Friday, August 12, 2016

Life is like a cupcake ...

Foodie fridayThere's something very charming and special about pulling the paper cup off a muffin or a cupcake. I always feel a little thrill of anticipation, especially if the cupcake is delightfully decorated.

You can take just about every cake recipe on the planet and make it into a cupcake (or fairy cake, as they call them in the UK--and doesn't that sound enchanting. Wouldn't you just LOVE to eat a fairy cake? Makes you think of fireflies and magic, doesn't it?).

All you have to do is bake the cupcakes at the same temperature called for in the cake recipe, but reduce the baking time by 1/3 to 1/2 the cake's timing (usually 15-20 minutes). Insert a  toothpick in the center of the cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.

Here's my favorite spice cake recipe. Why not turn it into cupcakes?

Spice cupcakesIngredients
¼ cup (115 grams) butter or ½ cup (1dL) shortening
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (1 dL) dark-brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
½ cup (1 dL) milk
½ cup (1 dL) molasses
2 ¼ cup (315 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, Gas Mark 4). Grease or put paper cups in muffin tins. Cream the butter or shortening and slowly add the two sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the milk and molasses, beating thoroughly. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the wet mixture, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese or butter cream frosting. Also tastes great with Maple or Caramel frosting.

Did you notice I'm putting ingredients into grams? I would like my recipes to work for readers and friends around the world. Is this helpful? Let me know -- because I'm working on two new cookbooks and want to make them as reader friendly as possible.

And remember ...

Live life one cupcake at a time

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A new member of the family

My sister-in-law and her husband lost their 18-year-old cat, Molly, last week. Sisti (as she calls herself) wasn't sure if she should even GET another cat because she worried it might outlive her. But her husband said, "Let's do it." And so here's my nephew, Dickens. Isn't he just adorable??? He's just 8 weeks old and has already stolen all our hearts.

Dickenns

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Have I lost the art of conversation?

A writers life is a lonely one. I work. A lot. Therefore, I don't have a lot of social time. I haven't spoken to my neighbor Amy in a week. The only people I really see are Mr. L and my brother. I've gone on several writing retreats this summer where I've just stayed in the house and not gone anywhere or spoken to anyone (except on the phone to Mr. L and my brother). My two local girlfriends both work day jobs. Not a lot of time for socializing. (I think it's been two years since we got together. Mostly we chat on Facebook.)

Mr. L goes out to lunch once a month with the guys he used to work with. (I worked with some of them, too.) Mind you, they'e been meeting for OVER TWENTY YEARS. When he comes home, I badger him. Who was there? What did you talk about? Mr. L clams up. "I didn't record the conversations."



If it weren't for the Internet, I don't know what I'd do. I'm lucky that I get to "talk" (okay, type) to the Chicks, to my BFF Jennifer, and many of my readers (mostly on Facebook), many of whom have become friends.  (Hi, Amy, Linda, Pam, Geneva, and all the ladies and gents from Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party.)

Dalog balloonsAnd then there's my Thursday morning meetings. (Except we didn't have one yesterday--we had to reschedule for today.) I also belong to another author group known as Storytellers Unlimited. Every week the three of us do a Google Hangout (which is like Skype) and we talk, face-to-face, about BUSINESS.

I can't tell you how much I look forward to these meetings because I get to TALK to someone other than my cats, husband, and brother. We usually meet for about two hours, and talk about our work, and what we'd like to accomplish as a group. One of the ideas we're currently tossing around is holding an event--a luncheon in Western New York for cozy readers. (Doesn't that sound like fun!) You'd think it would be easy to plan such an event. Um...not so much. Inviting 100 friends for lunch is as big an event as putting on a wedding reception. Are we crazy to think about doing this? Maybe. (And be sure to let me know if you think this could be a fun event.)

