINNER!

1BanditBootyThanks to everyone for coming by to check out my launch party for my novella CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM. Don’t forget to go to Red Door Reads and enter the Who’s Ben Skrewd? contest. Such fun!

The winner of an ebook copy of CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM is…


Marcy, contact me at carencrane AT gmail DOT com and let me know what ebook format you prefer. Thanks for playing, everyone!

“Who’s Ben Skrewd?”

A provocative question, wouldn’t you agree? Well, last summer a number of us Red Door Reads authors decided that we all knew “who’s Ben Skrewd,” though the encounter is different for each person. Which gave us the idea of creating a character named Ben Skrewd who could appear in a group of novellas linked by Ben and our iconic Red Door. Launching the novellas on Tax Day (April 15th in the U.S.) was an irony we couldn’t resist!

Cross Springs In Bloom BNMost of us were able to squeeze Ben into a novella in an ongoing series. My novella, Cross Springs In Bloom, takes place in the familiar environs of Cross Springs, NC. Cross Springs is the setting for my debut novel, Kick Start, as well as my next two novels. Baby Steps should be out in May 2014 and the long-awaited Tiara Wars will be out in July. In Cross Springs In Bloom, we spend time with Connie Burns and Katie Warren from Kick Start, but the heroine is Mindy MacPherson, the gossipy receptionist at Cross Springs Dermatology. When she helps Connie and Mindy track down the source of some prize-winning roses, Mindy comes face-to-face with a lover she let go and hoped never to see again.

touch of troubleSusan Sey’s novella, Touch of Trouble, we once again encounter her rowdy, sexy Blake Brothers. This time we are given some insight about the hard road the youngest Blake brother, Drew, and the brainy Meg will have to travel to find true love. It starts right where the second Blake Brothers novel, Talent for Trouble, left off. The two of them tackle a particularly sticky situation involving Meg’s family. Exceptional fun!

liberty and the pursuit of happinessDeb Marlowe’s novella, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, is the next entry in her Half Moon House series. If you love feisty Regency heroines, hedge mazes, epistolary pleas and intrigue, Lierty and the Pursuit of Happiness – heck, the whole Half Moon House series! – is for you. The heroine is an American spitfire who longs to make a real difference in the world and volunteers to help at Hestia Wright’s Half Moon House. In helping a young friend extricate herself from a potentially awkward situation, she becomes entangled with Viscount Brodham, who is trying to save his young nephew…from Liberty’s friend!

_RDR_webEleven of us have brand new novellas available (for a short time) at only 99 cents! Authors in the special collection are Caren Crane, Susan Sey, Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, Linda Winstead Jones, Ava Stone, Lori Handeland, Jane Charles, Andris Bear, Tammy Falkner and Susan Gee Heino. The special price won’t last forever, though, so be sure to visit to get the scoop on all the novellas and snap them up while the deal is hawt!

#6Since Ben Skrewd is an integral character in each of the novellas, we have an ongoing “Find Ben Skrewd” contest set up at our website. Each of the 11 Red Door Reads authors with a Ben Skrewd novella has “hidden” Ben on her website. When you find Ben, just go to the Red Door Reads site, click the link, and tell us whose site and which page you found him on. A winner will be drawn when the contest closes on April 22nd and the winner will receive an iPad mini!

Meanwhile, enjoy all the novellas and the “Easter egg” of finding Ben Skrewd in each of them.

Speaking of Ben and Easter eggs, have you “Ben Skrewd” by the Easter Bunny? He used to faithfully visit me every year and now I get bupkes in my basket! What is your favorite Easter treat? Tell me all about it, little friends, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of my new novella! I’ll admit my favorite is a dark chocolate-covered Russell Stover marshmallow egg. I’ve already had a few this year. Yummm…

Baby Steps Exclusive Excerpt

I am pleased to post the first-ever excerpt from my upcoming release BABY STEPS. BABY STEPS is Book 2 in my Cross Springs series. The heroine of this book is Connie Burns, the best friend of my heroine Linda from KICK START. Connie has decided, after 15 years of marriage, that she wants to start a family. The problem is, her husband Tim does not. They agreed long ago that neither one of them wanted to have kids, but Connie has changed her mind (as women are wont to do!). In KICK START, Connie was diagnosed with lupus. Tim, who is a doctor (a dermatologist), told Connie she should talk to her GP about having a baby. He figured her doctor would tell her it was a terrible idea. Let’s see how their discussion of her visit to her GP goes, shall we?

     “So what did Dr. Stearn say?” Tim asked over our late dinner.

     I narrowed my eyes at him over the salads I had thrown together. “How did you know I saw her today?”

     “I have my sources.”

     I glared at him.

     “Mindy had a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning and saw your car on that side of the medical park. She wanted to know if you were sick.”

     Mindy was Tim’s receptionist. I pointed my fork at him. “You’d better not tell her anything, Tim. You know she runs her mouth to everyone.”

     “Yeah, I know.” He raised his eyebrows at me and stabbed a cherry tomato. “To people like you, who want to know what procedures everyone else is having done.”

      I twirled iced tea in my glass, unsure how I felt about him outing my nosiness. “At least I don’t gossip about it. I just keep it in my head.” Okay, maybe that was a bit defensive. And not strictly true.

     Tim raised his eyebrows. “That’s what concerns me. All that stuff whirling around your evil mind. I never know what your brain might conjure up.”

