Chocolate Chai Chippers From ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER

So what’s happening now that ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is out in the world? It’s getting rave reviews, which is delightful. It has over 4 stars on Goodreads! They don’t hold back their true opinions over there, so YAY!

Here’s my current favorite review:

EXACTLY! Fun and hot. YASSSSSSS!

I received the first pass of edits on Book 2, ONE NIGHT STAND WITH BENEFITS, also delightful. I thought that book was a disaster of darkness, but my editors liked it. They did notice the darkness, so I have my work cut out for me making it as much fun as ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER, but I have faith.

I also put a new recipe on the site! The Chocolate Chai Chippers from the Slip Stitch Café in Denver, CO. No, it’s not a real place, but Clara and Zane visit it in the book! The cookies are irresistible, if I do say so. Chewy, chunky, oaty-to-the-tooth chocolate chip cookies with just enough spice to make them interesting. If you make them, let me know what you think.

Next up is the Slip Stitch Sandwich, or at least the Green Goddess dressing that goes on it. I’m a sucker for ranch dressing and anything green. And veggie burgers. And spicy things!

Aaaaand I have to get cranking on Book Three. It’s in me, somewhere. I can feel it. Kind of like when you know you’re forgetting something but can’t quite figure out what room to enter to trigger your memory. I’ll have to wander around on the page until I find what I need. It’s hard to keep showing up when the magic doesn’t appear. I’ve started this book at least twice already! Maybe three times. But I’ll start again.

The joy is in the process. I give myself permission to suck. Progress not perfection. It’s always hard. I always do it. All of that. Pretty sure I wrote a blog called “Ride the Hard,” about a million years ago…

Yes, we can do hard things. Eating cookies helps! Enjoy the Chocolate Chai Chippers. Fall will be here before we know it…

Release Day! One Night Stand After Another is LIVE!

ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is here at last! I’m thrilled to introduce readers to Clara and Zane and their cross-country road trip filled with hot nights, incredible food, and outrageous yarn destinations. Yep-you read that right. YARN. Clara is a crocheting fiend who finds endless creative inspiration in Zane’s mad skills in bed.

Are you looking for a fun, sexy escape from reality? ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is exactly what you need.

A fun, sexy, sweet romance read that went by too quick. I loved it and didn’t want it to end.” -Leah Hines 

This book has all the feels. Intelligent leads, strong unbreakable characters, suspense, and of course love!” -Di Budo

“I thought this book was so much fun to read, and it was the perfect amount of romance, humor and smut (honestly a golden trio if I do say so myself).” -Unhinged Bibliophile 

“This is a funny, cute and spicy story, it made me laugh so much, Clara and Zane are so perfect together, their sizzling chemistry is off the charts, and the banter is epic, I couldn’t get enough of them together.” -When Vane Reads 

What’s the book REALLY about? Here’s the blurb:

Clara Duke lives to crochet wearable art. But right this second, she’s looking at the one guy who has the uncanny ability to unravel her in every possible way. Zane Brampton. He broke her heart in high school and now wants to make it up to her—in a single night. Just being in the same room as him feels dangerously volatile. A whole night with this delectable, gorgeous man would be nothing less than a total sexpocalypse. But oh, what a way to go.

The sight of Clara and her mouthwatering curves might actually kill restaurateur Zane. Ten years ago, their volcanic chemistry exploded… taking their social circle along with it. But Zane hasn’t forgotten the heat—and this feels almost like fate. He’ll be damned if he’ll let her run from their connection again. And he might just have found his chance to prove he deserves more than just one night…

Now Zane is driving Clara to California to meet her professional dreams. But between the road, the chocolate, and the ridiculously hot sex, Clara risks getting tangled up with her not-so-one-night-stand. And worse, Zane might just be the thread that snaps all of her perfectly crocheted plans.

You can join me on the blog tour (and enter a giveaway) here.

Newsletter subscribers have exclusive access to a FREE bonus chapter! Sign up here.

Hurray! Happy birthday to ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER! Thanks for celebrating with me!

Xo,

Amanda

Living in New Orleans in the 90s

My husband and I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1998 and moved to New Orleans to work in the French Quarter. He had a job at Commander’s Palace, and I’d been hired as assistant pastry chef at Bayona. Both of these restaurants topped the lists in the city, and we were over-the-moon excited.

Why did we pick New Orleans? Well, Ben said it would be fun…and we’d probably had some wine. Maybe a bottle or two? As it turns out, he wasn’t serious about such a big move, but I made inquiries, got responses, and off we went.