There are all sorts of things to think about. Table decorations. Door prizes. The menu. The venue! Round tables of eight, or round tables of ten? Transportation. Will we need a microphone?  Should we have a keynote speaker? What time of the year should we hold it? Can we find some volunteers to help stuff the goody bags? Should we hold a pizza party the night before for those coming from out of town? Yes--lots of decisions.

So, will we talk about that or our upcoming Winter Magic anthology? (We're on pins and needles waiting to see our cover.) Maybe we'll talk about Shirley's new car (which she picked up yesterday and why we had to reschedule our meeting). Maybe we'll talk about Kelly's cutie-pie granddaughter (she's babysitting her for the summer). Whatever we talk about--it'll be FUN.

The Cozy Chicks will be having a meeting at the end of the month. I'm really looking forward to that, too. We had such fun the last time we did it in January. I'm counting the days.

Do you ever feel the need for conversation?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fill a bag with fun!

This summer has been a bust when it comes to junking. Sometimes we only find one or two yard sales. : (

Grocery bagThings didn't look hopeful when Mr. L announced there was only one sale; a bag sale at the local fire hall.  They were weeding out the accumulated donations (and boy, where there a LOT of them) for their upcoming auction. The bag sale items were in boxes laid out on benches--maybe 100 or more boxes, and a couple of tables worth of stuff. Inside their rec hall was "the good stuff."  The local grocery store donated a huge stack of paper bags, and it was every woman for herself!

Unlike most bag sales (which are usually a buck or two to fill a bag), this one had a tier system. $5 for the first hour, $4 for the next, and so on and so on. Five seemed a bit steep, but it didn't take me long to find some pretty cool stuff. Okay, I got some things like junky earrings (who ever heard of smores earrings?) that came with a pierced earring holder, a beautiful handmade Christmas tree skirt (who in their right mind would part with that?), and some jigsaw puzzles, but they weren't the prizes.

First up, I found a couple of Haeger swan vases. Aren't they cute? I already have a couple of swan vases with the same kind of silky glaze, so when I saw these, I knew I had to have them. Like many of the items in the sale, these were donated by an antiques dealer and still had the price on them: $15.

IMG_2127

I'm always on the lookout for bone china teacups to give as prizes on my Facebook group page (Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party -- you can join if you'd like!) I was lucky and found three beauties.
This first one still had the dealers tag on it for $18. It's marked Hammersly, part of the Spode group. I love the shape of the cup. I don't think I have one like that--but I do have a lot of cups with roses on them, so this will be part of my catch-and-release program for one of my lucky readers.

IMG_2134

This one is Royal Darwood and features the flowers associated with the Canadian Provinces. What you can see on the left side of the cup is the Prairie Crocus from Manitoba and in the center is the Prarie Lily from Saskatchewan.

Canadian flowers by province

This one is Royal Vale made by Ridgway Potteries Ltd.

Dark pink roses

Then I came to the animal section ... I am an absolute SUCKER for animal figurines. (Really, I have to fight it.) Here's a donkey who got separated from his manger. (He's about ten times bigger in this picture than in real life.)

Donkey

I saw this little guy and grabbed it fast. It's not for me, but my neighbor, Ian, who is 7 years old. He's nutso-bananas for seals. He knows a lot more about seals than anybody else I know and he wants to be a marine biologist. I think he's going to make it, too. He's a wonderful little boy who is very generous with his hugs.

Seal

My mother-in-law had three ducks that looked like this (only nicer). When she went into the nursing home, my sister in law got them (as she should have), But now I have a duck that will remind me of my MIL. (Mr. L, too -- because those ducks were around since he was a kid.)

Duck

Look at this gorgeous glass compote. Honestly, do I EVER use anything like this? Not usually, but -- when I went to the public market, I bought bananas. Guess  where they will end up? Yes! in this compote with a mountain of Redi wip on the top. (I've got too much on my plate to make homemade whipped cream.)  I appreciate glassware a lot more since I read about Susan Branch's collection. (Someone gave her a banana holder as a wedding gift, and that got her started.)

