Monday, February 28, 2011

Easier than pie to make!

Cream-Scones Got a hankering for scones?  Here's a really easy recipe that comes out right every time:

2  cups Original Bisquick® mix 
1/3  cup finely chopped raisins (or sultanas, currants, or other dried fruit)
3  tablespoons sugar 
1/3  cup whipping (heavy) cream 
1  egg 
2  tablespoons milk 
2  tablespoons sugar 
     
Heat oven to 425ºF. Grease cookie sheet. Mix Bisquick, fruit, 3 tablespoons sugar, the whipping cream and egg until soft dough forms. Turn dough onto surface dusted with Bisquick; roll in Bisquick to coat. Shape into ball; knead 10 times.

Pat dough into 8-inch circle on cookie sheet (if dough is sticky, dip fingers into Bisquick). Brush dough with milk; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut into 8 wedges but do not separate.

Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown; carefully separate wedges. Serve warm.

Enjoy!
-----------
By the way, I sent out my latest E newsletter today.  You didn't get it?  Check your SPAM folder.  Not there?  Did you sign up?  You can sign up right here on this blog.  Scroll down to find the form.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recycling I Will Go . . .

ROTFLaughing Once upon a time I belonged to a local writers group.  Several of the ladies had been published.  Of course in those days, I thought published meant rolling in dough.

I was shocked to learn that one of the multi-published authors would reuse her manuscript drafts and print on the other side of the paper.
Whoa!  I'll never do that.

Big blue Selectric I always worked from clean copy.  In the olden days, that mean if I made a mark on a manuscript, I'd retype the whole page and/or chapter.  We're talking in the days of electric typewriters here.  When the computer came along, I'd just print out a fresh page.

Well, a few years went by.  I lost my day job, and darned if using the backside of a sheet of paper didn't seem like a pretty smart way to go, especially with the cost of paper constantly rising.

I had a HUGE stack of old manuscript pages I've slowly been going through and--holy smoke--this week I ran out.  No more big pile (and we're talking over a foot tall at one point) pile of paper. Good grief!  Now I was going to have to use NEW, UNTOUCHED paper!!!

I actually felt panicky.

Copy paper And then to make it worse the dreaded toner light on my printer went on.

I see a trip to Office Max in my future.

What do you recycle on a regular basis?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey, stop messing up the desert!

By Doranna Durgin
100411playfight23 I live in the Tijeras Canyon foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It's an upper Sonoran ecology with high desert mountain/plains transitional area; we're just close enough so we're still part of the foothills' rolling, sloped flats and deep arroyos; our little swale is surrounded on all sides by  jagged, steep ridges.

We're lucky enough to  live near a wonderful collection of open land acres--at least, that's what they are for now.  They belong to the school system, but nothing's happening there and they're more or less community-use.  A couple of us on horses…others on ATVs.

It turns out there aren't a whole lot of things more fun than riding bareback through the arroyos: middle-aged me on my getting-older Lipizzan, playing with nature's rollercoasters.

Too bad some in this community is just plain stoopit.  This is a fragile land of sparse bunch grasses, juniper and cedar, and scattered ponderosa and piñons.  Any areas of unprotected adobe soil are rock hard in the summer and pure, unadulterated, impossible-to-imagine clay-sand splooge in the winter.  It erodes easily, and needs all the protection it can get from those bunch grasses.  For that reason, I strictly manage my horse's access to his pasture, and I don't ride the open land when the ground is steeped in snow-melt.

Atv-er Dear ATV-riders: 

THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DO DOUGHNUTS ON THE OPEN LAND.

Destroyed grasses, ripped and vulnerable soil, tire treads to gather and channel water...

Dear ATV-riders:  It's the only earth we've got, and it is not yours to destroy.  Grow up.
==================================
Doranna responded to all early injunctions to "put down that book/notebook and go outside to play" by climbing trees to read & write. Such quirkiness of spirit has led to an eclectic publishing journey, spanning genres and form to include mystery, SF/F, action-romance, paranormal, franchise, and a slew of essays and short stories. 
C.storm.reckoning.SM
Her new release is Storm of Reckoning:  Lisa McGarrity exists to hunt ghosts... but lately, it seems as if the ghosts exist to hunt her. And while fierce, mostly human Trevarr exists to hunt demons, lately he's looking over his own shoulder... and hers. It's time to figure out what's going on in the Southwest...
For more information on Doranna and her books, visit her web site:  www.Doranna.net -- and check out her blog, Wordplay.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Someplace WARM

Tropical morning For weeks now I've been playing a new age CD called Tropical Morning (by David Arkenstone).  Except for having too many wild bird and insect noises (Mr. L complains about them), it's lovely, background music with gentle waves lapping.

