Friday, January 22, 2016

Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Glazed Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake

1 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/4 cup canola or virgin olive oil
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp buttermilk
2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F -  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray

Whisk together sifted purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

Blend 1 cup buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Beat in whole egg and egg white. Stir in oil, corn syrup and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Glaze & garnish:
Combine powdered sugar and 1 Tblsp buttermilk in small bowl, stirring until smooth. Place the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the top; garnish with chocolate chips or chopped nuts while the glaze is still moist.

I have a whole STACK of gorgeous Bundt pans!
They make beautiful cakes.


After years of being asked for recipes, Cheryl St.John spent a summer writing down ingredients and baking times, baking and asking for beta testers in order to put together this collection of mouthwatering recipes for Bundt cakes.

Many of the recipes are labeled NO SKILL REQUIRED, indicating exceptional ease of preparation. If you don’t consider yourself a baker or if you’re an accomplished baker and simply want a quick recipe, you will find these cakes using box mixes are convenient and delicious. You don’t have to tell anyone you started with a mix—the cakes are so good that no one will guess preparation didn’t take hours. Bake with ease and enjoy serving a beautiful cake to family and friends.

Cheryl's philosophy: Eat cake! It's someone's birthday somewhere.

SNEAK PEEK - Fast Forward to Spring and COWBOY CREEK

Cowboy Creek:
Bringing mail-order brides, and new beginnings, to a Kansas boomtown​
An exciting new trilogy from Love Inspired Historical and three of your favorite authors!

Cowboy Creek Needs Women!

Book #1 April
Want Ad Wedding
Cheryl St.John

Second Chance Bride 

When Daniel Gardner convinced the residents of his Kansas boomtown to advertise for mail-order brides, he never expected the woman he once loved to respond. But Leah Swann steps off the bride train…pregnant and widowed and in need of a husband. Drawn to protect his fragile childhood friend, Daniel proposes a marriage of convenience. 

Seeing her onetime best friend waiting to meet the bride train is a wonderful shock for Leah. After her first rocky marriage, a practical partnership with Daniel sounds perfect—as long as her heart doesn't get involved. But when she starts to fall for her husband, will her plans of a fresh start be ruined…or is a real marriage to Daniel exactly what she needs? 

Cowboy Creek: Bringing mail-order brides, and new beginnings, to a Kansas boomtown.

Book #2 May
Special Delivery Baby
Sherri Shackelford

Instant Daddy 

An abandoned baby is the last thing town founder Will Canfield expects on his doorstep. He's not the father—and the mother's unknown. But the precious little girl needs a protector. And Will never backs down from a challenge, even if it means caring for a newborn…or dealing with spitfire cattle driver Tomasina Stone. 

With her father gone, Tomasina's trail life has ended. Yet becoming a polished city lady feels far out of her reach. All she wants is a place where she'll be appreciated, respected…maybe loved. And the more time she spends helping Will care for the baby, the more she wonders if she's found it. She's never wanted to settle down…but Cowboy Creek—by Will's side—might finally give her heart a lasting home. 

Book #3 June
Bride By Arrangement
Karen Kirst
Mail-Order Matchmaking 

Newly minted Cowboy Creek sheriff Noah Burgess doesn't want a wife—despite his friends insisting that he needs one. So when they send for a big-city single mother to be his mail-order bride, he's fit to be tied. Even if vivacious Grace Longstreet might just be the only person who can see past Noah's scars…and help him heal. 

Grace needs a husband to keep her and her twin daughters out of her brother-in-law's grasp. And she'll do anything—including taking on her cousin's identity—to find one. But as the attraction between Grace and the lawman sparks higher, she begins hoping for a real marriage. So she needs to tell the truth…or a mail-order match that's meant to be could crumble.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice I've Received

Mind Your Own Business—The 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice I've Received

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on the 10 best pieces of writing advice that I had received during my career, so this month I thought I'd review the 10 Worst Pieces of Writing Advice I've Received. The following bits were dispensed by well-meaning writers and industry professionals in workshops, roundtable discussions, and private conversations, and their names shall remain anonymous. 

Worst Advice #1:  Write the synopsis after you've written your book. Um, no. Your goal as a working writer is to sell a book before you write it. In order to sell a book before you write it, you simply must master the art of writing a synopsis. And writing a synopsis before your begin writing your book will help you to think through issues so you don't write yourself into a corner.

