Hibernating

The temperatures are dropping in northeast Indiana.  It’s going to be a cold weekend and an even colder week.  Thankfully, my husband and I are retired, and we don’t have any appointments on our calendar.  So, we’re hibernating.

I’ve always loved the four seasons, but I have to admit winter was more fun when I was young.  As a kid, it meant snowball fights and sledding.  As a young adult, it was something to battle to make it to work.  When our backs were strong and supple, we shoveled it, but the fresh, crisp air was bracing, and the yards looked beautiful covered in their white blankets.  Sometimes, when the schools and businesses closed, John and I would pile in the car with a snow shovel and take off to drive around the lakes.  Ah, youth. We never worried we’d get stuck.  We’d shovel and rock the car until we broke free.  When we got older, we bought a snow blower.  We still got out and about unless there was ice.

I don’t like the feeling of no control when my car goes into a skid.  My grandsons, however, headed to the biggest parking lots to do donuts with my old, beat-up Ford, enjoying the spinning and sliding.  And now that the kids are grown and gone, we’re retired, and we can watch snow fall and deal with it when we get around to it.  There’s no sense of urgency.  So, for the coming week, snow and bitter cold mean filling the bird feeders and snuggling up inside, spending more time writing and reading.

First, we’re finally taking down our Christmas decorations.  The kids made it up last weekend, so the tree and wreathes have served their purpose.  John and I are going to store things away for next year, then bake a coffee cake together.  The fridge is stocked with plenty of food.  No worries we’ll starve.

I’m going to work in more writing time than usual.  I’m halfway through my free supernatural mystery for my webpage, and I’d like to write a chunk of chapters ahead.  John went to the library and has a pile of books to read.  I’m expecting a manuscript to critique.  Never work.  I love Julia Donner’s historical novels.  This one’s a Western.  I can’t wait to read it.

All in all, dear hubby and I are ready for a quiet, easy week, staying home and cocooning.  Hope you find some solid writing time, too.

 

 

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Mysteries

In my first mystery, The Body in the Attic, I meant to write an Agatha Christie type murder where a body is found in the first chapter and then countless witnesses and suspects are introduced until the murder is solved.  That was my intent.  And I didn’t quite stick to it.  But I just finished reading Mary Angela’s A VERY MERRY MURDER.  She purposely structured her book to be like a Christie novel, and she pulled it off.  She even used a Christie story for her protagonist, Professor Emmeline Prather, to teach in her Crime and Passion English class–an elective class that focused on mysteries and romances.  Even better, Angela used the same murder technique for the current mystery that Christie used in hers.  If you’re a Christie fan, it was awesome!

Such attention to detail, alas, I didn’t manage.  I discovered poor Aunt Lynda’s body in the first chapter, yes, but then I introduced a subplot that intrigued me a little too much, and before long, another body was required to move the plot along.  Which, I have to admit, I was pretty happy with.  Which shows that even if you outline, like I do, the best laid plans can go awry.

In my second mystery, The Body in the Wetlands, bodies seemed to pile up without my even trying.  One murder leads to the next and the one after that until Jazzi and Ansel, along with Detective Gaff, finally catch the killer.  The moral of the story?  Try never to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And of course, there’s another dog in this story.  I grew quite fond of Cocoa, the chocolate Lab.

I’ve been reading quite a few mysteries lately, and back when I read Christie, the actual murder and puzzle are what made me turn the pages.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed Miss Marple and Poirot.  And Christie could draw a character in only a few brush strokes, so I “knew” them–what motivated them–but didn’t get to know them, if that makes any sense.  Lately, though, I’m every bit as interested in the characters in the story, who they are and what they’re doing, and I’m disappointed if they’re not filled out more.

I liked Mary Angela’s professor and how seriously she took teaching college students who often weren’t as motivated as she was.  I enjoyed the budding romance between Enmeline and Lenny, and I loved the widow who lived across the street and didn’t miss anything.  She was a whiz at baking and let Emmeline know her Christmas cookies were inferior.  All fun stuff that added layers to the story.

