Friday, April 29, 2016

If you have a cool (or cold) night--this is perfect.

While we're already deep into spring, Mother Nature doesn't seem to have noticed. We had frost earlier this week, which gave me a hankering for some good English comfort food.  I read a bunch of recipes for Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie and US recipes just weren't going to cut it, so I went to the BBC to find 3 different recipes--and all were quite different. I picked one and had to make some adaptations.  (Example:  Finding ground lamb around here was going to be a BIG problem, so I decided to go for Cottage Pie, which uses mince ... er, I mean hamburger.)

Last summer I found a really cool, OLD casserole dish that I knew would be perfect for this dish.
Casserole dish Here're the ingredients:

 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
 1 large onion, finely chopped
 2 medium carrots, diced
 2 stalks celery
 1 cup frozen peas
 1 pound hamburger
 1 tablespoon plain flour
 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
 3 tablespoons tomato puree or sauce
 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
 16 fluid ounces of or beef stock
 salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mashed potatoes
 1½ pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
 ¼ cup milk
 2-3 tablespoons butter
 1 egg yolk
 In a large frying pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and fry the hamburger, stirring, until browned all over. While the meat is frying, break up any lumps with the back of the spoon.  Add the flour and stir. Mix well and add the thyme, Worcestershire sauce and stir. Set aside.

 Boil the potatoes.
 Deglaze the hamburger pan with a little stock. and saute the onions, carrots, celery, and stock. Cook until the onions and carrots are soft.  (About ten minutes).  Add the peas and the tomato sauce.

 Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Add the cooked hamburger to the veggies and bring to a high simmer, adding a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring regularly.  Once it's all heated through, put it in the casserole dish.
For the mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain, add the milk, butter and egg yolk, then mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
 Spread the mashed potatoes on top, smooth over and drag a fork over the top for decoration.
 Put the dish into the oven and cook until the surface is golden-brown. (About 40 minutes.)
 And here's a picture of my dinner.

 Serves 4 good sized portions.  Yum!  Enjoy! (And you just know this recipe is going to end up in one of my books, right?)

 What's your idea of comfort food on a COLD day???

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How I got me a couple of horses

A running gag in the Booktown Mystery series I write (as Lorna Barrett) is that the protagonist, Tricia Miles, is a jinx. She keeps finding dead bodies, and some bad luck, too, and the nickname has stuck.

Could I be a jinx?  Maybe ... I'll tell you why. But first, a little history.

My aunt and uncle are animal people.  For as long as I can remember, they have always adopted pets nobody wants--usually old dogs, cats, and in the past--and present--they have also sponsored retired racehorses. They donate monthly to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.  (You may already feel you know my aunt.  She's become a character in my Booktown Mysteries:  Michele Fowler.)

Having read just about every book Dick Francis wrote about horse racing, the idea of helping retired racing horses fascinated me.  We have a couple of race courses near where I live, and I know that the life of a horse who isn't in the running for the Kentucky Derby can be pretty miserable. That's why I so liked the idea of sponsoring horses who have worked hard and deserve a rest.

I recently got the Cracker Box Palace (Farm Animal Rescue and Sanctuary) newsletter (you can read it here). I've been donating to them for quite a few years now, watching as they started out as a small rescue entity, and growing until now they are able to do a lot more good work. Unfortunately, there are far too many animal cruelty cases in Wayne County, NY, but Cracker Box Palace always steps up and takes as many of the animals as they can. Not only do they have horses, but pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits and often end up taking in cats and dogs, too.

The last newsletter had pictures of a couple of older horses. Tuna and Buddy. When I saw Tuna's picture, it was love at first sight.  His owner had died and he and a bunch of cats and dogs ended up at Cracker Box Palace. I knew when I saw Tuna's picture that I had to sponsor him.  I was feeling flush that day (had just gotten paid my twice-yearly check from my publisher), so I decided to not only sponsor Tuna, but Buddy, too.

Tuna was 24 years old and had a heart murmur. I figured that because he was so old, maybe nobody would want to sponsor him. So I wrote the check and sent it off.  My family's cottage is just a few miles from the farm, so I figured I might buy a big bag of carrots and go visit my horses next month.

