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Home for the Holiday Blog Hop: Spicy Cheese Cookies!

ella sheridan, dirty little secret, erotic romance, home for the holidays blog hop, holiday recipes UPDATE!!

And the winner is...

Hang on, my daughter's choosing...

And the winner is...

NIKKI McCARVER!!!!

I can't thank you all enough for making my first blog hop and contest such a huge success! I'll definitely be doing this again soon. Happy Holidays!!!

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Welcome to the Home for the Holidays blog hop, Ella Sheridan edition! We all know when the weather gets cold, we want something HOT. *ahem* To eat, of course. Oh goodness, that probably wasn't good either, but you KNOW what I mean. ;)

Anyway, one of my favorite holiday treats, and one I love making and giving away as gifts (but not too many, otherwise there isn't enough to eat!) are these Spicy Southern Cheese Cookies. The recipe came from my brother-in-law's side of the family, and they are awesome! They are also much easier to make than you might think, especially if you have the kids help roll them into balls.

ella sheridan, dirty little secret, erotic romance, cheese cookies, home for the holidays blog hopSpicy Southern Cheese Cookies

1/2 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese          2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. softened butter (2 sticks)                  1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic salt                                    3/4 tsp. red pepper

Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. The amount of pepper listed gives you a spicy cookie, but for my family, who prefers things on the milder side, I use about 1/2 tsp. Once all ingredients are incorporated, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Remove from fridge, scoop out using a tablespoon, and roll the mix into a ball by hand. Place approximately 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball by pressing lightly with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. If they start to brown, take them out -- browning is not good with cheese cookies! Cool and enjoy!

Ella Sheridan, Dirty Little Secret, Loose Id, erotic romanceAnd to go with your spicy, savory treat, here's an excerpt from my current release, Dirty Little Secret. Both are sure to spice up your holidays. ;) And don't forget to check back on Christmas Eve when the sequel, Naughty Little Christmas, an even spicier offering, is released!

~ ~ ~ ~ Excerpt ~ ~ ~ ~

A pause in the cacophony was followed by the sultry sound of a sax filtering across the dance floor. Cailin stopped to catch her breath at the sound. She hadn’t been completely alone as she danced; several men had approached, partnered her for a few minutes, then left, leaving her available for another dance, another partner. She’d thought she would feel awkward dancing with strangers, but she didn’t. She enjoyed it. And she didn’t feel like a slut, either.

As the timbre of the music worked its way into her bones, she let her body move, sway, absorb the pleasure of sense and sound. When broad, heavy palms landed on her rocking hips, she startled. She whipped her head around, only to meet the darkest, sexiest brown eyes she’d ever seen. They blazed with emotion in a face that put Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and every other Sexiest Man Alive to absolute shame. Her mouth opened in a soft “oh” as she stared.

God, he was beautiful.

And then he smiled. It was soft, secretive, sexy. Steaming. Her legs wobbled beneath her, but his grip kept her upright. Then his body made contact with hers—full-body contact, her back, point by point, met by the muscled heat of his chest, stomach, thighs. A gasp escaped as his pelvis brushed the base of her spine and an unmistakably rigid bulge made itself known. The next moment, she was lost in the intensity of his touch.

Her head turned to the side, Cailin tried to smile, but nerves and something else had wicked the moisture from her lips. He moved against her, his hips more agile than Patrick Swayze’s in Dirty Dancing, and nuzzled his sharp nose against the cheek closest to him.

“Hi.”

Her head reeled, her tongue tied itself in a firm knot, and she wished the solid floor beneath her would do her a favor and swallow her whole. Fast. “Hi.”

And then she gave herself up to the music. Talking was impossible, but moving wasn’t. And it felt delicious. She melted into the firm body supporting her, countered the sway of his hips, and fell in love with a man she’d spoken only one word to. Of course, she only loved him for his body. Nothing could compare. Nothing could ever feel as good as he felt against her. His arms circled her waist, his hands flat on the soft curve of her stomach. She wanted them on her breasts. On her mound. Between her legs. The music made love to her, one beat at a time, and he partnered it perfectly until her brain couldn’t think, couldn’t tell where she ended and he began. Didn’t want to. All she wanted was for this moment to last forever.

Which, of course, it couldn’t.

At the music’s final note, the man turned her in his arms, his tight grip pulling her into his body until her front was as firm against him as her back had been. She looked up—and up. Her head tilted back farther than she’d imagined it would have to in order to meet those chocolate eyes. He had to be at least six-four, much taller than Sean—

No, she wouldn’t think about Sean tonight. In the fantasy world she’d created, Sean no longer existed. He belonged to tomorrow and reality. Now was for sweet heat and the fantasy lover staring down at her.

“I’m Alex,” he said. His voice was a mix of gravel and velvet, the sound clenching her womb. Cailin blushed as a rush of hot moisture coated her inner thighs.

