Deck the Halls with #Books: Maggie’s Starring Role by Emily Mims

Hi Everyone! Happy Holidays! The Deck the Halls multi-author event is drawing to a close soon. Here’s a look at participating author Emily Mim’s contemporary romance, plus check out her dressing and gravy recipe. Be sure to enter the event giveaway, too! Enjoy! xo, Celia

Bewitching Book Tours Deck the Halls with Books Event, December 2 through 20

Title: Maggie’s Starring Role
Series: Durango St. Theatre Series
Number: Book Two
Author: Emily Mims
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Company
Release date: Sept. 23, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-951055-16-5
# or Pages: 198
Word count: 68K
Cover Artist: Boroughs Art Department

It’s all about the money, honey.

Maggie Gutierrez’s job is to keep the Durango Street Theatre afloat financially. In other words, she spends her days sticking her hand in people’s pockets in the hopes of pulling out cash. Well, euphemistically.

The Harrington Foundation grant would go a long way to ensuring the theater’s continued survival, but the administrator of the grant is the guy she used to crush on in a big way, and the last time they saw each other…let’s say things didn’t go so well. As in, he blames her for his father’s death.

Soooo…what’s a girl to do? Anything she can to get that grant, including spending time with him, which takes them down a road that might just lead to a forever neither envisioned.

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Maggie’s Starring Role Excerpt

She settled into her desk chair and Kirby sat down across from her. “So are there any questions I can answer for you?” she asked, cursing the faint flush she could feel on her cheeks. She wasn’t sure if it was from wanting to impress him on the theater’s behalf or Kirby himself.

“No. Not a one.” He leaned forward with an unreadable expression. “Don’t get your hopes up about the grant. The only reason I came today was because the Rileys insisted. I have no intention of letting those people award their grant to the Durango.” She caught a smirk starting to cross his face before he schooled it into impassivity.

The rustling coming from the other office stopped. Maggie willed herself not to look up at the gap at the top of the temporary wall. “May I ask why? Don’t we meet the parameters of the grant?” she asked, feigning confusion.

“Actually, you do. If things were different, I would be happy to see them award the grant to the theater. But with things the way they are, I intend to see that they send the grant another direction. I’m sure you understand.”

Maggie’s heart sank as she looked at him. So the grant was lost because of his antipathy toward her. He really was going to take his anger with her out on the whole theater. Damn him, she thought hotly. He was a prick. Some things never change. The grant might be gone, but he wasn’t going to get away with a stunt like this. She’d be damned if she let him walk out the door with no repercussions. He was going to explain himself to everyone at the Durango and the chips could fall where they may. She had nothing to lose. “No, I’m afraid I don’t understand. If we meet the parameters of the grant, why are you so determined that it go elsewhere?”

“Because of your association with the theater,” he said, his voice calm and his expression cold. “I absolutely refuse to work with you. You are directly responsible for my father’s death and I will not work with you, have anything to do with you, or award the grant to the theater that employs you.”

“So let me be clear. You’re mad at me, so you’re willing to take it out on everyone here at the Durango, despite the wonderful proposal, and even though we meet the parameters and need the money desperately. Do I have that right?”

“I wouldn’t have put it that way, but yes. You have that right.” He leaned forward. “Karma’s a bitch, isn’t she?”

“Oh dear. I am so disappointed.” She leaned forward so that they were barely a foot apart. “Especially since your old friend Josh Goldstein, who’s my boss and the executive director of the theater, assured me you’d be fair despite your feelings toward me. Why, he sat in that office next door, the one he’s sitting in right now eavesdropping on this entire conversation, and said you weren’t the kind to take out your feelings about me on the theater.” She looked up and raised her voice. “Did you hear all that, Josh? Guess you were wrong. He doesn’t plan to play fair.”

“Yes, I heard every damned word,” Josh yelled.

“I did, too,” Rachel shouted from her office two doors down.

“So did I,” a deep voice piped up from the lobby.

Kirby’s face morphed from a vindictive smirk to unmasked horror. “You…you knew they were listening,” he gasped. “You knew they’d hear every word.”

“They needed to.” Maggie regarded him steadily. “You’re breaking faith with the Rileys and you’re breaking faith with us. I told you yesterday we both needed to behave in a professional manner. Instead you decided to use the grant as a weapon to pay me back for something in our past that you hold against me. You’re being unfair to the Durango and you’re being unfair to the Rileys. Somebody needs to know. Hopefully someone who will inform the Rileys of your duplicity.”

Kirby opened his mouth but glanced up and closed it again. He muttered something under his breath as he stood up and yanked the door open, slamming it behind him.

Maggie leaned her elbows on the desk and put her chin in her hands. That had been sneaky, but damn it, Kirby had no right to punish the theater because he was mad at her. They deserved a fair shake, and if that meant getting Kirby in trouble for admitting he was using the grant as a weapon, so be it. She giggled as the sound of raised voices filtered into her office. Good. Josh was giving Kirby a deserved ration of shit. And if she wasn’t mistaken, the voice she’d heard in the lobby was none other than Wade Baxter. The Rileys’ grandson. She smirked even as she rubbed her aching temples.

