Monday, December 30, 2013

Sweet memories on Quality Street

Currend Q Street jarOne of the great things I love about the holidays is ... Quality Street.

When I was a kid, you only got some of these wonderful chocolates if you went to England or Canada. (We had relatives in England, and we went to Canada!)

When Mr. L and I first started dating, he visited friends in Canada and asked what he could get his first generation American sweetheart.  They said, "Quality Street."  Boy, did he win points.

So, is it any wonder that I collect Quality Street tins?

These are the four oldest tins in my collection. (I have nine.)

Vintage quality street tins-sm

Nowadays, you can get Quality Street in the US.  They're now made by Nestles (and I'm sure many people will say they aren't half as good as they used to be), but I still love them because they evoke such sweet memories.

My brother gave me a jar of them for Christmas and I decided to see just how much one of the old tins can hold.  Not much, it turns out.  (About a third of the jar.)

Tin w candy-sm
Aren't they gorgeous?

Did you get candy for Christmas?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Need an ereader? Try Kobo -- and visit their 50% off sale!

A lot of people carp about Amazon and say they are going to take over the world.  (Hmm...Amazon ... drones ... maybe they will.)  I want to support all e book distributors because they have changed the lives of so many midlist authors.  We can now make a living wage, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

I'm really pulling for Kobo. Kobo is small ... but really, very large.  They sell their readers all over the world and, unlike Amazon, the only thing they are ebooks!

L n M_smKobo has been very good to me. They frequently offer me the opportunity to get my name out there by letting me put certain of my books on sale.  I've had a hard time getting the word out because the sales are usually country specific.  Right now one of my books is on sale at Kobo for 50% off in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

If you've got a Kobo reader, maybe you'll want to try Love & Murder.  It's half price ($1.49) until the end of the year (That's Dec. 31st.)

Love & Murder, by Lorraine Bartlett (and her alter ego L.L. Bartlett), explores the highs and lows of love, and humanity. This sampler will give you an idea of the kinds of themes she explores in her New York Times bestselling novels. The collection contains seven stories: Abused: A Daughter's Story, Cold Case, An Unconditional Love, We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert, Prisoner of Love, and Blue Christmas.

Here's the linkUse the coupon Code at Checkout:  50COUPON

Several of my friends have books in the sale, too:

Doranna Durgin's fantasy novels Wolverine's Daughter & Dun Lady's Jess

Tonya Thomas's women's fiction collection of short stories:  The Edge and I

Maryann Miller's suspense novel, One Small Victory

Kobo-touchIf you're in the US and you'd like to try out a Kobo reader (they're quite nice), you can do so at your local independent bookstore.  They have one for only $79. 

Try it. You'll like it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Foodie Friday: Rosemary Harris and Hoppin' John!

Ro Harrisby guest blogger Rosemary Harris

I know...for the last six weeks, ever since Thanksgiving, you've been baking and cooking up a storm. You probably have enough leftovers to last well into the new year. And perhaps even (as I do) a few extra pounds.

But here's one dish that legend says you really should make and eat on New Year's Day. The origins of the legend are fuzzy but eating Hoppin' John on New Year's Day is supposed to bring a year of prosperity and good luck. Don't ask me why but - hey, who doesn't want to start the year with a little edge?

Hot_DawgWhat is it? A super, simple rice and peas dish that's flexible enough to fit anyone's taste. The rice and the black-eyed peas (or peas or beans of your choice) are the only constants. Almost any green veggie--kale, swiss chard, collard, turnip or mustard greens can be added. The peas or beans are supposed to represent coins and the greens---well, can you say greenbacks?

Here's a basic recipe.

Peas in bowl1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped ham (optional)
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 cups steamed white rice


Hoppin-john-bowlHeat oil in a large soup pot, add ham and sear on all sides. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook until onion is translucent. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock.  Seasoning to taste and serve over rice.

Tweak to make it your own, and have a Happy--and prosperous--New Year!


