Happy November, Friends!!
I did the random drawing late last night and the winners are:
Susanne Barrett for ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE…and Vee for HOLIDAY MAN!!!
Congrats, ladies!! I’ll be in touch with you both this week about your ebook or audiobook prizes!
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to comment 🙂 .
And a special note to anyone who sees this — if you’re an audiobook fan, my publisher (Post Hypnotic Press) is offering *free* downloads of my latest audio release, DOUBLE DIPPING, for a limited time to listeners who would like to review the novel. All you have to do is message them through their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PostHypnoticPress/?fref=ts) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/Post_Hypnotic) pages and request a copy!
I’m celebrating the joys of autumn this week as well as a new audiobook release! DOUBLE DIPPING just came out in audio from Post Hypnotic Press (and it’ll soon be coming to Audible, too). This means that *all three* of the books in my SWEET TEMPTATIONS COLLECTION are now available as audiobooks, since ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE (PHP & Audible) and HOLIDAY MAN (PHP & Audible) were both released earlier this year!!
To celebrate, I’m giving away an Audible download or an ebook copy of ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE to one commenter on this post *and* an Audible download or an ebook copy of HOLIDAY MAN to another commenter. The winners will have their choice: If they have an Audible account and would like to download the audio book, I can gift that to them, or I can give them an ebook copy (mobi, epub, or pdf) of the novel instead.
My heroine in DOUBLE DIPPING is a second-grade schoolteacher, and she has a lot of fun doing projects that relate to the fall holidays with her young students. I drew on personal experience for this one because I taught 2nd grade for several years and used to love getting to bake cinnamon apples for Johnny Appleseed Day, make paper boats (in honor of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) for Columbus Day, have big class Halloween parties with games & costumes, and craft hand-traced turkeys for Thanksgiving. For the novel, I created a holiday on top of the usual ones — the Harvest Hoopla — and the heroine (Cait) is organizing it for the school. The hero (Garrett) wasn’t exactly helpful at first, but he starts coming around…and in this scene below, he walks into Cait’s classroom bearing gifts:
Johnny Appleseed Day was on her heels. Although no special all-school event was scheduled to commemorate the notable September 26th birth date of John Chapman, eighteenth century apple-tree planter extraordinaire, Cait still needed to get things ready for her class. She jotted down a list of possible apple activities for tomorrow:
*counting the number of seeds and graphing the results
*tasting the differences between apple types and rating them
*measuring their heights and circumferences in centimeters
*slicing apples widthwise so the “star” is visible and dipping them in tempera paint to create apple-star patterns on paper
*sticking toothpicks with raisins and marshmallows on them into the apples to make Scary Fruit Monsters
*coring them, adding a cinnamon-sugar filling, then baking…
Since making Scary Fruit Monsters topped her personal favorite list, Cait circled the asterisk by it but soon found herself doodling on the edge of her paper. She deserved a moment of laziness this week. She needed it. It was imperative for her mental health to take time away from serious school tasks and worrying about her mom to…draw the perfect depiction of an enormous marshmallow-mouthed Macintosh with beady raisin eyes who, if given the opportunity, would plan a hostile takeover of Milwaukee.
She tilted her head to consider its proportions on the page. Goodness, the thing kind of looked like Ronald Jaspers, the school principal.
She covered up her drawing with the first folder she could grab and leaped from her desk. “Umm, hi. What’s in the box?”
“C’mon and see,” he said, setting the mass of cardboard down on Daisy’s desk and motioning her over. She opened the box and peered inside. “Oh, wow! Garrett, your sister’s amazing.”
“Psychotic is the word I usually use,” he said, pulling out an individually wrapped gift basket, “but she does know her art.”
“These are beautiful.” Cait ran her fingers along the carefully crafted leaf-shaped basket. It was constructed like a large, curved maple leaf that formed a bowl for the fruit. Inside, the apples, tangerines, peaches and baby pumpkins were arranged to highlight the brighter fall colors, while walnuts and chestnuts accented the composition with browns. The entire piece was wrapped in transparent gold plastic wrap and tied with long red and yellow ribbons. “Did Marianne design this?”
Cait pulled out eight baskets. Little Styrofoam balls went flying. “She already sent me a display basket for the classroom. Are all of these centerpieces for the Harvest Hoopla in October?”
“Oh…well, that’s okay.” Cait tried to hide her disappointment. “Even one or two would be lovely, so—”
“No. What I meant was, you can use them for centerpieces, sell them for profit, make Carmen Miranda hats out of them—I don’t care. I doubt Marianne cares. They’re her gift to you. But there are five more boxes in my car.” He glared at her with a look of good-natured irritation. “And if either of you think, for even ten seconds, that I’m storing damn near fifty of these eyesores in my condo for over a week, you’ve got me confused with some other Ellis.”
“She sent us six boxes?”
“Yes, ma’am. The UPS guy looked insanely cheerful to get rid of them. Good thing I could work from home this morning and be there to help unload.” He pointed to a corner of the room. “You can have them here, or I’ll transfer them to your place. Your choice, but I want my car smelling like empty pizza cartons and Tootsie Rolls again real soon—not fruit salad.”
Cait laughed, imagining Garrett’s fancy BMW filled from leather seat to sunroof with the pretty baskets. Quite a change from his usual junk food. “Okay,” she said, pointing to a corner of the classroom. “We can start stacking them over there.”
Hope you liked the excerpt! And because there’s nothing like the deliciousness of a warm baked apple (hey, it’s practically a health food — just ask Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse!), here’s a quick recipe:
Ingredients: 4 large baking apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped raisins
4 teaspoons butter
3/4 cup boiling water
Directions: Preheat the over to 350 degrees F (175 – 180 degrees C). Wash and then core the apples (make sure there’s at least a 1/2 inch of apple left on the bottom). Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and raisins in a bowl and then divide the mixture between the 4 apples. Put a teaspoon of butter on top of the sugar on each apple. Place the apples in a baking dish and pour the boiling water into the bottom of it. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the apples are tender. Enjoy on its own…or with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream!
“I have so often heard Mr. Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. I believe it is the only way that Mr. Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome.” —EMMA (when Miss Bates is talking, rather enthusiastically, to Emma about Jane Fairfax’s favorite food, LOL) 😀
Do you have a favorite fall treat? Anything you especially look forward to enjoying during the autumn months? Please share! All commenters will be automatically entered in the audio/ebook giveaway (international). The two winners will be drawn on Halloween & their names will be posted in the comments by November 1st!!
**Marilyn’s latest releases are the first two books in the “Mirabelle Harbor” series — TAKE A CHANCE ON ME (on sale for only 99 cents!) and THE ONE THAT I WANT. Learn more about this new contemporary romance series on her website, and don’t miss Book 3, YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME, coming soon!!