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Romance Authors' Holiday Recipe Series: Fern Michaels

In our 4-part series, popular romance authors share their favorite holiday recipes--some even inspired by their novels--to help you with your holiday entertaining. Up first is Fern Michaels, best-selling author of the Sisterhood series. The latest Sisterhood book, Eyes Only, is available for pre-order now.

Eyes onlyMy kids called this our "Happy Happy Christmas Candy Roll" when they were little.

The ingredients are as follows:

1/2 cup butter

2 (1 oz.)  squares of milk chocolate

1 1/2 cups of sifted confectioners  sugar

1 egg beaten

1 cup of chopped pecans  (you can use any nut you prefer if you don't like pecans)

4 cups miniature marshmallows

1 (3 1/2 oz.) flaked coconut  (1 can)


Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Stir in egg and sugar and blend well.  Stir in pecans and marshmallows and mix until coated thoroughly.  Divide the mixture in half.  Shape each into 12" rolls.  Carefully dredge with flaked coconut.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, sealing tightly.  Freeze.  To serve, thaw and slice into 1/2 slices.  Or thicker if you prefer.  1/2" slices. Makes app 48 servings.


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Julie Kagawa's Recommended Teen Reads

TalonThe author of The Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series and most recently Talon shares the books she's been most excited about in 2014.

The life of an author is a busy one. Some may envision writers having tons of free time to relax and kick back with a good book, but truthfully, the only book I'm reading these days is my own as I'm typing it on the computer. I have very little time to sit down and read, but that doesn't mean I don't get excited about books. Here are the books that I tell myself I'm going to read if I ever get a moment...

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry Okay, I lied. I have read this one, but it technically isn't even out yet. (One of the perks of being friends with the author and living in the same town.) Breaking the Rules is the continuation of Echo and Noah's story from Pushing the Limits. I love these two characters, and their story is even more wonderful and heartbreaking in Breaking the Rules.

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid Let's Get Lost is a road-trip story that sounds like a lot of fun. It’s the perfect book for traveling this holiday season; I think I'll take it with me on the long drive up to the in-laws’ place.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor If I could just have an uninterrupted afternoon, this is the book I would grab first. I've been dying to finish Karou and Akiva's story ever since Days of Blood & Starlight. They're the couple that makes me sigh and melt into a swooning puddle of goo. With the huge amount of obstacles they face, it'll be hard for them to get their happy ending, but I'm crossing my fingers for them.

White Hot Kiss and Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout Confession: I have not yet read any of Jennifer's books. I know, it's shameful. I intend to remedy that soon, and when that day comes, I'll start with this series. I mean, no-brainer, it features gargoyles and demons—mortal enemies—and a girl who is both!

The Fall by Bethany Griffin I love Poe and creepy ghost tales, and The Fall of the House of Usher was a story that haunted me as a kid. I can't wait to see this story told from Madeline Usher's point of view.

Exclusive Q&A with David and Meredith Finch

A brand new story arc begins with "Wonder Woman #36" and the husband and wife team of David and Meredith Finch talk to us about the challenges that will be facing the legendary Amazonian. WonderWoman37

Charlie Chang: There's been so much excitement lately about Wonder Woman in the media and pop culture who want to see what the next version of the character will look like in film and TV. For you both, what is your definitive version of the character?

Meredith Finch: For me, in my head, Wonder Woman will always be Linda Carter because that's who I knew as Wonder Woman when I was growing up. As I've started to write the book Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman as really become a fully fleshed out and whole Wonder Woman. I'd like to hope that I can take a little of both of those versions of the character and bring them into my own vision.

David Finch: For me it always comes down to the artist for every character. I love John Byrne's Wonder Woman, Jose Garcia Lopez's Wonder Woman, Adam Hughes' version may be the most classic version of Wonder Woman and certainly the most recent with the biggest impact. Cliff Chiang has a great angular and powerful style for her. I can't really pick one favorite, like Batman, there are just so many that I like.

CC: That's very interesting, going back to this new book. As collaborators, one as the writer and the other as the artist, how do you work together? Meredith, are you very involved with what David is drawing and then working together on iterations?