“Cailin.”

Alex tucked his head down to hear her, and at her name, he turned, eye to eye, his wide pupils mesmerizing her. Time stopped. Sound receded. And then he wet his bottom lip with a slick pink tongue. “Nice to meet you, Cailin.”

That seductive smile flashed again, so close she could touch it, taste it, before he straightened. The press of the heavy wall of his chest into her sensitive breasts brought a moan to her lips, one she abruptly cut off as soon as she realized what she’d done. Jeez, Cailin. Get it together. But he didn’t seem to mind. In fact his eyes heated further, and he rubbed lightly against her. In the back of her mind was the thought that if anyone else had pulled that move, she would have to remove his balls with her knee, but with Alex, it felt right. She didn’t know why. It just did.

Music swelled again, and Alex took control, moving her against him, the subtle rubbing of their bodies the most sensual foreplay she’d ever experienced. She knew in that moment that she would have sex with this man. If he wanted her—and the erection still going strong between them said he did—she would have him. She wouldn’t lose this opportunity. Guess she’d found her courage…in his arms.

The minutes passed with no regard to how much she wanted them to pause. As the next song came to an end, she realized they were close to the edge of the dance floor. Alex stepped aside, took her hand in his, and led her toward what looked like a dark hallway heading off to one side. Cailin balked, some unwanted feminine instinct waking her to reality and danger, but Alex soothed her. “Offices. The owner’s a friend of mine. I thought we could talk someplace quieter.”

Turning for a last look at the crowded dance floor, she followed him down the long hall, berating herself for the stupidity of the move but unable—or unwilling—to say no. Something deep down in her soul, some gut feeling she thought she’d lost when her marriage fell to pieces, trusted this man. Maybe it was the way he seemed to read her mind, to know what she needed before she did. The way he anticipated every move, as if even a breath didn’t escape his notice. She’d never felt like the center of a man’s entire concentration. She wanted more, wanted to bask in the intensity of Alex’s attention.

And the occasional employee passing them assured her they weren’t completely alone. If she screamed, someone would hear. Wouldn’t they?

A wide, heavy door marked, appropriately enough, OFFICE waited at the end of the passageway. Alex knocked, and a dark-haired man with classic playboy looks opened the door. The surprise on his face eased more of her worry. So this wasn’t a regular occurrence; thank God, even if she did want to sink through the floor in embarrassment.

“Damien, could I—”

“No problem.” The man didn’t ask for an explanation, and his cheeky grin said he didn’t need any. “Just lock up when you leave.” He nodded politely at Cailin before turning to walk back the way they’d come.

Alex gave a rueful snort and dragged her inside. The minute the door clicked shut, he had her backed against its unforgiving surface.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered roughly. “I need—”

Cailin kissed him before he could finish.

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Each comment with an e-mail address will be entered in the Grand Prize Giveaway from The Romance Troupe. (First Prize = $450 + Gift Card; Second Prize = one ebook from EVERY participating author!) So comment for a chance to win big!!!

And there's more. Yes, MORE! One lucky commenter will win a $15 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble for some holiday shopping! Want more than one entry? There are two more easy ways to be entered for the prize:

1. Sign up for my newsletter and get a second chance at the prize!

2. Friend me on Facebook for a third chance at the prize. Be sure to message me with your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win -- and let me know if you like the cookies! I love to get to know new readers. :)

The winner of the Amazon/B&N gift card will be notified Sunday, November 17, 2013. And keep an eye out for that big TRT winner -- it's a doozy (and second place ain't bad, either)!

*UPDATE: For some reason I was thinking the end of the hop was on Sunday. It's not -- it's Monday! So I'll be announcing my winner on Monday as well. That's an extra day to get your chances to win in, and to pass the info on to friends if you'd like. Keep an eye on your e-mail Monday evening for the notification!

Ella

Check out more Home for the Holiday recipes (and more chances to win) at The Romance Troupe Home for the Holidays blog hop list!

Meeting People

RWA Nationals, Atlanta, Georgia, authors, Golden Heart, Rita Awards, Literacy SigningAnd by people, I mean authors, lol. I will be in Atlanta tomorrow for RWA Nationals, and the place will be chockful of authors (and editors, and agents, and...well, you get the idea). I have to admit, the few authors I've met have typically been my local RWA chapter mates. But I have met a couple of my favorite, non-chapter mate authors (and pray I never act that way with readers who come to see me O_o). No, really, for the most part authors are great; like all groups of people, we have our cranky apples, but I have never felt as welcomed as I have at local meetings or book signings when that Deep South hospitality and southern charm get poured on and arms are opened wide. It's an awesome experience, one I can't wait to have with my own readers someday. RWA Nationals, Literacy Signing, authors, Atlanta Georgia

