Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Light My Fire

Strike matchOkay, not THAT fire -- but will somebody please light a fire under my butt?  For the past week I've been dabbling in so many things, trying to get stuff accomplished, and definitely NOT succeeding.

As my Dad would say, my "head is full of tommyrot."  I have so much on my mind that I seem to flit from one thing to another leaving a trail of things undone.  I have the best of intentions, but I also get easily distracted.  Oh, I better do a load of laundry.  So I do.  And then I forget about it and three days later I have to wash it again because it stinks. 

I have e-mails that need answering, and I mark them "keep as new" on my account, and then they get further down on the list and I forget about them until I have so many emails I have to start deleting and then--oh my!--there's that one I meant to answer two weeks ago.

I'm drowning in minutiae. 

How did I ever accomplish anything when I had a full-time job?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away--NOW!!!

We had a very WET spring and early summer.  And then we had a very hot, dry late summer.  And now we're into fall.  A very WET fall.

When they threw the switch from summer to fall, they also threw the perpetual GLOOM switch, too.  It rained a good portion of the weekend (okay, if it wasn't raining, it was at least extremely dreary).  It rained really hard several times yesterday, with gusts of wind that ranged from 25-50 miles, depending on where you were in the area.  It knocked my bean poles down (but I triumphed over nature and tied them up again).

Rain on roofThis morning I awoke to the sound of rain on the roof.  Now, I happen to LOVE the sound of rain on the roof.  But then I had to get up.  I look out my office window and it's gray out.  The big silver pool cover is now on the pool (looking like a giant piece of duct tape) and the water is puddling on top.  (We'll probably have to pump it off a couple of times before winter comes.)

It's windy out.  It's cold.  It's the dark side of autumn.

Hurry spring.

And what's the weather like where you are?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--Sodium in processed food

Salt-shakerOne of the good things our government has actually done for us is mandate nutrition labels on our food. The problem is--is anybody reading that material besides me? I know members of my family don't because they haven't got a clue about the amount of sodium they're ingesting.

On one of my diets, low these many years ago, I learned to substitute pepper for salt. They told us (was it Diet Workshop, or Nutrisystem . . . one of them, anyway) that SALT MAKES YOU RETAIN WATER, and water is heavy. Fine. I got used to skim milk and dumping half a shaker of pepper on my food and learned to actually love it.

I don't cook with salt. I even cut the amount of salt in the recipes I include in my books because YOU DON'T NEED AS MUCH AS EVERYONE SEEMS TO THINK YOU DO.

That's why I'm really rather horrified by the amount of salt in any processed food. I used to eat curried beans. I'd buy a generic can of black beans or black-eyed peas, dump them in a saucepan, add some curry paste, heat through, serve on rice--and voila! A quick lunch.  Not anymore.  Now I buy dried beans and cook them in the crock pot (without adding any salt).  Of course I have enough to feed an army, but luckily I like beans.

And have you noticed that low-sodium canned foods (soup, in particular) is usually DOUBLE the price of "regular" canned food?  (It is at my grocery store.) How does this encourage the population at large (especially in these economic times) to lower their sodium intake?

I keep seeing articles in the newspaper Living section about the need to cut sodium in our diets because it's killing us.  An enormous amount of our population--including children--is on meds to lower their blood pressure.  And why?  Because of the amount of sodium they're ingesting. Big Mac

A big part of the problem is fast food.  For instance, according to Wikipedia, a Big Mac has 42% of your daily requirement of sodium. (There's a reason I stay away from these places.)  What about the fries and the rest of the food someone typically ingests on any given day?  I've also given up eating any restaurant soup, too.  Why?  Too salty!

The government seems to want to regulate everything else in our lives--why not the amount of sodium food processors are allowed to add to food?

Salt, salt, salt, salt, S-A-L-T!!!

I know one thing--I don't want to have a stroke, so I watch my sodium intake.  Everybody should.

And what's bugging YOU today?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where has my book been?

Today on the Lipstick Chronicles, my friend Elaine Viets (who writes the wonderful Dead-End Job Mysteries and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series) blogs about how her books have been found in exotic places, while she's chained to her desk writing the next one.

