It’s Christmas Baking Time!!!!

Christmas is baking time for me.

Years ago, I bought some salted  baked pecans at a store while traveling.  I was instantly in love.   I couldn’t find them anywhere else, at least none that came close to those in a wayside diner/store.

I started experimenting and finally baked something that came close to the pecans that became an obsession.  I started taking them to family events, then moved into baking tins full for individual members  – mostly guys — at Christmas.

The list grew.  Everyone wanted pecans: my extended family, my neighbors, my critique group members, other friends.   I now bake more than forty pounds ever Christmas, two pounds per recipient.   Thank the heavens for Costco  and their endless supply of pecans.

I have it down to a science.   I start three weeks in advance (they keep well).  I try to bake two portions every day.   Each one takes six to seven hours.

I thought I would share the recipe with you today.   It’s simple.   Ingredients are pecans, butter and salt.   The problem is time.   And patience.

I use an  oblong baking pan.   I spread out the pecans about four or five deep and distribute a stick of butter strategically among them.   I bake them at 200 degrees for about twenty minutes, then remove the pan and  distribute the pecans around until they are all coated.   Then I add a  fourth of a stick of butter,  sprinkle the pecans with salt, then put them back into the oven.   I  repeat the process thirty minutes later., I move the pecans around to make sure they are all covered with butter and salt, then reduce the heat to warm for four or five hours..   I  check them every twenty to  thirty minutes to sprinkle a little more salt and  allow the butter and salt to slowly bake into the pecans.   Sometimes I add more butter, sometimes not.  It all depends on the test test.

Did I warn you about the taste test?   The recipe requires frequent tastings to make sure all the pecans are coated and the butter baked into them    Be sure to take note that larger clothes may be required after Christmas.

I’ve now completed — and mailed — ten tins of Christmas pecans.   Only twelve more to go for local folks.

Excuse me, I’m due for another taste test.

Have a great week before Christmas!


A Mighty Good Feeling (Pat)

I just finished shopping for a stranger and wow, did I have a good time!!!!

For years I’ve been wanting to ‘adopt’ a disadvantaged  child from cards hung on Christmas trees stationed in shopping centers.   But I’ve usually been in the throes of deadlines, and when I managed to make my way to a tree, it was too late.  This year, I made sure I was there in time.

I selected an eight-year old who wanted a Baby Doll Alive,  a plain baby doll and stroller and something called Shopkins which completely befuddled me.

I have often bought presents for young ‘uns in my family, but those were individual gifts and usually centered on stuffed dogs and Teddy Bears.  I knew nothing about current trends in juvenile amusement.

But always game, I entered a toy store for one of my very rare visits and asked what in the heck are Shopkins and Baby Doll Alive.   I found myself  surrounded by young mothers buying all sorts of strange things, including cats that had kittens inside them.   I finally flagged down a store clerk who guided me over to a section that contained rows and rows of plastic packages that encased tiny half-people and even tinier objects.   I stared at them with consternation.   What do you do with them? I asked.   He shrugged.

I thought how horrified a parent must be to handle hundreds of very small  objects, but  that wasn’t my problem, and it was on the  ‘wanted’ list.  I tossed a couple of plastic packages in my basket and added the Baby Doll Alive which I discovered does all the things that are usually considered work for a grown up mother.   A baby stroller was added.    I was on my way out when I spied this beautiful stand-up , well-tailored young lady doll.  Into the basket.

Okay.   So much for the toys.   Off to my wonderful Costcos for something more practical like a warm, stylish coat.   But what size?  The card said a children’s Size 12, but the size 12 on the table looked mighty small.   So I accosted every woman in the store for their opinion.   Should I get the 12 or go up a size?   Decisions.   Decisions.   Everyone had a different idea.  I finally decided on the larger one.   Now a scarf. to go with it . . ..

And, of course, a stuffed dog.

I  finally finished with two huge bags.  I learned a lot about today’s trends in children’s toys, and It might be helpful in a new book, but then I suspect this year’s Shopkins will be out of favor.  What mother in her right mind would not declare war against these fiendish tiny objects?

I had a delightful time.  I enjoyed every moment.

And now I can’t wait until next year.

Creating a Character (Pat)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and beginning of the holiday season.

