Monday, December 26, 2011

And because I NEED to consume more calories . . .

I love chocolate covered pretzels.  The only problem is ... if you buy them, you HAVE TO EAT THE WHOLE BAG.  Now, I'm trying to lose weight -- not so easy to do during the holidays.  So ... I decided to make just a few.

I already had a jar of mini pretzel rods.  I found a little liqueur glass in the cupboard (now, where did it and its brothers come from?) which was just the right size for dipping.

Liqeur glass
 Next, I filled it with chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave.  (About 45 seconds.)

Chips & glass

Next, I dipped the pretzels in the glass and rolled them in non-pareils.

Dipped sticks

A bit messy. I ended up getting out my frosting knife and smearing the pretzels with chocolate and then sprinkling them with the non-pareeils.  But in the end, they looked just fine.

Finished product

They were YUMMY -- and not too many to ruin the old diet (especially since I shared them).

An easy-to-make holiday treat.

Have you ever made them?  (Would you?)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And a Joyous Leon to you, too!

Not too many years ago, it was (country) chick (oops chic) to spell things out with children's building blocks.  And what better season thant at Christmastime.  Always a slave to trends, I was suckered in.

But for some reason, the blocks have always ended up like this.

Even our (late) cat Bon-Bon would get into the act playing with blocks.  (We miss her so.)

Hey, look what my dear friend Leann Sweeney sent me for Christmas.  Aren't they beautiful?  (Fred already tried to eat them.)

Leann's xmas flowers

We're having impossible sausage-onions-green-pepper-mushrooms pie for supper tonight.  (After we hoist a glass and eat our roasted (in the oven not over an open fire) chestnuts.)

What are you doing for Christmas Eve?

Friday, December 23, 2011

And all for 99 cents!!!

BEfacebookHave you heard about Backlist eBooks?  It's a website, it's a group of authors who've been traditionally published *in may different genres) and now have self-published their backlists (originally published by Big (and some small) New York publishing houses).  And they're having a sale!

To celebrate the holidays, many of the authors at Backlist eBooks are offering one or more of their books for 99 cents.  I'm one of them!  For a limited time, I'm offering the first Jeff Resnick book (Murder On The Mind) for just 99¢ on both Kindle and Nook.

I'm also offering my cookbook, Recipes To Die For, for the same 99¢ price.

(Some other e retailers will be offering the books for the same price ... but not for long.)
The sale continues today through January 8th, then we're back to the full price on our books.

Why are we doing this? lot of Kindles and Nooks will be opened on Christmas Day, or during the 8 days of Hanukkah.  We're talking MILLIONS of e readers.  We hope that many of these Kindle recipients will give our books a try.  And for readers who already have e readers -- what a great way to nab lots of great books by proven authors?

You can access the sale page at the Backlist eBooks website.  You can view each author's offerings, or view by genre.  But please do have a look.  You might find a lot of new-to-you authors and a lot of great books.

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I can no longer multitask -- how about you?

MultitaskingOkay, what I want to know is this:  How did I ever accomplish ANYTHING when I had a 40 hour a week job?

When I was working full time, I also had a booth in an antiques arcade.  I also wrote.  At Christmastime I shopped for elevendy-million people for Christmas, sent out over 100 Christmas cards, and baked up a storm, and managed to keep up with everything else in the house (like cleaning and laundry)
Now?  Not so much.

I mean, here we are less than a week from Christmas and I'm desperately trying to fit in time to actually do my job, which is write.  Okay, the ENTIRE weekend was taken up (and so was a big chunk of last week) getting ready to promote The Walled Flower (which comes out on Feb. 7th for those of you who are counting the days).  I've got the library and bookseller postcards and bookmark packages FINISHED.  I've rebuilt half my mailing list (that Word ate THREE TIMES in September), ran Christmas errands, shopped for stuff like groceries, and did two loads of laundry.

Christmas Cookies 2Today is shot.  There are errands that MUST be run, people coming to clean and fix stuff around here, and more laundry has to happen.  The rest of the week will be eaten up by getting ready for Sunday.  (Baking, cleaning, wrapping, shopping, etc.)
All I can say is, I'd better catch up on the writing in the next couple of weeks.  The good thing: I really like what I've written so far, which is always a plus.

Are you struggling to get ready for the holidays?

Friday, December 16, 2011

The wrapping paper is almost as important

The presentYesterday I received a lovely gift from a friend. Oooh!  I love receiving lovely gifts from friends. It came in a plain brown box, but inside was a lovely white box tied with a red ribbon.  You can't tell by the picture, but the paper was textured and there was a card taped under the ribbon.

I had lots of fun opening my gift and admiring it. But what I didn't at first notice was how much fun the wrapping paper was for three very nosy cats.

First Chester had to investigate, trying to dig a hole through the paper.  (He likes to do that on boxes, and in bed at night, too.)  Then Fred had to investigate what "the black cat did."  (Fred is the quintessential "copy cat."  Whatever Chester does, Fred has to do, too.  The box the gift came in was fully investigated, too.)

But it was our little princess Betsy who had the most fun.

