The Festivities of Fall (+ a giveaway!)

My contemporary romance, Double Dipping, is the story of opposites colliding when a dedicated 2nd grade teacher battles the new financial director to save their school’s much-loved autumn festival. It’s romantic, of course, and (I hope!) a humorous tale, which takes place in a small Midwestern town. There’s a mystery element in it, too, and I greatly enjoyed writing that. (You can read the first 3 chapters online here, if you’d like to take a peek!)

I was very pleased when the book became a finalist for “Best Contemporary Novel” in the 2012 International Digital Awards a few months ago…but what I especially loved about this story was getting to focus on the fall season, which is my favorite time of year. This novel takes place entirely in the autumn and, having been a former 2nd grade teacher, I know there’s a lot of celebratory fun to be had with holidays during the first half of the school year: Johnny Appleseed Day. Columbus Day. Halloween, of course! And Thanksgiving…

The festival I created for the book is called the “Harvest Hoopla,” and it’s a little like a small community’s “Taste of Chicago,” with food vendors from the area offering samplings of some of their specialties (from ice cream to baked goods to unusual autumn veggies), plus family-friendly activities like face painting and pumpkin decorating, and there’s a teller of ghost stories, a caricature artist and a balloon man, too.

As a kid, I have tons of memories from community events like this — the carnival atmosphere, the costumes, the caramel apples… In the Illinois town I live in now, we have a weekly farmers’ market as well, which features delicious things like hot buttered corn on the cob, powdered-sugar-sprinkled “elephant ears” and jars of locally made jams and honey. I don’t always make it downtown in time to go to it but, whenever I do, I never regret it!

This week, my husband stopped at a little place that sold apple cider donuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and he brought one home for each of us. Oh, boy, was it good!! To me, every bite tasted like a little nibble of fall. :razz: And next week I’m meeting one of my friends for coffee and our annual “pumpkin spice lattes” — I’ve been patiently waiting to have my first one of the season with her, LOL. So, I guess, it’s no surprise that one of the big reasons I love the fall so much is because I always crave the foods during this time of year.

In celebration of wonderful, beautiful, delicious fall…I’m giving away a PDF copy of Double Dipping to one commenter on today’s blog (open internationally). I’ll post the winner’s name in the comment section below on Sunday. Please share your thoughts on the season! What are the autumn foods you most crave? And, by the way, do you have a favorite thing to do with apples? Me? I want to learn how to make those apple cider donuts…

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

About Marilyn Brant

Marilyn Brant is a chocolate addict, a music junkie and the USA TODAY bestselling author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and A SUMMER IN EUROPE (2011), all from Kensington Books, as well as a number of light romantic comedies, including THE SWEET TEMPTATIONS COLLECTION (2013) and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH (2013). Her latest novel -- a coming-of-age romantic mystery called THE ROAD TO YOU -- was just released in October 2013!
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21 Responses to The Festivities of Fall (+ a giveaway!)

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Congratulations on the final! Didn’t On Any Given Sundae final in a contest, too?

    Those apple cider donuts sounds lovely. My husband makes a delicious apple pie, so I’ll say apple pie is my favorite.

    • Edie,
      Thank you!! No, “Sundae” didn’t final in a contest, but it did well on Amazon, and I was really grateful for that ;).
      As for apple pie — yum! I really enjoy it, but I know I’d love it even more if my husband baked one for me!!! How wonderful that yours does!

  2. CateS says:

    We tailgate all fall… but coming back to cooking rich meaty red wine stews!! The best with fresh onion-dill bread out of the oven!

    • Cate,
      Tailgating!! How fun…and you’ve got me drolling with the mention of meaty red wine stew and fresh bread :). One of our neighbors down the street made a beef/wine/veggie stew on Halloween night. I remember taking my son out trick-or-treating on a really cold evening but then, when we returned to the neighborhood, she was in her driveway, surrounded by friends and handing out cups of hot stew to the adults walking by, as well as more candy to the kids. It would’ve been delicious anytime, but I especially appreciated it then!!

  3. Misty Evans says:

    Congrats, Marilyn, on the final! Great story and you know how I love books with food in them.

    I just made apple donuts this week. I used a fresh apple since we were out of apple cider and apple juice and they turned out just as moist, although not as apple-y as I wanted. I also made fried apple handpies this week. Super easy and a big hit with the men in my family.

  4. CateS says:

    Here’s a blog site with cider donuts…
    http://tastykitchen.com/blog/

    • Oh, Cate, THANK YOU!!!
      There are *pictures* and step-by-step directions — I love it!! And I love how you can bake them — not that I’ll be saving many calories that way, especially after reading about the glaze (!!), but I’m a little afraid of frying things and (inevitably) burning them.
      I’m getting the ingredients this weekend — and the donut pan, which is so cool! — and making these as soon as possible. :razz:
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

  5. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Marilyn!

