Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Baking the Perfect Sponge Cake

Let's start with a short history of my favorite sponge - a Victoria Sponge. The cake was named after Queen Victoria who always ate a slice with her afternoon tea. If you don't have the luxury of afternoon tea - it makes a great dessert cake too.

What makes this simple sponge cake different from other sponges is that the top of the cake is not iced or decorated. I'm not much of a decorator so this works well for me. All it needs is a dusting of powdered sugar. It traditionally has raspberry jam and clotted cream between the layers. Purist will say that if the cream is not Devonshire or Cornish cream it's not a true Victoria Sponge. If you don't live in the UK and have access to the cream - no worries. I've used fresh whipped cream, butter cream frosting and even a layer of Biscoff frosting.
I'm not a fan of raspberry so I'll use any jam I have on hand as well as chocolate ganache. Peach Prosecco preserve by Mrs. Bridges is my favorite.

I use a simple semi-homemade recipe for all my sponges. The traditional cake calls for 6" tins, but any size will do. I use the same recipe to make chocolate log rolls.

Preheat oven to 350 
1 BOX ANY FLAVOR CAKE MIX  My favorites are  Duncan Hines yellow, white or devil's food. 
6 eggs  beat on high until lemon color
add 1/2 cup of water 
1/4 cup oil I like the hint of olive oil especially in chocolate cakes
Add cake mix
Bake for 15 - 20 mins or until the cake springs back when touched in the center

Devil's Food sponge log for July 4th
apple almond sponge
I've made the sponges more than a week ahead. It freezes great. I usually add my center or fill my roll before freezing. Wrapped in a layer of plastic wrap then tin foil and another layer of plastic wrap it comes out fresh. If I'm frosting the cake, I do it while it's frozen and leave it in the fridge until a couple of hours before I serve. It tastes even better the next day.

I want to thank my friend Alyssa Maxwell for the first photo with one of her lovely tea sets.


Monday, July 31, 2017

5 Things I Learned at RWA 2017



#5 Pick Five Things You Learned and Apply Them to Your Writing

Everyone comes home with a long list of things they're going to do to make them a more efficient and prolific writer. Seriously, how many of those things did you accomplish or still practice after your last conference. By keeping it simple and making your five choices realistic you're more likely to meet those goals. 

#4 Create a FB Author Page / Update Pinterest boards

I've been meaning to do this for some time.  You need to have a profile page first - which I had. It wasn't difficult to do an author page. You create a banner, pick your audience and start posting. Followers will come.  

The most difficult thing about going on Pinterest is getting off. Update your Pinterest boards and make your books or writing info the first board.  Make sure you add a description to each board and pin. It will help send traffic your way. Always include your website or blog address.

#3 Check Out Neflix and Amazon Prime for Research.

My current WIP is targeted for Intrigue. I found a great show on Neflix for understanding what goes into being a bodyguard for celebrities and dignitaries. Prime has a list of documentaries on Military History direct from the men and woman who experience it.

#2 Make a Productivity Chart

I always liked lists. Some lists are floating around in my head while others, I actually write down. Keep your expectations realistic for your life style, writing ability and goals.  Know what you're capable of. I'm not a fast writer so I set my daily goal for 500 words. Aim higher if feel you need to, but don't discredit a lower limit. In a week you can have a chapter. Meeting those goals will help you understand when you expect to complete your 1st, 2nd and 3rd drafts.
I like to do my stuff (exercise, social media and blog) in the mornings.  I restart my day at 2pm when I sit down and write for 2 - 3 hours.



Nothing will get done if you don't put your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard.
It's approaching the 2:00 hour so I'm off to reach my goal for the day.


#1 1/2  Eat Chocolate Everyday


Friday, May 5, 2017

Conception of a Sweet Romantic Series

Writing series romance was not something I planned to do.

When I wrote the first book in my Love by Chocolate series, I never imaged I would create a four book series plus one novella. 

Somewhere in the first book I realized one of the minor characters, Chloe had a chocolate story to tell. Since the heroine in Chocolate Secrets, Alex an ER nurse had no intention of continuing on with the family business someone had to tell the next story. The chocolate was calling and Kooky Chloe was the one to tell it. Book 2, Chocolate Magic was born.

