11-25 Australian Author - Cassandra O’Leary

Friday, November 24, 2017

Novels & Holidays-What’s A Good Blend?

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Recently, I participated in one of the interesting Roundtables sponsored by International Thriller Writers organization. The question up for discussion asked if holidays offer good backgrounds for thriller novels. My answer was “yes,” and I’ll give the same answer for romance novels.

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Holidays provide excellent backdrops for novels, because most of us associate important holidays as well as the time frames that surround them with certain moods. So if readers associate the Christmas season ideal with good cheer and family togetherness, authors can use this pre-set expectation as shorthand in creating the setting for the story. That allows the author to either defy expectations or play off them for humor. 

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An example of defying expectations would be having the main characters and/or the plot be very dark. In the thriller movie genre, Die Hard, uses a Christmas party setting for terror and violence. The Holiday movie offers an example of a romantic comedy that features two very depressed heroines who exchange houses for their holiday vacations to escape the people who are making them sad.

Of course, holiday-themed novels and movies (of any genre) work best if they avoid clichés and offer surprising twists.

One of the masters at delivering holiday surprises—and combining romance with humor—is one of our fellow Romancing the Genres bloggers, Robin Weaver.  I highly recommend her holiday novellas to boost your spirits after a tough day shopping or standing over the stove. 

This post is very short, because I have guests and I haven’t begun my cooking for Thanksgiving. (I’m writing this the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.) I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How Christmas Launched My Writing Career!

...and became my favorite season of the year.
by M. L. Buchman

No one could be more surprised than me about that. I grew up in a household that, while not run by the Grinch, celebrated Christmas in such a dysfunctional way that I have done my best to purge those memories. It took years before I would even visit friends on that day.

Then along came my first Christmas with my new family. My wife has a way of making the season magical. That she begins finding the perfect gifts in January and never stops certainly adds to the charm. My stepkid was bathed from birth in the concept that it was a joyous, fun, magical time of giving and family. I won't say they were Hallmark moments, because that would be too much of an understatement. To be welcomed into that world was a gift beyond imagining. Twenty years on, it still is.

The Christmas of 2012 was particularly memorable for a wide variety of reasons, but the total change one book made in my writing career stands out.

In 2010, after 15 years of writing and rejections (except two minor releases from a very small press that had the decency to go out of business before the third one became an issue), I sold my Night Stalkers series to a traditional publisher. In 2012, The Night Is Mine introduced the world of Emily Beale, Mark Henderson, and Michael Gibson to the world. Also in 2012, I Own the Dawn, introduced the rest of the team: Archie, Kee, Dilya, Big John, Connie, Tim...

So I had begun. The first two books were successful and two more were already slated for 2013. The publisher was eager for more and I was on my way. Except the income from traditional publishing would never replace my day job, which was a pity as (courtesy of the recession) I no longer had one.

While my corporate career was in dire straits, in the evenings of late 2012, I would escape to a world of happy people, beautiful Christmases, and true love. Shortly before Christmas I released a cheerful little book entitled Daniel's Christmas. That title bolted out the door. Fans swept it up. They told other fans. Soon it was outselling any of my traditional books.

As I loved that world, I have returned to it for two trilogies, totally four Christmases and two Independence Days.

Then the members of the good ship USS Peleliu joined in the celebration.

And finally, this year my Delta Force team jumped into the sleigh.

To say that I find joy and a new definition of Christmas with each story is an understatement.

To say that they have brought my writing career so much more to life and kept it so fun, that is the simple truth.

Wishing you and yours the merriest you can imagine.

Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Flings...

Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas!

Wrap the turkey, stuff the presents!


I may have those confused a bit. As I get older, the holidays start to blur and crossover.
But you know what doesn't?

A great romance!

Here's a couple of books from days past that has kept me going during this awesome, yet sometimes draining, season!

Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey.

What can be said about a woman taking a virile knight as captive and bending him to her sexual desires? A whole lot of steam...and a broken turkey. Thank, Johanna. I was so engrossed in this story, I didn't pay attention to what I was doing, nor did I care.

