December 24th – Hot Tree Publishing


Let’s welcome Becky from Hot Tree Publishing (my brilliant publisher)! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.

The Magic of Christmas

Since a child, it’s been a tradition to make a yule log, something I did with my parents, and a task I loved wholeheartedly. I’ve tried desperately to keep this tradition alive with my own son, not quite realising the “tiny” difference a simple thing like location would have on the creation of said yumminess.

Growing up in England, I’m used to Christmas in winter, therefore baking and of course melting chocolate on the hob, with the task of pouring the delicious goodness before it sets. It’s funny how a few thousand miles can flip that small dilemma on its head.

Having lived in Queensland, Australia for over six years, our summer Christmas really does involve barbeques and swimming rather than a turkey and huddling around the fire. This ultimately makes melting chocolate a breeze, but setting the darn thing a logistical nightmare.

Over the years, our creations are somewhat… interesting. When chocolate drips so fast, little stays attached, so it’s always a race to get the log in the fridge as quickly as possible. We’ve happily realised, though, that the norm includes hands, arms, and faces regularly covered in chocolatey goodness and have learned to roll with the heat. Though one year we did try it with frosting rather than chocolate as it was 106˚ F! Christmas just would not be the same without this traditional delicious treat on our Christmas table.

Enjoy the recipe below and have an amazing holiday!


CEO Hot Tree Publishing


Ingredients from:

For the cake

3 eggs

85g golden caster sugar

85g plain flour (less 2 tbsp)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

For the filling & icing

50g butter

140g dark chocolate, broken into squares

1 tbsp golden syrup

284ml pot double cream

200g icing sugar, sifted

2-3 extra-strong mint, crushed (optional)

icing sugar and holly sprigs to decorate – ensure you remove the berries before serving



  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease and line a 23 x 32cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk for about 8 mins until thick and creamy.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then sift onto the egg mixture. Fold in very carefully, then pour into the tin. Now tip the tin from side to side to spread the mixture into the corners. Bake for 10 mins.
  3. Lay a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. When the cake is ready, tip it onto the parchment, peel off the lining paper, then roll the cake up from its longest edge with the paper inside. Leave to cool.
  4. To make the icing, melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Take from the heat and stir in the syrup and 5 tbsp cream. Beat in the icing sugar until smooth. Whisk the remaining cream until it holds its shape. Unravel the cake, spread the cream over the top, scatter over the crushed mints, if using, then carefully roll up again into a log.
  5. Cut a thick diagonal slice from one end of the log. Lift the log on to a plate, then arrange the slice on the side with the diagonal cut against the cake to make a branch.
  6. Spread the icing over the log and branch (don’t cover the ends), then use a fork to mark the icing to give the effect of tree bark. Scatter with unsifted icing sugar to resemble snow, and decorate with holly.

Hot Tree Publishing opened its doors in 2015 with an aspiration to bring quality fiction to the world of readers. With the initial focus on romance and a wide spread of romance sub-genres, we envision opening up to alternative genres in the near future.

Firmly seated in the industry as a leading editing provider to independent authors and small publishing houses, Hot Tree Publishing is the sister company to Hot Tree Editing, founded in 2012. Having established in-house editing and promotions, plus having a well-respected market presence, Hot Tree Publishing endeavors to be a leader in bringing quality stories to the world of readers.

Want to know more? Head over to to look for your next 5* read and to check out the submissions process.

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December 22nd – J D R Hawkins


Let’s welcome JDR! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.


One of my favorite holiday memories was when my husband, our two young sons and I travelled from Colorado to Iowa to spend Christmas with my parents. Our older son was growing skeptical about Santa Clause. After the boys had gone to bed, my dad had a great idea. He went to his closet, got out a pair of his boots, and stuck them in the fireplace. He then made boot prints with the ashes on the hearth. Chuckling the whole time, he kept saying how he couldn’t wait to see the kids’ faces in the morning. We all went to bed, and in the morning, the boys woke us up with cries of “Santa has been here! He left his footprints!” That Christmas, our older son decided that Santa really did exist. His childhood was extended for another year or two because of what my dad did.


My new novel, A Rebel Among Us, features several Christmas scenes. Here is a snippet from one of those scenes. This one takes place in 1863:

Christmas Eve was on a Thursday. The moment he awoke, a profound sadness came over him. He knew why he felt so horrible, and remembered how he had vowed to his father that he would remain behind to protect their family. But David had broken that promise, and he was guilt-ridden over it. If anything should happen to his family, he would hold himself solely responsible. After dressing, he went downstairs to see the girls gathered around the kitchen table. They looked up at him as he entered.

“David? What is it?” Anna asked.

He sank down onto a chair.

“Are you feeling all right? You’re not troubled about the party tonight are you?” She glanced at her sisters. “We’ve been practicing your words every day, and I think you’ll do fine.”

“It ain’t that,” he replied, forcing a smile.

The three sisters glared at him, compelling him to explain.

“It’s jist that, a year ago last Christmas Eve, we found out Pa had been killed at Fredericksburg.”

Abigail gasped.

