Thursday, December 30, 2010

And We Weren't Even At The Waldorf!

Waldorf_salad Years ago, Waldorf Salad was a staple at our holiday dinners.  It was made by a former family member and it was really nice.  But since she's no longer a part of my family, I've had to do without.

Until this week.

My mother-in-Law presented me with a fruit basket for Christmas. As most of you know, I'm not a real fruit fan, but I also hate to waste good food.  So I gave away the oranges and wondered what I should do with the apples, grapes, and pears.

Pears are a no brainer.  We often eat them sliced with our dinner.  We're fond of Empire apples, but not Red Delicious, and guess what kind of apples came in the basket?

So I thought--why not make a Waldorf Salad?

I got on the Internet, found a recipe and within about 15 minutes had whipped up something delish for our dinner.  (Lucky I had all the ingredients on hand, eh?)

I've still got four more apples, but no more grapes (and they're not cheap this time of year).  Aha!  You can substitute raisins for grapes.

Guess what I'm making this weekend?

What's your favorite fruit recipe?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Substitutes

Cooking oil I love to bake, but I don't like the calories.  So when I bake, I often substitute the oil in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce.  (And just WHY would anyone WANT to sweeten applesauce?  It's already sweet!!!)

For Thanksgiving, I baked a very rich carrot cake.  Because it was the first time I used that recipe, I decided to make it as directed--with a full cup of oil.  It was pretty darn good.  For Christmas, I made the same cake, only this time I substituted the oil with applesauce.

Bundt cake
How did it turn out?

Pretty good.  A bit moister, but other than that it was still a very good cake.

I noticed that my local grocery store is now selling a prune mixture, which can be used as a substitute for oil, and I'm going to buy some and try that in a recipe some time soon.  (While I contemplate going on a diet and putting all baking on hold for some time.)

What ingredient have you substituted in a recipe?
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REMINDER:  Friday is the deadline for the Access Romance Holiday Scavenger Hunt (grand prize is a Kindle) and the Backlist Ebooks 25% off Smashwords E book sale.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It doesn't cure the common cold, but it helps . . .

Not only did Santa bring me a lot of wonderful presents (cookbooks!!!), but he also brought me . . .
A STINKING COLD!!!!

Neti_pot I haven't had a cold in several years.  As colds go, this one isn't too bad.  On the misery scale of 1 to 10, I'd say I'm only at about 6.5.  But I'm sure it would be much higher if it wasn't for my neti pot.

If you've never used one, it can be . . . kind of disgusting.  Like when you were a kid and went swimming and water got up your nose when they made you dive into the deep end.  Ick!  Only this is kinda worse. You're actually rinsing your sinuses and cleaning them of germs and other crud.  Click on the video below if you want to learn a lot more about it.



One of the worst things about having a cold is waking up in the middle of the night and NOT being able to breathe.  I got through the night just fine (except for Fred, who wanted to chase Bonnie around at 3 am, but we won't go there.)

Have you ever used a neti pot?  What's your best home remedy for the common cold?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did Santa Bring You An E-Reader For Christmas?

Good grief, a blatant commercial for my work.  Well, can you blame me?  I've been trying to find an audience for my not-so-famous names.  Before the Booktown Mysteries were published, there was The Jeff Resnick series and a few short stories that never made print.  They all found new life as e downloads.  And guess what?  The two Jeff novels are on sale at Smashwords right now -- 25% off as part of the Backlist eBooks Tis Still The Season Holiday sale.  (Click that link to find the coupon codes for lots of great books by traditionally published authors.)  The sale is in effect through January 1st.

One cavaet:  Except for We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert, these books/stories are NOT cozy mysteries.  The Resnick stories are psychological suspense with a paranormal undertone (he's a teensy bit psychic).  Short stories An Unconditional Love and Prisoner of Love are kinda/sorta romance.  But if you like the Booktown Mysteries, which are heavy on characterization, there's a chance you'll like all these stories, too.


Murder on the Mind
Jeff Resnick hardly knew his well-heeled half-brother. But after suffering a fractured skull in a vicious mugging, he reluctantly accepts the fact that he has a long and brutal recovery to face—and his closest of kin can provide him with the time and place to do it.

