Geri's Take...

Where Geri's insights on life, love and living may provide a clue as to how a U.S. Naval Academy graduate became a romance author. She's lived it, now she writes it.

 

The Joy of Romance for Read a Romance Month

Today’s post is for Read a Romance Month, founded by Bobbi Dumas who is a tireless advocate of romance fiction. With articles for Kirkus Reviews and NPR, Bobbi also has interviews of some of today’s most beloved romance authors. Lorelei’s Lit Lair graciously asked me to join in the celebration, and Lorelei has a post explaining how she got involved as a romance advocate here.

What does the Joy of Romance mean to me?

The Joy of Romance, and more specifically, in romance novels, has had her warm, loving hands on me since I was in elementary school.

My very first romance!

The summer I turned ten I ran out of Nancy Drew and Sue Barton, Student Nurse books. My mother carefully picked a Candlelight Romance from her nightstand for me. It was Night Duty Nurse by Katherine McComb and was everything that was romance back then. The big sexy part was the kiss at the end of the book. A peck. Nothing else. I was ten; I wasn’t ready for anything more. But the story swept me away to long hours in a hospital where a dedicated nurse fell in love with her burn patient, an attractive and virile man. She discovered he wore a wooden prosthesis for his leg, and I can remember that scene so clearly, her reaction, how much more of a hero he became in that moment. Maybe that’s why in my very first published novel the hero had lost his leg in a war? And why I still have to put suspense in every story I write?

When I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy there wasn’t a whole lot of time for leisure reading but I managed to devour romances over Christmas and spring breaks. The pure joy of being a girl in a bubble bath with a romance novel, after strenuous training and wearing a uniform 24/7 (yes, even our pajamas were Navy-issued!) was better than any spa day I’ve had since. As a Naval Intelligence Officer deployed to Sicily and Bermuda (and all points in between) I subscribed to the Harlequin Reader Service and escaped from the demands of the Cold War, if only for twenty minutes once a week.

When I was a Navy spouse raising two tiny tots and my husband was deployed to war, I let the joy of romance comfort me via novels and movies, and kept the faith that he’d return to us. He did, thank God.

Once I figured out that I, too, was a romance writer, I devoured romance novels across the spectrum of heat levels, publishers and of course my favorite authors. I was in search of the perfect publisher fit for my stories, and I wanted to know how the most successful authors had achieved their status. So now you know why I chose to sell to category romance to start off my career.

I write more angst-filled, romantic suspense that deals with life-or-death situations. And yet my characters show me that no matter what, true love can bring joy to the most desperate situation. It can heal the deepest wounds and restore faith that has been chewed up and spit out by the machinations of what can be a very challenging journey on this planet. Or any other planet, or dimension, or time setting. Nothing is beyond the touch of romance and her ability to shower her characters and readers with undulated joy. And how cool is it that my novella in the Christmas anthology Coming Home for Christmas is Navy Joy?

Author Questions from RARM

1. Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.

Most recently? When I saw my dear friend and Academy-sister Caro Carson win the Romance Writers of America’s “oscar,” the Rita for her wonderful book A Texas Rescue Christmas.  I cried tears of joy!

2. Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

The beach and ocean, where we took our kids each year to enjoy time with their grandparents. Stone Harbor, New Jersey is an instant serenity place for me.

3. Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

Birds. I love birds, and spend hours writing on my patio through three seasons so that I can hear cardinals, robins, mockingbirds, blue birds, hawks (their mating cries are primal), and many others.

4. What recent book have you read that brought you joy. Why?

Teardrop Lane by Emily March. I’ve so loved her Eternity Springs series and this one was particularly heart wrenching and worth the read to the pure joy when Cicero and Rose get together.

5.  And for fun, the joy of choice ;o) ~ Pick Your Chris!

It will always be Christopher Plummer in the Sound of Music. Hands down. Who are your favorite romance authors?

My absolute favorite romance authors include Sherry Thomas, Barbara O’Neal, and Heidi Hormel. Sherry’s prose is like poetry and her sexy love scenes are a crescendo to her hero and heroine’s arias through conflict and sexual tension. Barbara O’Neal’s voice is the most unique in our genre with simple phrases opening the heart to a journey of unconditional and intensely romantic love. Heidi Hormel is a debut author this year and her fun, light-hearted voice doesn’t skimp on the realities of a good romantic conflict.