*Sigh* Boy can I identify with that.

Elaine's holding a contest to find out where her books have been found (or are going on vacation.)

Bookplate.smWhat a cool contest.  Why can't I think of stuff like that?  I've already given away all my bound galleys for Bookplate Special (remember that contest I held last month?).  And as it happens, Elaine's next book comes out on the very same day as mine.  (Her's is called The Fashion Hound Murders -- mine is Bookplate Special.  (Hey, it's my blog--I can put up my book's picture.))

Okay, it's not exactly the first time an author has asked for pictures of where people found or took their books.  Tess Gerritsen and lots of others have done the same thing.  What's is cool is where people find the books.  I've received e-mails from people in England, Australia, and Canada, which is pretty cool, and unlike Elaine, my books have NOT (yet?) been translated to Japanese and other languages.  (That means I have a goal, right?)

So while I can't bribe anyone (at least this time around) to tell me (or better yet, show me with a picture) where they found or took my book, it would still be cool to know.

(Hint, hint.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And in between promo I have to do what???

Okay, it's been 12 days since I turned in my last book and time to jump back into the book that is due on December 1st.  

But wait--I've got a book coming out on November 3rd and I must promote!

For the past 5-6 weeks, I've spend every minute of my (so-called) free time signing bookmarks.  I signed 1400 of the new bookmarks and 840 of my "combo" (listing the first two books in the series) bookmarks. These bookmarks were destined for wonderful independent bookstores.  These are the people on the front lines who are handselling my books. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!)  Of course, there are many chain booksellers handselling my books, but they haven't made themselves known to me or requested bookmarks.

Yesterday I took my second HUGE tote bag full of packages to the Post Office.  You can't tell me they're losing money--not with all I've spent this year.

Writers creamp

Over the weekend, I signed 112 postcards (adding three stickies--address label, message label, and polar bear stamp).  These are for bookclubs.  I've still got another 469 to sign and sticker for my faithful readers.

Can you say WRITERS CRAMP???

So far I've got four blog posts written for my blog tour.  (Okay, so I only have three dates set up--I hope there's still time to find more.)  I have five of six weekends booked for promotion in November and December (and I'm trying to decide if I should go to the CrimeBake conference on the week I don't have anything planned).

And sometime during all this promo -- I have to finish another book. (The first in the Victoria Square Mysteries.)  Luckily, the book is in good shape--but still, it needs work.

Is it any wonder I'm yanking my hair out in hanks?

Monday, September 21, 2009

WHO THREW THE SWITCH?

Holy Crap!  It's fall!

I mean, I waited a-l-l winter for spring, which came and went, and then it was summer.  Ahhh...summer.  The roses bloom.  You plant cosmos (which always disappoint me) and other annuals, plus the veggie crop (we've had green beans for dinner almost every night for at least four weeks) and now the counter is overflowing with tomatoes.

SweatshirtBut sitting out on the enclosed porch in the evening is getting to be a tad uncomfortable.  Instead of wearing T-shirts, it's suddenly sweatshirt weather.  (And my big blue sweater has come back out of the closet.  Heck, I'm wearing it as I type this!)  I've also taken to (gasp) wearing my slippers, because my feet are cold.

The catnip is starting to shrivel up.  (Chester doesn't mind.  He prefers dried to fresh catnip.)  The perky black-eyed Susans aren't so perky anymore.  In fact, they're turning a disgusting brown.  The arborvitae is turning orange--its version of "needle cast," as it gets ready to toss it's old leaves (?) onto the pool cover.

Stupid woman raking leavesAnd today the calendar confirmed it:  the first day of fall.  Next thing you know, the leaves will fall off the trees en mass.  We'll be raking until our hands flap with blisters.  It'll rain five days out of seven.

Snow can't be far behind.

