Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Week Of Firsts

Ever have one of those days? One of those weeks?

Usually, when someone asks that question, there’s a negative connotation. But I’ve had a series of those days that folded themselves into one of those weeks…in the best of all possible ways. Starting with the release of my debut book for Harlequin American Romance last Tuesday. Walking into a book store and seeing The Officer’s Girl on the shelf was so exciting I grabbed the first sales clerk I saw and said, “This, this is my book!”

Poor woman. She obviously didn’t understand. It took another couple of tries before she realized I meant I’d written the book. Once she did, the joy spread until the next thing I knew, a voice came over the speaker announcing “an author” was in the building, and if anyone wanted to, they could come on over to the Romance section. And it was super when the clerk asked me to sign the copies of The Officer's Girl they had in stock.

I also participated in my first official book signing this week. And boy, what a book signing it was! Every new author should have nearly 300 eager fans show up and a staff to hand out tickets so attendees wouldn’t have to stand on line for hours. You probably already guessed not all those people were there to see me. And, much as I’d love to insist they were, you’d be right. The book signing kicked off the annual Washington Romance Writers’ Retreat. Held at Turn The Page Book Store Cafe in Boonsboro, MD, the other signers included the amazing Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, and Roxanne St. Claire.

For me, it was still a blast. Chatting with the attendees and being part of this event was such a fabulous experience, I’m eager to do it again. And, since I just completed my second Harlequin American Romance, maybe I'll be able to next year when Catch of a Lifetime is released.

Here's a photo of some of the crowd at Turn The Page.

Waiting for Babies

On Thursday on my blog, The Writer Side of Life, I posted a link to a great site created by Doug and Sheila Carrick, residents of Hornby Island off Canada’s west coast, and I thought I’d also share it here. Several years ago they set up a web cam above the nest of a pair of bald eagles on their property. This year the eagles have produced two eggs, and they are expected to hatch this weekend! Thanks to the Carricks, we get a bird’s eye view of the birth of these little eaglets.

Click here to visit the Hornby Island Eagle Cam and witness the birth of two baby bald eagles.

For more information about Doug and Sheila and the eagles, visit their website, The Eagles of Hornby Island.

To get an idea of what to expect, here's a photo of Hope, the first of last year's two babies. Aw!

Happy bird watching!

Until next time,

Firefighter Daddy (July 2010)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kathleen Comes to Arizona

Last weekend I had a wonderful time at my local Romance Writers of America conference. My chapter always does a great job with the conference, but this year was a little more fun and exciting for me as my Harlequin American editor Kathleen Scheibling attended. It's always enjoyable for us authors to get to spend some quality time with our editors as well as a little social interacting :)

I picked her up at the airport on Friday (yes, I scrambled on Thursday to get the car washed). I was so paranoid about forgetting where I parked my car in the HUGE parking garage, I actually typed the info into my cell phone (two years ago when I picked up two editors at the airport, I DID forget where I parked and we wandered for 45 minutes ).

Saturday we sat together at lunch. That afternoon, we had our Harlequin panel workshop and it went well, I think. I did purchase a cd of the workshop as a souvenir!!

That's Kathleen on the far right, me next to her, Linda Style on my other side and Carrie Weaver on the far left. Both Linda and Carrie are Super Romance authors and members of my RWA chapter. That evening, we took Kathleen to the Westin Kierland Resort for dinner. I'd never been there before but I will definitely go back again one day. The place was gorgeous and the food amazingly good.

I ended the "editor intensive" weekend by having breakfast with Kathleen Sunday morning. And, yes, I did pitch a new series idea :)

This wasn't the first time I've met my editor, but it was certainly one of the best times I had with her. My only regret was that she didn't have an extra day to see the sights as she'd never been to Arizona before.

Cathy Mc

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blast From the Past Food in Brody's Crossing

Three weeks ago I finished the next book in my Brody's Crossing series, tentatively titled Texan in Her Heart. It's the story of a lost sister, Amanda Allen Crawford, who travels home to Texas and the Rocking C, and ends up finding more than she'd ever imagined. Not only does she fall in love (of course!) but she discovers a sense of community in the town where her mother lived for twenty years, her brothers were born and her father is buried. If you've read the other Brody's Crossing books, you'll recognize Troy Crawford from Temporarily Texan and Cal Crawford from An Honorable Texan as Amanda's big (and clueless) brothers. As always, my small town atmosphere is enhanced by my new community of Mineola, TX, where springtime is absolutely IN BLOOM! Here's the arbor leading to our front door.

