Pretend Princess to be re-released as Book One of Cordillera Royals

In adding new material to Pretend Princess, I found out interesting things about Morocco. It is illegal to carry an Arabic Bible or give out Christian literature. Women do not shake hands and must dress by covering arms, legs, and chest to avoid being considered “available.” Below is the new cover for Pretend Princess to be re-released in July as the first book in my new series, Cordillera Royals.

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What to Avoid for Living Happily Ever After (which all couples finally do in my novels)

During a Bible Study Session I attended, the subject of divorce came up. One member volunteered to check statistics on the reasons couples divorce.  This is what she found:

Today’s Reasons for Divorce

  • 57%       Too much conflict and arguing
  • 41% Getting married too young
  • 31% Financial problems
  • 36% Substance abuse
  • 25% Domestic violence
  • 12% Health problems
  • 13% Lack of support from family
  • 13% Little or no premarital education and religious differences

In a class on marriage I taught when I worked in a federal prison, I came up with ten tips for couples to handle disagreements. At the end of class, I presented each resident with a wooden plaque with these tips. I have also made decoupage plaques with these rules for wedding presents.

Couples Rules for Fighting Fair

  1. Decide what you are fighting about.
  2. Stay on the subject.
  3. Don’t bring up mistakes made a long time ago.
  4. Tell it like it is, and don’t pass the buck.
  5. Tell how you honestly feel about things.
  6. Get involved in the discussion. Listen to each other.
  7. Don’t run the other down or criticize his or her ability to do his or her job.
  8. Don’t call each other nasty names.
  9. Don’t hit each other.
  10. Don’t hit below the belt by criticizing the other’s sensitive spots.
  11. Think of different ways to solve the problem that can satisfy both of you.
  12. Say you’re sorry and make up.



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A Busy Colorful Weekend

Mother’s Day Weekend kept me busy. On Friday I helped give out food at my church, which hosted the Tarrant County Food Bank Mobile Pantry. I gave out pistachio nuts, walnuts, and rice, which I haven’t cooked lately, because I’m trying to live on a low-carb diet. However, I have a good recipe which has only a small amount of potato in one serving. The recipe also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. See below for Oven Roasted Veggies.

Then I took a walk and saw what might have been a dragonfly during a metamorphose cycle. If anyone knows what I really saw, I’d like to know about it.



Sunday I was taken by my daughters to dinner at Asian King Buffet and then to a Lanterns in the Garden Tour in the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. This set of eighteen exhibits was developed to show a sample of Chinese Garden Festivals, which have been held for thousands of years. The illuminated figures represented animals and flowers as big or bigger than  life size, including Panda Bears, Mustangs, Alligators, Fish, Sunflowers, and fanciful flower shapes.




Oven Roasted Veggies (Use smaller amounts of crumbs and margarine if only using                                                                       broccoli and cauliflower)

3 cups cauliflower                                                                                                                                    3 cups broccoli                                                                                                                                         2 -8 Tbs. melted margarine                                                                                                              1/3- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use my chicken crumb mix – 1/3 cup crumbs, 3T                        parmesan cheese, 1 tsp. Lowry’s seasoned salt, and ½ tsp. pepper)                          1 cup baby carrots, cut in half                                                                                                              4 -5 small red potatoes, cut in quarters                                                                                             2 tsp. marjoram                                                                                                                                      2 tsp. rosemary                                                                                                                                          1 ½ tsp. thyme                                                                                                                                       4-6 Tbs. olive oil


Melt the oleo and pour over veggies. Stir in crumbs. Roast at 450 degrees 15-20 minutes. If using carrots and potatoes, cook 30-35 minutes or until veggies are fork-tender. Pour olive oil in large bowl. Add herbs, then pour in veggies. Stir well and serve.  8-12 servings. Can reheat once in microwave. If you leave out carrots and potatoes, use half of the herbs and olive oil.

