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…

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

My Weird Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a lovely gift from my husband, who had already left for work. I gave the kids their Valentines and some super-cute cookies decorated by one of my co-workers. (Thanks, Kimmie!) Then I went to work, where these things happened at hyper-speed because we’d sold all of the ones we’d prepped earlier in the week.

When we finally called a halt to production, I still had to write a schedule, rearrange the freezer (because of a call-in) and write an order. I got home around 8 pm, and let me tell you, it didn’t feel like Thursday. It felt like Saturday and Sunday rolled into a big taco of tired! My husband and I had a drink at the kitchen table, after which I declared I needed him to brush my teeth for me and put my pajamas on me, but we settled on just the pajamas. Because that’s love.

I’m hoping with the Super Bowl over and Valentine’s Day done, it will be quiet for a few weeks. Maybe until Easter?

Meanwhile, happy day after Valentine’s Day! I hope yours was sweet, is sweet, and continues to be…SWEET! XOXO

 

 

Oh, life is bigger

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Chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling and pistachio buttercream. Sometimes I get to make new cakes at my new job!

Hi! I can’t believe it’s September, more than mid-September, and I haven’t blogged since May. WOWOWOW. My life kind of exploded in a good way, and although I’ve had so much to say and share, I keep falling asleep. When we put both our daughters in braces the same month, it became clear that we needed more money and better insurance. So I applied for full-time at the Wegmans bakery. Wegmans offered me a job as a bakery coordinator–yes, please!–so I got transferred to a new store and started on Memorial Day.

 

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I liked this cake (white with apple pie filling and cinnamon buttercream) but…

 

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It turned into this one, which my savvy managers think will sell better! It is also white cake, apple pie filling, and cinnamon buttercream, but we added a cinnamon glaze, caramel drizzle, and dried apple chips. We are going to call it “Apple-y Ever After! Of course!

I love the job and my new people, but starting any new job is rough. Last Saturday was the first Saturday I’ve had off since May. I’ve had to be more organized than EVER just to keep life rolling. I’m happy to say I haven’t lost touch with the book I’m writing, but it’s going sloooooowly. Slow is fine. Life is good. I’m tired. 

I’m also co-teaching a class two nights a week, which MAY have been a poor life decision because I literally have to explain to everyone dealing with me why I am a hot mess who can’t stop yawning and takes three full blinks to answer yes or no questions.

Work. Eat. Sleep. Write. Text. Write everything down. Yoga. Kiss the kids. Love the husband. Shower. (Don’t forget to shower.)

A new normal is emerging.

Happy September! I’m back! 🙂

bottoms-up-webOH! I’m making BOTTOMS UP free for a little bit, Amazon only. I’m experimenting with marketing on KDP Select. I suck at marketing! LOL. The new job threw a kink in my plan to improve my business skill set. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So if you haven’t read it, and you want to take a walk on the wild side, grab it and have a good time. 😉

 

Jerkalicious Party Mix Recipe

usen-party-mixHappy soon to be holidays, everyone! I work in a bakery, and it’s totally nuts. But I LOVE nuts! Especially in party mix, which I eat by the bowlful at this time of year. Is party mix/Chex Mix part of your holiday tradition? My mother always made it, and my father’s mother always made it (which is probably why my mom makes it, come to think of it!). This particular batch got decimated by my children before I could get a decent picture. I actually had to make a fresh batch the next morning, so that I could send a box to my mommy!

We all make it a little differently. I’m usually a traditionalist, but this year, my friend Chef Krista gave me a bottle of her Jerkalicious Hot Sauce. At first whiff, I knew it would be a great addition to party mix. usen-hot-sauceIt smells like Worcestershire Sauce having an affair with Caribbean food! You can get the recipe and a link to Chef Krista’s website, where you can buy the Jerkalicious Hot Sauce, on Entangled in Romance, along with some other great recipes from Entangled authors.

