Thursday, September 29, 2011

With my polishing rag in hand . . .

Silver-polishing
The book is done.  YEA!  But now I need to polish it before I send it to my editor on Monday.

Hopefully, I'll be back on Monday (or Tuesday).

See you then!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Green Beans For Me!

Oh, how I lamented the loss of half of my bean crop.  Mr. Bunny (Groundhog ... whatever) ate HALF of my beans.  Nipped them right at ground level, ate a couple of leaves, and left the rest of the plant to die on the poles.  Mr. Bunny got dispatched to the Police Academy (thanks to Animal Control) and the rest of my bean crop was safe.

And boy, as a memorial to their eaten brothers, have these guys gone into overproduction.  We're up to our eyebrows in beans.  But then, I always overplant because I expect Mr. Bunny's relatives to eat at least some of them.

It's been very difficult to pick the bean crop.  Hurricane Irene didn't bring any rain our way, but we sure got a LOT of wind and it blew over not only the bean poles, but the tomato cages, too.  Everything's a mish-mash and it's hard to get in and find the beans.  But Friday we picked half a grocery bag of them because there's no way we could eat them all now.  And thus began the job of freezing them.

Since it's been so hard to pick the beans (there's a fence to contend with, plus we're trying to grow new grass on the other side of it), a lot of them are far too big and tough to eat.  No problem!  We've had problems getting seeds for the variety of beans we prefer. And, in fact, most of this year's crop was from seeds I collected two and three years ago.  They came up just like clockwork.  The pile of beans on the right are just some of the ones I'm drying for next year's seed crop.

Beans2
After blanching, they went into the ice bath (which in this case happens to be the top of my Tupperware cake tote).
Beans4
By the time we'd sorted through the beans, we got six bags to freeze.  I estimate we'll have at least that much to do today, too.

Beans1
Yeah, we could buy a bag of frozen beans for $1.99 that would probably last us for 2-3 meals, but this is so much more satisfying.  I guess only another gardener would understand.

What have you frozen or canned from your veggie garden this year?
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By the way, today I'm guest blogging on my friend Dru-Ann Love's blog, Dru's Book Musings about my new cookbook, RECIPES TO DIE FOR. I hope you'll come by to see what Katie Bonner has to say about the book.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Amazon at Last!

And the print edition of RECIPES TO DIE FOR is finally available on Amazon.  Whew!  Thought they were going to sit on it forever!

You can find it here!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Recipes To Die For a reality at last!

Recipes_To_Die_For.med The other day, I got my proof copy of RECIPES TO DIE FOR: A Victoria Square Cookbook.  My first reaction was:  Gosh, it's cute!  First of all, the cover pops right out at you.  I love the logo my cover designer made--which sort of reminds me of the covers on the Booktown Mysteries.  But I also love the noose hanging from my name, too.

Although it's a paperback, it's not a mass-market paperback (the size of the novels--this one is bigger...trade size).  One of the complaints I get about the paperbacks is that the type size is too small.  Fear not, this is readable.

But what makes this cookbook special?  (And believe me it is NOT a mystery.  It's a companion piece to the Victoria Square Mystery series.)  The book starts out by introducing quite a few of the characters from the series and giving the reader information that isn't included in the books.  Katie's introduction tells how she came to live with her beloved great aunt Lizzie, and her love of baking.  But you'll find out (hopefully) interesting facts about people like Luther Collier, who owns the local funeral parlor, and vendors Liz and Gwen, who have a much greater presence in the third book than the first two.  But Ida Mitchell, the tag room manager, contributes a couple of her favorite recipes, too.

Moo! And the print book differs from the e book because it has graphics.  (I wonder if you can guess what recipe this graphic represents?)

I had a lot of decisions to make about the pricing of the book.  One thing I wanted to do was keep the cost down.  Hey, these are tough times, but the distribution options weren't as attractive as I would have hoped.  In order to make the book available to many retail organizations, the MINIMUM I had to charge was $6.99.  (I may yet have to charge that, but for the now the book costs $5.99.)  Even then, I would make only 17 cents per copy sold.

