Friday, July 30, 2010

All Things jalapeno!

Okay, it's time for another contest and the criteria is this:

Jalapeno peppers SEND ME YOUR JALAPENO PEPPER RECIPES, STAT!!!

You see, it's like this.  For years I've tried in vain to grow bell peppers.  They just don't like me, my soil, my yard, nothing no way no how.  I only have one recipe that uses jalapeno peppers, and when I buy them locally they're $3.49 a pound!!!  So this year, I bought a six-pack of jalapeno pepper plants for less than $2 and planted them.

"Zowie!" they cried when they hit the soil.  "We like it here!"  And now I'm up to my armpits in peppers with no clue what to do with them.

So, PLEASE, send me your recipes and I'll draw at least one of them out of the hat and send a Haven't Got A Clue coffee mug.  And maybe Angelica will include that recipe in her next Easy-Does-It cookbook!

Results will be announced next Friday.  Good luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whoa! Keep swimming, swans!

Earlier this week, we were down at the cottage, supposedly to work, but somehow that didn't happen.  Walls did not get painted.  Garden did not get weeded.  Instead, I spent the time on emails, Sisters In Crime work, and -- oh yes, too little writing.

Distractions along the way were provided by Mother Nature herself. 

Mama_Swan In the last couple of years, we've had swans to entertain us.  The hunters don't like swans.  They frighten away the ducks and geese they want TO KILL.  (Although, I must say that if hunters actually eat the fowl, at least the killing serves a purpose.  Those who kill for sport are about the lowest of the low -- just my opinion.)  The DEC comes around and destroys the swan eggs every spring.  (Gotta keep the money rolling into the state from those hunting licenses you know.)  But one Mom and Pop swan outfoxed them, and not only had an egg escape the DEC, but FIVE of them.

Swans are beautiful, majestic creatures.  And seeing one take off or land on the water is something not to be missed.  They exude a feeling of serenity.  Nature at its best.

3_of_5_swan_butts So how come every time I come out with the camera, all I get are SWAN BUTTS?

Okay, the swans are hungry. Okay, right off our break wall there's a big patch of lovely, delicious weed that attracts them.  Still, can't they pose for a few shots before they chow down?  And if they have to expose their butts to the breeze, can't they do it facing the other direction?

Noooooo!

Mother_and_child_swan_butts And Mama is no more demure than her kids, although I caught her just before her tail feathers were waving in the breeze in this shot.

What's your beef with nature?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sitting all alone at my book launch

It was just a teeny little mistake.  And in fact it wasn't even a MISTAKE or a typo it was the lack of a space.

See, the other day I emailed my postcards announcing my book launch for Chapter & Hearse.  Because of space limitations on the sticker I placed on the postcards, I typed the following:

BOOKSIGNING: Aug. 5-7pm

Do you anything wrong with that?  I sure didn't.  To me it said AUGUST 5, 7 PM

But one of my readers wrote to me and said, 5-7 p.m. But WHEN????

Sitting alone I have a feeling I'll be sitting all alone at my book launch next week.

Do you think I'm doomed or would you have read it as August 5th, too?


And just for a laugh (because i could sure use one about now), go watch this video by Parnell Hall about his experiences at signings where no one shows up.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fred: Sleepless in the Summer

Fred My cat Fred has kitty OCD.  Usually he has his "funny five minutes" around 5 p.m.  But for the last two nights, he's been having a "funny FIVE HOURS."

Fred is very vocal.  He loves to talk.  It's cute at 3 p.m.  It's not so cute at 3 a.m.  He squeeks, squawks, brrrupts, and makes every other noise in between.  Our other cats say one or two things.  Not Fred.  Our other cats speak when it's important, like "feed me," or "turn on the bathroom faucet so I can have a drink," or "how about another bag of kitty cookies."  Not Fred.  He talks about everything -- ALL NIGHT LONG.

He likes to chase the other cats, too.  They, however, do NOT like to be chased.  He likes to look at the girl cats because he know it unnerves them. (He learned that from Chester.)

So, after being kept awake for three FULL HOURS -- and jarred from a light doze for another two hours -- Fred is finally tired and is thinking about a nap.  Meanwhile, I'M CRABBY, and I'm likely to be CRABBY ALL DAY. 

