Posts tagged with: Jeanne Adams

Grounds For War–Jeanne & Cassondra Food Fight Day 2

Jeanne: So, Cassondra, were you surprised by yesterday’s food fight results? I know I was! So many people like Krispy Kremes! And I think you won the total overall vote for glazed donuts. (Pardon me while I roll my eyes, okay?)

Cassondra: Well, they’re popular for a reason.

Jeanne: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So moving right along…what about dipping? Do you dip your donut in coffFood fight milkee or tea?

Cassondra: Neither. I dip in milk. I like milk with my donuts.   Ha! Bet ya didn’t see THAT coming. *grin* Do you dip?

Jeanne: I’ve done it on occasion, in my coffee. *looks smug*

Cassondra:  *wrinkles nose* Speaking of coffee.  How do you like yours?  Do you go for the holiday specialties at the coffee shop?

Jeanne:  Ew.  I’d like to avoid it, but you know how it is this time of year. EVERYTHING has a “special holiday flavor” – I know that makes me sound like the Grinch,

Cassondra: *interrupts*   You’re a MEAN one, Jeeeeeeanne Grinch…

Jeanne: Snork! Great, now I’ll have the song stuck in my head all day….Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Griiiinch!

Anyway, I really hate flavored coffees or teas. I like my Starbucks Mocha, or plain coffee with creFood Fight Dec 2014 Jeanne's coffee from starbucks extra whipam. No caramel. No hazelnut. No vanilla, and for heaven’s sake NO PEPPERMINT!!

Cassondra:  What?

Okay y’all, you might as well know. I could order for Jeanne at Starbucks. I’ve seen her do it often enough. In fact, I HAVE ordered for her.  That’s it over there on the right.  “I’d like a Venti non-fat, extra-whip Mocha.” *tries to look taller as she bats eyelashes, pretending to be Jeanne*

Jeanne: Snork! You do that far too well!

Cassondra: If only I could look blonde.

Okay, okay.  Now when it comes to the fancy coffee drinks from Starbucks or Peet’s or Seattle’s Best–and Jeanne’s mocha definitely qualifies as one of those–or when it comes to a plain old cup of coffee, I don’t like many flavors. I like flavored coffee ONLY in certain circumstances, and only certain flavors.

But hey! This is one of those circumstances!  It’s that time of year, right? Peppermint things are dancing around Christmas trees for cripes sake.

Jeanne: *shocked*: You mean you DO like peppermint coffee?? How could I not know this about you?

Cassondra: *gesticulates wildly* How can you not like peppermint?

Jeanne: Oh, I like all those flavors on their own. I just don’t like them in coffee. Or tea. OMGosh, I despise flavored teas. Give me good old Earl Gray, or a hearty black leaf tea like Orange Pekoe. Twinings. Constant Comment. Hearty tea. And if its gonna be hot – perfect for this time of year – there’s to be no milk. No lemon. None of this foo-foo flavoring. Bleech.

Cassondra: I really, REALLY hate to break it to you, but darlin’, Earl Grey Is. A. Flavor! So is MOCHA in coffee, for that matter. I like the idea of mocha, but honestly? It’s the textureFood Fight Dec 2014 Cassondra coffee. Mocha is chocolate flavored but it’s thick. It makes the coffee “thick.” So now I really want a peppermint mocha from Starbucks, but I can’t stand the texture so instead I get a peppermint latte with whipped cream and fancy fixins.  That’s it over there on the left.  Cuz I don’t want…you know…THICK coffee.

Jeanne: Snork! You are so picky.

Cassondra: YOU like thick coffee. Admit it.

Jeanne: Absolutely. Chocolate in coffee, and whipped cream, are naturally occurring additives. They’re fitting. They’re companion flavors. Adding other things, like the new Starbucks Roasted Chestnut Latte, are just icky. And seriously, they made a mistake the other day and made me a peppermint mocha instead of my usual mocha.

Cassondra: Yum! (except for the thick mocha part)

Jeanne: Hey! I’ve been going to “my” Starbucks since it opened – more than 15 years! – and they’ve never made it with peppermint. I took a big ‘ol drink as I walked out the door. Nearly choked. Turned right back in and handed it to the barista. Poor thing, he was the new guy.   He fight candy canes

“What?” he asked as all the other baristas gathered around. They know me.

“It’s Peppermint,” I said, handing it to him.   “Icky. No peppermint. Ever.”

Laughter from the other baristas.

“Just a mocha,” they chorused. “Not white mocha, not peppermint, nothing but mocha .”

“And extra whip!” the longest-serving barista added.

See? They know me. No foo-foo flavors.

Cassondra: WAIT just a minute. YOU get to pick WHICH flavors are foo foo and which are not just cuz you like some and not others? *waggles finger* I don’t think so. And they aren’t saying anything about the CHOCOLATE flavor—and the THICK coffee.

Seriously. Ew.

Here’s the deal. I don’t like ANY pre-flavored coffees—like those pre-flavored beans you get at the grocery store?  I know, I know, lots of people like those. But me?  Blech. Gross me out the door.

Jeanne: Whew! I’m glad we agree there, I was beginning to worry!food fight cinnamon

Cassondra: Yes, but if I go to a coffee shop, and it’s the right time of year, I’ll get a peppermint flavored coffee. It just seems fitting.

And here’s a secret–once again—just a plain cup of coffee, with no fancy steamed milk or froth and no espresso. At home, during these long, dark days of winter, I’ve been known to pull the cinnamon out of my spice cabinet and put a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in the coffeemaker on top of the ground coffee. *slurp* I learned this trick from one of my favorite little restaurants in Nashville, Calypso Café. They serve fabulous cinnamon coffee year-round, and they’re known for it. Just the right hint of cinnamon. And it’s REAL cinnamon. You know—bark from a tree–nothing fake. It’s an antidepressant.

Jeanne:  Okay yeah. I’ve had that coffee. It was decent. But I wouldn’t want it very often.

Food Fight Dec 2014 KeurigCassondra:  Oh! And y’all…..there’s this whole other thing. I happen to know that Duchesse Jeanne has drunk the Keurig Koolaid. *pauses for effect* Yep, that’s right. She’s gone to the “pod” coffee. Which to me, is kind of like having a pod person replace your husband, but whatever.

Jeanne: I LOVE my Keurig! I don’t make a whole pot and have to throw it out!

Cassondra: I make a whole pot, and I don’t throw it out. Just sayin.

Jeanne: That must be what puts the famous sarcastic bite in your humor. And seriously, if I drank the pot? *Boing! Bing! Smash! Crash! Boing!* That would be me, barreling oFood fight dec 2014 cuisinartff the walls for the rest of the day.

Cassondra: Hey. I own that sarcastic bite. But seriously. A pod-brewed cup, while a VAST improvement over sorry single-serving hotel packages, does not taste the same as a POT of brewed coffee.

Jeanne: Oh, yes it does. What do you think is different?

Cassondra: A pot has time to sit there and mingle. It has time for all the coffee molecules to dance around each other and become something fabulous. Coffee from a pod can never escape its humble beginnings. It just can’t.

Jeanne: *rolls eyes* I love my Keurig. Serious Keurig love. A hot cup anytime, always a great taste. And look at all those gorgeous colors you can get if you buy a mini Keurig! That’s like the desktop model!

food fight KeurigminiCassondra: So it’s a Keurig of mini colors!

Hey, looky there. I made a joke.

Jeanne: Snork! Always a comedian in the bunch. Coffee from a Keurig is damn close to as good as a pot –as in 99% close. And hey…NO PEPPERMINT in sight! How about that? Besides, as the only one who drinks coffee in the household…yeah, like I said, I’d drink the whooole pot… so really, by brewing only a cup at a time, I’m doing the world a biiiig favor.

