Monday, January 11, 2021
Monday, December 7, 2020
I did some more decorating over the weekend. I'm running out of doorknobs and wall space to hang things, so this Santa pillow is now hanging from the welcome sign just inside my front door. I did the cross stitch back when my hands could take it, and my mother made it into a pillow with a ribbon. I used to hang it on the handle on the handle from the sliding glass door into our enclosed porch, but then my sister-in-law sent us a felted stocking (which is pretty) and it's lived there every holiday season since and Santa got relegated to storage, but I like it and decided to try to find a way to use it. Mr. L's sister is an extremely talented knitter and makes the best stuff. (I'll have to take pictures to share.)
How is your holiday decorating going?
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Happy Saturday. Mr. L always teases me because for just about every tune I've ever heard, I have a favorite part. Just a few notes. I grew up in a musical home. My Dad played the trumpet, and my Mother was a HUGE fan of musicals. I knew all the lyrics to Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Carousel, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, and so many more by the time I hit grammar school.
When I was a kid, we only had two Christmas albums. One by Andy Williams and one by the Ray Conniff singers. Is it any wonder that my favorite Christmas song (and 2nd favorite) came from that Ray Conniff album. My absolute FAVORITE Christmas song is Silver Bells. I've heard it from many, many different artists, and no matter who sings it (except for Elvis. *Shudder* I'm NOT an Elvis fa.), I always stop to listen. I should put together a CD of all the various versions I have, I love it so much. (But that would probably drive Mr. L around the bend.)
My second favorite Christmas song was only performed (as far as I've been able to discover) on that same Ray Conniff album. "Christmas Bride." (https://www.youtube.com) I got engaged on Christmas Eve, so that song, which I heard when I was just a little girl, had even more importance when it finally happened.
So, what's your favorite Christmas song?
Monday, November 30, 2020
To celebrate Cyber Monday, TODAY and tomorrow, I'm offering seven of my books at 50% off from Nook and Smashwords. Why these books? Why not? Don't have a Nook? Get the free app. Click this link to get it! Just use the Coupon Code for either site. (Just copy paste it from this newsletter!)
Sabina Reigns: Nook Coupon Code: BNPSABINA | Smashwords Coupon Code: TX93T
A Murderous Misconception: Nook Code: BNPMISCON | Smashwords Code: PD94N
Life On Victoria Square Vol. I: Nook Code: BNPVSSET | Smashwords Code: HQ69T
Mystical Blythe Code Manor: Nook Code: BNPBLYTHE | Smashwords Code: GM96X
Recipes To Die For: Nook Code: BNPRECIPES | Smashwords Code: VJ39G
The Best From Swans Nest: Nook Code: BNPSWANSNEST | Smashwords Code: VF33W
Happy Holidays?: Nook Code: BNPHOLIDAYS | Smashwords Code: KL47K
Monday, November 23, 2020
Katie’s been dealt the Dead Man’s Hand …
It’s all fun and games when Katie Bonner and her friends play poker for chocolate-covered peanuts, but the very next day Jamie Seifert collapses and dies after visiting Katie’s tearoom on Victoria Square.
Katie’s business in on the line and she needs to prove Jamie wasn’t poisoned at Tealicious. Her first order of business is to locate the mysterious woman he was dining with, and her next step is to go undercover at a nearby poker club where Jamie won big just a week before. It seems everyone there might have had a motive to rub Jamie out...and if they learn Katie has been lying to them, she might be next!
The print edition will be available on or before Feb. 5th.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Happy Sunday! When you're skipping a meal (every day for months on end. It's called intermittent fasting), you start to become obsessed with food. (Starting?) I start planning lunch the minute I open my eyes in the morning (and sometimes that's at 3:30. I'm really BAD at sleeping). Since my brother gave us some croissants, I've been salivating more than Pavlov's dog.
Ideally, I'd love it with chicken salad, but...egg salad is almost as good. (With minced celery and chopped olives--and LOTS of mayo. I've found the best olive oil mayo is actually Walmart's Great Value brand. Costs less than the big brands and tastes better. Has almost half the calories of regular mayo, too. Commercial over.) I have just enough lettuce to put on the croissant, too. (Boy, have I been nursing this head of lettuce.)
We're having fried rice (with ham click the link for the recipe) for supper tonight. (I love it because you can make it ahead.)
What's on your menu today?
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Thanks to Covid-19, we're getting in the holiday mood a little early this year.