Oh, pardon me--must end this post.  Fred has just upchucked his entire breakfast ON THE RUG and we have run out of paper towels.

Good thing I love that cat.

Have you got a bad boy (or girl) in your house, too?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cheaters!

I'm like an absent-minded professor (without the PhD, that is). I have a very bad habit of losing things.  Mr. Lorna calls it "the drop and go" syndrome.  I'll be carrying something in my hand (glass of water, car keys, glasses, scissors, pens, pencils, camera, purse, and the list goes on and on and on) and because I'm thinking of something else, I'll set it down on my way to somewhere else . . . and forget where I put it.  This means I spend a lot of time looking for stuff.

One of the things I lose the most is reading glasses.  Now, if I only had one pair of them, it would be one thing.  But I have at LEAST six pairs of them around the house.  I keep them any place I like to plop down to read:  The dining room, the living room, my office, the bedroom, the enclosed porch, and the family room.  You'd think that with six pairs I would always have a pair available.

That would work if I didn't wear them on my travels to the kitchen, to answer the door, or wandering around looking for something else.  So I take them off, drop them wherever and keep moving.

Cheaters To fight the syndrome, instead of becoming much more efficient I've bought four more pair of "cheaters" (reading glasses).  I have no idea where I'm going to put them (there are no safe places--I forget where I put stuff, remember), so it's a fair bet that I'll lose these in no time flat, too.  (I've found if I have a glasses case in a designated spot (like my office or the porch), I'm better at putting them away. 

Guess I'd better go buy some more glasses cases.

How about you?  Do you have drop and go syndrome, too?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Major Award

Did you notice the "Top Blog Of 2010" award over there on the right?  I was awarded it just yesterday. I was flattered -- there were 45 different mystery blogs that were awarded these little nifty badges.

There was just one thing.  They came with a commercial.  When I loaded the badge, I noticed a link to a website shilling online PhDs.

Wow--I'd LOVE to have a PhD, but only if I earned it.  And while I was quite happy to accept the award, I'm not happy promoting for a company that buried a commercial along with their award.

I know a little HTML -- enough to remove the offending link.  So I'm keeping up there -- to see if I'm contacted about the missing link. (If you'll pardon the pun.)

A major award And if I'm asked to take it down ... I will.  But if I'm not . . .  Hey, how often do I win a major award?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Busy as a Bee

Busy_bee Busy, busy, busy.  I need 48 hours in a day -- just to get normal stuff done, let alone the promotional stuff that needs to happen to juggle three mystery series.

Yesterday I was a guest at the World of Books blog.  Oops -- missed it.  So I'm giving it a plug today.  If you'd like to learn about Jeff Resnick's bumpy road to publication, it's all here.

Yesterday was errand day.  Oops -- forgot to hit the Post Office.  I also finished the revisions on A Crafty Killing (which means the copy edit can't be far behind).

Toad swimming Today is another busy day.  Already I've updated two of my web sites, answered a ton of email, and have saved yet another (or was it the same?) toad from the pool.  This little guy was in dire straits.  He was languishing at the bottom of the pool.  I thought he was already dead, but when I went to retrieve the body, he moved and swam to the top, where he gasped for air and then started to sink again.  Hopefully he's all dried off and will NOT make that mistake again.

Microphone My new blinds FINALLY ARRIVED and we're going to put them up.  I've got a radio interview (and I'm not even sure where it's going to play -- but I do know it'll play on August 4th.  A podcast maybe?). And last on the agenda -- yet another visit to the dentist.  (They love to see me and my checkbook coming.)

Tomorrow, I'll jump back into the second Victoria Square book (The Walled Flower).  Yipes!  Only five weeks before I have to turn it in.  And did I mention those 2100 postcards for Chapter & Hearse that need stamps and address labels?

I'm not complaining.  I like busy work.  I just like it to come in smaller waves.

What's keeping you busy today?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I knew the answer before she said it

Yesterday was my 19th Wedding Anniversary.  To celebrate, Mr. Lorna and I went out to lunch at the wonderful little restaurant around the corner from us.  (They make a pretty mean martini there, too.)

Brocolli quiche Anyway, I've been hankering for a piece of quiche for quite some time and thought -- that's what I'll have.  Mr. Lorna warned me that the quiche of the day would be broccoli and cheddar.  Why?  Because whenever there's a quiche of the day, no matter WHERE we go for lunch, it's ALWAYS broccoli and cheddar.

