Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Take a trip back in time ...


My latest story is a bit of a departure for me as it's a police procedural. I hope you'll give it a try.

Off-script-medOFF SCRIPT:  It’s 1979. Before cell phones. Before computers. Before the World Wide Web. LA Detectives Robbie Howard and Danny Wallace solve crimes the old fashioned way, by relentless legwork. Multiple deaths on the lot of a movie studio look like your average murder-suicide. At least that’s what someone wants everyone to think. It takes dogged determination for Howard and Wallace to write off a Hollywood killer.

Available for:
Kindle | Kindle Worldwide
iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords

If you like it, I hope you'll consider reviewing OFF SCRIPT on your favorite online review site (or two)!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cupcakes for everybody!

Hey, today is my character--Jeff Resnick's--birthday. I've written twice about his birthday, and neither day was happy for him. So today I'm wishing him a happy birthday with his family, his girlfriend, Maggie, and a big slice of cake (or at least a couple of cupcakes).

Happy Birthday, Jeff

Monday, May 16, 2016

Change of address, anyone?

My last several day jobs revolved around numbers. Be they catalog numbers or numbers used internally to track vendor MSDS (material safety data sheets). To other people, it was the most boring job in the world, but I didn't mind it. Mostly because I only had to use part of my brain on the job and could use the rest of it plotting stories.

I guess I'm good at that kind of data collection because I still do it--only now I do it for not only me, but the Cozy Chicks, Ellery Adams, Leann Sweeney, and Mary Kennedy. (No paycheck involved, darn it.)

I handle both snail mail and email.  Holy cow, you wouldn't believe how often people move or change their email addresses and forget to tell us. It gets a little pricey when scores of emails bounce and when hundreds of postcards get returned as "return to sender" or "not deliverable as addressed."

In fact, that just happened this week. It was startling to see how much mail came back with and without forwarding addresses--but mostly without.

But surely I could find these people on Facebook to ask them if they've moved, right?

Not exactly. Even if you think you have a unique name -- chances are there are at least 20-30 people with the exact same name.  (Last time I looked, there were at least twenty Lorraine Bartletts.)

Another problem? If you message people you aren't somehow connected with (say friends, or friends of friends), your message goes into a mailbox that most people don't know about. (The fact that they keep changing the name of it might be part of the problem.)  I know about mine, and do I ever think to look? Nope. Also, if you message too many people you don't know, Facebook will suspend you. I was once locked out for three weeks because I couldn't identify pictures of my friends.  Since I have over 3,000 friends, it's not surprising I don't recognize everyone by their faces ... or a picture of their cat, dog, child, or grandchild.

 I've put together a list of names of people whose addresses have changed and we have no idea how to find you. After our next newsletter, I'll put together a list of people whose email addresses have bounced (or are deliverable).

So, are you, or someone you know, on the list?  You can check it here.

(P.S. This is a private page and only available by the above link.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Your taste buds will love this!

Back in March, one of my readers posted a video blog (vlog) talking about making fried rice. I knew back then that I would HAVE to make the "recipe" for myself some-when soon. But first I had to have the main ingredients on hand to do it.

Well, that happened this week. Mr. L and I bought a very nice pork roast last week, but we knew we couldn't eat it right away, so off to the freezer it did go.

We come from families who used to have a big Sunday dinners, so we waited it for Sunday and roasted it. But since I knew we'd have a TON of leftovers,and I remembered Loremil's fried rice recipe, I decided to make a big pot of basmati rice the same day. You see, fried rice "comes good" when the rice has been made the day before.

So, I tossed a cup of rice into two cups of water, brought it to a roiling boil, and let it sit there for three full minutes. Then I turned off the burner, covered the pot, and let it sit for about 45 minutes.  (You don't even need to let it sit that long--30 minutes usually does it, but I had other stuff to do.)

Once the rice cooled a bit, I put it in the fridge and forgot about it ... until the next day.

Loremil’s Fried Rice
1 cup basmati rice, cooked and set aside for a day
3 eggs, beaten well
Vegetable oil
1 large carrot, diced (optional)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Steak seasoning or garlic-pepper seasoning
White pepper (optional)
½ cup diced ham or pork
1½-2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup frozen peas (peas and carrot, or mixed vegetables)

Put day-old cooked (basmati) rice in a big mixing bowl and break up. (Wet your hands before breaking it up or use a spoon.)

