Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Halloween Blog Hop Fun! Lots of Authors! Tons of #Giveaways!

Back to the Halloween Hop! Three more days to get ready for Halloween and participate in some cool giveaways!

Click the image above to enter the Hop-wide BIG GIVEWAY.

Click the image on the left sidebar to go to the HOP-LIST of participating blogs and authors.

Scroll through or click HERE to my earlier Halloween Hop post for my APPLE DEATH PUNCH recipe and a chance to win a beach-sand necklace.

Now, for those of you looking for a slightly tamer recipe to enjoy this Halloween season, may I suggest this chocolate pumpkin martini?

The After-Trick-or-Treating Treat:
Chocolate Pumpkin Martini

1.5 shot vodka
1 shot Godiva chocolate Liqueur
1 shot Pumkin cream liqueur
1 shot milk or half and half

Shake over ice. Rim martini glass with cinnamon sugar. Strain into glass.
Serve with candy corn and other assorted Halloween goodies stolen from small children.

And don't forget - my latest contemporary romance is ON SALE until October 31 for 99 cents ~
Grab your copy today on Amazon!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Writing Wednesday: Chatting with Marin McGinnis, author of historical romance

This whole week is devoted to the SNARKOLOGY HALLOWEEN HOP and the prizes and fun that go with it... click on the image to enter the Giveaway!
But... before I signed up for the Hop I promised a visit to Marin MacGinnis, who writes historical romance. I loved (and reviewed) her novel STIRRING UP THE VISCOUNT, released back in January of this year.... and am so excited that she has a new book out AND took the time to chat with me! 

To access the Halloween Hop and the BIG GIVEAWAY, click on the banner above or on the left sidebar. But first, stay and say hi to Marin!

Welcome, Marin!
Thanks so much for having me here today, Katie!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have lived almost half my life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I have been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and have one tween-aged son. We all live together in a drafty old house with our two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. By day, I’m a lawyer, which really isn’t as much fun as writing. I’m totally into genealogy, which can be as much fun as writing, and I’m a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

What kind of books do you like to read and write?

I read all kinds of books (except nonfiction—just can’t get into those). Historical romance and young adult are probably my favorites, but I enjoy mysteries, especially historical mysteries, and contemporary romance as well.

I write historical romance set in the Victorian era. I am what my husband likes to call a ‘research weasel’ (isn’t that sweet? ;p) so writing historicals came out of my interest in research, and I love that time period—the world changed so significantly during the years of Queen Victoria’s reign, from industry to social and sexual mores and everything in between.

Research Weasel. Hmmm. Yes, very sweet ;-) Besides the cute title, what's your favorite part of being an author?

It’s a socially acceptable way to ignore people. ;) Seriously, though, I just love to create stories and play with words. I have also met some really incredible people through writing.

What's your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

I used to be a total pantser, but that resulted in a pretty terrible book which now languishes under the proverbial bed. My first two published books were hybrid plotter/pantser books—I prepared a rough outline and ran with it--which worked reasonably well, but I am trying to plot the one I am currently writing, which seems to be going better. We’ll see what happens when I get to the dreaded middles, as that is what usually trips me up.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d love to make myself invisible, at least occasionally. It would be wonderful for people watching.

Tell us about your new release!

My latest book, Secret Promise, releases October 30 from The Wild Rose Press. It is set in the 1860s, and tells the story of the long-lost brother of the heroine in my first book.
Here's the blurb: 
Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew.
Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she's not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.

Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.
Ooh, I can't wait! I so loved the first book and hope those characters play a part in this one, too! Okay, you’re casting the movie version of your novel – who would you choose for the main characters? We’re talking dream cast.

When I started writing Secret Promise, I envisioned Colin O’Donoghue (Hook, in "Once Upon a Time") as Edward, Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley, in the Harry Potter movies) as Anna, and Kevin Spacey as David Weston—he’s so good at playing complicated villain types. I hadn’t really thought about who would play Anna’s son, Zachary—he’s sort of a weird amalgam of lots of boys, including my own son, and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. J

Awesome cast! Now, Where can readers find your book and where can they find you online?

Here are the buy links for the book:

          The Wild Rose Press



You can find Marin hanging out at, on her group blog at, on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis, Facebook at, or Goodreads at

Thanks for visiting today, Marin! And for offering this great #Giveaway too! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Hop! Cool Authors, Fab Prizes, Tricks and Treats!

Halloween-time is here!  
Time for costumes and pumpkin carving and way-too-much-candy-to eat-all-in-one-sitting feasts! My favorite part of Halloween? Costume parties! The adult version of trick-or-treat, with alcoholic libations as my treat!

For years, I hosted an annual Halloween bash featuring a deadly-but-delicious punch we concocted in college called "Apple Death." Think of Long Island Ice Tea mixed with a Scorpion Bowl, flavored with apple cinnamon-y goodness...
Apple Death is a "delicate" blend of vodka, light rum, Captain Morgan's spiced rum, Apple Jack whiskey, Seagrams 7, Hot Damn cinnamon schnapps, apple cider and cinnamon sticks... light on the cider... mixed "to taste" with early arrivals helping with the tasting... stirred with a long-handled wooden spoon in a giant metal vat and served cold, (although some repeat party guests decided they liked it better warmed up in the microwave, especially on cold Halloween nights!)