And, since I missed posting the recipes for this month on the 4th due to wireless Internet issues, I'd like to also mention that she discovers Brody's Crossing is a place to eat. Big time. I didn't realize until after I'd finished the book that someone (usually the hero, Leo Casale) was always feeding her. You'd think she was a stray kitten! He takes her to Dewey's Steakhouse and Saloon and fixes her an authentic Italian dinner (thank you, Virginia Kantra, for the Bolognese sauce suggestion) at his condo. She dines with "the lunch ladies" at the cafe. They have a "blast from the past" going-away party for her at the Rocking C.

I thought I'd share some of the recipes the lunch ladies fix for the party. These might be familiar to you if you are "of a certain age."

  • Velveeta Cheese/Rotel Tomato dip (in a Crock Pot, of course!)

  • Macaroni Salad

  • Meatballs with Chili Barbecue Sauce

  • Sausage Pinwheels

  • Peach Jello Salad

  • Refrigerator Oatmeal Fudge Cookies

You probably have some of these recipes in your cookbooks, on recipe cards or bookmarked
online. If not, I'm going to share the ones I really love. Some of these are standards you
can easily look up. Some are so simple you don't really need a recipe!

Virginia Chancellor's Macaroni Salad

  • 1 pkg elbow macaroni, cooked until soft (do not overcook!
  • 1 large green pepper or more, to taste, cored and diced into small pieces
  • 1 pkg Velveeta Cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch squares
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Miracle Whip
  • Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add enough Miracle Whip to moisten
    everything but not so much that it becomes soggy. Refrigerate for several hours before
    serving so the flavors will blend. The Velveeta may get a little soft, but that's okay. The
    perfect macaroni salad for a hot Texas afternoon. Sometimes I even eat it for breakfast the next day!

Victoria Chancellor's Easy Meatballs

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90% to 93% lean)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 slices of bread, shredded or processed into crumbs, or saltine cracker crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Onion and garlic, minced fine, optional
  • For Swedish meatballs, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and omit garlic
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and use non-stick spray.
    Mix all ingredients. Roll into small meatballs, about an inch or a little more in diameter, and
    place on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until brown. For the best looking meatballs,
    turn halfway through cooking, but if you forget, that's okay. No frying! (Note: To increase
    recipe, just use the same proportions of 1 egg per 1 lb ground beef, and add enough crumbs to
    make them stick together.)

Chili-Barbecue Sauce for Meatballs

  • 1 jar Heinz Chili Sauce and 1 jar sweet (not vinegary) barbecue sauce. I like K.C. Masterpiece.

  • Mix together, heat, and add meatballs. Great in a Crock Pot. Will keep for days (refrigerated) if you have any left after the party!

Peach Jello Salad

My mother and then my mother-in-law loved this Jello salad straight from the 1960s or 1970s. If served as a salad, put it on a lettuce leaf for a nice presentation.

  • 2 small packages Peach flavored Jello
  • 1 large (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2 small jars apricot baby food or about 4 ounces of frozen peaches, blended
  • 1 large can crushed pineapple (Do not use FRESH pineapple!)
  • 1 large container Cool Whip

  • You will need a 9 x 13 casserole dish or two 8 x 8 dishes. Drain pineapple and save juice,
    then add water to equal 2 cups. Bring water and Jello to a boil. Beat in cream cheese. Cool.
    Add fruit (baby food or peaches, pineapple) and allow to congeal slightly in refrigerator. Stir in Cool Whip. Refrigerate until firm. Serves a lot of people as either a salad or a dessert.

I'll share the Oatmeal Fudge Refrigerator Cookie and sausage pinwheel recipes later. Writing
about all this food has made me hungry! Happy reading ... and cooking.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm at a total loss this morning about what to blog about. Several things have gone through my mind, but nothing seems to stick or last much longer than one or two sentences. It must be spring fever. Or maybe it's just my brain taking a nap after meeting a string of deadlines. So instead of trying to make sense of much of any one thing, I'm going to list some of those things that have danced through my mind.

Did you know that April begins on the same day each year as July, and in Leap year it's the same as January?

The HAR covers have been fantastic! As fantastic as the stories inside!

Signs in my office:
  • Nobody is born published
  • PASSION: A powerful force that cannot be stopped
  • SOMEDAY MY COWBOY WILL COME (given to me a week ago by one of the members in our local writers' group)

I spent a wonderful morning plotting with three friends and wish we could get together more often, if only for the company.

It seems as if April Fool's Day was only a couple of days ago, yet the month is already more than half gone.

Thank goodness Tax Day is done for another year!

If I could do this a week from today, I could blog about the local Renaissance Fair, which I love attending.

People who can't think of blog topics shouldn't be blogging. :)

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!