In past years, it would have been impossible for me to do this post. During my time with Samhain, I edited just over 250 titles in 4 years. I worked for royalties and more editing equaled a living wage! But since my situation with Carina is different, and editing is not actually in my main job description, but is something I do more because there are a few authors who still love working with me (thank you!) and because it’s something I love doing, I can highlight here the books I edited in 2010 because there are only nine!
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey — it’s not often I’ll say a book I edited is a favorite because I love everything I edit (or I wouldn’t edit it) but I’m going to admit here and now to having a soft spot for this book. Not only was it the first book I edited for Carina, but it was one of the launch week releases and it continues to be our top selling title. A contemporary, non-erotic romance. I’m proud of this book and the reception it’s gotten from readers, and I hope if you didn’t get a chance to read it in 2010, you’ll put it on your 2011 reading list.
Fair Game by Josh Lanyon — How happy was I that Josh wanted to work with me and Carina? I think Josh is an amazing author, fantastic at promoting his work and his brand, and consistently puts out quality product at multiple publishers. When Josh sent me Fair Game, it didn’t disappoint when I got it for edits. Not only did I adore the characters, but I loved the suspense. And Josh is such an incredible professional during edits, responding exactly right to editorial suggestions and feedback. A love of m/m romance isn’t necessary to appreciate this fantastic story. In 2011, Josh will re-release Snowball in Hell with Carina. I’m sad to say that I won’t be editing it, but I fully intend to edit the follow-up to Fair Game that I hope will come in 2011!
Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey — I’m sure Shannon is cringing reading this, wondering what I’ll say about UY because, you see, this was a difficult book for us. I don’t even know how many books Shannon and I have worked on together, but I do know it’s a lot and this is the first book that I’ve ever given her really major, we’re gutting this and this, type edits. They were hard. Really hard. I’m pretty sure a dart board with my picture on it was involved at one point but Shan didn’t give up and we ended with a book we can both be proud of. In June 2011, the third Kowalski book will release–Yours by Design.
Mercy by Eleri Stone — So, I think the thing that makes this book most unique on my list is that Eleri is a debut author–an author I’d never worked with before, unlike all the others, who I have an editing history with. But I randomly opened this submission one day and I was hooked. I loved the story, I loved her voice and I knew I wanted to edit this sexy paranormal novella. I can’t wait to see this author’s career develop as she publishes future books because she has some writing chops! Eleri currently has a follow-up book in the same world on submission, so I have high hopes for her in 2011!
Second Chances by Lauren Dane — I still remember the first submission I got from Lauren (Giving Chase, in case you’re curious). But that wasn’t the first time we met. We were members of another publisher’s yahoo group and pregnant at the same time. I remember Lauren announcing her first ever sale. And I’m thrilled to have worked with her and developed such an incredible relationship over the years. So I was bouncy when she asked if I’d be interested in working with her to re-release Second Chances. Would I? Ha! Second Chances is unique in a sea of erotic romances, and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to work on it. Next, Lauren and I have an urban fantasy releasing in June 2011. And someday, I hope to revisit small town contemporaries with her, because I loved the Chase Brothers!
All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton — These next four books were all part of the invitation-only Carina Christmas collections. Since I’ve already talked about the other three authors, I’m not going to talk about them individually, except this one. When I was coming up with a list of authors I wanted to invite to do the Christmas collection, I knew Jaci had to be on it. But I also knew her schedule was insane. After all, she’s a New York Times Bestselling Author now, writing for Berkley and with a deadline for Mira (her first book there releases in 2011). So I threw myself on the sword of our friendship and asked her to write a novella for me. I was lucky, because I knew she was missing writing for digital-first and I took advantage of that. And I will take advantage of that again if she’ll let me. I hope you’ll give this fun contemporary romance interlude a try.
As I said, the next three are all part of the Carina Christmas collections and they’re fun, sweet, romantic stories that will melt your heart. They–and all of the holiday stories— give you the sense of sitting next to a crackling fire, that warm, happy feeling, even when there’s no fireplace to be seen. I know the holidays are nearly over, but these are timeless stories you won’t regret reading year round.
Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey
Believe by Lauren Dane
Icecapade by Josh Lanyon
So that’s it for me in 2010. What’s coming in 2011? Well, I’ve already noted a few books from Lauren Dane and Shannon Stacey. And I’m also working on a special, by-invitation-only, edited by Angela James (well la di da!) collection. Who knows what else I’ll find in my inbox in the new year. Maybe there are authors out there who will send me something they just know I need to edit!
From my family to yours, we hope you have a joyful and lovely Christmas.
This year, we went for a bit…different…family photo.
From left to right: me, Brianna (aka Delilah), Josh, and Adam (aka Deviant)
I’m not adverse to having a nightly drink, whether it’s a glass of wine, a beer or a martini. I’m a pretty diverse drinker (something to be proud of?) and like a wide variety of things. But in the winter, I start to crave more cold-weather appropriate drinks. Somehow a fruity martini just doesn’t have the same appeal when I’m wearing a sweater and slippers.
I asked on Twitter what people’s favorite cold weather, hot alcoholic drinks are and the most common answers were Baileys with coffee or hot cocoa, mulled wine and apple cider with rum. Not too many people listed two of my favorites: Tom and Jerry’s and Hot Buttered Rum. Of course, these two drinks do take a bit of prep, but once you’ve made the batter, you’re set for a good portion of the winter. They’re also awesome to take to holiday parties. I’m including my fave recipes for these two drinks below. And as a bonus, for those who like Baileys and cocoa or coffee, a recipe for homemade irish cream. If you’ve never made it yourself, you’re in for a treat!