Bummer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pet Peeve Thursday (FRIDAY EDITION): Pets locked in hot cars

Toy poodle Yesterday I came out of Sam's Club and walked toward my car, noticing that a car parked nearby (a shiny, new-looking, white Mercury Marquis) with the cutest little black poodle sitting on the rear window ledge, panting, with its tongue hanging out. (It looked just like the picture at right.)  I circled the car and saw that only one window was open, and less than two inches.

What to do, what to do.

I had another errand to do at the end of the plaza, and decided that if the dog was still there when I was done with that errand, I would do something.

While it wasn't a really hot day, when I got in it, my own car was damn hot after sitting there for only ten minutes.

I came back ten minutes later, and the dog was still there. I took down the license number and went back into Sam's Club. The woman at the door said, "there's nothing we can do legally." Oh yeah? I told her I would go to the service desk and report it anyway. And I did. The woman on duty took down the information, got on the public address system and said, "Will the owners of the white Mercury Marquis, Licence number XXX-XXX please go to your car. Your dog needs assistance." She repeated the announcement.

I thanked her and went back to my car. 

And waited.

After another ten minutes, I called nine one one.

Then I waited some more.  In fact, I waited another twenty-three minutes.  During that time, the little dog got pretty agititated, panting a lot harder.  And I got a lot angrier.

The woman I'd originally spoken to at Sam's Club came out after 15 minutes from my call and asked, "Is that dog still in the car?"

I told her "yes."

Needless to say, the police didn't show up.  When the older woman and her husband came out to the parking lot, I asked her, "Is this your car?" 

"Yeah."

"I just want you to know I've called nine one one and gave them your license number. Your dog has been locked in that hot car for at least 43 minutes that I know of."

She said, "Mind your own business," and walked to the car, took the dog out, then helped her husband unload their cart.

The woman from Sam's came out again.  "Did you confront her?" she asked.

"Yes, and she blew me off."

She shook her head.  Now she was almost as upset as me.

The older woman abandoned her cart (why is it people can't put their carts in the return--and doesn't this say more about her (lack of) character)) and kissed her little dog.

"You're kissing your dog now.  But what if he'd died in that hot car?"

"I've been checking on him every five minutes since I went into the store."

Somehow, I refrained from yelling:  LIAR!!!  Instead, I said:  "I've been standing here for over twenty minutes and you have not been out here once." 

This time she screamed at me, "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS."

The whole ordeal was incredibly upsetting.  That thoughtless woman does not deserve to have a wonderful little dog like that.  

What should I have done differently?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--Discarded Gum

Gum shoe2 Is there anything more disgusting than seeing someone spit onto the pavement and walk away, leaving something behind for you to step in?  Gross as that is--it's almost as gross to see, or step in--a fresh wad of sticky gum.

Our new Wegmans store had been open two days when we finally got around to visiting it and we were astounded at how many gum cuds littered the fresh asphalt outside the store.  Just yesterday I did my shopping and as I walked toward the store, I passed a nicely landscaped area and there they were, a number of gum cuds.  One bright green wad of gum really stood out against the fresh, brown mulch.

Not ten feet from this huge wad of gum was a garbage container--not to mention all the gum on the asphalt.  What is wrong with people that they can't discard their disgusting (possibly germ-filled) gum in the proper place? 

Grrrrrrrrrr!

And what's bothering YOU today?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's ALIVE!!!

Yeast I’ve had to do a lot of cooking and baking while testing the recipes I include in my Booktown Mystery series. For the most part, it’s fun. (Okay, maybe not that time I had to make and remake the savory muffins until my husband pleaded with me to STOP ALREADY!!!) But there’s one thing I have never attempted: anything with yeast.

Well, sort of.

Years ago, I attempted to make homemade pizza. I didn’t want to bother with yeast, so I bought a roll of frozen bread dough, which the recipe’s author assured me was A-OK with her. I followed the package directions, added my sauce, pepperoni, and vegetables on top and popped it in the oven. Some 20 minutes later I was horrified to open the oven and find that my pizza dough had risen to about three inches high, knocking off most of my toppings. And that’s when I realized it: the yeast in the dough was ALIVE and probably had been out to get me.

Gulp.

