Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Funnies!

Suzy sent me some funnies, and by golly, I'm gonna post them! I'm tired of being chicken.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't felt this way in a very long time. Not that I've forgotten to do anything (I do that all the time) but that I have free time. I can't remember what that feels like.

Could someone please remind me?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Let's Make Pesto!

Uncooked and requiring only five ingredients, pesto packs a flavor punch like nothing else. Mixed with equal amounts of melted butter, it makes the best pasta sauce EVER! Spread it on buttered toast, top it with mozzarella cheese, and pop it under the broiler for the ultimate garlic bread. You can use it as a seasoning in any dish to which you would add basil or garlic. 

This recipe comes from Joy of Cooking, however my preparation method is different from theirs. I don't know about you, but my mortar and pestle don't see a lot of action anymore. Use a blender. Trust me on this one.

Basil Pesto 

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


First off, you have to grow the basil. You can buy it fresh at the store, but a seed packet only costs about a dollar. Talk about getting plenty of bang for your buck! It's easy to grow. Just sow the seeds in your garden or in a pot, keep it watered, and then stand back and watch it explode.

Pick the basil when it's about two feet tall, preferably before it starts to bloom. Alas, I was in Atlanta when I should've been making pesto. Give the plants a few slaps before you cut it, and then shake each bunch before you start snipping off the leaves to help get rid of the bugs--because there will be bugs! Tiny little spiders and assorted leaf hoppers like basil as much as we do. Once you've got a nice big bowlful of leaves, toss them a few times. Most of the bugs and any other debris will go to the bottom. You can rinse the leaves if you like, but I never do unless the leaves are dusty. They're easier to work with when dry.

Pack the leaves into a 2 cup measuring cup to the level of 1 1/2 cups. This is about two really big handfuls of leaves. I like to use a separate measuring cup for each ingredient. Believe me, getting Parmesan cheese out of a measuring cup that's had olive oil in it isn't easy!

Pour the olive oil into the blender. I didn't start taking pictures until my third batch, so my blender looks a bit green and gnarly.

Add the pine nuts (pricey little devils!)...

and the garlic. That's actually one clove in the picture. I grew elephant garlic this year, so the cloves are huge. If yours are small, you can use 3 or 4.

Cover the blender and blend on a high speed until smooth. Your first batch won't be this green!

Reduce the blender to the lowest speed, remove the lid, and add the basil leaves. If you add them a few at a time, they'll get sucked into the vortex and you won't have to stir them--which can be very exciting if you hit the blades with your spoon!

When all the leaves are incorporated, blend on a higher speed until relatively smooth.

Turn off the blender and stir in the Parmesan cheese by hand. I use Kraft or one of the off-brands. Parmigiano Reggiano is great stuff, but it's wasted in pesto. It's too expensive and the flavor is too subtle--but that's only my opinion.

Blend it a few seconds more. It will be about the consistency of oatmeal. Transfer it to another container that has a tight-fitting lid. I always use cottage cheese cartons. The standard size will hold two batches. The smaller size works well for one batch.

When the container is full, pour a little more olive oil on the top to seal it. Pesto oxidizes very quickly when exposed to air. It's still good, it just turns a darker shade of green.

Because I make so much of it, I rarely use pesto right after I've made it. It always goes in the deep freeze until I use up the current batch. I've kept it in that freezer for a couple of years and it's still good. Sometimes the pesto gets moldy in the fridge if you don't use it very often. No worries. Just scrape off the mold and keep using it unless the mold freaks you out. It hasn't killed me yet. I think the mold has to do more with the condition of the basil when you pick it. The earlier in the season, the better. Seems like I have more issues with mold if I wait until late summer. The pesto I made two years ago hasn't gotten moldy at all, and I've had it in the fridge for a couple of months.

Now that you've made your pesto, your efforts are about to be rewarded--but first, you have to clean the blender! Filling it about half full with water and then running it on a high speed with the lid on will get it fairly clean, but I recommend wiping it out with a piece of buttered toast first. *;) winking 

Belated perhaps, but heartfelt...