IMG_2138

This hand-painted sugar and creamer has a German company on the bottom. Will have to get our my magnifying glass so I can read the name and research them. They're not bone china, but they are pretty.

Sugar and creamer

I got three of these ... ornamental thingys. I have no idea where they're going (yet), probably over a door, but I'll figure it out eventually.  They're not old, as they're made of resin, but they look old.

Ornament

And that was it. (Who could have thought you could GET this much stuff in a paper shopping bag?) As I paid the fireman, he said, "Now wasn't that worth $5?" I had to admit, he was right. Then he said, "Why not come back later?"  I figured no way -- I mean, I'd already been through all the boxes, right?

Wrong.  Mr. L took me to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants just down the road and on the way home, we stopped at the fire hall once again. By then (about 4 hours later) the boxes really had been emptied, and because the stuff had all been just shoved in, a lot of pretty things (some of them quite old) had been broken. But ... I still managed to find some more treasures.

I saw this Made In Japan couple the first time through and figured somebody would scoop them up. Nope. I looked carefully to make sure they hadn't been broken, and miraculously, they were still in pristine condition--not even a chip on them. They're going to live in my office at our cottage. Just think of how much joy they will have perpetually dancing away the hours while I work on my books and look out at the water when my muse deserts me.

Figurines

This little etched glass is the sole survivor from a liqueur set. I don't think you could get more than a couple of tiny sips out of it. It stands about 2 inches high. I've tried to imagine my characters drinking out of it -- Angelica could pull it off, as could Katie or Kathy. (Anissa would NOT have the patience.)

Cordial glass


 I found another cup and saucer, but it's not bone china: it's ironstone. But as one of my FB friends said, she isn't a cup snob and I can't think of anybody who wouldn't want to drink tea out of this pretty cup.

Ironestone floral

There's no hallmark on the back of this sandwich plate, but I could see myself eating a piece of the zucchini bread I made (and froze) last week on it. What would you serve from it?

Dish

And because Mr. L and I are eating a lot of fresh salad (growing my own lettuce and herbs this summer), and it seems like we use less dishes so the dishwasher isn't running as often. So having another salad bowl would be handy. It's not old, but it is pretty. We already used it and made a BIG salad. Yum!

Salad bowl

To fill up the bag, I tossed in all the lonely doilies, linen napkins, and hand-embroidered dresser scarfs that nobody wanted.  I can't bear to think of the work that went into them being tossed away. It's a very sad thing that very few people today value the work that goes into hand-crafted items. That's why I still have a garage filled with things my Mum and Dad made because I can't sell them for pennies on the dollar.

Look at the sweet daffodil someone embroidered. And even more impressive is the lace/crochet/tatting (?) surround.

Close up daff
So that was my junking for the week (and probably the best of the year). I hope you liked the pictures. What do you look for when you junk?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Feed your ereader with A Final Gift

Here's my blurb for A Final Gift, which is available today. (YAY!)

A Final Gift-smWill anything heal the pain of a grieving daughter? When a trip meant to be a gift of a weekend trip together turns into a painful solo journey, can the magic of Blythe Cove Manor help heal Jenny Taylor's soul?

It occurs to me that this blurb sounds rather morbid. I should probably work on it more, since it seems like people are turned off by it.  While there are poignant moments, there're some quite amusing bits, and a happy ending. (Well, I think so.)

Perhaps after reading this post, you'll give Jenny Taylor (and of course, Blythe Cove Manor) another chance.

You can get it on all ebook formats:

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide

Kobo | iBooks | Nook | Smashwords

Friday, August 5, 2016

Meet Edgar!

I finally found a way to get on Twitter and make it work for me.  It's an application called Meet Edgar (MeetEdgar.com), For a monthly fee, I can schedule up to 1000 different tweets. Since I like to post graphics with my tweets, it's taken me several months to approach 600 tweets, but I'm getting there. It was pretty time-consuming to set up so many, but it's like a revolving door. I've scheduled them to post throughout the day and night while I'm busy doing other things. I have say 50-60 tweets per category and hope to put up more as I think of them.