Cassondra:  Okay, I’ll give you that.  Nobody wants to face either one of us on too much caffeine.

Jeanne: Which brings up an important point. You ALL need to know that, while Food fight dec 2014 coffee groupingflavorings are at issue here, and definitely worth a fight, my evil twin and I are akin in one MAJOR thing.

We drink coffee for YOUR protection!! (Bwahahahaha!!)

Cassondra: Alas, it’s true. You don’t want to talk to me between the time I’ve gotten up and the time I’ve had the first cup of coffee. Word to the wise.

Oh and speaking of tea–Earl Grey or English Breakfast.  Herbal tea at night.

Jeanne:  *raises eyebrows*

Cassondra:  Hey, I’m not a complete throwback. *raises pinky finger in the air, sips mock cup of tea*

Jeanne:  Snork!

food fight half and half Cassondra:  And although I’ve weaned myself off of sugar in coffee. I use cream. Lots of it. Real half and Half. No fake creamers allowed.

Jeanne: On THAT, my evil twin, we agree. Lots of cream

So…How about it Banditas and Buddies? Coffee or tea in the morning?

With cream? Sugar? Or black and strong?

Do you like any additions? Peppermint? (BLECH!)

Cassondra: Hey! So do y’all like peppermint? Especially at theFood Fight 2014 Keurig pods holidays? Caramel? Chocolate? Chestnut flavoring? Hazelnut? Pumpkin pie spice? Cinnamon?

Do you go for the special holiday drinks at coffee shops? Like the Pumpkin Spice latte or the Peppermint Mocha?

Or do you shuffle in, caffeine deprived, and say, “tall dark roast coffee please”?

Jeanne: Do you have a favorite coffee vendor? Are you a coffee snob and like Starbucks, Peets, Seattle’s Best and their ilk? Or do you refuse to get into all that…

Cassondra: *interrupts*… Like my mom–she buys her coffee at the grocery store.   If that’s what you do, is it Folger’s? Maxwell House? Store brand?Generic?  Special roast or the plain old original?

Jeanne: Or do you have a substitute like Bandita Donna? She carries a sleeve of Diet Coke wherever she goes. While we’re waiting for the coffeemaker to get going, she’s on her way with a *pop..fffffffizzzz…ahhhhh!*

 And just for the sake of a survey….do you use a Keurig? Or do you brew your coffee in a pot?

Cassondra:  We’re doing the same giveaway again today… in honor of the 12 days of Bandita Christmas, Jeanne is giving away ANOTHER Washington, DC, Starbucks mug and a $10 Starbucks card so you can have YUMMY coffee with your Christmas Donuts.

And I’m doing another grab bag of  two random novels plus one piece of fun swag from my leftover box of conference swag. (Both giveaways are Continental US only.)


The Great Donut War – A Cassondra and Jeanne Food Fight

Cassondra: A really, really bad thing has happened.

Jeanne: Oh no!

Cassondra: That’s a picture of the bad thing down there on the left. See it?

Jeanne: *squints* Is that a donut shop?

Food fight dec 2014 krispy kreme bg storeCassondra: Oh, heck yeah. That’s a brand new Krispy Kreme donut shop. It opened this week in MY town.

Jeanne: Ew. Yes. That is a bad thing.

Cassondra: *takes a moment*   Wait. You’re serious?  *takes another moment* Are? You? Kidding? Me?

Jeanne: Nope. Don’t like ‘em.

Cassondra: You are my evil twin!  HOW can you not like Krispy Kreme? OMG. They’re from your home state! Wait…don’t say it. Just DON’T.

Don’t say you like cake donuts.

Jeanne: Yup! Grins. Love ‘em.Food Fight Dec 2014 Dixie Cream sign

Cassondra: Okay buddies, I think the busy season has fried my evil twin’s brain. And I can understand why.

It’s that time of year, after all.  It’s the time of year when we all get so harried and rushed that we’ll break rules. Rules like “I don’t eat that.” Not because it’s just so yummy it’s irresistible—though that may well be the case—but because we’re too darn busy to fix real food. It’s cuz of all those relatives visiting.

Jeanne: All those presents to buy.

Cassondra: All those presents to WRAP.

Jeanne: The house to clean.

Cassondra: The fridge to stock. The meals to plan.

Jeanne: And the travel. Don’t forget the travel. Up early and on the road at the crack of dawn.

Cassondra: What’s that? I’m not familiar with this crack-of-dawn thing.

Jeanne: Snork! Wish I wasn’t familiar with it… Anyway, it’s true. When everyone lands at your house on the holidays, what’s the fallback for breakfast?

Cassondra: Donuts.

Jeanne: Yep. A great big box of ‘em. Who can resist a donut?

Cassondra: I can. If they’re cake donuts. Or if they have gross filling.

Jeanne: *heavy sigh*Food Fight 2014 box of glazed donuts

Cassondra: Hey. Sue me. I like plain, old-fashioned glazed donuts.  YEAST donuts.  Hot and fresh out of the oven. *closes eyes, imagines yeasty, sugary donut smell* See that box over there on the right?   You bring me THAT at your theoretical crack of dawn, all hot and yeasty-yummy from the oven, and I might become familiar with the concept of morning.

Jeanne:  *looks skeptical* Seriously? All that fat and sugar just dripping off of that round, air-filled fluff of a thing? Where’s the substance? Where’s the OOMPH! That’s what can get you going in the morning. I mean, really, if you haven’t got time for the serious eggs, grits, bacon, biscfood fight dec 2014 apple fritteruit breakfast, this at least has heft to it!

Cassondra: Blech. Heft like an anchor. If I’m going to eat cake, I’ll eat real CAKE. Leftover homemade. German chocolate or red velvet with homemade icing. Not some thick, smarmy, heavy thing that’s been coated and deep fried.

Jeanne: You NEVER buy cake donuts?

Cassondra: Not for me. I have to buy apple fritters sometimes for Steve. And he likes those disgusting French fight dec 2014 cruller

I mean, really. French Cruller? Sounds like a fishing vessel.

Jeanne: Snork! LMAO

Cassondra: See that box down on the left? The one with the cake donuts? I could have missed all three meals in one day, and that would still gross me out. What is that pink thing anyway?

Food Fight dec 2014 box of disgustingJeanne: That’s a donut. With strawberry icing.

Cassondra: Can somebody open a window? I need air. Or maybe alcohol. Or both.

Jeanne: *fans Cassondra*   Oh, come on.

Cassondra: I like my donuts to have YEAST in them. It’s fried bread, okay? It’s slurpy good. Simple. Yeasty fried bread with simple sugar glaze on it.

Jeanne: Cake is bread.

Cassondra: See that photo down there on the right—the one of the Boston Crème donut in the box? There’s a reason that’s the last donut in the box! Not only does it have icky icing, but it has Food Fight dec 2014 LONELY boston creamdisgusting gooey…filling…stuff. Ew.

Jeanne: Okay, okay.  I don’t care for the fillings either, but don’t talk about the filled donuts in front of my oldest son. He loves those.

Cassondra: He’s a teenage boy. Need I say more?

Jeanne: Nope.  He can eat his weight in donuts, no matter what kind, but really likes those icky filled ones.

Cassondra: I feel faint.  The gladiators might have to resuscitate me.

Jeanne: *Grins* Yeah, nothing like a good gladiator for resuscitation!  And you’ll probably need a second go at it when I tell you that my husband likes the Boston Cremes, and will fight my son for them. Do you think it’s because his family is originally from Boston?

Cassondra: *rFood Fight 2014 plain glazed donutolls eyes and tries to ignore the cake donuts*  Maybe.  It just proves, once again, that men will eat virtually anything.

