Sunday, December 11, 2016

#PNR and #UF Giveaway Party!



Christmas is just around the corner and what a wonderful time for a huge (awesome) giveaway. A group of authors got together to bring you this Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway!

One lucky winner is going to win SIXTY-TWO (that’s right 62) Paperback Books! How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?!

If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, Dystopian Fiction, or Paranormal/Sci-Fi Romance, you’re going to want to get in on this! The best part is that even if you don’t win, you’ll be subscribed to the sponsoring authors newsletters for a chance to grab some freebies, snag some special offers, and enter more giveaways!

Here are a couple of sneak peeks at what you could win!

Excerpt from FOXBLOOD: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon

The funeral was a typically sombre affair, alive with soggy tissues and streaky make-up. I stood at the back, letting the vicar’s voice wash over me, and spent the whole time staring at the flower-laden coffin, wondering if the lid would suddenly flip up and a fanged monster would escape to reap its vengeance on the congregation.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen, and as the mourners dispersed in the direction of the pub, I quietly snuck off home. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds and needed time to think, time to try to make sense of at least something, but as I turned to close the door, it was obstructed by a perfectly polished black shoe that belonged to…

“Sebastian?”

“Seb, please,” he said, easing his way through. “Only my father calls me Sebastian.” He checked down the backstreet and closed the door securely. His eyes scanned the flat. “Nice place.”

“I like it.”

“It doesn’t bother you? Living over a funeral parlour?” he asked.

“Why would it? The neighbours are quiet.”

He didn’t laugh at my joke; neither did he comment. He simply stood silently, staring. It was very unnerving and made my legs go all wobbly. Perhaps if I turned away from him, he’d disappear again? It was worth a shot. I forced my jelly legs over to the front window and stared out at nothing in particular. The light was subdued, and the sky had darkened to an air force grey. A low mist was beginning to carpet the distant fields, and I wondered if snow had been forecast.

I knew my little experiment hadn’t worked. He was still there. I could feel his presence and smell his scent, a musky, inviting aroma that filled my senses and sent my head into a whirl, and it was getting stronger.

“Your friends interrupted us the other day. Can we talk now?” he whispered softly into my neck, and his fingertips traced a fiery trail down my spine.

“What’s the point? There’s nothing to say. I wish you’d just leave me alone,” I said, lowering my head in time to see Lara leaving the newsagents. She glanced up with a look of fury contorting her face as Sebastian’s hands reached around either side of me and grabbed the window frame.

“I can’t do that. I’m not that strong,” he said.

I studied the arms now imprisoning me, with their perfectly formed muscles straining against the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt, and seriously doubted his statement. His stance was predatory and made me feel uncomfortable. I ducked under his elbow to escape, but he caught me around the waist and pulled me against him. Our bodies moulded together perfectly, and the strength of his grip made me feel like a china doll that he’d be able to crush in an instant. He was almost a full head taller than I was, and the warmth of his breath caressed my forehead. How easy it would be to reach up and taste those lips. I imagined the feel of them, and my own parted in an involuntary invitation.

The full Foxblood series can be seen here: http://foxifae.wixsite.com/raquellyon

--

Excerpt from DRAGON’S WEB by Lia Davis

Cayden watched a single tear roll down her cheek. She wasn’t lying. Her story explained why she’d suddenly disappeared. However, Nyna believed that Kara left town with a guy she met on the Internet. It was most likely a story her uncle had fed her. “You’ve been held captive for the last year and a half?”

Kara nodded and glanced up at him. “I need to tell Nyna her uncle is not the nice, caring man she believes him to be.”

“Yet you can’t just show up and blurt that out. Nyna was crushed when you left…were kidnapped.” He silently cursed himself for revealing Nyna’s feelings to Kara. Yet he couldn’t lie to her. Not that he made a habit of being dishonest with anyone. It wasn’t his nature. However, Kara stirred an attraction that no one except Nyna had sparked in both the man and the dragon. It both confused and intrigued him. Pushing off the wall, he moved to stand in front of her. “Stand up.”

She reluctantly did as he commanded. He lifted her chin and locked gazes with her. The green in her eyes darkened slightly. “What are your intentions with Nyna?”

“I love her. She’s the only family I have, and thoughts of her are what kept me strong and alive for the last year and a half. I’ll fight you for her.” Her green eyes shone with unshed tears. Wild fear mixed with determination rolled off her.