I post as all my author names, plus for the Cozy Chicks, which has proven to give me a lot more visibility. Win-Win situation. And because of Meet Edgar, I've seen an uptick in followers for all my categories/names.

Here's an example of one of my posts.


I still do the occasional manual tweet, but that might be only a couple of times a week.

I haven't found it as useful for Facebook--but only because FB will suppress a post with a link.  There are ways around it, but not using Meet Edgar, so I'll continue to just use it for Twitter.

In the meantime, I hope they're looking to connect with other social media -- like maybe Tumblr, Instagram, or Google+ -- that's on my wish list.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

New books from my friends!

I always love to announce when my friends have new books out -- and today two of them do.

Murder in secret gardenMURDER IN THE SECRET GARDEN by Ellery Adams

There is a hidden garden bordering the grounds of Jane Steward’s book-themed resort—a garden filled with beautiful but deadly plants such as mandrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, as described in the pages of Frances Hodges Burnett's classic novel, the garden is of special interest to Jane’s current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalists. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.

With thousands of books at her disposal, Jane believes she has the proper materials to solve this deadly problem. If she’s wrong, however, she may lose something far more precious than the contents of Storyton’s secret library...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | iBooks

Nook | Kobo

Cat collector killerTHE CAT, THE KILLER and THE COLLECTOR by Leann Sweeney

Jillian Hart and police chief Tom Stewart are enjoying peaceful, newly wedded bliss in Mercy, South Carolina, until a woman is found wandering the streets one night. She's in her night clothes, disoriented, and carrying a kitten in a tote bag. A search of the woman’s house reveals many more cats, a maze of cardboard boxes—and a dead man.
Although the evidence suggests the frail woman is the killer, Jillian doesn’t believe she’s capable of such a crime. The dead man had many enemies in town, which means finding the real murderer may prove to be its own cat and mouse game...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | iBooks

Nook | Kobo

Monday, August 1, 2016

I long to bake ...

I love to bake, but I seldom do it. Why? Calories.

I've been reading Susan Branch's Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams. It's a memoir of how she became the unique and famous cookbook author that she is. (I won't admit to you how many times I've read it since it came out in April, either--but it's more than five.)

This book speaks to me on so many levels; as an author, as someone who struggled to become an author (although Suan's book was accepted on her second try--and she never had to go through the whole struggle of finding an agent and 11 years of rejection. And she didn't start at a small press, she went straight to the top). Am I jealous?  A little green with envy, but it doesn't pay to be jealous. Everybody has their journey and that's what makes their talent singular.

We have other things in common. We both drink a LOT of tea. We both bought tiny houses as single women, when not many women were doing that. (Although I bought my first house at age 24; she was 34.) She was writing from an early age (her diaries--which is why she is such a good memoirist), and I always had my secret stories, but didn't start writing them down until I was 17. She made people happy through her cooking. I made me happy through baking.

She's sprinkled recipes throughout the book,  (Hey, she's primarily a cookbook author, and her recipes are good.) I'm a cookbook author, too (though not nearly as successful). I used to hate to cook, but always enjoyed baking. These days, I'm cooking more (and finally enjoying the process), but not baking as much.

I live in fear of the scale. As you get older, it's so much harder to lose weight. I recently went on a diet and lost six pounds. For our anniversary, Mr. L bought us a cake (and it wasn't THAT big a cake). She shared it, 50/50.  I gained 6 pounds and he didn't gain an ounce.

I'm back on the diet.

But today I'm going to bake zucchini bread. My container garden plant gave me two tiny zucchinis and I bought two more at the Public Market.  I'm going to allow myself one slice, and then freeze the rest. Mr. L will enjoy it for breakfast in the coming weeks. But you know, I'm getting tired of only having one slice. I feel so demoralized by having to deny myself things I like because of the power of that damned scale.

