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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nicole McCaffrey, Christmas cookies, and sexy real estate moguls



Hi Isabel!  I’m taking a break from a marathon of cookie baking to sit down and chat with you today.  Before we begin, let me share the recipe I just finished, it’s one of my favorites because it’s super easy, completely versatile and most importantly, yummy!  These cookies look like you went to a lot of fuss and trouble, but they’re fast and easy.

2 Devils food cake mixes (18 ¼ oz each)
4 eggs lightly beaten
2/3 cup vegetable oil


  1. Beat cake mix, eggs and oil to form a very stiff dough.  Roll into one inch balls, flatten slightly and bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until a slight indentation remains when lightly touched.  Cool completely. 
  2. When the cookies are cool, spread cream cheese frosting (I cheat and buy a can from the grocery store when I’m in a hurry, but you can make your own) generously on one cookie and top with another.


What I love about this recipe is you can use any cake mix and frosting combination you want, the possibilities are endless.  I love to add peppermint flavoring to the frosting and tint it pink or green when I make the chocolate cookies.  Today I used red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting.  Yum!! They’re going to look so pretty on my cookie trays next week!

These sound delicious and very easy to make, thanks for sharing!

Okay, on with the interview!
       1.       At any given time do you work on only one story at a time and maybe plot out the next one or are there many ideas racing around your head?

LOL I am the living definition of the phrase “so many stories, so little time.”  Usually right around the time I hit the halfway point with a story, another idea that’s been in the back of my mind will start coming together and begging me to write it.  In the past when I’ve resisted the temptation to at least jot down a few words from story #2, I’ve regretted it because when the time finally comes that I can work on it, my fickle muse won’t come out and play anymore LOL.  I find when I allow myself to take a break from one story and start another, it helps me to work out the bugs and kinks and things that were bothering me in story #1 so that when I return to it, I’m fresher and more focused.  Sometimes the second story comes at me so strong it ends up being the one I finish first.

2. Is there a genre you haven't written in but would like to? Or wish you could write in?

Well being a paranoid person with an overactive imagination LOL, I actually get a lot of romantic suspense ideas.  But the time it would take to learn police or other law enforcement protocol and procedure — and learn how to spin a good suspense story…I don’t know where I’d find the time anytime soon—after all I’ve spent 20+ years researching American history and still don’t feel I know it as well as I’d like, LOL.  Never say never, though. 

3. Do you add an element of romantic suspense in your stories? If so, how difficult is it to maintain the integrity of the mystery?

A lot of historical romances have some element of suspense and if I’m writing a story that does, I try not to weave a web that’s too tangled.  If my readers are anything like me, they know “who done it” long before they get to the page where that information is revealed anyway.  I could never outsmart them, so I don’t try to (does that make me an underachiever? LOL).  For me the fun is taking the reader on the journey with me while the characters figure it out.

4. Say you have unlimited funds: What kind of writing office/cottage would you create for yourself?

Oh I’d love a little thatched cottage in the woods. I live near a wooded area and there’s something very soothing about being surrounded by the sounds of nature and lots of trees and greenery.  My dog and I have pretty much a daily routine of walking in the woods.  It never fails to quiet my mind—at least for a little while. If I could I’d live right smack dab in the middle of wherever it is that the deer and the antelope (and the bunnies and the chipmunks) play LOL. 

5. If you could turn your novel into a TV show, which novel or series would you do? Where would it be set? Network TV (ABC, NBC, CBS), Cable (AMC, BBC, Lifetime) or Premium Cable (HBO, Showtime, Starz)?

Oh nothing recharges my battery like sitting down to watch one of those great romantic Hallmark channel movies, especially this time of year.  Small Town Christmas practically begs to be on the Hallmark channel during the holidays LOL and I think The Model Man would be fun, too.  I’m not sure they do historical movies, though, I’ve only seen a few, but I’d be all for having Wild Texas Wind as a movie, too.