Do you have a favorite holiday food? One without which it doesn’t feel like Christmas (or Hanukkah or Solstice or whatever)? What is it? Leave a comment before midnight, and I’ll enter you in my Come Again Giveaway! (A $15 GC to The Ripper Bodice or a super-secret good sex toy. Yes, it sounds strange, but trust me.) 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m off to the bakery, where I will be making fruit tarts until my fingers fall off!

 

Do you holi-craze?

Get this delightful Christmas e-short story when you sign up for Jessica Topper's newsletter, which you should totally do. And then buy her books because they are delightful.
Get this delightful Christmas e-short story when you sign up for Jessica Topper’s newsletter, which you should totally do! And then buy her books because they are delightful!

My Christian roots are damn glad Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year! Almost every year I get blindsided by an early Hanukkah, and my internal clock is, like, WTF? Are you kidding me? I have no gift ideas and no holiday spirit yet! Luckily, the Jewish folks in my world are pretty low key about that holiday. They get their groove on hardcore for the high holidays like Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, but for Hanukkah we just get together as a family on one day during the eight and exchange gifts. Of course, over-achiever mother-of Jews that I am, I try to have a gift for the kids to open every night. Basically, that means I rush out to buy gifts last minute, and then rush to wrap one for each kid each night. I’m going on year 15 of that ridiculous behavior, but at least this year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah don’t collide because THAT was a huge surprise. Or maybe, I’ll change my procrastinating ways. I have a list going. It could happen.

But no matter when Hanukkah happens, I can’t quite shake the urge to give gifts to all the people I love at Christmas time. Even though it drives me up a wall. And costs a mint. Even though we don’t celebrate Christmas, and every year I think to myself, “Self, get your act together and give all of these people gifts at Thanksgiving. Because you are grateful for them.” Even if I did get my act together in time, which I won’t, I’d still catch the Christmas fever and drive myself nuts anyway. *groan*

Just one little way I drive myself crazy at Christmas. It's fun! Try it!
Just one little way I drive myself crazy at Christmas. It’s fun! Try it!

I can’t help it! It doesn’t smell like Christmas without baking fruitcakes. I baked my first fruitcake a LONG time ago in an effort to give my father something he might actually like for Christmas. Now it’s tradition, and I bake four batches, roughly 28 mini loaves. Everyone who tastes one wants one, and once you get on the fruitcake list, you pretty much have to perish to get off of it. If you would like to make YOUR house smell like Christmas heaven and have a small pile of delightful fruitcakes to give as gifts, here’s the recipe for Grandpa Baker’s Amazing Fruitcake, a little Christmas gift from me to you.

And for my Jewish friends, a latke cooking tip. The other night, my husband made latkes for dinner, and he tried something new. He grated the potatoes and onion, and then he blanched them, cooking almost fully but not falling apart, before he drained them. (Next time he said he would omit the onion because he didn’t like it with the sour cream and apple sauce. I put ketchup on mine, lol, so all good.) He cooled them and squeezed them dry before proceeding with a latke recipe. At least, you would proceed with a latke recipe. He just made it up, but he has a lot of cooking experience and probably a latke shared genetic memory or something. THEY WERE SO AMAZING. Less starchy. Without that “is it done or not?” texture. Insanely good with all the usual accoutrements like sour cream and apple sauce. Also good with ketchup and Sriracha and a fried egg on top. Super good leftover the next day on a sandwich… So, latke makers, please try cooking your grated potatoes first and tell me how it turns out for you!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, INDEED!
MERRY CHRISTMAS, INDEED!

Lastly, a gift for all the faiths! Because this Christmas story written by a nice Jewish girl is a treat for anyone. I love my pal Jessica Topper’s books, and she’s offering a FREE short story to her newsletter subscribers. It’s totally worth signing up for her (very occasional) newsletter to get this heartwarming Love & Steel short story (KAT AND ADRIAN!) and to be alerted when her books come out. Because I have no words for how beautiful HER words are. You don’t want to miss out on this amazing author.