Monday, July 29, 2013

Summertime, and the livin' is easy?

With weather like this, it's hard to spend a day indoors writing. Yesterday, Budley and I went out to cut a limb out of a maple tree that was hanging down over my flower bed, and we wound up cutting the dead lower limbs out of every tree in the backyard. That doesn't sound like a whole lot until you take into consideration that my backyard is more like a park than the average yard. It's amazing what you can reach from the tailgate of a truck with a weed whacker that has a little chainsaw on the end of it.

We even opened the windows because it was cooler outside than it was in the house. Sure doesn't feel like the last week of July. After last year's triple digit temps and severe drought, this year has been incredibly pleasant. Budley and I were both sweating a bit while we worked, but the breeze was surprisingly cool. Even though my feet were killing me after all the tromping around and dragging limbs away, I went out and took a few pictures. Weather like this deserves to be remembered. I just wish you could feel the breeze and hear the cicadas singing down in the woods!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


It seems that Amazon is discounting hardcover bestsellers.
But that's not all they're discounting. I recently dropped the price of Unbridled to 99 cents. Then I raised it back to $2.99 a couple of days ago. I checked it last night and saw that they're discounting back to 99 cents. I'm hoping they only did it because the price was also 99 cents on Barnes and Noble for the same time period, (I changed that price, as well) but I'm not so sure. God only knows my dinky little self-pub isn't a hardcover bestseller. I'm small potatoes compared to just about everyone else in this business, and if this trend continues, that isn't going to change anytime soon.
The weird thing is, I've seen an increase in sales. I guess people are more willing to buy something that they think is a bargain. 
Color me confused. *:-/ confused

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Sam got his braces off on Thursday morning, and last night, he ate corn on the cob--effectively--for the first time in his life. After dinner, he was eating an ice cream taco when I noticed he was having trouble biting through the outer shell, which was a bit on the chewy side. With his open bite now closed, he should have been able to do that.
Then I realized he didn't know how.
His front teeth had never met well enough to allow him to bite off anything that truly required the use of his incisors. When they took the impression of his teeth before putting on the braces, about the only teeth that actually touched were his canines--which explained his preference for softer foods. 


So I showed him how to put his teeth together and bite.

This is just one more of life's milestones that most people take for granted. Now Sam can eat corn on the cob...

And after!
...and I think that's pretty cool.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fun with Leah Braemel!

My pal Leah Braemel is celebrating her 00th birthday! (I promised I wouldn't tell!) In honor of the event, she's giving away her swag from the Lori Foster RAGT. Suzy has been having lots of fun with my goody bag, so here's your chance to win one of your own! I haven't had much experience using these Rafflecopter thingies, so I hope it works. By the way, one of the goodies in the bag is a signed copy of Virgin. *;) winking

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The end is near!

No, not the end of the world. I'm talking about Unrivaled, book 4 of the Unlikely Lovers series. I'm about forty pages from the end of the book as it now stands. Of course, there's no telling what I'll do with those forty pages. I might even trim it down to thirty. *:D big grin

A rewrite of an early work is ongoing proof that my writing skills have improved since I first wrote this story about seven years ago. It's always been one of my favorites, and it's also the place where I left every inhibition in my writing behind. Some of my friends didn't like the hero. Others didn't like the premise. But there are still others who get all dreamy-eyed whenever the original title (The Boy at the Bar) is mentioned. It is for those people that I'm putting in so much time on the rewrite.

But they aren't the only ones I'm writing it for. Perhaps the best advice I took away from RWA Nationals was that you have to write to please yourself. I have always written what I wanted to read, and if it didn't fall within the mainstream, well, that's just too freakin' bad. I grew up reading Mary Stewart's romantic suspense novels and Georgette Heyer's Regencies. After I'd read them so many times I had to buy new copies, I began branching out. I tried some of what a friend called her "Lust in the Dust" books. They left me thirsty for something better. I tried various Harlequin lines and found a few keepers, but most were exactly like the one that came before it. Many of the heroes were so unlikeable, I couldn't help labeling the heroine as too stupid to live for falling in love with such a jerk. I read a bajillion Regency romances and never found another Georgette Heyer. Many came close, but although her writing stands the test of time, nobody writes like that anymore--not with the humor and flair for the period that she possessed.