DF: Well that's happened [laughter]

MF: Only once! But it was worth it. I would say that for us I start with the idea. I've had this idea in my head because I had to pitch this back in February so I've always known where the story was going and then as I write it, one of the really nice things about working with David is that I don't have to do a really detailed script going panel by panel. I can say on pages 3 through 5 here's the dialogue and this is what's going to happen and then I can just turn him loose to do what he does best. I htink that is really where we get a good synergy because he is a expert. I've been writing comics for a year and he's been drawing comics for almost 20 so it would be foolish of me not to take what he does well which is that visual storytelling and I can learn from it and bring that into other writing that I'm doing.

Continue reading "Exclusive Q&A with David and Meredith Finch" »

Exclusive Q&A with Len Wein

Legendary writer Harlan Ellison wrote a story for the original Batman television show that would introduce Two-Face to the Bat television world. The show never made it to air but Len Wein talks to us about how "Batman '66: The Lost Episode" is bringing this lost story back to life. 61zXoT7vX8L

Charlie Chang: The Lost Episode is such an exciting new book especially for fans of the original Batman tv show. I’d like to know what your reaction was when you were approached to work on this project?

Len Wein: Yeah it’s amazing! It was basically all Harlan [Ellison], as everything is always Harlan. He’s my oldest friend, we’ve been best friends for over 40 years. We see each other all the time, we do dinners, and hang out. He called me and said that he was going through some old files and had found this old outline that had never been produced so we called DC and said “are you interested?” and DC being sane said “Yeah!” Then he said someone’s got to do a script off my outline and I immediately said “well, I’m available, that sounds like more fun than I could possibly have.” He said “Done!” and he said he was going to call DC and see if it was okay and then an hour later I get a call from DC asking if I’d like to write this.

CC: What is your most vivid memory about the TV show?

LW: This is going to sound like one of those “come on!?” kind of stories but that show literally saved my life. I was very sick a few weeks before the show was going to premiere and I had been misdiagnosed as having the flu when I had actually had terminal blood poisoning. They rushed me to the hospital and they told my father “we’re so sorry, there’s nothing we can do, he’s probably not going to last the hour.” And I overheard this and I’m going “Are you kidding? Batman premieres in six weeks, I’m not going to miss that!” and I hung on by force of will. So they found an experimental antibiotic because I couldn’t take the regular one. So yes, Batman literally through my own force of will saved my life.


CC: What was your reaction when you finally got to see it?

LW: It was mixed, I of course was hoping for exactly the treatment that the Nolans gave them but you weren’t going to get that in the 1960s on TV. I loved it for the most part and still watch the reruns. I loved a lot of the characters and the way they were portrayed. Some of the newer ones not so much but I still loved the sense of the show and this character that helped form my life was on TV every week!

CC: I’m so excited that a character like Two-Face is going to get this treatment. Who’s voice do you hear when you’re writing Two-Face for that era with that Batman and Robin.

LW: Mine. [Laughter] There was no model to follow except for in tone of the dialogue that was in the show. So I’ve written the character a half dozen times in the comics so I used my voice. I adjusted slightly for the tone of the show but that was the voice.

CC: Looking back on this book now what are you most proud of?

LW: Everything and I don’t mean that facetiously. When we first started it was issue #18 now it’s a one-shot special with all this extra stuff. It was one of those weird cases where it started out with just me and Harlan and he managed to get Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez to pencil it and then other guys heard we were doing this and they jumped on the bandwagon. Joe Prado said “I can ink” then Alex Sinclair called and said “you promised me the next Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez job so I want to color this” and then Alex Ross called and said he wanted to paint the cover. People kept joining the cast. It’s been absolutely amazing!


This interview was conducted and transribed by Charlie Chang. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.

My Dreams in the Witch House

A1QXspo7O6L._SL1500_J.D. Horn, author of the upcoming new release The Void, gives us an exclulsive look into the witches from his popular Witching Savannah series.

