Friday, August 30, 2013

The Final Chapter of the Goodie Bag Giveaway Extravaganza!

Okay, gang! I've got one more goodie bag left to give away. Susan is already enjoying her paranormal goodie bag,

and Lori's historical bag is somewhere out there in the USPS system, hopefully to arrive soon. The contemporary bag is still waiting for someone to claim it!

For your chance to win, post a comment below, even if you already posted on the last contest. The winner will be chosen at random, but you get extra chances for "liking" my Facebook Author page and for signing up for my mailing list. To join the mailing list, send an email to and put Mailing List in the subject line. You also get an extra chance to win by following this blog or by following me on Twitter.

Please include whether you "liked" my author page, signed up for the mailing list, or followed this blog or my tweets in your comment. If you've already done some of those things, that counts too, so please include it in your comment.

The contest closes at 9PM EDT on Sunday, September 1st, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, September 2nd. Due to the size and weight of these bags, the contest is limited to US residents only. Sorry! I'm also posting this contest on the Casablanca Authors blog, so there will be more competition this time. However, posting a comment on both blogs will increase your chance to win!

A reminder to those of you who haven't purchased your copy of Unbridled. It will be going off sale on most ebook sites on Sunday, August 31st and will only be available from Amazon for the next 90 days. It will be free on Amazon for 5 days during that time period. I'll keep you posted as to when that will be. In the meantime, if you want Unbridled for your Nook, get it while you still can!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm in Voice withdrawal...

Do any of you out there miss The Voice as much as I do? It's the only TV show I watch, and I feel sort of lost without it--with the result that I keep writing late into the night until all I can think about is diving into bed. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen, but when I don't have the banter between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton to look forward to every week, I don't know when to stop working. Without The Voice, I don't get to meet incredible new talents and cheer them on. I stay at my computer until my hands get numb and my brain shuts down.

This photo was shamelessly stolen from The Voice's Facebook page

I wasn't sure Usher and Shakira could successfully replace Ceelo and Christina last season, but they were a perfect fit for the show--so much so that I'm a little sorry to see the originals return.

This photo was also snagged from The Voice's Facebook page
Sure, I missed Ceelo's outrageous costumes--and a few of Christina's--but I grew to like the replacement coaches as much as the singers they coached. They were genuinely sincere and put so much heart into the job, and it was wonderful to watch their team members bloom.

Yet another blatant theft from The Voice's Facebook page
I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but you can bet that on September 23rd at 8pm Eastern, I'll be in front of the television.

And I won't be writing.

I'll be fantasizing about being coached by Adam Levine.

Do I really have to say where this came from? I think you know by now. . .
Oh, yeah. Team Adam. *getting major goose bumps*  I would so choose him...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Zucchini Rye Bread!

This is that second non-sweet zucchini bread recipe I mentioned last week. When I made it, I mistakenly added two eggs instead of one. Not sure it made much difference, but the recipe I based it on (the Shaker Cheese Bread recipe in the King Arthur Flour cookbook) only called for one. Again, I used Ultragrain flour, but white flour is fine.

Zucchini Rye Bread

1 cup ultragrain flour
1 cup rye flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 egg
¾ cup milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pesto
¼ cup grated onion
1 cup grated zucchini

Stir all ingredients together, then bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour. This bread is still moist and delicious when toasted, but has a tendency to mold due to the high moisture content. Refrigeration is recommended.

Monday, August 26, 2013

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Lori McPhetridge! You're the winner of the second Goodie Bag Giveaway Extravaganza! Email me with your snail mail address and whether you'd like the contemporary or the historical bag and I'll get that sent out to you ASAP!

Look for the final giveaway on Friday, August 30th!

In the meantime, I need sleep! Busy, busy, weekend....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Goodie Bag Giveaway Extravaganza Part Deux!

Today I'll be giving away the second of three goodie bags from various conferences, each of which have been put together from some of the items you see here. Two of my own Cat Star books have been added to each bag.

