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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tell me your Christmas cookie memories....

It’s just a cookie recipe, handwritten in my mother’s lefty slant on a piece of typewriter paper. Tri folded, like the thousands of business letters she tucked into envelopes and posted for the law firm where she worked. It’s decorated with multiple coffee rings from her never empty coffee cup and a grease stain that probably came from butter splattered by the mixer.

It begins with a simple list of ingredients most cookies are made of – sugar, flour, butter, eggs. But my mother’s recipe is different from your mother’s, and your mother’s and yours. Reading her old fashioned script, it is an incantation to resurrect the dead, a talisman that spins me back into memories of Christmases past. Memories that I imagine will be my corner of heaven where I’ll eventually rest.

“one cup chopped pecans…”
They litter the courtyard of my grandparents’ house, and Grandpa’s grizzled hands scoop up what seem like hundreds, dropping them into a paper sack from the Piggly Wiggly. My four year old hands drop in a few. Grannie oversees, clean and pretty in her flowered cotton apron and rhinestone Christmas tree earrings. From the open window someone on the radio sings “I’ll be home for Christmas”, and on cue, Daddy pulls into the driveway from the lumber yard. He scoops me up and tucks me into the Buick with the piggy sack of pecans, and takes us home.

The three of us - my brother, sister and I - sit on the braided rug in the den with a bowl and the pecans. On the tv set Linus recites the story of the virgin birth and tells us what Christmas is all about. The shells peel off the nuts easily and the bowl fills up too fast – already it’s time for bed. Charlie Brown and the Gang serenade us with Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and I hope Santa brings me a baby doll.

“… cream one cup of butter”
When us three dwindles down to just me and my parents, we move away from New Orleans, away from Grannie and Grandpa, away from their pecan trees and the lumber yard. Grannie’s Sunbeam mixer, bequeathed to my mother, is unpacked and parked on the table in our tiny dark kitchen. A mountain of margarine is nearby, taking too long to soften since it's cold inside. Grandpa’s Underwood typewriter awaits with my term paper pinched between its bars, but it will have to wait a little longer. These store bought pecans have to be cracked and shelled so my mother can make cookies for my father to pass out to business associates. The nutmeat is locked tight inside hard shells, as hard to tease out as acceptance from the good ol’ boys and their high school daughters who close ranks against us newcomers. On the tv David Bowie and Bing Crosby sing The Little Drummer Boy, and I hope for an A in 10th grade Lit and for a friend.

 “Spread half of flour mixture in 18 x 9 inch pan, cover with strawberry jam.”
We don’t have strawberry jam, but we do have preserves – jars and jars of figs and strawberries and peaches and pears that my grandmother put up during the summer. The prize that goes into the cookies is the one she called “End of the Day” - all the cooked fruits that didn’t fit into their respective jars, my mother’s mother mixed together and sealed into one batch.
Peaches and figs and strawberries together taste so much better for all their differences than when they’re apart, segregated in their own batches. But I was the new girl; all I wanted was to belong to the pure peach or strawberry groups of girls. Those girls left over at the end of the day – not so much. I was blind with adolescent aspirations - I couldn’t see Herbie and Rudolph shuck off others’ opinions to be happy with a glowing nose and healthy teeth, and I was lonely, trying to stay away from the Island of Misfit Toys.

“Sprinkle with sugar and the rest of the chopped pecans…”
That first Christmas he brought me a batch of cookies he’d made himself and a print he’d lugged home from a summer in Paris. I sent him away, shared the cookies with my girlfriends on the hall and shoved the print to the back of my closet, with my loafers and keds. He sent cards and called when I went home over the break. I threw them away and wished him a Merry Christmas and pitched in money from my part time job to pay for the long distance. One freezing Saturday night in January he baked lasagna for me and my roommate. The next weekend my roommate took a turn cooking dinner in his tiny apartment. I don’t remember eating. After that my roommate was busy, which was okay, because we were too. The print from Paris was repaired and framed and now presides over the mantle, where our kids' stockings hang, and my old roommate's kids beam out at us in their family photo Christmas card.