In The Line, first book in the Witching Savannah series, our heroine tells us that her family moved to Savannah shortly after the end of the American Civil War. Whenever someone asks me where the Taylors lived before that point, I tell a little lie, a lie that conveys a deeper truth. In the actual backstory, the family came to Savannah directly from Ireland. The lie I enjoy telling, though, is that they came from Providence, RI, beloved home of H.P. Lovecraft. Why lie about something I’ve made up anyway? Because the deeper truth is that my witches have much more in common with Keziah Mason, the titular witch of Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch House, than with any of the other popular fictional witches. 

The magic in the world of the Witching Savannah series has many roots, but the deepest is firmly anchored in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. (Many readers would have picked up on my affectionate homage to Brown Jenkin in Witching Savannah’s second book, The Source.) In my fancy, Lovecraft’s deities, be they the “Outer Gods,” the “Great Old Ones,” or “Elder Gods,” merged together with Zacharia Sitchin’s Anunnaki and Erich Von Däniken’s ancient alien astronauts. These entities melded in my mind to form my version of the old gods, the creatures who meddled in our evolution and gave rise to both witches and those of us who have no magic. After the great rebellion, the line, a magical web of energy, was created by witches to protect us all from these demon gods.

But Lovecraft isn’t the sole inspiration behind the magic of Witching Savannah. A few historical personages also found their way into the brew. Physically beautiful, but spiritually monstrous Maria Orsic, leader of the Vril Gessellschaft, an occult organization that took its name from a work by Edward Bulwer-Lytton—yes, he of the dark and stormy night—plays a role in the backstory, as does a certain unnamed American aviation hero, whose public good guy image covered many dark truths.

The final mystical ingredients were supplied by Jack Parsons, the rocket scientist and occultist, who blew himself up allegedly while performing a magical rite. Parsons was once a protégé of Aleister Crowley and best friend of L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology. In life, Parsons attempted to bridge the gap between the occult and science; for me Parsons provided the link between the worlds of Occult Fiction and Science Fiction.



Post by Peter James, Author of the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace Series

81cUAhOvUuL._SL1500_[1]Peter James, New York Times bestselling author of the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, shares with us his top five favorite police procedurals.

Although a home-grown Brit, I’ve always preferred American crime fiction to the traditional English detective story.

The defining difference, for me, between English and American crime novels, is that in the typical English novel, the principal victim is dead by the end of Chapter One, whereas in the typical American one the victim is alive and in deadly peril.  My earliest crime readings were Conan Doyle – I was fascinated by the characters of Homes and Watson – and Agatha Christie, who I found interesting but ultimately stultifying.  Neither Poirot nor Miss Marple ever seemed affected by the murders they encountered, and the books were more about the mechanics of solving the puzzle than the human nature of the characters. 

It was my discovery first of the hardboiled US writer Ed McBain, then Joseph Wambaugh, Elmore Leonard, followed by early James Patterson and Michael Connelly, all of whose works I devoured, that was to totally change my view on the crime novel.  Their work enthralled and inspired me.  They made me realize that crime fiction was what I wanted to write, but in a thriller rather than police procedural format – and they showed me how. 

But first I have to credit Brighton Rock - Graham Greene

 as the novel that truly changed my life.  Set in my home city of Brighton, it was the first crime novel I read in which the villains were the central characters:  A bunch of nasty, middle-aged losers headed by a teenage gangster and killer, Pinkie, who is at the same time a devout Catholic, terrified of eternal damnation.  The police hardly appear at all, in this immensely powerful page-turner.  As well as one of the cleverest and psychologically darkest endings it has one of the most gripping opening lines in all fiction:  “Within three hours of arriving in Brighton, Hale knew they meant to murder him.”  And yes, he is still alive at the end of Chapter One!!

The Silence of The Lambs – Thomas Harris  This was the game-changer for detective fiction around the globe.  No longer did crime thrillers have to be about good versus evil – here we had a new dimension in the brilliantly portrayed Hannibal Lecter helping  Clarice Starling in the hunt for Buffalo Bill, of bad versus evil. 