Cinnamon-rolls One of my favorite coffee table books is The Romance of Country Inns by Gail Grecco. In it, she includes a recipe for cinnamon rolls. She has included a gorgeous photograph (of not only the cinnamon rolls, but of Sedona, AZ as a backdrop. (Gail’s husband Tom Bagley is a professional photographer and has taken photos for most of her cookbooks.) I must have had that book for a decade (or more) and looked at that lovely photo and longed to make those cinnamon buns, except . . . they’re made with yeast.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assemble the ingredients to make bread, right? Then why does the thought of adding that little yeast packet to warm water terrify me so? Is it because it’s a living thing, or that it might go out of control – or is my mother’s not-so-great results at breadmaking. (If you ask her, she’ll say every loaf was a success—okay, they were, if you ate it right out of the oven and spread with a lovely layer of butter, but otherwise– Sorry, Mum.)

I’m determined to make those darn cinnamon buns one day. In fact, I’ve assembled at least ten different versions of the recipe in hopes that one day I’ll gather up my courage and JUST DO IT.

But not just yet. I have to find the courage to do so.

And what are you afraid to cook?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh how I LOVE to get royalty checks

Yesterday, I was having a really BAD morning.  It was meltdown time.  Tears, noseblowing, the works.  And then I came home and found an envelope from one of my publishers in the mailbox.

Man w check No, it didn't take away from my upset, but it did make me smile.  Why?  Not because it was a huge check.  It wasn't.  In fact, it was for $9.04.  But since the audiobook for Murder on The Mind had only been out about two weeks before the end of the royalty period, and most publishers won't even cut a check for less than $25 -- I was delighted to see anything.  (Hubby suggested I take him to McDonalds for lunch.)

Mind you, there was absolutely no promotion for the audiobook.  I haven't done much because -- how do you promote it?  (And if you have any ideas on that, I would LOVE to hear it.) So getting a royalty check is pretty amazing.  

MOTMfromBN Next month I hope to get a much bigger royalty check for my better selling books.  I'm looking forward to that.  (There's a roof that needs fixing, etc.)  But that doesn't take away from the pleasure I got from that little check, because Murder C.motm.ww.SM On The Mind is the little book that could.  It came out as a hardcover that did not sell well.  It came out as a paperback and sold over 21,000 copies.  Now it's out in audio and as a Kindle download.  Just this morning, I got an e-mail from a reader in Canada who'd found the book.  I'm so pleased that people are still discovering the Jeff Resnick series.  Kindle.motm.SM And despite the series currently being on hiatus, I haven't given up that all the books (including the two that haven't yet been published) will find a bigger audience.  BIM MOTM cover

I'm crossing my fingers as hard as I can.




Monday, September 14, 2009

Poached!

Poached pear I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pears or salmon poached on various cooking shows. (About ten years ago, you couldn’t open a cookbook or a magazine without some poor pear being scalded to death.)

About the only thing I’ve ever eaten poached is eggs. I didn’t even realize I liked them until I made them a few years ago for my parents when we were all at the family’s summer cottage. Of course, this was the first time I’d ever made them and I realized why I’d never liked them before. My folks like theirs runny so that they have something to soak into their toast. I like my eggs poached HARD. (I also eat my fried eggs broken and cooked hard.)

They (and the cottage they outfitted) had special pans with rings and little poaching cups. The problem was, they were made for four eggs. I have seen plastic poaching cups you can use in the microwave, but to tell you the truth, I don’t trust them. Hey, look at the plastic baby bottles the government okay’d and now they’re saying—hold it! Don’t heat the milk in those bottles, because potentially hazardous chemicals leach out of the plastic and into the milk.

Therefore, I figured poached eggs were only for larger gatherings (my husband won’t eat them) or cook one or two and waste all that energy on the stove. I voiced that opinion and Mom casually said, “Why don’t you just poach an egg in a coffee mug in the microwave?”

Poached_egg3 Hello! Can you say breakfast in a jiffy?

