Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seven Years...and a Time for Change

Coming Summer 2014! Design by E.M. Tippetts
It's nearly impossible for me to believe that seven years (to the day!) has gone by since I began this blog. I remember exactly when and why I started it: I'd gotten the very exciting call two weeks prior that I was a 2007 RWA Golden Heart finalist for According to Jane and, with that, the thrilling launch of my online professional life, along with my very first author website ;).

A lot has happened in the years since. I won that Golden Heart award, sold several novels (eventually!) to a traditional New York publisher, indie published several others, hit the USA Today bestseller list and the #1 spot on both the Amazon and the B&N Top 100 lists...and, best of all, made some WONDERFUL friends in the writing world, online and off. I'm incredibly grateful to you all.

Many more professional publishing-related tasks have been added to my workday in the past few years, though, and not much has been taken away, so I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone who's been a regular visitor to Brant Flakes that I'm not blogging with the frequency that I used to. Most of my readers and fellow writers have told me that if I needed to make a choice between writing blog posts and writing novels...that I should choose the novels. And so I shall.

However, while there will be longer periods between posts, I'm not completely closing down this site. The archives have seven years worth of fun conversations, book info, guest visits, recipes and hot guy pics, after all! And I still intend to pop back on this page occasionally -- to share a new book cover or a release date or a piece of particularly exciting news -- but, for the most part, you'll probably find me more often on Facebook, where I'll post the majority of my updates (I hope you'll join me there -- if we're not FB friends already, please send me a request!) and on Austen Variations (their FB page & the blog), too. Less frequently, I'll be on Twitter, Goodreads, Magical Musings and the Girlfriends Book Club. And, of course, there will always be updates/events/release info on my website.

In that spirit, I'll share the first of these updates here with the latest book news -- the official cover reveal for PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT BET -- coming out this summer!! What do you think?!

This is Bingley McNamara and Jane Henderson's love story, the cousin and the best friend respectively of Dr. Will Darcy and Beth Ann Bennet from Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match. Jane is a school psychologist and a woman who wears an angelic mask, but she's not as sweet tempered as she'd like the world to believe. At Beth and Will's wedding, Jane crosses paths with the one person who unnerves her enough to get her to reveal her true self. As for Bingley, he's a wealthy, flirtatious, compulsively social guru of finance, who likes to wager on stocks and on just about anything that strikes his fancy. But this dedicated ladies' man may have just met the woman to finally challenge his bachelor ways...

I'm so excited about this story and can't wait to share it with you all soon!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Prepping for St. Patrick's Day

Technically, I'm not a drop Irish, but my husband is and, thus, so is our son... During this time of year, all of us like to celebrate the inexplicable delights of green beer, shamrock cookies, and cupcakes featuring leprechauns or clovers. Who wouldn't, right?!

For those of you who are Irish -- or at least Irish in spirit on March 17th! -- here are links to a few fun recipes from various baking sites to help you kick off the holiday:

Irish Soda Bread
Shamrock Cookies
Irish Potatoes and Cabbage
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Leprechaun Cupcakes

Enjoy!! And may the luck of the Irish be with you!! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Summer in Europe ~ Book Club Pick!

Just want to jump in quick and share this bit of fun news: A Summer in Europe is the Women's Fiction Book Club pick for March!! The discussion will be taking place on Goodreads, and it's completely open to the public and free to join. So if you're interested, I hope you'll come along on this virtual European trip with us ;).

About the novel:
On her thirtieth birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives an unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand tour of Europe in the company of Bea's Sudoku and Mah-jongg Club. The prospect isn't entirely appealing. But when the gift she is expecting -- an engagement ring from her boyfriend -- doesn't materialize, Gwen decides to go. 

At first, Gwen approaches the trip as if it's the math homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But amid the bougainvillea and stunning vistas of southern Italy, something changes. Gwen begins to live in the moment: skipping down stone staircases in Capri, running her fingers over a glacier in view of the Matterhorn, racing through the Louvre, and taste-testing pastries at a Marseilles cafe. Revelling in every new experience -- especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor -- Gwen discovers that the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within...

