Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Friday: Summer Comfort Food

There's something really comforting about comfort food.  (No kidding, huh?)  I know it's still winter, but I'm hankering for spring.  That's a lie, I want to jump right over spring and skid right into summer.

This recipe is something my aunt made one summer Sunday: cracker salad. OMG, is it good?  (It is, take my word.)  It doesn't take a lot of ingredients, it's easy, and it tastes great.  How can you miss?



Ingredients
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium size bowl, coarsely crush the crackers with your hands - you should have big cracker pieces. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and serve immediately. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.  (Don't let this dish sit, or the crackers become mushy.  Don't worry; it won't last long enough for leftovers.)

What recipe says "summer" to you?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pet Peeve Thursday: Hard to pigeohole or just an ugly baby?

Blue-tears-eye-ball2I'm pretty sure that when I'm laid in my pine box--or put on the track for the crematorium--that people will dab their eyes and say, "Boy, her Telenia series will live on forever."

NOT!

Without a doubt, my Tales of Telenia are the least favorite of my series--and I haven't even finished the first trilogy.

I'm not a "traditional fantasy author. The truth is, I don't really LIKE traditional fantasy. But like Star Trek isn't really science ficiton, Talenia isn't really fantasy. (Which is one reason why I call it ADVENTURE-fantasy.) The stories aren't marketable to SF or fantasy readers.  But you know what, I wrote them because it was FUN. I had a heck of a good time (especially with the second book, Journey.)

I had hoped my readers who love Tricia, Katie, and Jeff would trust that I'd deliver an enjoyable story with my new heroine, Amanda Shelton. That hasn't happened.

THRESHOLD-smOkay, Amanda is a very confused person. And who wouldn't be after crash-landing on a strange planet, with terrible food, and where women aren't valued? (Oh, was I writing about women here on Earth in 2014?  Could've been by some accounts ....)

Here's the blurb for the first book (Threshold):  Amanda Shelton is clever, adventurous, and tough--and she'll have to be, because she's crash landed on a world where her saviors might well be her enemies. It takes fierce determination to keep the people of this frightening and unfamiliar place from stealing her shuttle technology, or imprisoning her while they do it. Yet what she knows could save countless innocent lives--including those who keep this world safe. Facing this test of spirit will take everything Amanda has...if she survives at all.

And here's the book trailer Ellery Adams and I made (I just love that music!):

 
Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords

A reader told me that Amanda doesn't always act logically. Well, she's NOT a Vulcan. Eventually, Amanda learns to accept the world she now calls home.  But does that mean she can't work to better the lives of, not only the women on the planet, but the treatment of the wounded soldiers? Telenia is at war. Amanda has the skills and knowledge to not only upgrade the care of the wounded, but help marginalized women (especially those widowed by the war) to take care of themselves and their families.

CowIs that a feminist agenda? No more than, say, Heifer International, a charity which works to help (mainly) women take care of their families by lifting them from hunger and poverty by giving them a cow, goat, chickens, or bees for food and for free enterprise--and they have to pay it forward. That's Amanda's agenda. To give people the tools to help themselves.

Will I write more Tales of Telenia? Well, I already have. In fact, I've already finished the next trilogy. Finishing the first one is on the docket for summer. (I like to work backward on things. Makes them more of a challenge.)

Still, it seems I have an ugly baby on my hands. Maybe that's why I love Amanda so much--she needs it.

GrumpyAnd that's my grump for the day.

What's making you grumpy today?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

60/40

Light bulbMy name is Lorraine (or LL or Lorna) and I am a light-bulb hoarder.
I know that incandescent light bulbs are not energy efficient, but guess what?  I don't care!  That sounds terrible, I know, especially since I'm a person who believes in BEING energy efficient, with wind and solar energy vs fossil fuel) and I recycle, and re-purpose and all that good stuff.

But when it comes to light bulbs, I want my incandescent bulbs.
In winter, I WANT a bulb that gives off heat. Heck, my office drops down to 55 at night (it's the room farthest from the furnace). I have a brass floor lamp that stands low by my computer desk. That 40 watt bulb heats the area around my desk.  I like it.  If the lamp would handle it, I'd put a 60 watt bulb in there.

I do have an electric heater, but it takes about two hours to bring the temp up to 70 degrees. The lamp that shines on my right arm and shoulder warms me long before that happens.