Therefore, I've chosen to only make it available from My e Store (via the publisher) and on Amazon.  I know--a lot of people don't like Amazon, but selling it on the Barnes & Noble site means I'd only make that same 17 cents a copy, and let's face it ... the author should make more than 17 cents a copy on a book sold.

The book went live just last night My E Store, where it can now be ordered (and where I'll get the highest royalty).  By next week it should show up on Amazon.  I'll let you know when that happens.  But for now, if you'd like to order a print copy of the book, you can find it here.

It's also available as an e book from:  Kindle ~ Nook ~ Smashwords (which has can be downloaded for all e formats).

I hope you'll give Recipes To Die For a chance!
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kate & Will's Kiss . . .

A few weeks ago, when I visited Niagara On The Lake, I visited my favorite shop--The Scottish Loft.  There they stock all things Scottish (and a bunch of them say "If it isn't Scottish, it's CRAP!").  I stocked up on English candy (love those travel sweets) and one more thing.

Kiss mug.sm

I have quite a collection of Royal Family memorabilia.  This was just my latest addition.  I had been hoping to find one in bone china but this was it.  (I did see a William and Kate cake plate, but it was something like a hundred bucks, and it only had writing, no picture, so I passed it by.)


Here's my entire Will and Kate collection to date:

2 royal mugs.sm

What have you added lately to one of your collections?
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I know it's autumn because . . .

Okay, to be technical--fall doesn't arrive until Friday, but it officially arrives for me today.  Why?
Baggie The pool gets closed.

Why does that make me sad when I haven't gone swimming in the thing for at least five years?  Because the pool uncovered is a beautiful thing.  Especially this year because we paid to have it cleaned every other week.  It sparkles.  But when it's closed, it's ugly.  It's a blunt reminder that SUMMER IS OVER and we're going TO FREEZE FOR MONTHS ON END.

I hate pool closing.

But . . . the seasons must change.  It's time to think about other things.  We'll soon be going down to our basement pub in the evenings.  It's got the world's most comfortable couch, a bar, tons of books and magazines to read, music, TV--it's like a 2nd living room.  (Okay, we already have three other living rooms, but it's my favorite one.)

What event marks the end of summer for you?
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BTW, RECIPES TO DIE FOR: A Victoria Square Cookbook is now available for Nook.  Will have an update on the print version in the next couple of days.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Recipes To Die For is now available ... sort of

Recipes_To_Die_For.medOkay, when I said I was shooting for October 1st, I had no idea things would come together so fast for my Victoria Square cookbook, Recipes to Die For.

Well, not exactly.  Amazon uploaded the book in less than six hours, which has to be a record.  Smashwords is always fast, but then you wait for a long time to see if you make it to the Premium Catalog (which means they distribute it to places like Sony, Kobo, Diesel and Apple.  Still waiting on that.)  As I write this, I'm still waiting for Barnes & Noble to upload it for Nook.  The last time I uploaded to them, it took three weeks.  I nagged and nagged, but they weren't going to put that story up until they were good and ready, I guess.

The print version could be ready as soon as next week.

I decided to do a print version because so many of my readers have said they don't have e readers and don't plan on getting them, either.  The only problem is, the price tag is higher than I would have liked.  And I decided NOT to make the book available to libraries and other bookstores simply because I would lose 23 cents for every book sold.  I just can't afford to do that.  So, the price tag is $5.99, which still seems high to me, but it was the cheapest I could make it and not lose money.

So, if you'd like to purchase the book right now, it's available on Kindle and (for all e formats) Smashwords.  I'll let you know when the print version is available.

I hope you'll like getting to know not only Katie Bonner better, but her vendors and friends on Victoria Square.  And ... maybe try a recipe or two while you're at it.

Thank you!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Steaming mad at my bank!

Steam coming out of ears My husband and I both have credit cards with the same bank.  We pay our bills separately.  I pay mine online.  He pays his by check.  I look at my statement every month to ferret out the business expenses and make sure that those expenses come out of my promotion bank account.