One of the bags contains mostly contemporary titles, and the other bag is more historical. The paranormal bag has already been won!

For your chance to win, post a comment below, even if you already posted on the last contest. The winner will be chosen at random, but you get extra chances for "liking" my Facebook Author page and for signing up for my mailing list. To join the mailing list, send an email to and put Mailing List in the subject line. You also get an extra chance to win by following this blog or by following me on Twitter.

Please include whether you "liked" my author page, signed up for the mailing list, or followed this blog or my tweets in your comment. If you've already done some of those things, that counts too, so please include it in your comment.

The contest closes at 9PM EDT on Sunday, August 25th, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, August 26th. Due to the size and weight of these bags, the contest is limited to US residents only. Sorry!
The next giveaway will be on next Friday, August 30th!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

I freakin' LOVE the Internet. If I'd had to go to a library to research everything I looked at yesterday, I'd still be there. As it is, I can get diagrams and maps, ethnic names and their meanings, a recipe for damn near anything, along with the name of those nifty little clips that rock climbers use--not to mention the hand signals used in dog training.

Why do I need to know all of these things? Well, when you find yourself writing about things you don't know firsthand or can't make up off the top of your head, you have to do some research. And whether you hate it or love it, Google is an incredible time-saver. Nora Roberts talks about the days when she used a manual typewriter and carbon paper, but I'd be willing to bet that most writers would give up their word processors before they'd give up the wealth of information at their fingertips.

Nah. I don't want to give up either one, particularly since I'm a mediocre typist, or whatever it is you call people who do that these days. There are times when I can't spell a word correctly to save my life--or hit the right keys. I love my spellchecker and my grammar checker--although I find that little green squiggly line much easier to ignore than the red one. I love autocorrect, but only up to a point. My iTouch let me down when I went shopping for urad dal on Tuesday. Not having any idea what "urad" meant, my Touch corrected it to read "Yard dal." Needless to say, the guy at the international grocery had never heard of it and actually recommended the urad dal. Stupid me, I tried for something that seemed more familiar and wound up with Toor dal, which is perfectly good stuff, I'm sure, but not exactly what I was after.

I'm rambling again, and Budley is here with the teriyaki chicken, crab rangoons, and fried rice. At least I know what that is.

I'll be starting another goodie bag giveaway tomorrow. The paranormal bag has already been won, which leaves the bags that are predominately historical and contemporary . Be sure to stop in and post a comment for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A bit bleary-eyed at the moment...

I spent most of yesterday researching, shopping, and cooking a few traditional Indian dishes as research for the first book of my romantic suspense trilogy. Not bad, but anyone who tells you that ground coriander seed doesn't taste like the leaves of the plant (cilantro) is lyin' to ya! I had to add some other spices to tone it down a bit. Wish I'd inherited the cilantro-loving gene, because the stuff is in EVERYTHING these days.

My agent seems interested in the RS series, so it may get shopped around to a traditional publisher--which means that it'll be ages before anyone gets to read it. My Sourcebooks editor still wants an erotic romance trilogy from me, and she's about to read the Rebel manuscript along with two of my other early manuscripts with the idea of using one or both of them as the start of a new series. Not sure where that will lead, but a lot depends on how things go with Rebel. So far, I'm not having too many good thoughts in that direction.

I was up until midnight on Monday reposting all of the recipes from the old CBEB blog. So they're here if anyone feels the urge to cook. I'd forgotten about a lot of them. When you consider that the first post was in 2009, that's not too surprising. Made me sad to take out the hunk pics, though. I'd forgotten some of the guys, too!

Enough rambling. Enjoy your Wednesday!

PS. I mailed the goodie bag, Susan!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Zucchini Cheddar Bread!

I know what you're thinking. Zucchini bread should be sweet and gooey and moist and spiced with cinnamon. Well... you know the story. We all need to curb our sugar intake, and where is it written that zucchini bread has to be sweet? I searched and searched for a recipe and never found a single one that wasn't loaded with sugar.