Broken-cfl-bulbI want to know who determines that incandescent light bulbs last only a year or less.  Heck, we've got light bulbs in fixtures that have been here since before we moved in (21 years ago), and they get used every day.  And what about these new-fangled bulbs?  The ones that have MERCURY in them.  That you're supposed to take to a qualified recyclyer.  Only no one has told us who that might be or what we do with such bulbs in the meantime?  I don't want mercury going into the landfill.

When my supply is gone, I'll be forced to use one of those new bulbs.  (Not all fixtures will take an LED.)  I sure hope by then that recycling them will be easier.

Do you have a stockpile of light bulbs?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Where did it go?

Cutting boardMy cutting board has gone missing.  It was given to me many years ago by my brother as a birthday gift. What?  You think a cutting board is a strange gift? Not if you dont have one and it costs $12 and you don't have that kind of mad money. Once upon a time, $12 was a king's ransom to me.

I bought my first house house when I was 24 years old, back when the average mortgage rate was 12%.  Yes, you heard that right. Even worse, I had an adjustable mortage and my rate went to 15%. (Good grief. today's mortgage market is sooooooo different. But that's the way it was back then.) So splurging on a cutting board was out of the question.

So, where did my beloved cutting board go?  It wasn't an expensive gift, but it meant a lot to me. I'm heartbroken that it could just up and disappear. If nothing else, it was a humble reminder of how far I've come and I'm not so ungrateful that I couldn't still love something as seemingly expendible as a hunk of wood.

Do you have a humble-something you'd miss if it was suddenly gone?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Friday: Dip and swirl this super dip!

Big gameGround Hog Day is coming fast -- and with it the BIG GAME. (Notice that you're not supposed to say the S***r Bowl anymore without paying the NFL a BIG fee. They, who are deemed NON-PROFIT despite the gazillion bucks they make off of anything even remotely related to football...but I digress.)

Anyway, it just so happens that sun-dried tomato dip is my character Jeff Resnick's favorite dip (as mentioned in Cheated By Death. Funny how it also happens to be one of MY favorite dips as well.  Hmm...sheer coincidence, eh?)

So, on the BIG DAY, Jeff, Richard, Brenda, and Maggie will no doubt be dipping their Wegmans rippled potato chips and assorted veggies into this wonderful dip.  You could make it, too!  (It's pretty easy.)

Tomato dipIngredients
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (about ½ cup)
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
¼ - ½ tsp. bottled hot pepper sauce
2 green onions, sliced
Milk (optional)
Asparagus spears, carrots, celery, and other assorted fresh vegetables, crackers. or potato chips

Hot_DawgIn a food processor bowl or blender container, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, dried tomatoes, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth. Add the green onions.  Cover and process or blend until the onion is coarsely chopped.  Cover and refrigerate.

Remove the dip from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.  If desired, stir in a little milk to make it of dipping consistency, and garnish with green onion tops.  Serve with vegetables, crackers, or chips.

Makes 2 cups.

What will you be making on the day of THE BIG GAME?
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And the winners are ...

Winners of my most recent giveaway contest are:

Bookplate_Special.sm2Bookplate Special:

Melanie R. from Jasper, AL
Cynthia L. from Fort Worth, TX
Debbie S. from LaVergne, TN







Dead-in-redDEAD IN RED:

Sitara K. from Cooper City FL
Marcia B. from Camarillo, CA
Bruce H. from Jacksonville, FL







Recipes_To_Die_For.smRecipes To Die For: A Victroria Square Cookbook

Kari C. from Owens Cross Roads, AL
Jessica E. from Mesa, AZ
Gene D. from Hugo, MN
Everyone else won an envelope full of my bookmarks.

All prizes are already in the mail (to beat the postage increase today).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It sprouted!

Orchid sproutWell, maybe "sprouted" isn't the technical name for it, but I'm thrilled that one of my orchids (none of which has been in bloom for a long, LONG time) is getting ready to bloom again.

I have five orchids, only one of which is miniature, and I have no idea which one it will be. White? Pink? Yellow?

It's going to be a surprise.  I can't wait.  (And I'll keep you posted.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Somehow, I missed the memo ...

Gmail

For those of you with Gmail addresses, did you know that a while ago they changed how your mail is delivered? Instead of just one inbox, they have different places your mail will be delivered. (Primary, Social, and Promotions.)