So will I. He entertained the idea that he could include Kara in the web. It was tricky, but it had been done. His magic was strong. He could build a big enough web to bind the three of them together. However, he had to be sure Kara’s intentions were true to her heart. His curse could only be broken if the love within the union was strong and pure. In other words, he couldn’t cast a love spell. No, the only spell he was allowed to cast over his chosen female, or females in this case, was the dragon’s web; the enchantment to start the bonding that could hopefully break his curse.

For your chance to win this fantastic prize, ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE!

Thanks for stopping by today. What a fun way to fill a lot of stocking this Christmas! Are you giving books as Christmas gifts this year? If so, won’t this be a great gift to win for someone (including yourself) or for several people on your Christmas list? Do you enjoy getting books as gifts?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Capering on Glass Bridges ... Writing Advice


I’m delighted to welcome author Jessica Hernandez to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her release, CAPERING ON GLASS BRIDGES, and share some of her advice for aspiring writers.

The Utdrendans have spoken, and everything has changed as a consequence. People normally avoid the fog surrounding the cursed Kingdom of Mar, but now they are asking sixteen-year-old Kaia Stone to venture into it. The Utdrendans implied that there is something special about Kaia. They claimed that she could help free the land; she need only carry out their instructions and deliver a message to the Marian king.
Mar, however, is a land in which dark secrets abound, and many will stop at nothing to ensure that it remains forever cursed. Determined to work against Kaia, unfriendly forces have already begun to gather.
Will Kaia choose to abandon the only life she’s ever known—perhaps indefinitely—in pursuit of the greater good…in pursuit of her purpose?

CAPERING ON GLASS BRIDGES is available to purchase at Amazon, Barnesand Noble, Apple’siBooks, and Kobo.

Now join me in giving a warm welcome to Jessica and she shares some important lessons. Welcome, Jessica.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit your site, Mason. :)

Hello, everyone! When I was presented with the opportunity to guest blog, I spent some time trying to decide on a topic to write about. I wanted to put together a concise post that would prove both interesting and informative. For this reason, I decided on sharing with aspiring writers two pieces of advice.

*Clears throat*

Without further ado, I present a couple of important lessons that I’ve learned as an author:

1.      Outline before you start writing.

Trust me, this might just save you a whole lot of time. (I’m talking months.) I’ve written two books. Initially, I did not create an outline for my debut novel. I sat down in December of 2014 to “pants” my way through Capering on Glass Bridges. After writing about seven thousand or so words, I realized that I didn’t like how the story was coming out, so I discarded it and left the project alone for a few weeks. In March of 2015, I sat down at my desk and created an outline of my story. As I’m sure you can imagine, the writing process went a lot smoother thereafter.

In my opinion, the outline has a function akin to that of a compass; it helps one better understand the different directions in which a story can be taken. It also aids one in identifying—and addressing—problematic aspects of their story. Outlines don’t have to be extremely detailed. For instance, mine are rather skeletal. I make sure to leave sufficient room so as to allow the plot to evolve as the story progresses.

2.     Write every scene as though it’s your favorite

When you’re working on a scene that you’re particularly excited about, passion tends to seep onto the page. It follows, then, that if you approach every scene as though it’s the one you’ve been dying to pen, your entire novel will bear the mark of your passion.

Why is this important? Look at your writing. Earnestly, go ahead and look at either a completed project or a current work in progress. Flip to the scene that you consider your favorite. Read it over. Now, go and read a scene which doesn’t hold the distinction of being a favorite of yours. Do you notice a difference in the writing? Scrutinize the two scenes’ pace, imagery, and attention to detail. Is there a difference? Do you feel more immersed and invested in the story when reading your favorite passage? If so, I’m sure it’s evident now why it’s important to write every scene as though it’s the one that you cherish above all others. It’s bound to elevate the quality of your work.

Jessica, thanks for joining us today. If an author can’t feel passionate about a scene, I don’t know how they think a reader will be able to. Great tips.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Jessica, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Jessica Hernandez
Jessica Hernandez was born and raised in the beautiful, sunny state of Florida. She attended the University of Miami, where she spent more time than she cares to admit daydreaming of a faraway land called Acu.