So, being the resourceful CatMaster that I am, I looked up the savory breads in my trusty King Arthur Flour cookbook, and found a couple of cheese bread recipes. I modified them a bit, and they didn't turn out half bad.

This is the first one I tried. It rose up nicely and has a wonderfully moist texture. The other version (which I'll post next week) used milk instead of yogurt and I put Parmesan cheese in that one and used rye flour instead of whole wheat. It didn't rise as well, but I believe the flavor to be superior. Depends on what you like. I used Ultragrain flour, but regular white flour would work just as well and have a lighter texture. This bread is very moist and doesn't even dry out in the toaster. However, due to the high moisture content, it tends to mold quickly, so you might consider keeping it in the fridge.

Zucchini Cheddar Bread

1 cup white flour (ultragrain)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pesto
¼ cup grated onion
1 cup grated zucchini
Stir all ingredients together, then bake in greased loaf pan at 350 for 1 hour. This is absolutely fabulous toasted and topped with butter and a little more pesto.

Monday, August 19, 2013

And the winner is...

Susan! You've won the first goodie bag in the giveaway extravaganza! The email should already be in your inbox. The next contest will begin on Friday, August 23rd. Huge thanks to those of you who liked my Facebook page and joined my mailing list. I truly appreciate all of the kind comments that were made about my books. Writers love stuff like that!

I spent most of last evening researching Indian cuisine for the new book. Now I just need to go to Sahara Mart for ingredients like ghee, red lentils, and kalonji. I'm going to try making Indian Naan and Chapati bread and something called Dahl that's made with red lentils. I made my own garam masala spice mix, except I didn't have any ground cardamom, so I need to get that too. LOL! Who knew writing a book with an Indian hero could be so interesting!

Speaking of things I've never done before, I was recently asked to give a workshop on world building to the Indiana RWA chapter next March. When Slave was first published, people used to tell me how good I was at world building, and back then, I didn't even know what that meant. I know what it means now, but I still wasn't sure I could teach anyone my method. However, after giving it some thought and jotting down a few notes, I realized I could do it--one of those "you never know 'til you try" things.

Since Sandy James and I were asked to come back to the Starbase Indy convention in November, I thought this might be a good topic for that too. So I started working on an animated PowerPoint presentation for it--something else I've never done before. Sandy added a few pictures and I had a blast searching for additional Star Trek-themed illustrations. I'll probably use different pictures for the IRWA version, but I'm betting the Trekkers will get the jokes! *;) winking

Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Goodie Bag Giveaway Extravaganza!

Today I'll be giving away the first of three goodie bags from various conferences, each of which will be put together from some of the items you see here. I'll also be adding a few of my own Cat Star books to the mix!

For your chance to win, post a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random, but you get extra chances for "liking" my Facebook Author page and for signing up for my mailing list. To join the mailing list, send an email to and put Mailing List/contest in the subject line.

Please include whether you "liked" my author page or signed up for the mailing list in your comment. If you're already on the mailing list or have already liked my page, that counts too, so please include that in your comment.

Contest closes at 9PM EDT on Sunday, August 18th. I'll announce the winner on Monday, August 19th. Due to the size and weight of these bags, I have to limit the contest to US residents only. Sorry!
The next giveaway will be on next Friday, August 23rd!

In the meantime, Long and Short Reviews just reviewed Wildcat. It's a pretty awesome review if I say so myself!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pretty things

If yesterday was a preview of fall, I'm ready for it! I went out and worked on the flower beds and picked some peppers and okra to pickle. Then I took a few pictures.

After last year's drought, it's a wonder anything is still alive. These guys were getting too invasive for my flowerbeds, so a few years back, I sort of tossed them over into a rough gully underneath the power lines. Needless to say, they were fruitful and multiplied.

It's been a great year for phlox too. I was in Louisville this past weekend, and they were also blooming nicely there.

These are some marigolds that I started from seeds that I collected off the plants I grew last year. The originals were a dwarf variety but as you can see, these are anything but!