My entry into a merry season is somewhat hating.   Thanksgiving was great, but on Monday I came down with one whopper of a cold, and I’ve been nursing it since.    I take great pride in rarely being sick.   I sometimes even brag about it.   Bad move.   I  evidently challenged those little devil germs and they pounced.

I am surviving but only through gallons of orange juice.    It usually works.   This time, not so much.

But a new book is calling and I can’t deny it any longer. It will be the fifth in the Covenant Falls series.   I always start with one character.    He — or she — usually charges into the mind and soul like a medieval  knight or lady.  It’s only until we become intimately acquainted can I move on to other characters, particularly his — or her –counterpart in the book.

In this case it’s the lady.  She’s Jennifer — Jenny –Talbot, a free lance war reporter who has been wounded while covering the civilian disaster in Syria.     She’s not one to stay still long, even while recovering with her family in Denver.  They are driving her crazy.   Why can’t she be like other women?   Mainly, why doesn’t she marry and have children like her sister?   Why must she roam the world and put herself in danger?

Maybe because she loves it.  She’s never met a man who gave her the same rush as a good news story.  Now she’s stuck for a few months while undergoing therapy     She can’t drive or carry cameras.   But then, while scanning every newspaper she can access, she reads a short story about  a horse therapy program for veterans that’s only a a four-or-five-hour drive away.   She can get there one way or another.    Maybe she can make a story out of that.   Keep her name in print.  She’s certainly acquainted with the trauma many soldiers suffer.    She’s experienced the same flashbacks and nightmares.   The one thing she knows, though, is she is never  going to give up her independence, her lust for the next story wherever it may be.

I instantly understood Jenny.   I’m a former reporter and know the call of a good story and desire for independence.   I can’t wait to go on her journey.

The only problem now is to find a man who can match her.

Maybe I can do it next week.   After another glass of orange juice.  Or a gallon.


Having met so many s.  It’s only a few hundred miles away.    t she sees , carry camerasHaving been a reporter myself, I understand Jennifer     in antoher lifeBut she can’t drive yet and is still undergoing therapy .yShe can’t drive yet but she sees an aarticle in artical aticlean  . women,witbnot oneoRecuperating at h Home to Hopes



Back Again (Pat)

I’m back again after what seems like months rather than weeks.

It’s been a hectic falls.  I finished the fourth in the “Home To Covenant Falls Series” and wrote proposals for several more.   I have fallen in love with Covenant Falls and just can’t seem to leave.

This time I’m telling the story of former SEAL Jubal Pierce who is medically discharged after being imprisoned and tortured by a terrorist group in Africa for two years after a humanitarian mission went bad..    He has lost muscle and bone strength and no longer qualifies as an active SEAL.

He’s at loose ends, not sure where to go or what to do, but he thinks a car trip across the country might help him find a future.  But first he plans to stop for a night or two with old friend, former Chopper Pilot Clint Morgan, in Covenant Falls.   He certainly has no intention of staying longer until he catches a  teenager trying to burn down the dock of a cabin where he’s staying.   He sees himself in the young man and, despite his better judgment, decides to stay a few days to teach the kid a lesson.

Lisa Redding is a doctor who gives up a coveted fellowship in a Chicago  hospital when her teenage brother is arrested for drug possession.   Their mother died a year earlier which sent her brother and sister in a downward cycle..   She’s their guardian and realizes  she cannot  look after them if she accepts the hospital position.    Her brother is embittered both because she wasn’t  at home when needed and, as a doctor, she should have been able to save their mother.    The supervising doctor at the hospital suggests she accepts a one year position in Covenant Falls, filling in for the town doctor who has suffered a heart attack.   He will try to restore the fellowship the following year.

She has never lived in a small town.   She’s a big city girl and so are her siblings.   They’re not happy at all with the move, and neither is she.   But  Covenant Falls has a way of embracing its new residents, even if she is suspicious of another newcomer’s interest in her son, particularly one who has spent his adult life engaged in war and violence.

It was a fun story to write, full of emotion on the parts of both Lisa and Jubal.   He has no one and  doesn’t want anyone, and yet he is drawn into the warm circle of Covenant Falls. A pinto horse,  assisting in the birth of a foal,  a troubled teenager  and  a testy lady doc make it increasingly difficult to leave.   And Lisa?  Is she ready to give up her lifelong dream of being a pediatric surgeon for a burned out warrior?.

