Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION by Jade Lee


So this year I’m giving up on the usual lose weight, eat right, work out more resolutions. Though I will say I’m going to try to meditate more. And I would like to do more yoga. I used to teach a yoga class. Now I’m lucky if I can find a down dog much less do one. But I’m ignoring all that and focusing on this single new year’s resolution.

I’m going to read one new author a month.

Sure everyone has their stand by favorites. I’ll always buy the next Dresden book by Jim Butcher and Elizabeth Hoyt is a favorite (and a good friend). I’m working my way through Georgette Heyer classics and Julie Ann Walker is just fun to read. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

There are literally thousands of good books out there by authors I’ve never read. A few of them are on the Casablanca list. Just look below:. 

So...my first new read is going to be Sara Humphreys Untamed. 


Then I’ve got Mary Wine on my list too; A Captain and a Corset
Haven’t ever read a steampunk book, so I thought I’d give a new genre a try.



So what about you? Who are you going to try that’s new or different? Tell me and one lucky commenter will get a book by me to try! 

Oh, here’s my latest. Don’t let the cover fool you. There’s some trademark Jade Lee hot sex in there!


-Jade

Monday, December 30, 2013

We Need a Resolution


I admit: I’m a list-maker. No matter whether my plan for the day reaches to five things or fifty, I feel like I’ve made progress just by writing everything down.

Image: Money Saving Mom
As you might expect, this organizational tendency extends to my writing career. Before my first historical romance was published in 2011, I made a four-month bucket list of goals and reported back on them every month. Four career goals (ranging from corralling my TBR pile to a regular word count) and four personal goals (for example, keep plants alive). Since then, my TBR pile has grown and I’ve killed a cactus. Er. Nobody’s perfect.

At the end of the year, lots of people start thinking of resolutions or goals for the coming year. As various family members gathered for the holidays, I polled them on what they wanted most for 2014.

Mr. R’s goal for the new year: “to weigh no more at the end of it than I do at the beginning of it.”
Brother R’s? “To survive.”
Little Miss R: “Coloring!”
Dad R: “To get a book published.”
Mom R: “Go to Israel. Maybe? Make two stained glass windows. Stay solvent. Figure out new insurance.”

And for me? I got a 2014 planner last month, and I'm working on filling it in. My goal is to make all my deadlines—and corral my TBR pile, and keep our plants alive.

Do you have a goal for yourself for 2014?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holidaze

Does anyone else ever get the dreaded "gift blackouts" that seem to plague me at this time of year?
I adore buying and making gifts for my loved ones. As Christmas Day gets closer and closer, I get panicky. I begin to scour the stores.
"My brother doesn't have enough to open. Ooh, this is on sale. Hey, my husband would like this. Dammit, he already has too many gifts. Wait, does he? I have no idea what I've got for everyone, so I'll go ahead and buy it."
At the end of the shopping day, I'm surrounded by seventeen more presents that I didn't expect to give.
The Christmas blackouts apply to myself too.
"Hey, let's go shopping at the after-Christmas sales! Ooh, I need this and this and I've always wanted to watch this movie it's on sale and we need this for the house and..."
Suddenly the pile of gifts that were given to me and husband is nearly equaled by the things we bought ourselves.
I don't ever regret buying gifts for my family and friends, but I always wish we could do more for them. Gift-giving is one of the ways I can let my important people know just HOW important they are to me. And honestly, I really don't shop for myself during the year much at all. So maybe my case of Holidaze isn't so bad after all.
It could be worse, couldn't it, Mr. Scrooge?

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season. I most certainly did. :)

Christmas Downunder


What does Christmas mean for me? Along with family, friends, celebrations and sweltering summers, there's also far too much baking and food. Baking is one of the few hobbies I really enjoy outside of writing, and when it comes to this time of the year, all of our family functions revolve around feasts.

But Christmas in Australia is a little different from that of the Northern Hemisphere. For one thing, it's not unusual to sweat our way through +40 degrees Celsius on Christmas Day, which makes the traditional turkey roast sometimes impossible. Seafood is commonly found on the table, but it's what comes after lunch that always catches my attention. Dessert.

This year, I thought I'd try a few different takes on the traditional fare. Two desserts that are strongly Australian are the Trifle and the Pavlova (whipped egg whites mixed with sugar and baked, which creates a light fluffy cake, upon which we pour fruit, passionfruit syrup, raspberry sauce... pretty much anything you want). I didn't make a 'pav' this year, but I thought I'd attempt a slightly different version of a trifle. This was really easy and delicious! The recipe is here, though I corrupted it a bit.