My very first Thanksgiving on my own making a turkey and I broke it. Apparently, you shouldn't put "that much" broth in the bottom of the pan. I essentially boiled my turkey, and it cracked right down the center. But ya know what? It was the juiciest darn turkey ever!

Next up on my list...

Enslaved by Virginia Henley.

Ohh what can I say about the lovely Virginia Henley-- who is the very reason for my addiction to historical romance?

Thanks to an enchanted helmet, some unexplained time travel, and a feisty heroine who seemingly always had one breast hanging out for most of the book, my kids were forced to wait to get their Santa on. Yup. I had made sure to get up hours before they could to guard the presents from little thieving fingers, and decided to read a book while I waited. Unfortunate for them, they finally awoke during the climax of the story, and thus had to wait. It's okay though, I stuffed them full of cookies and milk, and called it a pre-breakfast. They were content until I finished.

And last, but by no means least, Splendor by Catherine Hart.

If you haven't read this fantastical read with a hint of paranormal, then you simply right now. Go do it!

Thanks to a "ghostly captain" and a misunderstood prude (who's not really a prude, but no one knows that), this book had me so caught up I forgot to perform my Easter Bunny duties. Yup. Come 7 am one Easter, and I hear the kids stirring...then the horrible realization that I had spent an entire night reading and forgot to fill the baskets! My solution? I knew I had about 5 minutes before they all tumbled out of their rooms in search of their free candy. Instead of panicking, I ripped open all the candy bags and dumped them on the dining room table, then hastily scribbled a note from the Easter Bunny that said Happy Easter! It was a beautiful disaster.

Every last child was delighted by the mountains of candy on display, and not one batted an eye at the lack of a basket. WHEWWW! Close call....

You may be asking, so what's the post even about, Isha?

A) Isha forgets a lot of stuff when she's reading.
B) A good book can suck you into its world and get you in trouble.
C) Isha is good at getting out of trouble at the last minute.
D ) Isha's word of advice is to read responsibly!

Or all the above!

Do you have any favorite books that transport you to another realm, or make you forget your duties? Share below!

PS...update on Halloween post. Despite my hard work to get into the groove of Trick-or-Treating, I was forced to forgo the actual event to test my endurance. It was too cold and rainy for the kids to venture out, so instead, we baked cakes, watched movies, and binged on candy for the night! I ended up with a tummy ache in the morning...hmmm

Until next time,


Monday, November 20, 2017

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes by Kristin Wallace

Since it is Thanksgiving week, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite recipes that we make every year with my family. Both of my parents cook, but Thanksgiving has always belonged to my mom. Her family grew up in Kentucky so a lot of our Thanksgiving dishes have Southern roots. It is certainly the case with these recipes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potato
1cup sugar
½ cup milk
1/3 cut butter softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend everything together until it is smooth and creamy. Pour into a oven safe baking dish.

1 cup chopped nuts (Use pecans or almonds. I prefer pecans.)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until it is moist. If it’s too runny or goopy add a little flour to thicken. Crumble the mixture in chunks on top so it covers the entire surface.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes

Smashed Potatoes

What's Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes? We make these in my house every year, and they are delicious!

1 -1½ lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes (unpeeled)
½ tsp. of salt
4 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. milk
Salt & Pepper

Boil potatoes in a large pot, with a little bit of salt. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until you can poke them easily with a fork.

Drain water and let the potatoes sit for a few minutes. Peel the potatoes, leaving some of the skin on as you go. Cut up potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the butter, milk and cream and beat until everything is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For Your Sweet Tooth - Kentucky Derby Pie

The last dish is a dessert, also courtesy of the Bluegrass State, called Kentucky Derby Pie. If you like chocolate you will love this.

½ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup chocolate chips
¾ cup nuts (walnuts or pecans)
9 inch unbaked pie crust or shell

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into the pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is browned. DEVOUR!

I hope your holiday table delicious!

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two best selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance). Her latest book, LOVING YOU AT CHRISTMAS, launched just a couple weeks ago.

For info on all of her books, visit Kristin Wallace Author