Yes, Kirby, Karma can be a bitch.


Feature article graphic

Granny Johnson’s Turkey Dressing and Gravy, by Emily Mims

This recipe is a treasured one from my childhood. We would gather at my grandmother’s home on Christmas Eve, nearly forty of us some years, and this would be on the menu every year, along with a big turkey and candied sweet potatoes and everyone’s favorite side dish.One of my proudest accomplishments is learning to make it just like Granny did. The recipe is admittedly complicated, but the end result is more than worth it!

(1) Two pans or baking sheets of homemade biscuits. Any homemade biscuits will work.

(2) Three recipes of buttermilk cornbread below. (Two if just the 6 of you.)

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk or something like ½ and ½ if your bunch doesn’t like buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Heat oil in 10 inch cast iron pan, pie pan, or whatever in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix and make a well in center. Add buttermilk and eggs and pour into skillet or pie pan. Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden. (The time kind of depends on the oven. Just watch and don’t let it burn.)

(3) Dressing itself…

Cornbread and biscuit mixture described below.
10-15 eggs, fewer if 2 recipes, more if 3
1-2 cups onions, fewer if 2 recipes, more if 3
Salt to taste

Rubbed sage to taste–I usually end up using most or all of a jar so buy 2.

Whatever turkey juice collects in the bottom of the pan–I always add water to the bottom of the pan to get more juice. If the turkey juice is loaded with butter, so much the better.

LOTS of chicken broth–I’ve seen the time that, with three recipes, I’ve used almost a gallon of broth. The cornbread and biscuits soak up the fluid like crazy. This may seem like a lot, but that’s what makes it moist and creamy. Too little and it will be dry. Don’t try to do this with the little cans–buy several cartons. Better yet, make your own. I collect chicken parts for several weeks-the skin and bones of breasts or the backs and innards of whole chickens or both and boil them for several hours. It’s way cheaper to make your own. If you do buy the cartons, be careful about the amount of salt you add as those are frequently salty already.

Cuisinart biscuits and cornbread. Mix in a 3 cornbread/2 biscuit ratio by volume until cornbread is gone. (Eat rest of biscuits for breakfast.)
Cut up and boil onions until they are soft and clear.
Add onions and cooking broth.
Add eggs.
Add turkey juice and chicken broth until downright wet and it stirs easily.
Add salt (carefully if using prepared chicken broth) and sage to taste.

(Note–at this point if it grew in the pan and you have a lot more than you think you can use, freeze part of it to bake later.)

Bake in large, deep baking dishes like Corningware or a Dutch oven. (It will dry out in a cake pan.) I usually cover mine so it stays moist.

Cook 1 ½ hours or until set throughout but you can and should stir it occasionally so it cooks evenly and doesn’t get hard along the sides of the pan. If it starts to dry out add more broth.

Please, please cook this separately from the turkey itself. With this many eggs, I worry about it not getting up to temperature in the cavity of the turkey.

I usually make the cornbread and biscuits the day before so they can cool completely before I run them through the Cuisinart.

You will need a HUGE mixing bowl to do this. My mixing bowls are those great big metal ones that are actually wider than my sink. Treat yourself to one if you don’t have one.


  • Innards and neck from turkey
  • ½ cup of flour
  • Two boiled eggs
  • Some turkey broth from turkey if desired
  • Salt

Boil the innards from the turkey in 1 or two cups of water. Keep adding water for an hour or two until you have the goodness from the turkey parts.

Brown the flour in the oven 13-20 minutes until it’s light brown.

When dinner is close, remove the innards and the neck. If desired, chop the liver, gizzard, etc. and return to the broth.
Add the flour and stir until it reaches the consistency you desire.
You can also add a little of the broth from the turkey itself to add a bit more flavor. Add salt but do it carefully as some of the ingredients already have salt in them.
Slice the boiled eggs and add to the gravy.

Note: This can be cut down to one cornbread recipe, one sheet of biscuits, 5 eggs, ¾ cup onion plus whatever broth is needed for a smaller dinner. I made it last night to go with a baked chicken and used the juice from the chicken along with the broth. It was good but did suffer some from not having the actual turkey juices.


About Emily Mims

Emily Mims headshot

Author of nearly forty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write fulltime. The mother of two sons, she and her husband split their time between their home in San Antonio and a second home on Lake Buchanan, and make frequent trips to Tennessee to visit their grandchildren. For fun, she plays the piano, organ and dulcimer, and plays her ukulele and sings in two different performing groups. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”

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Bewitching Book Tours Deck The Halls Holiday Extravaganza Giveaway

Emily Mim’s prize in multi-author giveaway: 1 copy of Maggie’s Starring Role and $10 Amazon gift card

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