Now, I happen to be very fond of both broccoli AND cheddar, but for some reason, not in the same dish. Why or WHY do restaurants insist that this is the only quiche that people want to eat?

Is there a glut of broccoli?  If so, I hadn't heard about it (or seen it in the supermarket).  Has something happened to the cheese industry and now they're ONLY making cheddar?  (Hmm...maybe I should warn my friend Avery Aames, who writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries -- maybe her character can solve this mystery.)

As it happens, I had my back-up choice all picked out.  Mediterranean pasta, with artichoke hearts,  kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and a bunch of other good stuff. 

Eventually our waitress asked the dreaded question:  "Ready to order?"

Brocolli quiche2 "What's the quiche of the day?"

"Broccoli and cheddar.  And it comes with a wonderful salad all studded with strawberries and melon."

(Did I mention that I absolutely LOATHE strawberries and melon?)

Then she paused and added as an afterthought, and in a much more quiet voice, like it was an embarrassment.  "Oh, and we also have quiche Lorraine."

BINGO!

It was de-lish!

Is there something you like to order at restaurants but they never seem to have?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It makes a funny sound

There are some subjects one just doesn't discuss much.  Like toilets.  But we've recently been going through a bathroom "refit" and suddenly the subject of toilets became quite important.

Last week was kind of "the week from hell."  I stayed at our family's cottage while the bathroom refit happened.  That way I could do some writing (pipe dream) and be on hand to answer questions about the face lift.  Only it happened to be extremely hot and HUMID, making it uncomfortable for everyone.  (Yeah, where were those lake breezes the entire week?)

From day one, everything went wrong.  Old medicine cabinet also contained a light and a plug.  Light and plug had to be rerouted.  Medicine cabinet was a different shape.  Lots of problems there.  Well, at least we won't have to replace the toilet.

But we did.  Not only did it sweat a lot, but it was cracked.  So hubby bought a new one and brought it down.

Toilet That sucker was HEAVY--or at least too heavy for me to lift out of the backseat of Hubby's car.  I left it to the contractors and went back to work.  (Cough, cough.)  A couple of hours later, the guys were ready to leave for the day and asked me to come and look at the work done.  And -- whoa!  What was that tiny (eco-friendly) toilet doing in our bathroom?

"Go ahead, give it a flush!" he encouraged.  So I did. 

Instead of the WA-SHOOM! I was used to hearing, this thing went "Blurt!"

(So that's what I've named it, Blurt.  Hubby calls it toy-let.) 

Blurt's not very good at his job.  Old toilet (which had no name) went about his business (and very well, I might add) with a three gallon tank for at least 30 years.  Blurt's been a pain in the behind in just a week.  You see, Blurt doesn't like to flush anything but water.  Blurt's purpose was to save water, but when you have to flush two--three--or even four times, it seems to be using a lot more water than our old toilet.

I'm going to be watching our water bill to see if we actually do use less (hard to tell, they charge you a minimum whether you use that amount or not).

What eco-friendly things have you found that aren't as good as their predecessors? 

Monday, July 19, 2010

And so little time in a day . . .

Chapter.sm It seems like it takes forever for a book to be published.  Usually it's 12-24 months.  It's only two weeks and a day until Chapter & Hearse is released and it seems like that isn't going to be nearly enough time to get everything done that needs to get done.

What am I doing?  Interviews, writing blog posts, mailing out bookmarks and bookplates.  Next up are postcards (almost 2000 of them to readers and libraries), which means printing out lots of labels and sticking on lots of stamps.  (Oh, boy--I can watch movies (or at least listen) while I do that and not feel guilty!)

I've also got to update my web sites, and get ready for my book launch (On August 5th at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Greece Ridge Center Mall, Rochester, NY).  I'm going to be handing out "goody" bags to everybody who shows up at the launch, so I need to get them ready, too.  (Hmm...what color ribbon should I tie them with? See, I have scads of decisions to make.)

Doesn't this sound like an awful lot of hard, boring work?

It is and ... I LOVE IT!