Jeanne: As a caveat, I have to say that my younger son, like you and I, eschews (so to speak) anything with filling unless it’s a corn dog.

Cassondra: That’s a different food fight – things on sticks. Let’s–*grin*–stick–to the point here. Glazed donuts are the only REAL donuts.

I mean, c’mon, Buddies and Banditas, look at that yummy goodness over there on the left.  It’s a glazed YEAST donut.  The ooooonly donut.  Don’t you agree?

Jeanne: *Scoffing* I beg to differ, oh, my evil twin. CAKE donuts are the original. Like those on the right.Food Fight dec 2014 plain cake donut

Cassondra:  Blech! But just so we can preserve our evil twin status on SOMETHING, I know you agree that none of this gooey-center glop should grace the box, especially if you have company.

Jeanne: Absolutely.  But….What do YOU think, Banditas and Buddies?

Cake donuts? Yeast donuts?

Plain or covered in anything?

And please, really, tell us you don’t eat those filled things?

Food fight dec 2014 christmas starCassondra: Or if you do like the filling, what kind?

And French crullers? Apple fritters? Bear claws?

*Cassondra hesitates*  What the heck is the point of making a pastry with toes, anyway? 

Cassondra: OMG! Look at that red blob on the left!  What the heck is THAT?

Jeanne:  That’s a star-shaped Christmas donut.

Cassondra:  Is it alive?  OMG!  Buddies, run! Run for your lives!

Jeanne: *facepalms* Okay, in honor of the 12 days of Bandita Christmas, we’re giving away goodies!  I’m giving away a Washington, DC, Starbucks mug and a $10 Starbucks card so you can have coffee with your Christmas Donuts.

Cassondra: And on top of that, I have a HUGE box of books. I’m going to do a grab bag. I’ll reach in and grab two random novels plus one piece of fun swag from my leftover box of conference swag, and I’ll ship it all to you if you’re in the continental US.

Tell us, Bandits and Buddies…how do you like your donuts?

LAUNCH BOOTY! A Jewel in Time

AJewelinTimefinalThanks to everyone who stopped by for the Launch of A JEWEL IN TIME today!!

The five winners of free copies of JEWEL IN TIME are….







Please email me at email hidden; JavaScript is required and I’ll send you the book via Amazon!

Love, Holidays, Bookish Besties…AND A LAUNCH PARTY!!


Do you have a Best Friend? Most of us have more than one. And most of us have a circle of acquaintances who we call for lunch, or a movie, or even a night out on the town.

But that best friend? She’s the one you call when your boss just made a pass and you don’t know what to do. Or he’s the one you call when you need to write a breakup letter to your boyfriend. Or the guy-friend or girlfriend you call to be your “date” for a wedding you don’t want to go to, but have to, and you know your ex-boyfriend/husband/lover will be there.

Besties are all that. They’re moral support. They help you talk things through – whatever those “things” may be. They’ll laugh with you till you both nearly wet your pants. They’ll help you pack when you have to move, and share the box of tissue that you both need to have because you’re moving.  They’ll be there till the last box is packed.

Besties are just that…the best.

They answer the phone at 2 am, when they see your number come up on the screen. They tiptoe out to the driveway in their PJs at nearly 4 in the morning to give you your spare keys, when you’ve been at a party and you’ve lost your house keys.

They tell you the truth when shopping – “Yes, it DOES make you look fat. Here, try this one!” And when you talk about that guy you met on Friday who drives the Mercedes? “No, I don’t think he’s divine. I think he’s a moron!”

When you’re a writer, your Besties take on a new set of challenges. You MAKE them read your stuff and tell them to be honest. Put on the spot, they have to tell you what they think. Ohhhhh, that is a minefield! It’s worse than the dress thing or the boyfriend-is-a-moron-thing.15072009067

It’s dangerous to the friendship. It’s like callin’ the baby ugly, as we say down home.

But your REAL Besties won’t let you down. They’ll still be sweet. They’ll tell you it’s a good first draft (even when you and they both know it’s the 12th draft.) They’ll tell you they like the story, but honey, you SO need to work on your spelling! (“OMG! Didn’t we both have Mrs. Jones for English in 9th grade? Did you SLEEP through that class?”)

And when you get past THAT stage, and maybe a few more, they’ll say, “HEY! Let’s write a book together!”
Nothing is more fun.

I have the privilege of introducing two of my absolute Besties today. We met at the Denver RWA Conference in 2001 and have been laughing all the way ever since.

And yes, we wrote a book…TOGETHER!! WOOT!!!

Y’all have had fun with my friend Barbara Devlin several times before, here in the Lair, starting all the way back to her first novel in this series, ENTER THE BRETHREN. Welcome Barb!!

And Bandits and Banditas, may I introduce debut author Caitlenn T. Ainnsley!!

WOOT!! SVEN!! We need drinks!!  Snacks!  Canapes, streamers, and yes, more cabana boys!

We’re celebrating because, Barbara, Caitlenn and I are, collectively, The Sultry Sisters. And we’re the proud authors of a holiday anthology called A JEWEL IN TIME (Isn’t that cover – above – lovely!? Thanks Lyndsey Lewellen! You can click on it and it’ll take you to Amazon if you’d like take a look!)  The anthology stories follow a magical, gold and gem-studded glory of a brooch through the centuries, as it passes from mother to daughter. The beautiful gem is a master jeweler’s work, and it’s key to each young woman’s fate. The jewel is passed down in the Douglas-Gascoigne-Lake family (whom we first meet in ENTER THE BRETHREN), and it passes each generation to the eldest daughter.

Here, in brief, are the three storylines:

Three incomparable women, one incredible jewel…

It is the Age of Sail, and First Lieutenant Mark Douglas of the Royal Navy has set his sights on a fiery society miss with a spirit to match his own. What happens when Lady Amanda Gascoigne-Lake’s father rejects the sailor’s suit, and an ancient brooch with mystical power portends doom?

In WWII Europe, Lady Grace Corvedale flees Paris as the Germans approach, but Hitler has learned her brooch may have mystical powers, and he vows to possess it -at any cost. Lt Robert “Dix” Dixon, an unofficial attaché to the British Embassy, is dispatched to rescue her, but can he outwit The Führer to save Grace?

When a series of tragic events leaves Olivia DuBois stranded in Boston during a blizzard, a handsome Brit rides to her rescue, and the California girl falls hard. Emerson Gascoigne-Lake manifests the quintessential knight in shining armor, but does a family heirloom foretell true love or destroy it?

CaptainofHerHeartfinalJeanne: Barb, most of our Bandits and Buddies are familiar with your Brethren of the Coast books.

Book FIVE, CAPTAIN OF HER HEART launches on FRIDAY, right alongside the novella! Tell us a little about it!

(Oh, and by the way, join the facebook Launch Party today…’cause we’re shutting the doors and having the throw-down party Friday night!! )

Barbara: As for CAPTAIN OF HER HEART, it’s Book 5, as you mentioned. It tells the story of Lady Alexandra Seymour and newly commissioned Nautionnier Knight Jason Collingwood. We got to know Jason and Alex in book 4, ONE-KNIGHT STAND, when they conspired to help Lance and Cara to the altar.

And as for my novella in our anthology, “Loving Lieutenant Douglas,” it goes back in time, 27 years, to 1785, when then Lieutenant Mark Douglas romanced Lady Amanda Gascoigne-Lake.

Jeanne: And Caitlenn, my friend, you’ve been writing for a long time as well, but gave fiction a rest for a few years as you worked on non-fiction. What made you come out of “retirement” to write this story?

Caitlenn: The easy answer is my friends–you and Barb–made me do it! LOL It came about when we had a girl’s weekend at Barb’s house in January this year and we celebrated her success as a self-published author and your decision, Jeanne, to go Indie. I guess it finally occurred to us how fun it would be to do a project together. Following pedicures and rolling enchiladas we birthed the theme and the element that would tie all the stories together.

