Allison Winn Scotch's 5 Fall Faves

The Theory of Opposites coverToday's guest: Allison Winn Scotch Why we love her: We've crushed on Allison since we read her novel, Time of My Life and found out these 25 things about her.

Her latest: The Theory of Opposites

The scoop: What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it's taken away?

Willa Chandler-Golden's father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn't entirely convinced of her father's theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups - negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings - but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn't think about it too much, is wonderful. Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: a two-month break. Two months to see if they can't live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she's axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own - dares that run counter to her father's theories of fate, dares that might change everything...but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars.

Our thoughts: This novel was so much fun! Definitely snap up your copy asap!

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll choose the winner on Sunday, November 17th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: Jennifer Garner's Vandalia film has optioned the rights to adapt The Theory of Opposites for the big screen!

Where you can read more about Alison: Her website, Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to check out her recent post over on Writer Unboxed about why she decided to "go indie" with this novel.


Allison Winn Scotch headshot1. Memory

There is something about the scent of fall that reminds me of returning to college. I loved my four years there, though I am certainly aware that I view that time with nostalgic rose-colored glasses. But still. There was always an anticipation, an electricity of returning to campus; of unpacking my J.Crew fisherman sweaters; of hugging friends whom I hadn't seen or spoken to in months (this was before Facebook!); of strolling under the towering trees that lined my school's main walkway and just feeling…invincible. That's what those first few days back at school made me feel. Like this year, anything was possible. So that's a pretty hard memory to beat.

2. Favorite recipe

It's funny – I have never been a cook. I lived in NYC for almost 20 years, and honestly, I never found a reason to prepare anything when I could just as easily pick up amazing gourmet food in, like, five minutes. But we moved to LA last year, and suddenly, with the farmer's market at my doorstep and that sort of holistic-mentality everywhere (which I swore I'd be immune to!), I've learned to embrace cooking. Well, baking actually. I've become that person who bakes muffins for her kids just because, and trust me, it's as shocking to me as it is to them. Anyway, not that we have particularly cold days here in LA, but everything is relative, and when the temperature drops to below 65 (hee), I break out the muffin tin. Here's a lower-fat banana muffin recipe that I got from Cooking Light and have tweaked a bit, that I make a few times a week for their school snack. The recipe is originally for banana bread, and if you did the loaf, you'd bake it for longer…about an hour.

2 cups flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup sugar (I often mix brown and white) 1/4 cup melted butter 2 large eggs 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I use whatever my kids have in the fridge – often, strawberry or banana flavored) 3-4 ripe mashed bananas (I mash mine in my Vitamix) 1 tsp vanilla A bunch of spices – I shake in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and recently, pumpkin pie spice, which is AMAZING – just add in whatever you think sounds great Cooking spray

1.      Preheat oven to 350°. 2.      Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt, stirring with a whisk. 3.      Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into muffin tins coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25-30 mins or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

3. Drink

This one is obvious, right? Does everyone say spiced apple cider? OMG. Yum. There are few things that are more representative of fall to me than hot cider. Okay, that's it. I have to go make myself a mug now.

4. Activity/hobby

Geez. I should say, like, apple picking or jam making or canning or something, should I? Or since I just bragged about my Betty Crocker-like skills, maybe it's pumpkin-pie making? Hmmm. Nope, none of those. Gosh, I'm stumped. One thing that I really do love to do, once the weather dips cooler, but not too cold (though I'm in LA now, who am I kidding), is to start taking longer runs outside. You know, right when the breeze hits that just-right temperature to push you out the door, even when you'd rather pull a blanket over you? Yeah, on those crisp, perfect days, I love to log in a good run. You hate yourself for doing it about 3/4 the way in, but your cheeks turn pink and when you're done, oh my god, you squint up at the sky and just think, "Hell yes." That's the perfect fall day.

5. Writing inspiration

I do always find it easier to write when the wind is breezy and the windows are rattling a little bit. Sort of like a bear in hibernation. You just want to stay inside and wrap yourself up in comfortable clothes and daydream. So I guess my writing inspiration in fall is just…fall. I hate winter, but fall goes down easy, you know? Everything is beautiful; the world is pretty marvelous; and life, until the temperature dips another 20 degrees, is pretty hard to beat.

Thanks, Allison!

Laura Spinella's 5 Fall Faves

Laura Spinella-Perfect Timing-coverOur guest today: Laura Spinella Why we love her: She writes great characters!