Upon graduating with a degree in English and Political Science in 2014, Jessica put pen to paper and brought Acu to life—so was born the Hawk of Stone duology.

For more on Jessica and her writing, visit her blog and connect with her on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for dropping by today during Jessica’s visit. What are your thoughts on being passionate about scenes you write (or read)? Any advice to aspiring writers?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Seldom Traveled & More


I’m always delighted to welcome author Marilyn Meredith back to Thoughts in Progress because it means she has a new book out in one of my favorite series. This time the book is in her Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and is entitled, SELDOM TRAVELED.

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

SELDOM TRAVELED is available to purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

With wildfires popping up all over the country in recent months, Marilyn joins us today to talk about how she came to write about wildfires in her book. Welcome, Marilyn.

Because of the ongoing drought in California, the state has been plagued with forest fires. When I began writing my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, we still had an occasional day of rain and hope for the drought to be over. I had no idea what was to come, but the more I wrote, the more I knew that there would be a forest fire in the mountains close to my fictional town of Bear Creek.

To make sure what I wrote was accurate, I consulted a friend of mine who was a volunteer firefighter and still is used on fires with his truck to get supplies. He helped me a lot. Here is an excerpt that includes part of a fire scene:

“You might find that more difficult than you think,” Tempe said. “We’ve got a situation.”
“Can’t be any worse than the one I’m in.”
“You’re wrong. I’m afraid it is much worse.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Haven’t you smelled the smoke?”
“I know there’s a forest fire, but it’s a long ways off.”
“Not far away at all.”
He shoved her. “Show me.”
She moved toward the front door and opened it. Things had changed in the short time she’d been inside the cabin. “Oh, dear God, we’re in big trouble.”
The fire had worsened considerably. Black smoke billowed up from the valley. The wind blew fiercely. The air felt hot against her face. Embers fell all around. She couldn’t see any flames, but it wouldn’t be long.
Delano let loose with a string of swear words. “We’re doomed.”
“Don’t give up yet. Let’s get in my truck and see if we can make it back to the main highway.” She galloped toward her vehicle.
“I’m right behind you. Don’t try any funny stuff. Remember, I’ve got your gun.”
She didn’t bother to answer, the smoke made breathing hard. Pulling open the driver’s door she hopped in.
Within seconds, Delano was beside her. “Get us out of here.”
She hoped that she could. She knew better than to drive too fast because of all the potholes in the road, but if they didn’t hurry they weren’t going to make it.
Maneuvering around the curves as fast as she thought safe wasn’t fast enough for Delano.
“Step on it.”
“I can’t go any faster. If we break down, we’ll be in a worse mess than we are now.” She eased around one curve and then the next.
When she came to the place where she thought the road started to straighten, she knew they couldn’t get through. She braked.
“What are you doing?”
“We aren’t going to make it. Not this way anyway. Take a look ahead.”
A wall of flames crossed the road. The treetops on either side blazed. Sparks flew high into the sky.
Tempe put the truck in reverse, going back the way they’d just come.
Delano gasped. “The whole mountain is on fire. We’re doomed.”

That’s just a taste of my story. A forest fire is frightening. The destruction and devastation it leaves in its path is horrifying. The fire at Lake Isabella left many homeless and took a few lives. In August we had a fire in our own mountain area, fortunately it was extinguished before it burned many acres for threatened any homes.

Some extra thoughts About Seldom Traveled

When I began writing this latest addition of Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s life, I had no idea that the plot would include a forest fire. I knew who would be the murder victim, had some ideas about the varied suspects—but really didn’t know who the guilty party would be.

I included the missing felon, because we had a similar case where the felon fled to our little town—and promptly disappeared. Not even the search dogs could find him. Nothing has ever appeared in the paper about him being found. (My theory is that a friend of his who lived in the area probably whisked him away in a vehicle.) My fictional version is very much a part of the plot.

Which brings me back to the forest fire—as the story took form, I knew that Tempe would be threatened by a fire. The book itself was finished and turned into the publisher long before all the real fires struck all over California.

Just thought these were some facts about Seldom Traveled your readers might find interesting. -- Marilyn

Marilyn, thanks for joining us today and explaining how parts of your story came to be. Wildfires have destroyed much in recent months.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Marilyn, here’s a little background on her.

Author Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

For more on Marilyn and her writing, visit her website and blog, as well as connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter.

