No Motivation

Life has been busy lately.  Almost all fun stuff.  My writers club had its last meeting of the year–our annual holiday carry-in–last Wednesday.  Dawn and David went all out to decorate their beautiful house for Christmas, and trees and holiday decorations brightened every room.  The food was wonderful.  It always is.  We gossiped and laughed, and since we’re writers, ended up talking shop here and there.

We won’t have another meeting until January 9.  And for some reason, that makes me feel like I don’t have to be a “good” writer and pound out so many words a day, like I usually do.  The pressure’s off, which is silly.  I still have 15,000 words to write on my fourth Jazzi mystery.  But no matter how hard I try, when I don’t feel accountable to Scribes for making progress, I revert to being a kid on summer break.  And I don’t even feel that guilty about it:)

I intend to still write, still work on book four, but I’ll write at a more leisurely pace.  I’ll enjoy the perks of the season more than usual.  We had friends over for supper on Friday night and I made Cheryl’s favorite dessert–bread pudding with rum sauce.  Next Friday, we’re having another friend come for supper.  She loves smoked meat, so I’m making smoked Cornish hens.  And Tuesday night, I’m going to a Christmas program with Sia.  I’m in the mood to play more than work, ready to make jolly.

I still have writerly duties to do.  Lyrical Press scheduled the book cover reveal for The Body in the Wetlands for December 22nd.  I need to go to Canva.com to design Facebook and twitter headers for the second book.  I need to find some excerpts I can share once in a while.  Today, I want to polish the Jazzi and Ansel Christmas story I’m going to post on my webpage this coming week.  BUT, I can work for a while, play for a while, because I won’t be reporting what I’m up to at Scribes.  I don’t have to be a responsible author again until January 9th:)

Happy writing to all of you, but I hope you get some play time, too!

 

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A Little Late

My grandson Tyler recently got engaged.  We love Emily, the girl he asked to marry him.  She comes from a big extended family, though, and they all get together for Thanksgiving.  Our family these days is dinky.  My daughter Robyn lives in Florida with her husband.  Our grandson Nate’s in the marines in San Diego.  John’s brother lives in Oakland.  When we get together, it’s my two sisters, my cousin, and my daughter Holly.  And she’s a nurse.  She had to work this Thanksgiving, so we decided what the heck?  Why not have our Thanksgiving late?  So Tyler and Emily are coming home late tomorrow afternoon.  Holly’s coming early on Sunday.  We’re all going to celebrate then.

Ty and Emily already did the traditional meal–twice.  Holly’s hospital put on the works for the doctors and nurses who had to work.  And we had a friend over for turkey, brussel sprouts, and cranberry sauce, so everyone’s had enough of the usual feast.  To change it up, we decided to make chicken cordon bleu instead.  Mary will still bring her cheesy potatoes and Patty makes the green bean casserole.  I’m going to try Geoffrey Zakarian’s Hawaiian roll stuffing, a big salad (no Romaine, darn it!) to keep it light, and a pumpkin roll.  Ty always expects one of those.

It’s been so low-key this year, it’s nice.  When we all sit down on Sunday, your Thanksgivings will already be over, and I hope they were wonderful.  But I thought shifting our days around might bother me.  I worried I’d wake up on Thursday and miss the bustle.  I didn’t.  For this year, being flexible was nice.

Once you’re back on schedule, happy writing!

For Love of Family

It’s my birthday this weekend.  I’ve been in the hospital twice in the last few years–once when I fell off my rocking chair and broke my leg.  (Never use a rocking chair as a stepladder).  And once, in early April, to have my gall bladder out.  My two daughters and two grandsons have suddently decided I’m mortal, even though my younger grandson–when I was on pain meds right after I broke my leg–came in the emergency room, shaking his finger at me and told me that I’m not allowed to die.  I’m pretty sure I can’t make a promise like that, but I’d like to put it off for quite a while yet.  But just in case, everyone decided this was the year that we should celebrate my birthday properly.

My older daughter and grandson live in Indianapolis, and they’re driving up to stay with us for the weekend.  Tyler’s bringing his serious girlfriend.  She’s a sweetie–a real keeper.  My younger daughter is flying up from Florida.  Her husband can’t make it–he’s buried at work.  And my younger grandson wanted to come, but he’s a marine and couldn’t get leave time.  My HH’s (handsome hubby) brother came from Oakland last week for his high school reunion and is staying to celebrate with us this weekend, too.  We’re going to have a house full.  Air mattresses are coming out.  But we’re all looking forward to it.