The book will be out  the first of February and can be purchased in advance at Amazon.   I hope you will love Jubal as much as I do.

Have a great week!

Speaking (Pat)

A friend this past week asked me to fill in as a speaker to a church women’s group.    She was responsible for obtaining speakers and her scheduled speaker the next day had called to cancel because of illness.   She asked if I could do it on short notice.

She’s a good friend and a fellow bridge player, and I said, sure, I could.    I enjoy talking to groups  and have plenty of great statistics and info about romance writing.   No problem.

The next morning, I gathered up some old speeches and a few extra copies of books to give away as door prizes and trotted off to the meeting.   When I arrived, I noticed that at least a third of the group were senior men who, I think, expected to hear something about senior finances or health.   The last thing they wanted to hear, I suspected,  was the pleasures of romance novels although I have made believers out of the guys in my family.

Mental switch.   What could I do to interest them as well as their wives?   I went to the historical and current oddities I’ve found in doing research for various novels.   I’ve always loved to find unusual facts to plant in my books, whether they be historical or contemporary.

A few instances:

In researching a historical built around Francis Marion, the true swamp fox of the American Revolution (the movie, “The Patriot” was based on him), I discovered that he was a plantation owner, a  fifty-year-old bachelor, who gave up everything to recruit a militia band that lived in the South Carolina swamps and raided the British by day. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.

He is credited  in large part with  winning the war in the south.    I found a diary of a militia member who rode with him who reported that  Francis Marion drank a cup of vinegar every day and urged his men to do the same.   They did not, and he was one of the rare militia men who did not get malaria.    The acidity leaked through the skin pores and repelled insects.   Not sure whether he knew the science of it, but he knew it worked and vinegar  is probably healthier than some of the insect repellents we use today.   In researching that same book, I found an account of an American patriot imprisoned on a British prison ship plagued with small pox who self-inoculated himself by sticking a pin in a small pox sore of a fellow prisoner, then sticking himself with the pin.  He was one of the few prisoners to survive.   It was years later that small pox vaccination was discovered.

Another search for a  romantic suspense book turned up unexpected tax haven for hiding funds.  One of the most popular is not in the Caribbean but on Guernsey Island, one of the British Channel Islands.    It seems an unlikely place for such activity, but the island  is controlled by no government other than its own, and this particular source of income provides a fine living for its citizens.    Another great trivia question.

I love finding all these little tidbits. And the group did as well.

Then one of the men asked how to start a book.   He had been wanting to write a family history.

I told him about a family  history authored by my uncle.  A lot of it concerned homesteading  in Arizona and is treasured by by every member of my extended family.   I added that it  would be one of the greatest gifts he could give his family and descendants.

But where to begin, he asked.

I  gave him the answer I give fiction authors.   Start at a point when everything changed for the family.   In my family’s case, it was the meeting of my grandfather and grandmother.   in a store in Arkansas.

Truman Capote once said that everyone who survives puberty has a story to tell.   I hope some of the audience Thursday were inspired to write their stories.

I had planned twenty minutes but questions carried it for an additional twenty minutes.   And it was fun.   Really fun.   Sometimes improvising — rather than following a speech — works.

Fascinating — and courageous — Women (Pat)

I was tidying up my office after the marathon finishing process of my next book (The SEAL’s Return) and in the process stumbled upon a news article and a bound remembrance of women who composed the WASPs during World War II.

I acquired them during a reunion of WASPs that I covered for the Atlanta Journal many years ago.   I was fascinated by their tales,  their intelligence, their daring,  I always intended to write a book about them but publishers were not interested in World War II at that time.

I wonder now that the fact that Kristine Hannah’s World War II novel,The Nightingale,  has stayed on the New York Times  Bestseller List for more than a year  might have changed the belief that World War II books do not sell.   The Nightingale, by the way, is one of my favorite books, and Kristine is one of my favorite authors as well as a very nice person.

