Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cookies, Reviews & the Blog Hop Winner!

Aren't these book-cover cookies beautiful?! They're from Carrie's Cookies and my publisher, Kensington Books, ordered small batches of them for each author participating in their mixer at the RT Booklovers Convention last week. Not only pretty but, in my opinion, delicious, too!!

In other exciting news, there's a brand new book blog out there for fun women's fiction/romance/mystery/etc. novels called Chick Lit Girls and, just a few days ago, they posted a lovely review for A Summer in Europe! I especially loved this segment of the review below:

"A Summer In Europe is an exceptional novel, to say the least… I was completely captivated, and couldn’t put it down. The characters are colorful different, and altogether, likeable. While reading--into all hours of the night--I felt like I was traveling through Europe myself, as I saw the sights, ate the food, and encountered many delights along the way. This fresh story, set in the most breathtaking and beautiful places of Europe, certainly is a page turner, charming, beautifully written, and realistic. A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant is a lovely story, and a must read!"

::happy sigh::

And last but certainly not least, many thanks to everyone who left comments for the Authors in Bloom blog hop! The winner of my personal prize -- a pair of Venetian glass-bead earrings and the two A Summer in Europe luggage tags is...JANEL!! Congratulations! I'll be in contact with you through Twitter so I can get your address. Hope you'll enjoy them ;).

Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the week and weekend!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Authors in Bloom Giveaway Hop!!

Follow the AUTHORS IN BLOOM directions and enter to win an eReader (Nook or Kindle, your choice!) + a $25 gift card!! That's the Grand Prize. :) But, also, every one of the 75 participating authors in the hop is offering individual prizes, too...including me! To enter my personal blog giveaway -- open internationally -- for a pair of Murano glass bead earrings made in Venice and two A Summer In Europe luggage tags (see photo), you only need to leave a comment on this post before 11:45pm Central time on Wednesday, April 18th, and to (pick one) follow me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and/or join my free newsletter list . You can get up to three entires total if you decide to do all three, but only one is required for my giveaway. (And if you're already following me on one or more of these sites, simply say so in the comments and you're entered!!) Please leave an email address along with your comment so I can contact you if you win. I'll announce the winner of the earrings and luggage tags on my blog on April 19th. To enter the grand prize, you need to collect all the phrases for the traveling story (hint: the lines I have are below) by visiting all of the OTHER AUTHORS, and then you submit that completed story with all the lines on the grand prize landing page at A Cozy Reader's Corner by using the form provided there. Only those who collect each phrase to complete the story will be entered into the drawing for the eReader of his/her choice and the $25 gift card. Good luck, everyone! My phrases for the traveling story: Line 9: “Are my petals too plump? Line 10: “Do these leaves make my bottom look wide?” My best gardening tip: The very best advice I can give you in regards to gardening is...PLEASE don't listen to me!! I have two of the blackest thumbs imaginable. My son inherited his green thumb from my father and it, very clearly, skipped a generation. So, for the safety of your plants, I offer NO tips! Recipes, however, I can do ;). In A Summer In Europe , my characters enjoy many decadent foodie delights, particularly in Italy.  Below is one of my favorites! 
Recipe for Tiramisu:
5 eggs, separated 
6 oz fine granulated sugar 
11 oz mascarpone cheese
9 fl oz cold coffee 
3 Tbsp brandy or sweet Marsala 
36 small sponge fingers 
3 oz dark chocolate, finely grated 

 Directions: 1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth. 2. Whisk egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the mascarpone mixture. 3. Pour coffee into a dish and add the brandy or Marsala. Dip enough biscuits into the coffee to cover the base of a 10 inch square dish. The biscuits should be well soaked but not broken up. Arrange them in one packed layer at the base of the dish. 4. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the biscuits. Add another layer of soaked biscuits and top with the rest of the mascarpone. Smooth the top layer. 5. Dust with the grated chocolate right before serving. (Serves 4) Enjoy, all! What's one of your favorite desserts?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Train to London

I love being home...and I love traveling. But days of major transition, like this past Sunday, when we got up at 7am London time (1am Chicago time) and didn't go to bed until 4am London time (10pm Chicago time) are pretty hard on my body. I am -- not surprisingly -- still jetlagged from our somewhat spontaneous spring break trip to England, and I'm still computing the hours of every event this week into both time zones because my mind just can't be sure yet if it should or shouldn't be awake then, LOL.

Also, it's been 15 years since I've taken a transatlantic flight and, in the past 48 hours, I've felt every one of those years. I'd forgotten just how painfully my ears can pop on a rapid descent...my tendency to get hit with a cold virus the minute I step onto an airplane (I had 2 bottles of Airborne with me and kept nibbling on tablets all week -- that still didn't help)...the discomfort and hassle of super-long flights, stopovers in other countries and snake-like customs lines.

But nevermind any of the inconvenience, the leg cramps or the resulting congestion -- I got to go back to Europe for 9 days!!! I got to take my son to Stonehenge, Jane Austen's House, Conwy Castle in Wales, the Tower of London AND a West End theatrical production! I got to have traditional English breakfasts, fish-n-chips and an obscene number of Cadbury bars! I got to BritRail around England and take the Tube ("mind the gap") all through the capital city and to my little heart's content for a week and a half! (I love the European train and subway systems...) For all of these delights, I can deal with some exhaustion and a head cold.

Since it's 3:50pm Chicago time (9:50pm London time), I'm feeling the need for a nap right about now -- and fighting it. I have to walk around rather than stare at my computer or I'll fall asleep on my keyboard. So, I'll write much more about the trip later and how it came to be, and I'll post many more photos in the coming weeks. I took 580 pictures but, don't worry, I won't make you look at ALL of them. *grin*

For now, though, I'll leave you with this shot I took of Tower Bridge at night and links to two blogs I wrote this week. Yesterday, I talked a bit about the Austen-esque part of the trip over at Austen Authors . Today, I was musing a little more about the writing life at the Girlfriends Book Club and shared five gifts I'd give to aspiring writers. Hope you'll join me!