Best of all . . .it's WARM.  I mean, TROPICAL.  The cover has a sunrise and palm fronds.  It's been cold, Cold, COLD here in Western NY since November.

I have been bundled up since October.

The calendar says we have four more weeks of winter, but let's be honest,it isn't going to be warm until at least May (around here, anyway), and I'll still be wearing sweatshirts until June. Then suddenly, it'll be too hot for three months.

Mr. L says we should've moved to San Diego where the weather is fine all year.  But we're stuck here in Western NY and I don't think we're going anywhere else.

Where would you live if you could afford to move/live anywhere?  (I'm thinking England, which can be just as raw. Go figure!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I like the old ones the best . . .

Yesterday I finally took down the Christmas cards.  They had decorated the cork wall in our entry since early December.  Now the wall seems so ... BARE.

Now I have to decide which ones to keep.  The thing is, I love cards.  I love getting them, I love giving them, and I love BUYING them.  I have so many cards you wouldn't believe it.  I have every birthday card I've received since age 8.

I buy cards at yard sales, at crafts stores, and even the Dollar Store.  (The one place I don't buy cards is the Hallmark store.  Wow!  They're gorgeous, but boy do they cost.)

Vintage b day card I've got boxes full of new cards I'll probably never send, and boxes full of old cards that somebody else once sent.  (I love those the best.)  Last summer I bought a small box made out of laminated Christmas cards.  I was going to put my vintage Christmas cards in them for display . . . and somehow never got around to it.

(Isn't this card cute?  She'd make a perfect girlfriend for Captain Haviland, the black standard poodle in the Books By The Bay cozy series by my chum Ellery Adams. The second book in that series, A Deadly Cliche, comes out next Tuesday! Can't wait!)

Do I really need all these cards?

Nope.  But I guess they've become a collection now.

What useless thing do you collect?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Look, I can juggle!

Stressed desserts This week I'm in the middle of three writing projects.  Can you say STRESS???  But it's good stress for once because I'm enjoying it.  How often does one get to read three of their different projects in one week.

Yesterday morning I finished my rewrite on MURDER ON THE HALF SHELF, the 6th Booktown Mystery, and shipped it off to my first reader for input.  (So far she's liking it.  Hey, Mikey!)

Within a couple of hours, I hauled out BOUND BY SUGGESTION, Jeff Resnick Book #4.  It needs a small rewrite before it goes up on Kindle and is made into a Trade Paperback (hopefully next month.  The cover is scheduled for delivery the week of the 14th.)

On tap for today is the galley proof for SENTENCED TO DEATH, the 5th Booktown Mystery, that'll be published June 7th.

Woman_juggling Here's the work plan:  Read the galley proof during the day.  Read Bound By Suggestion during Happy Hour.  In the evening, add changes to Bound.When Murder on The Half Shelf returns, it gets top priority.  Technically, it's not due until March 10th, but I want that puppy out of here on March 1st.  The Galley has a deadline of March 3rd.  I need to start writing the third Victoria Square Mystery beginning in early March if I want to have it done for its September 1st deadline.

While I'm writing that, I have a proposal and synopsis to write and two short stories to finish, and I'd like to butcher the first 2nd Jeff Resnick book to upload as a novella.  There are important plot points in that book that are used the subsequent books.  It can't go as is because I used some plot points in Dead in Red (the 2nd 2nd Jeff Resnick book.  Long story.)
So, that's what I call juggling.

I'm psyched. This is going to either be a fun writing year or the writing year from hell.

Now to hope people will want to read all these projects.

What are you juggling?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Outstanding news!

Weee, several of my pals have been nominated for Agatha Awards for their outstanding novels and short story.
Truly madly
Best Novel:  Truly Madly by Heather Webber

PTA
Best First Novel:  Murder at the PTA by  Laura Alden

Quiche
  Best First Novel:  The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames

Best Short Story:  So Much In Common by Mary Jane Maffini

See you at the awards banquet on April 30th!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

I fell off the wagon . . .

Only two days into the WW program and I fell off the wagon.

Indian buffet

Yesterday Mr. L and I drove all over the area to do drop-in signings for A Crafty Killing at area bookstores.  And darnitall, didn't we end up near my favorite Indian restaurant?  Those of you who know me well know I brake for Indian food.  Any time--any where.