Some people thought I had the worst job in the world, at my last job in Corporate America, but I actually enjoyed it because there was lots of nit-picky work to be done.  For some oddball reason, I love digging into that kind of work.  So while on one hand I'm feeling overwhelmed (let's not forget, I have a a rewrite to hand into my editor this week, and finish a book by September 1st -- and hand in a synopsis by September 10th), I'm also quite happy to see all the little items on my things-to-do list get crossed off.

What weird stuff do you enjoy that other people might this is boring?

Friday, July 16, 2010

And, Voila! A New Web Site!

A long, long time ago, I hired a web site designer to come up with a charming little web site for me.  That was before I became published.  It didn't have much of a focus because there I was a writer who wasn't published--at least not in novel length.  So I pushed real hard to let people know that I had some street cred.  A whole bunch of short story sales.  The only problem was, most of the stories were sold to a confession magazine (True Love).  Not only that, they don't have "by lines," so no one knew it was me who actually wrote them.

Fast forward several years.  I sold my first novel.  Only it wasn't under my name, it was under the L.L. Bartlett moniker.  Okay, that meant I needed another web site, because I was just sure the book would do well and people would be hungering to search me out.

Nope.  Didn't happen (on either account).

Then in 2006, I got a contract to write the Booktown Mystery series ... the only problem was, it was under a pseudonym:  Lorna Barrett.  The first book came out in 2008 and Lorna needed her own web site.  So now I was juggling THREE of them.

*sigh*

But finally, FINALLY in 2009 I sold the Victoria Square Mystery series to Berkley Prime Crime and at last the first book (A Crafty Killing)  would be published under my OWN Name:  Lorraine Bartlett.  One snag?  The first book wouldn't come out until 2011.  *Yawn*  That's a long time to wait.  And the worst part -- Lorna has a LOT of readers because I've worked very hard to get Lorna's name out there, and had a lot of luck and support from Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers. Peacock But how am I going to get the word out that Lorna and Lorraine are the same person?

Well, revamping the old Lorraine web site wouldn't hurt, and with the enormous help of Glass Slipper Web Design, I've done just that, and I'm as proud as a peacock to show it off, too.

www.LorraineBartlett.com is now live.  There are a lot of pages to explore.  I'd love to know what you all think about it?

(P.S. Remember I told you about the picture of the candy jar--well there it is in the banner.  W00t!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's the thing on the steering column, buddy

 By Guest Blogger Mary Jane Maffini

Maryjane4 Now look here, buddy in the Cadillac Escalade: if you can afford that car, you’d think you’d be smart enough to signal when you plan a sudden turn. Just sayin’ as I scrape myself off the dash. Unless you think you are above the law because you’re sitting so high up there. Guess you can afford the lawyer.

Turn signal And as for you, mister with the hat. Are you really choosing to drive 35 in the 55 zone because you are safety conscious? I’m not buying that. Sooner or later, one of the ten cars behind you is going to make a break for it and try passing, safe or not. Think loud bang noises. I suppose you’ll shake your hat head disapprovingly. But never mind that. What’s actually bugging me about you (and I have lots of time to think about it because I’m stuck doing 35 in a 55 zone) is that you haven’t figured out what to do with that little stick thingie on the left hand side of your steering column. Here’s a hint: it’s called a turn signal. Turn. Signal. When you move it up or down, it will cause the appropriate signal light on your vehicle to indicate, well, turns.

I know. What a sensational new notion! As you might suspect, it is to indicate that you are going to turn shortly, say at the next intersection or into the driveway coming up.

Sorry. I couldn’t help yelling at those people. They just get to me. Then, there are the folks who use their signal to mean ‘Hey, look at me! I’m in the process of turning this second!’ Some of them like to let us know that they have already turned by giving us a couple of blinks. ‘Hey! Look where I just went!’

Turn blinker Or the ladies who come to a complete stop before making that turn. Sometimes in the middle of the road. As if they had no idea where they’d head off to next. Me? I had to stand on my brakes the last time. Really, that’s not what the little stick is about. It’s to give people information. When used correctly it can prevent collisions and near misses. Imagine my surprise when a confused gentleman changed lanes three times today and didn’t signal a single one. Shoulder check? I think not. I spotted a couple of drivers give him the finger but I guess he didn’t notice. He didn’t need to signal. He knew where he was going.