Betsy2Betsy sat on the paper -- in at least a dozen poses. She sniffed it.  She peeked over the top.  She batted her paw at it.  She sat on it. She enjoyed it.

Therefore, this present was more than just a gift to me, it was the gift of fun for my cats.

You can't ask for better than that!

Do your pets get in the act when it comes to (wrapping and) unwrapping gifts?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In which I plug my Christmas stories . . .

Winter in NHDid I mention that my editor asked me why I don't write a "winter" Booktown Mystery?  Because I don't live in New Hampshire.  I can't knowledgeably write about winter in a state where I've I've never been during that season.  I mean, I could fake it, but from what I hear, southern NH doesn't get half the snow we get here in Western New York.  (And Tricia doesn't live near the mountains, so she isn't going skiing any time soon.)

Okay, so I'm writing about ALMOST winter in New Hampshire by setting the 7th book in November.  Of course, they probably will schedule it for summer.  My friend Ellery Adams is lamenting the fact that her latest book, THE LAST WORD (which is wonderful, by the way), set at the beach (hence, a beach read), has just come out in December.  Go figure!  What were the schedulers thinking?

But I HAVE written two SHORT STORIES (and let me be clear that they are SHORT STORIES, NOT NOVELS -- because some readers have given me terrible Amazon reviews because they DIDN'T READ THE PRODUCT DESCRIPTION and were disappointed that they got a SHORT STORY instead of a novel.  Again I repeat, Go Figure!) that are set at Christmastime.

Uncle_Albert_smallWe're So Sorry Uncle Albert is about a family that finds their stingy Uncle Albert, who's been mooching off of the family for years, is actually quite wealthy.  Naturally the family isn't all that happy and decide that Uncle Albert has overstayed his worldly welcome.  And they plot to get rid of him.  It's a jolly holiday all right!  It's only available as an e book.  You can find it at these links.

Humbug.smBah! Humbug is a different kettle of fish.  It's a Jeff Resnick short that immediately follows the novel CHEATED BY DEATH (as in the very next day).  Jeff and Maggie have Christmas dinner with her family, but Jeff isn't all that welcome at the dinner table, and even Maggie is puzzled as to why.  If readers go on to the 4th book in the series (and I sure as heck hope they do), this story sets up one of the subplots.  You can find it at these links.

Okay, and now for a question.  Do you think readers would rather buy ALL my short stories in one ebook collection, even the romancy ones, for a discounted price, or wait until I have more mystery-oriented short stories and then do an anthology?  (And that could take a while because I don't crank out short stories very quickly.  When The Spirit Moves You, my latest (Jeff Resnick) short story,  took me over a year to write.)  I'd be very interested to know what you think.

And if you do buy/read the above-listed stories, and like them, I hope you'll think about writing a review.  I'd sure like to see the stories judged for what they ARE and NOT what they AREN'T.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Hontest, I DON'T have a split personality

TheWalledFlower.smMy next Victoria Square Mystery, THE WALLED FLOWER, will be out in less than two months.  It's time for me to get on the promotion bandwagon and start shouting out the news.  And yet, as I do this, I wonder if it's worth the effort.

I will send out bookmarks to independent bookstores.  I will send postcards to readers.  I'm thinking about sending postcards to libraries.

I love this book.  I think it's a really good book.  I think it's got a nice cover.

And I believe that at least 50% of Lorna Barrett's readers have no clue that Lorraine Bartlett and Lorna Barrett are the same author.

Why do I think this?

Because I don't get a lot of hits on my Lorna Website. The readers who do go there don't dig deep to find my Alter Ego page.  (Which I just destroyed and am in the process of rebuilding ... sigh ....)

My publisher isn't going to spend any money, time or effort to get the word out.  I've tried unsuccessfully for the past three years to get the word out with limited success.

It's been said the best form of advertising is word of mouth.  So I'm asking my reader to PLEASE help me get the word out.  How can you do that?  If you've enjoyed my books, tell other people about them.  It's as simple as that.

Will you help me?

(Thank you!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

19 stories from proven authors--all for 99¢

BEfacebookI've mentioned before that I'm a member of Backlist eBooks.  It's a group of traditionally published authors who've congregated to publish their "backlist" of books (book that were published by big or small publishers and the rights have reverted to the authors) as well as new short stories and/or novels. The genres are many -- and there's a drop-down menu on the left hand side of the website that will let you explore their members' offerings by author name and links to look by genre.  (Cozy Mystery readers will find authors they know:  Julie Hyzy, J.B. Stanley, Deb Baker, Tim Myers, etc.)

The world of Indie Publishing is kind of like the wild west in the 1800s.  Just about anybody who's got a computer can publish a book these days and charge what they want.  The authors of Backlist eBooks are proven writers, many of them award-winning and/or New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.  They've paid their dues, and they know how to tell a ripping good story--and almost always for a lot less than NY publishers are offering.

(Of course, the BEST way to see if you would like ANY e book, no matter what the price it so TRY THE FREE SAMPLE that just about ALL ebook sellers offer.  That way you will know before you buy if you like the author and then won't feel compelled to return the book if you don't like it.)

