What’s Your Word for 2019?

Happy New Year!

Until a few years ago, I’d never heard of claiming a word as your mantra for the upcoming year. I’ve been through goal-setting and making resolutions (and breaking them), but the whole “one word” thing was a new concept. One I didn’t really pay attention to, if I’m being honest.

But this year, I’ve decided to embrace a whole new outlook. The past year, I’ve felt scattered, rushed, disorganized, stressed, depressed – but not without moments of exhilaration, joy, accomplishment, and pride. I want to be more intentional about bringing those positive moments into my life this year. I want to spend my time this year writing, having fun with my family and friends, selling books and reaching more readers, exploring my passions… and much LESS time fretting and worrying.

So I’m trying this “One Word” thing for 2019 and I’ve chosen as my word…. <drum roll please>



I considered words like “Intentional”, “Motivate”, “Focus”. But I think “sparkle” says it best. Because I want to sparkle in all aspects of life. I want to be that light that attracts people, that makes my family feel good, that makes ME feel good.

And in order to sparkle, I’ll have to do things like be intentional, motivated, and focused.

But one cannot sparkle all alone. So here is a short list of the people and tools helping me to shine this year:

My Damned Mob of Scribbling Women: my writer peeps, including JL Lora, Shadow Leitner, Laralyn Doran, Audrey Coloumbis, and Katie Baldwin. They cheer me on and cheer me up, and are always there whether I need to wine or whine. Or both.

Commit30 Planner: I’m trying this out for the first time this year! I’ve always been a sucker for a good planner, but had trouble finding the right one. This one has places to break down your goals and encourages you to use baby steps. And I get to use stickers, which make me happy.

Bad Redhead Media: Rachel is THE guru for book marketing and also a brave survivor who hosts #SexAbuseChat Tuesday nights on Twitter, a conversation that’s helped me with my own issues. Highly recommend her for her expertise and her advocacy!

My Writing Chapters: I’m a chapter slut. In addition to the national organization, Romance Writers of America, I belong to Virginian Romance Writers, Maryland Romance Writers, DC Romance Writers, and now Central PA Romance Writers. I can’t help it! I love my fellow chapter members and they each offer unique benefits. While I’m typically a homebody and somewhat of an introvert, membership in these chapters has forced me to come out of my shell. And that’s a good thing, because you can’t sparkle if you’re hiding in the shadows.

Sharpies: I am addicted to Sharpies. They are colorful, they feel comfortable in my hand, they are bright and permanent and when I write with them, I feel I’m writing with PURPOSE. What I need are a few that sparkle. (Adding metallic ones to the next shopping list…)

Death Wish Coffee: Because it’s socially unacceptable to break out the bourbon before 5 p.m. The intensity of this keeps me pumped and sparkling until it’s relaxation time.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: You can’t sparkle if you’re buried under clutter. Sparkle – Spark- Spark Joy by Tidying Up! And now it’s on Netflix. I sense a new addiction taking over while I wait for The Great British Baking Show to return…

Your A-Game with Damon Suede: There are so many reason to love Damon. Talk about someone who sparkles! I’ve taken a few workshops with him over the years and I never fail to come away with actionable items. I’ve improved my writing using his techniques and now I’m tackling the business-side of my passion using his advice. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend picking up Your A-Game (co-written with Heidi Cullinan) and Verbalize. They’ll energize your writing from all sides.

Anything in flannel, especially red/black plaid flannel: Because it makes me happy. 🙂

What’s your word for 2019? How are you going to live it? Let me know in the comments or stop by my Facebook page to chat!

Cate’s Favorite Christmas Cookie: Soft Biscotti

Cate’s Favorite Christmas Cookie: Soft Biscotti

I am not a baker. I love to cook… experimenting with flavor, different equipment, various techniques… all of it. I love it.

Baking? Eh. Not so much. In fact, my teenager’s first “job” was to do all my baking, since she loves it. Birthday cakes for her siblings, cookies for bake sales, cupcakes for class parties — she did it all.

Except at Christmas. There’s something about tradition and the smells of cinnamon and almond and cloves that helps get me in the mood for the holidays and willing to roll up my sleeves, don my mother-in-law’s Christmas apron, and plug in the KitchenAid. Pretty much the only time of the year it gets used.