     “I think, Timothy dear, you’re suffering from an excess of imagination.”

     “And I think I know you too well.”

     I rolled my eyes at him. “Whatever. Let me tell you about my horror today.”

     “No. Stop trying to change the subject. What did your doctor say? Or was that the horror?”

     I heaved a sigh. “No. She laid it on thick about the problems I could have and how I couldn’t take my meds and all that.”

     “Told you,” he muttered, eyes on his food.

     “Yeah, well, she seemed as concerned about my age as about the lupus.” That one still burned. “Like thirty-eight is so old. These days, women who are fifty-eight are having babies.”

     “You ever seen one of those old egg babies? They come out looking like gnomes, all shriveled and kind of gray. It’s weird, Con.”

     “I’m not talking about having one in twenty years. I’m talking about now.” My fingers twisted the paper napkin in my lap with a vengeance.

     He shrugged. “I’m thirty-nine. I raised all the kids I wanted to—and some I didn’t—before I got out of undergraduate school. We discussed this ad nauseum before we got married, Con. Things are good. Why take a chance?”

      The napkin shredded under my twitchy fingers. “Because now is when I want to start a family. I wasn’t ready before this. I’ve grown up, I think.”

     He raised his eyebrows again and grinned at me. “This from the woman who’s seeing Alpha Moe and Forty-two Cent tomorrow?”

     I threw the napkin shreds at him. “I’m going for Nate, not for me!”

     “Whatever you say. I seem to recall you dragging me to more than a few questionable venues to see a bunch of bands the past decade and a half. I was just happy when Nate got old enough to go with you. Takes the pressure off me and my beat-up eardrums.”

     I picked up my dishes and headed toward the sink. “Nate has more musical taste at fifteen than you’ll cultivate in a lifetime, pal.”

     As I rinsed the dishes, I felt him loom behind me. I was tall, but Tim was taller. And big. I loved the bulk of him, which went so well with that down-home Southern thing he had going on. He kissed the bare back of my neck and the fringe of my hair tickled. I shivered.

     “That’s not going to make me forget what you said,” I lied.

     He nuzzled some more and slid his dishes into the sink in front of me. “Okay, then I’ll stop. Thanks for washing my dishes.”

     I grabbed a dish towel and snapped it as his rapidly retreating rear end. But I grinned while I did it. Tim got to me every time—all the time. He was my Achilles heel. And he still didn’t want a baby. Love and frustration tangled me in knots.

Poor Connie. I’ve given that girl a hard time in this book. Nate, by the way, is her beloved nephew (also briefly mentioned in KICK START). Connie has her hands full of troubles with her husband, but with Katie Warren, too. You’ll recall Katie was a bit of a nemesis to Linda in KICK START. She is giving Connie fits at the beginning of BABY STEPS, interfering with a house sale Connie is working on. Connie does a lot of growing in this book, though, and she and Katie find more common ground than either expects.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into Connie’s world and that you’ll want to read more about her (mis)adventures. For a high-stress, career-oriented workaholic like Connie, motherhood may not be anything like she expects!

BABY STEPS should be out in April. Also, I will have Cross Springs novella out in April called CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM. The heroine of that story is Tim’s busybody receptionist, Mindy! Things are definitely hopping this spring in Cross Springs, NC. I hope you’ll check it out!

Starting With a Roar!

Roaring LionAs announced in yesterday’s Coming Attractions post and in our fabulous newsletter, there is a lot happening around the Lair in March. Historically, we have said, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” I never cared much about the lamb bit, but I have always been fascinated by the image of March coming in like a lion.

This reference to leonine qualities likely refers to the raw, cold winds and lingering last weeks of winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere!) that characterize March. I remember as a young girl, probably 8 or 9, being desperate for spring to begin already. I knew spring started in March, but didn’t realize that the advent of spring didn’t immediately mean it would be warm outside. Because that is what I wanted: weather warm enough that I could go outside barefoot. My mother would finally give up near the end of the month and give me permission to go outside barefoot for as long as I could stand it. Which wasn’t usually very long. Still, I kept trying!

bare toes in grassThese days, I have no desire to go anywhere barefoot. Spring usually means an onslaught of seasonal allergies in North Carolina, so it’s not something I long for. Still, I find myself getting restless in March. Antsy. Maybe even a bit crabby. I also find myself roaring more than I like, but that is generally about things like unfinished taxes and financial aid forms for the universities. I don’t enjoy this general edginess March brings out in me, but I definitely relate it to the creeping longevity of the days and the barest hint of spring-to-come. (In our yard, mainly wild onions and other weeds popping up!)

yard work toolsTo counter all this roaring while I wait for the Promised Lamb, I generally fling myself into flurries of activity with little forethought and minimal planning. Things like raking out the landscaped areas, cleaning my flower beds, mucking out the dining room (which we use as a storage facility, apparently) and, in general, filling up more garbage bags than our weekly pickup can handle. It does help burn energy and provides me with a fleeting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t help me with butt-in-chair time or actually writing anything.

butt in chair logoA dilemma, since I seriously MUST finish both a novella and a novel. Both are about 2/3 finished and I have spent far too long thinking about them. This year I am trying to harness my leonine qualities and funnel them into finishing books. Taking care of business. Remembering who I am.

So what are your grand plans for March? Are you gearing up for spring or fall? Bristling with energy or looking forward to kicking back and relaxing? Let me know how the Roar Of the Lion affects you!