Worst Advice #2:  Forget about writing chapters, instead concentrate on writing scenes.  Sure, if you have lots of extra time on your hands to go back later and group the scenes into chapters, only to find that you need transitions to make them flow seamlessly.  File this one under "P" for "Please Make My Life More Complicated."

Worst Advice #3:  Critique groups are dangerous.  Not true, unless your critique partners have criminal records. Otherwise, the right critique group will help to keep you motivated and productive. Plus, critiquing other writers' work will make you a stronger writer.

Worst Advice #4:  Write the book of your heart.  Go ahead. Then put a big bow on it and give it to your mother for Christmas, because no one else will be interested in reading it, much less buying it. Before you begin your second project, analyze your strengths and marry them to the market, then find a way to make that sellable idea the book of your heart.

Worst Advice #5:  Don't pitch a series for your first book.  The previous wisdom was that an editor will hesitate to buy a series from a new writer because if the first book bombs, the rest of the series is doomed. But editors now recognize that a series is the quickest way to build readership, so if you have a good idea for a series, go for it.

Worst Advice #6:  Don't allow an editor to change your work.  Wrong. Remember that you're writing for a worldwide audience—let your editor do her job as long as she isn't nitpicking your work to death. She just might be making your work more sellable to other markets.

Worst Advice #7:  Don't befriend your editor.   Wrong again. It's not a good idea to become best-buddy confidantes, but you should strive for a professional friendship with your editor. This industry is complicated and frustrating—it's always nice if you're conducting business with someone you actually like, and vice versa. Remember that an essential ingredient in a successful career is an editor who champions your work.

Worst Advice #8:  Don't sign an agency agreement.  If you're willing to sign an agreement with your pest control company, you should be willing to sign an agreement with the person(s) who hold your writing career in their hands.  (But remember, an agency contract is negotiable, just like a publishing house contract.)

Worst Advice #9:  Self-promotion is useless.  This statement is mostly wrong. Self-promotion without purpose can be a waste of time and money, but if you plan a self-promotion campaign wisely, you can eventually convince your publishing house to put money behind you, too. Figure out what you can do for yourself better than your publishing house (a website, for example) and do it, always keeping your editor apprised.

Worst Advice #10:  If your agent refuses to send out a project, send it out yourself.  STOP! Either 1) trust your agent's expensive advice, or 2) get a new agent.

7 Brides for 7 Bodies (Body Movers)

Carlotta Wren's life has taken a startling turn--she's not sure what's going to happen next. So when her retail job temporarily plants her in the world of wedding planning, she's happy for the distraction--at first. Because the happily-ever-after setting only heightens the stress surrounding the decisions she faces about her romantic life. The three hot men vying for her attention aren't going to wait forever for her answer.

On the other hand, at least the bridal show gets her away from body moving for a while, right? Wrong. Because when grooms all over Atlanta start dropping like flies, once again, Carlotta finds herself square in the middle of a murder mystery! 

Stephanie Bond was several years into a corporate computer programming career when an instructor in her night school MBA program remarked she had a flair for writing and encouraged her to submit one of her projects to academic journals. "But," Stephanie says, "all I could think was 'I wonder if I could write a romance novel?' " 

She spent every spare moment the next couple of years writing and submitting manuscripts before selling her romantic comedy IRRESISTIBLE? to Harlequin books. After selling ten projects in two years, Stephanie walked away from her corporate career to write commercial fiction full time. To date, she's published over 70 romance and mystery projects with Random House, St. Martin's Press, HarperCollins, Mira Books, and more recently, under her own imprint. 

Stephanie's independently published romantic comedy STOP THE WEDDING!, a Kindle bestseller in three languages, is currently in development at The Hallmark Channel for a 2-hour movie.

Stephanie lives in midtown Atlanta and is probably working on a story at this very moment.  For writing tips and a daily writing blog, visit 

This article appeared in the February 2005 issue of the Galley, Georgia Romance Writers' monthly online newsletter. Permission is granted to sister RWA® chapters to reprint with credits to author and chapter.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Who doesn't love a Bundt cake? It's all about the Bundt!