Since you’ve stopped by, I’d be delighted if you please take the time to sign up for my newsletter. I only send one when I have a new book or amazing news, so I won’t flood your email, promise. You can sign up here. As a thank you to my readers (that’s you!) I run a give-away contest over on Fresh Fiction each month. Please enter here and good luck!

 

 

Grabbing the Blooms Where I can

Summer has settled into the Northeastern USA and I’m making the most of it with walks and long mornings writing on my patio.

Clematis
Clematis

My organic veggie garden is something of a hot mess as I always over plant. The green beans and cucumbers are climbing up the tomato cages, and alas, some of the tomatoes. One success I’ve had is with wavy petunias. They were neglected by (cough, cough) certain family members while I was gone for a writing event. They were crispier than bacon on a grill. But with a little shade and a lot of watering, they’re back! I’m taking such joy in seeing a garden progress over years instead of months or only two growing seasons, as we dealt with while living our Navy life.

I hope your summer (winter for our southern hemisphere readers) is off to a good start, too.

 

Beginnings and Endings

Spring Storm in Silver Valley
Spring Storm in Silver Valley

It’s a busy month Chez Krotow as one college kid has finished Freshman year and the other is about to graduate. I’m much too young to have a college graduate child but I digress… I’m happily working away on the Silver Valley PD Series. You’ll be able to read the first book in November with Her Christmas Protector, and the second book is slated for a March 2016 release. I’ll post updates on Pinterest and Facebook as I can. As always, our family will take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

 

 

Silver Valley PD–A New Series in 2015

I’m delighted to announce my new series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense  will launch later this year.

Safe or filled with mystery?
Safe or filled with mystery?

The Silver Valley PD Series is sometimes loosely, sometimes closely, based on where our family has settled after years of Navy moves. I’ve fallen in love with my new hometown and now the characters of its fictional sister, Silver Valley.

Silver Valley is set amidst the Appalachians
Silver Valley is set amidst the Appalachians

The Whidbey Island Series continues, as well, with Navy Justice out in September.

I’m including  a couple of  photos to give you a taste of the setting I’m writing in this winter and spring, for your reading by the holidays 2015.

 

Super Secret Christmas Cookie and Frosting Recipes

As my sincerest, most joy-filled thank you to my readers and dear author friends who have supported the release of Navy Christmas and Navy Joy in Coming Home for Christmas, may I present my most closely-held family recipe! If I could have sent a dozen of these to each of the military and their family that you helped me send books to, I would have. Enjoy!

Misha Guards the Cookies

Geri’s Christmas Cut-Outs

This recipe is a combination of my Polish-American Grandmother’s huge cut-out cookies, and my mother’s Christmas cookies, topped with my aunt’s incredible frosting.

Sour Cream Cut-Outs

(very loosely adapted from Southern Living’s Sour Cream Cookies in their Christmas Cookies book of 1986):

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

1 cup sugar (I like to use turbinado or raw cane but white is best for special occasions)

1 egg

1 8-oz container of sour cream

2 tsps anise flavoring (all natural is best)  note: my grandmother’s original recipe says “use 39 cents worth of anise.”

4-5 cups flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached but Whole Wheat Pastry flour works fab, too)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, anise, sour cream. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, add to wet mix very slowly but make sure to mix well. You will need extra flour later, for rolling out dough. Divide the dough into thirds and chill for at least an hour. I usually make the dough a few days before I am ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll dough onto floured surface to ¼” and cut out in desired shapes (you can go thinner but they won’t be as scrumptious, plus you want a substantial cookie to hold the frosting). These cookies will rise and expand in the oven so leave enough room between them on the cookie sheet. Place cut-outs on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes depending upon thickness. They are done when very lightly browned. Cool on racks before frosting. Sometimes I don’t get to the frosting until the next day, that’s okay– just make sure you store in an airtight or foil-topped container.

 

Aunt Margie’s Frosting

 ½ cup milk

1 tbsp cornstarch

Mix the above 2 ingredients and cook in medium saucepan until it thickens. Stir in:

1 tsp vanilla

 Cool thoroughly.