Enjoy the holi-craze, my friends! And if you don’t celebrate anything in this month, enjoy the contact high! 🙂

 

Fall Equinox

Hello, friends!

Yesterday, at 4:02 pm EDT, day and night balanced, and fall officially began! Which means it’s time for my seasonal giveaway! I’m offering a gift card for $15 to Amazon, B&N, or The Ripped Bodice. (Amazon only for International entrees.) To enter, leave me a comment here or on one of my last  few blogs: The Sonic Egg that Saved My Sanity, Be The Happy Ruler of Your Pile of Scattered Poop, Oh, Darling, Worry About Your Heart. Not Your Butt, or Bring it on, Fall!

What should the topic of your comment be? How about the best thing you did, large or small, this summer? It’s the little things, people, it really is. Except when it’s the big things. Those are great, too.

My family visited Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary for my daughter’s 13th birthday because she wanted to hug a pig. Then I made this graphic. I’m not very good at making graphics. That’s ok.keep-your-chin-up

I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles by The Recipe Critic on FB and made them in class as a demo. They were damn good. One thing I changed to make my life easier: I rolled the dough into balls, jammed my thumb ALMOST all the way through the center, used a pastry bag to fill the center (leaving a little room), and pinched the dough shut over the ball. Then I flattened the ball. I would not have had the patience to do it any other way. Once you go pastry bag, you don’t go back.img_1842

What do you do with the pie scraps (you can’t re-roll) from a dozen students when you are ALL sick of eating pie? Make hand pies and fill them with the soup your kids won’t eat! I could’ve inhaled a dozen of those suckers. Note for next semester: Would’ve been better with a thicker filling. Beef stew?img_1895

I also revived my starter, Baby Mac, from his winter’s sleep and started baking again. Twenty years ago, I bought Nancy Silverton’s BREADS FROM THE LA BREA BAKERY cookbook, read it, and was like, holy crap, it takes two days to make bread? You have  to WHAT? With what? HOW? Well, now that I’ve been teaching for almost a decade, I think I’ll give it another shot. I made this cinnamon apple bread from our textbook last week. Definitely room for improvement, but look, Ma! No commercial yeast! Baby Mac is aliiiiiive!img_1921

Basically, I’ve been working a lot. How about you? Tell me something good, large or small, and I’ll announce a winner on Monday!

Xoxo and have a good weekend,

Amanda

Bring It On, Fall!

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Even bread is happy about school starting.

Happy last day of August! That means I’ll be doing my fall giveaway soon (gift card to Amazon, B&N or The Ripped Bodice). To enter, leave me a comment here or on one of my last  few blogs: The Sonic Egg that Saved My Sanity, Be The Happy Ruler of Your Pile of Scattered Poop, Oh, Darling, Worry About Your Heart. Not Your Butt.

Meanwhile I’m eating fruit salad with a skewer because my son made it. It’s shish kabob culinary performance art, apparently, and I want to encourage him in his culinary adventures. This is to make up for all the times when he was younger, and I threw him out of the kitchen when he wanted to “help.” We’re going to call it reverse psychology and say that it worked. He’s ten, and he just made fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and toast (for me, too) while I shopped the clearance sale online at JCP. Then he unloaded the dishwasher without being asked. I am pinching myself. Seriously.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hi and fist bump all you parents out there who are/have getting/gotten kids back to school this year. And for anyone for whom fall means starting new things. My pastry arts community college teaching semester started two nights ago, and it was a huge relief to begin! OMG. I spent a good bit of the summer creating comprehensive course guides for both of my classes so I won’t have to go in early every day to make copies for quizzes, lecture notes, recipes, etc. AND most of my kids’ school supplies have been purchased. AND the second child’s bat mitzvah planning is underway, and I have successfully surmounted a freaking TYPO on the return address envelopes. *face palm*

Breakfast of champions.
Breakfast of champions.