I guess, these days, I enjoy lots of different kinds of stories hung on a mystery plot.  The only time I’m disappointed is when the end of the mystery–how it’s solved and whodunnit–aren’t handled well.  After all, it’s a mystery, even if the murder only serves as a foundation to wrap other subplots around.  But I expect a murder, clues, red herrings, and a satisfying conclusion.  The rest is all extras.  I don’t want a murderer pulled out of a hat or for the clues to not add up.  Other than that, I go along for what I hope is a fun ride.  Whatever you’re reading now, I hope it keeps you turning pages and you’re happy you read it when you close the book.

And happy writing!

 

 

 

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!

 

Doggone!

Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my writing.  I’m happy with how my two finished mysteries turned out.  Of course, no one’s seen them but my critique partners and my editor, so I haven’t had to deal with reviews yet–and that might be part of it.  I’m getting better at accepting bad reviews, though.  Most writers get them.  Books I really liked hit some other reader the wrong way.  We all have different tastes.  Anyway, at the moment, I’ve been happily hitting my keys–until–doggone!–I bought Elizabeth George’s newest mystery, THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES.

I’ve been an Elizabeth George fan since I read her first book–A GREAT DELIVERANCE.  That book blew me away.  Her books have gotten longer (THE PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES is 704 pages) and further between, so I usually have to wait at least a year or two before the next one comes out.  For some reason, in my opinion, they got gloomier, too.  George writes characters really well, and her writing itself is beautiful to behold.  I finally reached a point, though, where I fizzled before I finished one of her books because it was so depressing.  Did that stop me from buying her next book?  Of course not!  Thankfully, though, this new book breathes with great dialogue, characters who spring off the pages, and the occasional humor.  I think it’s her best novel yet.

As always when I read George, I toyed with the idea of adding a little more weight to my writing and my characters, but I decided against it.  I’ll never be an Elizabeth George.  I’ll never have her gravitas, and let’s face it, I’ll never have enough patience to write 700 pages.  I’ll never be like Jenna Bennett, either, with her sense of flippancy and daredevil jump-feet-first into things.  And maybe that’s why I’m happier with my own writing than I used to be.  I still want to improve.  I still want to write my story the best I can.  But I can admire and enjoy all kinds of other writers and learn from them while knowing that what makes my writing what it is, is ME.

We each bring our own voice, our own style to what we write.  Whatever you’re working on, good luck.  And happy writing!

 

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

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

twitter:  @judypost

Rules can be broken

I’m almost to page 400 in John Grisham’s SYCAMORE ROW.  I’d probably have it finished by now if I hadn’t lost time to my troublesome stomach, but I have to admit, I needed a kick in the pants to pick the book up to read every night.  It’s good.  But I’m not used to Grisham’s style of writing, and after all the pages I’ve read, the book still feels like set-up to me.  Everything’s interesting.  The characters are great, but there’s still no crunch time, no ticking clock, and I’m getting the feeling that’s not going to happen.

The truth is, I’m so used to genre writing, his style feels alien to me.  He does a lot of the things that my writers’ group tells people NOT to do, but it works.  For him.