Nutrients         Whole recipe               Broccoli and Cauliflower only

Calories           251                               64                                                                                            Fat                   13 (if using 8 T oleo)   5                                                                          Cholesterol      13                                13                                                                        Carbohydrates 23                                4                                                                                      Sodium            160                             64


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A Weekend Oasis

I went to a writer’s retreat and reaped relaxation, friendship, a new princess plot, and plenty of writing. Joining fourteen romance writers at a hideaway in the country amidst rolling country, trees, and wildflowers refreshed my spirit and encouraged me to plunge ahead into writing a fourth sequel to Pretend Princess, which is due to be re-released on June 25th after some rewriting to tame an arrogant prince just a tad and add another adventure.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoor
Here am I on the left, writing away with other members of Dallas Area Romance Authors.

When Crown Prince Lawrence Santiago sees Tricia Parker at the opera, he mistakes her for his missing cousin, Princess Alyssa, and then hires Tricia to stand in for Alyssa to avoid a scandal. Unaccustomed to dealing with royalty, sociology graduate student Tricia soon realizes she is out of her element.

Pretend Princess will be followed in July by Royal Wedding Scoop, where reporter Danielle Dawson falls for Prince Lawrence’s handsome cousin, Armando Santiago, another member of the Cordillera Royals, and  helps him rescue Tricia’s kidnapped sisters.

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Ragtime and Jazz Kept MSU Campus Jamming

Music at this annual festival sponsored by MSU (that’s Mississippi State University, not Michigan State University, my alma mater) resounded from the auditorium walls. Concert artists played compositions from Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin, as well as other composers, including some of the artists performing.

Musicians used piano, drums, clarinet, and even a twelve-inch piccolo trumpet to create melodious sounds during two March evening concerts. Performers came from California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Michigan, and Mississippi.

I was impressed by the drummer, Hal Smith, who’d practiced with some pianists, but sometimes cocked his ears to listen to a different pianist for a few minutes, then created his own routine to accompany the artist.

Dave Bennett, who’s been compared to Benny Goodman, played a staid accompaniment to pianists on the clarinet, although you could see his knee and shoulders moving in time with the music. But then, he took to the piano to play “A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On,” by Jerry Lee Lewis, and gyrated all around the piano bench.





Martin Spitznagel, tired of being asked to play Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” demonstrated how it could be played in waltz time and and other variations. After reading about these musicians in the program, I realized ragtime and jazz are still played all over the country.

Now, that I’m back in Texas, I am getting ready to launch my revised and expanded version of Pretend Princess, which will become the first book in my new series, The Cordillera Royals. The next book will be Royal Wedding Scoop, featuring reporter, Danielle Dawson, who enjoys her favorite treat, chocolate filled croissants, but finds it hard to believe a prince might choose her over all the beauties he has dated.

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Wow. A chance to see part of a coral reef. I couldn’t wait. I was attending the Fun in the Sun Cruise Conference, sponsored by the Florida Romance Writers as a speaker.

I’d prepared my speech on How to Write More and Faster, so the only thing I was nervous about was using the snorkel mask. Keeping up with my roommates on the long walk down the main hall to reach classes made me breathe a little harder–I have high blood pressure in my lungs–but as soon as I reached the classroom and caught my breath, I was fine. I’d swum across a lake and gone snorkeling about ten years ago, so I should be able to handle this.

I made the long trek along the dock from the ship to the meeting place in Cozumel and slathered on sun screen along with others waiting to go. With my camera, hat, and towel, I followed others onto the boat and sat while we cruised the shoreline. The water rippled in patches of blue, green, and aqua as we passed a canal and a large hotel.

I listened to the instructions for the mask and put on the flippers. Breathing with the mask took getting used to. I had to remember to breathe through my mouth and not my nose.  Walking with those huge flippers was tricky, but I followed other swimmers to the edge of the boat and jumped off.