It's basically a layer of:
  • raspberry jelly with strawberries and fresh raspberries floating in it
  • followed by a layer of raspberry sauce (the recipe called for jam, but I had excess raspberry sauce for my sister's cake - it's basically raspberries plus a splash of lime/lemon juice and sugar, simmered) 
  • a layer of cake (funnily enough I had an excess of white chocolate mud cake too, though you could probably use any type of cake; a common alternative is a jam roll)
  • more raspberry sauce
  • strawberries layered around the sides of the bowl
  • then the white chocolate custard layer (cream plus melted white chocolate, cooled, then mascarpone cheese added and whipped in. I always half the amounts when it comes to rich food, so I used 250g Mascarpone and 1 cup cream stirred into about 180 gms white chocolate. It still worked - and tasted amazing - though you can double the cream and mascarpone if you want)
  • I added white chocolate Lindt balls to decorate and fresh raspberries which I had left over.
Then refrigerate for a few hours and let the magic begin (this is the important step as it all needs time to soak).




But the piece de resistance is the cake I spent hours making for my little sister's 18th birthday party the weekend before Christmas. I'm not quite sure how I ended up becoming official cake-maker for my sister's birthdays, but, not having kids myself, its the next best thing. 

It's the first time I've attempted chocolate curls (as you can see, they ended up more like chocolate flowers, but 'oh well'.) It's also my first time trying to work an ombre effect into the icing. It took four different pots of chocolate ganache (melted white chocolate and cream - awesome icing!), dyed alternating levels of pinkness, a lot of patience and about three hours work all up, to ice and finish the cake.



The white chocolate mud cake recipe is here, if anyone is interested and I highly recommend it. Was an amazing recipe for a function cake, and all I did was double the batter to get two tiers. 

For any amateur bakers, I'll admit it wasn't as hard as I thought, and this is the first time I've had any reasonable success with a birthday cake - they never quite turn out as planned!

So what are your favourite recipes for this time of year? I'm always interested in finding something new to make and I love attempting something from another culture. 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.


MY LADY QUICKSILVER BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES OCTOBER 2013

“I WILL COME FOR YOU…”

He will find her no matter what. As a blue-blooded captain of the Nighthawk Guard, Sir Jasper Lynch's senses are keener than most. Some think he’s indestructible. But once he finds the elusive Mercury, what will he do with her? 

It’s his duty to turn her in—she’s a notorious spy and traitor. But after one stolen moment, he can’t forget the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her, or the sharp sting of betrayal as she slipped off into the night. Little does Mercury know, no one hunts better than the Nighthawk. And his greatest revenge will be to leave her begging for his touch…

To purchase My Lady Quicksilver

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Theme of This Christmas

You remember the part in A CHRISTMAS STORY when poor Ralphie gets that hideous bunny suit?

Well, nothing like that happened to me this Christmas. All of my presents were awesome. They usually are. ...And I've noticed that Christmases seem to have different themes every year. One year, books, another movies, another, music, ... and cats.

This year I think the theme was warmth.

There was warmth of spirit with the gift of an awesome ratchet from my uncle, a note from my father that parts for my precious car would be forthcoming, custom erasers for my drawing projects from my best friend, and 10 copies of my book to use in giveaways from my roommate, a Nine Inch Nails concert tee from my brother, and other awesome gifts that were well thought out.

Then I received an awesome set of fuzzy indoor socks from my stepmother, snow pants, gloves, and thick outdoor socks from my friend, and the softest blanket imaginable from my grandmother. Everyone seemed to know that I had few warm clothes.

But my favorite part of Christmas is of course the giving. I gave my brother a gigantic HELLRAISER poster, and my roommate received a bunch of stuff he needed. My son was insanely spoiled with things he'd been requesting for a long time.

I also managed to get something for every family member.

I also utilized my often neglected artistic ability to make two gifts.

Here's a scratch board I made for my best friend:

  
And here's a portrait I drew for my roommate. The subject is his wonderful daughter.


It warms me more than anything to see people smile when I create something for them.

What are some of the best Christmas presents you've received that you remember most? Which are some of the best you've given?

Remember that I was gifted with extra copies of my book? One lucky commenter will win a copy of BITE ME, YOUR GRACE! 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Your Go-to Book

What's your go-to book? What book do you re-read over and over or find yourself reaching for on gloomy days?

I seem to always come back to the classic Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice. There's just something comforting about Lizzie and Darcy, even when they make me cringe.

I also tend to grab my old Julie Garwood historicals. The Secret and The Gift are two of my favorites. Garwood always makes me laugh.