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Archive for December, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

Happy Holidays To All

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Fearless LoveFearless Love, my seventh Konigsburg book, is now available in print from the usual outlets.

All of my Konigsburg books include animals. I’m not sure how this happened, it just did. Starting with a diabolic cat and a sweet-natured Chihuahua in Venus In Blue Jeans, I had a greyhound in Wedding Bell Blues, a mostly coon hound puppy in Be My Baby, a largely Maine coon cat in Long Time Gone and Don’t Forget Me, and an iguana named Doris in Brand New Me.

When I got to Fearless Love, the choice was already clear, and so, as it turned out, was the animal. Chickens. My heroine, MG Carmody, inherits a chicken farm from her grandfather. MG doesn’t have much else she can depend on in the way of income—she’s a struggling singer trying to regain her confidence after some bad experiences in Nashville. So she decides to sell eggs. And I had to find out how you raise chickens.

Fortunately for me, Denver (where I live now) had just passed an ordinance allowing urban farmers to raise a few chickens in their backyards. All of a sudden chickens were in the news, and it turned out I actually knew a few people who were raising them. Plus Denver wasn’t the only city in the country where people had decided that having backyard chickens was a good idea. I found Web sites galore with loads of chicken information.

So what did I learn? All sorts of stuff. Hens usually lay only one egg a day and they may not come through every time (so my heroine’s twenty-five chickens wouldn’t necessarily produce twenty-five eggs). They don’t lay while they’re molting, and they stop laying altogether when they age (two to three years). This creates all kinds of dilemmas for the soft-hearted urban chicken farmers who can’t bring themselves to do what traditional farmers do with aging hens—make chicken soup. I also found out raising chickens is a lot of work, which fit in with my story. Between her job in a restaurant kitchen, her reborn music career and her chickens, MG is frequently exhausted.

Although most of the chicken authorities cautioned against naming your birds (you don’t want to get too attached), I decided that I’d have at least one chicken with attitude, a rooster named Robespierre. He has a run-in with a coyote and the result is based on a similar story I picked up from a chicken blogger (yes, Virginia, there are chicken bloggers).

MG finally triumphs, with the help of my hero, Joe LeBlanc, a chef who turns out to know a lot about chickens himself. And I’ve now got enough information about chickens to know for sure that I’m not going to be raising them myself any time soon!

Here’s the blurb for Fearless Love:

Fearless Love, Konigsberg, Texas, Book 7

Sweet music doesn’t come without a few sour notes.

MG Carmody never figured her musical dreams would crash against the reality of Nashville. Now the only thing she has going for her is her late grandfather’s chicken farm, which comes with molting hens that won’t lay, one irascible rooster, and a huge mortgage held by a ruthless opponent—her Great Aunt Nedda.

With fewer eggs to sell, MG needs extra money, fast. Even if it means carving out time for a job as a prep cook at The Rose—and resisting her attraction to its sexy head chef.

Joe LeBlanc has problems of his own. He’s got a kitchen full of temperamental cooks—one of whom is a sneak thief—a demanding cooking competition to prepare for, and an attraction to MG that could easily boil over into something tasty. If he could figure out the cause of the shy beauty’s lack of self confidence.

In Joe’s arms, MG’s heart begins to find its voice. But between kitchen thieves, performance anxiety, saucy saboteurs, greedy relatives, and one very pissed-off rooster, the chances of them ever making sweet music are looking slimmer by the day.

Warning: Contains hot kitchen sex, cool Americana music, foodie hysteria, and a whole lot of fowl play.

Buy link: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/fearless-love-p-7011.html

 

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Meg Benjamin

Photo by PJ Ausdenmore

Okay, I admit it—one of the things I love to do whenever we go traveling is shop. More specifically, I love to shop for things like lacy tops, silk ruanas, or vests made from vintage kimonos. I’m a sucker for anything funky and slightly romantic, which a lot of vacation spots have in abundance.

But every once in a while, I’ll see a sales lady watching me with a particular expression I know well. And I know exactly what she’s thinking: Honey, you’ll never wear that. Because, of course, she’s seeing the everyday me. The slightly older, slightly heavier, slightly bland woman who looks like everybody’s Aunt Margie. And it’s quite true that Aunt Margie would probably never wear that lace overblouse, although it might hang in her closet for decades.

But here’s the thing—I’m only Aunt Margie most of the year. Believe it or not, toots, I also have a secret identity.

Two or three times a year, I get to wear those imaginative duds among crowds of other women who are a lot like me. We all save our most fanciful clothes for those times when we’re sitting behind tables at RT or RWA, signing our books and smiling at all and sundry. A few times a year I morph into Romance Writer, and I love doing it.

So let this be a cautionary tale for all those oh-so-superior sales ladies who are convinced that older women never get to wear cool clothes and that we might as well confine ourselves to knit pantsuits the way we’re supposed to. You never know what magic lurks within each of us. Maybe we’re actually somebody else part of the time. And maybe getting a chance to wear those wonderful things at writers conferences has emboldened us to wear our secret identities at other events as well. Maybe we sometimes break out that sequined jacket for Sunday services. Maybe that hand-painted ruana will be perfect for our niece’s commencement ceremonies. And maybe that purple velvet cape will see service at next year’s Christmas party.

You never know.

So let us buy what we want, and save the stink eye. You really never know—someday you too may be looking at those knee-high suede boots and thinking, “Yeah, I could do that at Authors After Dark. No problem.”

That is, of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a secret identity of your own. And this being the holiday season, in which rancor is out of place, I’ll wish that for you. May we all have secret identities we get to dress up for. At least once or twice a year.

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