Maybe he’s grandpa to buddy in the backwards baseball cap driving the ancient souped-up Supra who just shot across four lanes of traffic at a right angle from the fast lane to get to the off ramp. Apparently there’s no need to signal there, because when you’re crossing four lanes of highway well above the speed limit, it should be obvious that you’re heading for the off ramp. Or with luck the nearest lock-up.

Old lady driving My friend Sue had an ancient auntie, Helen (a retired librarian a woman of strong opinions) who drove in a small Ontario town and refused on principle to use her turn signals. It’s none of their business which way I’m turning,” she continued to say as long as she was able to drive. The roads are a bit safer since she took that opinion to the great beyond. But I argue that where other drivers are going IS my business, not only because I missed a lovely green light due to someone else’s last minute turn, but because I have a life too, you know. I’d like to hang on to it.

So this summer, don’t make the rest of us peevish and if you see this license plate, make sure you signal!

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s hear from you. What annoys you most about the folks you meet on the road?
------------------------------

Closet Confidential Mary Jane Maffini writes three (count 'em!) mystery series. They are: The Fiona Silk Mysteries, the Camilla MacPhee Mysteries, and the fabulous Charlotte Adams professional organizer series from Berkley Prime Crime. As it happens, Mary Jand has a new book out this month called CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL. You can get it (and the others in this series) at your favorite chain bookstore -- and many independents. Or just click on this link and order it online. Check out Mary Jane's website. You can also find her on the Killer Characters blog every 14th of the month. (Hey, that was just the yesterday!)



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And everything will go smoothly . . . NOT!

Yesterday morning, I hit the road before 7 a.m. and headed to our family's summer cottage.  After thinking about it for five or six years, it was time for our bathroom to get a facelift.

The contractor and son showed up about half an hour late, but that was okay--as they had originally intended to start today.  Everything was going to go just as planned and the refit would be done by Thursday.

Demo Okay, that was the dream.  The demo went fast.  Off came the old paneling, off came the old medicine chest (which had a light incorporated into it).  First fix, adding a plug.  (The old medicine chest also had a plug on it -- way up high, difficult to use because you couldn't SEE it.)  First problem, no ground.  A plug within five feet of a sink needs a ground fault interrupt (is that right?).  Off to the store to buy wire. (While that happened, the old wallpaper got scraped from the walls.) Next thing you know, holes being drilled, wire being strung.  Two hours later -- a plug that works and we won't get fried.

Lunch break--lunch break!

Nonsweat toilet In the afternoon, we looked at the mold on the wall from the sweating toilet.  I knew that toilet was a problem, but I didn't know HOW much of a problem.  Turns out there's an easy fix--IF I want the toilet to wear a sweater for the rest of its life or IF I can find a styrofoam insert to go in it OR if I can fashion an insert out of stryofoam myself.  That's for another day.  But we don't want mold on the drywall or to undermine the new floor (when it goes down).

Next up, framing in the new medicine chest (the old one was horizontal, this one is vertical), and adding the new light fixture, or at least putting in a new junction box.  Oops--major 2 x 4 in the way.  Smiling contractor says he'll find a way to get it in there.  It only took about 90 minutes.

Late in the afternoon, drywall compound went on the walls.  Contractor left an isolating fan to try the mud.  Why?  Oh, we're on water and the humidity was about 90% yesterday.  (BTW, it DID dry.  At about 3 a.m.)

Refitting the bathroom is kind of a bittersweet thing.  My Dad built the bathroom.  When he bought the place, there was a toilet on a little screened porch.  That's it.  Dad and my brothers added two decent sized bedrooms and converted the toilet on a porch to a real bathroom with a shower.  Dad didn't have a lot of money back then and "it's only a cottage," so the bathroom wasn't exactly pretty, but it was functional. 

Dad didn't like the idea of changing things, so I didn't feel comfortable even painting the bathroom (I had the color picked out six years ago).  Now that Dad's gone, we decided we would replace the paneling with beadboard and paint the wall above it.  It kind of escalated.  Oh, let's put in a plug.  Oh, lets get the new medicine cabinet (which necessitated the light).  And now ... we have to address that sweating toilet.

The original estimate was two-three days.  Now we're looking at four to five.  And if you're wondering why I don't have any pictures, I did bring my camera, but don't have the software on my laptop to download them. 

But I've been asked by Facebook friends to show lots of pix, and I'll probably just upload it all to facebook sometime next week.  I'll keep you posted. 