For some reason, I didn't notice that $678 was deducted as a 2nd payment in June.  Guess what?  The bank told my husband he never made his June payment.  Guess how much it was?

Visa Mind you.  We have totally separate accounts.  We don't even share the same last name.  So why was his payment credited to my account? The teller at the bank didn't actually pull up my husband's account to pay the bill.  Instead, she read the account number off the check (a joint account, but my account) and simply clicked open the Visa account, applying his payment to my bill.  Meanwhile, Visa has been dunning my husband and adding on interest.  (We only figured out how this happened yesterday.)
Of course I'm steaming mad because now Visa wants that $678 from me that was deducted as a payment in June. And guess what -- they STILL have not credited my husband's account with that $678 payment.

Meanwhile, the bank has been telling us, "It's all Visa's fault, not ours."  I've been dealing with this bank for over 30 years.  They're usually wonderful, but this teller was simply lazy and it has caused us all kinds of grief.

Have you ever had such a problem?
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And I Didn't Pay For Shipping!

Gt_xpress_101_ Way back in 2008, I blogged about how I wanted a GT Express 101 counter top cooker thingy.  (And if you missed that post, you can read it here.)  It was being sold on an infomercial for $40 (for two) with an astronomical shipping price.  Suffice to say, I didn't buy it.  I figured I probably couldn't use two of them and didn't have anyone to give the second one to.

I must've watched that infomercial at least 100 times. I could practically recite along with the hostess Cathy Mitchell and her pal Joe, who cooked all kinds of omelets, cakes (with bite-size Snicker bars in the middle), enchiladas, cornbread, and all kinds of neat stuff -- in ten minutes or less!

Boy, I really wanted one . . . but I got over it and moved on.

Earlier this summer, I saw a used one at a yard sale, but it didn't have the recipe book.  I came back a second time and looked at it longingly . . . but decided that at $3 and no recipe book, it wasn't going to come home with me.

IMG_1631 And then ... last weekend I saw another one, BRAND NEW IN THE BOX for $5.  You never saw anyone peel off five bucks as fast in your whole life.  It had everything, the little flipper-overer, a bottle to measure pancake batter, and best of all, the recipe book full of 101 recipes.  Woo-hoo!

It was with great anticipation that I fired that baby up. Since the infomercial touted it as great for using up small quantities of leftovers, that's where I started.  I beat a couple of eggs, tossed in some leftover parsley potatoes and a half a slice of Swiss cheese to make my very first omelet.

IMG_1632 The booklet said it would take 7 minutes to cook.  I peeked halfway and shook my head.  It was going to take a LOT longer.  But then the 7 minutes was up (I used my handy dandy kitchen timer) and gosh darnit if that little omelet wasn't done to a turn.  Of course, then it was time to get that baby out of the GT express 101. The flipper overer looks like it should be easy to use, but it felt awkward in my hand.  I had to use my left hand to get the omelet out of the left hand side of the cooker.

Was this omelet any better than I could have made in my omelet pan?  Probably not.  Was it easier to use?  Yes, because I didn't have to stand there and baby it. Did it taste better?  I would've tasted a lot better if I'd cooked it in a big gob of butter, but they tell you NOT to add more than cooking spray, and therefore you get healthier food.

IMG_1633 Was it everything they advertised?  I'd say yes.  Of course, I've only used it once, but I have a feeling I'll use it again.  Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.  Will I ever use it for anything other than an omelet?  That's debatable.  But it is easier to clean than my omelet pan, so ... what the heck.

Have you ever used an AS SEEN ON TV product that worked?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recipes to die for?

Recipes To Die For_med When I told my sister-in-law I was writing a cookbook, she laughed.  "You?  Cooking?  Telling other people how to cook?"

Now, wait a minute, I never said I couldn't cook, I just prefer NOT to, although I've always enjoyed baking. (And hey, since someone else was willing to do most of the cooking, I didn't object.)  Since I started writing the Booktown Mysteries (and one of the main characters is really into food and cooking), I've done a lot more cooking--and a lot of experimentation in the kitchen.  I've even successfully reproduced (or a reasonable facsimile) recipes of food that I've eaten in restaurants, something I wouldn't even have contemplated a few years back.