But I got a phone call from the director of the farm on Tuesday saying that Tuna had passed away on Saturday, which was a shock to all since he was doing well. He was gaining weight and had just had his hooves trimmed. It broke my heart to hear the news. They have a horsey graveyard and Tuna was buried there.  : ( 

Hearing this news got me to thinking. Am I like Tricia? Was my sponsoring poor Tuna  the kiss of death? (I sure hope not.)

Fortunately, Buddy is doing well, and they will transfer my sponsorship to another horse. His name is Amp and he's a retired racehorse. His windpipe collapsed and he could no longer race. (Horses are a lot more delicate than most people think.) Because of this, he can't "ney!" Cherie said it sounds funny when he tries. I am happy to help Amp have a happy retirement. Too many former race horses end up as horse meat in Japan. (I kid you not!)

So, now my job is to find a place that sells carrots in bulk. I will try to visit my horses next month, and when I do, I'll take pictures and share them with you.

Have you ever thought about sponsoring a horse?  Do you donate to animal rescue sites?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Need an easy appetizer?

I must confess, that I have never eaten a fresh apricot. They just don't seem to be available where I live (or if they, the grocery stores hide them from me), but I have eaten dried apricots.  (Yum!)  And here's a nice recipe you might want to make for a Happy Hour snack. I've included it in my cookbook, RECIPES TO DIE FOR: A Victoria Square Cookbook.

Apricot-file641340001417-smallerBacon-Wrapped Apricots
1 package (14 ounces) dried apricots
½ cup whole almonds
1 pound sliced bacon
¼ cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons salt-reduced soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, Gas Mark 5). Fold each apricot around an almond. Cut bacon strips into thirds. Wrap a strip around each apricot and secure it with a toothpick.  Place on two foil-lined ungreased baking trays. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the bacon is crisp, turning once. In a small saucepan, combine the jelly and soy sauce and cook and stir over low Recipes-To-Die-For-smheat for 5 minutes. Remove apricots from the baking pan and set on paper towels to drain. Serve with the sauce for dipping.

Yield:  Approximately 4 ½ dozen

Do you have a recipe using apricots you'd like to share?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Bet you didn't know I could write one of these ...

It's a fact: 2015 was not a good writing year for me. In fact, it wasn't a good year at all. (The end of 2014 wasn't much better.)  My mother got sick and died. That put a huge crimp in my writing life, and she would have been appalled to know she was the cause. Every day she would ask me: "Did you get your words today?"

So, this year I've been busting my buns to turn that around. So far this year I've finished a couple of writing projects, and I'm currently juggling two others, with two more on the schedule to be finished by year''s end.

What's my latest?  Off Script, which is currently up for pre-order and will be available on May 24th.
This is something I'm not known for writing: a police procedural.

It’s 1979. Before cell phones. Before computers. Before the World Wide Web. LA Detectives Robbie Howard and Danny Wallace solve crimes the old fashioned way, by relentless legwork. Multiple deaths on the lot of a movie studio look like your average murder-suicide. At least that’s what someone wants everyone to think. It takes dogged determination for Howard and Wallace to write off a Hollywood killer.

iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords
Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide

I hope you'll give Robbie and Danny a chance.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Don't miss this terrific giveaway!

To celebrate spring, I’ve teamed up with Storytellers Unlimited and over 35 fantastic mystery authors to give two readers more than 35 cozy mysteries, and a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

 I’m giving away my book . . . With Baited Breath.

Spring INto Mystery WBB graphic

Tori Cannon and her grandfather return from her grandma’s funeral to find a body jammed in one of their derelict motel units. The victim had no enemies except for maybe the rich woman who wants to level his eyesore of a home, a resentful daughter, and friends who were anything but. Tori’s BFF, Kathy, arrives to help spruce up the place and they are soon mixed up in the deadly consequences that murder entails. Can they save the business and find a murderer or will they, too, sleep with the fishes?

 Enter the promotion by clicking here

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happy Book Day to my friends!