I was once privileged to visit the late Beverly Barton at a local signing. Beverly was a mentor of my sister's, and I stood in the shadow of my twin and listened in awe as they talked like the friends they were, like everyday people with everyday concerns. Beverly joked that she never did a book signing without her husband nearby, and yet somehow, whenever she managed to end up alone at a book signing table, she always attracted the strangest person in the store. Her husband stood behind her during the conversation, silent but smiling and nodding his head. This woman who had written books I had read dozens of times was right there, in front of me, talking away! It was a great moment. A few months later, not long before she died, I gave a short "workshop" on editing at our local meeting, and upon passing me in the hallway, Beverly told me I had done a good job. Wow! Just that one sentence made my day!

Authors have the ability to do that. They can make or break someone's day, their experience at an event, even a reader's experience with that author's next book. I have met a couple of authors whose books I have not picked up since; I have met many whose books I have snatched up at first opportunity afterward, like Annie Solomon. Standing in line with my sister as she waited to speak to Kerrelyn Sparks at the Literacy Signing in Orlando a few years ago, I looked at the seat "next door" and saw the most intriguing book cover I'd ever seen -- a Gothic gate, dark colors, a moody, edgy scene. "Ooh, I wanna read that!" I thought, not even really caring what it was about. I just loved the cover. And being my twin, Dani spoke up and said, "Look at that!" pointing out Annie's book. We snatched it up, reading the back cover, and got even more excited. Annie spoke with us so graciously that night, two readers who knew nothing about her or her writing, that I read her book first when I arrived home from that trip. It was One Deadly Sin, and it was phenomenal. And unbeknownst to me, Annie was a member of a nearby RWA group I later joined, and taught a workshop that helped me finish my problem child manuscript, Take Me. I have never forgotten that moment standing in line, though, speaking to her, and how gracious and kind she was.

I'm thankful I have been able to experience the author/reader meet from the reader's side of the equation, so that when I'm on the author side of that table, I can help make, not break, my readers' day. Meeting people is not easy for me -- being painfully self-conscious most of my life, I tremble and panic at new places, new experiences, and new faces. My editor and agent appointments this Friday at Nationals have me in a bit of a tailspin! But one thing my mama, and now these wonderful authors who have helped me grow into one of them, have taught me is that enthusiasm and genuineness go a long way. I want to be that author, the one that leaves you feeling awesome and inspired and excited.

So, after October, once Dirty Little Secret is out, I hope you get a chance to read it. And I hope I get a chance to meet you. And I hope, somehow, that meeting can make your day a bit brighter, a bit more fun, and your next journey through one of my books a bit more meaningful. :)

The Need for Connection

phone, connection, communication, readers, ella sheridan, romance, romantic suspense, fiction, erotic romance, family, heart, books I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate being bothered. I know, I know, it sounds awful, selfish, self-centered. I love to talk, to know people actually care whether or not I exist, and as someone who is fortunate enough to work from home, I often find myself feeling as if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth and no one really noticed. But still…I hate to be bothered.

When my husband bought me my first (and only) smartphone, I was ecstatic to be able to receive e-mail wherever I was instead of waiting, sometimes hours, to access my account from home and see who needed what (especially important since e-mail is how I receive my day job projects). Then I discovered texting—instant gratification! But the more I used these convenient features, the more I realized people expected me to be available twenty-four/seven. And though I enjoy being in touch with people, I also realized I didn’t like being in touch that much. :)

The other night, while cooking dinner, my teenager was receiving text after text from a friend on her flip phone (and yes, she complains constantly that she doesn’t have something more sophisticated). She was getting more and more frustrated, and I finally asked her what the problem was. She said she hated it that her friends expected her to be instantly available. WOW! We actually agree on something! Which is really odd, because she is a social butterfly, and I am most definitely a homebody.

It seems sometimes that, the more we are connected, the lonelier we are. We expect everyone to be available at the touch of a button, but what we communicate often lacks depth, dimension. A true connection comes not necessarily from quantity but from quality. To feel like others remember I exist, I don’t need a hundred messages about nothing. I need one message that touches my heart. And while my daughter loves multiple messages, if none of them touch her heart, her need for connection isn’t met either.

I hope in some small way I am able to bring that touch of heart to my books. I can books, love, ellasheridan, romance, romantic suspense, fiction, erotic romance, pages, heart, connection, communicationread a hundred books that skim the surface of human emotion and, though they might be fun, I don’t really feel satisfied. But it only takes one book that delves the depths of passion, hunger, pain, joy, and I feel as if my heart has been touched and my need for connection is filled, at least until the next book comes along. ;) That’s the book I want to write. That’s the book I want to give you—a book that is more than fluff; a book that feeds the need for connection.

*Photos by moyan_brenn and katerha.