Homemade Irish Cream (makes 3 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup Irish whiskey (start with 1 cup and then add to taste, up to abt 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (I like almond)
*note: you can play with the ingredients to make this to your taste, especially the coffee, chocolate and extracts, as well as the whiskey. Start with less whiskey and add more, or you may find it too strong.
Combine all ingredients in blender or with hand mixer. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator (you can recycle milk jugs or other beverage containers for this purpose). Shake well before serving. Enjoy!
Tom and Jerry Mix (makes 3 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 pound butter
- 3/4 pound confectioners’ sugar 3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl (or in a stand mixer) until smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next.
- Beat egg whites until foamy in a large glass or metal mixing bowl, continuing to beat until soft peaks form. Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the egg whites will form soft mounds rather than a sharp peak.
- Mix the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
- Stir in the salt, mace, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
- To make a Tom and Jerry, combine 1 ounce rum or brandy and 1 cup hot milk in a mug. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the Tom and Jerry mixture.
Hot Buttered Rum
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Blend in brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar.
- Remove from heat, and whisk in the ice cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into a plastic container, seal, and freeze.
- To serve a hot buttered rum: In a coffee mug, measure 1-2 tablespoons Hot Buttered Rum Batter and 1 fluid ounce of rum, then fill cup with boiling water or hot apple cider. Stir to mix. Top with whipped cream.
I don’t remember exactly when we started our Christmas traditions, but there are a few that we have: we always go out to dinner on Christmas Eve, and then to the local park to take the tram around the Christmas lights. On Christmas Day, Brianna and I always wear matching pajamas, and I make some type of sticky roll on Christmas morning. I can’t say that we consciously started doing these things and made them “traditions” but we’ve been doing them long enough that Brianna knows them now. This was driven home to me about a month ago when she randomly said to me one day, “Can you make special sticky rolls for Christmas breakfast?” I’m glad she’s getting a sense of tradition through the years and I hope that it makes the holidays special for her!
Sometimes when I’ve been using a recipe for a long time, I don’t always remember where I got it. But like the much favored cracker candy, this one came from my friend Jennifer. I think she must have brought these to a brunch years ago and everyone loved them so much, we demanded the recipe. And thus, my Christmas morning tradition was born. These are SO EASY that I can’t say enough about them. I’ve tried other recipes, but they never turn out quite the same, and this year I toyed with the idea of homemade cinnamon rolls before I stopped myself for the craziness of this thought. I can throw these together in minutes. Why spend hours when you already have perfection?
Bubble Bread Sticky Rolls
- 1/2 cup pecan halves (optional, I usually skip the nuts)
- 18 frozen dinner rolls (the frozen dough kind that come in a bag. NOT cooked rolls)
- 1 (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch vanilla pudding mix (I don’t like butterscotch anything)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) to 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (how much butter/sugar you use depends on how “sticky” you want them to be)
Spray a bunt pan with cooking spray or butter generously. Sprinkle nuts at bottom of pan. Spread rolls evenly in the pan. If you don’t have a bunt pan, a 9×13 pan will work as well.
Melt butter and pour over frozen rolls. Mix dry ingredients together and poor over the frozen rolls. Cover with towel. Let rise overnight. (I place mine in the oven–cold oven–to rise overnight)
In the morning, place the bunt pan on a cookie sheet (to catch spillage) and place in a pre heated oven. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Turn pan upside down over a serving plate.
Out of interest, I looked this recipe up on Allrecipes.com. They used slightly different directions, which I’m including here. I make them the above way and they always turn out, but some people prefer this method.
- Generously butter a 9×13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle pecans in bottom of pan. Place frozen dinner rolls in a single layer on top of pecans. Sprinkle dry pudding mix over the top.
- Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling then pour over rolls. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper and allow to stand overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Turn upside down onto serving platter.
I stumbled on this recipe last year on the Our Best Bites blog and decided to add it to my holiday baking. I’m not sure how the people I sent this to felt about it, but my family loves this stuff. My brother hovered over the first batch I made this year and I had to threaten his life to move him away from it. I made another batch yesterday for him to take to work to “share”. This is really an easy treat to make and so yummy. Makes an easy holiday snack to share at work or at a party.
Cinnamon Caramel Corn
12 C popped popcorn (about 3/4 C kernels)
1 C pecan halves, roughly chopped (I omit, wld use salted peanuts if I added nuts)
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon (I use a teaspoon)
1/4 C karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1/2 t baking soda
3 squares almond bark (about 4 oz)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Pop the popcorn. Let the dogs take care of the stray pieces that go flying out of the bowl and onto the floor when the popping gets a little wild.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more. (Microwaving for a total of 4 1/2 minutes)
Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise (so make sure you have a bit of room after you’ve added the ingredients into that medium bowl!0 Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir very well so everything is well coated, but don’t think that every single piece has to be totally covered w/the mixture. It doesn’t!
Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. Keep your family from eating it all before you can even finish it.
Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture with a spoon. Don’t worry about spreading evenly or looking pretty. Just drizzle. When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks, store in ziploc baggies and enjoy!