“Then spread the rest of the dough over that and bake…”
My own mixer is a plastic imitation of Grannie’s – an industrial workhorse my sister- in -law owns now. It sits on my kitchen counter, keeping company with the butter that softens quickly. I’ve bought the ingredients from the grocery store known for organically grown, fair trade groceries, and I took my time trying to select a jam that might come close to the taste of my grandmother’s preserves. I tie a chef’s apron on over my jeans, select the Christmas playlist on my Ipod, tear open the cellophane bag of pecans and get to work. Vanilla splashes off the beaters onto my mother’s recipe, and I leave it, hoping to leave my own mark - a memory of me for my children and my children’s children. 

Copyright2011©Pamela V. Mason, all rights reserved

What are your own memories that the scent of vanilla or the taste of nutmeg or anise bring to mind? I'd like to hear them. 
Please share. 
And if you wish to share a recipe, go right ahead and do that too! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Congratulations Winners!

That was such a FUN blog hop! I hope you all enjoyed meeting the six fabulous authors who generously shared their blog posts and time  and books - I know I did!

And a huge 
to all of you who entered here at WriterMason and followed and shared and tweeted and plus 1'ed !
I appreciate your participation and being here, and I hope you come back for more great authors and their books and giveaways...as well as articles about what's going on in my head and around the web!
Welcome New Followers and Come Again Soon! 

You want the winners, don't you! 
And here I thought you were all so enamored with me! LOL! 
Well, here they are: 

 Carol  won Midnight Fear by Leslie Tentler
Don't read it when you're alone... or when it's dark... or if there's a chess set nearby...
 Gena  won Pleasure Island by Kellie Kamryn
LOL! You should be warm enough this winter now Gena! 

 Toni  won Duty and Desire by Anju Gattani AND the Bonus gold and silk wedding invitation Anju had printed  in India!
 Kimberley  won Worth Waiting For by Delaney Diamond! Enjoy! 
 Jerry  won Linsey Lanier's Someone Else's Daughter! Read it with a box of tissues Jerry! 
And Michelle won The Shoppe of Spells by Shanon Grey - a nice read for over the holidays! Bonus stories are on Shanon's website too! 

Once again... Thank you everybody who entered! I'll be participating in more of Reading Romances' blog hops in the future, and I hope you'll all tell your friends and come back for more! 

Speaking of telling your friends... if you read and enjoy these books, there is nothing an author wants more than to know if you liked it. Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, and B&N all provide places to write a review, and it doesn't have to be a book report - just a line or two about how well you liked it, what especially moved you, or would you recommend it to your friends would be appreciated. Heck... post something on these authors' Facebook walls or sites if you want to! We love to talk to our readers and find out what you want to read more of, and in this world of digital publishing, we don't need to go through the publishers, editors, or agents to connect with authors anymore. So go ahead - make an author's day.
And ... if there's something you didn't like about the books, just please... be gentle! We do want to know that too so we can improve and write what readers really want to read! 

A Bientot! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Giveaway BlogHop Guest Post - Shanon Grey, Shoppe of Spells

Welcome back! 
Today's the big day! 
There's still time to enter - form at the bottom of this post, or go here for google docs form
Random.org will pick 6 winners of our 6 books today! Winners will be announced here, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +! 
Thanks for following and hopping and 
Come back soon for more from WriterMason! 

Click on the picture to find more great blogs to hop! 
Today's featured guest author is... 

When is a whole more than the sum of its parts? When it has ties to the quaint little town of Ruthorford, Georgia—as Morgan Briscoe discovers when a cryptic message threatens to change her life forever.
Morgan’s relatively normal life is turned on its ear when she learns not only that she is adopted, but her birth parents are dead and she now holds half-interest in a business with their ward, Dorian Drake, who, despite his riveting good looks, can barely conceal his hostility toward his new partner.
Morgan discovers that she is more than she seems and together she and Dorian have the ability to control a portal to another dimension. Unable to contain their growing attraction, Morgan and Dorian dance around their desires and her burgeoning abilities, until danger forces them to face their destiny.