Jeanne: That was SO fun!!

Barbara: It was wonderful to have you both here to celebrate!!

Jeanne: Yes, we got to REALLY celebrate too, because Barbara’s books hit the Amazon Bestseller lists and we were there to witness it! WOOT!!!

Caitlenn: It was fun, and so special too, because of the bestseller “win”!! For me, it was also especially touching that you wanted me to be a part of A Jewel in Time since I had put my fiction writing on the shelf while I ran my coaching and training business and wrote non-fiction. But, I guess that’s that what besties are for. They don’t let you give up on your dream.

Writing fiction is in my DNA and this project and your unwavering support has jumpstarted my fiction career. In 2015 I’ll be introducing an NewCaitlennamazingly fun, kind of crazy, heroine who’ll be the star of my series the CONSCIOUS GYPSY CHRONICLES.

I am excited that my debut is alongside two of my close friends. And I’m looking forward to making friends with my readers and giving them sneak peeks at what’s to come through my newsletter, Love Notes, that’s available from my website

Jeanne: You can also connect with Caitlenn and Barbara on their FaceBook Fan pages by the way! and

So, today, Bandits and Buddies, let’s talk about Besties!

Do you have a BFF? The kind who would bail you out of jail? (Or better yet, one who’d be in the cell with you, saying, “DAMN, that was fun!”)

What’s the craziest situation you and your BFF have gotten into? Did it involve the police?

Do you believe in fate or destiny when it comes to love?

If you could go back in time, to WWII, the Regency, when Barb’s other books are set, or even further, what time would you pick?

Have you ever been caught in a blizzard? Would you like to be?

If you get snow where you are, what’s the most you’ve ever seen?

Comment today for a chance to win! To kick off the release of the anthology, we’ll be giving away FIVE copies of A JEWEL IN TIME!

booksstackedAND…for MORE chances to win, come to Facebook tomorrow night from 7-10 so remember to join the group today so you can be in on the fun at our HUGE CELEBRATION!! We’ll be giving away books, prize packages, and a Kindle!!

To celebrate the dual release, Barb is also giving away Enter the Brethren and My Lady, the Spy, books 1 & 2, for the first time, ever, from Nov. 14-18 free via Amazon!

Go to Amazon NOW and get them!! And Captain of Her Heart is currently available for only 99-cents, through Nov. 21.


jack o lantrnTrick or treat!!!  Are you ready for, or already having a fabulous Halloween?

I hope so!  I hope your day’s been wonderful so far and continues to be so.  I hope it’s a “treat” for the Halloween day.  Grins.

Speaking of Treats…I was reading an interesting post on the web yesterday.  It was from a food blogger.  She was talking about comfort food.  (Bonnie Taub-Dix, ( )

Of all things, the post is about oatmeal and all the health benefits of a daily bowl of oatmeal.  My husband ADORES oatmeal.

I?  I do not.  It’s kinda like the whole Green Eggs and Ham thing….I will not eat it in the rain, I will not eat it on a plane, I will not eat it here or there – not even at the Starbucks! – I will not eat it anywhere.

What Bonnie Taub-Dix did at the end of the post, however, was talk about comfort.  About…well, Treats.  The surprising, sometimes amazing, but often just simple treats that come in life.  Things we appreciate, but don’t always celebrate.

Ms. Taub-Dix called that appreciative moment a “Ratatouille Moment”   I LOVE that concept and I totally get it.  A Ratatouille Moment according to Bonnie is that moment, as in the animated movie Ratatouille, when you sit down to a meal or have a bite of something that takes you back, that gives you that “Oh! Yum! Ah!” feeling of comfort, of familiarity.RatatouillePoster  Whether from childhood or a great moment in your adult life, or as you feed your own kids, where you feel comforted, fed both physically and spiritually, just by having THAT food.

And those moments–those treats–are just wonderful.

I forwarded Ms. Taub-Dix’s tweet yesterday and enjoyed a brief back and forth with the author herself.  Why?  Because I totally identified with that idea, that Ratatouille Moment, JUST as I did when I watched the movie.  I got it.  I recognized it.

For me, it was one of those “family memories” that just hits you.  It hits you emotionally and, when it involves food, physically, in just the right way.

Whenever I came home from college or whenever there was a celebration of something I was involved in, my mother made my favorite meal.  Ham with pineapple slices.  Sweet potatoes.  Green beans with ham in them for flavoring.  Fruit salad.  Homemade biscuits. Sweet iced tea.

I have three words for this:  Nom. Nom. Nom.

Now THAT is comfort food.  Grins.

It was a treat, for me, the way candy is a treat for some.  If I ate ham like that all the time, it would pall…wait, what am I saying?  No it wouldn’t.  Like some of those who eat oatmeal every day, I could probably eat ham every day.  Hahaha!!

Still, it was a treat.  I love treats.  And I love ham.  My DH joked the other night that I would want ham in my trick or treat bag.  Grins.  He’s probably right.  Ham! Ham! Ham!

I sure wouldn’t want oatmeal.  I’ve TRIED to like it, I really have.  Bandita Cassondra likes it.  I know other Banditas like it.  Heck, like I said, my DH adores the stuff.  Sigh.

overnight-apple-cinnamon-oatmeal-R126019-ssNope.  I wouldn’t want it in my Trick or Treat bag.  Sweet potatoes?  Oh heck yeah.  Asparagus even.  Grins.

KitKats, Tim Tams and pretty much anything chocolate?  I’m so there.

Now, my sons are going to be dressing up tonight and going trick or treating.  They are ALL about the candy.  In some ways, its more about the hunt – how much can they get – rather than the quality or type.  Ha!  Some people are like that about treats.  They want lots and lots of them (quantity) rather than a select few that are really outstanding.  The general rats in the movie Ratatouille are like that too.  Trash? Cheese? Scraps?  Bring it on.

But not Ratatouille, the rat.  He wants to create food.  He wants the joy of creating meals and events and experiences all around dishes that just make you feel comfort.  Home-iness.

Reading is kind of like that too, don’t you think?

Some books are treats – the ones you savor after you’ve worked, the treat for finishing a project, or your own book-work, or the delicious novella you get to devour on the train home from the dreaded day job’s work-work.  (BTW, my Deadly Delivery – a short Thanksgiving suspense novella –coming out in the next few days, if you need some reading on the train….)

Alas, some are tricks – they promise a great story, but they don’t deliver.  Got a couple of those recently.  Had some BIG ones of those in my time…the 1100 page monster of a book that had such great writing and such wonderful detail…and never ended.  No conclusions drawn, no resolution for the main characters, no solving of the mystery.  Just a sort of Gallic shrug and the “conclusion” that life is a mystery and we are never truly satisfied…  Fall_leaves

Bullfeathers.   Gotta admit that was one of the few books I’ve ever actually THROWN.  I threw it across the room.  It made a heck of a dent in the wall too, as you can imagine.  But I felt tricked.  Terribly tricked.  I’d given those 1100 pages my attention, my brain power, and a LOT of my hours.  I felt cheated and tricked.

I so despise it when authors do that.  I hope no reader of mine ever feels that way, although I know it’s impossible to please every reader.  I hope that for most, my stories bring entertainment, excitement, laughter, and the comfort of a story well told to its HEA conclusion.

Good books, and great books, no matter how simple or complex, if they’re crafted well, with genuine skill, are treats to savor just like a fine wine or a great bowl of well-cooked, happily adulterated oatmeal.  They’re comfort food.   Just like great food, (perhaps a well-prepared Ratatouille?) is a treat, no matter how common the ingredients.