Chloe's life is a puddle of melted chocolate, but help is on the way. Alex is back and a new friend Maddie is introduced along with a sexy hero who has no time for chocolate. Maddie, a trained pastry chef has her own puddle to wade through. Book 3, Chocolate Muse became Maddie's story.

An editor once told me that the nice thing about reading a series in order is that the reader meets old friends when previous characters make a cameo appearance. Readers who have been introduced to  characters also their share secrets. For readers who are picking up the book out of sequence a short paragraph intertwined into the story can explain their role in the hero or heroine's life.

The setting, a rejuvenated Brooklyn neighborhood was already there for Book 4 when I placed Lily's little pastry shop at 4 1/2 Smith Street.  Chocolate Couture steps out of the setting and crosses the bridge opening the potential for a different backdrop for another story. I haven't gone there yet. 

Doing chocolate research is the best part of writing a series where chocolate becomes a character. But what to do with all that info? That's how the idea for my novella, Chocolate and Sensibility came about. 
Topical rainforest walk at Fairchild Gardens.
I took the information I had about chocolate production and set the story in the topics. The story belongs to Luis and Sophia, but it's a prequel to Lily's story. 

When writing a stand alone story, I'm never sure where the story will take me. Imagine the places you can go when writing a series. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Addicted to Outlander

When no one else will listen, I talk to myself. This is one of those times. Only another Outlander obsessed fan will understand. Here's how it all started.

I read Outlander for the first time in 1992. Outlander obsessed fans will understand what I mean by my first read. No one reads the series just once. I instantly fell in love with Jamie and Claire's story. And then, after book 4, Drums of Autumn I stopped reading.
I didn't want to read about the lives of the other characters and I didn't want Jamie and Claire to start a new life away from Scotland.

The books were keepers and stayed on my shelf for years. When Starz announced they were making a TV series, I reread Outlander and waited for the season to start. I was hooked. I never expect much from TV or movie adaptations, but the casting and script exceeded my expectations. Sam and Caitriona gave life to the characters I remembered so vividly.

I know there are purist out there who are saying that the TV script and characters swayed from the books. They did at times, but it was okay.

When the season ended I crashed. What was I going to do? That's when I decided to give the rest of the series a chance. I reread book 4, Drums of Autumn (DOA). Over two decades had passed, but  everything came back to me like I had just read the books. I was hooked again. As soon as I read the last page, I ordered the next 4 books in the series and read three of the four books in a month. I'm holding off on book 8.

There are others out there who feel the same way I do about reading book 8. The idea of finishing the series to this point without the possibility of the next book being available for awhile is more than I can handle. According to Diana Gabaldon, book 9 is not complete and has no scheduled publication date. I check her website often for updated excerpts from book 9. I don't mind spoilers.

As part of my Outlander withdrawal I've joined several wonderful groups where we discuss the books, the TV series and men in kilts. Everyone has suggestions on how to fill your time while waiting for the next book and the new TV season. 
Diana Gabaldon has a site that explains the Chronology of the Outlander Series and the sub-series.
Her site makes more sense than the convoluted way I reread the first 4 books.

Here's how I did it. When I finished book 7, I reread book 2, Dragonfly in Amber (DIA). The TV season for book 2 is already in production. Next I read one of the novellas, The Space Between. It explains what happens to the characters in DIA and characters that appear in the later books. 
 I started to reread book 3, Voyager and paused to read one of the Lord John Grey books, The Scottish Prisoner. 

When I completed Voyager, I read two of the short stories. A leaf on the Wind of All Hallows explains what happened to Roger's parents. 
A Plague of Zombies is a Lord John Grey story.

These books are on my kindle and I started them on my lunch break and finished them later in the evening. 

Technically, I've read and reread the series except for book 8, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. It's difficult, but I'm still holding out. I'm thinking I might reread books 5, 6 and 7 again before I break down. 

Still on my to be read pile.

Thanks for visiting my blog. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Things You Didn't Know About March Madness/Spring

Good-bye February, hello March Madness. 
The term “March Madness” started at a  high school basketball tournament in Illinois in 1908.  I'm not a big fan of the sport so for me the month of March is all about Spring. 