"Brant's newest...distinguishes itself with a charismatic leading man and very funny supporting cast, especially the wonderful elderly characters with their resonant message about living life to the fullest." ~ Publishers Weekly

"Brant's charming and engaging tale will allow readers to immerse themselves in the magic and beauty of Europe along with the characters. Although the descriptions of the scenery are amazing, the development of the characters and their unique personalities are what really make this novel shine. What an enjoyable escape!" ~ Romantic Times

Have a wonderful weekend and a lovely start to March, everyone!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Short Stories and Sweet Treats

On our new Austen Variations blog and in honor of this heart-filled holiday, several of us (myself included) have Valentine's Day excerpts up from our stories. I also have a free short story available to anyone who'd like it called "A Tale of Two Matchmakers" (featuring the ever-meddlesome Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Knightley, and a fairy name Sylvia, LOL). Hope you'll enjoy both!

And, of course, what would be a romantic holiday without a few sweet treats, right? Well, it turns out that February 5th was "World Nutella Day!" Yes, a celebration devoted to one of my favorite foods... I didn't know about it until this week, but better late than never, right?! Here are a bunch of recipes to make sure you can eat something Nutella laden all day long, if you so desire :). And I've included the one I most want to try below, because I think it's a PERFECT treat for Valentine's Day. Hope you'll enjoy it, too, and that you'll have a wonderful and romantic weekend!!


--- See the step-by-step instructions with pictures on "The Kitchn" Blog HERE ---
Strawberry–Nutella Pop Tarts 
adapted from Macheesmo, makes about 8-10 Pop Tarts
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 sticks of chilled, unsalted butter, diced
4 tablespoons of ice water
Best quality strawberry jam/preserves and Nutella, for filling
Powdered sugar for dusting
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the butter and pulse until it is roughly the size of peas. Next, add the water, and process until the dough starts to form a ball. Split the dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle on a lightly-floured surface until it is about a 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into evenly-shaped rectangles using a knife or a pizza cutter. Repeat with the second ball of dough. Line two baking sheets with foil and place the squares of dough down on them, about an inch apart.
Spread the preserves or Nutella (or both) in the center of each rectangle (I used about 1-2 tablespoons).
Top each rectangle with a second sheet of dough and seal the edges by gently pressing dough on the dough with a fork. Work your way around the entire tart with the fork, making sure the edges are sealed.
Prick each pop tart with a fork. Now, freeze the tarts for several hours. Bake them for about about 25-30 minutes, at 375 degrees F. Let the pop tarts cool slightly, before dusting them with powdered sugar. (you can make a glaze, but I like them lightly dusted with sugar).
(part of The Kitchn's "Breakfast with a Blogger" series)
 You definitely want to visit Kasey and Matthew's blog for LOTS of amazing recipes and music to go along with them: Turntable Kitchen

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What Does the Groundhog Say?

Last year, that bizarre but utterly memorable song "What Does the Fox Say?" was all the rage on YouTube. The first time I saw it, I was with a few writing friends and we laughed until we literally had tears streaming down our faces -- it was just so funny and strange! (If you haven't yet seen it, check out the video HERE. :)

I have no idea what the fox might say today, but I have a fairly strong prediction of what the groundhog might say tomorrow. Given the "polar vortex" or whatever benign term meteorologists have been using to try to explain this horrendously cold weather, I'd be shocked if Punxsutawney Phil didn't decide that not only was spring SO NOT coming early, but that we'd better expect it not to start until sometime in late April. At the very soonest.

