Posts tagged with: Cross Springs

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:

So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen! Adieu!

Well, kids, it’s my last regular blog day here in the Lair. Somehow, though, it doesn’t feel like it. I fully intend to come back and harass you guys from time to time. You know, new releases. Special events. I will probably also host guests and just come by to say hello.

Red Door Reads profile picY’all know we are moving lots of our activity to our Romance Bandits Facebook page, right? Well, I am usually terrible about posting things to Facebook, but since Red Door Reads and now Romance Bandits are using it so heavily, I am trying—slowly, painfully—to change my slothful habits and hang out there more. Really!

killLarry2dThe Red Door Reads chicks have kicked my behind long enough and hard enough that I actually have a NEW novella coming out in April. It is called CROSS SPRINGS SCANDAL and it is the story of what really happened to Katie Warren’s husband Larry. Larry has been dead for a year when Tiara Wars begins. We know Larry had a massive coronary, but we only get some sketchy details about what brought it on. Cross Springs Scandal will give you the rest of the story, told from the viewpoint of a certain Other Woman. Sounds super fun, huh? Cross Springs Scandal is available ONLY as part of the novella anthology 50 Ways To Kill Your Larry. It is available for pre-order now from all major e-tailers for only 99 cents! But the anthology of 10 novellas is a limited time release and won’t be for sale long, only a few weeks. Snatch it up while you can! All pre-order links are available at the Red Door Reads website.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]If you haven’t yet read Tiara Wars, shame on you! Just kidding. You will have the chance to buy it ON SALE in March. Keep your eyes peeled and on those Facebook pages! I will also be announcing it in our Romance Bandits newsletter, so be sure to sign up here! And to keep up with what I am doing, sign up for my newsletter here!

In case you haven’t sensed it yet, there is a theme here. Sign up for things! Like things! Subscribe to the Romance Bandits RSS feed on our comments page! Stay notified! I am, selfishly, glad not to be forced to blog several days every month. But I am going to be forced to post to Facebook and to update my lamentably neglected website. So hang onto your hats, Bandita Buddies, ’cause things be changing and we very ancient Banditas be changing with them!

Okay, that was BORING! Now, tell me what you are changing this year. Not whatever you resolved for the New Year and promptly forgot, but what you are really changing. I am moving my fat butt around more this year. I have been doing a pretty good job of that so far. Now your turn!

Caren’s Double Book Launch Blowout!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]I hope no one got their hopes up at that title. Really. I am the worst party hostess in the history of partying AND also terribly lazy. So, this won’t be like one of Tawny’s lovely book launch parties, where there are 12 kinds of appetizers and Pablo is circulating with both white and red wine. BUT, it is a serious celebration of the launch of my two newest books, TIARA WARS and (albeit belatedly) BABY STEPS.

Settle in and help yourself to whatever you can find. I told Sven to set out bowls of Fritos and French onion dip and to have platters of cookies and a sundae bar. Oh, and alcohol. I have no idea what he has done with those orders, which likely sent him straight to the medicine cabinet for anti-anxiety meds. Anyway, let’s talk about the books.

Baby Steps large coverBABY STEPS is the second novel in my Cross Springs series. In it, our hardworking, career-oriented heroine, Connie Burns, has decided to have a baby. And she’s about to turn 39. And she has lupus. Everyone, including her husband, thinks this is a terrible idea. But Connie is a force of nature, as anyone who read KICK START or CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM knows. She will not be denied. Happily, her husband Tim knows her inside and out and understands exactly how to…er…sway Connie to his way of thinking. (I hate to use the word manipulate – so many negative connotations!) Connie agrees to proceed with the plans to foster a child, which they had set aside when she was diagnosed with lupus. Once the foster-parent wheels are set in motion, Connie’s world is turned completely upside down. And you get to read about the fallout! It’s great stuff, I promise. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll laugh some more!

If you completely missed the publication of this book in late June, that’s because I basically did NOTHING to promote it. I didn’t even have a launch party here! So I decided to let Connie horn in on Katie’s launch party for TIARA WARS. Fortunately, the two are BFFs now, so Katie won’t mind.

Kick StartKatie Warren is the heroine of my third Cross Springs novel, TIARA WARSThose who read KICK START may be surprised at Katie’s transformation from interfering busybody in the first novel to sympathetic, soul-searching heroine in the third. It’s been a long, tough journey for Katie. It’s tough to feel much sympathy for someone who was basically born with a silver spoon in her mouth and who has been showered with attention, awards and admiration her entire life, but poor Katie has been through some stuff when TIARA WARS opens.