We lived there for two years before moving back to Western New York to raise a family. What do I remember most? The smell of the French Quarter: hot sidewalk, vomit, dog crap, powdered sugar, onion ring grease, and possibility. A never-ending prep list. Before long Ben joined me at Bayona, working the line during the day, while I worked around the corner in the bakeshop. The pastry chef left, and I begged for her job. I got it, too. What a rush…pastry chef of one of the top 3 restaurants in the French Quarter!

(Sometimes, I want that job back. Because the job I did at 26, when I was so green and full of myself, could not compare to the job I would do now…but all the baking and living I did after we moved back to NY is what would have helped me kick butt harder. Ah, life!)

I have writer friends who LOVE research (I’m looking at you, Jessica Topper), but I like to write what I know. I dig in deep when I have to (I worked at a winery for a day while writing LUSCIOUS), but I often lean toward familiar passions: food, drink, family, love.

Our time in New Orleans inspired MAKE ME, TAKE ME, and I wrote about quite a few real-life experiences (details changed to protect the innocent!) in that book. What I wouldn’t give for the blue cheese burger from Port Of Call, a mango daiquiri from any random French Quarter corner, beignets from Morning Call, the mushroom madeira cream goat toasts from Bayona…another chance to nail that dessert menu. (I DID get my tea leaves read. I did NOT do anything even close to what Quin and Betsy do in that bar…or the elevator…or everywhere else in the French Quarter. Fun fact: this book was so hot, I had to cut sex scenes during edits LOL.)

Here’s the blurb:

He's every fantasy she's ever had... Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn't last forever. She's working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street.  Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he's ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she's the one in control. But there's more at stake than her cafe or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince her...one sensual command at a time.

Want to experience New Orleans through the eyes of a young chef struggling to make ends meet while falling in lust with the hotelier next door who is trying to ruin her life? Get the eBook for .99 on all platforms today ONLY!

New Book Coming in July!

Would you say no to a cross-country yarn, food, and sex spree with a guy hell bent on making every day–and night–better than the last?

Sooo it’s been a while! A year, in fact, since I published my last blog post. So what happened to derail my good intentions to stay focused on all things romance and writing?

Life.

I may have mentioned on the blog, although who knows because it was A YEAR AGO, that I was leaving my job in the bakery to do a triple career switch. Yep, at the end of July last year, I wadded up my apron and dropped it in the bin for the last time. Then I started my new job as a copywriter for a company that does marketing for the staffing industry.

The learning curve for this position has given new meaning to the word “steep.” I’m STILL climbing. Fortunately, my employers and colleagues believe in me and have given me time, resources, and more time to inch up the copywriting/marketing/staffing knowledge mountain.

So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing all year. Well, that plus negotiating with terrorists. I turned 50, and my hormones have taken me hostage. So that’s been fun…

But I’m back with new ideas on how to make this blog a fun place. Pre-order links for my upcoming release ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER are coming soon! (Can you tell I was going a little stir crazy during the pandemic? This book is a steamy, romantic, food coma/sex fest that spans the country LOL.)

Meanwhile, if you’re taking your own road trip (and YAY if you are!), INTO THE FIRE is now available in audiobook. No better way to stay awake on the road! Or while cleaning, walking, exercising, resting your eyes…

Now in audiobook format!

I hope your summer has gotten off to a great start! XO, Amanda

Get Creative! Muse Goosing: Part Two

Hi!

Last week I talked about how connecting with a larger community of creatives by listening to an inspiring podcast gooses my creativity. This week, I want to share how connecting with myself keeps me inspired.

I started meditating.

Sounds so fancy, but for me it’s not. I Googled “best meditation apps” and read reviews until I settled on two free ones and downloaded them: Mindfulness (I apologize for the Apple-centric link. Take note of the icon if you want to find it in your digital world. It’s different from The Mindfulness App.) and Insight Timer. I’m so happy with Mindfulness that I haven’t even explored the other one. I’ve worked my way through the five weeks of guided introduction meditations twice, making note of my favs. I discovered that spending ten minutes in the morning breathing means I breathe more deeply throughout the day, often becoming aware of my breath just as tension and frustration begin to tighten my shoulders, my mind, and my spirit.

Mileage may vary, but the life concepts introduced in these meditations make a lot of sense to me. Somehow, I’d forgotten I could choose my own path. That I can change paths if I want to. I’m such a trees person, that I forget my life is a forest. Remembering that every day, connecting to my breath, my inner self, keeps me focused on my goals, my people, my priorities.

Breathing is highly underrated.