Whisk the eggs and cook them in a fry pan with a little vegetable oil. Season with the garlic salt, steak seasoning, and white pepper.  When the eggs are half done, turn them over.  When thoroughly cooked, cut up into strips or snip with cooking shears.

In another fry pan, add a little vegetable oil and brown the pork or ham until crispy.  Add the carrots, onions, and garlic. Stir, but don’t let them burn. Add seasoning to taste. Let the vegetables cook until the onions are translucent but still a little hard.

Add the rice and more seasoning to taste.

Combine the rice, the vegetables, and the eggs. Add the soy sauce.  Add the frozen peas and stir.

Lower the heat.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Then raise temp to med-high for 5-6 minutes to brown and crisp everything up.

Serve as a main or side dish.

I must admit, this was the BEST fried rice I've ever eaten in my life (and I've eaten a lot), and I think it was because I may have put a tad more garlic in it than most restaurants use.

Okay, it's a little fussy to make, but the results will be well worth it.

If you'd like to see Loremil make this dish, just click this link to see her video.

What's your favorite "ethnic" recipe?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The best big sister

Angelica -- love her or hate her, she's here to stay.

Who?  Angelica Miles from the Booktown Mysteries.

When I started the first book, Murder is Binding, I had no idea Angelica was going to show up and be a perpetual thorn in her sister Tricia's side from then on.  I thought I had an idea of who Tricia would be, but Angelica continues to not only surprise Tricia, but me, too!

The Miles sisters carry a LOT of baggage.  They come across and two pretty straight forward people (except for the fact Tricia seems to stumble over a lot of dead bodies while running her vintage mystery store, Haven't Got a Clue).  The issues started and seemed to be on the way to being solved, but then more kept popping up.

Like the secret life Angelica led for many years.  The things she'd kept from not only Tricia, but other members of their family.

Tricia always thought of her sister as a bullying narcissist. But that wasn't true at all, and with every book, Tricia's awe in the things her sister can do continues to grow. You see, she always thought she was the "good" sister. These days, she's not so sure.

One of my favorite aspects of Angelica's personality is her love of cooking. She's changed my life. You see, before I started writing the Booktown books, I didn't like to cook. Tricia and I seemed to have a lot in common.  Then my editor asked for recipes. Uh-oh!

Let Angelica loose in the kitchen and suddenly she's cooking for friends and family. He desire to feed the world grew to the extent that she felt the need to open a restaurant. But she didn't want it to eat up her whole life -- so Booked for Lunch only serves ... lunch!  But even that wasn't enough.  She wanted to become a cookbook author.  She worked hard and voila! She became a nationally bestselling cookbook author. (All the recipes in all the booktown books are available on my website. You can find one from every book here.)

Now, like Angelica, I find myself chopping carrots, onions ... whatever, and enjoying myself. Something I never had the patience for has suddenly become fun. And I'm cooking from scratch.  Yesterday Mr. L and I decided what kind of cake he would like for his upcoming birthday. He said, "you can buy a spice cake mix."  I don't think so.

Sometimes when I'm in a fix, I say to myself, "What would Angelica do?" (She's really much, much smarter than me. Well, than just about everyone.) She's got a big ego, but she's also got the biggest heart. t's never more apparent than in the next Booktown Mystery, Title Wave.

Tricia and Angelica leave Booktown behind for some much needed R&R. Naturally they choose a Mystery Lovers cruise, where they can ponder whodunnit in deck chairs while sipping colorful drinks and soaking up some rays. But the fun is cut short when a fellow passenger is murdered for real. Is the killer a famous mystery author, one of her fans, or a member of the ship’s crew? As Tricia tries to find the killer before they reach port, she may be cruising for a bruising...

It comes out on June 14th in hardcover, ebook, and on audio, and is available for preorder now.  Click here for links.

What would you like to see Angelica do next?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Look out, Telenia: Amanda Shelton is on the loose!

I'm a mystery writer.  I write mysteries ... except when I don't.

I've also written sweet romance, women's fiction, and sorta kinda action/adventure/fantasy. The latter would be my Tales of Telenia series.