It's been said that I created my own genre when I wrote the Cat Star books. Maybe I did, and it struck a chord with a lot of readers. My readers have been loyal throughout a very long series. They've watched me change from first person to third, from rookie author to someone with a bit more experience under her belt, and now, from paranormal to contemporary.

I hope you're all enjoying that last change, but after Unrivaled is finished, I'm heading back to the stars. *;) winking

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another Wednesday without a whopper...

I checked into getting "legal" pictures for the blog. Let me tell you, it's a jungle out there--almost enough to make me give up and go back to posting pictures just like I've always done. Either that, or I'm gonna become a photographer. A lawyer told me that posting the eye candy probably won't get me in trouble, but I know if I do, this blog will wind up feeding into that XXX site again. I'm sure you're all tired of hearing this, but we may have to go forward pictureless, unless I'm the one behind the camera.

That being said, I seriously doubt I'll be photographing any whoppers--at least, not the kind you're used to seeing here on a Wednesday.

I picked some peppers yesterday and made pickled peppers for the first time since 2004. The reason I know it's been that long is because I still have two jars left from that last batch. Dunno why I stopped eating them because they're really good. Might be that I simply forgot about them until I had to clean out the storage room for the new furnace. I found all sorts of things in there that I'd forgotten about. Then again, 2004 was the year I started writing with the intention of making it my new career. Hmm....

There's something very satisfying about growing peppers--so smooth, shiny, and colorful. And then there's the shape, which is sort of phallic. Interesting....
So here are today's whoppers. Sorry. It's the best I can do for now.

 I plan to pick the basil and make pesto today. Isn't that exciting??????

Yeah. I know. It's boring. Just like my life without the hunks. Okay. I'll shut up now. This has me so bummed...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Chocolate Cherry Cake!

First of all...

Happy Birthday, Ana! 

Sorry there aren't any balloons or buns, but I do have a good birthday recipe to share. I tried it out after having a piece of this cake at a restaurant, but I've only made it once and didn't take a picture. Basically, you substitute the water and oil the cake mix calls for with a can of cherry pie filling. It's incredibly good and moist!

Chocolate Cherry Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
2 eggs
I noticed some other versions calling for a tsp of either vanilla extract or almond extract. You can add it if you like, but I'm not sure it needs it.

Mix by hand and pour into a greased and floured 9 X 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Frost when cooled. I used chocolate icing, but I'm thinking cream cheese would be incredibly good on this.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Back Home Again in Indiana...

Sunday, 7:54PM.
At the moment, my feet are killing me, but it's still good to be home. The guys ordered pizza  so I wouldn't have to cook when I got home from the airport. I must've talked nonstop while I unpacked all my stuff. It's amazing how much there is to tell after a conference. I'm sure more stories will occur to me in the coming days, but for now, I'm talked out.

So much new information gets thrown at you over a short period of time, it takes a while to digest it. I went to workshops on marketing (which, as Lynne will tell you, I really suck at) and other workshops on self-publishing that confirmed that I'm doing most things correctly. Even so, what works for one writer may not work for another. Take the old blog for example. It was working for me, but I'm not so sure about the new incarnation. I'm still mulling over the idea of contacting a photographer to get permission to use hunk pics. At the moment, my brain is too fried to make any major decisions, so I'll leave that for when I'm feeling more energetic.

I'll be giving away two goody bags over the next few weeks that will contain free books from the past two RWA conferences. Suzy seemed to have fun with Lori Foster RAGT swag, but the RWA goody bags are mostly books--although I doubt that anyone will complain about receiving free books! I'll keep you posted on the details.

Now I just have to restock the fridge and maybe get the grass cut if the weather cooperates. *sigh* Alas, no one mowed while I was gone--not that I expected them to. I'm just happy to be able to get back to writing. Today was the day I'd hoped to publish Unrivaled. I'd been banking on the good karma of it being my grandmother's birthday, but it ain't gonna happen. Sorry! *:(( crying

Try to enjoy your Monday anyway!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

RWA Nationals Day 3!

