Blushed with Fame . . . and a Touch of Garlic

I’m hard at work on Gretchen’s story, Blushed with Fame, the next novel in my Girls Who Dish series. Gretchen is in southern Spain to film segments for her cooking show, Dessert Diva Does Spain. So naturally I’ve been researching all things southern Spain – the landscape, the people and, of course, the food.

Convent cookies play a significant role in this novel. These cookies, prized by tourists and locals alike, are a big deal in Spain. Many of the recipes are centuries old and carefully guarded. Gretchen is determined to get her hands on one of those recipes so she can share it with her viewers. Her show is all that matters. She’s intent on turning it into the top cooking show on TV.

However, a funny thing happens as Gretchen pushes forward with her plan. The charm of southern Spain, along with regular servings of garlicky pan con tomate, works some kind of magic. She begins to soften, to wonder if there’s more to life than being a TV star. Complicating everything is the return of Ashton Carter. The owner of Food News TV is so aloof she’s pretty sure he has alien DNA. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the only man she’s ever met who makes her want to hang curtains and buy flowers and cook pot roast.

And that’s just not right. The whole domestic goddess thing totally creeps her out. Domestic is not her style.

But garlic and pan con tomate weren’t her style before coming to Spain either and she’s been eating a lot of both. Or, rather, she’s been eating a lot of pan con tomate. Lately she’s been passing on the garlic. Because things are starting to heat up in interesting ways with Ashton Carter.

He may not have alien DNA after all.

Books, Books and More Books

christmastreeJust in time for holiday reading, Million Dollar Blues is now available through a number of ebook suppliers. I’m excited to finally have this story out and I’m hard at work on book two in the series! For links, head to my books page and click on your preferred retailer.

But enough about me. It’s the season of giving and I’m giving books to friends and family this year. Since I tracked the books I read in 2016,  it’s easy to look back and find some favorites. Here are some titles to help you buy for the readers on your list.

For fiction lovers:

First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Phillips is the undisputed Queen of character-driven romance and her latest novel doesn’t disappoint. Private Eye Piper Dove has been hired to trail former Chicago Stars quarterback Cooper Graham. It’s all spark and snap from the minute they meet. There’s a touch of mystery in this one too. Perfect for the romance reader on your list.

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. Polly escapes to a seaside British town after a relationship ends. In an effort to forget things, she begins to bake bread . . . the locals hear about it . . . and so does a reticent local beekeeper. A cross between chick lit and women’s fiction with a dash of romance.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin. This debut novel by Sharon Guskin centers on five-year-old Noah who has overpowering memories of a past life, a life that seem to have ended with many unanswered questions. Desperate, Noah’s mother turns to an aging psychologist who is near the end of his own life but is still willing to take on one last case. Captivating with a number of twists and turns I didn’t see coming.

Close to Home by Lisa Jackson. For the suspense lovers on your reading list. Vowing to make a fresh start, Sarah McAdams has come home to renovate the old Victorian mansion where she grew up, but there are some horrifying secrets buried within the house. If that’s not enough for you, teenage girls are going missing . . . and Sarah has two girls of her own.

With Malice by Eileen Cook. This YA thriller has the 18-year-old heroine in a hospital bed for a large part of the book and yet it still manages to hold your attention and draw you forward. Jill Charron wakes up in the hospital after a car accident she was involved in during a school trip to Italy left one person dead. Jill can’t remember what happened . . . she only knows she’s at the centre of a murder investigation.

For Food lovers:

My Kitchen Year: 136 recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichel. I love Reichel’s writing and the only thing wrong with this book was that it had to end. The book chronicles the year after Gourmet Magazine unexpectedly closed its doors putting editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichel, out of work. Facing an uncertain future, Reichel turned to the one place that had always provided solace: the kitchen. The book follows the changing seasons and provides an intimate look into a woman who is struggling with change at mid-life; it also delivers some of Reichel’s favorite recipes.

Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon. We try to eat vegetarian once or twice a week but I’m not a vegan. This vegan cookbook, however, could turn me into one. The recipes are amazing. You feel healthy just reading them. If you’re gifting this book, buy an extra copy for yourself. And check out Liddon’s blog too.

For non-fiction lovers:

10% Happier by Dan Harris. Subtitled ‘How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story, Harris’s book is smart, brave and funny. Harris is an ABC news correspondent and after a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America he knew he had to make some changes. His search for a deeper understanding of what makes all of us tick and his ultimate solution to destressing led him to meditation – or as he puts it ‘sitting around and doing nothing’. He went in a skeptic and came out a believer and in the process he gained some helpful insights. Highly recommended.

Unearthed by Alexandra Risen. As Risen uncovers and revives a large, neglected garden in the centre of Toronto, she comes to understand, accept and make peace with her past. A deeply personal testament to the healing powers of nature.

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. Told in an exchange of letters between mother and son, this book came about because of Cooper’s desire to get closer to his mother after she suffered a brief but serious illness at the age of 91. It’s an interesting glimpse into the private life of two public people, and Cooper’s journalistic take on things is quite a contrast to his mother’s sunny optimism.

Happy gift giving!

A Fall Makeover

website-redesign-for-marketing-350x282It’s time for a new look and a new website. Laura Tobias has been completely redesigned, thanks to the talented Jessica Veinot. She revamped my Laura Langston site too. Pop on by and take a look. While you’re there be sure and subscribe to my new mailing list. You won’t hear from me often – only when I have a new release or special offer.

Speaking of which, Million Dollar Blues is scheduled for publication by the end of November. Watch this space for your opportunity to pre-order!

Watch For It!

milliondollarblues-300x450Here’s a sneak peek at the cover for Million Dollar Blues. Thanks to Viola at Estrella Cover Design for doing such a terrific job. It’s a contemporary women’s fiction novel with strong romantic elements and it’s quite a departure from What Lainey Sees. There are no past lives in sight and the only suspense in Million Dollar Blues is a 75 million dollar lottery win! The novel should be available for preorder soon. Watch this space for updates.

Seeding Heavy

I plant heavy and I tend to write long. That means my garden overflows even after I thin and prune. And it means my novels sometimes get a little out of control before I revise them down to an acceptable length.

I can plant sparsely. I’ve done it plenty of times. I can write lean prose too. I do it when I wear my Laura Langston hat and write novella length books for reluctant teens (watch for In Plain Sight coming in 2017).

Gardens and books start with seeds – the seed of an idea or the seed of a tomato – and in the beginning stages, it’s my nature to seed heavy. With garden seeds, you rarely get 100% germination so it’s prudent to allow for some failure. With novels, you never know which tiny tangent, random piece of dialogue or secondary character might play an important role in the final novel. I outline, but not rigidly, and I like to leave room for surprises.

That means starting out like this if I want a garden bed of basil:

And starting like this if I want to work my way down to something publishable:

Then I need to take that overwritten book and revise it, and take that over seeded flat and thin it. I like the process. But last weekend, as I worked outside transplanting peppers I’d grown from seed, I felt a little sad at the number of plants that wouldn’t make it to the garden. They’d germinated but they were either stunted or so far behind the other seedlings that there was no point potting them up.

Coincidentally, the day after I finished my garden work, I was back at the computer editing Million Dollar Blues and feeling a little blue myself at the passages and phrases I had to delete.

But if I want to get to this:

And eventually this:

Then the work of thinning and revising has to be done. It requires a certain ruthlessness that can be painful. But the end result is always worth it.