Is there a room in your house that needs a facelift?
--------------------------------------------------
UPDATE:  Not only was the toilet sweating, but it was cracked, too.  Luckily, Hubby was no the way with some other supplies and he picked up a toilet, too.  So that'll get installed today (thank goodness.  It's a long walk to my neighbor's house in the middle of the night).  And wasn't it nice of my neighbor to let me use her facilities during the l-o-n-g day our bathroom was out of commission.  (Yea, Cindy!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hope it works this time

Hot as hell The long hot summer seems to be getting longer and HOTTER.  Not only that, but the lack of a blind saga continues.  Back on June 22nd, I wrote about how I was about to be spared being fried every afternoon in my home office.  We bought a black-out blind and all I had to do was install it.

Well, THAT didn't work out.  The window was too shallow and the decorative molding on the casing prevented installation.  What did that leave me with?  A useless blind I couldn't take back (it had been cut to size).

Window blind But, one of my readers (Hi, Julie!) suggested we try a place online--and that they'd even send samples for color.  So, we ordered one -- and today it SHOULD arrive. (It was shipped last week.)  The blind was at LEAST $100 cheaper than the ones we saw at Home Depot and with free shipping. 

Oh, how I'm looking forward to that installation. You see, I've had my desk pulled away from the wall and a stepladder standing in front of the window since June 22nd.  That means I trip over the chair, the printer, the fan and my little work table on almost an hourly basis. 

Ups_man Yup, when the UPS man arrives today I may just throw my arms around him and kiss him.  SWAK!

I just know I'm going to love my new blinds!

Friday, July 9, 2010

See what I found in my yard

For the last week or so, every time I look out the kitchen window, I've seen a bird fly into the arborvitae. Yesterday, I saw why.  Baby birds in a nest.

Baby birds 1  This morning, I ventured out with my camera to take a look.  Mama bird (Robin?) had done a good job with camouflage, even covering the babies with a small branch. Surprisingly, Mama built her nest only about four feet off the ground, and there are at least five or six feral cats roaming the area -- at least they were during the winter.

I hope the babies make it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Look, Ma, we made a movie!

For the past couple of days, my friend Ellery Adams and I have been pretending we're Steven Spielberg -- or rather, Nora Ephron -- and have been making a movie.  A movie of what?  A book trailer, for Chapter & Hearse.  I chose the pictures and wrote a (bad) script.  Ellery made the movie, chose the music, and rewrote the "script" (which is pretty amazing as she hasn't read the book).

And how did it turn out?

You tell me.  (Please.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Book Day To ...

Holy Hole in a Doughnut, Batman--it's the first Tuesday in the month, and you know what that means?

NEW BOOKS OUT TODAY!

And even better, three of the new books out today are by friends of mine.

Closet CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL by Mary Jane Maffini
Fourth in the series featuring organizer and amateur sleuth Charlotte Adams, following Death Loves a Messy Desk. A friend hires Charlotte to organize her closets and prove that her daughter's accident was murder. And now Charlotte has to get a house-and her suspects-in order.

My personal connection:  Mary Jane and I met because we have the same editor, and though we've only known each other a year, it feels like a dozen.  She's a great pal and her love of her dachshunds, Daisy and Lily, is legendary.  (They are the cutest things.  Check out MJ's Facebook page to see the little darlings.)

Quiche THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE by Avery Aames
Welcome to the grand opening of Fromagerie Bessette. Or as it's more commonly known by the residents of small-town Providence, Ohio-the Cheese Shop. Proprietor Charlotte Bessette has prepared a delightful sampling of bold Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, delicious tortes of Stilton and Mascarpone, and a taste of Sauvignon Blanc-but someone else has decided to make a little crime of passion the piece de resistance. Right outside the shop Charlotte finds a body, the victim stabbed to death with one of her prized olive-wood handled knives.
My personal connection:  Avery and I were critique partners for a time, and we've been members of the same Sisters In Crime Chapter for at least a decade, so we're old pals.  I was thrilled to give a blurb for Avery's debut novel (it's right on the front cover, too!).