Her latest: Perfect Timing

The scoop: What’s a Jersey Girl to do when she moves to Catswallow, Alabama? Isabel Lang finds the answer in an unlikely bond with the musically gifted Aidan Roycroft. The two share everything from a first kiss to startling family secrets. But when Aidan is accused of a violent crime, the two flee to Las Vegas where Isabel’s future comes tumbling down.

Seven years later, the past is buried, including any relationship with Aidan. Isabel is busy running a radio station and closing in on commitment with Nate Potter, a guy who defines ideal. Life seems cozy until new station management demands a sudden-death ratings grabber, putting everyone’s future on the line. What should be a simple solution leads to a stunning revelation as Isabel is forced to call on the past and the only rock star she knows.

Our thoughts: Another winner from Laura--we think you'll love this one!

Giveaway: Two SIGNED copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners after 8am on Sunday, November 11th.

Where to read more about Laura: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Author Laura SpinellaFavorite memory

Hmmm, I guess I’m supposed to say the day my kids were born. I think it makes me a crappy mom if I don’t. But it’s not a favorite. I mean, those are cool memories, (don’t get me wrong, they’re exceptional kids) but it was also painful and messy and I didn’t look so great—really. I liked it much better after they returned the cleaned up babies. I liked it even more after they slept through the night. Realistically, I have a collage of favorite memories: the way the air smells in Bayport, my hometown. It’s on the Great South Bay, so it’s salty with a hint of marsh that’s really not terribly pleasant. Yet, it’s home. The noise on game day in Athens, Georgia—numerous memories are attached to that, not all of them printable. And I suppose, if a favorite memory requires sentiment, holding a fresh out of the box copy of my first novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. There’s a lot to be said for something falling out of your brain and into a tangible book that makes it truly validating.


My favorite would be the one where somebody else prepares it (preferably a 5-star chef) and then somebody else cleans up the mess.


Now we’re talking. I am an admitted wine lover… whore. Is there a difference? We actually belong to the Zagat wine club, so every 14 weeks they send a new case. It’s like a treasure chest delivered to your front door! After blowing through a case or two in less than the suggested14 weeks, I called to ask if we could switch to their 10 week wine club. The befuddled operator’s response? “Ma’am, we don’t have a 10-week club, but perhaps you should look into a 12-step program…”


Wait for it… wait for it… Are you watching me write? We’re you anticipating a different answer?

Writing inspiration

The rolled up sleeves of my OB-GYN’s dress shirt. Now, you may think this visual relates back to favorite item number one, or is simply twisted. It’s neither. It’s more a euphemism for the strikingly ordinary. I’ve always been hyper-tuned and unduly attracted to body language, mannerisms, repetitive phrasing, verbal ticks, clothing, facial expressions, the gait of a stride, etc… In certain instances these everyday things stick in my brain, and from there they begin to form characters.  For me, the character is the anchor and the story unfolds around him or her. In PERFECT TIMING, I had a picture of Aidan Royce, my protagonist, for years before I ever imagined his story. After a while, the other pieces and characters drift in from the edges and take their place.  Then, if I’m lucky, there’s a, “Well, what if…” moment, and we’re off!

Thank you so much to Liz & Lisa for letting me visit with Chick Lit is NOT Dead! It’s blogs like theirs that keep fingers typing and books rolling! Thank you, ladies!          


Kristina Riggle's 5 Fall Faves

The Whole Golden World book coverToday's guest: Kristina Riggle Her latest: The Whole Golden World (Out today!)

The scoop: Seventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti shocks her parents and her community with one simple act: She chooses to stand by the man everyone else believes has exploited her—popular high school teacher TJ Hill. Quietly walking across a crowded courtroom to sit behind TJ, and not beside her parents, she announces herself as the adult she believes herself to be.

But her mother, Dinah, wants justice. Dinah is a fighter, and she believes with all her heart and soul that TJ is a man who took advantage of her daughter. He is a criminal who should be brought to justice, no matter what the cost to his family.

Rain, TJ's wife, is shocked that her handsome, loving, respected husband has been accused of a terrible crime. But has her desperation to start a family closed her eyes to the fault lines in her marriage? And can she face the painful truths about herself and her husband?

Told from the perspectives of these three remarkable women, The Whole Golden World navigates the precarious territory between childhood and adulthood, raising questions about love and manipulation, marriage and motherhood, consent and responsibility. It's a novel both shocking and unforgettable in its power.

Our thoughts: A mesmerizing story, we highly recommend curling up by the fire with this book!

Giveaway: TWO copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, November 10th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: You can read an excerpt of The Whole Golden World!