It took them a while to get started, but they've really taken off in the past couple of weeks. 

My morning glories also went native. Most of the blooms are this dark, purplish flower which is quite pretty,

but smaller than these--which are the ones I actually planted. I'll have to take a picture in the morning when they're blooming in full force. These were shaded, and were still blooming in the afternoon.

I'm planning a giveaway of the goodie bags I got at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. I'll take some pictures of the stuff and post them on Friday. Be ready to comment for your chance to win!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Just wanted to put up a quick post for those of you who miss the hunks. Email me for details!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Once a nurse, always a nurse?

I just updated my Blogger profile to read "former critical care nurse." I believe the timing of this to be appropriate because a year ago today, I resigned from my nursing job. I didn't, as so many people assume, retire. I am not drawing any money from my retirement funds. I didn't retire; I changed careers. 

To say I haven't missed nursing is an understatement. For all of you out there who are still active within the nursing profession, my hat is off to you. With all the changes healthcare has undergone in recent years--particularly the changes to our hospital--I just plain couldn't take it anymore.

I'm probably not alone--in fact, I KNOW I'm not alone--because the burnout rates among nurses have always been high. That I lasted for thirty-six years in critical care is probably a statistical anomaly. Yes, there are many who have been active in that specialty for even longer than I was, but there are probably more who didn't last anywhere near that long.

The only thing I miss is the people. I miss the nurses and the other staff members I worked with. I even miss the doctors. I miss the sweet elderly ladies and gents, and I miss the patients who retained their sense of humor even when they felt like crap. What I don't miss are the arrogant, the confused, and the combative. Those were the ones we had to deal with whether we liked it or not--and keep smiling.

The toughest part about being a nurse is not being able to react the way that most humans do. When someone hits you, your instinct is to hit back. When someone insults you, you either return the insult or you avoid that person completely. When someone tells you to go away and never come back, you do it.

Nurses can't do any of those things, and sometimes it frustrates us beyond belief.

And then there is the responsibility. True, nurses are well-paid. If I could earn as much as a writer as I did as a full-time nurse, I would consider at least one of my goals to have been achieved. But are nurses paid as well as they should be? Probably not, and the reason I say this is because when anything goes wrong, the nurse is responsible. When an error is made that affects a patient, the nurse is to blame for allowing it to happen. Nurses stand between their patients and the entire healthcare system. A good nurse is a patient's best advocate--the one who will argue on their patient's behalf, even if it means going toe-to-toe with their doctor or family. I'm not sure a price can be put on that, but if it could, it would probably be more than most nurses currently receive.

Nursing wasn't all bad. I enjoyed those times when I was able to use my creativity and skill to find a solution to a difficult problem. I look back on the times I was able to share what experience had taught me with newbie nurses with pride. There were patients who touched my life and whose names and faces I can still recall even after more than thirty years. I've watched a lot of people die despite my best efforts, but I also watched many of them go on living because of something I did. When lives are saved, quite often, that saving was done by a nurse. I'm proud to have been counted among their ranks, but it was time for me to move on.

I met a lady at a booksigning who was thanking all of the authors whose books had helped her through her cancer treatment. I was one of the authors she thanked. I've received emails from readers who thanked me for writing books that gave them a few hours of respite from their troubled lives. It's not quite as dramatic as being the one starting the IV that enables life-saving drugs to be administered or knowing which drugs to give, but it's not bad.

Once a nurse, always a nurse? Maybe. Either way, I'm touching people's lives, and it feels pretty good.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Plotting behind the wheel

I went to Louisville to see my family yesterday. Had a great time visiting with everyone, but after driving back and forth to Indy on Saturday for the IRWA meeting and then back and forth to Louisville, I'm beat!

Perhaps the best thing about long solo drives is that you can do whatever you like. You know what I'm talking about--you don't have to listen to the music your kids want to hear, and you can stop for potty breaks whenever the spirit moves you. The air conditioning/heat can be set at a level that you find comfortable in the driver's seat. The back seat sits there silently, not telling you to turn the music down or the fan up.