And now Backlist eBooks has published an anthology of 19 of its members to give readers a chance to test ride authors and genres that might be new to them.

Tales from the backlistTales From The Backlist is now available at the introductory price of 99¢.

Such a deal!

And guess what?  One of my stories is in there, too.  It's Cold Case, the Jeff Resnick short story that inspired the 4th book in the series, Bound By Suggestion.  Normally Cold Case is sold for 99¢ -- but if you buy Tales From The Backlist, you get it AND another 18 stories for the very same price.

Such a deal, indeed!

This link will take you to the Backlist Ebooks site where you can buy Tales From The Backlist from the various ebooksellers that carry it.  But this offer will only be good through December and then the book goes back to it's normal price of $3.99.

I hope you'll give Tales From The Backlist a try.
P.S.  If you don't have an e reader, you can download the book to your computer, smart phone, blackberry, tablet, etc.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

If you haven't yet read this series ... what are you waiting for???

I've been looking forward to today for a long time ... since March, actually.  What makes today so special?

THE LAST WORD, by Ellery Adams, is officially out (and it's already waiting for me on my Kindle).  It's the third book in her Books By The Bay Mysteries.

Yeah, yeah, she's my friend and works on my book trailers --- yada yada yada --- but she also happens to be a gifted author (I am awed by her power of description), and I love this series.  Maybe because it's about a group of people from different walks of life critiquing their writing.  Maybe because the woman who started the group has a a beautiful standard poodle she loves with all her heart.  Maybe because this same woman has a dark past and is afraid to trust, but has a heart as big as the ocean she lives on.

A killer plotBook #1, A Killer Plot: In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you'll find plenty of characters, ne'er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story... Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town-a return as mysterious as her departure-Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer's block, and even make a few friends...  But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it's up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Deadly clicheBook #2: A Deadly Cliche:  While walking her poodle, Olivia Limoges discovers a dead body buried in the sand. Could it be connected to the bizarre burglaries plaguing Oyster Bay, North Carolina? At every crime scene, the thieves set up odd tableaus: a stick of butter with a knife through it, dolls with silver spoons in their mouths, a deck of cards with a missing queen. Olivia realizes each setup represents a clich√©. And who better to decode the clich√© clues than her Bayside Book Writers group?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

The last wordBook #3:  The Last Word:  Olivia Limoges and the Bayside Book Writers are excited about Oyster Bay's newest resident: bestselling novelist Nick Plumley, who's come to work on his next book. But when Olivia stops by Plumley's rental she finds that he's been strangled to death. Her instincts tell her that something from the past came back to haunt him, but she never expects that the investigation could spell doom for one of her dearest friends...

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

This is a crucial time for the series.  While Ellery has already written a 4th book, it's up in the air if the publisher will go for a 5th.  It all depends on sales.  Do me a favor; if you love cozy mysteries and you haven't read/bought this series yet ...DO IT.  You will not be disappointed.

Selfishly, I hope Ellery will be writing about Olivia and Captain Haviland for many years to come.

I hope you feel the same way, too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

If Suspense Magazine says so ... it's gotta be true, right?

Crafty Killing.bnI got my issue of Suspense Magazine the other day ... and guess what?  I'm featured in it!

A CRAFTY KILLING was deemed one of the best novels of 2011. 

To say I'm thrilled is putting it mildly.  I'm ecstatic!  This novel has a special place in my heart.  It was a Malice Domestic finalist that sat on the shelf for way too long a time. It was only because the Booktown Mysteries did so well that it sold, for it had been rejected by everybody -- not because of the writing, but because it was set in an antiques arcade.  All I had to do was change the venue and BINGO!  It sold.

I've watched the sales and am sad to say they don't come anywhere near the Booktown sales.  That's because nobody knows who Lorraine Bartlett is. I'm hoping the mention in Suspense Magazine will help that. Because now I'm thinking about the sequel, THE WALLED FLOWER, which will be out in two months.  (And right now two months seems like a l-o-n-g time from now, but I know before I know it, it'll be summer again, and then fall and winter and ... holy smoke!  Where does the time go?)

TheWalledFlower.smAnyway, it feels really good for my work to be acknowledged by one of the mystery magazines.  (If you get the magazine, it's in the December issue, Page 32.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pet Peeve Thursday: We don't carry that

Out of businessA lot of stores lament the fact that people come in, check out their merchandise, and then go online to buy (and usually cheaper).  A lot of stores are going out of business because of this.

I'll tell you why.

I need tall jeans.  I can't buy them in the stores.  At least not tall jeans that aren't low-riding.  I can only buy them online.

I recently tried to buy a pair of sneakers at a local store. 
"Sorry, we don't carry your size."  Why?  Because it was wide?

At another store, I tried to buy a pair of winter boots.  "Sorry, we don't carry that size."  (Again with the wide.  Must be all those years of going barefoot and wearing flip flops.

I had to go online to buy all three items.  (Of course, in the last two instances, I just went to their own websites.)

I know it's expensive to carry one (or more) of everything, but if a store won't carry what I (or anyone else needs) is it any wonder they're going out of business like crazy?