My daughters and I always said if we got together, we wanted to spend the day in the kitchen and  make bouillabaisse, so this is the year we’re going to do it.  On Sunday, we’re going the manly meat route, and we’re filling the smoker with a brisket, two whole chickens, and three slabs of ribs.  Then we’re inviting my sisters and cousin over, so we’ll add in all the sides–potatoes au gratin, succotash, apple crisp or slab apple pie (haven’t decided yet), and salads.  Then on Monday, everyone has to fly home.  But it will be one heck of a birthday!

In my new mystery series, I wanted Jazzi to have a family like mine.  We might squabble here and there, but we all like each other.  So, I have her hosting her family every week for their Sunday meal.  She cooks lots of food, and they sit around her table and catch up with each other and gab about whatever’s happening in their lives.  Of course, since it’s a mystery, they often talk about clues and suspects.

I know plenty of people who aren’t as lucky as I am, who don’t get along with their family and try to stay away from them.  I wanted to show that with Jazzi’s romantic interest, Ansel.  His family owns a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and they kicked him out the day after he graduated from high school so that the two older sons would make enough money to stay home and help milk the cows.  Ansel has no use for his family and would be happy to put them behind him.  But you know how family is.  Blood is thicker than water, whether you claim your kin or not.

Anyway, I won’t be getting any writing done for a few days–starting when I finish this post.  I’m writing it today and scheduling it for Saturday, so that I’m not even tempted to lose myself in front of my computer for an hour or two.  Hope whatever you’re working on is percolating away, and happy writing!

A name, a pen name, and a new nickname:)

Okay, this isn’t a very serious blog.  I sent my novel in yesterday, drank a glass of wine to celebrate, and I’m not in a very serious mood today:)  But I’ve been thinking about author names lately.  I stumbled on two author names on Amazon that had to be fake, made up to fit the style of their writing.  The names were so contrived, I didn’t take their books seriously–(so I’m not going to share them, but it would be like a romance writer calling herself Frisky Delight).

When I wrote urban fantasy, I used my “author” name–Judith Post.  When I switched to romances, my agent suggested using a pen name.  So, I took the beginning of my name–Judi–and added my middle name–Lynn.  No one calls me by either.  Everyone uses Judy.  But, my good friend M.L. Rigdon made my day by coming up with a nickname for me–KG–for Kitchen Goddess.  Now who wouldn’t like a title like that?

I’ve been feeling a little more frisky in the kitchen lately.  (Uh-oh, there’s that word “frisky” again.  Sorry).  But I want to come up with some good recipes to send with my mystery manuscripts, so I’ve been experimenting a little more than usual.  It’s my sister Patty’s birthday this weekend, and she usually goes to a nice restaurant for it, so I invited her and my sister Mary and cousin Jenny here for supper to celebrate with us tonight.  She asked for pork tenderloin sandwiches (an Idiana classic), corn on the cob, and a pineapple/cucumber salsa.  And she couldn’t decide on strawberry cake or lemon meringue pies–so I made both.  Spent a fun day cooking:)

P1030383

I don’t know if these are Kitchen Goddess worthy, but I hope they taste good.

I read a book once that claimed that each of us chooses our own name before we’re born, and the letters in our name, along with our birth date, add up to help decide our life’s destiny.  So there might be more in a name than we realize.  If that’s true, I just critiqued a VERY GOOD manuscript by an author who must be an excellent writer, because her name is Judith Lynn, too:)  She writes as J L Walker https://www.amazon.com/J-L-Walker/e/B01CAWLX9M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_8?qid=1532721638&sr=1-8.  If you like thriller romances, you might want to check her out.

I’m thinking most of us choose our author name, hoping it sounds like we might be a good writer.  We might take those as seriously as we take choosing the right name for the characters in our stories.  Anyway, whatever your name and birth date, I hope they add up to a great writing week for you.  May the words (good ones) flow!