" I have been around the paranormal all my life, much of which was spent in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. And, as anyone from that area knows, it is the home of the Edgar Cayce Foundation, where, along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, they have a huge psychic research and library facility. It was strategically located there because the energy quadrants of the area. I have been there many times and, although I have experienced many what could be called “paranormal” events in my life, I always fail miserably that any test I take. I am neither precognitive nor post-cognitive. Some days I’m not sure I’m even plain ole cognitive! But. I have been around many people that are and, trust me, they can be amazing.
In THE SHOPPE OF SPELLS, Morgan Briscoe, has lived the most normal of lives, surrounded by family and friends that love her. Anything different about her was easily attributed to anomalies or birth defects. Suddenly, she finds out she’s adopted and all bets are off—for her biological parents, who are now dead and have left her a legacy, both had genetically based paranormal capabilities. Morgan not only has to come to grips with who she is but with “what” she is as well.
I have always loved the idea of people living normal lives with paranormal abilities and coming into this information suddenly. What if, suddenly, you could close your eyes and, upon opening them, see auras? What if, suddenly, you could feel if a person was ill and possibly heal them? What if, suddenly, you could control energy?            How would you react to this? Would you be frightened or excited? How would you respond to people around you? Would you let them know or hide it from them? These are just some of the things I delve into in my series, the Gatekeepers, about people living normal lives with paranormal abilities."

Shanon Grey weaves romance and suspense with threads of the paranormal. THE SHOPPE OF SPELLS is the first in her series, THE GATEKEEPERS, about the quaint town of Ruthorford, Georgia and its very special inhabitants. PENNYROYAL CHRISTMAS ~A Ruthorfold Holiday Story~ is out in e-format as well.
Shanon spent her life on coasts, both the beautiful Atlantic and the balmy Gulf. Hurricane Katrina taught her the fragility of life and the strength of friendship, family, and starting over.
She just found out that her son salvaged notes and pages of her original novel, Capricorn’s Child, which she thought has been destroyed with everything else. (Ironically, a neighbor found her marriage certificate in a tree.) She plans to resurrect her original novel one day.
She currently lives in Coweta County, Georgia, trading the familiarity of the coast for the lush beauty and wonder of the mountains, where her husband fulfilled her lifelong dream—to live in a cottage in the woods, where inspiration abounds.
You can follow Shanon on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ShanonGrey, on twitter at http://twitter.com/ShanonGrey, or her website at http://shanongrey.wordpress.com/.

Thank you Shanon! And Thanks to all my featured authors who are giving away their ebooks! Take a moment to browse this week's posts to find out more, and don't forget to enter! 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday's Romancing Christmas Giveaway Hop

Two more days to hop! 
I've had fun - hope you have too! 

Click on the picture for more blogs to hop, more book giveaways to enter! 
Rafflecopter entry form is on the bottom of this post, and another entry form is on the picture's link. 
And for today's guest post, the emotional romantic suspense by...

Linsey Lanier

SOMEONE ELSE’S DAUGHTER (A Miranda’s Rights Mystery) ~ Miranda travels to ritzy Buckhead, Georgia in search of her lost daughter and instead discovers a serial killer is targeting thirteen-year-old girls, and the irresistible PI determined to stop him.

"Thanks for having me here today, Pamela. It's a pleasure.

I write an emotional romantic mystery series that chronicles the growth of smart-talking, hot-pepper-eating Miranda Steele as she discovers she was born to be a private investigator and falls in love with the head of the top detective agency in the southeast. Pamela here: ... a private investigator who is Atlanta's version of Bond -- James Bond. 

When I began writing this series, I wanted to feature a female hard-boiled PI. Since she was female, I felt she needed a more personal reason to be hard-boiled than a male character, so I gave her a background of loneliness and abuse. Pamela: Boy, did you ever! 

At the beginning of Someone Else’s Daughter, Miranda Steele is bitter and angry. But after she becomes involved with Wade Parker and experiences what it’s like to have someone care about her, she begins to trust again.

Wade Parker, the most eligible forty-four-year-old bachelor in Atlanta is still mourning the death of his wife three years ago. When he visits Fulton County Jail to interview the feisty murder suspect on the case he’s working, he never expects to find oceans of feeling behind her tough exterior. He never expects to find someone driven by his own fervent passion to protect the helpless and avenge the innocent. He never expects to find love."