“Oh,” responded Maggie, a flash of sympathy crossing her face.

“I’m so sorry, David,” Anna said. “If there’s anything we can do …” Her voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t reckon there is.” He looked at the floor.

Anna quickly stood. “I’m going to make you something very special for Christmas,” she proclaimed. “We want this to be joyous occasion, don’t we, sisters?”

“Yes!” Abigail chimed in. “Oh, yes!”

Maggie grimaced. Rising from her chair, she said, “How can it be joyous, Anna? We’re in the midst of a war, and we have the enemy living with us right under our own roof.” Snorting in disgust, she stormed out of the room.

Anna and Abigail looked at each other.

“Don’t mind her, David,” Abigail told him. “The rest of us are glad you’re here.” She walked around the table and hugged him.

He couldn’t help but smile. “Thanks, Miss Abigail. That means a lot to me.”

She pulled away, smiling at him.

“Maybe this Christmas will be better,” he remarked. “Reckon it can’t be much worse.”

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December 21st – Sheila Kell


Let’s welcome Sheila! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.

Happy Holidays!

In HIS DESIRE, Kate Ross held a monthly themed dinner party with her friends, and the one in the book was held right before Kate and Jesse truly became Kate and Jesse. At each dinner, she attempted a new recipe with her friends. During that Mexican-themed dinner, she made Sopaipillas with Chocolate Sauce. Here is Kate’s recipe.


For the sauce:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Sopaipillas:

Vegetable oil, for frying

4 8-to-10 inch flour tortillas, cut into wedges

Granulated sugar, for coating


Make the sauce:

Bring 1/4 cup water, the brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Make the Sopaipillas:

Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet until 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the tortillas, turning once, until bubbly and golden on both sides. 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to towel-lined plate and sprinkle both sides generously with sugar.

Drizzle with chocolate sauce and serve.

For a printed card with this recipe, PM me at my author page –


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December 20 – Liz Bower


Let’s welcome Liz! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.


Thank you, Dahlia, for inviting me to join your holiday party!

Christmas starts for me when I go shopping for a tree with my husband. I love the smell of a real tree. But the fun starts once we get it home and start to decorate it to cheesy Christmas songs playing in the background. A glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two may also be involved!

One holiday tradition I started about ten years ago is to buy a small present that we open on Christmas Eve. Of course, this also includes a present for my dog –Barney­– who hates being left out!

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without watching Love Actually. Although I usually end up watching it by myself!

Do you have any Christmas traditions?


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December 19 – Randi Perrin


Let’s welcome Randi! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.


Christmas trees have always been a big deal to me, and growing up they were a constant source of disappointment.

First of all, my parents never believed in putting up the tree until the weekend before Christmas. REALLY? We were total scrooges until the weekend before Christmas. That just felt like such a cop-out, especially because Mom had her Christmas shopping done long before then.

Then they decided to get environmentally friendly. Instead of chopping down a tree (well, okay, buying one from a Christmas tree lot that had been sawed down by some unknown middleman), they decided to buy a “live” tree. If you’re not familiar with a “live” tree, it’s a normal Christmas tree, but instead of chopping it down, they dig up the root ball with it, so after the holidays you plant the thing instead of dragging a tinsel-covered fire safety violation to the curb, hoping the trash men weren’t being jerks and would actually take it.

The problem with these trees wasn’t that they were supposed to receive new life in my yard. But we went from rocking a beautiful, gorgeous, full-size tree in our living room with a vaulted ceiling to a baby of a tree that wasn’t taller than me. I’m a short person (five-one, if we’re being generous). It just felt like such a let-down.

I hated those little trees so much, I wrote a poem every year called “I Hate Little Christmas Trees” to express my dislike of them. All that earned was the promise for them to do it all again the following year. We did that live tree thing for three years and not a single one survived the transition from living room to our yard. Guess that’s why you’re not supposed to plant trees in December.

After the failed live tree experiment, my parents did the unthinkable.

They. Bought. An. Artificial. Tree.

That was blasphemy. I mean, what kind of crap was that? Especially from my parents who both grew up on a farm. (Not the same one, mind you. We’re not that kind of family.) “But it’s taller,” they told me. Yes, it was bigger, but it was fake, fake, fake. It was almost as bad as if we didn’t even bother putting up a tree.

The poem that year was “I Hate Fake Christmas Trees.”

Fast forward to my life now.

We decorate the house the weekend after Thanksgiving. Because Christmas is my favorite, I love it, and I want the tree to be up as long as possible. I hate Thanksgiving, so I’d probably be okay putting it up right after Halloween, but shhhh, don’t tell my daughter that or it will actually happen. (Why don’t I just do it? With Christmas trees comes Christmas music and I don’t like Christmas music. I’m aware of the irony. I don’t care.)

We actually have four trees in our house.


One in my daughter’s room she decorates however she wants. One in my bedroom that’s decorated with my collection of moose ornaments. The big one in the living room that’s decorated in University of Kentucky colors and ornaments (because December is basketball season, baby). A fourth at the top of the stairs which contains the cluster of personalized ornaments that don’t go with any of the themes.