Where you can read more about Kristina: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Kristina Riggle author photoI love fall! Though, my husband always teases me that I love each season when it’s new. The beginning of winter excites me, too, but don’t ask me about winter come mid-March and I’m still stepping around slush piles up here in Michigan.

At I write this, though, the maple trees are just starting to blush red, and the chill in the air is a welcome balm after all those muggy summer days.

1. Memory

To me, fall means Halloween. Here are a couple of favorite old costume memories…

I borrowed a 1920s-style flapper costume from a girlfriend in high school to wear on Halloween. It was so short (of course! It was a flapper dress!) that my mom insisted I wear shorts under it. I took the shorts off the minute I was out of sight. Sorry, Mom.

My other favorite Halloween memory is borrowing a dance outfit from a different girlfriend, in middle school. She was a real dancer, who took classes and performed and everything. I even borrowed her tap shoes, and went around tap-tap-tapping through the halls in this hot pink, sequined, fringey outfit. It even came with a derby style hat, also sequined. I loved it. People kept asking me to dance, and I’d reply, “If I could dance, it wouldn’t be a costume.”

2. Favorite recipe

I’m not much of  a cook, but I have started a tradition where I bake a treat for my kids on the first day of school. This year, I’d just learned a neat trick for chocolate chip cookies: add some coconut. Not only is it tasty,  but the additional texture makes them come out extra thick and moist. So that’s my tip. Hardly groundbreaking I know, but like I said, I’m not exactly Top Chef fodder here.

3. Drink

Hot apple cider, even better with a bit of caramel in it. When I was pregnant for my second child, I used to stop at the coffee shop after every obstetrician appointment and treat myself to a giant caramel apple cider.

Oh, and Sam Adams Octoberfest. Yum.

4. Activity/hobby

Every year we take our kids to a local apple orchard for cider, donuts and a hay ride, and we’ve had great luck with finding a day to go when the weather is pleasantly cool and the sky is bright. Michigan is just gorgeous in the fall.

5. Writing inspiration

Between my own school memories and now sending my little kids off to school, fall always gives me a renewed sense of industriousness. Sure, summer is great with all the barbecues and vacations and the beach. However, just like how I love having parties -- but I love just as much when they’re over and we’ve cleaned it all up and gotten back to normal -- I appreciate the renewed focus on work. Especially since I love my work, which is writing books for you all to enjoy!

 Thanks, Kristina!


Snarky Mommy's 5 Fall Faves

Over My Dead Potty book coverToday's guest: Snarky Mommy (Amy Sprenger) Her latest: Over My Dead Potty

The scoop: If your potty training checklist includes training pants, flushable wipes, plastic tarps for covering furniture, a stack of US Weekly magazines and a case of wine, then this is the book for you.

The author of "BABY BUMPS: The Almost, Barely, Not-Quite True Story of Pregnancy, Bed Rest and One Bat Shit Crazy Family" and the award-winning blog "Snarky Mommy," Amy Sprenger is sure to have you howling with laughter and cringing in sympathy as she slogs through the toilet training trenches.

From unsuccessfully convincing her six-week-old baby to pee in a toilet to Cloroxing her own excrement-encrusted leg, Sprenger rolls with the punches and takes readers along for the ride.

Our thoughts: Aside from having the best. title. ever., it's one of the most hilarious books we've read in a while. Be prepared to laugh your ass off!

Giveaway: 2 e-copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 12pm PST on Sunday, November

Where you can read more about Snarky Mommy: Her website, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.



Ironically, fall reminds me of my pregnancy with my first baby, Jack. In the beginning of October 2006, I had emergency surgery in the 20th week of my pregnancy to sew my cervix shut. My doctor strapped me to my bed for the next four months and I had only my TV and a window for entertainment. The view from my bed for the entire fall was of the tree across the street and I watched as it turned from green to yellow to orange to brown. I still look out that window from time to time, see that tree and am instantly transported back to the horrible fall full of bad daytime television and our never-ending home reconstruction project. Of course, the horrible fall turned into an amazing winter with the full-term birth of our healthy son. (You can read that whole saga in my first novel, Baby Bumps: The Almost, Barely, Not-Quite-True Story of Pregnancy, Bed Rest and One Batshit Crazy Family. )


Nothing says fall quite like apples and I love making (and consuming) apple crisp. My kids also like making (and consuming) apple crisp, which is cute, but takes twice as long and means three times as much clean up.