Pour into

½ c. butter (softened)

1 lb. confectioner’s sugar

Beat with a hand mixer (or stand) until creamy. Divide up as desired and color with food coloring. White with different colored sprinkles is always a hit. Frosting will set as it dries on the cookies. We set up a cookie decorating workshop and I put my family to task (since I’ve done all of the baking). They can decorate 12 dozen inside of 90 minutes!

 

 

Kathleen M. Rodgers is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

 

Author Kathleen Rodgers
Author Kathleen M. Rodgers

Please join me in welcoming insightful and talented author Kathleen M. Rodgers to our final installment of the November blog party–all to send books to the military for the holidays. I picked Kathleen to finish our party on the highest note. Kathleen and I have been friends for years, brought together by none other than Debbie Macomber when we both needed a writing friend to lean on. Kathleen is indefatigable in her enthusiasm for life, and a generous friend.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Kathleen?

Since I’m not known for baking and I’m only crafty with words, I sometimes write holiday themed poems and send them out as Christmas cards. When I was twenty-seven and living at a remote Air Force base near the North Pole, I wrote the following poem with a newborn cradled in my lap and a yellow legal pad absorbing the scribbles of my restless pen. Back then, the days seemed endless and my thoughts came faster than I could catch them. The temperature outside hovered around thirty below zero. Somewhere off in the distance, beyond the Alaska Range, my husband flew his single-seat fighter high above the snow clouds.

 

ALCAN Highway Circa 1985
ALCAN Highway Circa 1985

The Snow Comes Early In The High Country Of Alaska

The Snow Comes Early

in the high country of Alaska.

The midnight sun

has long since vanished.

The days are now short-lived;

dawn, noon and dusk less than a handful of hours.

The birch are stripped naked;

their chocolate chip trunks

sticking out of the snow.

The hills of Tanana Valley

are like mounds of flour dumped on the floor

from an opened sack.

And we are the inhabitants

in this whitewashed land,

where sixty degrees below zero

can kill even the strongest of men.

But we are risk takers!

Riding the open road of the military…

a journey we often complain of,

but a dream voyage for others

fenced in by fate.

So let us be thankful

when winter sets in,

that we are here, at the top of the world-

Closer to our Maker,

when the snow comes early

in the high country of Alaska.

© Kathleen M. Rodgers   — Alaska 1985

 

Do you have a military connection, Kathleen?

My husband flew fighters for twenty years for the Air Force. Our youngest son is a 1st lieutenant in the United States Army, and he recently earned a Bronze Star during his deployment to Afghanistan.

Kathleen’s The Final Salute has been featured in USA Today and won a Silver Medal for fiction from Military Writers Society of America. Check it out here.

Kathleen’s  second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, releases from Camel Press in February 2015. Check it out here.

Thanks for joining us today, Kathleen!

 Find Kathleen in the usual places:

Website: http://www.kathleenmrodgers.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMRodgersAuthor

Twitter: @KathleenMRodger

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2742306.Kathleen_M_Rodgers

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter. Sign up here. 

 

Laura Kaye is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

 

New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Kaye
New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Kaye

Please join me as we welcome New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Kaye to our holiday blog party today. Laura writes hot, poignant military romance that has captured the hearts of readers world wide. We share a common bond with the Naval Academy, which you will soon discover.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Laura?

One of my favorite things to make for the holidays are cut-out sugar cookies. Not only are they super tasty, but my girls (ages 10 and 8) love to help make them. They love to help roll them out, press the cookie cutters into the dough, and decorate them with homemade icing and sprinkles. The kitchen is always an utter disaster at the end, but it’s such a quintessentially holiday thing to do that I hardly mind! And the cookies are fantastic and colorful for enjoying or sharing!

Do you have a special military connection, Laura?
I Taught for eight years at the U.S. Naval Academy as an Associate Professor of History.

Laura’s latest is Hard to Come By. Check it out here.

Thanks for stopping by today, Laura!

Find Laura at the usual places:

Website: http://www.LaurakyaeAuthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LauraKayeWrites

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LauraKayeAuthor

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter. Sign up here.