In perhaps the greatest form of irony ever, all four trees are artificial.

Yes. I jumped on the artificial tree bandwagon. Wait… wait… I have my reasons. One, I wound up hating the smell of pine. (I blame it on those live trees, that reeked of it more than cut trees.) Two, and this is the most important, I have cats. Now, having artificial doesn’t really stop the cats from chewing on my tree, but it slows them down. (Worst of all, this year we only have two of the four up. I can’t handle chasing the five-month-old kitten from tree to tree with a spray bottle. I have things to do, books to write, Christmas presents to shop for.)

I haven’t written a character with a Christmas tree obsession yet, but give it time and it’ll happen. There are subtle hints, though. Destin, in Virtue of Death, has a Christmas birthday. Writing Christmas with that family would definitely be interesting.



At eighteen, Sera Moore chose to go to culinary school while a higher power selected her to become an angel, specifically, an angel of death.

Now, twelve years later, Sera’s a successful baker during the day and performs her angelic duties at night. The only thing missing in her life is a man, but the last thing she wants is to fall head over wings in love.

But when a tenacious food critic won’t take a hint, can Sera lower her wings long enough to risk her heart one more time?

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December 16th – Gen Ryan


Let’s welcome Gen Ryan! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.

I’m not going to lie this time of year is my absolute favorite! I love decorating and holiday music which is on repeat from the day after Thanksgiving until well after Christmas. It’s my childhood tradition to put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving which I continued on when my daughter was born. I love seeing my daughter get so excited as time gets closer to the Holiday’s. We get to see family we don’t get to that often and do a Yankee swap with is super fun and can get deadly! Not to mention, we eat tons of yummy food and drinks! Yes! The drinks are my favorite. We always try to get creative with our drinks and make something different. Usually, there is a signature drink that’s made in bulk. Take a look at this delicious martini recipe that I can’t wait to give a taste.


I want to thank Dahlia for putting this all together. If you want to follow me here’s how you can do so!



Also, take a look at my newest release, Fix You. You’ll be sure to fall in love with Max and Jason.



Maxwell Craver pretends his entire life to be someone he’s not. It used to be easier to lie to himself and to everyone who cared for him until Jason Lewis comes along and changes everything. For the first time, Maxwell thinks that maybe he can finally be his true self.

Jason Lewis has always been open about his sexuality. When he hires Maxwell to restore his new car, their connection and heat are instant. By agreeing to help him overcome his fears, Jason vows to fix him, even if it means breaking his own heart.

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I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season!



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December 15 – Debra Elise


Let’s welcome Debra! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.

Hello, everyone. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

My name is Debra Elise and Dahlia and I *met* last year when we each had a short story published in a Christmas anthology by the same publisher. Hers was in, A VERY WEREY CHRISTMAS, and mine in, TEMPTING SCROOGE. Hard to believe it’s been a year since they were released.  Thank you, Dahlia for including me in your holiday party!

I write contemporary romance and currently have a series, The Outlaws of Baseball, out in the wild. The first two books are available now and next year I’m going to add a bit of holiday cheer to the series and spice things up with some Christmas magic for the third book – I can’t wait! While writing the new story, it brought back memories of my childhood and the anticipation my sister, brother and I had for the box of Christmas cookies our grandmother would send every year in December. They were all homemade and carefully packed in wax paper. Layer after layer of assorted treats filled the package from Colorado and each year among our favorites she included one or two new cookies we’d never tried. As we became older and so did she, the boxes stopped coming. But the memories will always be there. My mouth is watering now just thinking of all those cookies!

She is now 92 and doesn’t bake as often or as prolific, but she still makes my favorite, Lemon Bars.  I’m sharing with you the closest recipe I could find to hers; she refuses to give it up until she can no longer make them herself. J

And for fun, I’m listing my Top Ten Grandma Christmas Cookies of all time.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season!



  1. Buttery Lemon Bars (of course they’re number one!)
  2. Shortbread cookies
  3. Frosted sugar cookies (the bells and tree shapes were my favorites!)
  4. Chinese Christmas cookies
  5. Holly cookies (made from frosted flakes and melted marsh mellows– yum!)
  6. Jam-filled shortbread cookies
  7. Coconut macaroons
  8. Meringue cookies (a different flavor every year)
  9. Rum snowballs (I know these were for my parents, but I always snitched one or two 😉
  10. Peppermint chocolate cookies



Buttery Lemon Bars

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

6 tablespoons lemon juice

4 large eggs



  1. In a bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in 2 cups flour until dough is no longer crumbly. Pat into a ball.
  2. Press dough evenly into a buttered and floured 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350° oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, or in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, whirl or beat granulated sugar, remaining 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, and eggs to blend. Pour onto hot crust.
  4. Bake until lemon mixture is no longer runny in the center (cut to test), 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust with remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
  5. Let cool completely in pan, then cut into 24 bars and enjoy!


Here’s a peek at my latest release, Catching Luke, The Outlaws of Baseball, Book Two

When the hottest catcher in the league gets sidelined by an accident, the only one who can help him heal is the one woman he can’t have.

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