“We’re one of the best kept secrets of World War II,” said one former WASP at the reunion in Atlanta.  She was one of 1,101 women who became civilian pilots during World War II, freeing male fliers for overseas duty.   They flight tested  new planes (more than a few were killed in doing so), transported soldiers and cargo, delivered planes to Europe and towed targets.  Thirty eight were killed.  They made $50 less that their male counterparts (a  big difference at the time) and  wore army issued mechanic’s overalls for daily wear — nothing smaller than a size 44.   The women called them “Zoot suits” and had to roll up the bottoms and cinch the waists.

Some were already pilots.   Others had never flown before.   Many of them said the reason they volunteering  was that their husbands or other loved ones were fighting overseas.  They went through the same six months training program as the men, completing ground school, basic flight training and advanced flight training.  But they never received any benefits and until this year were not allowed burial in Arlington Cemetery even if killed on duty.

In addition to the shortage of male pilots, there was another reason for the creation of the WASPS.  Putting women in the cockpit of the Super Fortress was done to shame male aviators who feared the plane that killed one test pilot, according to one source.

One officer at a base where two WASPS delivered a Fortress noted that the pilots were “two luscious femmes,” adding that flying the bomber was “quite a job for two delicate dishes of femininity.”   He went on to say that perhaps” they should take  some of our supermen for a ride and show them how to get off the ground with speed and dispatch.”

By the end of 1944, the pilot shortage was over.   That put many civilian male pilots at risk of being drafted into the ground troops  – unless they could get the women pilots’ jobs.

At that time, Congress was considering a bill that would have militarized the WASPS so the male pilots launched a massive anti-WASP campaign.  The lobby succeeded and the bill failed.    The WASPs were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944.  It would be more than three decades before women were allowed to fly military aircraft for the United States.

They, along with a number of very successful women spies, were among the unsung heroes of World War II. .   They should not be forgottenen.

The Book Is Done/Pat

Ah, happiness!.

I have finally finished the very last stage of “Jubal’s Return,” the fourth in the Covenant Falls series. It will be released in February.

It’s a bit different than the other soldier and dog themes in the Covenant Falls series. This time it’s Jubal and a horse, and I hope you love the ending because it is going to lead to more Covenant Falls book.

Jubal’s always going to be one of my favorite heroes. A former SEAL no longer physically fit due to injuries, he’s lost his very identity. He has no idea where he wants to go or what he wants to do until he meets a troubled teenager, a new doctor in town and a horse name Jacko.

This last stage of the editing process  was my third and final chance to improve the book.. I gave it a read-over after finishing the raw product, another after finishing revisions from my editor, and then a third reviewing any changes she might make.

This very last stage involves reviewing the copy editor’s changes and it was my last chance to make the book better. I found myself spending an hour or more on a paragraph. Then I panic when I add up in my head the time I’ll spend on succeeding paragraphs and know I can never make it as perfect as I want it to be. Next step in this process is paranoia. For loss of an improved sentence, it’s going to be a terrible book. My career is over, etc., etc.

Because of the limited time to review this copy edited stage of the book, I missed the famous Countrywood Garage Sale. I’ve blogged about it before. It’s a mammoth neighborhood garage sale of some 600 homes plus businesses and area churches. It draws approximately 25,000 people from as many as seven states. I was sitting inside at the computer when hoards of people were enjoying a nice fall day.

It’s usually great fun, and I always have heroic ambitions. I’m going to get rid of at least twenty of my more than 3,000 books. Twenty is an admirable goal for me since I admit to being a book hoarder. I almost made that goal of twenty last year, but since then I’ve  probably added  another hundred.

Wwll, maybe next year.

And now I’m off to clean up my house which has been neglected in the frantic dash toward the book’s end and I might even step outside for a breath of fall air.


Please Excuse My Absence/Pat

So sorry I’ve been absent the past two weeks, but they have been harrowing ones..

Two sick dogs and revisions that had to be done in record time took over my life.   I’ve missed every social commitment, read not even one page of any of my books in waiting.   I’ve had as many as  six  veterinarian  visits during this time and  one medical appointment of my own (poison ivy).

Katy, my Australian Shepherd, has slipped disc problems in her back.  The only thing that seems to help her move are steroids.   She also has Cushings disease and the medicine for that nullifies the steroids and vice versa.   It’s been a balancing act and visits to three different vets to find an answer.   Haven’t found a permanent solution yet, but we’rel doing a balancing act between steroids and the Cushings medication.