 

Caro Carson is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

 

Author Caro Carson
Author Caro Carson

Today we welcome my beloved Romvets sister and gifted author Caro Carson. She will tell you about her military connection, but suffice it to say that each December she and I are rooting for opposite football teams. Nonetheless she remains a constant source of strength and unconditional support for me and many more.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Caro?

I love Christmas, but I was running myself ragged trying to cook every delicious holiday food from my family’s and my husband’s, as well as trying new recipes that friends recommended or magazines assured me my family would treasure. Then, I read a “simplify your life” type of article that suggested each family member should choose the one item that they just had to have, or it wouldn’t feel like Christmas. After all, if no one named the sweet potato casserole, then skipping it wouldn’t ruin the holiday, right?

I went around the table at dinner one night and asked everyone to choose carefully. I expected my family to complain that they couldn’t choose just one of the dishes I slaved over every year. I expected them to beg for the most complicated, most time-consuming dishes I’d ever served on the 25th.   Perhaps they wouldn’t be able to choose between the cake, the three kinds of pie, and the three kinds of cookies we traditionally served.

Instead, the first kid had no problem deciding on the most important holiday food: green Christmas tree cookies. My husband? The green Christmas tree cookies. Kid Number Two? Green Christmas tree cookies. That was it. Piece of cake…or rather, cookie.

Green Cookies in a Row
Green Cookies in a Row

For the past two years, I’ve made batches of green Christmas tree cookies and let a lot of other fancy desserts go. If I don’t get to the rest, everyone is happy with the cookies! And my life is simpler, because these cookies don’t require any special ingredients, unless you count one of those little brown bottles of almond extract that lasts you for five years. These cookies mean Christmas to me, too, because the recipe is my mother’s, and I can’t remember a December without them. I’m happy to share the recipe. Enjoy!

Caro Carson’s Green Christmas Tree Cookies

(a.k.a. Butter Press Cookies)

Beat together:

1 cup of butter

½ cup of white sugar

On low speed, mix in:

2 cups of flour

1 tsp. almond extract

Green food coloring

Spoon into a cookie press, and extrude the batter into tree shapes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Do you have a special military connection, Caro?

I’m a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, and I served in the Military Police Corps as an officer in the army after graduation. This may explain the somewhat unusual photo of the cookies. My husband took that photo and labeled it “West Pointer’s cookies in straight rows.” Very funny, honey.

Caro at West Point
Caro at West Point

My favorite military holiday memory is Thanksgiving. I loved being part of the tradition that officers serve the holiday meal to their troops. We wore “dress blues,” the most formal uniform with all the ribbons, medals, and jazzy military stuff, to scoop the mashed potatoes and cut the pumpkin pie. It was great fun to meet the soldiers’ children, too. In the military working environment, you don’t get to see little kids very often. What is a holiday without excited children? They made it special.

I have a Christmas book! Print books go into bookstores on November 18th. It’s a Harlequin Special Edition, A Texas Rescue Christmas.Check out the details here.

Thanks for joining us today, Caro!

Find Caro at the usual places:

Website: http://www.CaroCarson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorcarocarson

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers to the Geri Krotow Newsletter. Sign up here.

 

Lara Lacombe is Helping Send Books to the Military for the Holidays

 

Author Lara Lacombe
Author Lara Lacombe

Please help me welcome the talented romantic suspense author Lara Lacombe to our holiday blog promo party! Lara and I met at RWA in San Antonio last summer when we signed our books next to each other. I know you will find her as charming as I did.

What do you make, bake, create or purchase for the holidays, Lara?

My special holiday talent is wrapping. I LOVE to wrap presents, even the oddly-shaped ones that look ungainly when wrapped. I’m the official wrapper for my family–they all bring me their gifts, and it’s doubly fun for me because I get to see what everyone is getting before the actual day. My favorite paper is the heavyweight stuff that folds nicely, but I’ll use pretty much anything–I’ve made some cute gifts using the comics section from the newspaper. (My services are cheap too–I’m happy to accept cookies as payment! 🙂

Check out Lara’s  December release, from Harlequin Romantic Suspense,  Lethal Lies here.

Find Lara at the usual places:

Website: http://www.laralacombe.com

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/laralacombe1

Remember, you can do your part in supporting the military for the holidays. Harlequin will send one book for every 20 new subscribers the Geri Krotow Newsletter gets. Sign up here.