Thursday, December 23, 2010

final post of 2010, and it's a yummy one

Hi friends-

I have one more post in me -- a top ten list of Sarah's and my favorite cookies in honor of Why I Love Singlehood. We had written them for the Kindle Daily Post, but due to space constraints, the post had to be shortened to the essentials (a rather yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe, found here).

We didn't want all that good writing to go to waste, however, so here's our top ten list. May you be inspired to make one or all, and may you all have a wonderful Christmas.

‘Tis the season…the cookie season, that is. And this season, we dare you to skip the sugar cookies, forget the gingerbreads, and pass on the butter spritzes as we re-think the Christmas cookie.

Eva Perino, the protagonist in our new novel Why I Love Singlehood, loves to bake. And so, in honor of her (and the launch of our book), we’ve put together a list of our Top 10 favorite holiday cookies, hopefully securing ourselves a permanent spot on Santa’s “Nice” list by making an extra batch just for him.

10. Cranberry White Chocolate Chip cookies. There’s no need for cranberries to go out of season so quickly. That’s why we love to feature them throughout the entire holiday season. Pair them with a smooth white hot cocoa, revel in the bite of bitter and splash of color cranberries bring, and enjoy!

9. Almond Biscotti is Eva’s favorite comfort food for days that call for a steaming cup of vanilla chai and family stories. Trust us, she’s on to something.

8. Anything with marzipan. Really. Anything. Especially if it involves a thick layer of dark chocolate ganache and comes with hot buttered rum. You just can’t go wrong.

7. What Italian Rainbow cookies require in extra preparation time, they make up for in tradition. Want the true Italian experience? Enjoy your rainbow cookies with a fresh cappuccino. (And then take holiday cheer to a whole new level when you partner your cappuccino with an aperitif like frangelico, strega or amaretto.) Andiamo!

6. Norman’s 7 Layer Bars. Although the Originals at The Grounds might debate whether these belong in the cookie category, we side with Eva’s manager, Norman, when he says these bars are so good there’s no need to make anything else! Just be careful, these puppies pack a decadent punch, so pair them with a calm tea (herbal, green, black, or white) or an equally bold dark roast or hazelnut coffee.

5. Anisette snowflakes. Chic and tasty—what more can you ask for? Embrace the chill and balance anisette’s heady flavor with the smooth, sweet tones of an Irish cream on the rocks.

4. Nut-based cookies like Pfeffernusse (German) or Kourabiedes (Greek) are a nice change from the norm. The combination of nutty undertones with licorice (in the case of pfeffernusse) or orange (as with kourabiedes) is far more interesting than a flour-and-sugar based cookie, and will go perfectly with a hazelnut latte or cinnamon-spiced mocha.

3. Chai shortbread. At one point during our writing process, we actually had to count the number of times Eva made shortbread in Why I Love Singlehood—we’re that crazy about them in all their buttery goodness. And what could possibly make a good thing better? Add a bit of vanilla chai mix and pair with a spicy mulled cider. They’ll practically create their own holiday cheer.

2. What’s a holiday (or any day) without chocolate? And this season, Chocolate Peppermint Crunch cookies are our favorites for both comfort and kick. There’s only one way that adding crushed candy canes to your favorite, gooey chocolate-chocolate chip cookie can be improved: serving them warm with a scoop of vanilla (or better yet, peppermint) ice cream and a mug of hot cocoa.

1. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Our favorite thing about these cakey cookies is that pumpkin is in style from October through January…which gives us plenty of time to make a few batches of these super easy, not-too-sweet treats (check out the recipe below!). Give Santa something to look forward to: pair these pumpkin cookies with eggnog to really embrace the season. (And if you’re feeling daring, try mixing in some rum—the darker the better—and some extra nutmeg for an eggnog experience that Minerva’s husband Jay would be proud of.)

Make a few, or institute your own Cookie of the Week and try ‘em all. And try to give some away…if you can.

Monday, December 13, 2010

end-of-year message

"I'll Have What She's Having" will be on Winter Break for the remainder of this year. In the meantime, I'd like to thank everyone, from top to bottom of my heart, for all the love and support you've given me this year. I don't think I've ever had a year as magical as this one, with so many dreams coming to fruition and so many diary entries beginning with "You'll never guess what happened today..."

May 2011 exceed my intentions, and yours.