The fact is, most of my family are diabetics and I'm not. And I want to keep it that way. So I'll just have my one slice. And I'll keep writing about food and eating vicariously. That's the only way I'm going to keep from packing on the pounds.

Have you struggled in this way?

=======================================
P.S.  Here's my zucchini bread recipe (made with unsweetened applesauce for less calories--of course, adding the nuts kind of cancels that out--except walnuts are very healthy. (Yes, they are!)

Ingredients
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cup granulated sugar
(or 1 brown sugar + 1 granulated sugar)
2 cups grated zucchini squash
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, Gas Mark 4). Combine the eggs, applesauce, and sugar until well blended. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda; stir into zucchini mixture. Stir in chopped nuts. Bake in 2 well-greased loaf pans for 1 hour.

 Yield: 28 slices

Monday, July 25, 2016

It's here at last! SHATTERED SPIRITS

YAY -- the 7th Jeff Resnick mystery, SHATTERED SPIRITS, is now available.

Shattered-3D-Book-isolated-350


If it weren’t for bad luck, Jeff Resnick would have no luck at all!

While riding his new racing bike, Jeff is hit by an SUV, an accident which has a cascade effect on his life. He loses his job to a replacement, his girlfriend pressures him to move in, his bank accounts are hacked, and a restless spirit begs for his help—all in less than a week. But it’s soon apparent that his so-called random accident is anything but, and the murder of a close friend has a hobbled Jeff on the run. Can he discover who’s out to destroy his life—and threaten those he loves most?

Amazon (Trade Paperback) | Kindle US | Kindle CA |

Kindle UK | Kindle AU | Kindle Worldwide

iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

Coming soon to audio, too! (Read by Steven Barnett.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Visit my little container garden

Look what sprouted in my compost bucket!

IMG_2045

I hope it's a delicata squash. It could be a cucumber, but I don't usually seed my cukes, so crossing fingers it's delicata.

I bought one zucchini plant at the garden store and it's going to have a LOT of blossoms and already has one tiny zucchini.

Zucchini w arrow

My lettuce is going great guns.  The two largest plants in the middle of this next picture were self-seeded from last year. I planted two different types of lettuce, but they look pretty much alike to me.

IMG_2044

Next, all my crops:

Container crop

I've got green beans on the upper right (which will be wanting to climb any day now) and basil and curly parsley in the bottom right. Still hoping to plant some pea pods for stir fry later this month when I get some help with the veggie patch--and also a couple of tomato plants.
So far, I'm pretty happy with my little container garden.

What are you growing?

Monday, June 20, 2016

A promise I must keep

After my mother passed away last spring, my very good friends Ellery Adams and Leann Sweeney (former Cozy Chicks) sent me a small magnolia tree in memory of my mother, so that every spring I would find comfort in the pretty blossoms.

It was a brutal winter, but our landscape people thought if the tree was heavily mulched, it would survive. And I'm so pleased to say that it did. Not only did it bloom once (in May), but another branch of it bloomed in June, too, giving me five very pretty pinkish flowers.  I'm hoping that next year I'll see double the flowers. : )

But there's also another tree I'm concerned about. A couple of years ago, my mother noticed a small pine "twig" in one of the containers on her back patio where she planted annuals. She figured a squirrel had buried a pine cone in it, which isn't surprising considering squirrels live in the BIG pine tree in her front yard, and every spring they devour the middle of the pine cones (and mostly eating them on the roof and plugging the front down spout with their leftovers. Ahh, nature).

My Mum decided to nurture the little twig. One of the last things we talked about before she left her home forever to go to hospice was that little tree in the container. She wanted me to promise her that I wouldn't let anyone yank it out and kill it. She knew she was dying, but she wanted that little tree to live on after her.

We had to clear out the house last week for the sale, and one of the last things to go was the container with the tree. But now what? I don't have a place for it in my yard. I've got an Ash that will probably succumb to the Emerald Ash Borer, but I'm hoping that won't be for a few more years.