I try new treats now and then, but I have a standard repertoire of favorites. Pfferneusse, ginger crinkles, spritz, jam thumbprints, and stollen lead the pack. Of course we also make sugar cookies, but that’s for the kids. I’m not really a big fan. Same with peanut butter blossoms, you know, those cookies with the Hershey kiss stuck in the middle? No thank you.

I’ve also made quick breads, fudge, bark, and biscotti, mostly to give as gifts. This year, I happened upon a soft biscotti cookie recipe while looking for something quick and tasty to whip up for my oldest son’s book club. Which was happening the next day, of course. I was thisclose to just buying a bag of Milanos and calling it a day, but I’m so glad I didn’t because–

Oh. Mah. Gawd.

They were so flipping delicious. Soft, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I had to make them again. And again.

Now, one of the reasons I prefer cooking to baking is the ability to improvise. Cooking is art; baking is science. And I am not a scientist. However, I did make a few improvisations with this recipe and to my delight and surprise, they worked very well!

So here is the recipe for Soft Biscotti Cookies, adapted from The Merchant Baker. I highly recommend checking out her original recipe — she has video tutorials that will help even the most novice of bakers master this one!

Print PDF


  • 1 1/2 sticks salted butter
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla butter nut flavor (*It’s come to my attention that vanilla butter nut is now known as “Cake Batter” by the McCormick brand. Just FYI)

For the icing:


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds or until softened, then add sugars and beat until combined.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Then add flour and baking powder and mix on low until combined.
  • On a lightly floured surface, take a scoop of dough and roll out into a long log about 3/4″ thick. Cut long roll into 2″ lengths.
  • Place on your cookie sheet about an inch and a half to two inches apart.
  • Bake for 6-10 minutes. Cookie should be firm and set to the touch, but not too brown on the sides or bottom.
  • Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Make icing by combining ingredients until mixture is smooth and thick enough to hold to cookie. If too thick, add more liquid. Too thin, add more icing sugar. A little at a time!
    To ice: Dip top of cookie into icing mixture. Scrape off any excess on side of bowl. Place on cooling rack over a cookie sheet (to catch drips). Sprinkle before icing sets. Once firm (about 2 hours later), store in fridge or eat right away!

Great-Grandma Rose’s Secret Lemon Cake

When I first met my husband, my culinary skills were limited to Hamburger Helper (Tuna Helper, if we wanted to be fancy), chicken breasts covered in Italian dressing, and Chicken Paprikash (my grandmother’s recipe, which is still a favorite in my house). He, on the other hand, had a wealth of kitchen knowledge to draw upon thanks to his mother. And thanks to her, I slowly learned to broaden my repertoire and become more comfortable in the kitchen. Since those early newlywed days, I’ve become much more creative and savvy, and it’s primarily thanks to my mother-in-law. Also Gordon Ramsay.

Writing Juliet and Nate’s story, Love Me Harder, was so much fun because I got to indulge in my foodie-loving side. For research purposes, of course. I also wanted to pay homage to my mother-in-law in a small way. Mom Tayler loved lemons, so when I had to come up with a recipe from Nate’s family to incorporate into the story, I chose a lemon cake.

In the story, it’s Nate’s Great-Grandma Rose’s Secret Lemon Cake. It serves as his brother’s wedding cake and Nate bakes one for Juliet to show her his love. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to properly present it to her and is forced to leave it cooling in her kitchen. It’s the one thing of his Juliet keeps after their “black moment”. (You’ll have to read for yourself what happens!)

Here is Nate’s Great-Grandma Rose’s Secret Lemon Cake with Lemon Butter Frosting. I’ve adapted the recipe from a couple of different sources, including the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. See if you can guess Grandma Rose’s secret ingredient. And no, it’s not love.



  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs limoncello
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Lemon zest or candied lemon peels for garnish. Can also use sliced almonds or ground nuts, or crushed graham crackers, for a little crunch.


  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
  3. Add eggs, oil, lemon juice, and limoncello. Beat until smooth.
  4. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
  5. Divide and pour batter into two 8-inch pans.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool completely on rack before frosting. Garnish with zest or peels.

Lemon Butter Frosting

  • 6 Tbs butter, brought to room temperature (real butter, no margarine)
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar, divided and sifted
  • ¼ lemon juice, plus ¼ more set aside if needed
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla


  1. In a mixer, beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Gradually add half the sifted powder sugar, mix well.
  3. Beat in lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.
  4. Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar, mix well. Add the additional juice, a little at a time, until frosting is of a spreadable consistency.