Indian food
Luckily for my waistline, we don't have an Indian restaurant in my part of town.  But when I hit Henrietta--watch out.  And didn't I hit the buffet twice.  And didn't they bring us a EXTRA basket of fresh-made naan!

Red wagon I'm back on the wagon today, but I dreamed about aloo matar last night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To Chester's delight . . .

Menorah What does the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) and my bowl of homegrown catnip have in common?

Both represent miracles.

Hanukkah legend has it that a lamp with enough oil to burn for one night, miraculously burned for eight.

Chester_in_bed My Tupperware bowl of catnip from last season should have been used up months ago, but there's just a little bit at the bottom, and no matter how much I give Chester, there always seems to be more.

Wha?

P.S.  Chester is in "watch him" mode.  He's better, but not quite 100%.  (Maybe 95%)  For now, we'll take it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's hard to celebrate without the honoree

Today would have been my Dad's 85th birthday.

In years past, we would have my parents to dinner.  Dad and I would have a martini (served in the beautiful red martini glasses). Mr. L would make lobster, and afterwards we'd have cake and sing.

This is the second February 15th to roll around without my Dad.

But I'll hoist a martini in his honor tonight, and probably shed more than a couple of tears today.  Love doesn't end when you lose someone, that's for sure.

Happy Birthday, Dad.
Large happy birthday cake

Monday, February 14, 2011

And they didn't live happily ever after . . .

Valentine candy And so it's Valentine's Day.  A day we think of with fondness, hearts, flowers, chocolates, and above all LOVE.

Sadly, not all love stories have happy endings.

Last week a divorcing couple in our area had one argument too many that ended with two shotgun blasts.

That was last Wednesday.  The names were withheld pending the notification of relatives.

So it wasn't until Saturday afternoon, when I finally had a look at the morning paper, that I discovered who one of the victims was.  The woman at my dentist's office who scheduled all my appointments.  Seeing her picture in the paper really threw me.  Accounts of murder become doubly chilling when it's someone you actually know.

Okay, I did not know this woman personally.  But I knew her--I spoke to her on at least six occasions.  She was there every time I went to the dentist for this entire ordeal of getting dental implants.  She won't be there when I go next Monday.

How terrible for her family.  How terrible for her friends. How terrible for her co-workers.

Valentine hands And here it is Valentine's Day.  A day of love and this poor woman is being buried.

Oddly enough, it makes me appreciate the day even more.  Don't forget to tell someone you love that you love them.  I know I will.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Failure makes me even more determined

This is been a disappointing week.

Crafty Killing.bn FIrst of all, Wednesday was D-Day.  Would A Crafty Killing make it to the New York Times bestsellers list?  It had a hefty print run, I'd been busting my butt for TWENTY THREE MONTHS to get the word out to Lorna's readers that Lorna and Lorraine were the same author.  I sent out over 3,000 postcards, but obviously not to the people who buy from stores that report to the New York Times.

I feel like a complete and utter failure.

I've been on the Atkins diet for two weeks.  I lost two pounds the first week.  I GAINED a pound the second week.

I feel like a complete and utter failure.

I could just give up on trying to let my readers know that Lorna and Lorraine are the same person.

I could just give up and go back to my other eating habits.

Instead, I'm going to change tacks.

Weight watchers I'm going back on Weight Watchers.  It's the best diet/lifestyle plan there is.  I was too stressed to do it while I was waiting to find out about A Crafty Killing's sales status.  Well, that stress is gone. I hate the thought of counting points and keeping a food diary, but . . . I want to lose weight because A) I'm vain and B) I don't want to end up with diabetes like my Dad and die a horrible death twenty-thirty years down the road.

The next Victoria Square book isn't coming out for a year.  That gives me a lot of time to keep pushing the first one, trying to find Lorna's readers and let them know and . . . hoping for the best.

So, I'm picking myself up, dusting myself off and starting over again.

What else can I do?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Did you really mean what you said?

Do you know what e readers call traditionally published books?  Dead tree books.

I've heard from many Booktown readers who tell me they would LOVE to read my Jeff Resnick series . . . if only they could hold it in their hands.  Smell the smell of a newly printed book, and keep it on their shelf forever.

Well, I've called your bluff.  The Jeff Resnick books are once again in print.  And for one of them, it's FINALLY in print.  And here they with a brief description and links to purchase:

MOTM-ebook.sm-1 Murder on the Mind
Print Version  $13.95, Trade paperback
Kindle ~ Nook ~ Sony E Reader ~ Smashwords ~ iPad
After a mugging in Manhattan leaves him with a broken arm and fractured skull, insurance investigator Jeff Resnick reluctantly agrees to recover at the home of his estranged half brother, Richard.  At first, Jeff believes his graphic nightmares of murder are just the workings of his traumatized mind.  But when a local banker is found dead, Jeff believes the attack has left him with a sixth sense--an ability to see murder before it happens.

