Sunday, December 4, 2022

It Happened One Christmas Eve! by Jenn McKinlay

JENN McKINLAY: Two days, people! Two days until the e-novella IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS EVE is available. That would be on Dec 6th!!! Just in time to get you in the mood for the holidays or to help you hide from them with some laughs on the side. 


BUY LINKS (because I don't like promoting at just one place):

So, where did the idea for this novella come from? Honestly, I had Covid (boo, hiss) last January and I didn't have the energy to do anything other than watch old romcoms. 

I used Rotten Tomatoes list of the top 100 to guide me. Well, the number 1 is It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I'd seen it a million years ago and decided it was time to revisit it. There are outdated stereotypes that were problematic for me among other things but that's another blog post. Suffice to say, I loved the forced proximity of the heroine and the hero and decided I wanted to write my own holiday modern version of a madcap romantic escapade. So I did.

Here's the storyClaire Macintosh is about to get engaged to a man she doesn't love at the holiday gala she is hosting as director of the Museum of Literature. Her mother, Hildy Macintosh, has made it clear that if the museum is to continue to receive the enormous donations from the family trust that Hildy has approved all these years then Claire will marry the man Hildy has chosen for her and start to produce some grandbabies. At forty and single, Claire feels she has no choice. But when the horse and carriage arrive at the gala with the driver dressed as Santa to deliver Claire's engagement ring, she just can't go through with it. She hijacks the horse and carriage with Santa still on board and escapes!

Reporter Sam Carpenter thought he was being so clever convincing his friend to let him step in as Santa so he could get up close and personal to the subject of his upcoming magazine expose. He is completely unprepared for the events that unfold and finds himself dashing through Central Park with a runaway would be fiancé. Now the only way to save his story is to broker a deal with Claire Macintosh. In exchange for his help in getting her to her cottage in Maine by Christmas Eve, she'll grant him an exclusive interview. As their journey takes a series of unexpected twists, turns, and misadventures, both Claire and Sam realize that there's more than their careers on the line. And it's going to take a Christmas miracle to find their happily ever after.

Woo hoo!!!

This is the third and final romcom novella of my series set in a fictional place in NYC called the Museum of Literature. It has been an absolute hoot to write these and I am really enjoying the shorter format (100p/30K wds). FUN!

Now, how about you Reds and Readers? Are you a fan of the old madcap romcom movie? Or do you prefer the angsty dramatic love stories? 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Ugly Holiday Sweaters by Jenn McKinlay

 Jenn McKinlay: Show of hands, who owns one or more of these  delightfully over the top gems? 

This pic is actually from a jigsaw puzzle and I think those are cookies, which is probably the best way to display such holiday hoopla as then you can eat it and destroy the evidence instead of having it live in your closet forever.

Why am I mentioning holiday sweaters? Well, because someone got the great idea to have an ugly holiday sweater party at her friend's book signing. (Yeah, it was me.) Who is the unfortunate friend? Paige Shelton as we celebrate her latest release Winter's End. And, of course, we had to drag in Kate Carlisle as well. 

So, if you want to see our horrific sweaters, we'll be at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore at 2 PM MST today (Saturday, the 3rd) where we are giving prizes to randomly chosen sweater wearers or you can catch the live stream where we are also giving prizes to randomly chosen viewers who post a pic of their sweater in the comments: 

FUN FACT: Ugly holiday sweaters began in the fifties and were called "Jingle Bells Sweaters". I love that! Here's more history if you're interested:

Now confess, Reds and Readers, who owns one? Are you a lover or a hater?

Friday, December 2, 2022

Sticky Toffee Pudding by Jenn McKinlay

 Jenn McKinlay: Originally, I was going to write a lovely post about my recent trip to Ireland full of sheep and green hills, rainbows and ancient buildings. But no. I was lucky enough to have a foodie in my crew and the eating was SPECTACULAR on this trip, which is not what one normally thinks of when thinking of the Emerald Isle. Guinness, sure, but food? Not so much.

Y'all, we need to do a rethink. I had some of the best food whilst tripping along the Wild Atlantic Way and I just want to share a few highlights with you. In no particular order, here are my three favorites and it was hard to choose, let me tell you!

All right, who here has watched Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix? My SIL showed the Dublin episode (my first) the night before Mom and I headed out to Ireland and, let me just say, Phil nailed it. His is a food and travel show that is full of heart and warmth and gentle humor. I've become a fan and have mentioned the show to everyone I know who loves food or travel or both. You may know Phil Rosenthal as the writer for Everybody Loves Raymond. 

On the Dublin episode, Phil stops by a place called Gallagher's Boxty House in Temple Bar (if you click the link to their website, there's a visit from Paul Hollywood that's delightful). Our first night in Dublin and we headed out to eat and just stumbled upon it. Felt like fate, so we ate there and it was amazing. Their specialty is the potato pancake (the boxty) reimagined and I have to say it was delicious! My favorite was the boxty chips (french fries made out of boxties with an arugula garlic mayo - OMG!) as an appetizer and then the Gaelic Boxty, finely sliced, perfectly seasoned beef on a boxty. Fabulous. The showstopper for me was their sticky toffee pudding - I still think about it. My friend Annette and I are on a quest to find the recipe. 

Next up was a castle dinner family style at Bunratty Castle. It was glorious! The only utensil they gave you was a knife. You were to eat with your hands! I expected the food to be dashed out as it seemed the draw would be the actors in medieval dress who put on a delightful show (which has been running since 1963). Yeah, no. The food was terrific. My fave being the fresh soda bread and the spare ribs.

And then it was on to Dingle where we happened to luck out and get a table at one of the most popular restaurants in town - The Fish Box.
Family owned and operated, brother Patrick catches the fish on the family trawler and Mom and Dad, Deirdre and Michael, cook it. It was by far the best fish and chips I've ever had. Deirdre is a chef and her batter recipe is a secret - an amazing one, clearly.

So, those are my top three but there were so many more delicious stops along the way - Milano in Temple Bar had amazing dough balls, Gatto Rosso in Galway had incredible spaghetti carbonara and a tiramisu to die for, and for real down home pub grub and trad music, I loved The Celt Pub in Dublin with their Guinness beef stew, ham toastie and mash, bangers and mash, and Granny's bacon and cabbage. Yes, we went hardcore Irish for our last night and it was glorious!

And the really wonderful thing was that the food was not outrageously expensive. Meals were cheaper in Ireland than in the States by far. So, if you're thinking of hitting the Emerald Isle, bring your appetite!

Reds and Readers, what food stops have surprised you in your travels - good, bad, other? Share!