Alex – Pierre Lemaitre I finished this very haunting crime novel a couple of months ago.  Commandant Camille Verhœven is a wonderfully engaging detective, but what elevates this novel into one of my favourites of all time is the sheer genius of the author in twist after twist, like layers of onion skin peeling away to reveal the ultimate, and hugely satisfying, truth.

Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
 Characters, characters, characters.  Elmore Leonard’s characters are just so vivid, so engaging, you don’t even need plot.  You could have a group of his characters reading the phone directory for three hundred pages and you’d still be gripped.  This is my favourite of many favourites of his work.

Along Came A Spider – James Patterson  All of us love truly scarily intelligent villains with charisma, and Gary Sonejii is one of the most mesmerizing and utterly compelling – and credible - monsters I’ve ever read.  Equally, Alex Cross, is profoundly endearing and the very living embodiment of Raymond Chandler’s maxim of “Down mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

Robert Dugoni: My Book in 15 Seconds

Robert Dugoni shares an overview of his new book My Sister's Grave in 15 seconds. 


Guest Post by John Lutz, Author of the Frank Quinn Series

81byOOLVg1L._SL1500_[1]John Lutz, New York Times bestseller author of the Frank Quinn series, shares additional insight into his series character Frank Quinn.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Frank Quinn over the past decade; I owe him a lot, but nothing like how much he owes me. After all, without me, who knows where he might have gone off the tracks: taken a part time job, given up smoking cigars, or begun drinking flavored martinis.

Quinn, a retired NYPD police captain, has spent most of his career in something like a war with his bureaucratic police commissioner Harley Renz. While Quinn is corrupt only in small ways, Renz wallows in the mud of everything from nepotism to extortion, and somehow walks away clean. Quinn plays straight and pragmatically, and goes after the truth even if it is inconvenient. Quinn’s middle-aged now, and limping slightly from an old bullet wound in his right thigh, he is physically strong and able, and comes across as a sort of rough hewn sophisticate.

Quinn appeals to women even though he looks more like a thug than a cop. His love interest through most of the series is a former NYPD cop, Pearl Kasner, whose career stalled after she punched out a police captain for touching her inappropriately in a New York hotel. She’s Quinn’s kind of woman. He is divorced, and his ex and only child, a daughter, live in California. The family members contact each other only infrequently. Pearl’s mother, who hectors her from an assistant living home in New Jersey, calls Pearl at inconvenient times (like during gun fights) and pushes for her to consider marriage, especially if she will marry Quinn, who isn’t fond of the idea.

Quinn is, more than anything, persevering. His expertise lies in tracking and apprehending or killing serial killers. He knows how they think, feel, or don’t feel. He is a dedicated New Yorker, with a love-hate relationship with the city where his life continues to play out. Renz finds serial killers dangerous to his bureaucratic future. He is glad to hand particularly political serial killer investigations to Quinn, knowing Quinn will solve the case, and if necessary arrange for Renz to get the credit. Quinn will do what needs doing, looking for justice if not legality. He lets Renz bask in the fame and maneuvering towards a higher office, knowing Renz might be heading towards an eventual fall.

In some ways Quinn is an old fashioned cop, going for the heart of matters with a set of ethics earned and learned the hard way. He has a kind, courtly manner and angelic smile, but don’t let that fool you…


Shannon Stacey's Favorite Holiday Reads

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey and author of "Her Holiday Man" shares her favorite romance novels…with a holiday twist.

Her holiday manThe holidays and romance novels. To me, they’re like peanut butter and jelly or hot cocoa and marshmallows—they’re wonderful individually, but together they make something extra special. There’s nothing like the holidays to make a romance’s theme of love and family really pop. I’ve read many over the years because they’re my favorite, and here are just a few of the holiday romances that have stood out for me.

Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail

A hero bent on revenge. A stolen Fabergé egg. A thieving heroine who will die if she doesn’t get the egg back by Christmas morning. Stacy Gail’s outstanding narrative voice makes this sexy, atmospheric (almost Dickensian) steampunk novella a delicious holiday read.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

This single-title romance from one of my favorite category romance authors was an instant keeper for me. Set in snowy Vermont and written in Morgan’s warm and witty style, Sleigh Bells in the Snow blends love and laughter and family and romance for the perfect holiday story.