Bon appétit!

99 Problems but a Book Ain’t One – The Book Fair is Open

Visit the 99@99 BOOK FAIR


September 6-12


If your wallet is feeling the pinch, but you’re looking for some awesome new reads, visit our special 99 Books @ 99 Cents Book Fair. Almost 100 books ON SALE in all genres, romance, sci-fi and fantasy, paranormal romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, mysteries, thrillers, and more. All books less than a buck!

Plus, check in daily for a chance to win Amazon gift cards or play instant ebook giveaways for one of 12 books being awarded to lucky winners each day.

Look for Books from Me and More of Your Favorite Authors!

Alexa Aston • Alexia Adams • Alicia Dean • Alina K. Field • Allyson R Abbott • Alyssa Breck • Amanda Tyler • Angel Lawson • Angela Sanders • Anna Hub • Anna Santos • Anne McClane • Anne Stone • Aubrey Wynne • Aurora Springer • C L McGrath • Caitlyn Lynch • Candace Blevins • Cara Marsi • Carlyle Labuschagne • Casi McLean • Cecelia Mecca • Charmaine Ross • Cherie Claire • Christi Barth • Colleen L Donnelly • Constance Phillips • Crystal Dawn • Debbie White • Debra Jess • EG Manetti • Elizabeth Rose • Emily Selby • Erica Ridley • Gemma Snow • Grace White • Heather Hambel Curley • Iris Blobel • J. Rose Allister • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jayelle Morgan • Jeanne St. James • Jennifer Allis Provost • Joan Reeves • Joanne Dannon • Jody A Kessler • Kallysten • Karen Michelle Nutt • Kathryn Knight • Kayelle Allen • Keke Renee • Kim Carmichael • Kristy Tate • L.E. Harrison • Lara Ward Cosio • Laura Scott • Laurel Black • Leeann Betts • Lindsey R. Loucks • Liz Long • LJ Swallow • Lori L. Robinett • M.C. Cerny • Marianne Rice • Marlow Kelly • Mary Abshire • Meg Ripley • Mila Young • Morgan K Wyatt • MV Ellis • N.D. Jones • Naomi Bellina • Natalie Ann • Rachell Nichole • Rose Pearson • S K Gregory • Sherrie Lea Morgan • Siera London • Sotia Lazu • Stephany Tullis • Susan Jean Ricci • Suzanne Jenkins • Tamara Ferguson • Tina Fausett • Tracey Cramer-Kelly • Tracy Krimmer • Victoria Saccenti • Aileen Harkwood

Cate Reads – August 20, 2018

It’s been a hot and sticky summer, and I’ve spent a lot of time at the pool! Since it’s not wise to have electronics so near where children splash water, it’s been a sort of forced relaxation for me. Which means I’ve been working steadily through my to-be-read pile of paperbooks. So some of my recommendations will consist of older titles I’ve finally had the opportunity to enjoy!

In this week’s edition of Cate Reads, I’m also offering a giveaway… read through for details!

*Please note I use Amazon affiliate links to display the books I recommend. But most of these are available at other retailers*

Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa

Mia Sosa had me hooked with Book 1 of her Love on Cue series, Acting on Impulse. But as much as I loved watching Carter and Tori fall for each other, following Carter’s agent, Julian, as he finds love with Carter’s salty sister Ashley has been even more sexy, sweet, and satisfying.


Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

This is Alexis Daria’s debut novel, winner of the 2018 RITA (The Romance Writers of America’s award) for Best First Book… and it was well-deserved! Set on a reality dance show and featuring a spicy Latina heroine (yay!) and a sexy Alaskan hero, I recommend keeping an ice cool drink and a fan next to you when you read it. In fact, plan on re-reading it in January when the temp outside hits the single digits and lower — you won’t need to use your furnace to keep you warm!


Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Deepest winter. An isolated island off the coast of Maine. A man. A woman. Puppets. (Yes, puppets .  .) And . . .A mysterious house looming over the sea . . .  How can you resist a blurb that begins like that? Especially when it’s from SEP, who is an expert at creating characters with layers of complexity, depth, and emotion. In other words, you can’t help but fall in love with them, especially the strong, quirky heroine and the brooding, mysterious hero.


Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

This one isn’t a romance, but it’s a terrific procedural thriller with strong romantic elements in it. I love Alex Kava’s Maggie O’Dell series, starring a fierce though flawed FBI agent heroine who tracks down the worst of the worst. In Book 1 of her Ryder Creed series, we not only get Maggie, we get Ryder Creed, a former Marine who trains rescue dogs to be law enforcement K-9s. He’s got his own dark past and demons to contend with, and has a special kinship with Maggie. Together, they track down a serial killer and break up a human trafficking ring. It’s a thrilling ride from page one to the end.


Her Lucky Cowboy by Jennifer Ryan

I love a sexy cowboy story and Jennifer Ryan delivers with this one. A PBR rodeo champion, the brilliant doctor who saves him, and the mentally unstable ex-friend who stalks them all collide in a story that’s both smart and steamy, with a touch of danger thrown in.

GIVEAWAY: Comment below with the last paperback you read and recommend and be entered to win a signed copy of Jennifer Ryan’s Her Lucky Cowboy! I’ll choose at random one person who comments on September 1st at 0800 (EST). 


Cate Reads: Wedding Edition

Cate Reads: Wedding Edition

My oldest stepson is getting married in a year and that has me in a wedding mood. A wedding is the perfect sort of romantic set-up, don’t you think? Except when it’s not… and those stories in which the wedding goes all wrong (jilted at the altar, runaway brides, bridesmaid knocked up by commitment-phobic best man) are my favorite.

Here without further “I do” (ha ha, see what I did there?) is a list of my recommended wedding-related reads, in no particular order:

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Part of her Wynette, Texas series, SEP hits is out of the park with this fun, emotional read about a bride (who happens to be the daughter of a former US President) leaving the town’s golden boy at the altar and find adventure and love on the back of a sexy stranger’s motorcycle. Don’t worry about the jilted groom… in fact, you should read his story (which technically comes before this one in the series): Call Me Irresistible.

The Art of Running in High Heels by Rachel Gibson

It’s a runaway bride-hockey romance. Loved the tension between the main characters!

The Best Man’s Baby by Victoria James

This is one in which the inciting incident (I’m sure you can figure out what that is!) happens at a wedding. So maybe not technically a wedding-themed book, but I really enjoyed this one. It has a not-so-secret baby and everything!

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

It’s nice to read a story where it’s the HERO who needs a date for his ex’s wedding. This won multiple awards and was on several lists of best reads, and for good reason.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

“Mah-widge. Mah-widge is what bwings us togethah today.” Okay, maybe it’s not a romance, but it’s one of the funniest, sweetest stories ever told. You’ve probably seen the movie (and if you haven’t, WHAT?! Drop what you’re doing and watch it NOW!), which is awesome on its own. But the book has more and Goldman’s sunny, snarky side shines through.

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

I’m not normally one for regency romance, but Janna is such a wonderful writer. It’s a pleasure to get immersed in the world of dukes and ladies and glorious ballgowns.

The Wedding Promise by Melinda Curtis

A chocolate heiress with a penchant for being a runaway bride meets a gorgeous, flawed man. Two fractured souls drawn together to complete each other. Nothing sweeter. Oh, and it has a trio of funny meddling nuns! This is also a very short story, perfect for reading in a waiting room or those precious few moments when the kids give you peace.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A great kick off to the Reluctant Royals series. It’s a classic trope (prince pretending to be a commoner) with a bit of a twist (the woman he’s after doesn’t know she’s supposed to be betrothed to him). Swoony!

I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella Andre

Another bridesmaid-knocked-up-by-groomsmen premise that I absolutely loved! Your heart will break with Sophie and you’ll want to throttle Jake, until you get to know him and understand his motivations. Then you’ll fall in love with him and his fierce devotion to Sophie.

Love Will Always Remember by Tracey Livesay

The bride-to-be ends up with amnesia after an accident and doesn’t remember anybody, including her fiance. Ah, but there’s a twist… one you’ll have to read to find out!

Add your recommended reads in the comments!

Happy Reading! 

*I do use Amazon affiliate links when linking to my recommendations on Amazon*

Cate Reads – June 18, 2018

You may or may not have heard about #Cockygate. In a nutshell, an author trademarked the word “Cocky” and then threatened other authors with lawsuits if they used the common word “Cocky” in their book titles. She even went so far as to have Amazon take the other books down, thus costing those authors revenue and threatening their livelihood. In protest, a group of authors contributed to this anthology. Forgive the editing issues in some of the stories… this was done very quickly so that all proceeds could benefit the legal funds of the authors fighting the trademark. Not all the stories were my cuppa tea, but I did enjoy the variety and it’s all for a good cause: protecting artistic freedom.