Now, Jeff is haunted by unexplained visions of a heinous crime—a banker, stalked, killed, and eviscerated like a ten-point buck. When Matt Sumner’s murder is discovered, a still-recovering Jeff realizes this was what he had seen. Jeff must not only convince himself of his new-found psychic ability, but also his skeptical brother Richard Alpert. Since Sumner was Richard’s banker, both brothers have a stake in finding out what happened. With Richard’s reluctant help, Jeff’s investigation leads him to Sumner’s belligerent family and hard-nosed business associates, none of whom want him snooping around.

When Jeff discovers a second victim, he knows he must relentlessly chase his quarry even if it means risking his brother’s life.
"This is a high-powered drama filled with interesting characters that add dimension to a tightly paced story with a good kick at the end." --Romantic Times
Smashwords      Coupon Code:  HQ64W

(Where's the 2nd Jeff Resnick book, Dead In Red?  Right now it's only available in hardcover from my web site.  But look for it as an e book in early 2011.)


Cheated by Death

In this third in the series, Jeff Resnick faces a new dilemma: someone is stalking his sister-in-law, Brenda, who fears that violence from pro-life supporters will escalate near the women’s clinic where she works. Or could the vandalism, threatening phone calls, and letters against her have come from her abusive ex-husband? Meanwhile, Jeff grapples with meeting his estranged father and the sister he never knew existed.

Praise for Dead In Red, 2nd in the Jeff Resnick psychological suspense series
“Bartlett’s hero is complicated and mesmerizing, making for a gripping and energizing mystery.” ~Booklist

“Bartlett has a deft touch and makes psychic abilities very real.” ~ Library Journal 

Smashwrords       Coupon Code: MU27U


Bah! Humbug
(Short Story)



It's Christmas Day, and Jeff and Maggie spend Christmas dinner with Maggie's family, who are not receptive to her new significant other. It'll be a Christmas to remember . . . but who wants to?

This short story takes place the day after the Jeff Resnick novel, Cheated By Death. 


Kindle
Nook
Smashwords 

Cold Case (Short Story)
Psychic Jeff Resnick has no expectations when investigating the disappearance of a four-year-old, until he confronts the mind responsible--a shattering experience for all involved.

"A compelling mystery that will grip you tightly and not let go--even after you've finished reading."
--Leann Sweeney, nationally best-selling author of the Yellow Rose and Cats In Trouble mysteries

L.L. Bartlett’s “Cold Case” tells the emotionally packed story of Jeff Resnick, a psychic, who is hired to solve the disappearance of a four-year-old boy. The conclusion to this story is bound to have you questioning those around you.  -- The Romance Readers Connection

Abused:  A Daugther's Story
(Short Story)

Emily Miller knew her life was about to change forever the day her mother said, "I'm pregnant." She'd hear those words again and again--and with every pregnancy Emily's father changed from bad to worse. For years the Miller family suffered through his rages. It took a terrible loss for the family to regroup, and all the love Emily can muster to save her siblings.

Lorraine Bartlett's powerful "Abused: A Daughter’s Story" grabs hold immediately and doesn't let go. This heart-tugger's hero, Emily, displays amazing resilience and strength. I know I'll remember this story for a long, long time.
  --Julie Hyzy, Barry- and Anthony-award winning author of the White House Chef Mysteries



Writing as Lorraine Bartlett
Short stories

We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert
The Nichols family is all in a tither when it's discovered their penny-pinching Uncle Albert is worth millions, and decide he has overstayed his worldly welcome. But can they bump off the old man and get away with it? 

Smashwords


Prisoner of Love


Rhonda Roberts went looking for love in all the wrong places, and found it through an ad in the personals section of her local newspaper. Family and friends think she's crazy when she becomes engaged to a convicted felon, and the lengths she'll go to see him set free.