Piecing together clues he saw in his dreams, Jeff attempts to solve the crime.  His brother Richard is skeptical, but unsettling developments begin to forge a tentative bond.  Soon, things that couldn’t be explained by premonition come to light, and Jeff finds himself probing into dangerous secrets that touch his own traumatic past in wintry Buffalo--where a killer is ready to darken Jeff’s visions permanently.

DIRsmall Dead In Red
Hardcover from my web site, postage paid, $11 media rate, $13 priority, $22 International
Sometimes it seems like murder and mayhem follow Jeff Resnick, challenging his psychic “sixth sense” to solve crimes.  Since the vicious mugging that changed his life, he’s tried to keep his unwanted gift in check.  But when a bartender at his favorite watering hole is murdered, visions of a sparkling red woman’s high-heeled shoe and a pair of bloody hands linger in his mind--and hit too close to home.  When Jeff’s older brother, Richard, last helped him with an investigation, it nearly cost him his life.  Still, Richard is determined to tag along as Jeff is drawn into the seamy world of fetishes and drag queens to find a murderer before another life is taken.


DEAD_IN_RED-Kindle-sm Dead In Red
Kindle
Nook
Sony E Reader
Smashwords
iPad
Kobo
Diesel
(Isn't this new cover intriguing?)





CHEATED_no_2.sm Cheated By Death
first time in print, $13.95 Trade paperback
Kindle ~ Nook ~ Sony e Reader ~ Smashwords ~ Kobo
In this third of a 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 womens 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.





So, was it just talk, or will readers who don't have e readers embrace these books?

WORD OF WARNING:  These books are not cozy mysteries.  They're either psychological suspense or could be classed as a paranormal thriller.  It depends on who's making the classification.  But if you look at the Amazon reviews, you'll find they have mostly received five stars reviews.  No brag, just fact.

So, now that I've called your bluff, will you call mine?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Good Night's Sleep

Beauiful bedding One of the things I've learned from watching GET IT SOLD is that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, but beautiful bedding doesn't hurt.

I must admit, I love looking at catalogs that have sumptuous bedding.  But where do people put all those pillows at night?

I've been on a quest for a decent night sleep, and it's anything but beautiful.  I've got GERD--yup, acid reflux, and I've been in search of a good night's sleep for quite a while.  One of the suggestions is to elevate the head of the bed.  It worked for me.  For Mr. L--not so much.  In fact, it lasted two nights and down came the lifters.  (I suppose if we'd had a foot board it might've worked for him.  He kept sliding down the bed.)  So I bought a wedge pillow.  Worked for the GERD, but sleeping on that steep an angle put a lot of pressure on my hips.  (I sleep on my side(s).)

Next came the memory foam mattress topper.  My aunt told me she and my uncle get a good nights sleep since they bought a memory foam topper for their bed.  I was at my wit's end because it was to the point where I was sleeping in the leather chair with the weather channel on in the background and it was NOT working.

Pepe le pew So I ordered a memory foam mattress topper.  First of all, it took three weeks to come.  When it came, the instructions said, "there will be a slight odor" and that you should unroll it and let it sit for several hours to dissipate.  Slight odor?  P.U.!!!  We let it sit for about five days before we could stand to be near it.  But finally I put it on the bed.  That sucker was HEAVY.  I needed help.

Our bed wasn't low to begin with, but once the topper was on it looked like a Princess and a Pea were likely to show up.  Our cat Chester started having jumping issues (which, seem to have cleared up) and we were worried he wouldn't make it onto the bed.

Foam topper Commercials for memory foam mattresses show a glass of wine on one side of the bed and a kid jumping on the other and nothing disturbs the wineglass.  And it's true.  The only problem is, even with a couple of layers of bedding on the top, it's extremely difficult to turn over.  Therefore, you end up in one position for most of the night and -- guess what?  The very thing I bought it for (to relieve pressure on my hip) came right back.  (And the thing still had that "slight" odor, too.)

We lasted about three weeks with the topper and last night, even as supper was nearly done cooking, I decided it HAD to come off.  I went in there and wrenched the sheets, duvet and pillows off the bed and stripped it.  We tied the thing up and tossed it into our enclosed porch.

Goodbye Mr. $327 mistake.