6. Finally, tell us about your latest release!

My latest release is my first venture into something a little paranormal.  It’s a time travel romance called This Moment in Time. My hero buys an abandoned old house with every intention of tearing it down—until he decides to spend a night there and runs into a beautiful woman in the upstairs bedroom.  At first he thinks she’s a ghost but he soon realizes somehow, he crosses a threshold to another time when he enters that room.  He soon learns she’s a famous spy from the Civil War era who once lived in the house… he also learns she’s about to be discovered and executed.  If he saves her will it alter history—or should he sacrifice life in his own century to be with her for what little time she has left?

Blurb:

Not even captivity can sway Southern widow Josette Beaumont from spying for the Confederacy. Under the nose of the Union army, she willingly risks her life to pass information to her sources. Until a stranger appears in her bedroom one day with a cryptic message: stop spying or you'll die. She has no reason to believe his warnings about the future, but his company is the only solace in her long days of imprisonment and his friendship quickly comes to mean so much more. If only she could make the sacrifice he asks of her... 

To hell with history, real estate mogul Jamie D'Alessandro has no intention of saving the historic mansion he's purchased, even if it is the home of a famous Confederate spy. But when he steps into an upstairs bedroom of the old house, time suddenly shifts, bringing him face to face with a very beautiful and irate Southern lady. Against his will he's drawn into her cause--to save the Confederacy. But Jamie has a cause of his own. According to his research the lady spy has only days to live. Should he change history to save the woman he loves--or sacrifice life in his own century to be with her for This Moment in Time?

Exceprt:
 
By the dim glow of propane lanterns, Jamie unrolled the sleeping bag and spread it on the floor. His flight had arrived late, and he’d gotten lost on the way to the house. It was dusk by the time he arrived. He’d have to wait until morning to fully explore Beaumont House and the grounds around it. 

He rubbed his arms against the chill of the spring night. Fortunately, he’d never minded roughing it. In fact, sitting here in this abandoned house, with only the sound of his own breathing for company, he was more content than he’d ever been in his multi-level New York penthouse. No servants tiptoeing about, no cell phone buzzing, no financial advisors dropping by for hours-long discussions.

Maybe he’d have a look around before night fully took over the house. He hadn’t actually stepped foot inside before, had merely relied on the findings of his reconstruction team. But now, flashlight in hand, the narrow beam of light lit upon yellowed paint, peeling wallpaper and architectural detail the likes of which were rarely seen these days. He stepped closer, studying the intricate molding on the fireplace and ran his fingers along the smooth, cold surface. It would need more than stripping and refinishing to restore it, but the wood felt solid beneath his fingertips. 

Stepping back, he drew the light up to reveal the crown molding along the ceiling. He’d need a ladder and full daylight to get a good look at it, but the idea of working with his hands again—getting them dirty, as Len said—filled him with an excitement that renewed his spirit in a way it hadn’t been in a long time. 

The light glinted off the top of a framed painting. He lowered the beam, illuminating the portrait. A woman with dark hair and smoldering dark eyes. A modest hint—downright puritan by today’s standards—of pale bosom peeked over the ruffled bodice of a white dress. Somehow that hint of creamy flesh seemed more forbidden—sexier — than any modern woman he’d ever seen. There was something prim and ladylike about her that made it feel wrong to stare at her like that. Was this the famous spy? Her name escaped him, but he made a mental note to learn more about her.

A loud thump from the second floor caught his attention. His heart leaped to his throat, and for a moment, he felt like a scared kid in a haunted house. He shook his head, chuckling at himself. The house had been locked up tight since the renovation team had come through to inspect it, there was no one around. Probably a rodent or critter had gotten inside. Still, he had no intention of spending the night listening to the scratching and thumping of a wild animal.