It's always a happy day when friends have new books out.

Breach of crust-smBREACH OF CRUST by Ellery Adams
Plate up another slice of Southern magic and mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Lemon Pies and Little White Lies . . .


Ella Mae LeFaye’s delicious pies are still drawing long lines—as well as the attention of Beatrice Burbank, president of the Camellia Club, a philanthropic organization comprised of high-society Southern ladies from the charming and affluent town of Sweet Briar, Georgia. To ensure the success of their centennial dessert cookbook, Bea hires Ella Mae to teach the tasty tricks of her trade to the club’s members at their annual retreat. Eager to work on new recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, Ella Mae readily agrees.

But when Ella Mae finds Bea’s body floating in Lake Havenwood, she wonders what she’s gotten herself mixed up in. Someone certainly wanted Bea to eat humble pie, and the retreat offers no shortage of unsavory characters, including Ella Mae’s longtime nemesis, Loralyn Gaynor. Ella Mae definitely doesn’t need magic to tell her she must find the killer before someone else gets panned.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Breaking for bodies-smBREAKING FOR BODIES by Duffy Brown
Evie Bloomfield puts the pedal to the metal—in the latest Cycle Path mystery from the national bestselling author of Geared for the Grave.

Moving from Los Angeles to small, picturesque Mackinac Island to work in a bike shop might seem crazy, but Evie knows it’s the best decision she’s ever made. That’s not to say she’s gotten rid of all her stress; after all, the upcoming Lilac Festival has everyone in town riding in circles.

But things really go downhill when a ferry full of tourists—including Evie’s friend Fiona’s former boss, the editor of a sleazy rag in LA—arrives on the island. No one knows why Peephole Perry came all the way to Mackinac, but things aren’t looking good for Fiona when Peep is found dead. Now Evie has to gear up and get a grip on the truth if she wants to clear her friend’s name...
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook
Kobo | iBooks

Friday, April 1, 2016

Need a focus group

I'm so lucky to have good friends. My Storytellers Unlimited colleagues, Kelly McClymer and Shirley Hailstock, are just as concerned as me that my Telenia series isn't doing well. First of all, much as I love these books, my usual audience isn't as enamored, so I definitely need to target a different demographic.  (Makes me sad, but it's the truth.)

They think I need to get new covers, and I agree. I'm just not sure where to go.

Shirley is pretty darn talented with Photoshop and did a mock up of the cover. (Of course, if we go with it, the sky would be green and the vegetation would be rust-colored.)

Shirley's mock-up is on the left and the original cover is on the right. What do these covers say to you? If you don't know the background of the books, what do you think is happening? (If you click on the pictures, you'll see them full size.)

I really appreciate your input. Thanks!

Shirley's take on Telenia THRESHOLD-med

Friday, March 25, 2016

Keeping me company

Things are winding down at my mother's house, who passed away eight months ago. (Why does it seem like just last week?)  As her executor, it's up to me to settle the estate.

My Mum was a bit of a pack rat, so there were a LOT of papers, boxes, and closets (you can't believe how many closets that house has) full of stuff to go through. But as I mentioned, it's starting to wind down. I have a few more boxes to pack, one more yard sale to run (in April), and the inside of the house is pretty much done.

It has taken many, MANY hours to get this job done. Since my brother works two jobs, it's been pretty much me.  But I've been kept company by audiobooks.

I love to be read to. Mr. L often starts the day reading the news to me while I get breakfast going and feed cats.  I make green juice for myself, enough for two days, and it's time consuming. At least 20 minutes spent slicing and chopping before the veggies go into the Nutribullet. Often he'll pick a more entertaining story, rather than yet another article on misery somewhere else in the world.  It's nice.

But at my Mother's house (and in my car), I like to hear a more involved story. I'm currently listening to my own book, With Baited Breath, the first full-length novel in my Lotus Bay mystery series.  Why listen to my own stuff? Because I'm trying to figure out the plot to the next book and don't have time to actually READ the book. And Heather Masters did a wonderful job narrating the book.