XOXO,

Amanda

Get Creative! Muse Goosing: Part One

“Butt in chair,” is common advice to writers trying to get words on the page. However, I’ve found that unexpected things feed my creativity, things that have nothing to do with writing. 

For example, I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast on my drive to work. In an episode titled, “Brené with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard on Podcasting, Daily Practices, and the Long and Winding Path to Healing,” Brené asked Tim and Dax what is the one thing they do every day that is necessary for their wellbeing (paraphrased from my horrid memory). I’ve been thinking about that question a lot. Because their answers were surprising. I’ve been pondering the things that are necessary for my wellbeing and creativity and how they aren’t necessarily the same as the things I actually do everyday.

Whoa. Right?

So I’m trying to actually DO the things that goose my muse.

Listening to Unlocking Us is one of my things. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that a show called UNLOCKING US makes me think about myself, others, the world, and connection, but I’m not always the brightest bulb. The current topic on the show is one of my favorite Brené books: The Gifts of Imperfection. Yes, I bought the ten year anniversary hardcover edition. Yes, I also sent a copy to my sister. Because Brené and HER sisters are discussing the book together every week in July!   How cool is that? 

Listening to Brené’s conversations with writers and artists makes me feel connected to the larger community of wounded, growing, healing, creative people. I didn’t know I needed that until my short commute to work led me to Unlocking Us. Now that my commute is over, I’ll have to find another space in my life for this podcast because I’m not giving it up. Other incredible conversations:

Dr. Clint Smith, author of How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. I can’t stop thinking about this conversation. A must read book.

Alicia Keys, author of More Myself. This led me to Alicia Keys’s song “Fallin’” which is totally inspiring my new book!

Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter. I had to stop in a parking lot and make some notes while listening to this one. Damn. I get tears in my eyes thinking about it. It took me ten steps closer to writing a book I’ve been thinking about for nearly twenty years.

By the way, my mother objected to my “Try Different Shit” motto last week. I knew it! Ha. I told her I was okay with that. It feels brave to me. Determined. Very “I laugh in the face of danger!” Invincible! Resilient with a sense of humor. (I love you, Mom.)

Writers and Goal Seekers, I encourage you to step out of your bubble and connect with a larger community of creatives, even in a way as introverted as listening to other people having a conversation which inspires you to read a book. Inspiration doesn’t always come from within. Sometimes you have to go looking for it and invite it to come inside. Find a podcast, a book, a song, a painting, a connection to something in the world that might open a portal to your own creative spirit.

I’ll see you next week, when I share another thing that has nothing to do with writing that is helping me create.

XO,

Amanda

Do You Want To Be More Creative?

The Struggle is Real.

How do you live a creative life when you have REAL bills to pay?

Folx, I’ve been struggling with family/adult responsibilities versus my desire to have a writing career for several years now, and I have come out on the other side. Well, this other side. I have no doubt more struggles will come, and there will be other other sides, but for now: EPIPHANY. 

Mine, to be clear.

Your mileage will vary. We are not the same. The things we desire are not the same. The way we make decisions is not the same. The things that move the needle for you are not the same things that move the needle for me. (My needle is stubborn, and moving it requires a ridiculous alignment of seemingly unrelated things, so I hope your needle is less intractable than mine.)

I am so down with Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic when she wrote, “Don’t make your muse pay your bills.” Okay, that’s not exactly what she wrote. She was much more poetic. But that was my takeaway from Big Magic. (Which is fantastic. Read it for your own Big Magic takeaway.) If you expect your creativity to pay your bills, and it doesn’t, bad things can happen to your creative spirit. 

At least, bad things happened to MY creative spirit when my Hot Nights series didn’t make a zillion dollars, solve all my financial problems, and prove that I’m a creative genius. Add in the facts that my three kids were suddenly old enough that I could go back to work full-time, and my part-time grocery store job offered incredible benefits. There was no way I could know going full-time was going to be physically and emotionally exhausting. Or that my terminally ill father was going to pass away. There was a lot I didn’t know.

Fast forward six years.

SIX YEARS.

And a freaking pandemic.

Obviously, there are those who are making so much money with their creativity, they don’t have to worry about this happening. Good for them. For those of us who aren’t making enough money with our creativity to support our lifestyle or families and we STILL want to be creative, BUT we’re exhausted/discouraged/afraid, how do we go on? How do we get started achieving our big, hard dreams when we’re already pooped, we’ve tried and “failed” in the past, and our inner critic is holding a Whack-A-Mole hammer and bonks us back down in our hole every time we see a sliver of creative light and start to climb toward it?

Crass—I’m sorry. I spent some formative years working in kitchen, and my inner voice uses a lot of profanity. So does my outer voice.

