Monday, December 3, 2018

An Old Italian Holiday Recipe--Honey Balls--and an Old New York Romance



Can an Italian sweatshop worker and an Irish cop fall in love on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1894? The answer is a big YES, and once they’re enjoying wedded bliss in their Greenwich Village brownstone, they spend their first Christmas together feasting on her Strufoli! (Italian for honey balls).

In FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET it's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. They know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. 

Purchase FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET on Amazon


Here’s Vita’s Honey Balls recipe:

When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or recipes along with their possessions. A favorite Christmas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here's an accurate recipe in English!

Ingredients
Dough:
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Directions

For dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a small ball the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour, shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. 

Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small balls and fried as above).
In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan for 2 minutes.

Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a spoon or damp hands, arrange struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape. Drizzle remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours (can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered sugar.

Remove the glass from the center of the platter and serve.

Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool before using. 

Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Monday, November 26, 2018

Romantic Historical Thriller SHARING HAMILTON is Free for Kindle This Week

SHARING HAMILTON, my romantic thriller co-authored with popular British mystery novelist Brian Porter, is free for Kindle this week.




Thanks, readers, for your stellar reviews. 

5 out of 5 stars A really good read. Berk Rourke: Verified Purchase

Being a history student by my initial education, and loving historical novels, this was a must read, never mind one of the co-authors, Brian L. Porter is one of my favorite authors. This tale, as one might expect with the description of a clandestine affair, especially one with such an historical figure, was a bit slow moving. The back story of a murderous doctor added a spice of a different kind as well and made one wonder whether the main ingenue would meet her fate at the hands of the notorious Doctor Severus Black. The story was very well written and the characters were presented as though they were real, and in fact they were. I thoroughly enjoyed this, my first essay into the world of Diana Rubino.

Worldwide Amazon Purchase Link

Monday, November 19, 2018

THE END OF CAMELOT, My Historical Romance Set Around the Assassination of President Kennedy--55 Years Ago November 22


The End of Camelot by Diana Rubino
November 22, 1963, a day that changed America forever. Who killed President Kennedy?

I've been a HUGE JFK assassination buff since that very day. Everyone who was alive on November 22, 1963 knew exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. I was in my first grade classroom. The teacher got a call on the classroom phone and told us ‘the president was shot.’ A collective gasp went around the room. I was 6 years old and in first grade. It was ten years before I saw the footage of Ruby shooting Oswald, on an anniversary documentary. 

          But it was my grandmother who got me interested in the biggest mystery since 'who killed the princes in the Tower?' (I'm a Ricardian; that's for another post).  She got me embroiled right along with her. 

          She listened to all the radio talk shows (those who lived in the New York area might remember Long John Nebel, on WOR, WNBC, and WMCA, all on AM radio (FM was really 'out there' at that time).

          She recorded all the radio talk shows. She bought whatever books came out over the years, along with the Warren Commission Report, which I couldn't lift at the time, it was so heavy. But my interest never waned in the 51 years that followed.

          In 2000, I began the third book of my New York Saga, set in 1963. The heroine is Vikki McGlory Ward, daughter of Billy McGlory, hero of the second book, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, set during Prohibition. This was my opportunity to write a novel showcasing all my current theories, and continue the saga. It took a minimum of research, since I remember all the 60's brands, (Bosco, Yum Berry, Mr. Bubble...), the fashions, the songs, and I even included a scene set on that unforgettable night when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964.

About THE END OF CAMELOT     


The third in the New York Saga, The End of Camelot centers on Billy McGlory’s daughter Vikki, whose husband is murdered trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vikki uses her detective skills to trace the conspiracy, from New York to New Orleans to Dallas, and at the same time, tricks her husband’s murderer into a confession. A romance with her bodyguard makes her life complete.
November 22, 1963: The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband. With the help of her father and godfather, she sets out to uncover the truth.
Aldobrandi Po , the bodyguard hired to protect Vikki, falls in love with her almost as soon as he sets eyes on her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they ever hope to find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?