Sorting and cleaning don't seem so boring when you're listening to a good story.  (Okay, I happen to like my own stories ... that's why I write them.)  I like to listen to audiobooks when I fold laundry, too. Is there any more boring task than folding laundry and pairing socks? (I have enough socks that I only have to wash them every 5-6 weeks...that means it takes a l-o-n-g time to pair them.)

If you like audiobooks, maybe you'd like to listen to mine.  You can check out my website pages under my various names: Lorraine Bartlett, L.L. Bartlett, and Lorna Barrett.

Do you have a favorite audio narrator?  (I may be prejudiced, but I really enjoy listening to just about anything my own narrator, Steven Barnett reads. Just ordered a BIG fantasy novel he read. I'll probably start that tomorrow.)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

When Characters Start Demading They Be Heard

One of the great things about being a hybrid author (with one foot in the traditional world of publishing, and the other firmly planted in the world of indie publishing), is that you can write whatever you want. I'm under contract for the Booktown and Victoria Square Mysteries, but I also have three other series under my (various) names:  the very successful Jeff Resnick Mysteries, the (still wet behind the ears) Lotus Bay Mysteries, and the totally unsuccessful Tales of Telenia adventure/fantasy series.

Why is Telenia unsuccessful? It's not my usual genre. How many of my mystery readers want to read a book about a woman stranded on a strange, misogynist planet, where every day she seems to smack into yet another brick wall? A place with strange and deadly creatures. A place where the food is bad, the people unfriendly, and everything is alien to her.

Last week, my friends Kelly McClymer and Shirley Hailstock and I were talking about the books and why they can't seem to find an audience.  Kelly read my blurb and then asked me how I viewed the series. I pretty much told her what's written in the paragraph above. She said, "But that's not what your blurb conveys."
Here's my blurb for the first book (which is not the first blurb; I've worked it this several times). It tells the story, but doesn't convey Amanda's adventures (like capturing a giant spider, or being taken captive--and her struggles with Prince Paxdon):

Amanda Shelton is clever, adventurous, and tough--and she'll have to be, because she's crash landed on a world where her saviors might well be her enemies. It takes fierce determination to keep the people of this frightening and unfamiliar place from stealing her shuttle technology, or imprisoning her while they do it. Yet what she knows could save countless innocent lives--including those who keep this world safe. Facing this test of spirit will take everything Amanda has...if she survives at all.

Blurb writing is a skill--one I obviously don't possess. I'm contemplating hiring the Blurb Bitch to attack my description to see what she can do with it.

But when it all comes down to it, I'm a writer of characters, and it's my characters that attract my readers. Poor Amanda is alone in this book ... and then she makes a friend. And then another. (Think "Thelma and Louise.")

So what's the point of this blog post?

I've been stalling writing the next adventure because the first two have not sold well. It's been three years since I wrote the second book in the series, Journey.  Even though Threshold and Journey have not sold well, I can't abandon Amanda, Brannan, Dohmas, Wren, and Paxdon any longer. They are DEMANDING that I tell their story. It's all plotted. I've even got the dialog for a number of scenes memorized. (I've been thinking a LOT about this story.)  I have other commitments to write books that actually do sell, but I've decided to take an hour a day and work on Treachery. It's my gift to me.

But I do wish more of my readers would befriend Amanda. She's all alone in a place called Telenia. She could use a few friends. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

It's surreal on National Cereal Day!

Aw, rats. It's National Cereal Day and I had (revolting) green juice for breakfast. What did you have? (My favorite cereal is wither Cheerios or plain corn flakes.)

3-7 Natl Cereal Day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Have you preordered A FATAL CHAPTER?

The paperback edition of A FATAL CHAPTER will be available in just 64 days.  Why not preorder today?

Paperback Availablefor pre-order

While out walking Sarge, her sister’s Bichon frise, Tricia is led by the agitated dog to a man lying in a gazebo. She’s startled when she recognizes Pete Renquist, the president of the Stoneham Historical Society, who appears to be suffering from cardiac arrest. When Pete later dies in the hospital, the discovery of a suspicious bruise and a puncture mark on his arm suggests he may have been murdered. 