And now, for some shameless self-promotion: Why I Love Singlehood had a wonderful debut on December 1st ('twas so fab to see so many Facebook friends change their profile photo to the WILS cover for the day!) and is doing well in the Amazon Kindle Store rankings. 'Tis the season of giving, and you can now give Kindle books as gifts! Perhaps you know a friend or relative (male or female) who loves hanging out in coffeeshops, or cookies, or enjoys smart romantic comedies. Makes a great virtual stocking stuffer!

I bid each of you a Joyful Hanukkah, Blessed Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Hopeful Winter Solstice, and any other means of ritual or celebration that takes place during this time. Pray for a soldier. Pay forward a kindness. Give a little bit of time. Express gratitude and appreciation. Forgive someone for a wrongdoing. Remember those you've lost. Practice peace. Read a book.

Thank you. See you next year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wearing Donnie Torr: guest post by Roberto Scarlato.

Readers, I've been busy with the end-of-the-semester grading, finishing up proofreading edit checks for the AmazonEncore version of Faking It, and spreading the word about the launch of Why I Love Singlehood (that's right, it's here!).

Fortunately, when it comes to updating my blog, I have help.

Roberto Scarlato is like me--he loves to talk about the writing process, how an idea moves from conception to fruition, and all the love, blood, sweat, and tears that go into that process. So, here is Rob to tell you all about his latest book, Wearing Donnie Torr. Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the post--his books are available on both Kindle and Nook for the bargain price of 99 cents!

When I first sat down to write this book, I had a prepared outline for fifteen chapters. But the original idea came out like a shot in the dark. It's been over a decade since I came up with the idea of Mr. Dead Eyes, a supernatural medical thriller of sorts. In that story, a character just barged into the pages. That man is Thomas Wilker, an unconventional detective with somewhat questionable methods. But, by one degree or another, he always links one clue to the next and eventually tracks down serial killers. He's a gruff, hairy, Italian, over the hill detective who, and I didn't know this at the time, was spawned from my father. Like my father, this new character interested me and I ended up finding out more about him while writing the story. In one scene, on a plane headed for California, Thomas has an impromptu chat with a nosy passenger to his left. The man observes a ghastly scar on the detective's hand. Thomas, noticing this, tells the man the horrid tale of how he got the scar: from trapping a serial killer in Wisconsin.

That got the ball rolling. In 2002 I started mapping out details of the plot and began writing it. Sometimes I stayed up all night just to write. It went smoother and filled in the down times while I was still working on Mr. Dead Eyes. I've always enjoyed the idea of cross overs. Now I was toying around with the idea of a newer boogieman, something wicked in the woods.

The idea also spawned from the fact that I had an unhealthy bond with my own black leather jacket. I wore that thing for the look, sometimes overdoing it by wearing it in the winter or in eighty degree weather. Some of my friends questioned if they would ever see me without it. They called it my Second Skin and in a way it was. That got me to thinking those explosive What If's...

What if an ordinary guy had a leather jacket with the killer's spirit still in it?

What would happen if he put it on?

What would he do if he couldn't take it off?

What would you do if the killer was you?

Even typing it brings back that old chill. I'm happy to say that the book is now finished, up on Amazon and, thanks to the Search Inside feature, you can now read the first 20 pages of this supernatural thriller. It's 336 pages long, has an author's note, and a special sneak preview of what I'm working on right now. It'll be an action/adventure/mystery in the same vein as National Treasure but on a much smaller scale. I'm also well into my second short story collection which I should be wrapping up soon.

Be sure to check out my process on my own blog

Wearing Donnie Torr - Back Cover Summary:
Deep in the Wisconsin woods, a killer waited patiently. On a cold night in 1999, the notorious Donnie Torr went down in a hail of gunfire. The threat to the town was supposedly eliminated. Now, in 2002, local writer James Dorrell has just purchased a leather jacket at the thrift store. He knows its getting colder, bleaker as the weather grows gray. But what he doesn't know is that the killer lived on, connected to the very vessel of the jacket that James now owns. With the leather fusing to his skin, his thoughts being perpetrated with malicious fantasies, and his sudden habit of sleep walking, James must discover how the killer accomplished such a curse and why he chose James to do his bidding. Better yet, James will have to figure out an ending for this horrifying tale...that might be his own.

For now, that's all I got, folks.

Mr. Dead Eyes, For What It's Worth and Wearing Donnie Torr are available on Amazon Kindle as well as The Barnes and Noble Nook for the low price of 99 cents.