So, I won't be getting my hopes up for a quick return to umbrellas and windbreakers, or deluding myself into believing that March will "go out like a lamb"... I will, however, be watching one of my favorite romantic comedies -- Bill Murray in "Groundhog's Day" (1993) -- and catching some of the Super Bowl. I'll also be getting ready for my month-long book club with Deb Haupt at The Reading Frenzy! (Check out the interview she posted here!) We start a read/chat of The Road to You on February 3rd and will be having a fun discussion there all month. Of course, EVERYONE of you is welcome to join in at any time (!!) and stay for however long you might like...

How about you? What's been going on? Any special weekend plans or fun events ahead for February?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

THE ROAD TO YOU ~ 99-Cent Special & Book Club Event!!

Something awesome is coming up in February!! I've been invited by the wonderful Deb Haupt (B&N General Fiction Book Club Moderator) to be her first book-club guest of 2014 on her blog, The Reading Frenzy! We're going to be spending the month reading & chatting about THE ROAD TO YOU, starting on Feb. 3rd.

Right now, as part of a special Reader Appreciation sale, the ebook is priced at only $0.99 for a very limited time on Amazon (worldwide), B&N, and Apple/iTunes!! If this coming-of-age romantic mystery is a story you or someone you know may be interested in, I hope you'll grab a copy now during the promotion! And please know that you're ALL welcome to join in the Book Club event, too, with Deb and me, if you'd like to discuss the novel or even just want to pop by and say hello :).

There's also a Goodreads giveaway going on right now for 2 signed paperback copies (US & Canada). And for anyone who's a print lover, the Kindle Matchbook program has a deal for THE ROAD TO YOU. If you buy a new print copy of the novel from Amazon during the time of this promotion (or even if you already bought a new copy of this book from them in the past), you can get a Kindle copy of the ebook for yourself, too, for FREE!! Amazon has the details on both the paperback and the Kindle pages. (Here's the link to the print copy -- just scroll down to "Product Details" and look on the right-hand side of the page under "Kindle Matchbook.")

THANK YOU so much for being such wonderful friends & readers! I'm incredibly fortunate to have such fabulous and supportive people in my life!! xo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All I Ever Wanted ~ Out Now for 99 Cents!!

We've been sharing this all over the Internet, but just in case you haven't yet seen it...it's Release Week for ALL I EVER WANTED!!!

It's been tremendously fun to get to finally share this sexy/new-adult winter anthology with everyone, and it was a pleasure to write these four linked novellas with my author friends, Rhonda Helms, Lexi Ryan, and Caisey Quinn!

In celebration of the release, the ebook is just $0.99 for a limited time and available at most vendors already:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1eLU2bN

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1afKrai
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1kuT4rj
BN: http://bit.ly/1exe616
Kobo: http://bit.ly/JPIwmf
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/all-i-ever-wanted/id794517215?mt=11
And it's also available in paperback on Amazon for all print lovers!!

If you'd like to get a taste of the story, below are four short excerpts -- one from each of us -- that'll give you a brief introduction to the characters:

From ALL ABOUT US by Marilyn Brant

Alex slipped through the swinging door off to the side of the counter and joined me. 
I was still holding the plate with the scone out for him. He took it from me this time…and immediately set it on the counter.
“Oh, sorry! Did you want a fork?” I asked, reaching toward the drawer with the silverware.
But he put his hand on mine, stopping me. “No, Samantha,” he whispered. “That isn’t what I want.”
He swallowed again and nudged me toward the kitchen wall nearest us until my shoulders were touching it. Until the zipper of his leather jacket pressed against the red Abbott’s Sweet Confections apron I was wearing. Until I could feel his breath on my forehead.
He looked into my eyes and waited. Waited until I’d tilted my head up toward him and licked my lips and leaned a little closer. Then he smiled and brought his mouth down on mine.
Everything about our kiss said hunger to me. We were in a place filled with heaping platters of food, but Alex was the only thing in the whole building I wanted to devour. It was like my dream from this morning, only better because it wasn’t a simple dream. Because I could really feel the roughness of his stubble on my cheek, smell the crisp January air when he exhaled, taste the warmth of his tongue as it mingled with mine and left me wanting more. More of him. All of him.