Here's the recipe how we make it our house:

10 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup melted butter
2 children fighting over who is able to stand RIGHTNEXT to Mommy on step-stools
1 child prostrate on floor screaming because she got shoved out of the way when trying to stand RIGHTNEXT to Mommy
1 glass wine (red or white) Directions
: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C). Use nice Mommy voice to remind children not everyone can stand RIGHTNEXT to Mommy and everyone will get a chance. Tell 3-year-old she can not touch the oven; tell 5-year-old if she continues to shove her sister off the stool, she will not get to eat any apple crisp; tell 7-year-old to stop touching his sister.
Place the sliced apples in a 9x13 inch pan. Explain to 7-year-old that while you’re sure his knife skills are excellent, you will not be handing paring knives to anyone under the age of 30. Ask 5-year-old through gritted teeth to stop coughing on the pan of apples. Step over 3-year-old, who is still crying on the floor about the injustice of not standing RIGHTNEXT to Mommy. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Try to make sure each child has a turn to put an ingredient in the bowl. Pour water evenly over all ingredients. Pour wine into glass, but do not consume as 3-year-old has to go potty. Admonish the other two sous chefs not to touch anything when 3-year-old insists, “Mommy wipe me!” Physically hold 3-year-old at sink to ensure she washes her hands. Wash your own hands twice for good measure. Return to kitchen and find 5-year-old with her face in the pan of apples “smelling them.” Weigh chances of contamination, but consider them nil after heat of baking.
Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Referee resulting fight after 7-year-old grabs the baking powder out of turn. Consume wine in one gulp, then crumble ingredients evenly over the apple mixture. Consult clock and decide it is definitely not too soon for a second glass of wine. Pour another. Calm hysterical 3-year-old down after she claims injustice in amount of helping allowed. Look up to see 5-year-old leaving the bathroom without washing her hands. Physically lead her to the sink and show her where the  soap is kept, because she has clearly never used this bathroom in her life. Wash own hands again because, eww, you were just in the bathroom and who knows what those kids have touched?
Place pan in oven after screaming, “GET AWAY FROM THE OVEN! I HAVE TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES TO STAY AWAY FROM THE OVEN!” Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes. Consume second glass of wine while listening to children whine, “When will it be ready?” every 15 seconds for 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream to two of three children after one was sent to bed without dessert privileges for punching a sibling in the kidneys. Eat half the pan alone after children have gone to bed.


I recently made the most ridiculously awesome Apple Pie shots for a pub crawl we hosted with friends. The recipe calls for heating a gallon of apple juice and a gallon of apple cider with six cinnamon sticks. Once it reaches a boil, turn off heat and add a bottle of Everclear. Oh yes, Everclear. The whole bottle. We're kicking it college-style up in here. Pour mixture into insulated thermoses and serve as shots. (Please note, when friends ask what is in this toasty deliciousness, smile demurely and claim they're really weak and girly. Your friends will curse you the next morning after consuming multiple shots.)


My favorite fall activity is avoiding the cold. As we live in Chicago, fall goes one of two ways: 80 and sunny or 30 and raining. There is no in between. Last year, I wept with joy one Saturday when I realized my daughter's soccer game was at a field directly next to the parking lot. I sat in the warm car and when she scored a goal, I jumped out and screamed and clapped. After giving her big thumbs up, I got back inside the car. Seriously, there was no reason for us to both stand around in the cold and she was staying warm running around. I sacrificed my nether regions to push this child out, I'm not sacrificing my toes to frostbite in October.


I love to eavesdrop on other people to steal snatches of conversation for works in progress. I'm currently writing my third book, "Yes Mommy" about the month I stopped saying no to my kids. yes, (I am an insane person.) I often write at my local Starbucks and with the weather getting cooler, people spend more time indoors, which results in even more conversations for me to listen in on. Last week I heard one college girl say to another, "He's Czech and Mexcian, so we call him the Czechixan!" if I can't find a way to work that into some upcoming work, I don't deserve to call myself an author.

Thanks, Amy!

Jamie Brenner's (aka Logan Belle) 5 Fall Faves

Now or Nover by Logan BelleOur guest today: Jamie Brenner aka Logan Belle Why we love her: Her writing delights us!

Her latest: The novella Now or Never

The scoop: Claire is looking forward to some romance now that her son is finally off to college. As a devoted single mother she desperately needs to get her groove back and make up for lost time. But a sudden crisis has her wondering if her sex life will be over before she even goes on her first date.