My brother and his wife bought a pop-up trailer three years ago. Since then, they've upgraded twice to other "towables," (see how I've got the lingo down?). They have become real fans of camping (mostly at parks and campgrounds). They love the camaraderie and they have several other families they hang out with.
I saw the little camper in a catalog that came wayyyyy back in August. I bought it in early October, and it's been sitting in my entryway ever since. (Let me assure you, I was totally able to sweep around it.) I didn't want to wait until Christmas to give it to them, but this morning my brother went to the Public Market and dropped off some cider donuts and croissants for Mr. L, and wonderful cinnamon scones for me. As we put up our Christmas lights yesterday and are getting in the holiday mood, and I didn't know when I'd next see my brother, I gave him the box (with batteries) this morning. (We both had our masks on!)
I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes when they opened the box, but the sister-in-law was thrilled! (After all, she was the one who wanted to start camping.)
Knowing she loves it, made my day. I think it's been sold out, but you can buy something similar from the same company here.
What's going to make your day?
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Today is National Pieorgi Day and Mr. L will be having them for lunch. Buffalo has a big "Polish" population. Mr. L's mother was a first generation American of Polish descent and made all kinds of great Polish dishes.
I'm on the fence about pierogi. I like potatoes, but I'm not a big cheese fan. We've tried as many versions of Mrs. T's pierogi as we could find and I absolutely LOVED the jalapeño kind, but then we couldn't get them again. Mr. L will eat them just boiled, but I like them fried with onions.
I'm sure my character, Jeff Resnick (from the Jeff Resnick Mysteries) has eaten his share of pieorgi, but he's never mentioned it to me.
Are you a pieorgi fan and if so, what's your favorite kind?
P.S. Don't these pieorgis look fabulous?
Monday, October 5, 2020
Nothing says "hire me" like a sales pitch that starts out "your website is crap." Really, NOTHING. I can't tell you how many of these pitches I get in a week. Most of them from other countries (you can tell by the names of the (I assume) men who sign the emails).
Okay, maybe my site isn't as sophisticated as say ... Barbara Freethy (romance author) or Mary Kay Andrews, but then I'm pretty sure they don't update them, either. They've got the bucks to hire someone. Me? I'm running on a shoestring. My goal was to have a site easy to maintain so that I didn't have to wait for an update. My first website designer was also a writer (like my current one), but she only did updates once a week. She had enough clients that sometimes it took as long as three weeks for her to get around to fixing whatever was broken. And if you wanted a site where she DIDN'T make the updates (where I had to pay for every tiny change), then she charged you three times as much to set it up. Uh...needless to say we parted ways.
I found Jo (my current designer) because I someone I knew had a site done by her. I wasn't that impressed, but I looked at Jo's portfolio anyway and realized that she had probably given the author exactly what she wanted. (Her books were set in a swamp--that's what she got.) I wanted something that said "cozy" and Jo gave it to me. And if I have a problem, she almost always answers within an hour of my email, and often doesn't charge me. She's wonderful and I'm happy to call her my friend. (We hung out at a Ninc writers conference several years ago. It was great to have a friend there.) If you're ever looking for a website designer, Glass Slipper WebDesign is the place you should go.
Anyway, maybe you'll go and check out my website. There are lots of hidden pages (links to the maps of Victoria Square and Lotus Bay), Breakfast at Blythe Cove Manor, etc. Fun things you can find if you just explore a little bit. (Same with my Lorna site.) Here's a link.
So, have you gotten a sales pitch where the person giving it starts out with an insult?
Friday, September 18, 2020
Happy Book Day to my Victoria Square co-author, Gayle Leeson. Check out her latest Down South Cafe Mystery, Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets on sale now. (Don't worry, the Amazon paperback edition will be arriving in a couple of days--you can order from Barnes & Noble now!)
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Even though the contract was (very, very) late, they've already had a cover conference. My editor is a doll and he let me have input (which a lot of authors don't get). He made some suggestions and let me choose. I think it will be super cute.
So, what do you think?
Friday, July 24, 2020
As most of you know, I write the Lotus Bay Mysteries (and not often enough). When I started the series, I based it on a real place.
How do I know about all this? I met the new owner last week. He's a surveyor and was surveying a cottage near ours. Our neighbor works with him and as I was packing the car, I was called over to speak to him. Not only had our neighbor read the Lotus Bay Mysteries, but he'd loaned the books to the surveyor and his wife. I told him I'd added a big porch, and apparently it's in the works, although I'm not sure if it'll be in the front or the back of the house.
It was so nice to hear about the love and care that's going into the restoration. (You can't see it, but there's a lovely picnic area to the left.)