Holiday Bound by Beth Kery

This unique story of sexy submission from a contemporary romance favorite definitely spiced up my holiday reading list. Beth Kery brings her trademark emotion and eroticism to a “snowed-in” cabin romance, making Holiday Bound a sizzling holiday story I’ve read more than once.

Dear Santa by Karen Templeton

This Silhouette Special Edition from 2007 offers a classic category romance story—emotionally walled-off hero who’s suddenly a single father, a small child and the woman who will love them both—but Karen Templeton’s distinctive voice and masterful storytelling elevate Dear Santa to an exceptional, emotional holiday read you won’t want to miss.

Christmas with Her Boss by Marion Lennox

Coming from New England—the land of white Christmases and sleigh rides and hot cocoa—I’ve sometimes had trouble connecting to holiday romances set in tropical locations or in Australia. But this sweet, heartwarming, funny story of a woman whose big-city billionaire boss is stranded at her small family farm instantly became my favorite and most recommended holiday romance of all time.

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Guest Post: "Tales of the Great Beasts" Author Brandon Mull

SpiritanimalsBrandon Mull returns to the world of Erdas for Tales of the Great Beasts, a collection of short stories that spins off of the Spirit Animal series.

When my daughter Sadie started begging for a dog, I was hesitant.  I have four kids, and a dog would mean new responsibilities. But Sadie promised she would take care of the animal, and a bird we had owned previously gave me hope that she might mean it. Besides, I had a dog as a kid, and I didn’t want to deny my children that experience.

We settled on a Sheepadoodle—half Old English Sheepdog, half Standard Poodle. As it turned out, after getting the dog, Sadie kept her word. She took on the duties of feeding the dog (named Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and making sure the animal got opportunities to do her business in the side yard. It has been fun to watch the relationship between Sadie and Buffy grow, and to see my daughter learn lessons in responsibility.

The first book in the Spirit Animals series is dedicated to Sadie and Buffy (along with Fluffy, the dog from my childhood, and Mango, our bird that died). I dedicated Wild Born to Sadie and those animals because they reminded me how much people and animals can mean to each other.

Since the Spirit Animals series launched last year, it has been a pleasure to watch the stories and online game inspire kids to read and imagine. In the world of Erdas, when children reach a certain age, they have the chance to summon a spirit animal. If they do, that animal becomes a lifetime companion and friend.

I visit schools all over the United States, and the kids I’ve spoken with seem to love the idea. Many tell me what spirit animal they would choose, and ask what mine would be (dolphin for personality, tiger if I lived in dangerous times).

The Spirit Animals series was designed from the start to be written by a team of authors. My role was to create an outline for the series and to write book one. The other six books would each be written different authors. Since Scholastic put the team together, the other authors are all very talented people.

After completing the outline and book one, my role in the main series was finished, and I went back to work on my latest series, Five Kingdoms. But when Scholastic decided to make a book of short stories called Tales of the Great Beasts, I got the opportunity to tell one more story in the world of Erdas.

The Great Beasts are fifteen powerful animals who watch over Erdas. They are much larger than ordinary animals, capable of human speech, and virtually immortal. The four main animals in Spirit Animals were once Great Beasts, but they perished in battle to save Erdas and became known as the Four Fallen. At the start of the series, the four main characters of Wild Born summon the reborn Four Fallen as their spirit animals.

For my story in Tales of the Great Beasts, I dramatized the battle where Briggan the Wolf, Uraza the Leopard, Jhi the Panda, and Essix the Falcon fell. It’s a key moment in the history of the Great Beasts—bringing it to life felt like writing the climax of a novel.

I expect that Spirit Animal readers will enjoy experiencing that vital moment, along with other stories about the Great Beasts that will offer new insight into some of the favorite characters in the series. And I’ll enjoy watching kids and families continue to connect with Spirit Animals.