Trash can Well, not really.  Our bed at our summer cottage is the lowest, most uncomfortable bed in the universe.  We're going to take Mr. Bed Topper there and see if it can live happily.  (Otherwise a new bed was on the shopping list anyway.)  If not . . . Well, trash pick up is on Tuesdays around here.

Meanwhile, last night I had the best night's sleep I had in a long, long, time.  I'm looking forward to tonight and hope to repeat it.

How about you?  What's your bed like?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And our top story today is . . .

Ages Weee!  I'm happy to say that A Crafty Killing is #5 on the Barnes & Noble mystery list, and #22 overall for mass market paperbacks!

Today I've been interviewed on the World of Books blog.  I hope you'll check it out.

That's the good news.  The bad news?  I was originally told that the second book in the Victoria Square Mystery series (The Walled Flower) would be published in February 2012.  Next I was told it had been moved to the Fall of 2011.  (Yay!)  Now I'm told it's back to Febrary 2012. (Boo!)

That's a LONG time for readers to wait.  So I've decided to write a short story set in between the 1st and 2nd books that I will give away free on  my web site.  I'm in deadline hell right now, so can't work on it until spring (which isn't all that far away--thank goodness).  I'll keep you posted.

In other news, after a two-month wait, I finally have new checks!  The checkbook I lost is still lost, however.

Earth More snow on the way.

What's happening in your world?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The time of his life . . .

Black-eyed-peas Mr. L has been waiting for weeks to watch the super bowl. Not for the game. Maybe sort of for the commercials. But mostly he's been waiting to see the half-time show and The Black-Eyed Peas.

Now, if he were in his 20s--even in his 30s--I could see it. But he's not. He's a tad older than that. In fact, he's 16 years older than me!

I can't say I'm a fan. I mean, they're very LOUD. Mind you, I had my years of listening to loud music and I won't go into what bands they were. (I've already told you I feel OLD.)
But there was hubby watching and enjoying the show. Not only that, but he knew every song in their medley. I only knew one of their songs, the one that has part of the song from Dirty Dancing (Time of My Life) and the only reason I'm familiar with it is because he's played the video over and over again of late.

Not only does he know all the songs, he knows all the group member's bios, too.  He told me who everyone was, etc.  Of course, I'm not totally ignorant.  I've seen two segments on the group on CBS Sunday morning.  (Including yesterday morning.)

Echoes of Egypt I remember my grandfather telling my dad how much he hated my music.  My dad was a musician (among his many other talents) and he was accepting of most music.  I like to think I am, too . . . but of late, loud is just . . . too loud.  (All those years of wearing earphones I guess.)  These days I like new age music.  I can have it in the background when I write.  It's usually quiet and soothing.

And I'm sure a lot of people would say it's BORING.

Boring = old.

*Sigh*

How about you?

Friday, February 4, 2011

One week down . . . how many to go?

Scale In order to lose weight, you have to feel motivated.

After much thought and (a little embarrassment), I feel motivated.

Therefore, today starts week two of THE DIET.

Mr. L hasn't weighed in yet (hey, he's still in bed as I write this), but I have.  He did tell me four days into the diet, "I've ONLY lost three pounds."  ONLY--ONLY!!!  At that point I had not lost an ounce!

Let's face it, men lose weight easier than women, and for him to complain at ONLY three pounds really annoyed me.

But today was weigh-in day and I'm happy to say I lost 2.5 pounds.

What a relief.

I know better than to complain,"Oh, I ONLY lost 2.5 pounds."  Try carrying half a bag of sugar around the house for about fifteen minutes and you begin to think, "Hmm.  2.5 pounds isn't that bad."

Of course we're doing Atkins and they tell you LOSE UP TO 15 POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS.

Maybe if I cut off part of a leg or something, and I value my legs too much for that.

Beef Because you eat a lot of protein, you don't feel hungry all the time, and that has made this diet easier to take.  Except for the "forbidden food" dreams.  Last night I dreamed of homemade beignets.  Mind you, I've never had one IN MY LIFE (and I done even really like doughnuts), but there was this big conference room with a lot of Bignets tables arranged in a big square and every surface was filled with warming trays full of beignets.  Inside the square was a woman and a man hard at work keeping those trays filled, while people came and went, putting piping hot beignets on a plate and leaving the area to enjoy it, cocktail party style.

I grabbed a beignet and broke it open. It was still steaming and it was GREEN inside (must've been a St. Paddy's day beignet) and I was about to take a bite when . . . I woke up.

What do you dream about when you're on a diet?