Okay, it did take me a few tries before I got it right—and heaven forbid if you forget to prick the yoke before you nuke it. KABOOM! Exploded egg all over the microwave.  (In fact, it doesn't hurt to prick the egg several times.  Seems like when I fork it, it never explodes.) 

I use a standard coffee mug, fill it with about an inch of boiling water right out of the kettle, drop in an egg or two (depending on how hungry I am) and zap it for about 90 Breakfast3 seconds, drain off the water, and pop my little poached egg onto a plate with a dollop of butter, a generous shake of pepper, and a side of toast. Mmmm. Nice hot breakfast.

What’s your favorite quick, hot breakfast?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Promo is FUN! (?)

Bookplate.sm For the past few days, I've been sitting in my office surrounded by the things I need for promotion for my upcoming BOOKPLATE SPECIAL.  Thousands of bookmarks, postcards, bubble envelopes, stamps, labels and lists and lists of addresses (most in disarray, despite the fact I've been working on them off and on for months).

And now I realize -- oops -- I ought to do a blog tour, too.

I must be out of my mind.  I try (often don't make it) to post here five days a week, plus I blog for Writers Plot (Tuesdays) and The Cozy Chicks (Saturdays).  Sometimes it's hard to come up with a blog posts.  For this blog, I feel like I'm hanging out with friends (Hi, y'all!), but for WP and CC I feel a bit more pressure to be . . . well, ON.  And now I need to be ON a few guest blogs during November to push the book.  So I guess I should start contacting people with blogs and asking to guest post.  

*Sigh*

I've have LOTS of blogging friends, so it's not like I'll hear "NO WE DON'T WANT YOU," but the thing is . . . once I have a confirmation, I've got to write the blog posts.

Actually, I've often thought that I had nothing of particular interest to say to warrant being a guest anywhere, but Bookplate Special is a different kind of book.  It has two themes that I should be able to Hourglass mine for lots of blog posts, so that's good.  But we're back to . . . writing the posts.

Didn't I just wish for more hours in the day???

Thursday, September 10, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY--Shoes

By guest Blogger Sheila Connolly

Crocs Ah, summer! Bare feet, flipflops, Crocs. In other words, foot comfort.

But all good things must end, and summer's gone. Yesterday I had to put on a pair of real grown-up leather shoes to go to a luncheon. And as usual, my feet complained.

Pantyhose The skin of my feet is fussy. I simply cannot wear shoes without some sort of buffer, be it sock or footie or knee-high. It makes me feel old, particularly when my twenty-something daughter sneers at me. "You're wearing pantyhose?" she says, incredulous. "Yes," I reply firmly. "I must." It's not a fashion statement, or anti-statement. I'm trying to protect my feet from those evil shoes.

And it still doesn't work. As a result, I'm an expert on band-aids and moleskin. And bless the pharmaceutical industry, because they keep inventing weird and wonderful new products along those lines, that are closer and closer to natural skin. They even stick, instead of curling up and creeping into your shoe and driving you crazy. I now carry a complete foot repair kit to any conference, because there's nothing worse than trekking the endless miles of corridors in a hotel, or having to stand and make small talk with that Really Important Agent, when your feet hurt. You can't escape your feet.

Red high heels But still, there are some shoes you just have to wear, now and then, blisters be damned. Like those strappy red dancing shoes. Everybody needs a pair of red shoes, right? Even my podiatrist agrees with me. Now and then it's worth the pain.

And what's bugging YOU today?
--------------------------------------
Snake in the glass Sheila Connolly writes the Apple Orchard Mystery Series.  The second book in that series, ROTTEN TO THE CORE, is now available.  Sheila also writes the Glassblowing Mystery Series under the name Sarah Atwell.  The latest title, SNAKE IN THE GLASS is hot off the press.  Visit Sheila at both her web sites:  Sheila Connolly / Sarah Atwell.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And The Winners Are . . .

Contest I recently ran a contest via my newsletter.  (Not signed up?  There's a sign-up box to your right.  Just scroll down a little.)  Readers had to correctly answer three questions about the Booktown Mysteries to win a bound galley of the third book, BOOKPLATE SPECIAL, which won't be available for sale until November 3rd (although it can be pre-ordered from your favorite bookseller or online).  There were to be three winners.