    Wow, major congrats on the contest final :) And I adore pumpkin spiced lattes. Or anything pumpkin spiced! When fall hits, I always think of thick rick soups like beef and barley with fresh baked foccacia, wine soaked stews, and baked hams.

    But Misty’s fried apple handpies sound lovely!

    • Dale,
      Thank you!! I’m definitely counting down the days until I get to finally have my pumpkin spice latte ;). I love pumpkin, too — and a friend recently sent me a recipe for pumpkin cake. He’s a good baker, so he told me that he served it warm with a combination of cream cheese and Nutella on top… I almost melted just reading the description!
      And, yeah, breads…stews…meats…and Misty’s apple treats. All = YUM!!

  6. Ohhh! This sounds like the perfect book for the season! I love to pick fresh apples. It is amazing how different and how much better they taste right off the tree! I also love pumpkin bread, apple pie, carmel apples, ohhh, and nice warm soups! I could go on and on. lol.

    • Lori,
      It’s been so long since we’ve been apple picking!! You’re reminding me of how much I used to love it. And, you’re right…the apples do taste the best right off the tree ;).
      Ahhh, the fall is full of too many wonderful foods and activities!!

  7. Congratulations, Marilyn! I loved Double Dipping! :)

    I’m sitting in B&N right now and just had my first ever pumpkin spice latte and oh my gosh, was it good. I’m thinking I might have a second one. And I’ve got two favorites with apples – dipped in caramel and with peanut butter. Happy fall!
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Life Lately

    • Robin, thank you, my dear!!
      I’m envious that you were drinking one of those lattes yesterday, but I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I still have to wait until Tuesday…but I’m getting a HUGE one then ;).
      BTW, I love almost anything covered in caramel (!!), but apples are one of the best. Yum!
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

  8. Amy Atwell says:

    Marilyn, you’ve gotten me so ready for autumn that I think I’ll buy apples this weekend and make an apple cake. Oh, and I saw a chef doing a cooking demonstration last spring, and he made the most incredibly apple strudel. I’m tempted to pull out the recipe sheet from that and try my hand at it. Could be an all-day affair!
    Amy Atwell`s last blog was …Sports As Story

    • Amy,
      Apple strudel!! That — and your apple cake — both sound wonderful!
      I haven’t tasted a homemade version of strudel in a LONG time… I can imagine making it would be a fun but labor-intensive experience :). I tried to make a Viennese pastry one Christmas that took hours (although, granted, I’m pretty slow in the kitchen!), but it was really good.
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

  9. Marilyn, huge congrats on DD’s final!

    I love pampoentert (pumpkin pie — but the crustless, theoretically vegetable side type we make in South Africa). It is still quite sweet but very delicious, and is one of my 7 yo’s favorite dishes.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Visit to Ellenbrook Library, Saturday October 13th

    • Michelle,
      Thank you ;).
      And I love the sound of “pampoentert”!! I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried this type of pumpkin pie, but your description makes me want to! I really need to have someone in the house who loves to cook and is skilled at it (!!), so he/she can make some of these wonderful recipes for me, LOL.
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

  10. Amy Remus says:

    Congrats on the contest, Marilyn! I look forward to reading that book of yours just as soon as I finish your Sundae book. As for fall foods? I don’t bake a lot (because I will eat 80% of what I make and have no willpower), we don’t bake a lot at home so much, but the one candy we HAVE to have around Halloween is candy corn. My kids love it. I do like to have caramel apples at least once (my kids don’t like them – who knows why) and of course pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I hope to make an apple pie one of these days (Although Marie Callender make some pretty good frozen ones), as that is my son’s favorite. Congrats again on the book!

    • Amy,
      Thank you! I really hope you’ll like ‘Sundae’ as well as ‘Dipping’ :).
      And LOL about wanting to eat what you bake — that is my big challenge!! I just love so many different foods…I want to sample them all…multiple times!
      As for apple pie — yum — I really like it (especially warm, with ice cream!), but I’ve never learned how to make a crust from scratch. So, the only version of apple pie I’ve actually made myself has been with a store-bought graham-cracker crust. One of these days I need a lesson on how to do it right ;).
      Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

  11. Can’t believe how FAST this weekend flew by!
    Time for the drawing, and the winner of the PDF copy of Double Dipping goes to… CateS!!
    Congrats! I hope you’ll enjoy it ;).
    And to everyone, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on fall with me. Hope the week ahead is a good one for you all!!
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Food (& More Food) and Fall Fun

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