To those of us who are avid readers, we’ll take comfort food over the flash of a celebrity chef (or her bio), the brief flaming fame of an actor or books of that ilk, and we go for the solid, delicious comfort food.  We go for the stories of family and friendship, of the bonds of the brothers of war, like Bandita Tawny’s SEALS.  We go for the families, no matter how quirky, from Bandita Caren’s Cross Springs, or the mother and daughter bond, as in Bandita Trish’s Living in Color.

DeadlyDeliveryfinalWe go for the treats like the final Nora Roberts O’Dwyer Cousins book (Just out!!).  Or the treatsy-tricksy-thrill of Hank Phillipi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series (Third book just out!).  We go for the deep, soul searching of our own Bandita Anna Campbell, or the fun of Susan Sey, or the edge of your seat thrills of Jo Robertson, Suz Ferrell or Nancy Northcott.  (All three of whom have great books out!)

Like Ratatouille, we want to give you an adventure, as well as comfort and cheer.  We want to transport you to OUR corners of the world and show you that no matter how many Grimms and ghosties and ghoulies and goblins there might be out there, there’s always the sweet – even if it’s only oatmeal in our heroine’s bowl when she sits down to breakfast and the story begins.

Now, I know this was one of my wandering posts, wrapping from one stepping stone to another, slightly different one.  Grins.  I guess it’s my version of Trick or Treat for Bandits and Bandit Buddies!!  Hahahaha!!  (So, I guess that makes my forthcoming novella a Treat too, right?  Grins.)

So what about y’all?  What’s your comfort food?

Have you ever had a Ratatouille Moment when eating a great meal?  A moment that takes you back to childhood, or a favorite event?

Is there a book you’ve thrown across the room, that you felt was a trick at the end??  (Don’t name names, okay?  Let’s not diss anyone…but if you want to give the general outline, okay)

What’s the best treat you’ve had this October?  Have you treated yourself, or someone else this month?  What kind of treats???

What’s your comfort “go-to” treat? Pumpkin Pie? (A personal fav)  Mini sized Kit-Kats?  Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks?

Do you like to play pranks/tricks?

What are you dressing up as this Halloween?  If you have young kids, what are they going trick-or-treating as?

(All photos are either mine or from Wikimedia Commons or Yahoo Open Source)

What’s So Funny???


Some days, you just need a laugh.  I mean, seriously.  Have you had one of those weeks?  I have.  It’s been gloomy and rainy, and it SHOULD be bright, blue-sky October!!  My favorite month!  Instead, its been raining so much here in DC that I haven’t set up my usual amusing paranomral extravaganza in my front yard for the Halloween season.  Hasn’t been a day that I could!  Yikers!

So, I was a weeee bit glum.  Heavy sigh.  I decided I needed some cheering.  Whenever I really need a laugh, I have friends that I call who can invariably make me laugh, or snork, or snigger about SOMETHING.  I made some calls.  No one home.

Harrrrumph!!  Whadday mean being out of pocket when I need a laugh?  Harrrrumph, I say!!!

I had to turn to the internet for help.  It’s okay, they know me there.  I have some seriously fun “go to” places for humor when I need it.  My first 640px-Jeff_Dunham_and_Achmedvisit is almost always to YouTube and Jeff Dunham.  If you have NOT seen Jeff Dunham, please, stop right now and go here, to YouTube and see the man. Warning: go to the bathroom first.  He will make you pee your pants laughing.

Second Warning:  Jeff Dunham, Achmed, and Walter are equal opportunity offenders.  Absolutely NOTHING is safe from their pointy, pointy humor.  Not Klondike Bars, not the Washington Monument, not even eco-friendly Priuses.  You could spend several hours watching Jeff and his band of merry puppets and your face, ribs and back will HURT from laughing long before you stop watching.

Now sometimes, my son comes up with stuff to make me laugh.  His latest attempt – very, very successful, I might add – is to introduce me to a comedy duo named Key and Peele.  Now Eldest Son is very well aware that I am a HUGE football fan.  He’s lived with this since birth, so hey, he knows.  So he says, “Mom!” he says…”You gotta watch these guys!!”  And thus the immese chucklefest that ensued over “The East-West Bowl”

As Comedian Larry the Cable Guy would say, “I don’t keer who you are, that’s funny!”

So if I’m not on YouTube, and have more time than takes (though I highly recommend that as well!), then I go for a movie.

There are some memorable movies that have made me laugh so hard I’ve actually pulled a muscle.  Yes, I’m serious.

Young Frankenstein.  (When Terri Garr says, “OH, he would have an enormous scwhanschtuker!” I lose it.  Every time.)

Blazing Saddles.  (“The Sheriff is Near!” “Let’s us read from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and…DUCK!” “The name is HEADLY Lamar.” “Somebody go back to town and get a shitload of dimes.”)


Reaching WAAAAAAY back, I’ll cite Private Eyes, with two of my favorite comedians, Tim Conway and Don Knotts.  Frankly, just saying either of thier names makes me grin.  They are SO FUNNY.  In Private Eyes, Lord Morley is murdered and missing.  Two hapless American detectives come to Scotland yard, for no apparent reason, and are given the case.

They do solve the “murders” but there are two running gags through the movie that have stuck with me.  When Winship (Knotts) and Tart (Conway) head for the manor, they get into an argument about “Wookalars” – legendary creatures which are abnormally strong, and man-like but with a pig face. Supposedly this scene is entirely an ad-lib between Don and Tim.

The other running gag, is that as they find each successive member of Lord Morley’s staff dead, the bodies have a note containing a poem which rhymes all the way until the last line.  The “Whaaaaa…?” of each poem gets successivly funnier with each body.   And yes, boys…there are Wookalars!  SNORK!!!

Of course, you can’t think about Conway and Knotts without thinking about other great, fabulous comedians.  Carol_Burnett_Vicki_Lawrence_Dinah_Shore_Carol_Burnett_Show_1977

Carol Burnett, Vickie Lawrence, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman in the Carol Burnett show.  OMG.  Just THINKING about them can brighten my day.  The “Mama’s Family” skits.  The infamous Went With The Wind skit.  Lyle Waggoner trying to keep a straight face as Carol and Tim riffed on the politics of the day.  Oh, dear heavens, I can laugh about it right now.  Ha!

And what about the fabulous cast antics of Saturday Night Live?  OMGosh!!  When I can, I still tune in and ROFLMAO with the whole crew.  Some of the funniest though were the joys of John Belushi and Elliot Gould and the Killer Bees.   Weekend Update with Jane Curtin and Chevy Chase.  Weekend update with Seth Myers.   Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin.   The Land Shark.  Cheri Oteri and Will Ferrell as The Spartans.  Weekend Update where Barbara Walters roasted herself.

Then there’s the infamous late-night muppets…King Ploobis and Scred…  SNORK!!!!

Speaking of Muppets.  That word, right there, can make me laugh.  Muppets.  Muppets.  Muppets.  (Kind of like the Sanderson Sister’s Amok! Amok! Amok!)

What a great concept!  What a great show!  What great movies and specials!!  From Muppet Christmas Carol to Muppets Take Manhattan to the original Muppet Movie and Rainbow Connection.  Grins.  It’s ALLLLLL funny.  Sly, witty, funny and clean.

640px-Jonathan-Winters_1986Now there’s another twist on the topic.  Clean humor.  There is NOTHING funnier than a good stand-up comedy routine.  If you need a laugh, go on YouTube and call up any of these guys and gals and you are SURE to have a laugh.  It’ll be good CLEAN fun!

Bill Cosby (G-rated)

Ellen DeGeneres (PG-13)

Bob Hope (G-rated)

Jonathan Winters (G-rated)

Jolene Roxbury (PG-13)

The Fluffy Guy (PG-13)


And then there’s the not so clean, but wickedly funny humorists…

George Carlin (R-Rated) (1o things you can’t say on television)

Michael McIntyre (PG-13 with flashes of R) (Parenting is actually clean….)