New Contest: 

Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Tomorrow Marilyn will be visiting http://willkillforastory.blogspot.com/

Thanks for stopping by today during Marilyn’s visit. Have you ever experienced a wildfire? Have you ever been involved in helping put out a fire?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Better Off Thread {+ Giveaway}


BETTER OFF THREAD by Amanda Lee
◊ Series: Embroidery Mystery, Book 10
◊ Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
◊ Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
◊ Publisher: Berkley (December 6, 2016)
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 045147385X
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0451473851

SYNOPSIS:

Santa finds himself in a stitch of trouble in the tenth in the series from the national bestselling author of The Stitching Hour...
 
Marcy is busy helping her customers make hand-crafted ornaments at her embroidery shop, the Seven-Year Stitch. But despite the yuletide bustle, when her friend Captain Moe asks for her help, she can’t refuse—especially when the favor is to play the elf to his Santa for sick children at a local hospital. Despite the ridiculous outfit, Marcy finds herself enjoying spreading cheer—until the hospital’s administrator is found murdered.
Although the deceased had plenty of people willing to fill her stocking with coal, evidence pins the crime on Moe. Now it’s up to Marcy, with the help of her police officer boyfriend Ted and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, to stitch together the clues to clear Moe’s name—before someone else winds up crossed off Santa’s list for good...

There’s something about author Amanda Lee’s books that continues to make them inviting and warm despite the fact murder always lurks just around the corner.

Lee has created well-developed, warm, and friendly characters. They are easy for readers to relate to. With each new adventure, the characters evolve a bit but new fans don’t have to worry they’ll miss something if they haven’t followed from the beginning.

BETTER OFF THREAD moves at a good pace and the twists as the story unfolds will keep you guessing. There’s a good blend of suspense, romance, humor, and friendship for a well-balanced story. The small-town setting adds a layer of intrigue to the story.

You don’t have to be enamored with embroidery or cross stitch to enjoy this story. It’s a delightful tale that will entertain you for hours and the characters will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

Better Off Thread by Amanda Lee, Embroidery Mystery (Book #10), Berkley, @2016, ISBN: 978-0451473851, Mass Market Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, I have a print copy of BETTER OFF THREAD by Amanda Lee to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Friday, Dec. 16.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Do you have to enjoy a craft to be able to read a craft-related themed book? How is your Christmas reading coming along?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Forever’s Holiday Celebration Blog Tour


‘Tis the season to celebrate and I’m delighted to be a part of Forever’s Holiday Celebration Blog Tour today! Five of Forever’s authors with brand new Christmas romances are sharing their favorite holiday recipes and memories.

Come join in the fun, have a few laughs, and finds some new recipes to try this holiday season, as well as five delightful Christmas romance stories to read.

CAROLYN BROWN’S PUMPKIN BREAD

Kids, grandchildren, great-grands, all coming home for the holidays—the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in the oven—everyone waiting for it to get done so they can slice it up while it’s still hot, slather butter or whipped cream cheese on it, and tell the age-old stories about the holidays we’ve had in the house. That’s the stuff memories are made off and every time I smell pumpkin bread it puts a smile on my face for the whole day.

PUMPKIN BREAD
This makes 2 loaves and 8 muffins; Or it makes one Bundt cake

½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
2 2/3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-16 ounce can)
3 ½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 cup pecans (optional)
2/3 cup of cold strong black coffee
(NOTE: I use all butter if I’m out of shortening or even oil)

1.      Cream first four ingredients.
2.     Add canned pumpkin.
3.     Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee
4.    Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour for loaves or bundt cake, 25 minutes for muffins, or until they test done in the center.
5.     Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
6.    Cool completely before frosting with Harvest Moon Frosting (below).
HARVEST MOON FROSTING
3 egg whites
1½ cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a double boiler. Cook 7 minutes, beating the whole time with an electric mixer, over the boiling water.  The frosting will stand in peaks when done. Add vanilla.  Beat until thick enough to spread.

Find out more about Carolyn Brown at her website.