Cozumel shoreline

Carolyn on snorkeling boat

After surfacing, I swam about twenty yards toward the swimmers. I’d put my mask on when I reached them, but I was getting tired already. Suddenly, I remembered the last time I swam in a pool. I’d have to stop and rest after doing each lap. Now, it dawned on me. I was out of shape and not able to handle this. Damn. I was not going to see any coral reef. I turned and headed back toward the boat. One of the guides showed up beside me with a life-preserver ring, which I held on to conserve my strength as I swam back to the boat.  All the black dots you see in the water in front of the hotel are swimmers’ heads.

Once on board, I relinquished my mask and flippers. I sat in the boat and watched the bobbing heads of the crowd of swimmers as they looked at the reef. After they  returned to the boat, I asked a boy what he’d seen. He said he’d watched a lot of fish swimming.

After returning to the cruise ship, I had several consolations. Dinners with fellow writers were delicious, and my speech went fine. I learned a lot from the classes on marketing and received a request for two chapters of my novel, Double Jeopardy, from an agent. Best of all, I was able to visit my brother and his wife at their home in Jensen Beach and see his pictures of fish and coral he’d taken while deep sea diving.

Now, I’m back to polishing my chapters and finalizing the versions of the three novels I am republishing as a serial. The Royals of Cordillera will include Royal Pretender, Royal Wedding Scoop, and Holiday with a Royal. I have received preliminary covers for all three and will soon release Royal Pretender with Royal Wedding Scoop coming a month later.

The first book in the Cordillera Royals Series.


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German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

My writer’s group was having a dessert potluck. Now I could bake a cake to bring, because baking a cake for just me and my husband will not help us stay on our diets. However, things did not go smoothly. First, the spray I used to grease the pans came out in blobs. Hopefully, they would smooth out with batter being poured into the pans. Not only did it not spread out smoothly, but it made the finished cake look mottled in places. Thank goodness, I could frost the cake to cover that up.

After reading the notes I had written on the recipe card, I made sure to leave the margarine in big chunks, so the egg yolks would heat slowly and not curdle. Sometimes, when I’d made this frosting, it had turned out so runny I had to chill it in the refrigerator before it got thick enough to spread without running over the edges.

I kept the heat on medium, so the frosting would cook slowly and thicken. It did thicken, but when I beat it, I realized I must have cooked it too long, for now it was too thick to spread. I added a little water, but apparently I added too much because I had to cook the frosting longer to get it thick again.

Finally, when it was close to the right consistency, I began to spread it on the cake.  I should not have skimped on the coconut to avoid a trip to the store, because there was barely enough to cover the layers. With about forty writers bringing brownies, cookies, and refrigerator desserts, to the potluck, there was a lot to choose from. However, the cake was popular with the writers, so I only brought home half a cake.

Directions for Frosting

Combine 1 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup margarine, cut in chunks. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1  1/3 cups flaked coconut and 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts).  Beat until thick enough to frost cake. If still runny, chill in the refrigerator. Makes 2  1/2 cups.

Then I had to figure out what to do with the three left over egg whites. I could add them to scrambled eggs for breakfast for my husband, but he vetoed that. I put them in the refrigerator and delved into one of my cookbooks called, The Other Half of the Egg.

I finally settled on adding another egg white and making meringue shells to fill with strawberries. Using a mixer, I whipped the 4 egg whites until foamy and added sugar, two tablespoons at a time, until I had added a full cup. Then I beat it until it was shiny and stood in peaks. On a large cookie sheet, I placed parchment paper (can use waxed paper or the clean inside of a cut paper bag spread out). I also made the edges raised.                                                                               

I spread the meringue in two circles about seven inches in diameter and baked in an oven preheated to 200 for 2 3/4 hours. I let them cool in the oven. Later, I spread 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries mixed with 2 Tbs. sugar and 4 pkgs. Sweet ‘n Low and covered them with Cool Whip (can use whipped cream instead) on each  layer. Then I stacked the second layer on top. However, to cut serving pieces, I had to use a serrated knife and cut very gently. As my husband said, “Yummy.” Maybe next time I’ll serve one layer at a time.  Sometimes, the meringue will weep, and you’ll need to sop up the liquid with a paper towel.



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