Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Long Road to Delicious Temptation

It's finally here! It's release day for my new Brazen novel DELICIOUS TEMPTATION!

To say it's been a long journey for this book would be an understatement. Because this was the book that almost wasn't written.

In 2013, having just published my first novella, I attended the California Dreamin Writers Conference  in Irvine, Calif. It was my first conference and I was overwhelmed by the great workshops being offered.

During one of these fantastic workshops, an editor from a well-known publishing house told attendees that she would read our pitches if we submitted them to her at the end of the workshop. I had no story in mind and nothing written on my laptop, but even I knew that this was a golden opportunity. So instead of listening to her speak, I plotted. I'm not exactly sure how the idea for a food romance set in a Mexican bakery came to me. But it did. Kind of. By the end of the workshop, all I had was a couple of scribbles on a piece of paper. So I asked the editor if I could turn in the pitch later and she said as long as I got it to her before she left the conference, she'd read it.

That night, my friends and I gathered in one of their hotel rooms to write and I worked on my pitch. At one point, I became so frustrated that I told them I was going to give up. Like good friends do, they told me I couldn't and helped me flesh out a bare-bones outline for the story that would eventually become DELICIOUS TEMPTATION.

I turned it in and within a week, I got a request from the editor's assistant to see the completed manuscript. What? I was shocked. After I picked myself up off the floor, I emailed back and confessed it wasn't ready and could I turn it in after a few months? The assistant said that was fine and I got to work on writing the book.

I wrote like a crazy woman for about six weeks straight. I got to about 48,000 words of the minimum required 60,000 and then I stopped writing. I could blame a few things -- getting sick, the death of my cousin, life in general. Then I heard from a friend that the editor left the publisher and that gave me the biggest excuse of all to not touch the story again.

Remember those author friends I told you about? Well, they weren't about to let me off the hook. Months passed and every so often I'd get a nudge, "Did you finish that book yet?" "When are you going to start writing again?" "If you need me to look at the first chapter, I can."

Although I had long stopped believing that I could write this book, my friends never did.

Then last year, when I heard about Entangled Publishing's submission call for "Dirty Talkers" for its Brazen line, something sparked. I loved reading the Brazens from Entangled. And for the first time in a long time, I got excited about my story and the possibility of it becoming a Brazen.

And so I started writing.

The final book, the one being released everywhere today, is so much more than I ever thought it could be. While the basic pitch is pretty much the same as the one I scribbled onto a piece of paper during that editor's workshop, the story's passion and heart developed during this journey.

So while I sometimes kick myself for not finishing this story earlier, I also think that I wasn't meant to. The timing wasn't right. The publisher wasn't right. My experience as an author wasn't right. In other words, the story wasn't ready to be told.

Until today.

And that means it's time to celebrate! I'll be visiting other blogs this week and giving away some prizes along the way. You're welcome to visit me -- just see the schedule below. Of course, we can't celebrate without a party...or two. I'm holding a Facebook party from 5 to 11 p.m. (CST) and my guest hosts are Katee Robert, Megan Erickson, Louisa Bacio and Nikki Prince. Sign up here if you'd like to join us!

I'm also throwing a live in-person party on Friday, May 22 in Los Angeles. For more info and to RSVP, click here.

Finally, I just wanted to take a moment to thank my author friends and my family for their continued support and inspiration. You may not have written this book, but you definitely helped finish it. <3


ABOUT DELICIOUS TEMPTATION


The only thing naughtier than a bad boy is a good girl...

Amara Maria Robles is a good girl. So good that she gave up her dreams of becoming a renowned pastry chef to help her parents with their struggling Mexican bakery. Yet her parents reject any changes she suggests, and refuse to sell her mouth-watering confections. Clearly being a good girl isn't paying off. So when her brother's sexy ex-best friend walks into the bakery, Amara's tempted to be very bad indeed...

After a scandal twelve years ago, resident bad boy Eric Valencia has returned to make things right with his family and friends. One glance at Amara and her wicked curves, however, and Eric finds himself thinking about how she’d feel beneath him—something he promised Amara's brother he would never think about, let alone do.

But this bad boy is in deep trouble...because Amara's determined to have her cake, and Eric, too.    


  





DT BLOG TOUR:

May 19 
Latina Book Club *Novella giveaway


May 20
Just Contemporary Romance * $10 Amazon GC giveaway


May 21

May 22

Caribbean Accent Reviews * Novella & $10 Amazon GC giveaway

May 26

May 30
Harlequin Junkie * Novella & $10 Amazon GC giveaway

Monday, May 18, 2015

The DESSERTS of DELICIOUS TEMPTATION: Empanadas

Just one more day to go until the release of my new novel DELICIOUS TEMPTATION. I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes I’ve been sharing the past few weeks. I’m posting the final one a day early because I have some other fun things in store for tomorrow. So come back and find out how I’m going to be celebrating!