I'll bet a lot you aren't seeing a lot of your mail anymore. I know I wasn't until I went to the SETTINGS function (the little wheel under your profile picture on the upper right) and changed it so that all my mail once again goes into the inbox.

Why do they think things like this improve service?
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Infographics and me!

I only heard about infographics a month ago when I was involved in a "don't text and drive" campaign to promote audiobooks.  Duh.  Seems obvious now.  I've seen them everywhere, I just didn't know what they were called.

Since then, Mr. L has made a few for me to help promote my Jeff Resnick audiobooks.  Here are a few of them.

MOTM-stay alertr
This first one was based on something my friend Doranna Durgin did. Sadly, she's lost several friends who were driving late at night and fell asleep at the wheel.

It's been said that infographics for audio work well if you show how people can better enjoy them.  Say you're painting.  (OMG--is that boring or what?) You might not get the job done any faster, but it won't be as tedious if you listen to an audiobook.

Tedious_job_1

And what about that commute?  It would go by faster if you got involved in a story instead of thinking about that next red light. (This one was put together by my friend Evelyn David.)

Commute-MOTM

Made a New Year's resolution to exercise more?  Listen to an audiobook while you do it.

Exercise_2


Where have you seen infographics and what message did they give?

And, in case you have a hankering to listen to the Jeff Resnick Mysteries on Audio, here are some links.

Murder On The Mind:Audible US:  http://tinyurl.com/n9u6zwu
Audible UK:  http://tinyurl.com/nt5ygkm
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/owvy4f9
iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/nncv6g5

Dead In Red
Audible US:  http://tinyurl.com/d4sewcg
Audible UK:  http://tinyurl.com/pyac5zd
iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/cmyb8u3
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/cfjyy6y

Room At The Inn
Audible US:  http://tinyurl.com/oys5qq6
Audible UK:  http://tinyurl.com/qf6u8p6
Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/c79cgy6
iTunes:  http://tinyurl.com/o7ux2ky
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Foodie Friday: A different kind of pie

Hot_DawgI'll be the first to admit that I'm not a lover of pie.  Fruit pie that is. But meat pie?  Now that's a different kind of pie. My aunt makes the world's best steak and mushroom pie. I make a pretty mean chicken pie.  But here's one you probably haven't tried:  sausage pie.

OMG -- it's soooooo good.  I found this recipe via Taste of Home magazine and adapted it by adding an onion.  I love it, and I bet you will, too.

Ingredients
Sausage pie4 Italian sausage links, casings removed, halved and cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 small yellow tomato, cut into chunks
1 cut thinly sliced zucchini
1 cup thinly sliced yellow summer squash
1/2 cup julienned green pepper
1/2 cup julienned sweet red pepper
1 tablespoon Italian salad dressing mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Stir in tomatoes, squash, peppers, salad dressing mix, garlic powder and fennel seed.  Cook and stir for 10 minutes; drain.  Cool for 10 minutes.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom pastry; trim even with edge.  Fill with the sausage mixture.  Sprinkle with cheeses.  Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie; place over filling.  Trim, seal and flute edges.  Cut slits in top.

Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.  Yield:  6-8 servings.

What are you having for supper tonight?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Check your mail!

Today I sent out postcards for EVOLUTION.  If you aren't on my mailing list, you can sign up right here on this blog.  Just scroll down a little.

BartlettL-PC-Evolution-140107-2-front

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

So needy I'm begging for LIKES

Will ferrellA LOT of people LIKE Will Ferrell.

I'm not kidding.  All you have to do is go on Facebook and you'll see that over six MILLION people LIKE him. In fact, 6,958,686.

Meanwhile, only 1,696 people LIKE me.

Over the weekend, I conducted an experiment.  I asked people to help me get six million new LIKES on my Facebook page. I got a LOT of comments, and a bunch of people (17 in fact) even shared my post and asked their friends to like my page; 21 of them actually did, and I'm so very grateful.  (Now they just need to go out and buy every one of my books.  Thanks!!!)

Is 6,000,000 LIKES too lofty a goal? When Will set up his Facebook Page, did he ponder getting nearly seven million LIKES?  Is he ultimately shooting for ten million?  Should that be my goal, or should I shoot for a more reasonable goal, like ... maybe 1,700?

Lorraine-head shotLet's face it, my Lorraine Bartlett name is the least known of my three (that you know of) writing names. Then again, my L.L. Bartlett FB page only has 924 Likes.  (I don't think most of my Jeff readers are on Facebook.)  In contrast, my Lorna Page has 2,348 Likes.  (Lorna has a LOT more readers on Facebook.)