I’ll go into the shit I’ve tried over the past six years in depth this month. Only one of my new things has to do with writing, but all of them support my creativity. How did I discover them? Trial and error. How do I know they work? I do them. I feel good. Better. More myself. More creative. I wrote a book in January 2021. I sold it to Liz Pelletier at Entangled Publishing. With two other books to follow.

Did I bury the lead? Probably. Dear readers, I sold three books to Entangled Publishing! More information to come, but I think I’ll put the details in a newsletter first, so sign up for my newsletter, if you want to hear more. 

I am thrilled to be working with Entangled again. Over the freaking MOON. But I’m even more deeply delighted to know I’ve discovered things about myself that will support my creativity through the books and years to come. Because when the first shit didn’t work, I tried other shit. And I feel really good about it. And when this shit stops working, I’ll try other shit.

How are your creative goals doing? Have you found ways to blow on your precious spark? Do you have a thing you do that makes you feel good, so you keep doing it? Does feeling good make you do good things? Start thinking about it…

See you next week!

XO,

Amanda

Sale!

Happy Spring, everyone! Into the Fire is on sale NOW! Get it here if a steamy, enemies to lovers romp in a NYC kitchen (not literally, all food safety rules observed!) is your jam.

Covid Cooking. And Eating.

And drinking. It’s totally a thing. My kids have stayed healthy, thank the Universe, but my daughter missed the end of her senior year in high school, and my son missed the end of eight grade. No big deal compared to what some are suffering. I get that. But it does make me want to nurture them. For me that means food. (Shocking, I know.)

Since I was working four ten hour days for a few months, that meant I had three days off a week. What that REALLY meant was that I had no good excuse to get out of cooking dinner!

I’ve made some old favorites and discovered some new ones, thanks to Pinterest and my FB friends. My favorite finds of 2020 thus far are: Homemade falafel, veggie burger breakfast sandwiches, and ramen bowls. All vegetarian, but not vegan, because of our pescetarian kid. Oh! And I put everything bagel seasoning on a pizza crust before I baked it. That was good, too. It’s raw dough from the grocery store, but the trick to making it awesome (which I learned from my husband, lol) is to let it proof, press it out, let it proof, press it out, let it proof, press it out…until it stays at the edges of the pan. Then top it. Let it proof…and ta da!

I’m a falafel fan, and this one from Foodie with Family is great. Don’t double it. I made that mistake. The recipe will make enough! If you make the tahini sauce, add water. It really needs it. This pic is from our Quarantine Birthday Passover Fafafel fest.

I can’t stop eating these:

Three friends and I go on a yearly writers’ retreat to an Airbnb above a vegetarian cafe where I had the most epic breakfast sandwich ever. Of Covid-course, it got canceled this year, but the cafe lists the ingredients on their menu! Wheee! TRY IT. My version goes like this: broil a quinoa crunch veggie burger for eight minutes. Flip it. Hard fry an egg while you broil the veggie burger for another six minutes. Okay, fine, maybe you prefer your eggs over easy or whatever. Do that then. 🙂 Get a bun. I like brioche buns. Put your veggie burger on the bun. Add cheese if you, like me, believe everything needs cheese. Put your egg on there too. Now, you are gonna have to trust me. Spread peanut butter, apricot preserves, and Sriracha on the top bun. I know. Sounds weird. Maybe you’d rather combine those ingredients and THEN put them on the bun. I’ve done it both ways several times. Like I said, I can’t stop eating this sandwich. OH MY GOD SO GOOD.

And I don’t know about you, but I love me a ramen bowl, and the kids do, too. HOWEVER, I am not spending hours in the kitchen making broth. Nope. I spend hours doing a ton of other shit. SO! I needed a recipe that was good but not too time consuming, preferably vegetarian. BOOM. Pinterest via Supper with Michelle delivered. I’ve made this a few times, and it’s super. My cheap hack: I use the packaged Ramen noodles minus the flavor pack. The in-laws gave us a space-age egg cooker for Hannukah, so I add egg, avocado, grated carrot, barely cooked zuccini noodles, scallions, baby pepper rings, kimchi…and I usually grill a chicken on the side for the omnivores in the family. Slurp, slurp, yum! And I don’t have to agonize over the broth.

Last, but certainly not least…an oldie but goodie. Since my husband built a bar in the garage…since the bar-age has recently acquired a commercial grade drink blender…since it’s June…since the past four months have been a little blurry anyway…my favorite homemade margarita!

I hope you are finding ways to nurture yourself, your people, and strangers during these strange days.

XOXO,

Amanda