But perhaps the best part (for a writer) is the opportunity to plot. I know I'm technically a one of those authors who writes by the seat of their pants--a pantser as opposed to a plotter--but let's face it; even pantsers plot. We just don't do it on paper. We write the outlines in our heads.

Not long ago, I had a dream about being in a plane crash. The plane went down in water, but I survived. Now, most people would see this as a warning never to book a flight that's routed over any large bodies of water. Others would take this as encouragement that, no matter what happens to everyone else on the plane, they would come out alive.

But those people aren't writers. I've been tossing this dream around in my head for a while now with the intention of writing a book about it. But upon further reflection and some discussion with my writer pals, I think I can get a trilogy out of that dream--sort of a paranormal romantic suspense series. While driving a total of four hundred miles in two days, I gave it even more thought, and I'm pretty sure this will become my next project.

Since I can't start publishing the Cat Star spinoff series until next fall, clearly, I need something to work on in the interim. So, Sandy and Nancy, prepare yourselves for chapter one! Not sure what I'll call it, or even what I'll name the characters, but I'm sure it'll come to me. It always does. I just have to take my brain on a road trip. *;) winking

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I did it!

I now have a secret blog for the hunks. This blog isn't listed on the search engines and you can only see it if you're a member. I've sent out a few invites already, so check your email inbox. If you haven't received an invitation and would like to join and PROMISE not to share the link or the pics, etc, with anyone with nefarious intentions *snicker* or feed it into a XXX site, please send me an email ( and I'll send you an invitation to join.

I must say, I kinda missed visiting the hunk files.

I think they missed me, too!

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I may have a solution to the blog/hunk dilemma--actually, there are two possibilities. I could start a Yahoo group and we could do the hunk ogling via email. Or, I can start another blog and restrict who can see it. I would need to compile a list of email addresses to add to the list of "approved" readers. That way no one but those Yah Yahs on the list could see it. I could post the hunks and you all could let loose with whatever you want to say because it would be private. It would require an extra log-in step. Any thoughts?

I'm heading to Fishers for the IRWA meeting today. Will check in when I get back home, but in the meantime....

Nancy Bristow is the winner 
of a free copy of 

Email me (you know the address!) and let me know what format you would like and where to send it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Brain-fried Friday Fun and a Giveaway!

I've spent the past couple of days working on getting Unrivaled published, then I decided to republish everything else I had on Amazon to include the new links. In the process, I thought I might've uploaded the wrong manuscript for Undeniable. These "Un" titles can be confusing, and you can't just edit the Kindle manuscripts like you can on Nook, you have to upload it all over again. They all finally went live at about 10pm, and they turned out okay. Whew! Seems like there should be a way to stop the process if you do something stupid like put the wrong book in the wrong cover. Anyway, it's all good now.

At the time I'm writing this post, Unrivaled is live on ARE, Nook, and Amazon. The others are still processing. Kobo gave me some trouble this time. I tried to edit the chapters in the table of contents because there was one page that didn't have anything on it, and two that had gibberish for the chapter titles. I finally gave up and started over and just left it the way it was. All of my other books on Kobo may have the same problem, but I never noticed it before. I gotta tell ya, this self-publishing thing can be a bit nerve-racking at times.

Since this is Unrivaled's release week, I guess I should be having a contest, huh? Without a hunk pic to caption, I'll just have to ask a question:

If you were a fifty-year-old single woman, what would you do with this guy?

The commenter who makes me laugh loudest wins a free copy of Unrivaled! 
And Nancy, feel free to discuss his equipment!!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The joys of post-menopausal womanhood...

Got a call from my doctor's office yesterday. Seems my cholesterol is slightly elevated. So, like the good little nurse I am, I hop on over to Google to see what I can do. I'm already taking Pravachol, so, based on the cholesterol content of various foods, I figure I'd better stop eating egg yolks and eat more fiber. Then I see a a link to an article about foods that lower cholesterol. So I click on that and discover that the red grapefruit half I'm eating every day is supposed to lower my cholesterol.