The American Table did a piece on The original Tunnel of Fudge Cake.
here's a link:

A bit of fun history!

And a link to my Bundt cake book

After years of being asked for recipes, Cheryl St.John spent a summer writing down ingredients and baking times, baking and asking for beta testers in order to put together this collection of mouthwatering recipes for Bundt cakes. Many of the recipes are labeled NO SKILL REQUIRED, indicating exceptional ease of preparation.

If you don’t consider yourself a baker or if you’re an accomplished baker and simply want a quick recipe, you will find these cakes using box mixes are convenient and delicious. You don’t have to tell anyone you started with a mix—the cakes are so good that no one will guess preparation didn’t take hours. Bake with ease and enjoy serving a beautiful cake to family and friends. 

Cheryl's philosophy: Eat cake! It's someone's birthday somewhere.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

On sale this week: The Unexpected Bride by Lena Goldfinch

The Unexpected Bride (Book 1 in The Brides Series)

What's a man to do when his father orders him a bride?

Rebecca Sullivan has been "Becky" all her life, a real hoyden. Her childhood sweetheart taught her to ride bareback and shoot a rifle, but then he chose a "perfect lady" for a wife--a real Southern belle, who's now expecting a baby. Heartbroken, Becky signs up to be a mail-order bride to a Seattle man, sight unseen. She resolves to squelch her hoydenish ways and become a "perfect lady" for her future husband.

If logging-operation owner Isaac Jessup had wanted a bride, he'd have chosen a sturdy frontier woman, not some fragile lady from back East. Ready to explain the mistake, honorable Isaac takes one look into Rebecca's vulnerable eyes...and knows he'll marry her, even though this delicate waif is obviously unsuited for wild Seattle.

Could an unexpected marriage be a match made in heaven?

When Becky becomes Isaac’s mail-order bride, their new life together holds surprises for them both.

“Unexpectedly fresh characters and twists… a great curl-up-on-a-cold-night read.”
                                                           - USA Today, Happy Ever After

On sale this week for $0.99

Where to find it:
Google Play

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Charlene Raddon's Homemade Ornaments

Tradition tells us the first tree was brought indoors in Strasburg, Germany, in 1605. Martin Luther decorated it with candles to entertain the children. During this time Christmas trees were embellished with wafers, candies, fruits, paper flowers, hard cookies baked in various shapes and tinsels made from tin and silver. Humans being humans, families were soon competing to outdo each other with their decorations. Eventually, the tradition of a decorated tree indoors spread beyond Germany.

During the 1800s the hand cast glass ornaments became widely popular. Lauscha in Germany was the hub of glass ornaments production in Germany. Later on silk, wool thread, chenille and stiff spun glass were used in Christmas tree ornaments.

Legend plays an important role in the History of Christmas Ornaments. The popular pickle ornament of the Germans carries with it a wonderful tale. Pickle ornaments are glass ornaments formed in the shape of a pickle. The German parents used it to judge the most intelligent child in the family. The first one to trace the pickle got an additional gift from St. Nicholas.

Christmas trees along with the fanciful ornaments entered England in 1840 through the hands of Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons were used for decoration.

The first Christmas tree ornaments began as items easily found in nature, such as nuts, fruit or pine cones. German families began to bake gingerbread or other hard cookies in different shapes. Americans strung popcorn or cranberries into strands to string around the trees. Families in the United Kingdom crafted lace or paper into unique shapes to place upon the tree.

Christmas Tree Ornaments reached America around 1880. F.W Woolworth, an American retailer first sold imported glass ornaments in his shop. Decorations also included cut outs of old magazines, cotton wools and tinsel. The First World War disrupted natural commerce and necessitated the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies. The introduction of injection plastic molding facilitated to figure tiny miniatures.

Mistletoe was believed to have magical powers of healing. The tree was sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. The cutting of the mistletoe from the oak (mistletoes are parasites, though they can grow on their own) signified the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Having the mistletoe decorated in the Christmas season, originated from the pagan customs. The famous axiom "kissing under the mistletoe" has its origin in the Norse mythology and Celtic rituals.

The Holly, which is strongly linked with Christmas or rather Christmas festival, has a history of its own. Though Christmas Holly history has its roots in Northern Europe, the sanctity of the Holly plant has a pagan origin. The Holly plant is characterized by green leaves that are prickly in nature. It needs a mention here that the Druids adorned their heads with twigs of the Holly plant whenever they went to the forest.