When Claire meets Justin, she cannot understand why the handsome, charming guy who can get any woman he wants is so preoccupied with her and her dilemma. What is wrong with him? And why is he pushing Claire so hard to complete her sexual bucket list?Figuring out Justin and the getting through her ‘now or never’ list of fantasies just might get Claire her real life happily ever after…
Our thoughts: Fun, fun FUN!

Giveaway: Two E-copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, October 20th after 8am PST.

Where to read more about Jamie: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Liz & Lisa present...Jamie Brenner's 5 Fall Faves


Jamie Brenner aka Logan BelleI moved to New York City on Halloween day, 1996. My apartment was in Bank Street in the West Village. I will never forget the energy of the neighborhood that day – the crisp air, the decorations in ever shop window, the police barricades on Sixth Avenue in preparation for the annual parade.  I felt like I’d just landed in the center of the universe. And this time of year always brings me back to that exhilaration.

Favorite recipe

My favorite fall recipe, for the past ten years, has been a very simple pumpkin bread recipe that I got from one of my daughter’s nursery school class cookbook projects. But I’ve recently gone gluten-free, so this year I’m trying something a new recipe from Martha Stewart Living:



  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) ** Martha recommends King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour for this bread.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add pumpkin and buttermilk and beat until just combined.


Transfer batter to pan, smooth top, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour 15 minutes (cover with foil if overbrowning). Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.


At restaurants this time of year, I start switching from wine before dinner to coffee with Bailey’s after dinner.  For daytime, I reward myself after a good writing morning with a Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Starbucks.


I grew up in Philadelphia in a family of rabid Flyers hockey fans. For me, fall is always hockey season. It’s the only professional sport I watch. It took me a long time to be able to root for the Rangers. And when the two teams play each other, I’m still a Flyers girl at heart.

Writing inspiration

dolce copyI love fall/winter fashion. Walking up and down Madison Avenue and seeing all the creative store windows: Chloe, Chanel, Dolce and Gabanna, Michael Kors, Tory Burch. The visual inspiration always triggers stores in my mind about the characters who might wear these dramatic, expensive, gorgeous outfits. (I’ve attached a photo of a pic I snapped outside of Dolce and Gabanna last weekend)



Jennifer Chiaverini's 5 Fall Faves

Best books of 2013, Best paperbacks of 2013Today's guest: Jennifer Chiaverini Why we love her: She is a wonderful storyteller!

Her latest: Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker (Out in paperback September 24th!)

The scoop: New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini’s compelling historical novel unveils the private lives of Abraham and Mary Lincoln through the perspective of the First Lady’s most trusted confidante and friend, her dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley.

In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.

Our thoughts: This book grabbed us from the first page and didn't let go. It's an engaging story that we think you will love!

Giveaway: TWO copies. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners on Sunday, September 29th after 12pm PST.

Fun fact: She's the author of twenty-two novels!

Where you can read more about Jennifer: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Best books of 2013, Best paperbacks of 2013

1. Memory

I have many favorite fall memories, but on this cool Wisconsin morning I think first of one of our family traditions—driving out to a local farm to pick apples and pumpkins. I recall vividly the sweet taste of the fruit, the fragrance of windfall apples on the ground, the buzz of the bees in the sunshine, and the creak of the rusted handle of the red Radio Flyer wagon as I pull my sons through the orchard and pumpkin patch.

2. Favorite recipe

When the weather turns cooler, I crave all things gingerbread. Usually I try to eat healthy, but when I want to indulge, I make a batch of gingerbread muffins:


3 ¾ cups Hodgson Mill 50/50 Whole Wheat & White Flour 1 cup Brown Sugar 1 Tbsp Baking Soda 1 Tbsp Cinnamon 1 Tbsp Nutmeg 1 Tbsp Ground Ginger 1 ½ cups Land O Lakes Light Butter ¾ cup Egg Beaters (or 3 eggs) 1 cup Molasses 1 cup Hot Water 1 11.5 ounce bag Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin cups with paper liners.
  2. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a large bowl.
  3. Place butter in a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave. Stir in Egg Beaters, molasses, and hot water.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix just until ingredients are blended. Stir in white chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. Fill muffin tin cups ⅔ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 30 muffins.

3. Drink

If you want me to be very specific, my favorite drink was bottle of Achaval-Ferrer Quimera 2007 that I enjoyed with my husband and a few traveling companions at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness, Scotland. A marvelous wine shared with good friends in a beautiful setting—what more could I want from a drink? More generally, I like the occasional glass of red wine over dinner, and a strong English Breakfast tea with milk in the morning or on a rainy fall afternoon.