I'm thinking, great! Why isn't it working? Then I read further and discover that grapefruit not only interferes with the action of the "statin" drugs, which include Pravachol, it also inhibits a molecule that helps metabolize estrogen hormones, thereby increasing estrogen levels and increasing the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

My first inclination is to wonder why I didn't know this stuff already. Is this some new finding, or was it something I missed? So I go to Web MD and try to find anything on Pravachol that warns you against eating grapefruit. The closest thing I found was that it works best if taken in the evening. Okay. I take mine in the morning. Guess I can change that.

But maybe, just maybe, the interaction actually occurs in the stomach, so that if you take the pill in the morning, which is when most of us eat our grapefruit, it DOESN'T WORK! Of course, nobody tells you practical stuff like that, and that's only my theory.

So, here's the plan. Eat more oats, beans, and tofu, and stop eating egg yolks and grapefruit. Got it.

Oh, and stop going to writer's conferences where people buy me margaritas and ridiculous desserts that raised my Hemoglobin A1C from 6.3 to 6.5.

Yeah. Like someone (this means you, Sara!) really had to twist my arm to make me eat some of that.

I'm visiting my sister Bonnie and some family friends on Sunday. Bonnie asked me to make a chocolate pie.

Sorry, Bonnie. No can do. *:( sad

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Wonderings....

So far, the sales of Undeniable seem to be better than the other two books in the series, and I have no idea why. Would any of you who've read it care to hazard a guess? Is it the guitar-player thing or the kink factor? Or am I imagining it? *shakes head* I can't be sure of anything since my brain is fried from critiquing several fifty-five-page contest entries. I finished judging the first of four paranormal entries before I wrote this post, so forgive me if my mind seems to wander a bit.

Another thing I'm wondering is whether I can sustain a daily blog without the guys. Before when I had nothing to say, I could post a hunk and not worry, knowing the gang would take the balls and run with them. (pun intended) But eventually, I think of something, even if it's just randomness--like today.

Speaking of worries, I made more of those pickled peppers yesterday, and I believe the recipe I posted to be the best version of it. The peppers in that first batch are crisp and tasty! Budley even liked them!

Now all I have to worry about is whether or not to name the deer that keeps coming into the yard to eat the apples. Seems like anytime I look out, there she is. She's become such a frequent visitor that Peaches only chases her away when encouraged to do so. She does, however, chase the rabbit that has taken up residence in my garden and has eaten the bean plants down to the stems. I'm hoping she gets the little bugger soon.

Deer, rabbits, Japanese beetles, and a variety of other pests have plagued my garden this year, but at least we don't have this problem.

Tanya sent me these pics a few weeks back, and I'm hoping the grasshoppers have moved on by now.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Pickled Peppers!

My trusty beta reader, Mellanie Szereto, sent Unrivaled back to me yesterday. I'll give it another read-through and then I'll start publishing it. If the process is anything like it was the last time, it'll probably pop up on ARE as a pdf first. Will keep you posted!

In the meantime, if your peppers need picking and pickling, here's my pickled peppers recipe. This year, I tried adding alum for the first time, so I wanted to taste them before I posted the recipe. My original recipe made peppers that were kinda soft, and adding the alum does give them a bit more crunch. According to the label on the alum bottle, you can soak whatever you're pickling in alum diluted in water, then rinse before starting the pickling process. I'm going to try that today. Will let you know if there's any difference.