Why do I even CARE how many Facebook LIKES I have?  Is it because I was never popular in school?  Is it because my best friends don't even live near me so we can go and have lunch or share of cup of coffee?  Why do we humans strive to be LIKED.

I don't know, but it seems to be a need we all have.

So, if you're so included, and you think you might LIKE me, here's the chance.  Click the links below.

Thank you!

Lorraine on Facebook | L.L. on Facebook | Lorna on Facebook | Jeff Resnick Mysteries on Facebook

If you liked any (or all) of my pages, feel free to have a slice of virtual cake.  (No calories!)  If you didn't ... well, just wipe the virtual frosting from around your mouth and nobody will know.

Thank you cake

Monday, January 13, 2014

Do you believe in Evolution?

A lot of people don't believe in Evolution, but I do.  It's my latest book.  Actually, it's a collection of short stories about my character, Jeff Resnick, in book form.  (In fact, the full title tells you so:  Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory.)

The book contains stories that chronicle Jeff's life from the day he meets his estranged brother Richard, until two years before the first novel in the series.

To help me get the word out about the book, my pal Ellery Adams and I made a book trailer.  Do book trailers help sell books?  Only if people see them.  So, why don't you take a gander.  Then maybe you'll want to buy the book.  (Only $2.99 on all e formats)



If you've read the novels, you may want to know just what makes Jeff tick.
Just in case, here are the buy links:

Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

Thanks!
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Foodie Friday: Much better than orange veggies

Hot_DawgMy character, Amanda Shelton, from the Tales of Telenia (not-quite trilogy), found herself stranded on a strange planet where most of the fruits and veggies are ... orange.  Not only are they odd-looking, but they sure don't taste like the food she grew up eating in Minnesota.

Broccoli_newIn fact, poor Amanda really doesn't like the food on Telenia.  Except for one thing:  honey cake. It's absolutely delicious and the one thing she found on the planet that vagely reminds her of the food back home.

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients:
1 cup sliced almonds
 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup honey
4 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the sliced almonds in the bottom of the pan, reserving 1/4 cup for the batter.

Honey cakeIn a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter, honey, and eggs. Stir in the reserved flour mixture, then the sour cream or yogurt and reserved almonds.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure everything is evenly moistened, then mix for one minute more. Gently pour the batter over the almonds in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the edge of the cake pulls back from the edge of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, invert the cake onto a serving plate and allow it to cool before serving.  Decorate the top with powdered sugar if desired. Yield: 1 cake, 16 servings.

Yum-yum.  I know you'll enjoy it just as much as Amanda does!
==============================================
So far, two of the three books in this series are now available. (I'll eventually get to #3 -- I promise!)  They are:
THRESHOLD-smTales of Telenia: THRESHOLD  Amanda Shelton is clever, adventurous, and tough--and she's going to have to be, because she's just crash landed on a world where her saviors might really be her enemies. It takes fierce determination to prevent the people of this frightening and unfamiliar place from stealing her shuttle technology, or from imprisoning her while they do it. Yet what she knows could save countless innocent lives—including the life of one she’s come to trust. Facing this terrible test of spirit will take everything Amanda has...if she survives at all.
Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords
Watch the book trailer!

JOURNEY-smTales of Telenia:  JOURNEY   Life takes an unexpected turn when Prince Paxdon bans Amanda Shelton from Telenia’s Summer Palace, but that’s just the first step in an incredible journey that has her leading the province’s oppressed women into a life of self-sufficiency. The threat of war remains, and others are watching her every move as Amanda leaves the safety and security of the rural north and ventures to the capital city where she faces peril and life altering decisions.  Will her future be a life of luxury or despair?

Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Sony | Smashwords

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pet Peeve Thursday: Dainty Daisy and Lily express their displeasure

Daisy_and_lily_in_pearls-croppedBy Daisy and Lily (who own author Mary Jane Maffini)

Hello, please excuse the chattering of our small sharp teeth. We are Daisy and Lily, princess dachshunds and we are here to express our intense displeasure with the weather.

We have made our views known to Mum and to date she has done not a thing (nothing!) to turn up the heat outside or to melt the snow.  We have given her the ‘poor us’ expression, the heartbroken expression plus we have lifted our dainty paws to show that we want something badly.  She knows we have bald bellies and no legs and we suffer under these conditions and yet … nada.