We are all vulnerable in love, and Lorraine Bartlett's "What I Did For Love" touches on all the emotions we face when we open ourselves to others: heartbreak, need, loss, and hope. Read it, and you'll find yourself saying, "Yes--yes, I understand."  --Julie Hyzy, Barry- and Anthony-award winning author of the White House Chef Mysteries 


Kindle
Nook
Smashwords

An Unconditional Love
A one-night stand changes Leslie Turner's life forever when she discovers she's pregnant. Keeping the child means losing her business. Even more devastating, the baby is born with a disfiguring birth defect. Her carefully planned life falls apart . . . until years later when she once again meets her baby's father. Can they ever be a family?

Kindle
Nook
Smashwords


Thank you!


Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm a Wrapper NOT a Rapper

Wrapping_lady Next to the music, and the lights, and the decorations, I love wrapping Christmas presents best.  Some years I have a major wrapathon (while watching It's A Wonderful Life).  This year I've been drawing the process out.  The other day, I wrapped just the stocking stuffers.  Then I wrapped the baby's toys.  (Yes, we have a baby in the family this year.  Actually, I should say the world's cutest most mellow baby. Even when she's crabby, she doesn't cry.  How her mom lucked out, I just don't know.)

Yesterday I wrapped a bunch of presents, and I'm not finished yet.

I find it difficult to choose the wrapping paper.  I always reserve the prettiest for my Mom.  Mr. L and I always wrap all our gifts with the same paper.  (That is, all my presents will be wrapped the same, and I'll wrap his with a different paper but they'll all be the same.  Then we number them with Post-It notes.)

Katie as Prof McGonagall I don't use bows because our last batch of cats would try to eat them.  In fact, more than once I had to rewrap a present when Saint Kate (that's what Mr. L always called her, for in my eyes she could do no wrong) would chew on them. (Sorry I couldn't make Kate's picture any bigger.)

For six years Fred never cared about ribbon, but when I was doing the goodie bags for Chapter & Hearse back in July, I cut 50 lengths of curly ribbon and dropped one on trip from my office to the dining room where I was assembling the bags.  Fred ate it and decided that ribbon was better than kitty snacks.  Now I have to be very careful.  (We once had a cat who ate the plastic tinsel off the tree.  Oy ... you don't want to know what happened next.)

I'll have to sneak in some more time and do more wrapping later today.

Are you a wrapper?  Do you like it and how elaborate do you get with wrapping paper and ribbons?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have I Left It Too Late?

Stressed desserts I've been meaning to do my holiday baking for weeks now.

Oops!  Suddenly Christmas is only two days away and I haven't even started!

Double oops!

Today my agenda calls for finding a recipe online and collecting three others from the files.  Hitting the grocery store for missing ingredients is next on the list.  I WILL make the dough for the cookies I promised my brother back in December 2009.  (In fact, Dec. 25th, 2009.)

Sugar-cut-out-cookies Tomorrow I will bake two cakes and the cookies.
Saturday I will bake a pie before the turkey goes into the oven. (And I have to prepare the veggies, too.)

Why, oh why, didn't I do my baking before this?

Well, Christmas, which seemed so far in the future, suddenly snuck up on me.

I love to bake, but because of extenuating circumstances I had to give up my daily aspirin and now standing for longer than half an hour is a major pain--literally.  Therefore, Mr. Bar Stool is my new best friend.  Yes, I will sit and mix ingredients.  We will have cake. We will have cookies.  We will have pie.

I've got that computer-generated calendar going now, so next year I'm scheduling baking a LOT earlier.  Please hold me to it.

What last minute prep is on your list of things to do for the next couple of days?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Welcome to my World . . .

If you live in a snowy part of the country and have gutters on your house, you're probably well aware of ice dams.  Everyone says you have to have them, or the snow melt will wash away the dirt around your foundation, but to me gutters are pretty useless -- at least in the winter.  All they do is get choked with ice and ruin your roof.  Raking the roof of snow seems to help, but the back of my house it too tall for that, so I can only reach the roof around the front of the house.

This is what our barbecue looks like this winter.  (Note the Stalactite icicle.)

IMG_1254 IMG_1255

We won't be cooking hot dogs for quite a while. How about you?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It needs a Christmas face lift . . .