Pickled Peppers


1 1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups peppers (I mix jalapenos with sweet banana peppers, but I've also added okra and the occasional cucumber)
1 tsp alum

  1. Rinse the peppers and cut large banana peppers in half. I stab through the jalapenos with a knife, especially the big ones, otherwise, I leave them whole. You can cut the caps off if you like, but I never do. 
  2. Wash and sterilize a 1 quart wide-mouth jar. Keep it hot by filling it up with boiling water and let it set until you're ready to use it. 
  3. Combine liquid and spices (omitting the alum) together in a 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  4. Add peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1 tsp alum to the empty jar, then put in the peppers and as much liquid as it takes to fill the jar to within 1/4 inch of the top. 
  6. Pour boiling water over a new lid, then put it on the jar and screw the band on until tight. 
  7. Allow to cool. Listen for the lid to pop, which lets you know that the lid has sealed. If it doesn't seal, just stick the jar in the fridge. The pickles will still be good; they just won't keep for years! It's best to wait a couple of weeks to let the flavors mingle before you eat them. 
  8. Refrigerate after opening.
This is one of those "unapproved" heirloom recipes that doesn't call for processing the jars in a boiling water bath after you fill them with the pickles. You can do that if you like--I believe a 5-10 minute boiling time is recommended--but my mother never processed any of her pickles, and I'm pretty sure none of us died from eating them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Where, oh, where has the romantic comedy gone?

I took the day off yesterday, only changing out of my nightgown to feed the horses. When I returned from the barn, I put my nightie back on and spent the day watching movies with Mikey and Budley. We watched Saratoga Trunk, You've Got Mail, and Roxanne.
I remember watching Saratoga Trunk (1945), a Gary Cooper/Ingrid Bergman classic, as a kid. If you haven't seen it, you need to. For a movie that wasn't billed as a comedy, it's got some of the best lines I've ever heard. Ingrid Bergman is stunning, and Gary Cooper is, well...Gary Cooper.

Not wanting to spoil the mood, we watched You've Got Mail (1998) after that. During the movie, we questioned why we hadn't seen Meg Ryan in any movies recently. Mike looked it up on the Internet, and discovered that her career has suffered from the death of the romantic comedy, which was the style of film that comprises the bulk of her work.

I think that's rather sad, but it is proven by the fact that of the romantic comedies I own and enjoy, all of them were made in the year 2000 or earlier, and most were made in the 1980s. I'm sure a few have been made since then but they've been few and far between.
What happened to the romantic comedy? Why has it been replaced by inane, slapstick comedies with no romance whatsoever, and very little intelligence or wit?
I wish I knew.
Having a comedian in a leading role didn't ruin Steve Martin's chances with Darryl Hannah in Roxanne(1987)--even with an incredibly over-sized nose. Perhaps it's because the comedians today aren't what you'd call leading man material--at least, not in the romantic sense.

On the other hand, since the big box office money is in the teen market, the target audience of most filmmakers is not women over thirty. That isn't to say that women over thirty never go to the movies, but if they're like me, the only movies they get to see are animated family films and action/adventure flicks. I know that because even at the age of fifty-seven, I'm still not the one who gets to pick the movie on a night out.

Therefore, we have to get our romance from books. According to,  Romance fiction buyers span all age ranges but the largest segment is [women]between 30 and 44 years old. This is a wonderful statistic for those of us who write romance, but every once in a while, I'd like to go out to see a new romantic movie that is actually worth watching. The last one I can recall that I liked well enough to buy a copy of was Chocolat, which--you guessed it--was released in the year 2000. 
Sad, but true...

Chocolat isn't technically a comedy, but it did contain some humor, and Johnny Depp is still a hottie. *:x lovestruck
I'm sure he could sell another movie like that one, and I hope he does it. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Cake...with frosting by Willy!

In the course of emailing back and forth with the entire family for today's reunion party, I volunteered to make that chocolate cherry cake recipe that I posted a couple of weeks ago, this time, with the cream cheese frosting. Interestingly enough, one of my nephews responded with this:

Just promise me that Willie will not be involved in making the frosting.  *;) winking

How he knew about Willy was something of a mystery. Everyone else was like, "Is this something I should know about?" My response to that was along the lines of, "Not unless you've been visiting my blog."
Apparently, said nephew had done just that after someone had given him a tip to check out a post that included Willy.

Now, before you all freak out, last time I checked, John was over twenty-one, and probably over thirty. Therefore, he won't be too shocked when he hears the news that yes, Willy did indeed help me frost the cake.