Excerpt:

It was New Year’s Eve, they were alone, and he was harmless. So far. So she took the necessary two paces over to him and placed the honey ball between his custom-made choppers.
He closed his eyes, and she watched him savoring the sweetness. She didn’t dare say another word as she ran her index finger over a glob of cream on the cannoli plate, raised it to her lips and licked. “Mmmm,” she voiced, wishing she hadn’t.
Their eyes met and locked. Faster than lightning, they came together like magnets. Their lips met, sweet and sticky and hot. She didn’t want him to stop, but her inner voice screamed how wrong it was—It’s forbidden!—echoing the nuns in Saint Gustina’s. She shooed it away like an annoying fly. Leave me alone, I’m not a kid anymore. Her arms circled his neck, and his hands slid down to the curve of her back. Dare she move in closer, pelvis to pelvis, an unthinkable act three seconds ago? Her body was betraying her, betraying Jack, taking on a will of its own as she crushed herself to him. The kiss intensified. She tasted cannoli, and her fogged mind told her he’d been sampling them all day. She breathed in his cologne, so foreign it repelled her, so new it aroused her even further. Her tiara slipped off her head. She caught it just as he pulled away.
He held her at arm’s length as in a tango. “Oh, cara mia,” he growled—and if he said another word in Italian, she knew she’d explode. A passion long dormant stirred inside her.

My favorite passage from the book:

Billy came down the stairs for a nightcap and glanced into the living room. He noticed the glow in the fireplace, Vikki’s eyeglasses and the anisette bottle on the table. The couch faced the other way, but nobody was sitting on it. “Where’d they go?” Then he realized they hadn’t gone anywhere—and they were on the couch, but not sitting. Before he got out of their way, he placed a long-playing record on the phonograph. Jackie Gleason’s “For Lovers Only.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Teaser From ELIZA JUMEL BURR, VICE QUEEN OF AMERICA


ELIZA JUMEL BURR, VICE QUEEN OF AMERICA




Abandoned at childhood, Betsy Bowen finds out she’s George Washington’s daughter and escapes the streets of Providence to become Eliza Jumel Burr, New York’s richest woman. She pursued Aaron Burr, the love of her life, for decades and he finally proposed when he was 80 and she was 56. She divorced him on adultery charges, and he died two days after being served the papers. Who was her lawyer? Alexander Hamilton, Jr., the son of the man Burr killed in the famous 1804 duel.  
Eliza believed George Washington was her father. Nine months before she was born, her mother spent one night with the general and became pregnant. Eliza’s many attempts to reach her father gained her an invitation to Mount Vernon weeks before his death.

She met the love of her life, Aaron Burr, at President Washington’s inauguration. While Aaron was in the capital serving as a senator, Eliza met wealthy wine merchant Stephen Jumel, and faked her own death to get Stephen to marry her. When Stephen fell from a cart and died in Eliza’s arms, she was brought up on murder charges, which were dismissed. Aaron proposed to her and she became Mrs. Burr, her lifelong wish.





Eliza Jumel Burr

****
From Eliza Jumel Burr, Vice Queen of the United States:

July 11, 1804, a day I’ll never forget, a Wednesday, I rose early from fitful sleep. Two of my servants huddled in the kitchen, murmuring instead of cooking. They held the newspaper wide open.
When I walked in, they froze as if turned to stone, and held the paper out to me.
“What is it?” Without fresh coffee I was half-awake. But seeing the paper, I trembled. My mouth dried up. “Oh, no …” I hid my eyes with my hands, I couldn’t bear to look.
“M-Miss Eliza …” Mary stammered. “Vice President Burr shot General Hamilton in a duel.”
Too weak to stand, I grabbed a chair and sank into it. “He … shot Hamilton?” My head spun, dizzy with relief. But I still didn’t know about Aaron. “Is he all right? The vice president?”
“We don’t know, ma’am. It just says General Hamilton was mortally wounded.”
Without another word, I ran down the hall, threw open the front door, not closing it behind me, and raced to Gold Street in the gathering morning heat. Humidity soaked my clothes. I mopped sweat from my face.
I banged on his door. No answer. “Aaron, open the door, it’s me, please, we need to talk!” I banged again. Echoes answered me. He’d fled. But where? When would I see my beloved again?
Hamilton died the next day, and the city fell to its knees in mourning.
The tolling church bells and muffled drumbeats echoed through the sweltering city air.
****
   I saw Mrs Hamilton on Broad Way, head to toe in widow’s weeds. I wanted to approach her and offer my condolences, but she knew I was intimate with the vice president, so I kept my distance. Their country home, The Grange, was not far from the Morris mansion I planned to buy. We’d be neighbors someday.