 

 

Let’s Talk Recipes

My friend and fellow Kensington author, Mae Clair, guested on Esme Salon recently.  She wrote a fun post about the ingredients needed to write a good book and her recipe for a dynamite tortellini salad.  (Well, sort of a recipe…maybe…I copied and pasted it in case you want to give it a try:)  You can find the entire post here:  https://esmesalon.com/guest-post-cooks-books-and-suspense/  And just in case you can’t wait to get in the kitchen, here’s the recipe:

Mae Clair’s No-Fail Tortellini Salad

  1. Mix a healthy dose of delusions with 1 cup of vigorous pep-talk.
  2. Remind yourself you’ve created complex characters and plots. How difficult can an oven/stove thingie be?
  3. Ignore spouse who reminds you about the “infamous cake fiasco” that resulted in one overly large, hockey puck-like biscotti. Apparently, there is a legitimate reason a box cake mix calls for water. Who knew?
  4. Settle for making a simple appetizer and breathe a sigh of relief.
  5. Ignore husband when he comments the last appetizer you made should have been killed before it multiplied.
  6. Blow the dust off cookbooks and search for an appetizer recipe.
  7. Turn deaf ear to the husband who suggests you have yet to outgrow the adult supervision stage.
  8. Decide you’d rather spend your time writing than crushing tortilla chips and slicing up fat black olives. Celebrate with a glass of wine.
  9. Head for your nearest gourmet deli and clean them out of tortellini salad.
  10. For the highly skilled (I wouldn’t suggest something this complex on the first try): place tortellini salad in a festive bowl and pass off as your own. Blank expressions and stammering rarely work when someone asks for the recipe. The best you can hope for is a diversion. Fainting usually does the trick

Now Mae’s recipe was obviously tongue-in-cheek, but for my new mystery series, my editor asked me to include two recipes for the first book.  I have more recipes than any file folder can hold, but I always worry about how much I have to tinker with them to make them mine.  I love puttering in the kitchen, but my two sisters have never met a stove/thingie they like.  Even if I do the cooking, they don’t like it when I get too “chefy.”  So, I was curious how other authors who write “food” mysteries handled the cooking and recipes.  To find out, I’ve been reading a lot of them.

I just finished The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis.  Clever, huh?  Davis combines cooking, characters, the mystery, and more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.  It was the first book in her Diva series, and I plan to buy more.  I was relieved to see that she included only two recipes at the back of the book, but she DID include lots of Martha Stewart type entertaining and decorating tips.  I got hooked on food mysteries when I first discovered Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Bear’s catering novels.  When Goldy catered an event, Davidson included most or all of the recipes.  Shirley Jump–who used to live in my city and was a gracious hostess for writing get-togethers–wrote a series of Sweet and Savory romances, starting with The Bride Wore Chocolate, where she shared a witty recipe at the end of every chapter.  (She said she gained weight testing them all).

Anyway, this is my question.  When a writer includes recipes in a novel, have any of you tried them out?  How many recipes do you expect at the end of a book?  Can a writer include too many?  Do you prefer simple recipes to complicated ones?

For now, I’ve moved on to reading No Cats Allowed, a Cat in the Stacks mystery by Miranda James.  Cats and librarians.  How can you beat that?

Whatever you’re reading now, I hope you enjoy it.  And happy writing!

 

Mysteries

I know.  I’m posting twice today, but I wanted to let you know that I put up a new chapter.  AND, I’m going to be busy this weekend, so I’m posting my blog early.  Maybe I’ll get lucky.  I read online that the best days to post blogs are Thursdays and Fridays.  Guess this time, I’ll find out:)  Anyway, here goes:

I’ve read lots of advice about how to brand yourself as an author.  Write posts and tweets that help readers recognize you.  I’ve changed genres enough, I might have made that hard for them.  When I switched from urban fantasy to romances to mysteries, one thing my books all had in common was food.  Someone in almost every series liked to cook.   Because I do.  So, yes, I tweet and post about food.  I enjoy reading mysteries that include recipes.  But I haven’t really gotten comfortable talking about the mysteries themselves until recently.

My first one, The Body in the Attic, doesn’t come out until November 27, and I guess that felt so far away, it felt silly to talk about it now.  But then my publisher surprised me and posted it on Amazon for pre-sale.  Without a cover.  I don’t even have to turn in the final proof pages until June 4.  But, seeing it for sale somehow made the book and marketing more real.  And then I read Mae Clair’s blog for her upcoming books, the first one due out June 12.  She created wonderful ads and postcards for it and a fewer older books she’s written, and she inspired me.  You can see them here: https://maeclair.net/2018/05/15/has-it-really-been-that-long/

Somehow, all of a sudden, I wanted to let the world know I was writing mysteries.  So, I used Canva.com to make a twitter header and posted it.  I’m not as talented as Mae, but I was happy with it.

bODY IN THE ATTIC twitter header

 

Every book in the series will be titled The Body In . . .  because every book will revolve around murder.  When I sit down to write a mystery, I always start with a dead body.  Yes, there are other crimes in the world, but they don’t have the gravity of a murder victim.  Once I know who died and what he was like, I ask myself Who killed him and more importantly, Why.  I’ve read and listened to mystery writers who swear they have no idea who the killer is until they write the last few pages of their story.  That would drive me crazy.  How do you add clues and red herrings if you don’t know Who Done It?  They manage to still write good mysteries.  We all approach writing differently, but my brain needs to know the end of a book before I write the beginning.