Delicious suspicious DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS by Riley Adams
Here's what Publisher's Weekly said:  In this sassy first in a new series from Adams (the pseudonym of Elizabeth Spann Craig), Lulu Taylor, owner of Aunt Pat's, a Memphis,Tenn., rib eatery, is all aflutter because the Cooking Channel has sent food scout Rebecca Adrian to check out Lulu's down-home specialties for a future show. Too bad Rebecca's searching for dirt as well as the best BBQ in Memphis. She quickly insults a number of people, including Lulu's daughter-in-law, Sara, and Lulu's son, Seb, who happens to be Rebecca's former boyfriend. When Rebecca's poisoned, chaos reigns. Lulu later uncovers the corpse of Mildred Cameron, an elderly bookseller and aspiring romance author/sleuth, who was also offended by the tart-tongued Rebecca. Aiding and abetting Lulu's investigation are the Graces, docents at Graceland, whose devotion to Elvis adds some goofy firepower to this sometimes poky paint-by-the-numbers cozy.

My personal connection:  Riley and I are members of the same cozy authors yahoo group, where we met online.  I've since met her in person at Malice Domestic.  She's a great gal and a wonderful writer.

I hope you'll head out to your favorite bookstore and give these authors a try. I promise--you won't regret it!


Monday, July 5, 2010

What's in a cover?

Covers sell books.  As a traditionally published author, I have little to do with the covers on my books.  I have been asked what I'd like to see, and sometimes I get what I want, but more often than not -- I don't.  (Same goes for titles.)  Big time publishers have whole marketing departments that study what people like.

Brown_Kitteh For instance, my cover for A Crafty Killing is very nice.  It's pretty, and it's got a nice logo at the top right-hand corner.  But it's not what I envisioned, mainly because the cover artist painted something out of a New England village, and my story takes place in Western New York--two very different regions.  Will that matter to the average reader?  Probably not.  But it also features a ginger cat, when the cat in the book is a brown tabby.  Through the magic of Photoshop, one of my readers changed the cat -- whoa!  I wonder if my publisher can do a little Photoshop magic as well.  (I think I'll ask.)

I've put several of my short stories on Amazon.  One of them is doing really well.  (I've talked about it before here.)  The others?  Not so good.  And I think it's the covers that are holding them back.  Or at least, that's what I HOPE is holding them back.  So it's back to the drawing board time.

What I did for love I thought the cover for What I Did For Love was kinda neat.  Sweet.  (It involves a woman falling for a man accused of rape.)  But apparently it's also boring for the reader.  Heart-handcuffsI'm thinking of changing it to see if sales pick up.  Here's the current cover on the left.

I'd do something with this picture for the proposed new cover.  What do you think you'd like better?


(And if you need to make the decision based on the story itself, you can read it free here -- just scroll down the page to find the link.)

And while I'm on the subject, my friend author Doranna Durgin has the same dilemma and you could help her out, too.  Check out her blog post on the same subject.

Bottom line, how much influence does a cover--and the title--have on your decision to buy a book?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Christmas in July!

How's the heat where you are?  Baking from that old July sun?  How about a little something to cool you off?  A little Christmas in July?

Humbug.sm I have just the thing.  "Bah! Humbug."  No, not Dickens' Christmas Carol, but a little Christmas story I wrote for one of my characters -- Jeff Resnick.
The story takes place the day after the end of Cheated By Death.  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?
Bah! Humbug is available on Kindle and Smashwords.  You don't need an e reader, either.  You can download to your computer and read on screen or print it out--it's that easy.

I hope you'll give Jeff (and yourself) an early Christmas present and read his story.

Now where's my fan -- I need to cool off!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What was it missing? The most important thing.

Hpprinter A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new printer.  I decided not to buy the most basic, El-Cheapo one because the time I did that it lasted a couple of weeks and poof!  Broken.  So this time, I bought a middle of the road one and paid (on sale) $129.99.

Low and behold I get this little printer home, go to set it up and -- hello!  There's no printer cord.  I spent $129 (plus 8% tax) to buy this sucker, and I can't use it until I go back to the store to buy a cord to hook it up to my computer. 

Holy smoke--The prices were ridiculous!  It was $34 for a six foot cord.  I went for the three foot cord thinking that since the printer was going to be right next to the computer that it would do.  And it does--just barely.  The cost?  $24.99 plus tax.

That meant my $130 printer was really $155.  Grrrrrr!

And what has some cheapskate company gypped you out of lately?