Thanks to the 22,500-gallon pool that occupies way too much real estate, what's left of my backyard is the size of a postage stamp. It's surrounded by arborvitae and a few lilac bushes, but other than that nowhere for a tree that will probably grow to 30 or 40 feet one day.

I'd love to hear suggestions on how to find this little Charlie Brown tree a home from anyone who may have had a similar problem.

Thanks!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Veggies for everyone!


Okay, I admit it. I don’t like fruit. You were expecting me to say vegetables, right? I LOVE vegetables. But I don’t think I could choose a favorite. It would be easier for me to choose a veggie I don’t like. On the top of that list would be eggplant. *Shudder*  I can’t actually think of another vegetable I loathe. I’m not particularly fond of turnips, but I could eat them (especially in stew--even just a wonderful Veggie stew.

I like to make soup and yesterday made a great pot of turkey neck/veggie soup. Yum-yum. I just threw in every vegetable I had in the fridge, including an onion, a leek, a few carrots, part of a cabbage, garlic, frozen green beans from my garden, and a can of stewed tomatoes. OMG it was good. I froze most of it but I’ll be having soup again for lunch today.

What’s your favorite veggie?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why not apply it straight to your thighs?

6-16 National Fudge Day

Doesn't everybody love fudge? I rarely eat it though because of the calorie count. The first time I made fudge, I was about 13 and didn't know what a candy thermometer was. We didn't have one, so I winged it. I didn't end up with fudge, I ended up with chocolate-flavored SAND. I felt like Betty Crocker had failed me.

Here's a recipe for peanut butter fudge that doesn't need a candy thermometer and tastes pretty darn good.

Peanut butter fudge1/2 cup butter
 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and milk. Bring it to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over the confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8x8 inch pan. Chill until firm and cut into 1-inch squares.

Yield: 64 pieces

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

In the Spotlight: Brenda Stanley

FULL DISCLOSURE: This post original ran on The Cozy Chicks Spotlight.

My name is Brenda Stanley. I'm a wife, a mom, a sister-in-law, a sister, a friend, a daughter, and a nurse, and that's pretty much how I define myself--at least at this stage of my life. Talk to me in a week and the order might be different.

Most of the time, I lead a pretty nice, quiet (rather boring) life in Buffalo, NY. I'm not from Western New York. I was born in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia), and lived there for the first twenty five years of my life.

I was a twin, and there were no two sisters closer than me and the other half of my soul, Ruth. (I used to call her Toothie Ruthie--although we were identical and she did NOT have bad teeth. They were exactly like mine, but it drove her nuts and that was the point, right?) We had such fun. Had. She died--hit by a drunk driver when we were twenty-three. That--and the following two years--were the worst of my life. A rushed romance, a fast (and short) marriage to an abuser. I needed to get away from Philly. So I ran away from home and got a job at a think tank outside of Los Angeles.  And that's when my life took a dramatic turn for the better. That's where I met my husband.

Of course, he wasn't my husband right away. In fact, he was my boss.  I know, I know--you should never get involved with your boss, but he was such a nice guy. I admit; it was me who pursued him. He'd been unlucky in love--and more than once--so he wasn't looking for someone to warm his bed. I called him "Boss."  (It drove him nuts. Do you see a pattern here?)  Hey, Boss!  Here're those files you needed.  Hey, Boss did you remember to eat today?  Hey, Boss, aren't these the cutest shoes you've ever seen? (Insert image of him rolling his eyes at that. He's just not into shoes.)

I never called him by his first name at work. It was either Boss or Dr. Alpert. I never called him boss at home. Uh, we kind of moved in together after a couple of years.

That was the best job ... but there were drawbacks. The biggest being my mother. She didn't like my significant other. He wasn't the right color. I didn't tell her we'd moved in, but it got back to her. (Thank you older sister, Evelyn, for spilling the beans.) My mama didn't speak to me for nine years--but that's another story, too.