I love Whitney G. She’s a seriously underrated author! This one actually had be choked up. And wanting to knock some heads together. A sexy best friends-to-lovers story.


I was lucky enough to read an ARC while this one is on pre-order. It’s sexy and adorable, with a little danger thrown in. Preorder now so it’ll be in your hot little hands on July 24th!

This is the next book in Alyssa’s Reluctant Royals series. It’s the perfect dreamy read for those hot summer nights!

Previous Recommendations:

5/7/18 – Andie Christopher, Kerri Carpenter, Judy Blume, Robyn Neeley

4/2/18 – Alyssa Cole, Darcy Burke, Tracey Livesay, Maisey Yates

3/12/18 – James Rollins, JL Lora, Damon Suede, Sha Renee

2/27/18 – Bella Andre, Sherry Thomas, Adriana Anders, James Rollins, Stoni Alexander

Happy Reading!

Cate Reads – May 7, 2018

*Please note I use Amazon affiliate links to display the books I recommend. But most of these are available at other retailers*

Week of May 7, 2018

I’ve been super busy trying to juggle two writing projects and a writing contest all at the same time. So I haven’t had as much time to read as I’d like. But I did manage to sneak in a couple of awesome reads:

Virgin hockey player. Need I say more?

Heart-tugging spin on best-friend’s-baby-sister trope, starring a hot former soldier, a feisty redhead, and an adorable preschooler. Swoon-worthy!

Not technically a romance. It’s actually Women’s Fiction (a term that annoys me, but I’ll digress for now) by a beloved author we probably all know and love. I reread this almost every year. The tempestuous and complicated friendship between the two main characters will have you bawling by the end. I definitely didn’t see that ending coming, but it made sense.

This just came up for prerelease and I haven’t read it yet, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of her previous Bachelors of Buttermilk Falls stories. It releases June 4th. I’ve already preordered it!

Previous Recommendations:

4/2/18 – Alyssa Cole, Darcy Burke, Tracey Livesay, Maisey Yates

3/12/18 – James Rollins, JL Lora, Damon Suede, Sha Renee

2/27/18 – Bella Andre, Sherry Thomas, Adriana Anders, James Rollins, Stoni Alexander

Happy Reading!

Cate Reads – April 2, 2018

Week of April 2, 2018

It’s Spring Break at my house this week, which means a lot of spring cleaning and organizing, but also more time to read. Here’s what’s on my Nook this week:

I’m a sucker for anything royalty (hello… already making plans for Harry and Meghan’s wedding!). This is the first in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royal series and I cannot wait for the next!

I love Darcy Burke’s Ribbon Ridge series! This one was really special because the hero has Asperger’s and I just love how sensitively and realistically she portrayed him.

Two words: Secret. Baby.

Maisey Yates’s cowboy romances are always good for a some deep swooning.


Previous Recommendations:

3/12/18 – James Rollins, JL Lora, Damon Suede, Sha Renee

2/27/18 – Bella Andre, Sherry Thomas, Adriana Anders, James Rollins, Stoni Alexander

Happy Reading!

Cate Reads – March 14, 2018

Week of March 12, 2018

*Bonus Recommendations for March 14 – Pi Day!

This is one of my favorite of James Rollins’s adventures. It features a baldheaded parrot name Igor who can recite Pi to hundreds of decimal points. Perfect choice for Pi Day!

This week, I have two steamy reads — one long, one short — and a book for writers.

Steel is the final in JL Lora’s The Trinity trilogy. I think it might be my favorite. Heroine Mel is just so badass…. on the oustide, at least. And Leandro… *swoon*  You get caught up in their push-pull, the danger and sexual tension, and forget that they do bad things.

I’m a proud Air Force veteran and when I first began writing romance, I was happily surprised to find a whole community of romance writing veterans –RomVets. Sha is one of my fellow RomVets and her story about the illicit romance between an enlisted and an officer will have you swooning and saluting.

I’ve been waiting forever for Damon to publish this! If you’re a writer and you haven’t heard Damon speak or read one of his posts or books on craft, you must rectify that oversight right now. Trust me. Your readers will thank you!

Happy Reading!