Don't you just love happy endings?
Friday, June 19, 2020
We were relieved that upon peeling back the cover that the water was sparkling clear. (Whew!)
Hmm. Where did that come from? Neither Mr. L nor I remember ever buying this duck. Did someone give it to us? Was it conjured up by rubbing a lamp and asking a genie for a wish? Who knows! But it's now in our pool, floating around and looking a little lonely. Should I try to find her a friend? Many friends? Where would I find it/them?
Since the pool was looking pretty spiffy, I decided to make a video using it as a background. What do you think? (I like the bird tweeting in the background.)
So, yup, if you'be been waiting for the paperback of A KILLER EDITION, it'll be available on June 30th.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
It's only been 15 years in the making.
Back in the day (which means before I was published in novel-length), I experimented with several different genres. I started out with hard-boiled suspense (the Jeff Resnick series), cozy mystery (the Victoria Square Mysteries) and women's fiction.
Sabina Reigns started out as women's fiction, but then I wrote three chapters as a cozy mystery (for a contest, where it didn't even place), and then went back to women's fiction. But then I got contracts for Booktown and Victoria Square from Berkley Books and the Sabina manuscript went back under the bed. But I never forgot her.
This winter, when I was between projects, Sabina came out from under the bed and I spent two months rewriting it. I've come a long way in 15 years and so Sabina and her cohorts have a much deeper, more sobering story to tell. But there're still some elements of fun as Sabina makes her journey from housewife to successful entrepreneur. It's also a story about mothers and daughters and how those relationships change.
Sabina Reigns Miller had it all: a wealthy husband, a beautiful home, a daughter at a great college. Without warning seven words blow the bottom off her world. "I've met someone else-and she's pregnant." Her husband of twenty years wants a divorce so he can move his mistress into their former residence. Although Sabina loses her comfortable life, she refuses to fall on her face. Her ex-husband's girlfriend may be living in their house, but Sabina has interior design skills and a bucket of dreams.
Can she rebound from the unexpected change, stick to her principles, help out a friend, and find someone to love again?
Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books | Smashwords
Will you give Sabina Reigns a chance?
Monday, June 8, 2020
A writer never wants to hear that a reader has given up on her work. (Yeah, ouch!) But despite losing this reader, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.
I'm sorry she feels that way ... but you know, the fact that I was able to make her care so much about that character means I succeeded as a writer. I brought life to that character. He meant something to her, something that will stay with her for a while. But that also means that she cared more for him than you do for Tricia, Angelica and the rest of the Booktown characters, and that makes me sad.
I'm also sad to know how she isn't interested in how the characters will survive this turn of events.
I'd hate for her to miss the next book in the series. I wrote that book while my mother was in hospice dying. It kept me going when I felt like I'd lost everything. How I ever wrote such a fun book during that terrible time still amazes me.
Of course, there're more hard times ahead for Tricia and the other Booktown characters because that's what storytelling is all about: conflict. When there's no conflict, there's no story.
I thanked her for reading the first x-number of Booktown Mysteries, and I invited her to check out the other six series I write under my real names. I'm pretty sure she won't give them a chance, but that's her decision. When I write a book, the most important thing I consider is characterization, even over plot. Apparently, that's what keeps readers coming back for more.
Have you ever given up on a series in the middle? If so, why?
Monday, June 1, 2020
- No flowers: we usually go to the local nursery and buy flowers for our urns.
- Nobody to clean the house every two weeks.
- No one to help me in the garden
- Not so much meat for supper
- No interacting with friends and family
- No trips to the ice cream place
- No yard sales (oh, boy--for a thrifter, that's a BIGGIE)
- Our pansies from last year self-seeded, so we do have some flowers after all
- I baked bread for the first time
- I've been baking quick breads (to use for Mr. L's breakfasts)
- We've been doing more jigsaw puzzles (well, mostly ones we've done before)
- We're still able to patronize our favorite restaurant via takeout
- I've been able to stay on my diet despite bread and quick breads (15 lbs down)
- I've finished two books and a short story and started another two books
- I've got everything I need to repaint my kitchen cabinets
- Curbside pick-ups & home deliveries
- The mail still comes 6 days a week
So while this won't be the summer we all wanted, maybe it can still be a good summer. How will you make your summer special?
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
It's Tuesday. I have to look at the calendar or the computer to remind myself what day it is. I also find that I'm forgetting to do stuff I want to do because--SQUIRREL!--I get distracted, which seems pretty easy these days.