More than 60 readers entered the contest and 47 of them answered all three questions correctly.  I put all the names in a hat and had my Dad pick out four winners.

Yes, FOUR winners.  My editor's assistant was cleaning up the office and found another bound galley and sent it to me for the contest.

Thumbs up The winners are:

Barbara Fransen
Margaret Minter
David Potter
Kari Steph

Congrats everyone!  And thanks to everyone who entered the contest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OUCH!

Bandaid Last week I got my first nasty note from a reader.  I've written about it for Writers Plot, but I didn't want my regular readers to miss out on how I reacted.  

I hope you'll pop on over to Writers Plot to take a look.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

ChainGangPhoto Okay, I admit it.  I never actually knew what Labor Day was all about until I decided to take a look on Wikipedia.  As a kid growing up, I didn't care.  Labor Day meant the last Monday before dreaded school started, and oh yeah--the Jerry Lewis Telethon.  (And how come he's raised all that money and they still don't have a cure, eh?)

SodusBaypainting3 After I started working, Labor Day meant a three-day weekend.  It also meant the end of cottage season.  My brothers would yank their boats out of the water, haul in the water line, and you were done with summer.  (Thanks to electric heat and municipal water, cottage season can now be extended by two months on both ends of the summer.)

Today Labor Day means . . . labor.  I'm gearing up for promotion for my next book (Bookplate Special, and it's already available for pre-ordering (although why they call it PRE-ordering when you can just ORDER it is beyond me).  I've been writing press releases (okay, just one--but I've been working and reworking it), signing bookmarks, working on my mailing lists, and getting my print orders, well, ordered).  Hopefully there'll be some time for a cookout or at least some kind of easy-to-assemble dinner, because I'm planning to work at this ALL DAY.

And how are you celebrating Labor Day?

Friday, September 4, 2009

SOUP'S ON

The other day on Writers Plot, my friend Kate Flora waxed poetically about how the onset of falls makes her yearn for hot breads and muffins.  It must be that snap in the air that arrived rather suddenly this week that makes us want to ditch the picnic food (well, I could eat a little more potato salad) and start cooking up cold-weather comfort food.

But as much as I like quick breaks anHomemade soup d muffins, when fall rolls around, I want my soup.  Homemade preferred.

It wasn't so long ago that when I went to a diner, I almost always ordered the soup.  I'm especially fond of vegetable soup and New England clam chowder.  But it seemed to me that more than soup I was getting brine.  Way WAY too much salt in the soup.  So I've had to give up ordering the soup.  (Except for Chinese hot and sour soup--so far that seems to have escaped excessive sodium, and how long will that last?)

Campbells soup Canned soups have always been too salty for me.  Lately I've taken to buying the reduced sodium versions.  Why is it if they leave out the salt the store feels they need to charge twice as much for the product?  And, unfortunately, too often if they skimp on the salt, they double up the high-fructose corn syrup.  I don't want sweet soup.

So, more often than not, I make my own soup.  I'm sure it costs triple what a can of soup costs, but it tastes great, it fills the house with a wonderful aroma, and it's good for me.

Roasted chicken I like to make chicken soup (I prefer turkey soup, but we only cook a bird once a year--not my choice, mind you, I could eat it year round.  Too bad others in the family don't feel the same).  We buy roasted chicken from the local grocery store, which gives us four meals and then soup.  Okay, only two servings of soup, but that makes a fine lunch.

I don't have a recipe.  I boil the chicken bones for an hour or so, strain off the broth, toss the bones, throw in an onion, celery, and some frozen mixed vegetables, and in 20 minute--voila!  Lunch.  For seasoning, I toss in some ground pepper and maybe one or two shakes of salt, but nothing like what comes in processed soups.  I'll break out the bread and butter or saltines (which aren't very salty these days--must have used all that salt in the processed soup), and what a great meal.

Okay, I'm off to the kitchen.  I've got that chicken carcass to pick and soup on the menu.