To help celebrate the longer days, vivid colors, and packing away your heavy winter coat, I'm joining forty authors who have contributed books to create an awesome Year of Reading for one lucky reader! All you need to do is click on the link below and visit as many of the blogs listed as you can.

Fun Facts About Spring

During the Spring (Vernal ) Equinox, Earth's two hemispheres receive the sun's rays equally.  Each hemisphere has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark.

For the next four decades the equinox will be on March 20.

It's the only day you can get an egg to stand on its end. Place it large end down on a flat surface and be patient.

Spring fever is not just a saying. Experts say the body’s makeup changes due to different diets, hormone production, and temperature.

Blog Hop Prizes

What are you looking forward to most in the month of March?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a Peace, Love, and Chocolate bag. The perfect way to carry all your Spring favorites.

Discover some new and exciting authors at great prices. (Free and on Sale) 
Visiting as many blogs as you can and filling out the secure google form will increase your chance of winning the March Madness Book Bundle Grand Prize

Link for Grand Prize

Wishing you baskets full of Spring flowers and chocolate.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Every Romance Needs a Cute Meet

Every romance writer knows that there are certain elements needed to create a story. They must establish time, place, and setting, plus create a cute meet for the hero and heroine.

The first meeting is an event that will irrevocably change their lives. How often have you been asked,  "How did you two meet?"

How I met my husband

In a movie while the credits are rolling the time and place would be established. It's the 1960's, the decade of Woodstock, Kent State, and peace and love.

My heroine is at a peace rally or Woodstock.
The hero is in Germany, knee deep in snow while on practice maneuvers with the US Army.

Cute Meet

The story starts on Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, NY.
She's wearing cut off shorts, has long hair she ironed that morning, and there's a closed physics text book on her beach blanket.

He has shoulder length hair, wide sideburns, and a commitment problem.

They talk for hours and he takes her phone #.

His Point of View - One week later

He's resting on a beach blanket. She walks by, kicks sand on the blanket, and keeps walking. He pretends to ignore her.
His friend comments,  "Isn't that the girl you met last week?"
"It is."
"You going to talk to her?"
"I guess I will." The sand is hot and he jogs over to her blanket. He asks permission to step on her blanket.
She says, "No."
Maybe she's pissed that I didn't call. In spite of the hot sand, he stays there and starts a conversation.
She relents and invites him to sit down.
He likes to talk and she's a good listener. The sun starts to set. His friend leaves our hero his car key so he can drive her home.

Happily Ever After

She's easy to talk to and he tells her about the places he's visited. She dreams of traveling and knows this is the guy she wants to do it with.

***End  Scene***

Monday, February 9, 2015

Make Your Relationship Sizzle With Laughter

We all know chocolate is good for you, but laughing isn't so bad either. Laughing is more contagious than a sneeze or a cough.  It has health benefits that are free and all that's needed is a good joke, a funny story, or playing with pets or children.

Love and laugh

A shared humorous experience keeps a relationship alive.
It puts you in a good mood.

Stay fit

Fifty-three facial muscles are used when laughing
Laugh so hard that your stomach hurts.

Need a good laugh, read a romantic comedy.

Meet Brooke Williams

I write romantic comedy because I want to give readers a break from everyday life and big stresses. My books are a chance to take a breather and forget the world for a few hours. That's what writing them does for me so I hope the same can be said for what it does for readers!

Accept This Dandelion

Renee Lockhart has her eye on a lofty goal…to fill the open position of morning radio show host at the station where she works. When her co-workers sign her up for a local TV version of The Bachelor, Renee goes along with it in order to raise her profile. Upon seeing her bumbling audition, Ben McConnell, one of the most eligible bachelors in town, insists that Renee be placed on the show. But Ben gets much more than he expected in Renee… he gets a girl who can’t seem to do anything right…and a girl he can’t seem to resist.

For a good laugh check out Brooke's books
Amazon US
Amazon UK

What makes you laugh and smile?

Eat chocolate, read romance, and stay young and healthy