Mine never look this beautiful. Image from hdwallpapers.com

Mine never look this beautiful. Image from hdwallpapers.com

This is the only cookie recipe I’ve ever committed to memory. These are pretty much the best rolled cookies there are. I used to call them “Sailboat Cookies” because for some reason, I was in possession of only one cookie cutter, and it was shaped like a sailboat.

  • 1-1/2 cups pure unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

(You can add optional flavorings like lavender, almond oil, lemon extract, etc.) Cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, then salt and flour. Roll and cut. Don’t make these too thin, because they’re very tender and will break (see below). Make them nice and thick. Lay on ungreased parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 325F for about 10 minutes, just until they start turning brown at the edges. Frost with your favorite icing or make a glaze of confectioners sugar mixed with an egg white. Sprinkle on colored sugar. Barkis is interested in the cookies.

This is ridiculous. You’ve been warned.

Hey gang! It’s a winter romance with a bakery. And recipes. And it’s $1.99. Enjoy!

The winter lodge by susan wiggs

The Winter Lodge

By Susan Wiggs

From a #1 New York Times bestselling author who “paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master” (Jodi Picoult): After a fire destroys Jenny’s home, she finds one of her grandfather’s belongings among the wreckage — and sets out on a journey to find love and fulfill her dreams.

$1.99

Originally: $7.99

Get Deal:

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Deal ends: December 15

From the Gundersen family right-brained recipe file. No cookie cutters required!

Christmas Morning Plum Bread

2 c. self-rising flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 c. oil
3 eggs
2 jars baby food plums

Dump everything in a bowl and beat with mixer. Pour batter into oiled and floured pans. Makes 2 medium loaves, 4 mini loaves or one bundt pan. Bake at 325-350 for 50 min. to 1 hour.

Intensely Flavored, Moist Gingerbread

I adapted this from the Splendid Table website. I cannot tell a lie–I simplified it, increased the sugar and added the candied ginger and cayenne pepper. It’s pretty much the best gingerbread ever.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup molasses (dark corn syrup works, too)
  • 3/4 cup very hot water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with waxed paper (you can also use 2 loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans), coat with nonstick spray and dust with flour. Beat together the butter, molasses, hot water and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and quickly add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until blended. Pour into pans. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack in the pan.

Hi friends,
I almost never pass along email notes, but I love LittleSun and the good they are doing around the world, so I wanted to share this newsletter. With the holidays coming up, you might be thinking about the perfect stocking stuffer. This is it!
Love,
Susan

Dear Little Sun friends,

With this one-time only email, we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting us in bringing light to the 1.2 billion people in the world without access to electricity by having purchased Little Sun solar lamps from our online shop!

So far we have sold more than 200,000 lamps worldwide with more than 90,000 of these lamps going to areas without electricity. To see the big impact Little Sun is making, please visit our website here.
Sign up for our newsletter and win a Little Sun package

If you would like to receive our Little Sun Newsletter (5–6 times per year), featuring news and updates about how Little Sun is spreading solar light and livelihoods worldwide, just let us know by replying to this email with the word ‘Subscribe.’ Alternatively, you can also sign up via our Facebook page here.

As a thank you from us, one person who signs up for our newsletter within the next 2 weeks will win a Little Sun package featuring the latest version of our Little Sun lamp (with 2 light levels and a glow-in-the-dark button), as well as your very own Little Sun t-shirt, pen, postcards, and canvas bag!

Free shipping in November

Little Suns are a popular holiday gift, so as a special offer to you, we are offering free shipping if you order 2 Little Suns or more via our online shop before the end of November!

To redeem this offer, simply use the voucher code GiveALittleLight in the checkout section of the shop!

We always love to receive photos of Little Sun in use and also like to hear if you are happy with your Little Sun(s). If you have photos or feedback for us, just email ilove or share on our social media channels:

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open.php?u=e529d85f9313308cec5e41737&id=230c66e9e8&e=b88d6cb9b5

Silly fun! You can play this game where you think of any character, real or not real, alive or dead, movies, TV, books, real life, and it will guess who you’re thinking of.

AND IT KNOWS ME! http://en.akinator.com/ Thanks to Elizabeth the smartypants for the heads up.

So the good readers at Mineral County Public Library in Superior, Montana had a real Beekeeper’s Ball. They read the book and then had a picnic featuring the menu of recipes from the book. OMG, I am over the moon! Every writer dreams of a group of readers, sharing food and stories and laughter on a beautiful summer’s day. Please enjoy these shots of their own private Beekeeper’s Ball. 

A perfect setting. Could be the cover of one of my books.

A perfect setting. Could be the cover of one of my books.

Tables were set up around the hostess's yard. If there is a more gorgeous place than Montana, I've yet to see it.

Tables were set up around the hostess’s yard. If there is a more gorgeous place than Montana, I’ve yet to see it.

Some of the gals.

Some of the gals.

Book marks made by one of the book club members.

Book marks made by one of the book club members.