From ALL I NEED by Caisey Quinn

Somehow it had become bigger than us. Bigger than a couple of kids playing around in the garage. At our last few shows, we’d been approached by managers and even a few small record labels.
I gripped the steering wheel so tight to keep from reaching over and putting my hand on her knee that my knuckles ached. As much as I wanted to comfort her, I knew if I ever touched her like that I wouldn’t be able to stop. A hand on the knee would turn to a hand on her inner thigh. Which would turn to… Jesus. I could not go there while operating a motor vehicle. Think of the band, dude.
We were on the brink of something huge, and in a way, it was fucking terrifying. What was even more terrifying was that every second of the day I knew I was one wrong move from ruining all of it. From destroying Ev’s dream of the band making it big before she’d even had a chance to live it.

From ALL FOR LOVE by Rhonda Helms

With her eyes fixed down at the table, Maya’s voice was soft as she began to organize the trays for easy carrying. “I’m not a little kid anymore, Oliver.”
No, she wasn’t—she was nineteen now, no longer that scrawny pre-teen girl our family had unofficially adopted. My gaze was drawn to her face, and I studied her like it was the first time I was really seeing her. Her high cheekbones, the bridge of her small nose, the proud thrust of her chin.
My focus moved to her mouth, and I detected a slight sheen of pink gloss on her lips. 
Funny, that color made her mouth look more plump than usual.
My throat tightened.
“What are you thinking about?” she suddenly asked as she turned to face me. Her intense brown eyes locked on mine.
I swallowed; my heart gave a knock against my ribcage. “Um, what?”
Maya took a step toward me, and her tongue darted out to lick her lower lip. My eyes darted down and I noticed her coat was unzipped a touch. Enough for me to see right into the curves of her cleavage.
A strange stirring pumped through my torso, a throb that ended at my crotch and caused my back to stiffen. I ripped my attention away from her chest and looked back into those eyes that were staring so innocently up at me. What the hell was my problem today? Was I seriously just checking out Maya—my friend?

From ALL OR NOTHING by Lexi Ryan

“So, are we going to pretend it didn’t happen?” he asked. His voice was low and rough, and I wanted to rub against it, nuzzle it like a cat. You’ve lost your mind, some sane part of my brain told me. “Because I think we should talk about it.”
My head snapped back and my eyes went wide. “Talk about what?”
“October? You showing up unannounced? Naked in my bed? Ring any bells?”
This was not the conversation I’d expected to have tonight. Didn’t he want to pretend it hadn’t happened even more than I did?
His dark eyes softened as he studied me, and I stiffened at his pity. I hated that he felt sorry for me.
“Yes,” I finally said. “Yes, we’re going to pretend it didn’t happen. I hardly remember it anyway. You know me. I get drunk and do stupid things.”
“And then you avoid my calls for months? Fuck that, Bree.” I tried to escape his embrace, but he drew me tighter against him and whispered in my ear, “I’m not going to let you throw this friendship away just because you’re embarrassed by some dumb drunken mistake.”
Dumb drunken mistake? Five years of unrequited love and he thought the night I found the courage to act on it was a drunken mistake?

We're also hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway for 4 x $10 Amazon/BN gift cards! If you're interested, you can enter HERE! (For "Follow this Blog," you can just write in mine: Brant Flakes. ;)

My heroine in "All About Us" is famous for her Mexican Hot Chocolate, so I'm sharing Sami's specialty with all of you (see one version of the recipe below). Enjoy and please stay warm!!


6 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 (12-ounce) bags semisweet chocolate chips (recommended: Hershey's)
Cocoa powder, for serving

For stovetop: In a large pot over medium heat, whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Add chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted. Cover and turn heat to low for 5 minutes.

For slow cooker: In a 4-quart slow cooker, whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Add chocolate chips. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with a dusting of cocoa powder.