Friday, November 2, 2018

For Aspiring Authors: Never Give Up--My Lesson in Persistence

A Lesson In Persistence

My story will inspire you to push on, if nothing else will. I'm probably the longest aspiring author to finally get published. My journey took 18 years. I wrote my first novel in 1982. Although my third or fourth novels came close to getting published with Harlequin, they didn't quite make it. My first published novel was actually the ninth one I'd written. Although I now have a great agent with whom I signed with her two years ago, I had 2 agents before becoming published: one retired; the other gave up. So I made my sales on my own.

I'd like to tell any aspiring authors who are frustrated because it's taking them 3, 4, 5 or more years to get that first contract, remember: I wrote for 18 years before getting the call so never give up!

My Backstory

I thought the way to publication would be to write short stories and get recognition that way, but my former journalism prof told me to forget that, and write a novel. The idea scared me to death, but he sent me titles of a bunch of how-to books, and I hunkered down and began. I quit my full time job, a bold move, and started the first draft of my first novel in 1981, at age 24.

Although I wrote and worked hard for many years, toward the very end, a year before my publication, I'd begun to realize publication wasn't my destiny, so I chose another endeavor. I started studying for a master's degree in archaeology.

Writing = Inventory

Because I kept writing through all those years of rejection, I've amassed quite an inventory. I love American history, so I've written a few books set in the U.S. – Colonial, Civil War, turn of the century, Prohibition, and the early 1960s. I've also written a few paranormals – ghost novels and time travels. My latest work is a chick lit vampire romance set on an Italian cruise ship. (I'd love to write a biography of Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City, who was very good friends with my great grandmother in the 1930s. If only she'd kept a journal!)

Internet Intervened

I wouldn't be published if it wasn't for the internet. I met many great authors and made some wonderful friends at RWA and RT conferences, and I also increased my confidence to great levels at the editor/agent appointments.

Networking on the Internet helped me achieve my goal of publication. That's where I met my publisher, through Lisa Hamilton, another author I'd met on the CompuServe Romance Forum.

What I Learned

What surprised me most about the publishing business is that it's very hard to be recognized. You really have to work on promotion as well as writing. I've read many differing opinions on this, but I do believe you should promote as much as time allows, without taking away writing time. I have a website, a mailing list, and attend as many signings and conferences as possible.

But you have to be realistic; it's not easy to shoot up to #1. I'd had delusions of being on talk shows and seeing my name on the NYT bestseller lists after my first novel.

My Process

I take a year to finish a book, between research and writing. I've never had a deadline from a publisher, but I'd once sent an agent the first 3 chapters of my vampire romance. He said he'd like to see the entire ms., so I wrote ,5000 words a day til it was finished. He later rejected it. Oh, well. But at least I know I'm capable of turning out 5,000 words a day. My usual output is 2,500 words a day.

My Writing Advice

I never feel as if I have enough information to convey at a workshop, but I can tell aspiring authors this:

1. make the opening a grabber

2. make the characters compelling and interesting

3. make the reader care about the characters so they'll keep reading

4. make the novel well-structured so it doesn't have a sagging middle or pacing problems

5. make the stakes high and not easily achieved

6. make the secondary characters real, not mere cardboard

7. humor always helps.


My Last Advice

Keep believing, and keep the faith! And of course, keep writing, because you'll only get better. And never give up on your dream!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

For Halloween, Book Quote Wednesday's Word is FRIGHT

For Book Quote Wednesday, the word is FRIGHT. 

From ONEY, MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY:


“Ona, you are in no position to refuse recapture. I shall return with orders to bring you and your child by force.” With a disdainful glance round my home, Mr. Basset's beady eyes narrowed. “Do not dare defy me, girl.” He spat out that last disparaging threat with a turn of his heel as he stomped out. 


Eyes wide in sleepless fright, I dreaded President Washington's vicious nephew’s return with an army of slave-catchers to drag me and my child from my home, never again to see my beloved husband. 


getbook.at/OneyJudge





Monday, October 29, 2018

Congratulations Red Sox 2018 World Series Champions!

Huzzah! Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox - 2018 World Series Champions! 
(Paul Revere is a Sox fan) 
Good times never seemed so good.
#LoveThatDirtyWater #DamageDone 

⚾️🏆🎉