Steve Harvey (R – Rated)Blackadder_the_Third_cast

Robin Williams (R-Rated) 

Chris Rock (R-Rated)

There is a comedian for every taste.  Go on, have a laugh!  Now, for those of you who’ve see Hugh Laurie in House, or the Stewart Little movies, if you REALLY want your head to spin around, catch him in the British comedy, Black Adder.  Black Adder, by the way, is played by none other than Rowan Atkinson.  (AKA Mr. Bean – YouTube HIM and you’ll just die laughing!!)  Y’all have heard me mention this one before, but it’s never far from my list of Laugh-a-Minute stops.

If you prefer a female comedian and you’re going British, check out Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley.  Virtually every episode is on YouTube.  And again, you will laugh SO FREAKIN HARD!!  If you go for this option….make sure you wait through the credits for the funny bit at the end of every show.  Grins.

I found this one when I was searching for what other things the delicious Richard Armitage had been in.

See, one day I was procrastinating (imagine that!) and was toodling round on IMDB because I had realized dear Richard was in Captain America.  I decided to see what else he’d been in that I didn’t know about.

Imagine my surprise when I found comedy!  What do you mean our darling, brooding bon-bon of sexiness has done comedy???  I was shocked, I tell you!

Richard is so brooding as Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood.  So flinty, solitary and stiff in North and South.  But yes, dear friends!  He’s deeply funny as the straight man to Dawn French’s A_Fish_Called_Wanda_DVDfabulously bouncy, mercilessly funny Vicar in The Vicar of Dibley.  After glomming all over this and laughing fit to bust a gut, I went on to YouTube Dawn French’s other work to get yet more good yuks.

So darling Bandits and Bandit Buddies, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Grins.

When you’re down, what makes you laugh?

What’s your “go to” for changing your mood with humor?  YouTube?  Facebook? Pinterest?  The movies?

What’s the funniest movie you ever saw?  (Have to say, Fish Called Wanda, may be the funniest I’ve ever seen…)

Who is the funniest comedian you’ve ever seen?

Did you ever see the Bob Hope Specials when you were growing up?

Despite the recent sad news of Robin Williams’s passing, I found him to be terrifically funnny.  Did you ever see Mork and Mindy, or one of his stand up routines?

Have you seen Billy Crystal’s recent 700 Sundays stand up show on HBO?

Let’s have a laugh!!


A Coke and a Smile….

Coca_Cola_Billboard Do you remember that slogan?  Coca-Cola drags it out now and again in an ad campaign here and there, just to remind us that they have it.  Of course, they have so many clever ad slogans at Coke that they’re beating pretty much everyone at the soft-drink-selling game.

They happen to be my favorite – in Diet Coke form – so I’m a bit partial.  And yes, I CAN tell the difference between Coke, Pepsi and a store-bought-cola brand. Now I have friends who sweat by Pepsi.  Won’t drink a Coke unless forced.  I feel that way about my Coke to a certain degree and prefer it to Pepsi, but hey, if Pepsi’s all you’ve got?  I’ll go there.286px-Mountain_Dew_logo.svg

The only Pepsi product I’ll really seek out though is Mountain Dew.

Ohhhhh….Mountain Dew.  The original slogan, when Mountain Dew was released in 1940 was “Yahoo! Mountain Dew will really tickle yore innards!”  I looooovvvvve that stuff.

Alas I don’t drink it much anymore since it has a near-nuclear amount of caffeine and unless it’s Diet, which tastes funny to me, it’s got enough sugar to send you immediately into insulin shock.

And speaking of insulin shock… When I was growing up, visiting the general store in my very, very small hometown of Boomer, NC, it was RC Cola.

OMGosh the whole “RC Cola and a Moonpie” was total sugar overload, even for a kid who could burn it off in about two seconds.  Ha!  And to tell you the truth, I preferred Coke even then. But I drank RC 1920px-Moon-Pie-Singleand ate Moonpies.  That’s a Moonpie, over there in the picture.  Cookies with marshmallow filling, all wrapped in chocolate-y goodness.

I also drank what most considered the most awful softdrink invented, Tab, which my beloved Uncle adored.  He would share with me on the sly, so hey, I had to drink it and even semi-acquired a taste for it.  It was forbidden fruit, in some ways, and since Beloved Uncle was sharing it on the sly….yeah.  I liked it in spite of not liking it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This blog is probably making it sound as though I drank this stuff all the time.  Au Contraire!  My mother restricted soft drinks to a couple a week.  This whole bit of more-than-one-soft-drink-a-day is a recent, adult development.

My mother is probably spinning in her grave at my soda consumption, to tell you the truth.  Then again, under her rule it was water, tea, milk, coffee or maybe, possibly, a soft drink.  In that order.

Her addiction was coffee, so hey…pot/kettle.  However, they still have yet to accuse coffee of the multitude of sins they’ve heaped on soft drinks so she’d probably tell me that, gRccolauslogolare at me and tell me to not drink quite SO much Diet Coke.  :>

As I got a wee bit older and began visiting other relatives and friends, I was introduced to an odd assortment of other people’s favorites, some of which I’d never even seen or heard of.  At all. Soft-drink adventures!

Take Barqs, for instance.  This was a root beer – still is a root beer – but it used to be that Barqs was also a famous maker of creme soda.  I’d never had a creme soda.  There was a local soda producer, long gone now, who made Birch Beer, and we had that.

The first time I had a root beer from Barqs or A&W?  Wow!  I still don’t like the creme soda much but, again, wow!  Different!

And then there was Ne-Hi. Grape, Orange, Strawberry, and NeHi Wild Red (which tasted like cough syrup to me).  Oh….the flavors!  Orange soda was such an odd concept, but I liked it!  I particularly liked it when I had the flu and Mama would give me one over crushed ice as I was recovering.  It served to get sugar and hydration back in my system, so she’d let me have a LOT of Orange NeHi when I was sick.

I still can’t taste or smell orange soda without thinking about being sick with the flu.

Now, as a cure-all for whatever ailed you, my mother believed in Vernors Ginger Ale.  This was issued at the first complaint of a tummy ache.

Trust me, this ginger ale is so sharp, so “stout” if you will, that you got better in pure self-defense.

Vernors is actually the oldest surviving original ginger ale brand in the US, (dating to 1866) and was created in Detroit by a pharmacist.  Thank you, sir, may I have another?  Every now and again, I get a craving for Vernors.  It’s hard to find in DC, but…I have my Vernorslogosources.  Grins.

I’ve always thought of it as the Guiness of Ginger Ales.  Tall, Dark, Brooding, Spicy.  Yum.

As I said, thought, I’m a Coca-cola girl.  LOVE me some Coke.  It was born in Atlanta in 1886 and was a supposed recipe for a soothing tonic for the nerves.  Ha!  Still, it’s good to this day and it’s crisp, refreshing taste is something I truly enjoy.

As to Pepsi, “The Taste Born in the Carolinas” – New Bern, North Carolina, to be exact – I don’t like it very much, as I said.  It too was originally a digestive aide, and is and has always been a fierce competitor for the Cola Business.

I have a dear friend – and Kathryn Anderson, you know who you are – who swears by Pepsi as much as I swear by Coke.  Ha!  I accused her once, on a road trip, of trying to lure me to the Dark Side by only having Pepsi in the car.  Bwahahahah!  It didn’t work!!

Last but not least  – and right there with Vernors, Orange NeHi and Coke in little glass bottles – was the miracle “medicine” of Seven-UP.