The first thing we baked in class was chocolate chip cookies, and they were largely successful. They were so good, in fact, that I was able to sell most of them in the cafe. I also brought some home. They got the thumbs up from the neighbors drinking beer in my driveway and my kids. My son said they were awesomely “crispy around the edges and soft in the middle.” It cracks me up that my kids can critique baked goods, but I guess it isn’t surprising. They are far from cobbler’s children when it comes to cookies!

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The innocent victim.

While the beer drinking and cookie eating was going on, a visiting neighbor’s dog crapped on our lawn. Said neighbor loves his dog and posts many pictures of her on FB. Now…my husband is full of mischief. A few weeks ago, he captured a picture of the much-loved dog taking a poop on her own lawn and posted THAT on FB – and tagged our neighbor, of course. So when the visiting dog pooped on our lawn last night, it was absolute karmic hilarity!

Naturally, when the neighbors left, my husband went looking for a box. He wrapped up that pile of poop, waited until the neighbors went to bed, and put it on their lawn. That’s normal, right? Do other people do that sort of thing? Does this go on in your neighborhood?

Regardless of the payback that is undoubtedly coming our way, I’m excited about fall. And, seriously, does your spouse do that kind of shit? 🙂

Correction: When my husband came across the blog, he said he put the box on our neighbor's car.  Awesome.
Correction: When my husband came across the blog, he said he put the box on our neighbor’s car. Awesome.

Hot Greek Sausage Right Here!

* The winner of the Ripped Bodice Giveaway is Anita H.! Anita, you will hear from me soooon! Thanks to ALL for the comments! ❤ *

Now back to the sausage.
EAT ME. Said every sausage ever.

Did you click because you have a dirty mind, and you saw the word sausage? You aren’t the only one! An e-mail from Wegmans appeared in my inbox with the subject heading, “4 ways to make your sausage sensational!” I couldn’t resist. I didn’t expect to see anything I hadn’t seen before *snerk*, but I was wrong. So wrong. Once I saw it, I had to have it. I did promise a forthcoming dinner party menu in my “Friends For Dinner” post…

I struggle with sausage. *giggle* What do you put on it? Onions and peppers? Okay, that’s good, but it needs some goo. Ketchup? Mustard? Both? Sriracha? I like spicy sausage. *that’s what s/he said* (I’m really sorry. I won’t be able to stop. You should know this now. But the recipe will be worth it.) Dijon? Also good, but it only works for me without the bun. The bun just gets in the way of the fatty sausage/astringent mustard battle for mouth domination. I also like sausage with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella, hoagy-style, but that isn’t exactly backyard barbecue, is it? Sausage is good plain, but I’ve always wanted an epic sausage condiment experience.

The first Wegmans sausage idea blew me away. Hot Italian sausage (actually theirs was chicken sausage with spinach and feta, but this is MY sausage fantasy) getting it on Greek-style with tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, and red onion. The other three were variations on sausage with onions, but this one? PURE GENIUS.

Tzatziki on my sausage makes me haaaaapppy!

Coincidentally, we were having family over this weekend. My husband grilled sausage, hot dogs, and burgers and I put out tzatziki, chopped tomatoes with diced cucumber and feta, red onion, bacon, pickles, banana peppers, jalapenos, ketchup, mustard, crunchy fungus (something my husband picked up at the Asian store), basically, everything in the fridge that could go on a grilled food. Plus three bags of chips.

Absolute sausage satisfaction. I tore through that thing so fast I didn’t even take a picture. The sausage you see in front of you is the leftovers I’m having for lunch. I might have another one for dinner. Yes, you should have sausage envy…and go buy the stuff to make your own. (I like red onion near my food but not actually on it which is probably why I forgot to put it on for the picture.)

Click here for the tzatziki recipe. Or click any pic for the recipe. I linked them all!

Grilled Grapefruit Margarita heaven is within your grasp.
Grilled Grapefruit Margarita heaven is within your grasp.