Bitches of brooklynAfter several careers in book retailing, publishing, direct marketing, and video/television/public television, Rosemary Harris traded in her pumps for a yellow legal pad and a stack of pencils and started writing the first book in her Dirty Business mystery series, the Agatha and Anthony-nominated Pushing Up Daisies.  Rosemary's latest book, The Bitches of Brooklyn, is the first in a new series.

Check out Rosemary's website.  Find her on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What are you doing this Boxing Day???

Happy boxing day

Happy Boxing Day to all. What a great day to relax, have fun, read a good boodk, watch a video or two, and eat loads of leftovers.

We wanted Santa to have a safe trip on Christmas Eve, so instead of leaving him a martini, we left him some martini cut-out cookies.  Yum!  (We'll try to polish off the rest of the cookies during the next week or so.)

Martini cookies-sm

Evolution-SMAnd yesterday, Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory went live.  This collection of 11 short stories explores how Jeff and his brother Richard met, lived together, and what forces forged them into the men they are today.  They're not mysteries, more character sketches that explain why they react the way they have in the novels.  If you like Jeff, I hope you'll give his backstory a try.

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords, don't forget, the first Jeff Resnick Mystery, Murder On The Mind,  is FREE on all e formats.

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords

Have a great day!  (How are you spending it?)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Foodie Friday: Maple Balls ... mmm mmm good!

In keeping with the holiday spirit, today I offer you maple balls.  These are like peanut butter buckeyes, only not made with peanut butter!  And the beauty of them is ... no baking required!

Maple ballsMAPLE BALLS  (Via Walnut Creek Cheese)
1 c - butter
3 lb - powdered sugar
1 can - sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp - maple flavoring
1 c - finely chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Melt butter; add other ingredients, except nuts; knead well. Add nuts, roll in balls. Chill; dip in melted chocolate. Delicious! (You can also use other flavorings instead of maple if you like.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Foodie Friday: Whole lotta baking going on!

What is it about the holidays that makes us want to eat more cookies (than usual)?

I found a great recipe for dipped coconut shortbread.  (Mmmmm.)  It's been hanging around for so long, I have no idea where I got it from, but it's GOOD.

Choco dipped shortbread3/4 cut butter (no substitutes)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortning

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Combine flower and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Cool on wire racks.

Eat and enjoy!

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips and shortening.  Remove from the heat; dip cookies halfway into chocolate.  Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet until set.  Yield:  about 2 dozen.

Recipes to die for w mixer-smLooking for a cute little cookbook as a stocking stuffer?  Look no further:  Recipes to Die For.
Trade Paperback:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Booktown Mysteries as Audiobooks!

I just about burst with pride when my editor first told me that the Booktown Mysteries were going to be produced as audiobooks.  (We won't talk about how devastated I was when he told me they'd discontinued the audio series due to lack of sales.)  The first five books are available in Audio and narrated by the fabulous Cassandra Campbell.  Oh, how I wish I could have heard her perform Murder On The Half Shelf and Not The Killing Type, but again... we won't go there.

Still, the books are a lot of fun to listen to and if you're into audiobooks, maybe you'll give them a try.
Here's the graphic Mr. L made to help promote them.  The background could be New Hampshire.  Note the road in the forefront -- to remind you to listen to audiobooks while you're on a long road trip.  (Works just as well in a train or a plane, too!)


For more information on these audiobooks, please feel free to check out the audio page on my website.

If you haven't yet joined Audible, you can often get your first audiobook for Free!  (Check out their site by clicking this link.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hankering for Holiday Stories?

This time of year, I like to immerce myself in holiday stuff ... cuz, like--it's fun!  Often in the evenings I'll pick up a favorite holiday book and reread it. (And I've got a bunch of them on my shelves.)

I've also written a few holiday stories.  In case you're interested, they are:
Humbug.smNow, if you haven't read my Jeff Resnick books, then this one won't make a whole lot of sense.  (And if you haven't read Jeff, why not?  The first book, Murder On The Mind, is FREE in all e-formats.  Don't have an e-reader?  Read it on your computer with a free app (from Kindle or Nook), on your smartphone, or tablet.)  It comes directly after the 4th novel, Cheated By Death.  Here's the blurb:

It's Christmas Day, and Richard and Brenda are off to warmer climes, leaving Jeff and Maggie to spend Christmas dinner with Maggie's family. But the Brennan clan has not rolled out the welcome mat for Jeff. It'll be a Christmas to remember . . . but who wants to? 

 Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords

 The Nichols family is all in a tizzy 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?

 Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords

Blue_Christmas-smAs any adult child who has taken care of an ailing parent can attest, it's hard and heartbreaking.  That's why I have such a soft spot in my heart for the heroine of Blue Christmas.

Christmas used to be a joyous time for Judi Straub, but that was before her parents passed away and her siblings became too busy to socialize with their old maid sister. Holidays spent with friends were a nightmare. Then one late December Judi won an all-expense-paid trip to Puerto Rico where Harry Powell swept her off her feet.  But her fantasy of happily-ever-after was quickly derailed.  Would Judi always have a Blue Christmas?

Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords

(They're just 99¢ for all e readers.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Foodie Friday Alert: Easiest candy recipe on the planet!

Hot_DawgAnd in my continuing quest to gain weight during the holiday season, I bring you one of the very best and easiest recipes on the face of the planet.  Simply Crackers Toffee that was featured in Booktown #6, Murder On The Half Shelf.

One “sleeve” of saltine crackers (about 35)
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
1 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips*
¾ cups chopped walnuts* (optional)

Saltine candy1Directions:  Line a baking tray with foil and cover with saltine crackers. Boil butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes until frothy. Pour over the crackers.

Bake at 400° for 5 minutes. The butter/sugar mixture will bubble. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let set for five minutes. Spread chocolate with spatula, and sprinkle with nuts. (Gently press the nuts into the chocolate.) Refrigerate at least 1 hour; break into pieces. (Refrigerate the leftovers . . . if there are any.)

 *I use milk chocolate chips, but you can vary the recipe with semi-sweet chocolate and even peanut butter-flavored chips.

Saltine candy2

Care to share YOUR favorite Christmas candy recipe?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Video -- gotta love it!

WatchI love book trailer videos  I have a bunch of them.  You can check them out for:

Bookmarked For Death (Booktown #2)
Chapter & Hearse (Booktown #4)

A Crafty Killing (Victoria Square #1)
Recipes To Die For (A Victoria Square Cookbook)

Tales Of Telenia #1: Threshold

Dead In Red (Jeff Resnick Mystery #2)
Dark Waters (Jeff Resnick Mystery #6)

... and my good friend Kelly McClymer has made a video for the Incredible Indie Authors Stop Texting and Start Listening campaign.  Check it out!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brand new!

The second novel in the Book Collector Mystery series by my friend Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter, Victoria, written under the name Victoria Abbott.

Sayers swindleJordan Kelly is delighted to make money tracking down rare and valuable mystery novels for her employer, Vera Van Alst, an avid collector and the most difficult woman in  Harrison Falls, New York. But now her boss’s complete set of Dorothy Sayers is missing, and finding them may lead Jordan to a murder suitable for Sayers’s esteemed sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey…

When Jordan manages to locate her boss’s missing books, they are in the possession of Randolph Adams, an elderly man in a nearby town. Offering a valuable Hemingway first edition as an incentive, Jordan thinks she’s about to seal the deal—but some of Randolph’s relatives think he should hold out for more.

Then the entire family disappears—and a dead body shows up.  It’s up to Jordan to collect the clues—and make sure a killer gets booked.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Missed the first book?  It's The Christie Curse!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don't Text and Drive--Listen to an Audiobook!

Texting and driving is probably the most dangerous thing anyone can do, and yet it happens all the time.  That's why ten authors (myself included) have banded together to to help make the holiday roads safer -- and more fun -- this season.


Not only are we encouraging our readers to listen to audiobooks, but we're also holding a contest.


We're offering 30 audiobooks via a Facebook contest.  Here's the link.  (I'm offering copies of Room at the Inn, the 3rd book in the Jeff Resnick Mystery series.  (The coziest of the bunch.))

Click this link to take you to our Facebook page.

Let's make this holiday season the safest ever!