Want to share your favorite soup recipe?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY-- Lisa Bork: I Love New York STATE

By Guest Blogger Lisa Bork, author of the Broken Vows Mysteries.

I’m from New York. Not the Big Apple. No! But that’s what everybody thinks of first when I say New York, and it annoys me when I have to clarify. I meant I’m from New York State.

Map of NY New York State covers over 54,000+ square miles and is home to almost twenty million people, the third most populated state in the country. It’s a state filled with parks and rivers and valleys and canals and mountains and lakes. In fact, most of the state is not urban; it’s rural with farms and forests and water.

This is not to say that I live in farm country. I live in a suburb of another city in the state. This is to say that my home state is not just about the City.

Now granted, over eight million people live in New York City. It is the largest (roughly 305 square miles) and the most populous city in the United States. And don’t get me wrong; I loved New York City as a character on Sex and the City.

But please don’t assume that everyone from New York lives in the Big Apple. Because the majority of us don’t. And even though New York City is a big tourist attraction—the city that never sleeps—the rest of the state has some equally fabulous tourist attractions, too. 

Niagara falls Niagara Falls is at the western tip between the U.S. and Canada, and the American side of the falls is beautiful. In the northeast, the Adirondack Mountains offer some pretty fabulous scenery, too. Adirondack Park is, in fact, the largest state park in the United States. To the north, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie border our state.

But my personal favorite tourist attraction in New York State is the Finger Lakes region, a roughly 9,000 square mile area with eleven different lakes that covers the western and central part of the state, each lake with its own unique personality and charm. That’s why I picked the region as the setting for my new mystery For Better, For Murder.

The Finger Lakes has a lot to offer: picturesque villages, museums, theaters, music, art and craft shows, festivals, fishing, water sports, ski resorts, hot air balloon rides, historic landmarks, award-winning wineries, boutique shopping, car and horse racing, and the fruits of farm country as well as gorgeous scenery during all four seasons of the year. Not only do I enjoy the area as a tourist, but it gives me lots of ideas for storylines and plots.

So next time someone tells you they’re from New York, don’t assume New York City. Instead, ask them, “Really? What part?” 

Because I love New York. And I’ve never even been to New York City.

And what's bugging YOU today?
--------------------------------------
For Better, for murder Lisa Bork’s debut novel, For Better, For Murder, hits stores this week. It’s the first book in the Broken Vows mystery series from Midnight Ink. Lisa has a BA. in English and a M.B.A. in Marketing, and she worked in humans resources and marketing before becoming a stay-at-home mom and author. For more information, visit Lisa's Web site.


Lisa will also be guest blogging at Writers Plot on Saturday.  Don't miss her post on what motivated her to write a novel.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back In The Saddle Again

Saddle A week or so ago, I sent my work in progress out to three first readers and yesterday I received the last of the comments.  Overall, they liked it.  (Whew!) Now I'm working on the rewrite.

I wish I could say I have a nice, leasurely amount of time to turn this puppy around, but I don't.  It has to arrive on my editor's desk on September 7th.  Last time around, I pushed the envelope and didn't get the manuscript ready to go until the day before the deadline.  No problem, I said, and moseyed on down to the local UPS Store.  I hearly hemmoraged (or at least my wallet did) when I learned that to overnight the manuscript was going to cost me a whopping $40.  That ain't gonna happen again.

Coconutcake5-08 The rewrite is going well, and I might even finish up later today.  The thing that's holding me back?  Testing those recipes.  I have a feeling I'll be cooking my butt off this weekend as I make several different versions of each dish until I'm satisfied.  (Including a coconut cake--but wait, it's my birthday.  What's wrong with having three birthday cakes, right?)  

Rewrites are either a pain in the butt or a lot of fun.  This one is fun because so far my first readers haven't found too much wrong.  And I love it that they've (hopfully) found all the typos and glitches.  That makes me look good.  I want to please my editor and if he enjoys reading the ms. and is happy he doesn't have to do much work on it--we're both very happy.

But in the meantime, it's back to those recipes.

Oh, let me eat cake!