My mother stocked this, right along with the Vernors, as a surefire remedy for post-flu-malaise, for upset stomach, and for anything that might need a little boost of sugar and/or carbonation.  Like the Orange NeHi, I can hardly drink a Seven-UP without remembering being sick.  201px-7-up_Logo.svg

Kinda ruins the moment, you know?

I did go through a Seven-UP phase, however, back in the late seventies, when the divine Geoffrey Holder became the spokesperson for Seven-UP and did the famous “Cola Nut, or UnCola Nut” commercials.  Do you remember those, or have you seen them on YouTube?  OMGosh, I had SUCH a crush on Geoffrey Holder.  First of all, that VOICE.  I could listen to that man read the phone book.  Twice.  LOVE his voice. Plus, it was just so entertaining to see him waving around cola nuts and uncola nuts.  Cracked me up.

And now, gentle readers….I’ll admit it…yes, I DO give my kids Seven-UP or Orange soda over crushed ice if they’ve been sick.  I do resort to Ginger Ale as a tummy tonic.  I don’t restrict the soda as much as my mother did, but I do restrict it – my boys are still growing and building bone and muscle, so it’s kinda the same list my mom had, in a different order:  Milk, water, tea, lemonade (not something of which my mom was fond, so it didn’t appear on her list!), with soda and coffee coming in dead last as possible beverages for the boys.

Hypocritcal of me, since I drink soda?  Yes.  But…healthier.

For you healthy ones, I HAVE cut down on my soda consumption.  I also no longer have a six-can-a-day Mountain Dew habit.  I had to give that up when Eldest Son was on the way.  Faaaaar tooooo much caffeine!  Lord-d-dee, one of those and neither I nor the baby would sleep, so I gave it up.

That was a while ago, and I’ve not taken the habit back up, which is probably why I’m not doing the “Orange is the new Black” bit.  I’m really energetic anyway.  Hopped up on caffeine?  Whoa, baby.  Grins. Also, I decided since I was restricting the kids, I had to set a better example than to always have coffee or a soda in my hand.  Sigh.

I do still drink a LOT of iced tea though.128px-Dr_Pepper_modern.svg

What about you, Banditas and Buddies?  

Soda or no soda?

Coke or Pepsi?

Store brand or Name Brand?

Do you have any odd brands that are totally “IT” in your part of the country or world?

YES THERE IS A REASON I DIDN’T MENTION DR. PEPPER.   I am deeply distasteful of anything with an artificial Chery Flavor.  (I hear Bandita Nancy laughing now….)

But if your preference runs that way….Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, or Cherry Coke?

Have you ever had a Vernors?

Did your Mama or Grandmama use soft drinks as a cure/medicine?  Or did they have some other “cure-all”? (Don’t even get me started on the joys and pains of Vicks Vapo-Rub!)

(All pictures of logos are from Wikimedia Commons and are not in any way intended as a copyright infringement)

A Generosity of Spirit…

wrong-girl-240hWomen, as Rudyard Kipling once observed in his poem The Female of the Species, can be deadly.  They can be mean (a la Mean Girls), they can be just as much bullies as boys or men.

They can.

But, most of  the time, they aren’t.

Most of the time, they will breathe their last breath before they let someone else go hungry, ill-clothed, ill-shod or unloved.  Women will literally take the shirt off their backs and run around, embarassed, in their underwear, if it means they helped someone, as many did in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. Humans, men and women, have a generosity of spirit that overarches the petty concerns of the everyday.

Now, that’s not just in grandiose, flowery prose that comes with tradgedy and loss. It’s in the everyday.

Writers are this way too.  Especially romance writers.  Now, I started to say women writers, but I don’t personally know many women writers who AREN’T romance writers so I realized I shouldn’t say that.  Most of the writers I know either are Romance Writers now, or they were before they branched into mystery or horror or thrillers.

Now, why the heck am I rattling on, and on, and on about this?51YgKUr-MKL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Well, this last weekend was the annual Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD.    The “official” theme – if you could call it that – was COME LEARN TO WRITE!  The unofficial one was HEY, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!

People from all over the country come to the lovely small town of Hagerstown for this.  From Washington State and Colorado, from Philadelphia (2 hours away) and North Carolina (6 hours away).  To learn.  To get the basics.  To hear authors who’ve “made it” say, “You can do this!!” And they do say that.

Authors like Jana DeLeon talked about how they made it, and how “making it” is an everyday job.  Yes, there are things you can do to enhance your progress – if you ever get a chance to take a class about promotion with Jana DeLeon, regardless of your business, DO IT!  The woman is brilliant.  But Jana shared more than the nuts and bolts of writing and promoting what you’ve written.  She shared her time.  Her precious writing time (because when you write, time is the one thing you always feel you don’t have).  She shared her experience and more than anything, she encouraged. Longshot-Thumbnail

The guys did too, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll say the same thing about John King, former faculty member at Hagerstown CC.  If you can get him to do a class on police procedurals for you? OH. MY. GOSH.  DO IT!!  He was born to teach, and to teach about how the police/cops/mounties/etc. work, think, hurt, believe.   And he too was incredibly generous with his time and energy and knowledge.  And he came all the way from Provo, UT, back to Hagerstown, to teach us.

Then there were the very well known and highly thought of and totally cool Keynote Speakers.  That would be the internationally bestsellers, Sylvia Day and 01f8205dc6f90a900484df.L._V359400092_SX200_Hank Phillipi Ryan.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to conferences where the keynote whisked in, spoke, shook hands with folks who were brave enough to come down to the stage, then whisked off again, into the ethers, never to be seen.

Not these ladies.  Sylvia and Hank were present and answering questions throughout the weekend.  They took the time to talk to these beginning writers, to encourage at every step, to hug, to mug for the camera, and to share.  To generously share their journey.  They shared their trials and tribulations.  They shared that the work STILL has to get done, by you, the writer, even when your last book was on top of the bestseller list in 40 countries and translated into 41 languages.  :>

Sylvia still has to sit down and write the next book. Every writer does.  Hank does.  Susan Donovan does.  All the Romance Bandits do.  These writers reminded us all that glamorous as others think our job may be, we STILL have to sit down, grumpy and rumpled or coiffed and heeled, and WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

Hank Phillipi Ryan, who’s been a guest on the blog several times, is one who’s usually still in her work suit from her job as an investigative reporter, when she snags some writing time.  Hank is funny, delightful, insightful and yes, generous.  I’m diving into her latest THE WRONG GIRL and already anticipating her next book,  TRUTH BE TOLD.  (October) SylviaDay-001

Our own Bandita Donna MacMeans was a speaker, as were NYT Bestseller Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Agnes Jayne, screenwriter Jeanne Ford, historical writer Dennis Frye, media savvy Leigh-Anne Lawrence and Laura Reeth, and military historical writer Dr. Robert Savitt.

Every single one of them were wonderful, took the time to talk to and encourage new writers and pay it forward. They talked about how to stay in the chair with your hands on the keyboard and just DO IT.  They talked about their own struggles and foibles.  The audience learned that some are strictly regimented, and some take time to play.  Some write at night, some early in the morning, and some whenever they can fit it in around their day job.

Some plot the whole book out before they begin to write.  Some just fly by the seat of their pants.  Some “brew and spew” as PC Cast would say.

All of them, as writers, remember what it was like to be one of the audience at a program like this, and so they share what the journey is like going forward.  Time, energy, stories about editors and agents, about going solo, about when a story stopped on them, or fell flat in the middle.  They shared it all.

That’s a generosity of spirit, of time and energy and life, that I’ve seldom seen outside the writing world.

What about you, Banditas and Buddies?  In your field of work, do people share information?

Are your colleagues and co-workers generous with their time and energy and ideas?  (And what field do you work in?)