Like I was going to post here yesterday, and then...I ended up emptying the cat box and did a few loads of laundry and then it was bedtime. But during those moments between the hauling the clothes from the washer to the dryer, I decided I needed to go back to playing house. By that, I mean doing a better job of cleaning (boo boo hoo! I miss the cleaning ladies who came twice a month to blitz the place), play with my new Dyson (currently still in the box), and get out my spring/summer decorations. But I'm not sure what boxes they are in so...I need to do an inventory. I need to put things away and take other things out. I'm inspired by those French Chateau videos I've been watching (now up to three channels).
If the sun ever comes out, I'll be out in the garden (self-sewn Pansies have suddenly appeared in the urns!!!!!). I need to make every day a red-letter day. Something special needs to happen so that every day isn't just the same.
What would make your day a red-letter day?
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Are you baking today? I think instead of baking, I'll be roasting (which is kind of the same thing as the oven is involved.) All last fall, I saved my squash seeds.
I've been rummaging in the freezers and finding stuff I didn't know we had. Like bagels. Clam strips. A single chocolate-chip scone. Wayyyyy more hamburger buns than we need and no burgers. It's like a treasure hunt every time I open the door!
Are your cupboards and freezer a treasure trove you didn't realize you had?
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Mr. L and I save the newspaper to read in the evenings. After a day at the computer, we just want to chill out with an adult beverage and the paper. We don't read our local paper (OMG--what a disaster), so every day Mr. L goes to the grocery store and picks up the Buffalo News.
One of the easiest recipes I make is Slow Cooker Kielbasa and Beans. It literally couldn't be easier.
1 pound smoked turkey kielbasa, cut into coins
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
2 cans (16 ounces each) beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chicken broth
Pepper to taste
Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker and switch it to the "high" setting. Give it a stir and cover. If using raw onions and peppers, let it cook for 5-6 hours. If using frozen onions and peppers, give them a quick thaw in the microwave. Heat on high for 2 to 3 hours. (Everything is pretty much already cooked, so you're really only heating it up.)
Yield: 6 servings
It doesn't matter what kind of beans you use. I've used just kidney beans, and I've switched it around using cannellini, garbanzo, black-eyed peas, great northern beans--anything I had in the cupboard--and it still turns out great.
Another great thing about this recipe: if you use turkey kielbasa, there's very little fat, it tastes great, and has very few calories. Win-win!
Have you got any easy-peasy slow cooker recipes you'd like to share?
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
A few weeks ago, Mr. L and I tried a new-to-us restaurant for lunch. I ordered a Cuban sandwich on our first visit. It wasn't the best I'd tasted. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Mr. L chose a brisket sandwich and he raved about it. He wanted to go back. Me? Not so much. But before we went last week, I went through the menu at least three times and could not find anything I wanted. The only thing that vaguely interested me was a loaded potato. I love baked potatoes and when I'm at home, I usually only have butter and a lot of fresh-ground black pepper. Because I'm trying to lose weight, I ordered it with the grilled chicken, but without the sour cream and cheese ... but that's mainly because I don't care for sour cream or cheese. (Okay, I'm a bit of a picky eater.)
It was GOOD. So good, that days later, I was still thinking about it. And last week, we went back for our third try. (Mr. L and I go out to lunch twice a week. Yeah, not really a good thing if you're trying to lose weight, but I'm down seven pounds with intermittent fasting, so...it could be worse.)
Where did that come from?
It's been more than a year since I had prime rib. Besides ground beef in a burger, taco, or a burrito, I'm just not a fan of beef and if I eat it once a month, that's a lot. EXCEPT for prime rib. I really LOVE it, but it's so expensive, we only have it once a year, usually on my Mum's birthday--even though she's been gone for nearly five years. We used to invite her (and Dad) over for supper on her birthday and always served prime rib. (We always had lobster on Dad's birthday.)
We're planning on going back this week and guess what I intend to order?
P.S. These pictures don't do it justice. I will have to take a photo the next time we go.
What do you like on your loaded spud?
Monday, January 27, 2020
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Friday, January 24, 2020
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
I expect that kind of behavior from younger people, so it was surprising to see it from an older gentleman.
I don't get it. Mr. L and I have been together for (mumble, mumble) years. In all those years, we have NEVER run out of conversation. We both work from home. We talk all day long (albeit sometimes shouting between our offices--which are connected), but we have never run out of things to say to each other.
I feel sorry for these people. If you have nothing to say to each other--why are you still together? Go find someone (friend, family member--whatever) to talk to.
What's your opinion on this?