So, this summer I decided to write a cookbook for my Victoria Square characters.  And what we have is: RECIPES TO DIE FOR.

This was my "play piece."  As I've mentioned before, we had a rough beginning to the summer. (Beginning as in early April and plowing through mid-July.)  Having a play piece was fun--an escape.  It also didn't hurt that I was writing a novel with the same characters at the very same time.  I got to explore their lives, where they came from, and express it through the recipes they contributed to the Victoria Square Cookbook.

Author Ellery Adams, now known for ther Books by the Bay mysteries (and for the Supper Club Mysteries under the name J.B. Stanley), will soon be known for her Charmed Pie Mysteries.  Ellery/J.B knows her way around the kitchen.  So I was thrilled when she gave Recipes To Die For an enthusiastic two-thumbs up.  She said:

"Cozy readers everywhere have fallen in love with Lorraine Bartlett's A Crafty Killing and the inhabitants of Victoria Square, a charming and sometimes dangerous berg featuring one-of-a-kind businesses like Artisans Alley. In Recipes To Die For, Katie Bonner and the rest of the locals from Victoria Square invite you into their kitchens to share tantalizing recipes and intimate stories about food, family, and life. So tie on your apron and sharpen your knives, because Recipes To Die For is chock full of culinary treasures such as Andy Rust's Cinnamon Rolls, Vance Ingram’s Barbequed Ribs, and Sweet Sue’s Toffee Squares. And you don't want to miss Aunt Lizzie’s Cream Scones. They're to die for!"

Victoria_Square_Cookbook_logo_B&W_sm So, when will it be avaiable?

October 1st.

How will it be available?

In print and as an ebook.  First, on Kindle and Nook, and within a week or so of that date, all other e formats.  You'll be able to order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any independent bookstore.

Would you like to read a Victoria Square cookbook?
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

CHARGE IT!

Sylvia may by Guest Blogger Sylvia May

When Lorna asked if I’d like to guest blog on Pet Peeve Thursday, I replied with a resounding yes. Trouble was, I couldn’t think of any Pet Peeves. Not one thing to complain about. Aren’t I lucky?

Nevertheless, I settled into our comfy chair with my laptop, figuring inspiration would hit eventually. Turning on the computer, I was greeted with a message telling me there were nine minutes of power left on my battery. Oh yeah, I’d forgotten to plug it in the night before. Annoyed with myself, I scrambled out of the chair to get the charger and realized that I did have a Pet Peeve to write about.

A few mornings ago, after virtuously dragging myself out of bed at 6:00, I donned my running clothes, grabbed my cute little iPod Nano (which has on it an invigorating and motivating playlist) and went outside. Did my stretches, put in the earbuds and turned on my Nano. Except it wouldn’t turn on! You guessed it; I’d forgotten to charge it.

That same day (same day!) I was out running errands when my cell phone rang. “Hi Sylvia,” my sister began. “I wanted to ask you—” and then the phone died. Really? Had I forgotten to charge that too? (And this one is crucial, since our cell phone is our only phone.)
Recharge batteries
You’d think I would have learned my lesson. Not so. The other night I climbed into bed with my iPad, which I primarily use as my e-Reader. I was eager to devour a few more chapters of the wonderful book, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, before nodding off. Alas, before I’d gotten through a couple of pages, the battery died. Then I remembered that my daughter, who was visiting us for a few days, had been playing Fruit Ninjas on my iPad, frantically trying to beat her own score of 564, an activity that had apparently run the power down.

I am obviously dependent on my portable electronic devices—for work, for reading, for play. But I seem to forget that they only work when they’re charged!

Chargers So now, I’m trying to make it a habit to plug everything in before going to bed. Well, I plug in my iPad in the morning, since I actually use it in bed. I’ve been at it for three days. So far, so good—everything is fully charged when I set out to use it.