The Germans began making ornaments for mass production in the mid-1800s. Around Lauscha, Germany, glass blowers began molding glass into fruit or nut replicas. After those became a big hit, they began making different shapes, such as hearts and stars, as well as saints, children or animals.

In the 1920s, more countries vied with Germany for the Christmas ornament market. Japan came out with more colorful designs than Germany, while the Czech Republic produced very fancy ornaments. After World War I, glass ornaments began to be produced by a machine in Corning, New York. They were the first glass ornaments to be made by machine.

Tinsel first came into use around 1610 in Germany. The first tinsel was made out of silver, pulled very thin. It tended to tarnished quickly by the heat of the candles placed on the tree. Experiments were made to make tinsel better, and it was next made out of tin and lead. This tinsel was very heavy, however, and would break from its own weight. Tinsel is currently made out of lightweight synthetic material and is used by many people around the world.

The ornaments shown on this post were made by the author.


#1 is made by using bits of fabric, ribbon and decorative trimming glued to a Styrofoam ball. The fabric is cut into elongated leaf shapes to fit around the ball.  A loop made of heavy thread is glued to one end for hanging. These can be made to fit all sizes of balls.

#2 is crocheted using crochet thread into two circular motifs sewn together around a Styrofoam ball.



#3 is made by cutting old Christmas cards into nickel sized circles. The circles are then bent to form triangles. The folds are glued together in 4 rows of five, and the edged decorated with sparkle.


#4 is made with photographs according to the pattern in the photo. You can use pictures of your children, family, favorite places, pets or squares of Christmas cards. After being folded and glued, the edges are then decorated with sparkle. See the box in the top photo.

#5 The snowflakes are crocheted using various patterns which can be found by googling “crocheted snowflake ornaments.”

#6 The stocking is crocheted with crochet thread in 12 six-sided motifs sewn together. My motifs are about 2-3/4” in diameter, making a stocking about 12” long.  Naturally, if you make the motifs larger, adding another row to each one, or using thicker thread, you can create larger stockings.


 #7 are needlepoint backed with felt and trimming added to the edges for a finished look.

Anyone wanting more detailed instructions or patterns are welcome to email me at and I will send them to you.

Start now and decorate your tree this year with your own handmade ornaments.

A woman's smile . . .

Rosalyn Delaney's husband, Josiah, vanished six years ago. Following a private detective's lead, Rosalyn leaves Salt Lake City and boards a train heading to the mining town of Whiskey Ridge, Arizona. She arrives at Rose House, an old mansion reputed to be haunted, only to discover that her missing husband has been killed, and his business partner, Whip Kincaid, is wanted for his murder. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding Josiah and his death, Rosalyn decides to stay--even though she begins to receive nightly visits from a charming "ghost" . . .

A Ghost's Kiss . . .

Escaping a troubled past, Whip Kincaid had hoped he could make a fresh start in Whiskey Ridge and open a saloon with his friend Josiah. Now, as a murder suspect hiding in his own house, Whip's future looks bleak indeed . . . unless he can find the real culprit. But the unexpected intrusion of Rosalyn ruins his plan to sneak out at night to investigate. Scaring her away is his first step in clearing his name, but Rosalyn doesn't rattle easily. And Whip isn't sure he wants the lovely widow to walk out of his life -- especially when she'll take his heart with her.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Linda Broday: The Meaning of Christmas - Great Christmas Tree Tour

Each year, the older I get the less enthused I am about a Christmas tree. Sure, they’re gorgeous and can add such cheer to the holiday but big ones are a lot of work. And when you live alone with no young children and are pushing a deadline, I’d just as sooner downsize and go on.

Over the years, I’ve learned that Christmas isn’t about the size of the tree or the glittery ornaments anyway. The holiday is about the size of your heart.

A few weeks ago, I dragged out this scraggly little thirty inch mini-tree and hanged some western ornaments on it. I had quite a few small cowboy boots, hats and assorted items that created the look I was going for. After all, a western romance author needs a cowboy tree. 

Then I had bought some little cowboy dogs one day when I was out and sat them around it like they’re guarding the tree. I call them Deputy Dogs because of their guns, holsters and cute sheriff’s badges. 