I figure if I flash this picture around enough, no one else will want any cake, which will leave that much more of it for me. *>:) devil 

I'll keep you posted on the outcome of that strategy. Good thing Alicia won't be there or I wouldn't get any cake at all.  *:)) laughing

Friday, August 2, 2013

This and that...

Yesterday, I did a read-through of Unrivaled before I sent it off to my beta reader Mellanie Szereto for her careful scrutiny, and I was surprised at how many tiny little errors I found. Nothing major--an extra space here, a missing word there--but those are things that used to annoy me as a reader. Not wanting those mistakes to annoy anyone else, I'm doing the best I can to weed them out.

After that, I critiqued two chapters for Nan and a synopsis for Sandy. Guess I've done everything I can to avoid judging those contest entries. Must bite the bullet and start on them. Soon. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, but most of the time, I'm not. The trouble with contest entries is that you don't get to choose what you read. I found that out when I had to read a stack of books for RWA's Rita awards this year. When you get a book to judge that isn't the sort of book you normally read or enjoy, it's tough to be impartial--or even read it through to the end. I had to make myself sit down and read them. *:-&lt sigh

Next weekend, I'll be attending the IRWA meeting and will get my goody bag back from our wonderful chaptermate who drove to the conference and offered to take stuff back home for those of us who flew. I'll be doing a giveaway (maybe two) in the weeks to come, but I want to make sure I have everything before I run a contest. By that time, Unrivaled will probably be available for sale, and I'll do some giveaways of that too. Just wish I had some good pics for you to caption. Not sure how I'm gonna do it. Those Rafflecopter things confuse the hell out of me. *:-/ confused

Speaking of things that confuse me, here are some statistics that I find very interesting. Book sales seem to drop off at the end of the month, then pick up again on the first--even if the first is in the middle of the week. I was shooting for 100 net sales of Undeniable on Amazon for July. I sold 105, but had seven returns, which left me with 98. I tweeted and posted links on Facebook for a couple of days, but no dice. Then yesterday, August 1st, I sold two copies. I hadn't sold anything on Nook for three days, then on the first of the month, I sold four. I'm guessing it has to do with the way people are paid or budget their money, or the fact that most new books are released early in the month, so that's when people go book shopping. I've also noticed that I sell the most books late at night on weekends.
Nothing too surprising about that, now, is there? *;) winking

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I wrote the final chapter of Unrivaled yesterday--actually, I finished it Tuesday night--but until my critique partners (Sandy James and Nan Reinhardt) have seen it, I don't consider a chapter finished. I began another read-through of the manuscript, after which I'll send it to my beta reader, Mellanie Szereto. Then I'll give it another read or two before I start formatting it for the various ebook outlets.

That's one of the nicer things about self-publishing. My books go through this same process, whether they're traditionally published or not. The difference is, when I send a manuscript off to my traditional editor, I lose control of it--and I like having control. I like knowing that if there's a mistake, I'm the one who made it, and I can fix it. Once a book goes to press, it's done. A self pub can be continually tweaked. I often wish I could go back and rewrite my early Cat Star books. If I ever get the rights back to them, I may do that, but I'm not holding my breath in the meantime.

There was some discussion among the Casablanca authors as to what the magic number of books published was that would justify quitting the day job. Mine was a night job, of course, but the same rules apply. So often you hear people say that you have to spend money to make money. Well...I gave up money in the hope of making money. Might not have been my best move, but hey, you only live once. No magic number was ever arrived at, but I've heard twenty bandied about. With the publication of Unrivaled, my total will stand at twenty-four, if you include all the short stories, novellas, and the Cat Star bundle. Rebel will make it twenty-five--and I think that sounds like a nice, magical number. Don't you?

Went out for a dinner with my hospital buddies last evening. It was wonderful to see everyone again. Not quite like spending twelve quiet hours together--restaurants are always so noisy!--but it's better than nothing! Willy came with me! Can you spot him?