The Boss, er, I mean Richard, thought it would be a good idea if we got married. (He's old fashioned that way.) I loved him. I loved being with him. But married?  Been there, done that--wasn't about to go for it again. He asked a lot. I turned him down a lot.

Money at the think tank was getting tight, and they decided to eliminate our little two-person department. So, that job ended and Richard, decided he would like to leave the land of sunshine and move back to his hometown of Buffalo, New York--in JANUARY. (He did consult me, but I could see his mind was pretty much made up.)  I knew about winter in the Northeast. Hey, I'm from Philly, but Buffalo winters are different. It's called lake-effect snow and it's brutal. Richard wasn't exactly the most jolly person to be around right about then, either. (Men. Job loss. Ego. The whole deal.) And then one morning, very early ... the phone rang.

It was the NYPD calling to say Richard's half-brother, Jeffy (I always call him that. Drives him nuts) had been brutally mugged and was in a coma. You never saw somebody hop on a plane so fast in your life. I spent a terrible few days alone in that big (COLD), lonely house on my own, wishing I had gone with him; but the furnace guy was coming and somebody had to be there to open the door. I'd met Jeffy exactly twice when he came back to Buffalo to live with us in the house he had occupied for three-plus very unhappy years as a teen, so you can imagine how thrilled he was to be returning. (Not at all.)  Nobody likes charity, and he least of all. He was determined to recover and get the hell out. But it didn't happen that way, and life for all of us became very complicated.

You see ... as a consequence of that head injury Jeffy became just a teensy bit psychic.  (Oh, yeah, that went over really well with Richard. Not!) But I recognized it. You see, I have a little bit of the second sight myself. (Richard always called them hunches.) So Jeffy and I are kindred spirits. He's someone really special. (Not that he thinks so.) Before the mugging, he was an insurance investigator. Not the kind that looks at banged-up cars or anything--but a trained crime-scene investigator. After his wife was murdered, though, he transferred to the fraud department. Crime scenes no longer interested him.

Jeffy's kind of hard to get to know. He doesn't reveal much about himself. He's quiet--doesn't make waves ... until he gets what I call one of his "episodes." When his psychic insight makes an appearance all hell can break loose, and it didn't take long after he returned to Buffalo for him to start to have some pretty scary visions. Visions that gave him information about a murder. And didn't he feel compelled to find out who did the deed? It wasn't a pretty end. Richard ended up in the hospital--nearly died. Oh, God, what a mess. But ... it brought us all closer. And I kind of changed my mind about the whole marriage thing ,,,

But that was just the beginning of our adventures. Okay, I mostly sit on the sidelines while the dynamic duo do their investigating thing. I did the volunteer thing for a while at a women's health clinic and the local hospital's low-income clinic. I loved the work. I loved the people. But then ... someone decided to stalk me. And wouldn't you know it--my ex-husband showed up on our doorstep about the same time. (My mother gave him my address. *Sigh* I was remarried--why would she think I'd be interested in seeing him?)

What an awful time in our lives ... because I also had a miscarriage.  I quit my jobs. The stalker actually broke into our home--oh, it was awful. For a while, I didn't know if I could even live in that house again.

I could go on and on ... but maybe it would just be better if you read about our "adventures." Jeffy kind of keeps an account of things. The first account is known as Murder On The Mind. (And it's FREE in all ebook formats. Click this link for more information.)

Jeffy never looks for trouble--but somehow it always finds him. He's just wrapping up the account of our most recent trials and tribulations. It's called Shattered Spirits. (You can read about it here.)

Okay, it's time for me to get back to keeping the home fires burning. At least ... until the next time Jeffy has one of his episodes, because when they come, we never know what will happen next.

P.S. Feel free to ask any questions about the Alpert-Stanley-Resnick household. I know just about everything that goes on. (Just about.)