Haunted by Pete’s enigmatic last words to her, Tricia begins to consider who had a motive to kill her friend. Did Pete take his flirting too far, only to have a jealous husband teach him a lesson? Or did he discover something in the town’s historical records that his killer wanted kept secret? Tricia is determined to get to the bottom of things before someone else becomes history…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Chapters | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reduced this weekend on KOBO

Just for the weekend (today through Monday) ‪#‎KOBO‬ has a great deal on EYEWITNESS: 30% off. You can find the book here:


Don't have a KOBO reader? Find the free app here:

Monday, February 22, 2016

A surprise in the mail

I went to the mailbox expecting junk mail and bills (and I wasn't wrong) but found a box inside. (Did I mention I have a BIG rural mailbox, and my mailman loves me for it.)  A friend of mine (author Lee Rowan) had sent me a gift.  Isn't it adorable?

Dead In Red Tape dispenser
Waving queen

It's going to sit on my desk in a place of pride ... right next to my waving Queen Elizabeth II.  (A gift from another writer friend.)

Do I have the best friends in the world?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yummy! It's National Bagel Day.

Angelica can make any sandwich you like on a bagel at Booked For Lunch. How would you like YOURS?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Want to win a Kindle Fire and 40 books?

Kindle fireTo celebrate Valentine's Day, I’ve teamed up with Storytellers-Unlimited and over 30 fantastic romance authors to give two readers more than 35 contemporary romances, and a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

What do you need to do?  Just click this link.

I'll be giving away copies of my short story collection, LOVE & MURDER.

What other books are we giving away?  Just look at the picture below!

SU - Valentines Promo Image

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What's Santa reading?

Santa could be reading the Naughty-Nice list ... but I prefer to think he's reading a Booktown Mystery. What do you think he's reading?

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day!

I never had one until this year ... I inherited my Mum's ugly Christmas sweater. Oddly enough ... I don't think it had ever been worn. :

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

Available today!

Out today ... The Jeff Resnick Mystery Collection--at a bargain price, too.

Yup, all six novels (so far) and all the short stories.  (Well, sort of.  Since the stories in Evolution aren't mysteries, they aren't included in this collection.)

They're in order, too.

Murder on the Mind
Dead in Red
When The Spirit Moves You
Room At The Inn
Cheated By Death
Bah! Humbug
Bound By Suggestion
Dark Waters

Get it from Kobo and Nook!  (Coming soon to iBooks!) 

Got a Kindle?  You can use a Free Nook or Kobo app!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's hoping you and yours have a safe, happy day/weekend with family and friends.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

If you need something to celebrate...

A sandwich without a pickle? No way! What kind of sandwich do YOU like with your pickle?

11-14 Nat'l Pickle Day

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Victoria Square Returns!

GOOD NEWS! The next Victoria Square Mystery has a publication date. December 6, 2016. (I'll share more news as I have it!)

This is my concept of what the cover should look like. What do you think?

(Who knows what marketing will come up with. There will probably be a cat on the cover, which will bear no resemblance to the cats in the book.  That's been the trend so far.)

Dummy cover Dead Bath & Beyond

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bring on the cupcakes!

Hey, it's National Vanilla Cupcake Day.  I like vanilla -- it's my favorite flavor, but not the only one.  What other flavor cupcake would you vote to have its own day?

11-10 Nat'l Vanilla Cupcake Day

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lots to Celebrate Today!

LOL -- all Lucy needs now is a BIG cake to celebrate her day.

Meanwhile, the Cozy Chicks are celebrating the publication of our latest group project, Tea Time With The Cozy Chicks at a virtual party on Facebook.

You can find the event by clicking this link.

There'll be prizes, too ... like tea bag holders, teas, and eight lucky attendees will receive a bone china teacup, handmade doily, and silver spoon.  (Here's just one of the cups.  Isn't it beautiful?)

You can get your own copy of Tea Time With The Cozy Chicks from:

Trade Paperback | Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide

Kobo | iBooks | Nook | Smashwords

Monday, October 12, 2015