I'll be heading home from Atlanta today, but did we ever have fun yesterday!

I had a great time at the Sourcebooks signing, meeting some fans and (hopefully) making some new ones. I was signing Stud for the second year in a row. As you can see from the photo on my table, I was expecting to have Wildcat. Yet another of those breakdowns in communication between Sourcebooks and their authors. But I digress...

The awesome Sara Humphreys at the Sourcebooks signing.

Sandy James and I opted out of going to the Rita Awards, but fellow IRWA member, Jim Cangany wore his kilt!

Sandy and I had dinner at the Gibney's Irish pub across the street, then I went to the Metro Cafe for karaoke with Sara Humphreys and Sharon Lathan. As I could've predicted, Sara was the star of the show. After her rendition of "Proud Mary," my "Hotel California" was pretty damn tame! Sharon cheered us on and took pictures while Sara and I sang a duet on "Old Time Rock 'n Roll" and Sara--a New York native--did a great job on "Red Neck Woman." I have video to prove it, but have been threatened with death if I post it anywhere!

We've had a blast, and I'll miss all my buddies, but it'll be good to get home to my guys.

So long, Atlanta!
Wonder if anyone cut the grass while I was gone...
Nah. Prob'ly not.*:D big grin  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

RWA Nationals Day 2!

Greetings from Atlanta!
Here I am Sara Humphreys and Terry Spear at the Prism awards, where Sara was a double winner for dark paranormal and best of the best!

And now for the pictures I couldn't post on Casablanca.... Can you believe it? Sara had never met Willy! 

Sharon, Sara, and Willy!
 Sandy and Willy!

And me and Willy!

I'm blogging on Casablanca Authors today. Hop on over for more pics!

Friday, July 19, 2013

RWA National's Day One!

Lynne and I started the day with a self-pubbing presentation. For the most part, I'm doing what I need to do, except for marketing. Lynne works in marketing, and she's decided to take on the project of making me successful. Go for it, Lynne! She is seen here (in orange) with fellow IRWA member Judie Aitken. That's Judith Bastin waving the checkered flag so our buddies can find us at the Keynote Luncheon.

After a lunch and terrific keynote speech by Kathy Maxwell, I had a meeting with my agent and a nice long chat with fellow Sourcebooks author Amelia Grey. I'm going to the Sourcebooks dinner tonight, but last night, I wound up at the Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal chapter's Prism awards ceremony as Sara Humphreys' date, since she was nominated for an award and was allowed to bring a friend. We sat with Terry Spear and Caryn Moya Block.

We hadn't been there long before the announced the winners in the Dark Paranormal category, and Sara won!
Then she won again for Best of the Best!

I joined the FF&P chapter prior to the event. It's the largest chapter in RWA and is conducted online for the most part. I may enter the Prism contest next year. Hey, you can't win if you don't enter, right?

We stayed for the dinner (filet mignon and chocolate cheesecake!) and then met up with a bunch of people in the bar and chatted for a while. Then I went up to the room and tried to blog. No dice. Internet was so slow I waited until this morning. It didn't really speed up until 8:30 when the workshops started.

That being said, I guess I'd better go comb my hair and get going now. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hello from Atlanta!

This may be a short post. The Internet here is very slow, so I may only get a few pictures posted. Or maybe I've just had one margarita too many....

After a very expensive breakfast at the hotel's buffet, Lynne and I found the way through the walkway to the mall.
And discovered a much cheaper place to have breakfast tomorrow!

I don't have any idea what building this is, but it looked interesting.

We did actually make it outside the building for a brief period, but we weren't out long.

I spent the afternoon talking with Sharon Lathan who was headed to the Regency soiree after the Literacy signing looking lovely as always!

Supper was sushi, which was AWESOME!

Then the Literacy signing with my pals Carolyn Brown...

Sandy James,

And me!

I couldn't tell you what I'm doing tomorrow, but surely someone will tell me where to go and what to do. Too tired right now to think!