I added a whimsical touch at the foot – a cowboy statue with his rifle pointed at the person about to mess with his Deputy Dogs and the tree.  My pitiful attempt at some humor.

The only other thing I carefully unpacked was my beautiful angel. I bought her at least 20 years ago, maybe longer. But Christmas wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s been through a lot with me—the deaths of some family members and three big moves. She and I are getting a bit ragged but we’re still here and she continues to watch over me.

I have some exciting news—A new release on December 1st. FOREVER HIS TEXAS BRIDE is the thrilling conclusion of my popular Bachelors of Battle Creek series. This book features the half-breed brother Brett Liberty. The story’s message of tolerance and acceptance is as pertinent now as it was in 1879.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and remember why we celebrate. It’s not about the gifts, the trees or how much money we have. Christmas is what’s in our hearts and remembering that tiny babe that lay in a manger in Bethlehem one cold night so long ago.


Linda Broday is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six full-length novels and seven short stories.
She resides in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed.
Linda loves scouring history books and the internet for little known details to add to her historical western romance stories.
She’s been accused, and quite unjustly she adds, of making herself a nuisance at museums and libraries.
Humble roots and the love of family have become focal points of each book she writes.
Watch for her Men of Legend series coming 2016!

Visit Linda at: 
On Facebook:
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On Twitter:   

Order Linda's Books:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ruth Logan Herne is my Special Guest for Christmas Eve

Cheryl, thank you so much for the chance to be part of the 2015 tour!!!!

This is our family tree... It's tucked in the corner of our family room, a room recently added to help house our six kids, fourteen grandkids, and big Blodgett/Herne family gatherings.

We finished the room a couple of years ago, but as a daycare provider by day, and sweet romance author by night, I didn't dare put the family tree in this room for obvious reasons:

Four four-year-olds and a two year old! So this is our first Christmas having a tree in the new family room, and I love how the tree is reflected in the windows at night. So pretty!

I can't see the new room from the kitchen, and youse all know what that means. If Mama/Grammy can't see you, anything goes!

But this tree is more than a pretty tree with lights. This is a memory tree. This is the most precious of precious trees, filled with rare, hand-crafted ornaments of the highest order. Here's a look at them:

A Christmas card from my son Seth, now a teacher, a small business owner and the father of three...

And here's an ornament he made us that met with a few rough scrapes over the years:

And here's Matt back when we called him "Buddy" in pre-school, now a puzzle-solving CPA and father of three:

And Sarah, so sweet, earnest and industrious from an early age, now a college professor at Duke University and mother of three:

And Bethy, in pre-school, charming hearts then... and now a mother of four, a wrap-around care provider and a free-lance editor:

And Zach, back in the four-year-olds Sunday School classroom, now a New York City lawyer and writer:

And Luke's pre-school pics disappeared, so I'll be recreating them this week. I have no idea where they got tucked last year, but that's not unusual around here! At 6' 2" tall and 190 lbs., Luke is our throwback because Dave and I are not big people! In both families, we were the runts of the litters, so we love that Luke ended up on the tall end of the stick because every family needs a Bumble:

So this is Lukie's ornament and Luke gets the honor of putting angels on treetops when he comes home...

And that's what makes this tree so special, and worthy of guarding! :) These memories are decades-old and priceless. They remind me of Christmas past, present and yet to come because we've got new ornaments to hang on our most special of special trees!

A New Generation!!!

More precious ornaments to mark the years, made by more precious children. To me, Christmas is always about the child, the Christ child, and what was given to us in that cool, dark hillside cave. A baby, born in a manger, a child of the poor. So I celebrate children, the gift of all ages... The First Gift of Christmas.

And I'd love to share some old-time Christmas cheer with you guys, so I'm giving away a copy of "A Heart Full of Christmas" and "Home for Christmas", two wonderful collections for Kindles! In the contemporary "Heart Full of Christmas", you'll meet the third Karralis cousin "Jake", and he's the kind of wonderful hero you'll never forget... and then in "Home for Christmas" you'll get my newest historical set in Second Chance, South Dakota, a story of new beginnings, strong men and the even stronger women who helped settle the West! Two sweet collections from top-name authors, written with faith, hope and ... you guessed it! Love.