The next question I ask myself is whom does the victim’s death affect?  Are people devastated, or do they cheer and throw a party?  How many people wished him dead?  And how does my amateur sleuth get involved in the case?  What makes this death so important that she’ll try to investigate it?

It helps to have enough suspects, too.  Readers are clever.  They can practically guess your intentions by intuition.  It’s not the end of the world if they guess the killer before the end of the book, but if everything’s too predictable, you didn’t try hard enough.

Anyway, whatever you’re working on, good luck with it.  And happy writing.

Are you a mystery reader?  What’s your favorite type?  Cozies?  Thrillers?  Suspense or women in jeopardy?  If mysteries aren’t your thing, what do you read?

 

 

Aah, mysteries with food:)

First, before I start my blog, I want to mention that I put up chapter 6 on my webpage:

https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/.  Enjoy.

 

That said,  it’s time to admit how much I love food in mysteries.  I mean, no surprise, really, since I love food in general.  I’m not one of those people who eat to survive or because I’m hungry.  I eat because I love cooking food, I love paging through cookbooks, and I love the nuances of food.  But the balance of food and cozy mysteries strikes a perfect ying/yang for me.  I think it started for me with The Cooking School Murders, a Eugenia Potter mystery, by Virginia Rich.  When Virginia Rich died, Nancy Pickard–one of my favorite writers–took over the series for a while.  Those books led to my love of Diane Mott Davidson with her Goldy Bear catering service, recipes, and dead bodies.

There are a LOT of food mysteries on the shelves these days.  Every cozy these days is married to a niche of some sort–sewing, knitting, gardening, or herbs.  That’s fine with me.  A niche adds another layer to a good who-dunnit.  I recently finished The State of the Onion, a White House chef mystery, by Julie Hyzy.  It was a good, solid mystery with lots of recipes included at the back of the book.  Sadly, Hyzy finished the series and  moved on to writing the Manor House mysteries–which she finished, too–and now she has a darker novel on pre-sale for October 23.

Joanne Fluke’s amateur sleuth, Hannah Swenson,  who owns The Cookie Jar, is so popular, the Hallmark channel made movie versions of some of her earlier books.  She has over twenty books in the series now and includes recipes in every book.

Which leads me to the fact that my editor asked me to include two original recipes at the end of my first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC, which will come out early in November.  I had Jazzi cook BBQ ribs in that book, along with bruschetta with a white bean puree.  I’m ardently in love with bread, and my husband is passionate about ribs, so I’d made both recipes and tinkered with them a lot.  For the book, I tried to blend a few BBQ sauce recipes into one, so I hope that works.  John loved it, but if I spread horseradish on ribs, he’d wolf them down.

For book two, THE BODY IN THE WETLAND, out in April 2019, Jazzi made cabbage rolls for Ansel–since they’re one of his favorite foods–and she served chicken salad for her family’s Sunday get-together.  I have an abundance of chicken salad recipes, too–I like to invite my sisters and cousin for a “tea party” once a year, and I always serve some kind of chicken salad, along with egg salad, ham salad, and cucumber sandwiches…and lots of finger desserts…oh, and tea:)  But my fellow writer, M. L. Rigdon/Julia Donner, offered to give me her “famous” recipe, a family secret, so what can I say?  I jumped at the chance.  The cabbage rolls are something I made for my mom’s birthday in January, year after year, until she died  After that, I couldn’t make them, but I think I’ll be ready again this coming January.  There’s nothing like steaming up the kitchen, peeling leaves off a head of cabbage so that you can stuff them.

I don’t know if you like cozy mysteries, or if you love to cook, but I think the two are a match made in genre heaven.  (Our very first tea.  I got better with time.)P1030059

I hope whatever you’re working on now is “delicious.”  And happy writing!

My webpage:  https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost

 

A new chapter

I just posted chapter 28 on my webpage.  I’m in the wrong season–Lucas and Randie are prepping food on Wednesday night for Thanksgiving the next day.  Lucas is distracted enough by her low neckline that he’s lucky he doesn’t lose a finger.  His knife skills aren’t that great:)  This scene made me hungry for stuffing, but then, I’m always hungry for anything with bread.  Oh, how I love carbs!

https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/