Have you run out of power recently?
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Abbysettle Sylvia May’s emotionally charged debut novel, The Unraveling of Abby Settel, was released two weeks ago. A women’s fiction novel, it is a story of mid-life reinvention and the importance of friends. Watch the trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNZvTaIOIZE), visit her website (www.sylviamay.com) and her blog (http://sylviamaysblog.blogspot.com/).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Keeping the lights on

I often worry about the wrong things.  One of the things I worry about is losing power.  Worse--losing the Internet because I've lost power!  But wait, maybe after recent events, this isn't such a wrong thing to worry about.

No power During the time we've lived in this house, we've lost power--for days at a time--twice.  We've lost power for hours at a time five or six times.  In the summer . . . it's not so bad.  Although after a tremendous thunderstorm (microburst) we were without power for five days.  It was heartbreaking to see the streetlights on, but the every house in the neighborhood shrouded in darkness.  (And wouldn't you know we had just stocked our freezer a couple of days before the storm.)  At that time, I had a day job, so I could go to work and cool off and surf the net.  My self-employed husband could not.  And with no power, he couldn't work, either.  It was a long five days for him.  And we (and the neighbors) were furious to find that it was the turn of a wrench that powered up our neighborhood once again.  They just didn't have a crew available to come do it ... FOR FIVE DAYS.

When we lost power after an ice storm and the house went down to 44 degrees, it was a nightmare.  We couldn't get a hotel room because we had cats.  We weren't going to leave the cats, so we stayed at the house.  And FROZE.  That's when Mr. L channeled Scarlett O'Hara and said, "As God is my witness, I will never be cold again!"

Gas-generator We bought a gasoline-powered generator.  What a great piece of insurance.  After we bought it, we didn't lose power for several years.  But last winter we did--for more than three hours.  That was the first time we had to use the generator.  First, Mr. L had to crawl around in the snow and plug the generator into the circuit.  Not so easy when you have had two knee replacements.  Next, we had to endure not only the roar of the generator, but the fumes.  (And yes, it was stationed outside and well away from the house, but you could still smell it.)  I was convinced we'd die of asphyxiation. But the furnace did run.  We could use the microwave and toaster oven to make supper.  (But we couldn't run the computers.  Mr. Generator was good, but not that good.)

Generac Today (well, if we don't have a downpour), we're having a natural gas-powered generator installed.  Oddly enough, we'd made the decision before Hurricane Irene struck and left millions in the dark for days.  We've got a lot of problems in this country, and one of them is an aging infrastructure.  Why did so many people lose power during Hurricane Irene?  Because the power lines are above ground--running through trees, that break and fall during bad weather.  (Think about it, this is 19th Century technology we're talking about.)

Kinkade painting The next time the power goes out, I want my lights, heat (or AC) and I want my Internet.  Hopefully, new Mr. Generator will deliver it for me.  (Think of it this way:  a Thomas Kincade painting vs. Bob Cratchit trying to warm himself over a candle?)  And yeah, this is taking a BIG bit our of our savings, but it's also bringing us something equally important:  peace of mind.  You can't put a price on that.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking a Day Off

Tuesday I took the day off.  Believe me, after the summer I've had, I needed a day off.

Mr. L and I drove across the border to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a lovely little town on the Niagara River.  While my fictional village of Stoneham, NH doesn't look much like NOTL, I wish it did. (And I'm coaxing it, I'm coaxing it.)  By the way, if you click on the pictures, you should see bigger versions of them.

Median.sm
Our first stop, the Prince of Wales Hotel for afternoon tea.

Prince of Wales Hotel.sm
The tea room was gorgeous.  We could have sat at the outer edge to watch the people on the sidewalk go past, but chose instead to sit "inside" and enjoy the lovely tea room itself.

Tea room.sm

The tea came out first.  Isn't this lovely china?

Teacup 2.sm

And next came the most delicious and fattening food . . .

Food 3.sm
After lunch, we walked around the town and just took in the lovely homes and other sights.

Yellow house.sm
I think Mr. Horsey would have preferred to be standing in a meadow in the shade instead of pulling tourists on a hot day.

Horse and carriage.sm
All in all, it was the perfect day.

Have you had a perfect day lately?
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