Cookie Time

Next weekend it will be time to renew my annual cookie baking tradition (it’s been awhile). And that means it is time for some of Grace’s gingerbread! If you’ve not read A Common Christmas, this is the gingerbread that Grace Ashman succeeded in hiding from Whit Whitman so that he didn’t eat it all before it was served. If you like to bake for the season try Grace’s recipe:

Don’t forget that A Common Christmas is available in ebook, print, and audiobook!

 Kindle || Nook ||  Smashwords|| Goodreads

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Audible | iTunes

‘Loving Echo’ Preview

Someone asked about Sam and Justin on the main page, so I posted a snippet in reply. After telling them the book would be #8 and we are only about to publish #6, so… But, I didn’t want any who is a big Sam and Justin fan to miss it, so posting on a primary post here, too.

February 1815

My dearest Justin,

Well, Jack has married her earl. Truly, you wouldn’t believe the effect he has had on her. For days she would drift around the house, staring off into the distance and scribbling in a little journal. I peeked in it once and it was lists of things like his properties and furnishings. Can you imagine! Then when I would say she was in love with him she would get so angry. Me thinks she doth protest too much!But the wedding this morning – Justin I’m so sorry that you missed it. Jack was simply lovely in a dark green velvet dress that the earl sent over last night. Jack didn’t want to wear it because, well, she’s Jack and when has she ever wanted to do anything that anyone told her to do? And the earl. Oh my, I’m not sure when I’ve seen a more handsome man. He has this roguish look about him. That’s good, I suppose. Jack always did like wild and dangerous things.

They have set off for Kent. Would you, could you, be so good as to take Jack her trunks? I’m sure she will be lonely and a bit at sea in some stuffy old estate. I do think that they will settle in after a time, but they haven’t known each other all that long and everything there will be his. It would mean a great deal to me if you would do that. The estate is known as Kellington.

The other thing to think on is that, having Jack nicely settled with a wealthy, titled man, my father may be quite a bit more lenient with who I will be allowed to marry. Further, prior to finding her earl, Jack had been making noises about becoming an old maid. She said that once she reached her majority that she would be able to take her investment funds, and perhaps her dowry if father would release it, and live on her own. Can one truly do that? If so, then when I reach my majority I would be able to marry whomever I like. Which I suppose means I should find out what age is my majority.

Please give my love to all in Derbyshire. Has Philomena had her foal yet? I imagine she is fatter than Baker Hudson.

Yours truly, 

Samantha

March 1815

Dearest Samantha,

I’m glad that your letter indicates you are in good spirits. May I surmise that your parents are well? Certainly your mother is thrilled that Jack married an earl. Being the mother of a countess will raise her own standing when you all come home.Of course I will be pleased to deliver Jack’s trunks to her and will leave within a fortnight if the weather is promising.

Please don’t pin your hopes on your father allowing us to marry. You deserve better than a man who, at best, will become a stable master. Continue to attend balls and find a man that will be able to support you in the style you deserve. I only want you to be happy, Sam.

Philomena hasn’t foaled yet, but I suspect she will before I leave. And I will not advise Baker Hudson of your comparison since that would mean you would never have his cakes again. At least, not without me smuggling them to you.Tell your mother that as spring approaches I am already desperately missing her lemon biscuits. The only thing I’ve ever had to rival Baker Hudson’s cakes.

Yours truly,

Justin

p.s. In England a woman may own personal property once she reaches the age of twenty-one if she is unmarried. That is probably what Jack was looking forward to.

I Know What It Means to Miss Louisiana

Y’all. Y’ALL! I’ve been waiting for today, because y’all are one of my favorite states. I mean, there are the obvious attractions of New Orleans, but I have fond memories of being all over the state. Summers in Grand Isle where my step-dad showed me where the wild ponies live. So much time in Slidell for shopping and eating out. Visits to Baton Rouge and Shreveport. And probably a ton of places in between that I don’t remember anymore. Strawberry festivals and Cajun music and catfish and alligators and jazz and beignets and – basically I could talk about you forever.

Most of the time I tell people that I used to work in New Orleans, but y’all know enough of the difference for me to tell you that it was Michoud. I’d roll my window down on the way in to work to enjoy the scent of the Folgers plant. Although at work we, of course, had coffee with chicory.

But hey, still, what shouldn’t I miss in Louisiana? I’m sure there are plenty of things. To my Louisianans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

Down Home in Kentucky

When you grow up as horse-mad as I did, you are very aware of Kentucky. In my mind it was some sort of HORSE WONDERLAND. Thankfully I’ve had a few chances to visit the state, and not only do you love horses as much as I’d dreamed, you have a ton of other things I loved, too.

About ten years ago I had to spend a week every summer in Lexington (I know, such torture). It was the first place I ever tried shrimp and grits! There was famous bread pudding just down the street (I have FEELINGS about bread pudding, let me tell you that). There was a vibrant art and music scene. Every day we had the pleasure of walking around two different campuses (although Transylvania required a LOT of vampire jokes, of course).

What shouldn’t I miss in Kentucky? To my Kentuckians, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

Carry On My Wayward Kansas

You’re not just a state for me, but a beloved band, the home of Dorothy, and a doorway to Oz. The state where my Uncle-in-law grew up, spoiling him for any corn that wasn’t hand picked and rushed immediately to boiling water.

And yes, I’ve visited you a few times. Mostly in Kansas City, though. And I am VERY AWARE that although it spans two states that y’all DO. NOT. PLAY. about the fact it is two different states.

What shouldn’t I miss in Kansas? To my Kansans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

Hailing Iowa

You thought you knew the depths of my nerdity, but here is where it really shows. What is Iowa for me? Forever and ever it is first the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. Yeah…

Not to say I know NOTHING about your state. You have… corn. And butter. Did you guys start the whole deep fried butter thing? If not, I bet you do it at your state fair, don’t you?

What shouldn’t I miss in Iowa? To my Iowans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

We Named the *Dog* Indiana

Indiana, you will always have a place in my heart because you have GenCon. Yeah, I know, you have other awesome stuff too, but as a nerd that is one of your top draws for me. Sadly, although I’ve been to Indianapolis, I’ve yet to make it there for GenCon.

But when I was there, hanging out in the very same convention space, my mind was boggled by how many Starbucks I walked past just going to my conference. I had something like 6 chances to get coffee on the way to my first session. I’m here to tell you, folks, it wasn’t that long of a walk…

Even more delightful, when I stopped for a breather in one of the charming spaces looking out over the city, a jazz ensemble set up. (Ok, delightful is a subjective term in that case, but I loved it.)

What shouldn’t I miss in Indiana? To my Indianans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!