This week I'm happy to relaunch the series, which has been on hiatus for several years. I kept putting off writing the third book because, let's face it--the first two weren't doing all that well. Why? Is it because they're bad books? I don't think so--and apparently neither do the (extremely) small but vocal audience begging me to write the next book. So it's a series in search of an audience. (And if you can help me find it, I would be truly grateful.)

As part of the releaunch, I decided to get new covers. I also decided that the name of the first book wasn't exactly helping sales. Threshold? What did that mean? To me, it meant that crash-landing on a gray and orange rock known as Telenia meant that my heroine, Amanda Shelton, was on the threshold of a new life.  But after talking to my "focus group," I thought STRANDED was a better title (and hope you do, too).

They new covers are up with all the ebook online distributors. Next up, changing the print and audio covers. (For audio, we have to re-record the opening and closing on Stranded. And if you haven't heard Steven Barnett's wonderful performance of Stranded and Journey, you're missing out on something good!)

You can find out about all the books by checking out my website.  Click here.

And even if you don't like adventure-fantasy -- please try the sample chapters available on all the ebook retailer sites. You just might like Amanda!

Friday, May 6, 2016

When I want to lose weight -- I eat this for lunch

For many years I practically bragged that I didn't like to cook. I'm rather impatient and cooking takes time.  I did like to bake, but cooking?  Not so much.
And then my father passed away and my mother stopped cooking for herself.  She would eat a microwaved poached egg and toast, or heat up a frozen fish fillet in the toaster oven, and that was about all. It was up to my brother and me to make sure she was eating something with nutrition. It turns out that my brother is a pretty darn good cook. I needed to step up to the plate.

Something my Mum liked was egg drop soup from the Chinese take-away around the corner. I shudder when I think of that container of greasy goop that passed for egg drop soup. I needed to find a healthier recipe.  The one I now use takes about five minutes to make and is practically fat-free. (The time sink is getting the chicken stock up to a boil.)
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
salt, to taste 
2 green onions, (spring onions, scallions) green parts only, thinly sliced

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the sugar, salt, and the rice wine or dry sherry if using. Cook for about another minute. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the egg white, stirring in one direction only. Chopsticks work well for this if you have them. Garnish with the green onion and serve.

Yield: 2-4 servings
I make this for lunch several times a month. It's very low in calorie (I don't even put the sugar in it--instead using more of the rice vinegar).

Do you have a fast, easy recipe you use on a regular basis?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Welcome to Stoneham, NH

Stoneham, NH is the setting for my Booktown Mysteries. It's a very pretty little village very close to the New Hampshire and Massachusetts state lines.  Back in 1822, the village was founded by Hiram Stone, who owned a granite quarry. 

The village was falling into disrepair until Bob Kelly, the then-president of the local Chamber of Commerce, recruited a number of used booksellers to come to the village. Among them, was Tricia Miles, who opened the vintage mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue. It was Bob's vision that Stoneham should be known as BOOKTOWN.

Hay on Wey mystery bookshop.

What's rather odd about that is that Bob was never a big reader. What he was is an operator. He saw an online story about Hay on Wey, a little village in Wales that is full of bookstores (and antiques and other charming shops). Bob also became romantically involved with Tricia's sister, Angelica ... but that's another story.

The Chamber of Commerce has always been behind the village's rebirth, and that continues even though Bob is no longer its president. That job fell to Angelica Miles after a bitter election (and after she and Bob broke up).

For years, Stoneham was known as the "safest village in New Hampshire," but that changed when prosperity arrived--soon after the bookstores opened. A lot of people say that changed once Tricia Miles arrived. You see, she seems to have a knack for finding the recently deceased (and in some cases, the just-about-to-be deceased). After Tricia found her second body, she became known as "the village jinx," a title she loathes.

Since crime picked up, it was decided that Stoneham should try harder for another distinction: Prettiest Village in New Hampshire. Should being the operative word. That should be an easy title to win, considering how lovely the shops are, and all the beautiful hanging baskets of flowers that line Main Street (as well as the urns in front of every store) every summer. However, one year, someone was determined to make sure the village wouldn't be in the running.

Despite the bodies piling up, Stoneham really is a very nice place to visit. There are restaurants (The Bookshelf Diner, Booked for Lunch, and the Brookside Inn), a pub (the Dog Eared Page), and of course, many bookstores.

If you haven't already visited, try reading Murder Is Binding.  The village welcomes all new visitors.

If you have visited, what's your favorite thing about Booktown?