I think the original Apple Death was created by some older Colgate friends of ours, class of 1985 (yes, I'm thinking of you, Mike Brown!), who used grain alcohol as the base of the mixture. As we were unable to obtain any grain after they graduated, my roommates and I revised the recipe somewhat for our senior year Halloween party in 1986... and every October after that... right up until I moved to Cape Cod, into a house too small to think about hosting parties of any size in the colder months!
Twenty years of great parties and fun (intoxicated and incriminating) party photos (most of which are thankfully not digital.) But great memories to have... 

Apple Death Punch
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups vodka (or grain alcohol, if you're young and crazy)
2 cups Captain Morgan (or similar spiced rum)
1 cup Seagrams 7 (or similar whiskey)
1 cup Apple Jack Whiskey
1 cup Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapps
Mix in large pot (we use a lobster pot.)
Designate a taste-tester (or two) to tweak ingredients, 
adding more apple jack and schnapps until achieve balance.

What's your favorite Halloween treat? 
Leave a comment below to be entered to win a one of my new CAPE COD BEACH SAND CHARM NECKLACES, pictured here - one lucky winner to be chosen on November 1st! I figured since I write Cape Cod romance, why not offer up a little piece of Cape Cod as my treat... Tell me your favorite Halloween treat (candy, goodie, libation, whatever!) for a chance to win your own bit of the Cape.
Be sure to enter the Giveaway HERE for your chance to win:
Enter for a chance to win:
(1) $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card or
(1) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

...and visit the other blogs along this hop for more chances to win great prizes and Halloween treats! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Feature: Andrea Downing and her Digital Disaster

My guest today is Andrea Downing, award-winning author of historic and contemporary romance with a distinctly Western flare. Yes, I mean Cowboys. (Sizzling hot cowboys, of course!) DANCES OF THE HEART, her latest novel, released earlier this year and sounds like a winner. Definitely on my TBR list for review!

Today Andrea wants to share an experience she had recently that she hopes will save someone else from "digital dissaster." Welcome, Andrea!

Last week I was at a writer’s conference in Bend, Oregon.  It’s a lovely place, what I saw of it, and it was great to reconnect with friends.  So there we all were, happily tootling along in a bus going to the wonderful High Desert Museum, when I had a look at my phone in this bit of free time.  “That’s strange,” I noted.  “I have no cell.  Maybe Verizon is weak out here?”
Well, no.  My pal next to me was also on Verizon and she had three bars.  Wifi luckily was working but cellular, as I was to later learn, had given up the ghost.  Kaput.  Just like that.  At that stage, I didn’t panic because, of course, there was wifi in most places, and the people who NEEDED me—yes, needed me!—were texting.  There was my daughter in Turkey, recently bombed, and ten time zones away.  There were the contractors at my house ripping out two bathrooms in a remodeling project with plenty of questions.  And there was my nephew and his wife in my condo in Jackson, WY, where he’d never been, with the possibility of questions there.  So I didn’t panic.  Yet.
Next morning, after one workshop, when the phone still did not work, I took to my room and contacted Apple via their Chat on line.  Ah, Apple.  You know that fabulous company that knocks out the wonderful phones everyone wants, the computers that are the Rolls Royce of computerdom, and the ever-progressive iPads?  That Apple.  And don’t you believe that their customer service must be equally fantastic?  Ha!  How foolish can one be?  After gaining access to my computer screen and taking me through various steps in an effort to reactivate the phone, and being incredibly rude when I simply asked how long does this take? And after he wrote in red on my screen PATIENCE!!! I had to tell him it didn’t work and he had to tell me to try again and then…he left.  Just like that, ‘Brandon has left the session’ appeared on my screen and I was left with a dead phone.  Completely dead.  Nothing, nada.  No texting, no email, no apps. Dead.
Next free conference slot led me to phone Verizon.  Perhaps, as it was a cellular problem, I should have rung them first—for all the help they were able to give.  You need a new phone, I was told.  We’ll ship it out; you’re covered by the guarantee.  A mix of delight and dread of spending 3 days sans phone swam over me.  I could contact people via tablet or computer and wait patiently for Monday when the phone would arrive in Jackson.  And then, there were the worries about setting it up, whether I could do it, and—quite honestly, this was the biggest dread—fear of hitting an elk or moose as I drove in the dark to my condo.
 Well I didn’t hit an elk or a moose and the phone arrived. But when did we get to this point that our lives are on our phones?  Our banking, our credit cards, our flight information, our contacts with the outer world.  When did we get to this point that being without a phone meant a full blown nervous breakdown, pulling our hair out, and drinking ourselves into a stupor? A feeling of isolation so intense that we might as well be zombies.
Now let me tell you one word of advice.  Make sure you have a small paper clip on you at all times.  Why?  Ha!  Because when that phone arrived and I had to take out and replace the SIM card, the only—and I do mean ONLY—way to get into the compartment is with a small paper clip.  Which I didn’t have.  Not a single one in the entire house.  I emptied my bag of flashlight, tissues, umbrella, pens, 2 notebooks, wallet, eye drops and whatever else was living at the bottom, and there was no paperclip.
Please put one in your purse now.  You never know when you’ll need it to reconnect with the outer world.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * 

About the Book:
Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancĂ©.
Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.
On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.
About the Author:

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK. She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit. Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC. She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 25 ranches throughout the west 

Loveland, Andrea’s first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series and released Oct. 8, 2014.  It won ‘Favorite Hero’ along with Honorable Mentions for Favorite Heroine, Short Story and Novel in the Maple Leaf Awards. It has also won The Golden Quill Award for Best Novella. Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, released in February 2015.

Links to Social Media: 
Twitter:  @andidowning