Hello, all you lovely people, and welcome to the blog! I probably should explain the discrepancy between the name in the blog title and the name on the website itself — I write speculative romance (SF/fantasy/paranormal) as Nicola Cameron, but in 2020 I started writing contemporary romance as Natasha M. Stark. My very first contemporary holiday romance, One Sweet Christmas, is the story of an unemployed personal assistant traveling to LA who gets stranded in a Colorado ski town when her car breaks down. She gets talking into helping the local hot baker make an emergency wedding cake for an influencer Bridezilla––and hijinks ensue!
One Sweet Christmas was an absolute ball to write as it combined three of my favorite things––romance, banter, and baking. I can neither confirm nor deny that this story was influenced by The Great British Bakeoff, but I do enjoy baking assorted treats like mince pies and fruitcake, which leads me to my family holiday tradition. When I was a kid, my mother used to make a Polish fried cookie called Chrusciki (angel wings) every Christmas, and watching her making them was almost as good as eating them.
This was before the advent of silicone baking sheets, so she would spread a clean sheet over the kitchen counter to get a smooth surface, scatter it with flour, then roll out paper-thin sections of dough before slicing them into rectangles and cutting a slit down the center of the long side.
One end would get pulled through the slit to form a kind of dough bow tie, before going into hot oil and puffing up into a delicious, crispy cookie. The final touch was sprinkling them with powdered sugar (this had to be done while they were still hot and slightly oily so that the sugar would stick). You couldn’t wear anything nice when you ate Chrusciki because you’d get powdered sugar over everything, but we didn’t care because they were so yummy.
If you also love baking and want to take a crack at making these delicious cookies, Jenny Can Cook has a really good recipe that produces authentic Chrusciki. Just don’t wear anything that has to be dry cleaned when you nom them.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, and I hope you had a good (and safe) holiday this year! Before you go, I’d like to remind you of the Rafflecopter giveaway being held by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven. Everyone who enters has a chance at winning one of the following:
- $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
- $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
- $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
- $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
- $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card
Direct Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775087
The giveaway is open internationally and runs December 1 – 31, and a drawing will be held on January 4, 2021. Click the link above to enter, and good luck!
Yeah, well, it’s out. BUT — since it’s a contemporary romance, I’ve released it under the Natasha M. Stark name (it’s a marketing decision — people who liked To My Muse and Grading the Curve don’t necessarily want to read my SF/fantasy/paranormal romance, so I’m giving them their own pseud for my contemporary romance).
One Sweet Christmas is the tale of jaded PA Rose Shaffer who does NOT believe in Hallmark moments or small town romance, thank you very much. After her Chicago socialite employer dies, she gets an offer of a free room for a month in LA while she looks for work in the Land of Personal Assistants. On her way there, however, her car breaks down near the ski town of Crystal Mountain, CO, where she meets Eric Kaufman, Hot Baker and former contestant on Let’s Bake, America! (at least, until he wound up punching the male judge and storming off the show).
Eric’s been asked to make a wedding cake for an IG influencer on short notice. When his assistant breaks both arms in a skiing accident, Rose gets roped in to help Eric finish the cake. Needless to say, hijinks ensue after that, and a ridiculously cute niece, a crafty dad, and a somewhat plaster-covered assistant baker add to the fun. (As my editor said, “Damn you, I couldn’t put it down!”)
This, by the way, is going to be the highlight of my week since Ramón and I are doing the reasonable thing and staying home for Thanksgiving. I’ll miss making my oven-roasted Brussels sprouts for the editor and her family, but in this time of COVID-19 it’s not worth the risk. We’ve managed to make it through eight months of staying home except for store trips and medical visits, and we’re both still okay so far — I’d like to continue that run until a vaccine is available.
I’m trying to keep busy by tackling various cleaning projects and finishing this Christmas romance novella that I started two years ago. I’m already at 17,400 out of a projected 24K so it’ll be done by the end of the week if I get a good tail wind.
And why am I working on this and not Cross Current, you ask? It’s this little thing called the US presidential election that’s yeah, kinda cutting into my concentration. It’s easier to write about a bantering PA and baker than it is to write about a newly-divorced history teacher coming to terms with the fact that he not only has four fated mates but is the new Oracle of the Waters.
Mind you, I haven’t stopped working on Cross Current at all, and once things are settled on the whole “who’s going to be running the country for the next four years” question I’ll go back to it. But this delay means that I probably won’t be able to get it out on 11/24 unless a miracle occurs, and I really do need to get one title out this month. So One Sweet Christmas it is.
So why do I care about getting a title out this month? Because the changes I’ve been making to my approach to indie publishing are starting to show fruit. From January through August of this year I made about $30 a month on Amazon sales, which frankly is pretty crappy. I implemented my changes in September (got serious about Amazon ads, made a plan to release at least one title a month, bumped up all my series starters from 99¢ to $1.99) and made a little over $150, then made $218 in October. My sales goal this month is $300, and I just checked my Amazon royalties — I’ve already cleared $31, the amount I was making per month from January to August, and it’s only November 4th. If I can get One Sweet Christmas out over the weekend, I can take advantage of the holiday romance boom, as well as appeal to anyone who’s burnt out after this week and just needs a pleasant, funny holiday romcom.
Then it’s back to work on Olympic Cove. Soon, my preciouses, soon…