In my new novel DELICIOUS TEMPTATION, empanadas play an important role in the heroine’s plan to realize her dreams.

I picked this dessert for that critical moment because it’s a traditional and well-known pastry and because there are so many different ways to eat them.

Empanada comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around some sort of sweet or savory filling. They’re a mix between a European meat pie and a Hostess fruit pie. Kind of.

I grew up with traditional Argentine empanadas thanks to my Argentine uncle who would always order them from his favorite bakery and serve them during parties at his home. My favorite ones were filled with ground beef, boiled egg and one green olive.

But since I’m featuring the desserts of DELICIOUS TEMPTATION in these posts, I’m giving you a sweet empanada recipe.

One disclaimer though. While usually I’m all about the butter in these desserts, I decided to change things up and try out a dairy free recipe. You see, Heather Howland, my editor at Entangled, had never tried most of the desserts mentioned in the novel. And while she said they all sounded, well, delicious, she especially craved an empanada. Only problem is, she can’t eat dairy. So I promised her I’d work on a recipe and send her a special batch!

I spent a few weeks researching dairy free baking blogs and tested the usual substitutions. I’m happy to say I finally found the right combination of dough and filling and icing.

Even if you don’t have a dairy restriction, I highly recommend trying these little pockets of heaven.

Enjoy!

DAIRY FREE CHERRY EMPANADAS WITH POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE



Step #1: Make the dough

Dough
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup cold coconut oil (chilled)
about 1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut coconut oil into flour either with a food processor or a pastry cutter. Slowly add water to make the dough form a ball without being sticky. Wrap in plastic or put in a sealed plastic container and let it chill in the fridge while you making the filling.



Step #2: Make the filling

Filling
3-4 cups frozen cherries (pitted)
1 cup water & cherry juice combined
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup sugar

Heat cherries in a saucepan over medium heat. As the cherries defrost, the juice will come out. Cook until defrosted, but don’t boil. Drain the cherries and set them aside in a bowl.  Pour the juice into a measuring cup and then fill with water until you get 1 cup of liquid total. Mix the cornstarch and sugar in another bowl until well blended. Pour the cherry/water liquid back into your pan and warm again over medium heat. Add in the cornstarch/sugar and mix thoroughly. Continue to mix as the liquid starts to thicken. This should only take about a minute or two. Be careful not to let it boil. Once it’s thickened, add the cherries and cook for 2 minutes. Pour into another bowl and let it cool to room temperature.



Step #3: Prepare & bake the empanadas

Cooking spray (coconut oil or vegetable oil)
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons flour
Cherry Filling
Empanada Dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with coconut oil or vegetable oil spray.

Take out the dough from fridge and knead it a few times with your fingers. This helps soften the dough a little so it will be easier to roll. It might also be easier to work with if you break the ball into half. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough about 1/8-inch thickness on a floured board. Cut dough circles with some type of round cutter. You can use any size. I used a ramekin. Place cut circles on the cookie sheet.

Spoon about 1-2 Tablespoons of the cherry filling onto the center of each round (the amount of filling is going to vary depending on the size of your circles). Dip your finger in the water and moisten ends of circle, fold in half and crimp seam with your fingers. Once all of the empanadas are filled and sealed, dip a fork into the flour and press around the edges of the empanadas for a more decorative seal. Prick the top of each with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes. 




Step #4: Add glaze

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix together until creamy. Brush onto tops of warm empanadas.


And you’re done. Now you get to eat them!




ABOUT DELICIOUS TEMPTATION




The only thing naughtier than a bad boy is a good girl...

Amara Maria Robles is a good girl. So good that she gave up her dreams of becoming a renowned pastry chef to help her parents with their struggling Mexican bakery. Yet her parents reject any changes she suggests, and refuse to sell her mouth-watering confections. Clearly being a good girl isn't paying off. So when her brother's sexy ex-best friend walks into the bakery, Amara's tempted to be very bad indeed...

After a scandal twelve years ago, resident bad boy Eric Valencia has returned to make things right with his family and friends. One glance at Amara and her wicked curves, however, and Eric finds himself thinking about how she’d feel beneath him—something he promised Amara's brother he would never think about, let alone do.

But this bad boy is in deep trouble...because Amara's determined to have her cake, and Eric, too.