Pet Peeve backyard-med

We hate it outside and yet out we have to go several times a day to attend to certain matters.
You seem like pleasant people. Perhaps you will add your voice to ours in a loud howl so she’ll get the point. You know what they say:  United we bark, divided we … whatever the rest is. But we won’t be divided. Please join us so that we can once again look beautiful in a lovely warm green backyard. (Although aren't we adorable in our snowsuits?)

Parka_dogs_so_sad copy
It’s the right thing to do.

Love and kisses,

Daisy and Lily
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Daisy_and_lily_on_lounger-croppedDaisy and Lily Maffini are the reigning canines at the Maffini household where they help their Mum write by napping in the same room where she works. Daisy (10) and Lily (7) are mini-dachshunds and are members of Ottawa Therapy Dogs. This involves wearing beautiful red scarves and helping people feel better by visiting them. People really enjoy the cuddly little dogs.  Lily is also a R.E.A.D dog and helps children in schools feel comfortable with their reading. She loves her kids and they love her.

Christie CurseThe very versatile Mary Jane Maffini writes a number of mystery series (The Camilla McFee, Fiona Silk, and Charlotte Adams Mysteries) and is also part of the mother-daughter mystery writing team of Victoria Abbott with the Book Collector Mysteries.  The first in that series is The Christie Curse.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Book Day, Ellery Adams!

The book that I'm most interested in this month is Pecan Pies and Homicides by my good buddy Ellery Adams that just happens to debut today.

Pecan piesHer Charmed Pie Shoppe is open for business, but baker Ella Mae LeFaye is about to discover solving a murder is not as easy as pie…

Owning the Charmed Pie Shoppe and serving enchanted treats in the magical town of Havenwood, Georgia, seemed like a little slice of heaven for Ella Mae LeFaye. But now her hopes for both a lasting romance with Hugh Dylan and business success are starting to seem like pie in the sky, and Ella’s left wondering: Where has the magic gone?

When an enchanted grove is set ablaze, Ella realizes she has more grave problems. With her magic waning, she’s going to have to sleuth from scratch to stop an arsonist who has no respect for sacred ground—or human life…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million

Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Foodie Friday: Skillet Hash

Sunday_roast_beefMany Christmases ago, when I was 12, my mother gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook.  It has been my go-to basic cookbook ever since.

The other night we celebrated the holiday with a prime rib dinner.  It was like a classic English Sunday Roast, with Yorkshire pudding, honey carrots, Brussels sprouts, and peas.  Yum!  But guess what?

LEFTOVERS!

What should you do with leftover prime rib?

Why, make hash, of course.

And what cookbook did I turn to?  You got it, Betty Crocker.

Here's the very simple recipe for (skillet) hash:

Hash-1Ingredients:
2 cups chopped cooked beef
2 cups chopped cooked potatoes
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons snipped parsley (I used frozen from my garden)
dash of salt and pepper
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup water
(I added 1/2 cup of frozen green peppers, too)

Hot_DawgCombine beef, potatoes, onion, parsley, salt and papper.  Melt shortening in a large skillet over medium hat.  Spread meat mixture in the skillet.  Brown hash 10-14 minutes, trning frequently with a wide spatula.  Stir in water.  Reduce heat; cover and cook 10 minutes or until crisp.

Serves 4 (yeah, right)

Betty crocker cookbookYou can also toss cheese on the top or a couple of eggs and let them cook through.  Either way, it's wonderful on a cold, snowy night.

What are you making for dinner tonight?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pet Peeve Thursday: DIE, winter, DIE!

Enough alreadyOkay, so for two years running Mr. L and I went on a cruise to the tropics.  Fourteen (or 17) wonderful days away from winter.

Just one tiny flaw in that plan.  We choose the least two snowy winters in the past 20 years.  And boy are we paying for it now.  In early December Rochester had already beaten Buffalo and Syracuse for the most snow.  No sooner do I clear the top of the driveway than there's another inch or two of the white stuff there to bug me.

Okay, I'm spoiled.  I like temps above normal during the months of November through April.  I like seeing my driveway.  I loathe that plow guy digs up my lawn every season (while yelling YEE-HA! while he plows the dirt and grass into the parking space beside the house).

Die winter dieI. HATE. WINTER.

There.  I said it.

How about you?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014