During cocktail hour, we enjoyed a grilled grapefruit variation of my margaritas with some chips salsa and guacamole, and for dessert…

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Red Velvet Oreo Brownies. OMG.

Head on over to Sally’s Baking Addiction for the recipe. I normally don’t go for red velvet. It just seems silly to add food coloring to something for no reason but to make it red. (Well, I guess that’s an excellent reason since the colors practically FORCED me to make the recipe. The visual impact cannot be denied.) I even made them again sans dye for a party because the combination of rich chocolate brownie, sweet creamy buttercream, and crunchy Oreo hit all my happy places.

Happy National Yoga Day everyone! And happy SUMMER! Do you have a favorite way to eat sausage? I’m all eyes and mouth…

 

 

Mid-life Margaritas

IMG_1220I meant to write a post about the gorgeously pink prickly pear margaritas my neighborhood BFF Melissa introduced me to the other week (because how could I have worked in food service this long without knowing prickly pear syrup was so delightfully PINK?!), but it keeps turning introspective.

I have ages and stages on my mind. (Maybe it’s because my silver roots are showing, and maybe THIS time I’ll let them grow in. Maybe it’s because I’ve got PMS. Or maybe it’s that I’ve got one kid headed into middle school and one headed into high school. I don’t have small children anymore. I have medium-sized children.) But it’s probably/mostly that when my friend Melissa and I got together to tinker with the prickly pear margarita recipe for this blog, we talked about our lives, as we always do because Melissa is my daily/weekly/monthly minutiae friend. Her kids have been just enough older than mine for the last fifteen years that she’s given me great advice on breastfeeding, preschools, soccer schedules, and college admissions. She’s all that plus top-shelf liquor. #keeper

Our kids are growing and grown. Our parents are aging. Our marriages are mature. Here’s my question: does everyone get to this point in their lives and feel like they are standing in the middle of a see-saw with juicy youth under one foot and middle age under the other? Is that what a mid-life crisis is about? Dying those roots and seeing if you can lean into the action a little longer? Feeling like you better change/hustle/break out RIGHT NOW because this is your last chance to seize YOUR moment?

IMG_1340The Prickly Lady Cocktail recipe, by the way, is a keeper, too. I wanted to put my own spin on it and make it mine for the blog, so I bought Pavan, a liquer made from muscat grapes and redolent of orange blossoms, thinking I could swap it for the ginger liquer. I’d never seen Pavan, and I was captivated by the rainbow peacock on the bottle. As it turned out, I could not improve on the original recipe. There is something perfectly balanced in the combination of prickly pear, ginger liquer, tequila, and lime, so please go on over to loveandoliveoil.com for the recipe. I’m thinking a Pavan and grilled grapefruit margarita might be pretty spectacular, so I’ll keep trying with the Pavan. (Oh, don’t you worry!)

Ah, mid-life. I always thought I would age gracefully. Soften into it. Surrender youth for something equally desirable: wisdom. I didn’t think it would feel like giving up. I didn’t think I’d be sorry. I thought I’d be ready, but there’s some inner kicking and screaming going on. Please don’t misunderstand my despair. I’m WELL aware I’ve got it really good in many big life categories, and I’m deeply grateful. I’m just having a moment or twenty of introspection, and, like with that prickly pear margarita and your BFF’s troubles, sometimes you can’t make it better.

IMG_1345But you can be there. Acknowledge. Appreciate. Be prickly. Fill a glass with a Prickly Lady Cocktail and raise it to life’s pretty pink surprises. Of course, it’s easier with cocktails, when you can give the rainbow peacock a try without making any major life changes…especially when you realize you had it right the first time.

L’Chaim!

Are you prickly? Have you been prickly? Have wisdom to share? Please do! All comments left on this post and A Visit to the Ripped Bodice will enter you in a contest to win a book from Culver City’s most romantic bookstore.

To be the first to know when my next book comes out, sign up for my newsletter. Said book is currently killing me, but it will be done soon. Ish. 🙂IMG_1346