4. Activity/hobby

I love to run. My favorite racing distance is the half marathon, but I'm planning to run my first full marathon in November. I've long considered attempting a full marathon, but I've hesitated out of worry that I'd collapse before crossing the finish line. After the terrible bombing at Boston Marathon earlier this year, however, I resolved to commit myself to a full marathon as a tribute to the courage of those who were killed, injured, or lost loved ones. It's a small act of defiance and solidarity with other runners and those who cheer them on, to show that no one can take away our joy or destroy our community.

5. Writing inspiration

I take inspiration from the many strong, courageous women who have played significant—though often unsung—roles in American history.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Lorraine Zago Rosenthal's 5 Fall Faves

New MoneyOur guest today: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal Why we love her: She's fresh and funny!

Her latest: New Money

The Scoop: Savannah Morgan had high hopes. She dreamed of becoming a writer and escaping her South Carolina town, where snooty debutantes have always looked down on her. But at twenty-four, she's become a frustrated ex-cheerleader who lives with her mother and wonders if rejecting a marriage proposal was a terrible mistake. Then Savannah's world is shaken when she learns the father she never knew is Edward Stone, a billionaire media mogul who has left Savannah his fortune on the condition that she move to Manhattan and work at his global news corporation. Putting aside her mother's disapproval, Savannah plunges into a life of wealth and luxury that is threatened by Edward's other children--the infuriatingly arrogant Ned and his sharp-tongued sister, Caroline, whose joint mission is to get rid of Savannah. She deals with their treachery along with her complicated love life, and she eventually has to decide between Jack, a smooth and charming real estate executive, and Alex, a handsome aspiring writer/actor. Savannah must navigate a thrilling but dangerous city while trying to figure out what kind of man her father truly was.

Our thoughts: This one is a total guilty pleasure!

Giveaway: Two copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win--we'll choose the winners after 8am on September 22nd.

Where to read more about Lorriane: Her website,  and Twitter.


Lorraine Zago Rosenthal - Author PhotoMemory

I have so many great autumn memories! One of my favorites is going to a local fall festival with my husband. The festival takes place annually in a rural area with hills and trees, where vendors sell handmade blankets, pottery, and candles.  We went there on a cool day, the air was filled with the smell of apple and pumpkin pies, and I felt like I was stepping back into a quieter, simpler time where everyone put away their cell phones and just enjoyed the season.

Favorite recipe

I love baking in the fall—especially pies, breads, and anything made with butternut squash. One of the easiest recipes I enjoy during the fall is cornbread. It goes well with so many other comfort foods.


Hot cocoa is perfect for a chilly fall day!


I really enjoy taking a long walk and admiring the beautiful foliage.

Writing inspiration

This ties into my favorite fall activity/hobby—walking outside with lots of quiet time to think usually sparks some good ideas!

Thanks, Lorriane!

Gill Hornby's 5 Fall Faves

thehive-coverOur guest today: Gill Hornby Why we love her: Her writing is sharp and witty!

Her latest: The Hive

The scoop: It's the start of another school year at St. Ambrose. While the children are busy in the classroom, their mothers are learning sharper lessons. Lessons in friendship. Lessons in betrayal. Lessons in the laws of community, the transience of power...and how to get invited to lunch.

Beatrice -- undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fundraising, this year, last year, and, surely, for many to come.

Heather -- desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate to belong.

Georgie -- desperate for a cigarette.

And Rachel -- watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover taht the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.

THE HIVE is a wickedly funny and brilliantly observed story about female friendship, power plays, and the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of trying to do one's part.

Our thoughts: Dubbed the "Mean Girls" for Moms--lots of fun!

Giveaway: TWO copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Sunday Sept 22nd after 8am.

Fun fact: Gill's brother is About a Boy author Nick Hornby.

Where to read more about Gill: Facebook and Twitter.


Gill Hornby, author of THE HIVEMemory

The smell and the feel and the pristine cleanliness of a brand new exercise book on the first day of term of the new school year, and the excitement of writing my name on the cover.


Blackberry and Apple Crumble. We love picking blackberries from the hedges round here, and I always add granola to the crumble topping.


I never drink cocoa at any other time of year, but when the nights first start to get chilly, one feels obliged to indulge.


Long walks. I go on a walking holiday with three girlfriends every fall. The cooler air and bright days make for perfect conditions. We are starting to notch up a quite impressive mileage.

Writing inspiration

The children are back at school after the long and busy summer,  the house is quiet again and I can get back into my study undisturbed - that's the only inspiration I need.

Thanks, Gill!