He shone the flashlight ahead of him until he found the winding, elegant staircase that led to the second floor. Common sense warned him not to trust the stairs; the old house was full of wood rot. But curiosity got the better of him and he tested the first step before putting his full weight on it, and the next, and the next. Fully expecting to go through the boards and land on his ass, he continued the same tenuous journey until he reached the second floor. 

Amazed he’d actually made it, he gave a quick glance behind him, then began to move around the second story. Shining the light upward, he saw the staircase continued to a third floor, but wasn’t about to push his luck any further. 

He paused, waiting until he heard the scratching again. With the beam of light at his feet to illuminate the floor, he took slow, cautious steps, following the sound. As he drew closer to the sound he paused, wondering if he should have brought something for protection. What if the creature was rabid? 

Stepping fully into the room where he’d heard the noises, he paused to appreciate the huge windows that overlooked the valley. They didn’t make houses like this anymore, and while he had nothing but the utmost appreciation for the trappings of modern society, he had to admit, there was something about the way they built things a couple of centuries ago. They didn’t need high tech gadgets and expensive fabrics to scream wealth and elegance. It was right here in the architecture. 

Forgetting himself for a moment, he stepped across the room. The loud groan of a floorboard caused him to freeze, wondering if the floor could support him. The banging now came from behind him. Heart suddenly pounding, he whirled. A door—to a closet, perhaps?— rattled insistently. He swallowed. He’d never believed in ghosts, had laughed off any notion that they existed. So what the hell was this? 

As he stood there, a cold draft of air swirled about his feet. Wasn’t it supposed to get really cold when a ghost appeared? No, no, he wouldn’t allow his imagination to take him there. Dammit, he was James D’Alessandro III; he’d never allowed anyone or anything to intimidate him. It would take more than an abandoned old house to spook him.

On silent feet, he crossed the room to the door, mentally counting—one, two… three. He yanked it open. His breath left him in a relieved exhale. Nothing stood behind it. The cold breeze continued, whistling through a broken window. The branch of a tree had long since grown inside and as the wind blew, it scratched against the wall. A gust must have blown the door shut; that was probably the bang he’d heard from downstairs.

He took another deep breath to help slow his heart rate. While he was out gathering tools tomorrow, he’d have to get something to put over the window. He’d never get any rest with that door thumping all night long, and the air blowing inside would only make the house colder. 

Chuckling at his own ridiculous fear, he started to turn. A voice—not the howling of the wind this time— and the sudden sensation of warmth at his back stilled him.

“Honestly, Sebastian, he can’t keep me locked up here much longer. I’ll go mad.”

A woman? She sounded calm, perhaps a little angry.

“Drat it, now I’ve lost count.” A heavy sigh followed. “The last I remember was twenty strokes, I’ll have to start over from there.”

Heart back in his throat, he turned just enough to glance over his shoulder. The first thing to greet him were the windows—the very same windows he’d admired moments ago. Only they were now adorned with white lace. To the left, a warm fire crackled in the fireplace, casting a golden glow across the gleaming hardwood floor. And directly in front of him, a dark gray cat lay sprawled across an ornate four poster bed, calmly grooming itself. It paused, tongue in mid stroke and stared up at him with curious green eyes.

“Twenty one. Twenty two. Twenty…”

Swallowing, he forced his gaze from the cat to the source of the voice. A woman sat at a vanity, tugging a brush through long, dark hair. In the mirror, he watched as her gaze moved from her reflection. To him. She let out a gasp. The brush fell from her hand. She whirled on her seat to face him.

“Wh—who are you?”

She could see him!

Yeah, you're interested, aren't you! Where to buy This Moment in Time:

2 comments:

Leanne Tyler said...

Nicole,
Thanks for the awesome cookie recipe. It sounds yummy and easy like you said. Thanks also for the excerpt peek into a Moment in Time. I can't wait to read it.
Leanne

Nicole McCaffrey said...

LOL they're so yummy it's criminal, Leanne. Thanks for stopping by!

Nic

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