If you’re a writer, what successful writer would you like to hear talk about their journey?  Who do you want to hear?  (Living or dead)

If you’re a reader, whose journey would you like to learn about?  

Which of your favorite authors would you like to hear speak?

If you had your fav author in front of you, besides “When is the next book out!?!?”, what question would you like to ask? (And no, I didn’t learn when the next Crossfire book will be out…sorry!)

As a last note, I’ll say you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Bandita Donna read from The Whisky Laird’s Bed.  Grins.

Exclusive Excerpt from THE TENTACLE AFFAIR

TheTentacleAffaireFINALDon’t miss out on the exclusive members’ only excerpt from Jeanne Adams’ latest THE TENTACLE AFFAIR! Here’s the link: If you’re not a member, why not become one. Great exclusive material and prizes and a fun Bandita newsletter every month. Just click on the Members button above and it will take you to where to sign in.

Exclusive Excerpt from Jeanne Adams’s The Tentacle Affaire

TheTentacleAffaireFINALSetup: Cait Brennan is the Slip Traveler (think alien hunter a la Men In Black). She’s in DC to catch a lost interplanetary pet that’s been dropped into the Potomac River or the Tidal Basin. This pet happens to be a cross between a squid and an octopus, six or seven feet long and pink/green/clear. It’ll eat just about anything, including people, and it has to go…

Magical Adept (Highest level practitioner) Aiden Bayliss is assigned as the regional magical Enforcer for the DC Metro area. Aiden’s suspicious of Cait since she’s just moved into his building, he can’t read her magically, and he’s trying to figure out who-or what—she is. He’s gone to the canal in search of an energy anomaly he’s sensed with a magical scan. He needs to find what it is and determine whether it’s dangerous.

And here’s what happens…

Aiden had been on the C&O Canal towpath for about an hour when he spotted a familiar figure.
“And there she is. And people wonder why I don’t believe in coincidences,” he muttered, slowing his pace to a more sedate jog.   He’d been stopping every so often along his run to send out feelers, trying to detect the disturbance. No luck on that score.

Now he sent out another probe, a different type, trying to feel Cait. He got the same “not there” wall from her as he did from her apartment.  His slowing steps brought him alongside where Cait was thigh deep in the water of the canal, and he stopped.
“Boo,” he said, then smiled at her when she startled. Perversely, his grin widened at the surprise and consternation on her face.  Interesting that he liked poking at this woman, seeing her reactions. He hadn’t actually meant to startle her, but…  “Hello, neighbor,” he said with a two-finger salute. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“Indeed. How are you this afternoon?” She looked professionally competent and more like a geologist in her khaki trousers, waders, and a dark jacket zipped over a lightweight shirt. It didn’t diminish her femininity one bit, something his libido noticed even if he refused to think about it otherwise.
“I’m great,” he lied. But he found himself wanting to pull the words back, wanting to not lie to Cait Brennan. Something about her compelled honesty.  And that was also suspicious as hell. Maybe she was an Otherworldly creature, a magical construct or one of the Lesser Fae who sometimes crossed the barriers between worlds to live among humans. That would explain his inability to scan her and the pull he felt today, just like the first time they’d met.
Either way, she was unclassified. And he needed to have a heart-to-heart with his hormones.
“It’s a beautiful day. How’s it going?” He gestured to the bottles she was filling.
“It’s going,” she said with a smile and a shrug. “Are you out for a walk?”
“A run. Had to get away from the desk. Clear my brain. You’re working too,” he said, to judge her reaction. “I should let you keep at it.”
“You work from home?”
“Sometimes. I’m a software troubleshooter. Computers and major systems. My clients call when they’ve been hacked or their data compromised. I close the back doors, restore the systems, and when I can, turn the hacker over to the authorities.” The definition served for most people.
“A geek then.” She smiled at that, as if it were some secret joke, proving she wasn’t most people. “A high level one, if you live in our building.” Her grin took the sting from that assessment, and made it friendly.
“Do you specialize in government, corporate or non-profits? Or are you a generalist?”
Definitely not most people.
“I specialize. I’d tell you but then I’d have to…”
“Kill me. Right. Very delicate stuff,” she said, and he saw that she was suppressing a laugh.
“Smart policy,” she said, nodding at his answer. “Not telling people. If you have to off them, it’s so messy.”
Shit, she was funny. He couldn’t stop his responsive grin, and he couldn’t take his eye from her either. Shit.

“I needed a good brain-clearing run before I got back to it.” He squatted so they were at eye level, with her still standing in the murky water.  All the better to See you, my pretty. Again he went for a needle-like magical probe. Again, he got nada.
“What about you?”
“Me? Oh, I figured I’d get right to work. I’m doing a research project sampling both the canal and the river for contaminants.” She held up a series of bottles strung together like a bandolier.
“Upstream of the city or down?”
A woman of few words. Damn. Just the sight of her in the waders should have turned him off, since he didn’t usually go for the outdoorsy type. Between that and the shadows in her background and his inability to penetrate her defenses, he should be running the other way.  Instead, he found himself admiring the play of light on her hair, thinking that the nut-brown color didn’t suit her as well as blonde hair and green eyes she’d had in his dreams and visions.
“So what about a break? Have you had lunch?” The words were out of his mouth before he could censor them.
“Yes, as in mid-day meal,” he managed, recovering quickly. “You want to eat?”
“With you?”
“Well, if you want to eat with the president, it’s too early. He’s not back in the country yet.”
Damn. He was flirting. Actually flirting with a person who might not even be human. Stupid. He’d long ago compartmentalized his life. No work/play combos for him. Not that she’d said yes, but his biggest rule was, don’t date someone you can’t read.  He was pulled back to the moment when she laughed, a full, merry sound, and he smiled in return.
“Out of the country is he? I hadn’t been keeping track. With Congress in session and the president out of the country…we’re doomed.”
“Ha! You got it. So, lunch?”  This time her smile warmed her eyes. He saw her humor again and, lurking back in her gaze, a whole boatload of sadness.
“Thanks,” she said, “but I brought some with me. I wanted to get a lot done today. Maybe some other time.”
“That would be fun,” he said as he rose, knowing that CEO, Adept or regular guy, “some other time” was girl-speak for get lost, buddy. “All right if I ask again?”
Once again she seemed surprised. He should be glad, since it meant she was buying his surface presentation of Harmless Normal Guy. He needed her to see him that way until he could find out if she was a danger to his city.
And if she was, take her out before she realized that he could.  That bleak though popped into his mind and he felt the joy at sparring with her fade out. There were screaming neon signs with arrows that said she wasn’t what she presented to the world, any more than he was.
“Sure, I’d like that.”
“Excellent.” Her answer surprised him out of his dark thoughts. He’d expected her to prevaricate, or flat-out turn him down. “I’ll let you get back to it. Have…fun?” he said it with a questioning inflection and was rewarded with an even wider, flashing grin. She had a dimple on one side. He felt his gut clench. He loved dimples.
“Thanks. You too.”
He waved as he walked back down the trail. Halfway to his car he stopped in his tracks. He’d been whistling. He quit, but still, it resounded inside his head, a happy tune.
Cait Brennan. PhD. Geologist. Mystery Woman in Waders. Hiding enough sadness to drown a person twice her size. She got more intriguing by the hour.
He couldn’t let his attraction take him down that road. Truth was though, no matter how he tried, he found it hard to think of her as a dark construct, or even a half-blood elf gone to the bad, or one of the rare a Lesser Fae. As rare as they were, it would be far more rare for one of the Lesser Fae to go to the darker paths.
Of course, he reminded himself, she could be all the more dangerous for that very reason.
“All the better to fool you with, Bayliss,” he repeated aloud. Somehow, it still didn’t change his mood, and he whistled all the way to the car.

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