Friday, June 25, 2010
My latest book from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, THE GUARDIAN'S HONOR, will be in stores next week, so I hope you'll look for it. This is the third book in my series about the Bodine family of South Carolina. Set in Charleston and the coastal islands, the series revolves around a Coast Guard family. Although each book stands on its own, I hope once you meet the Bodines, you'll want to come back for more.
I love writing about the South Carolina coast. One of my daughters lives on Isle of Palms, and her two little girls are really growing up to be island girls. They attend school at Sullivan's Island Elementary School, one of the few elementary schools in the country with a beach just beyond the playground! My husband and I spend three months each year on the South Carolina coast, and it's really become a second home for us. I was especially moved by the stories I learned about the Coast Guard as I researched these books. They truly are unsung heroes in all that they do to protect and serve.
In THE GUARDIAN'S HONOR, Coast Guard officer Adam Bodine finds his long-vanished great uncle. But the secretive elderly man has adopted some new kin...single mother Cathy Norwood and her disabled little boy. Adam is grateful when Cathy convinces his relative to reunite with the Bodines, until he learns why she's so eager. Though his heartstrings are tugged by their plight, he knows he doesn't deserve them in his life--not with his past, not unless one big extended family can teach Lieutenant Bodine something about love and honor.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I love showing off my friends' books whenever I can, and if you enjoy Amish fiction, I'm sure you'll like Nancy Mehl's new book, SIMPLE SECRETS, out now from Barbour Books. SIMPLE SECRETS is the first of a series combining mystery, romance, and suspense, set in the fictional small Mennonite town of Harmony. The town itself becomes a character in the story, and you'll find yourself wanting to settle in for a visit...a place populated by nice, friendly people, one of whom happens to be a killer. SIMPLE SECRETS is a charming read, and you'll find yourself wanting to go back to Harmony again and again!
I asked Nancy for a few comments on how this book came to be, and here's what she said:
Simple Secrets: The Harmony Series by Nancy Mehl
I never planned to write about the Amish/Mennonite way of life. In fact, “Simple Secrets” was originally a proposal for a cozy mystery. At the time, the title was “Murder, Plain and Simple.” The setting was an Amish town. I came up with the idea because the concept of evil set in such a simple, innocent location appealed to the mystery writer in me. But somehow, things changed until the town became Mennonite and the story morphed into romantic suspense with a strong thread of mystery. When my publisher first suggested I adjust the story line to lean toward a more romantic flavor, I wasn’t certain I could do it. Although I hate to admit it now, at the time I had a tough time understanding the appeal of “bonnet books.” But after I agreed to change my original concept, I discovered something interesting. I think I figured out why so many people love to read stories written by wonderful authors like Beverly Lewis, Kim Sawyer and Cindy Woodsmall. One of the clues came from my previous cozy mystery series. The Ivy Towers’s mystery series was set in a small town drawn from my imagination. I named it Winter Break, Kansas. I’m a winter person, and the winters in Wichita, where I live, had been rather disappointing. I said I’m a winter person, but actually, I’m a snow person. Love it. Crazy about it. My frustration with our lack of snow led me to create Winter Break – where snow comes early and leaves late. I began to fashion the town as a place I wanted to live. And readers responded. I received lots of letters and emails telling me how much they loved Winter Break. One woman even said she’d been scouring maps, trying to find it! I realized as I began to create the Mennonite town of Harmony, Kansas, that all of us are looking for that rare place – a home in our hearts where old-fashioned values still exist. Where people treat each other with love and respect. Where evil is defeated and good triumphs. What better place than a town filled with people who live simply - who have shut out the harsh voices of the outside world? So called “bonnet books” actually open the door to that unique spot where life is lived the way we dream it can be. I hope my readers will fall in love with Harmony, Kansas like I have.
Blessings from Harmony!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Spinach and basil and chive...that sounds like a folk song, doesn't it? I'm in a gardening mode today. Or rather, a picking mode. The garden is starting to produce, and there's nothing that beats the taste of veggies that are two minutes from the garden to the stove! At the moment, the last batch of rhubarb is on the kitchen counter waiting to me to do something about it, and beautiful green spinach leaves are rinsing in cold water.
I have to admit that my husband does most of the gardening. I do have my own favorite things that I take care of, in addition to the flower beds. Mint grows along the base of the stone wall where it's nice and moist. It's been thriving there for forty years, and I'm not about to disturb it! My chives grow in the flower bed next to the patio off the kitchen. Last year it seemed the echinacea had crowded them out, but they've made a comeback this spring.
The rest of my herbs I prefer to grow in pots on the patio wall. They grow well there, and they're right at hand when I want to cut a few leaves for supper. This year I'm trying globe basil instead of the other type, which seems to get leggy. The leaves are smaller but plentiful, and the aroma is delightful. Greek oregano shares a large pot with the basil, and so far they seem to be co-existing nicely. I also have a pot of sage, which I love for the scent. I throw a bit into almost any meat or fish dish, and it's also nice chopped up in olive oil for bruschetta. Cilantro is a new addition to my little collection. We've begun to enjoy a number of Mexican dishes, although my versions are probably very Americanized. So I thought I'd try the cilantro, and maybe even make some of my own salsa once the tomatoes come in.
I tend to use the fresh herbs for almost anything, but one of my favorites when I also have spinach is a Stuffed Chicken Breast. Here's how I do it for two people:
For filling: mix together about a half cup of bleu cheese or feta cheese with a generous handful of chopped spinach. Add finely chopped chives, basil and oregano to taste and mix thoroughly. If you like cheddar cheese, a tablespoon of grated cheddar can be added, but don't overwhelm the taste of the other cheese.
Cut a large boneless chicken breast horizontally, but not all the way through, so that you can open it. Put the filling on one side, fold the other side back over the filling, and secure the edges with wooden toothpicks. Dust each side lightly with flour, salt and pepper. Brown on both sides in about a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan. When it's nicely browned, add a tablespoon or two of water, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for about twenty minutes or until done in the center.
About 5 minutes before the chicken is finished, make the sauce. Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan and stir in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. When it bubbles, slowly pour in about a cup of orange juice, stirring until thick and clear.
Remove the chicken to a plate, top with some fresh spinach leaves, and pour the orange sauce over it. Delicious!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Love Inspired Classics has just re-released two of my books from the Caldwell Clan series, A Time to Forgive and Promise Forever. It's such a pleasure for me to see the books back in print again after all this time--they were originally published in 2002 and 2003. The Caldwell books were about an extended family living on a fictional South Carolina sea island. My husband and I have been wintering on Hilton Head Island for many years, it's a pleasure to write books that are set in a place I love. If you didn't catch these two stories the first time around, I hope you'll look for this double volume, out now from Love Inspired.
And I'd like to introduce a great book from a writer friend of mine, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Kim has a wonderful gift, and here's what I've said about her latest in reviews:
Kim Vogel Sawyer hits all the right notes in her latest historical romance, A HOPEFUL HEART, Bethany House. With her trademark heartwarming style, Sawyer treats readers to the story of Tressa Neill, a dowryless Easterner sent to the Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas, with the hope of finding a husband, a family, and a life of her own. Tressa's mistakes and misadventures and her valiant efforts to fit in to her new Western community will touch readers' hearts. Sawyer has a gift for transporting readers to another time and place, and they are sure to enjoy this trip to 1880s Kansas in her skillful hands.
Happy summer reading!