MTreaders7o 4

honey lavender lemonade, piernik, vincotto over salad greens..all recipes from the novel

Honey Butter Fried Chicken. The best four words in the book.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken. The best four words in the book.

summer fruit with honey dressing, Hummingbird Cake

summer fruit with honey dressing, Hummingbird Cake

Bee Sting Cake. Can these ladies cook, OR WHAT?

Bee Sting Cake. Can these ladies cook, OR WHAT? I love the fine china they used.

I will treasure this thank you note always!

I will treasure this thank you note always!

Food, fun and friends. There’s nothing better. Thank you, ladies, for sharing these images of your own BEEKEEPER’S BALL!

Note to book clubs! If you would like to receive a Book Club Care Package, send a note to susanmwiggs (at) gmail.com and we’ll set you up.

Back in 1990 or so, I was homeless. Not without a roof over my head, but without a publishing house. I had published several books, but had no publisher for my newest endeavor.

I was in love with the idea, though, and determined to see it though, publisher or no. I had this vision for a passionate historical romance set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses.

In due time, THE LILY AND THE LEOPARD was published, and published well. The cover art looked great–remember "step-back" covers with the illustration inside?–reviews were good, and readers responded to the star-crossed Liana, a French noblewoman, and Rand, the English knight.

I’m happy to let you know that the book is back in print. It’s got a new title, THE MISTRESS OF NORMANDY, and new cover art. Fans of GAME OF THRONES will feel a nudge of familiarity with the houses of Lancaster and York–the real-life inspiration for the rival fantasy families.

Are you a historical romance fan? Game of Thrones fan? Please chime in below, or on Facebook or Twitter to let me know what you think.

I have the worst work habits. Sometimes I look at the pile of books I’ve written and I wonder how they got there. Well, the best way to describe it is “word-by-word.” You put down a word. Then you cross it out. Then write a few more. Stare out the window. Wonder if the can opener needs cleaning. Wonder if someone’s having a hissy fit on a social network. Wonder why you thought this was a good idea for a novel in the first place. 

Sometimes you have to go to Bali to clear your head and get some serious thinking done:

My brain works better in Bali.

My brain works better in Bali.

And, oh, here’s something. I write my first draft in longhand. In a Clairefontaine notebook with a fountain pen loaded with peacock blue ink. Not because I’m quirky but because I think in longhand. And I’m left-handed so ordinary pens smear my hand as it drags across the page, but Skrip peacock blue on Clairefontaine paper does not. 

I have to carry extra ink around for those oh-so-prolific days.

tools of the trade

handwritten draft

that first awful draft

So now what, you ask? After I bleed blue all over the page, I realize there is no backup copy. If I happen to step out for a while, the house might burn down and the only existing manuscript will go up in flames, like Jo’s novel in Little Women. (I didn’t cry when Beth died. I cried when Amy burned the manuscript.) Sometimes I keep the notebook in the freezer, like Tess does with her notes in The Apple Orchard. I figure that’s the last thing that will burn if the house is reduced to rubble. 

Eventually, I fill the notebook with about 100,000 words that loosely resemble a novel. Then I have to type the thing up. I can’t use a typist because I tend to revise as I transcribe. Dragon Naturally Speaking voice dictation software works really well for me, provided the dogs don’t go off on me when someone comes to the door. When that happens, here’s what appears on my screen: hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep hep. 

the digitized draft

the digitized draft

Oh, and here’s something. I don’t use Word. I know, I’m awful, but my very first writing software was WordPerfect and my brain is stuck with it. I have to have Reveal Codes and anyone who knows WordPerfect knows why. Please, Word, figure out Reveal Codes! F3! Save my sanity!

Then I print the thing out and my writers’ group has a meeting about it. I’ve been in some writing group or other since 1986 and I don’t intend stopping. Magic happens in a writers’ group–critiquing and brainstorming and commiserating and celebrating. My current group consists of the fabulous Sheila Roberts, Lois Faye Dyer, Anjali Banerjee, Elsa Watson and Kate Breslin. We read and talk about each other’s work and I adore these women and I would pledge them my first born child but she is already married with a kid of her own

My group meets at a quaint waterfront bakery in a small town. Baked goods make the brain work better. 

Moving right along…I rewrite the book a couple of times. At various stages, it looks something like this:

Revisions are not pretty.

Revisions are not pretty.

…but you get to buy lots of colorful office supplies, so that’s something.

…and then I send it to my literary agent and editor. We have long deep talks about every aspect of the novel. Sometimes we get together in person and they are smart and kind and supportive and motivating and I thank God they are in my life, and this is why they get stuff like cashmere bathrobes and couture watches at Christmas.

They came to my wedding. We did no work at all that weekend.

They came to my wedding. We did no work at all that weekend.

Editor and style maven.

Editor and style maven.

And then I put on the Sweater of Immovable Deadlines and rewrite that sucker again. 

tick tock...

tick tock…

Note the snow on the ground...

Note the snow on the ground…

And at some point my editor says we’re good to go, and my agent says yippee, let’s send that girl her advance check…

Money

…and I get to go shopping and tell people what a breeze it is to write a book. 

Stay tuned. The next installment will take us through the cover design and publication process. Sound good? 

Thanks for reading! 

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