Someone Else’s Daughter (A Miranda's Rights Mystery)
(giveaway will be a copy on Smashwords)

                                                           Available for $0.99 until 2012.
Book II - available now.
Book III - available Spring, 2012.

Thank you Linsey! 
Tomorrow's Friday Guest Post -- 
Shoppe of Spells by Shanon Grey! 

Do the HOP! And ENTER BELOW to win one of these ebooks! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday's Romancing Christmas Guest Author Post on the Giveaway BlogHop!

It's Wednesday, which means it's Anju Gattani's Guest Post !

Click on the picture for more blogs to hop to, more books to register to win! 
And don't forget to enter WriterMason's Giveaway entry form here. There is another Rafflecopter entry form at the end of this post too. 

Today let's meet.... 

amazon   barnes&noble   peerless bookstore
Sheetal Prasad has it all: youth, beauty, wealth and education. But when this modern, Indian woman surrenders love for honor and marries into India’s titanic ‘royal family’, these very advantages turn against her and she is stripped of her freedom.Meet the Dhanraj’s—a powerful family bound together by a web of lies where infidelity, greed, secrets and hidden identities lurk beneath the lush tapestry. The Dhanraj’s have plenty to hide and will do what it takes to mask the truth from the world.As Sheetal peels back the layers of deceit, she confronts a haunting reality and is threatened by the blazes of passion she ignited.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Guest Author Post Romancing Christmas Giveaway BlogHop

Don't forget - 6 ebooks to give away! 

Midnight Fear, Pleasure Island, Duty and Desire, Somebody Else's Daughter, Worth Waiting For, and 
The Shoppe of Spells. 
Today's Featured Author for Giveaway BlogHop is 

Leslie Tentler with Midnight Fear

MIDNIGHT FEAR is a romantic thriller set in Washington, D.C., and the Northern Virginia horse country. Caitlyn Cahill, the story’s heroine, is a former D.C. socialite who worked with the FBI two years earlier to capture her serial-killer brother. Now living outside of the District’s spotlight, Caitlyn is residing on a rural horse farm where she runs an equine therapy program for children, trying to start her life over. FBI agent Reid Novak, who handled the original serial killer case, is forced to once again rend the peace Caitlyn has found when a copycat killer emerges, bent on duplicating her brother’s crimes.

When Reid and Caitlyn initially encountered one another in the first investigation, there were feelings between them, good and bad, that were left unaddressed. For one, Reid pressured Caitlyn into cooperating, and even though handing over evidence incriminating her brother was the right thing to do, it set off a chain of events that pretty much decimated Caitlyn’s life and prominent political family. In the two years that have passed since her brother’s incarceration, Reid has also faced his own personal crisis. As Midnight Fear unfolds, their two separate lives once again collide.

I really loved the idea of a former socialite hoping to somehow right her brother’s wrongs by opening a non-profit horse therapy program. Caitlyn has a good heart, and she’s a strong person who’s been through a lot and managed to survive. At least until the arrival of her brother’s copycat...

MIDNIGHT FEAR is the second book in the Chasing Evil trilogy. It’s a loosely based series, with each book about a different investigation and a different FBI agent handling high-profile serial murder cases. So you can read the stories out of order if you choose.

Happy holidays to everyone, and happy reading!  

Leslie Tentler is the author of the Chasing Evil trilogy from MIRA Books, which includes Midnight Caller (Feb. 2011), Midnight Fear (Aug. 2011) and Edge of Midnight (coming Feb. 2012). For more information, visit Leslie's web site atwww.LeslieTentler.com, join her author page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leslietentler or follow her on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/#!/leslie_tentler

Join WriterMason tomorrow for a guest post by Kellie Kamryn, author of Pleasure Island! And don't forget to sign up for the giveaways and hop to another blog on Reading Romances' Bloghop! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rules For Engagement - Google Plus: What Is It, Why We Should Want It, and How Do We Use It?

A primer for the rest of us... but first, some upcoming news: 

 December 10 - 16, I will be part of a major bloghop that I am so excited to host and promote some favorite authors!

Thank you for following!