Our tree 1-13-08 Our Christmas tree is up.  So are the stockings (well, three of them).  Our Christmas cards are hanging in the entryway on the cork wall. (Yeah, 1960s retro, but I painted it a neutral brown and it kind of disappears, and it's great for hanging the Mariner's Compass quilt wallhanging my Mom made and oh yes!  The Christmas Cards every year.)

The one thing I haven't done is hang the wreath on the front door.

It's a grapevine wreath with a garland of little gold stars and a big red bow.  And I'm sick of it.

I put it together about 12 years ago and like it well enough, but it's the same every year.  I was thinking I should remove the star garland and put something else shiny on it, as well as change the bow, but It's been snowy and I didn't think about it until yesterday and I'm about shopped out.  The idea of going out in the cold and snow one more time is just too much.  And anyway, I was in Micheals the other day and just about everything is GONE.  I waited too long.

Is there some Christmas decoration around your home that's well worn and could use a face lift?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Only 20 days late

Yahoo groups Last summer, I set up an electronic calendar for myself on my yahoogroup.  Yup, I have a yahoogroup that's just for me and I set it up solely to send myself reminders.  To go to the dentist, etc.  To remind me when I need to guest posts on other blogs, etc.
The one thing I forgot to put on the calendar?  My book deadlines.  No, instead I had (earlier, I admit), put up a reminder on the shelves next to my desk.  Only I put it too high.

I looked at the note on Friday morning and -- Holy smoke!  I missed my deadline to send in the synopsis for the third Victoria Square book!!!!  Somehow I knew it must have been due about now (why was I thinking JANUARY first not DECEMBER first???) or else why would I have looked up at it?  And -- gulp -- there was the bad news.

Christmas bustle So I spent the weekend working on the synopsis.  (Along with yet more Christmas bustling.)  The thing is, I worked on that sucker for hours and hours and it's only ONE PAGE LONG.  And now that I'm all psyched to start working on the book, I have to put it off for two months while I finish up the one I'm falling behind on because of all this Christmas hustle and bustle.  (It's too bad we can't separate the month of December from the rest of the year so that we don't have to work and can enjoy it.  There must be some way to do that within the space/time continuum.)

So, off it will go to my editor and out I will go to do more hustle and bustle.
I love the holiday season, but I'll be glad when it's over so I can get some work done.

How about you?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Distractions, distractions . . .

Calendar pages Okay, I'll admit it.  Christmas is screwing up my writing.  I don't know why I'm surprised, since it happens every year.  There's just so much to do in December and writing seems the least important.  Except . . . I signed a piece of paper that says I will deliver a book on March first, and the deadline is looming bigger every day.
I think the book is going along pretty well . . . it's just not happening as fast as I would like.  And for some reason, I seem to let things interrupt my day that shouldn't.

Saltine candy2 First, I had those two craft sales.  One went really well (hurray!) and one didn't.  (Boo-hoo!)  But I worried about them for days in advance, which meant I didn't get as much writing done.  And this week I decided to get the rest of my shopping done, which meant I was at the mall or some other retail establishment during the hours I should have been in front of the computer.  And I haven't even started my baking, despite all my good intentions.  (Okay, I tested one recipe for the book.  It was delicious and we inhaled it.  SPOILER:  It's candy!)

All these interruptions aren't increasing the word count.  I'm going to have to really up the ante in January and February . . . except I'll have a new book to promote during those months. And, oh, there's a galley proof floating around there, and I wouldn't be surprised if it arrived during the holidays or right after.  (That's usually two writing days down the toilet.)

Hourglass I think when my agent negotiates a contract, I'll ask that December not be counted as an actual month of the year, and that there should be exceptions to deadlines during that time.  Wanna bet that doesn't go with my publisher's legal department?

What have you neglected that should have been done during the hustle and bustle of the holidays?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just because mine are different than yours . . . .

By E.J. Copperman

I love writing mysteries and I REALLY love hearing from the people who read them. Every one. Seriously.

Living deed But some of them worry me a bit, even as I find their attention flattering. Here's the thing: I write the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, with AN UNINVITED GHOST coming in April), and as the name might indicate, the story takes place in and around a Jersey Shore guesthouse thats... haunted. By two ghosts. In NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, they insist that the new owner of the place, a woman named Alison Kerby (that's a hint) find out who murdered them. In the second book... well, read the first book and then we'll talk.