Then Little Guy, my newly adopted elderly poodle, had voiding problems   Off to the vet only to hear there was a mass and she needed a biopsy.  I waiting for results now.and in the meatime she’s in misery.

In the midst of this, I received  revisions on my last book and they had to be finished in four days while nursing two dogs.  Usually I do a lot of rewriting at this stage, but I didn’t have time.  But I sent them back on Wednesday, then received  the copy editor changes Friday, and they have to be  reviewed and back Monday.   Fortunately  they are   few but still time consuming.

Between animal health and finishing touches on the manuscript, I’ve had precious little sleep so please excuse any typos..

The new book is the fourth in the Covenant Falls Series.  It’s been officially titled ” The SEAL’s Return” and will be available in February.    My editor has told me Harlequin  wants more books in the series about returning veterans and the animals — and loves  –who help them heal.   Thus far I’ve featured a chopper pilot, a battlefield surgical nurse, and an Army Ranger.   As the title indicates, my current hero is a SEAL who finds healing with the town’s new doctor and her troubled brother.

In preparing for the book, I did a lot of research on  SEALs, and my admiration for them is greater then ever.

Now off to take care of my dogs.

Have a great weekend.



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Taking A Short Rest (Pat)

Hi all!

Just finishing the fourth Covenant Falls book and taking a breather before starting the next.   I’m catching up on email, on publicity, on family stuff and on sleep and I’m thinking about the next Covenant Falls story.

The new book now has a name.   It’s a “A SEAL’s Return” and will be published in February.   It’s the story of Navy SEAL Jubal Pierce  and Dr. Lisa Redding, a Chicago doctor who leaves a fellowship in Chicago to help heal her sister and troubled teenage brother after their mother’s death..  I might add that I’ve learned a lot more about SEALs during the writing and have an even greater appreciation for them.

And this time it’s a horse and a foal who  helps my veteran heal.

Jubal is one of my favorite heroes and I hope you’ll love him as much as I do.

I was delighted when one of my romantic suspense books was featured in Bookbub.  It was number one in romantic suspense on Amazon that day and stayed high on the list for the rest of the week.   If you enjoy romantic suspense or western or Scottish romances, you might check with Amazon/Patricia Potter from time to time because there are often specials.

If you don’t subscribe to Bookbub, you might try it.  It’s free and features four or five books daily in categories you specify for prices ranging from free to $2.99.  You will find old favorites as well as newly published  authors.   Just go to Bookbub and sign up.

My Katy, my Australian Shepherd, is ailing.  In addition to operations on both her rear legs, for acl tears, she now has an added back problem, and I’ve been  spending the last few days babying her.   I’m going down now to do just that.

Have a great weekend.

Pinterest Again And Other Matters (Pat)

Sorry to be late again this morning but I had dog problems again.   My twelve year old Katy is having back and knee problems.   She’s had operations on both her rear legs for a torn ACL  and now has a disc problem in her back, probably because of the first two .   Arthritis is the villain here.   She’s been on steroids and had just completed the course when, last night, she couldn’t stand.

However when I took her to the vet, she marched in like a soldier, just to make me look bad after an emergency call.

The vet is hopeful that another more steroids will do the trick, but I’m babying her.

Inbetween nursing her, I’m trying to finish revisions on the book in progress.  It’s hard to do when I’m running down the stairs every ten minutes  to check on Katy.  However, I’m really enjoying polishing Jubal’s story.    He’s an ex Navy Seal.   My heroine is the new doctor in Covenant Falls, and they don’t have much in common.   In truth there is a wariness between them when he becomes close to her wayward son.

Covenant Falls is full of helpful animals.   This time it’s a  particular Buckskin Quarter horse named Jacko and a Pinto foal that helps the healing process for both Jubal and Dr. Lisa Redding.

Hope you drop over to Amazon and check out my backlist.   More than forty books are now available in ebook form.  There’s something for everyone: western, Scottish and, American Revolution historical romance, Romantic Suspense and now my modern day Covenant Falls series.   Check it often and you’ll find some good bargains that come and go..

Have a great week everyone.