A year previously, Katie learned her husband Larry had had an extra-marital affair. Before she could even get the truth from him about the affair, he had a massive coronary and died. To say she is conflicted is mild, indeed. But Connie, Cross Springs and good old circumstances force Katie to shake off her stupor of grief and disbelief and work toward getting some closure on her marriage and Larry’s untimely death. It also leaves her no choice but to decide who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. Poor Katie!

Cross Springs In Bloom coverIn both these books, I put the heroines through some serious soul-searching and emotional turbulence. But I also packed in the crazy people of Cross Springs, some really funny scenes, and the sort of “this could really happen” stuff that is too rarely seen in fiction. Connie and Katie’s stories are not unique. We all know women who have had a midlife crisis, changed their minds about strongly-held choices, dealt with grief and handled the gobsmacking wallop of marital betrayal. Connie and Katie are you and me, our sisters, our moms, our friends and co-workers. What makes them special is how their pain speaks to ours. And what makes it fun to read is that their traumas, like ours, are only one facet of their very full lives.

So have Pablo pour you another drink, grab some Fritos and cookies, and let’s have a lovely chat here at the (VERY CASUAL) party in the Lair today!

BanditBootyTo break the conversational ice (while Sven whips up more French onion dip and has a small nervous breakdown), tell me about someone you know who is like Connie (career-focused, goal-oriented, loyal and a super-fun aunt!) or Katie (a natural leader, the queen bee and a serious people-pleaser). Has anything changed this person’s mind or attitude? Have you changed yours when life got crazy? I’ll share some of my own stories today, as well. I’ll also give away an e-book copy (format of your choice) of BABY STEPS and also one of TIARA WARS (one each) to two lucky commenters!

An Interview with Caren Crane!

Caren, here, to interview…er…myself. For your pleasure, of course! Here are some scintillating facts about me that you can use to amuse yourself. Especially if you see me in a bar somewhere, say, at a conference or convention! If I’ve had enough of my favorite beverages, I will gladly cop to any of the following:

So, Caren, tell us. What drink does Sven bring you when you’re hiding in the cave?
First of all, Caren, I never hide in the cave, I simply use it as a handy retreat from the cold, cruel world. That said, before noon, Sven brings coffee and water. After noon, it’s all vodka tonics with two olives. And water. Always water.

Water…riiight. And, when you’re not in your cave, where in the Lair do you hang out the most?
Please, everyone knows if I’m not in my cave, then I’m in the library, of course! (Never believe Anna C. if she says I hang out in the kitchen. That is a lie. A lie, I say!!) It’s a little-known fact that I worked at the library at my college. I would have preferred shelving books, but they put me on the circulation desk. It was a really fun job and I got to make the “closing” announcements. I got some odd looks after some of my announcements, which were always designed to amuse me, naturally.

Naturally. So, Caren, let’s dish. What’s the hardest thing about writing? What’s the most rewarding?
The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and actually doing it. It’s much more fun to think about writing and talk about writing and write about writing than it is to actually write. Writing is hard! The most rewarding thing is someone posting or e-mailing that they loved my book or it touched them in some way. I love that!

You would. I’m sure our readers are just LONGING to know (as if it isn’t perfectly obvious from all your books), who do you enjoy writing more — hero or heroine?
I always greatly prefer heroines. Women are far more interesting than men, always. Men are such simple creatures, with fewer layers than women. Women are intricately-woven personalities. Very complex people with complex relationships. Men have little tolerance for complexity in relationships. They like things simple. I find simple simply boring. Women are fun to write!
I know you often get distracted when researching. Squirrel! What is the most interesting fact or research you have discovered so far?
That’s an easy one. I have no idea what I was researching, but at some point I found out there is a closed mine in Austria where they have converted the mine rails into a sort of roller-coaster, thrill ride. I want to go so badly!!I just have to convince my husband this is an opportunity that is not to be missed!
And, although you claim not to hang out in the kitchen, what’s your favourite Lair snack?
My favorite Lair snack is dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans. They should be banned in all countries! They somehow keep finding their way into my mouth, somehow, though I don’t recall putting them there. I adore them! They should be outlawed!

Lastly, what do you keep in your writing cave to inspire you?
I have two framed prints of the artwork from the cover of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Elizabeth Malczynski was the artist and her work is spectacular. It fueled my imagination as a teenager and still does today! I find her art endlessly inspirational, even though I don’t write fantasy. She’s just that good!