PAULA QUINN’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES


My dad used to live across the street from us. Every year, when my kids were little, he would dress up like Santa, climb out his window on the second floor, and hang Christmas lights on his fire escape. My kids would watch from our window with wonder in their eyes, unaware that it was grandpa. He would turn and wave to them, sending them into little fits of breathlessness. Later, we would visit grandma and grandpas for homemade cookies (left there for them by Santa). The house was always fully decked out with every Christmas decoration imaginable with Alvin and the Chipmunks on repeat while the kids hunted down little pre-Christmas gifts hed hide for them. I loved witnessing the magic of Christmas and love through their eyes. Now grown, my kids will sometimes still look out the window at his fire escape and smile, remembering a grandpa who loved them beyond measure.

GRANDPA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (A favored Italian recipe)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3½ cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

1.      Sift dry ingredients.
2.     Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs; add vanilla and dry ingredients.
3.     Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands.
4.    Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and then twirl into shape.
5.     Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
ICING
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 teaspoons water

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir until creamy. Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles.

Find out more about Paula Quinn at her website.

DEBBIE MASON TREE TRIMMING PARTY

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is our tree trimming party. We’ve held one every year for the past thirty years. Though I don’t know if it qualifies as a party seeing as it’s just the immediate family. But we do make a thing of it with our favorite carols playing in the background, fire on (mostly for ambience), hot chocolate served in festive mugs, lots of holiday treats, and a special ornament for each of the kids and grandkids to open before the tree decorating gets under way.


But I think the most fun for all of us isn’t decorating the tree, it’s unpacking the ornaments. I’ve always tried to buy an ornament that’s uniquely suited to each of the kids, whether it was a sport they were into that year or a movie, book, or hobby they loved, so unwrapping each one brings back a lot of special memories. Here’s a peek at just some of the collection. I don’t think it will be long before we have to break from tradition and let the kids take some of the ornaments home to decorate their own trees. Either that or we’ll have to put up another tree.


And this one in my office doesn’t count. :) Every year, my family gifts me with an ornament too. This year they gave me these three adorable ornaments to celebrate the release of the first book in the new Harmony Harbor series, MISTLETOE COTTAGE, and the short story, CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL.


Find out more about Debbie Mason at her website.

HOPE RAMSAY’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Every year for the last quarter-century, or possibly longer, I have set aside the Saturday closest to Christmas to bake gingerbread cookies with my children, and now, with my grandchildren. These are the only cookies I make at Christmas time, and the activity is more about family fun than turning out a perfect cookie. Usually I do most of the rolling, cutting, and baking. And the rest of the family does the decorating.


The magic is in the royal icing. The white icing is a snap to make, and it can be divided up into small bowls and colored with food dye, creating pots of colored cookie paint. I give each child (or adult) a watercolor paint brush and let them paint the icing onto the cookies. The kids have a blast, and the cookies always come out looking wonderfully homemade. 


To me, cookie baking embodies everything I love about Christmas: kids, family, baking, and yummy desserts.


GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH
Makes about 6 Dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
1 egg at room temperature
½ cup unsulphured molasses

1.      Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, backing soda, and salt.
2.     Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.
3.     On low speed, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
4.    Cut the dough into thirds, pat into disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm – 2 hours or overnight.
5.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/16-inch-thick and cut cookies with cookie cutters.  Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie turn brown.
6.    Let cool on sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.  Decorate with royal icing.
ROYAL ICING
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup water

Using a mixer, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until fluffy, thick & shiny (about 10 minutes). Divide the icing into smaller bowls and color it using food coloring. 

Find out more about Hope Ramsay at her website.

OLIVIA MILES SNOWFLAKE COOKIES

In my newest release, CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET, my heroine owns a cookie bakery. As this story takes place over the holidays, I thought hard about a signature cookie she might make, and eventually I settled on charming snowflake cookies. Of course, these are not just any old cut out cookie, though. No, Kara makes them by the dozen, sure to keep each one in the batch distinct in shape and decoration, because no two snowflakes are ever the same, after all! And it’s these snowflake cookies that she delivers every day to the inn in Briar Creek…where a Christmas visitor falls in love with more than just her cookies. 

I hope you all enjoy these snowflake cookies as much as Nate does! :)

KARA’S SNOWFLAKE COOKIES (sugar cookie cut-out and royal icing recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1.      Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
2.     Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
3.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
4.    Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
ROYAL ICING
2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
Juice of 1 lemon
3 drops glycerin

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Decorate each as you wish!

Find out more about Olivia Miles at her website.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you’ll check out these charming stories and these tasty recipes. Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie you make every year? Do you have a Christmas tradition?