A Holiday Present Just for You, and Bliss House Biscotti!

December 2016

Happy December, my dears!

The holidays are upon us, but first I want to take a moment to thank all of you who read, bought, and supported The Abandoned Heart this fall. THANK YOU! You're the best. It was so great to see so many of you while I was on the road, and I was extra-thrilled to be a part of library events like Cincinnati's Books by the Banks and an appearance at the Vinton, VA, branch of the Roanoke County Library system. My heart is full with all the smiles I saw. Book people are my favorite people.

Around My House

The tree is up, and the fall porch pumpkins are out in the woods, feeding winter birds. For some reason it all seemed less overwhelming this year, and I'm so happy to have everything ready well before Christmas.

A Holiday Prezzie for You!

If you don't already own a copy of Haunted Holidays: 3 Short Tales of Terror, the brief holiday collection with stories by Carolyn Haines, Lisa Morton, and me, then you will soon. Just click on the picture of the book below, and you can download a copy to your e-reader. It's a present from all three of us. Enjoy!

An Out-of-the-Box Research Corner Extra:
Ghost Stories in Winter

There's a line in the holiday song, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which mentions ghost stories:

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago

Every time I hear it, I wonder about the tradition of scary tales at the winter holidays. We are all familiar with Charles Dickens' tale, A Christmas Carol, which has plenty of ghosts in it. If you think about it, winter is the perfect time for tales of death and things that go bump in the night. In much of the world, the trees are barren, the chill in the air is bitter, and if we don't stay inside by the proverbial fire, we might die. Back in 1611, Shakespeare wrote in A Winter's Tale, "A sad tale's best for winter. I have one of sprites and goblins." Even before Dickens' Victorian tale, there was Washington Irving's 1819 story, Old Christmas, which tells of a parson coming to visit to tell tales of the supernatural, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

The tradition didn't end with the Victorians. Henry James' 1898 Turn of the Screw is told as a Christmas Eve tale, and is still taught as a British Literature classic. Two of my favorite contemporary winter chillers are Peter Straub's 1980 Ghost Story, and Stephen King's 1977 The Shining. A delightfully bleak midwinter, indeed.

I hope you'll add one or all of The Bliss House Trilogy books to your fireside reading pile.

(And if short stories are your thing, check out J.T. Ellison's exciting collection of shorts, The First Decade. I've read all the stories, and I know for a fact there are several that will give you spinetingling chills!)

Out and About

January 4th, 2017 Authors on the Air podcast interview, 9 pm EST

March 20th, 2017 River Styx Reading Series, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, 7:30 p.m.

One More Prezzie — A BLISS HOUSE Biscotti Recipe!

One of my friends, Carin Thumm, paid my work and me an amazing compliment at the launch of The Abandoned Heart in October. She cooked up a special recipe for biscotti inspired by the spookiest character in any of my books: Bliss House. The biscotti are devilishly delicious, and I asked her if I could share her recipe with you, here.

Double Dipped Dark Chocolate and Apple Biscotti

1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 - 1 cup dried apples, chopped
3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add vanilla mix to incorporate. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until dough has formed.

Mix in apples.

Scoop dough out onto a Silpat (or parchment paper) covered baking sheet and form into a roughly 15x4 inch block. Sprinkle raw sugar over the top.

Bake until a light golden color (approx. 30 minutes — see above note). Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove log from baking sheet to cutting board. Using a long knife slice log into 1/2 inch wide pieces.

Return pieces to baking sheet, and return sheet to oven. Bake for additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove biscotti from oven, and place on a cooling rack, they will continue to "crisp" as they cool.

Once completely cooled, dip flat bottoms in melted dark chocolate (I usually pour the chocolate out onto a plate) — pop biscotti in the fridge for ten to twenty minutes to help chocolate set. Dip again.

Store in an airtight container.

For a few finer points, and to check out Carin's other amazing recipes, photos and wise words, visit her THUMMPRINTS website.

Merry Christmas, from me, if Christmas speaks to your heart. I hope that your winter holidays are peaceful and filled with happiness and the ones you love. See you next year!

"Love conquers all; therefore, let us submit to love." —Virgil