Thus ends our terribly entertaining and enlightening interview with Caren Crane. Caren is shooshing off to update her (badly outdated) website to reflect the June 26 release of her second Cross Springs novel, BABY STEPS. The third Cross Springs novel will be out in late July. No telling when those updates will hit the website! 😛

Coming Attractions – Extra-Awesome MAY Style!

eightEvery month is a big old party here in the Lair, but MAY is especially special? Why, yes, it IS my birthday month! So kind of you to remember that my birthday is MAY 13 and I’m accepting gifts and brunches/lunches/dinners ALL MONTH LONG. 🙂  Still, we have another Big Event we celebrate each May. Our Romance Bandits Blogiversary! On May 8, we will be having a HUGE blowout of a Facebook party. We’ll spend almost the entire day partying like, well, Banditas and giving stuff away! You guys just have to come by and comment to win swag. We’ll have a huge prize at the end for one lucky winner: a Kindle Paperwhite and e-book prize bundle!! Super fun and easy! Go Like our Facebook page to be sure you don’t miss out!

And in other exciting news:A Rake's Midnight Kiss

Anna Campbell had a great month for contest excitement! Not only did her Sons of Sin books win Favorite Series Of 2013 at the Australian Romance Reader Awards, she received news that A Rake’s  Midnight Kiss has finaled in the historical section of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Awards. Woo hoo! We are all terribly proud of Anna!

LUD_382_LIV_COUV.inddAnna Sugden‘s French language version of A Perfect Distraction was an Amazon bestseller in France and Canada! Wonder why? I don’t think it was just the hockey player theme! 😀


Elements-5_5x8_5-100dpi-c8May 3 – Nancy and guest Suzanne Church offer us a change of pace.  Suzanne will discuss her new short story collection, Elements, with maybe a bit of Game of Thrones chat stirred in. (Dragon and knights and speculative fiction, oh my! I can’t wait!)

Back In the Italian's BedMay 5 – Anna Campbell hosts the brilliant Annie West in the Lair! Annie’s going to tell us all about her wonderful new novella Back In the Italian’s Bed, the first in her Hot Italian Nights series! (Nothing about Hot Italians can be anything but awesome!)

UrsulaLeCoeur_TheWillingWidow_1400px (2)[1]May 6 – Debut author Ursula LaCoeur will guest with Donna. Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow. (New Orleans-inspired Victorian suspense should be extra-spicy!)

Osburn_HometoStay_front_cvr_FINALMay 9 – Nancy welcomes Terri Osburn to chat about secrets, secret identities, and her new Anchor Island release, Home to Stay.  Join the party and get the inside info! (Sekrits? We love sekrits!)

Murder At Honeychurch HallMay 12 – Join Kate as she hosts the delightful Hannah Dennison whose wonderful new English countryside mystery series will debut this month, with Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (I’ve met Hannah. You’ll love her!)

DragonLover_w8322_300May 16 Karilyn Bentley returns with her dragon shifters to chat with Suz about her newest book, Dragon Lover. When opposing dreams collide, will love be the victor? (Ooh, dragons!)

Baby Steps medium cover NookMay 24 – Caren Crane‘s book launch party for Baby Steps, the second book in the Cross Springs series. Don’t miss the extra-fun return to Cross Springs for the heart-tugging story of how Connie Burns, the career-oriented, happily-childless best friend from Kick Start ends up a mommy! (Cutest cover ever!)

Lord Somerton's HeirMay 27 – Anna Campbell hosts Aussie historical romance author Alison Stuart. Alison will be talking about her latest release Lord Somerton’s Heir, a Regency romantic suspense set just after Waterloo. (Waterloo! Couldn’t escape if I wanted to!)


Anna Campbell is giving away three personalized print ARCs of What A Duke Dares, the third Sons of Sin What a Duke Daresnovel out in late August, in her current website contest. Just email her on anna @ (no spaces) and tell her the name of the hero and heroine of What A Duke Dares. You might find the answer here: For more information, please check the contest page on her website:

Hello, awesome May 8 Facebook Bandita Blogiversary party! Don’t miss it or you will feel like the out-of-the-loop kid sitting alone at home who missed the totally rad party when Kat and Bianca’s dad went out of town…or was that from Ten Things I Hate About You? Anyway, Like our page and join the party and win stuff!

Online Auction to benefit Diabetes Research: BrendaNovakForTheCure.orgAlso, the Banditas are offering a crapload of great goody packages (11 of them!) in the Brenda Novak auction to benefit Type 1 diabetes research!  Think you don’t know anyone with Type 1 diabetes? You know me and I’ve had it for 32 years! So check out the auction, bid on stuff and help cure my disease. There, I totally made it personal! You can check out our different packages by clicking the Romance Bandits link on the sidebar of the main auction page! 

Wowza! May is shaping up to be kind of amazing and – potentially – exhausting! So what do you anticipate will be your favorite thing about May in the Lair? I think it’s going to be hard to choose (but I’m totally casting a vote for MY BIRTHDAY)!

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!