Now, I don't know where you stand on the issue of ghosts, and you don't know where I stand, either (right now I'm sitting, but that's beside the point). And I have grown used to criticism, sometimes even taking it to heart and sometimes not. I don't think you're a pet peeve if you don't like my book--this is America. You can read any books you want.

What scares me are the people who don't like the book because they think the ghosts aren't realistic enough.

Um... what?

Topper-3 Those who are serious about their ghosts, or for that matter, really serious about their mysteries, might want to think twice before reading my books. I'm not serious about anything when I can avoid it, and the books are meant to be fun and challenging, like a crossword puzzle, but with laughs. The characters should engage you, the story should keep you turning pages, and the ghosts--well, the ghosts are characters in the book. A fiction book. A comedic mystery fiction book.

Casper-Friendly-Ghost If your ghosts don't act like my ghosts, let's assume that my dog might be a different breed from yours, or that I eat a different breakfast cereal than you do. I've heard from readers who have no problems with the idea that the owner of a guesthouse on the Jersey Shore would investigate murders, but they feel that ghosts who can be seen and heard by a select group of people (and you don't know who can and who can't--it's random) is an element that takes them out of the story and ruins the experience.

Spud Again, I can't argue with that. If something doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you. I could debate the point for hours on end, and I'm not going to change your mind. I'm guessing you wouldn't change mine, either.

But in the interest of my income and my children's astronomical college tuition, I'd appreciate it if people who believe that ghost characters are deal breakers would realize that's a personal preference and not try to dissuade someone else from reading the books.

I'm not in the habit of making threats, but I do intend to haunt anyone who ignores this plea. But hopefully, not for a very long time.
-----------------------------------------
Uninvited-ghost E.J. Copperman writes the Haunted Guest House Mysteries.  Feel free to visit the author's web site and blog. Feel free to follow on Facebook, too.  And don't Miss An Uninvited Ghost when it's released on April 5th.  (I can't wait to read it!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who says it's a winter wonderland?

Snowflake2 We are not snowed in, thank goodness, but we're sick of it already.  And it isn't even officially winter yet.

Read on the news yesterday that our town will probably be above average for snow for December.

Shovel No kidding!  My plans for the day are to rake the roof, shovel the driveway (that Mr. Plowman doesn't get) and STAY INSIDE.

Yesterday I went out five times in the yard for various chores (it was garbage day, took out the mail, raked the roof, shoveled, retrieved the mail) and I couldn't get warm again for anything.  Not even with longjohns, sweats, polar fleece and a granny square afghan.
Hurry April and May!!!  (And I don't mean people.)

What's the weather like where you are?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Isn't it pretty?

Not much to do but admire the cover for SENTENCED TO DEATH, the 5th Booktown Mystery, which will be released on June 7th.  *Sigh*

SentencedToDeath

Here's a brief synopsis of the story:  

It’s Founder’s Day in Stoneham and the whole village has turned out to celebrate in the square, including Tricia’s friend and festivities organizer Deborah Black. As everyone watches Deborah give the opening speech, a small aircraft crashes into the village gazebo, killing both Deborah and the pilot. While the Sheriff’s Department is convinced that it was an accident, Tricia has a feeling that there’s more to the story. And when she reads between the lines of the case, what she finds is worse than the most sinister whodunit…

So, what do you think?

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's with the weather?

Weather icons I get my weather reports from my mother and husband.  One or the other will tell me what's on tap for the weather on any given day, and sometimes it's conflicting.  My mother will say, "We're supposed to get rain."  Husband will say, "It's supposed to be dry all week."  Why?  They have different sources for their weather reports.  My mother relies on TV, my husband on the Internet.

Get ready I must say I've learned NOT to pay attention to any weather reports because these guys LOVE to scare the bejeepers out of you.  In fact, it seems like all TV news is based on the assumption that you don't really want to learn what's happening in the world unless you and yours MIGHT BE KILLED BY IT.  Be it a bomb, a disease or -- yes, the weather.

Before TV went digital, we had a small set in the kitchen.  Nearly every night there was some dire warning scrolling at the bottom of the screen.  I must say since we no longer watch TV while making supper, our nerves have been much calmer.  When analog TV went away, so did me watching the local newscasts--and, in particular, the weather reports.

Snow on trees Today it's either supposed to rain or snow.  Be (relatively speaking for the season) warm or cold.  I have to go to the P.O. today.  I just hope the weather doesn't bog me down.

So, what do YOU think about the weather reports you receive?


Friday, December 10, 2010

You could think of him as Tricia's stepbrother . . .

You might be surprised to find out that writers/authors actually fall in love with their characters.  Not the same way we fall in love with our significant others ... but they can become as precious to us as our pets and maybe even children.  (Um, I don't have kids, so I can't verify the last bit of that statement.)  We love them, care about them, and want them to do well.

I wish I could say that Jeff, Richard, Brenda, and Maggie have done well.  The honest truth is they haven't yet.  But, I still have hope they're going to find a new audience via e-books.

Between books, I've "played" with Jeff many times.  In fact, I have a whole notebook of short stories that explored his background and his rocky relationship with his brother Richard.  Because these stories are not mysteries, I decided not to share them with readers.  Well, except for one.

Humbug.sm I wanted to bridge the gap between Cheated By Death (the third Jeff Resnick mystery) and Bound By Suggestion (the fourth, which I have not yet released).  So I wrote a story that lays the groundwork for one of the subplots in Bound By Suggestion in a little story called BAH! HUMBUG -- and it just so happens to be a Christmas story.  It's available from Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's NOOK, and for other e-readers such as Sony and via Kobo, Apple (iPad) and Diesel--and of course via Smashwords.

BAH! HUMBUG takes place on Christmas Day--the day after the end of Cheated By Death.  Jeff and Maggie spend Christmas dinner with Maggie's relatives.  It's a Christmas to remember ... but who wants to?

Don't have an e reader?  You can download free software from Amazon and Barnes & Noble to read ebooks (or short stories) on your computer and other electronic devices.

By the way, you can try a free sample of the story via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords and then decide if you want to purchase it.

Why not give Jeff a try?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Doubles anyone?

Many days Mr. L will read tidbits out of the newspaper to me while I get the cats fed, make the coffee and get the breakfast going.  (Since he does 85% of the work for cooking dinner, I think I'm getting off easy on this--but don't tell him that.)

Anyway, yesterday I was fixing my breakfast--poached egg in the microwave--when Mr. L read a short piece on Celine Dion and her baby twins.
Celine_dion_2
I cracked open my egg and wouldn't you know it -- a double yoke.

Double yoke

How cool was that?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What keeps me from working . . .

Yesterday was errand day.  Gas up the car, go to the bank, and hit the grocery store.

I don't look forward to errand day.  For some reason, it always messes up my writing day.  I left an hour earlier than usual yesterday, thinking that would help me get back into the writing groove at the usual time, but it didn't work.

Hair-washing After all the errands were done, I kept thinking about the stuff that DIDN'T get done.  I have hardly begun my Christmas shopping, and a lot of it has to be mailed.  It's been snowy.  I don't like going out in the snow, parking, getting into the store, not finding what I want, going back out in the cold, driving somewhere else.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I want to go see the Harry Potter movie.  That will kill an entire afternoon, and since I do most of my writing in the afternoon--there's another day gone.

I have to keep reminding myself that writing books is my job and I need to stop letting interruptions keep me from my work.

Of course, the fact that I'm writing something that's REALLY BIG is sometimes also a stumbling block.  Writers usually worry about the sagging middle of a story, but this event--which I didn't even know I would be adding to the story until Saturday--is sure to keep readers turning those pages.  And the aftermath of this event is going to keep that aspect of the story alive for the rest of the book.

Kaboom Sometimes when I'm writing these REALLY BIG PARTS I have to approach the computer as though it was about to explode.  Be gentle lest it blows sky high, taking me with it.  (Stupid, but that's the way I work.)  So while I really WANT to write this part, I'm afraid of messing it up big time.

In the end, it will all work out (it always does), but right now...Oy!

How do you approach difficult parts of your job?