  1.  Show don’t tell.  My group repeats this like a mantra.  Showing pulls a reader into a story, makes him feel part of it.   Grisham sets a scene–like Jake walking into the coffee shop where everyone gathers to learn the latest news and gossip–and TELLS us what’s happening.   I’ve never been bothered by telling as much as some writers.  Author intrusion?  Eh, it works once in a while.  Jenna Bennett uses it here and there, and it adds an intimacy to her stories, like she’s talking just to you, the reader.  It’s efficient, too.  Showing takes space.  You have to let a scene play out to make a point.  Telling…well, you just say what you want the reader to know.  It creates more distance between the reader and the story, but it gives the reader a quick feeling of everything important in fewer words.  Still, all in all, most writers try to avoid it.  We try to show instead of tell.
  2. POV.  My groups’ view is that there’s singular POV or multiple POV, and you don’t mix more than one POV in a scene.  You wait to jump from one person’s head to another’s.  Grisham eliminates that worry by using a sort of omniscient POV and focusing in on one person and then moving to another.  It’s not one bit confusing.  It works.  But again, it creates more distance.  The reader’s not following one person or a few important players from place to place.  We pop from Jake’s thoughts to Lettie’s to someone’s in the coffee shop.  I don’t read enough thrillers to know if this is the norm for the genre, but it very well might be.  That’s the thing about genres.  They don’t all follow the same rules.
  3. Pacing.  My group focuses a lot on keeping the reader turning pages.   We build tension and conflict into every scene we can.  We have pinch points and turning points.  And everything keeps geting worse.  Grisham concentrates on his story and lets it unfold.  It doesn’t feel rushed.  It has more of a literary feel where the characters develop more than the plot.  I’m happy to roll with that, except I have to admit, as a genre junkie, I wish some key plot point was moving a little faster.  But that’s my own hang-up, and I know it.
  4. Would I change my advice to people who come to Scribes?  No.  Because show, don’t tell works for most writers.  So does POV and pacing.  But Grisham is talented enough to pull off his style.  His sales speak for that.  But most mere mortals have better luck following the rules.  It’s hard enough finding an audience, so why push your luck?

Whatever you write, however you write it, good luck.  And happy writing!

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

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

Twitter:  @judypost

 

 

 

 

 

Hooked

I mentioned once before that I’m studying cozy mysteries again.  I read them for years, and then sort of got sidetracked by urban fantasy and then romances.  Now, I combine them all in a big stew of happy reading and watching with an occasional steam punk thrown in.  I’d never watched the Hallmark mysteries, so I’m catching up on those, and it’s fun to see that a romance subplot is thrown into almost every single one of them.

I’ve read some mystery authors who are new to me, too.  And that’s what got me in trouble.  I stumbled onto Jenna Bennett’s Samantha Martin series.  The only time that I’ve been able to read one author, back to back, over and over again, was when I discovered James Fenimore Cooper when I was in middle school.  I admit it.  My young teenage heart fell in love with Natty Bumpo, also known as Hawkeye.  He was so brave with so much honor.  This quote might prove it.   It takes a Mohican only minutes to bury his dead…but many moons to bury his grief. He’ll wander the hills alone until he’s ready to come down.  If anyone could walk in another man’s moccasins, it was Natty Bumppo.

It pains me to admit that the reason I’m reading one Samantha Martin mystery after another is because I’m crushing on her romantic interest–Rafe Collier.  Rafe is brave, too, with honor, but it’s buried under many layers of sexy bad boy.  And what a combination that makes!  If Rafe Collier quirked his brow at me and drawled the word “darlin’,” my knees might melt.  Now bad boys, in general, don’t interest me, but GOOD bad boys, who are heroes under all the naughty things they do….well, they’re pretty darn hard to resist. At least, on paper.  And it’s so easy for an author to get them into trouble.  Talk about tension waiting to happen.

I’ve never written a bad boy.  I don’t think I’m frisky enough to pull one off.  My protagonists are always pretty squeaky clean and above board.  They win the heroine because they’re so dependable and good–like Natty.  So it’s fun for me to read someone whose character is used to people assuming the worst of him, and who’s fairly happy to reinforce that opinion.  In fact, Rafe has a natural gift for it.  If you have a thing for bad boys, here’s a link for Jenna Bennett’s:  jenna bennett savannah martin series.

I’m about ready to do rewrites for my first mystery, and as usual, my protagonist falls for a good guy.  I got comments back from my critique partners, so I’ll finish it way ahead of my Oct. 2nd deadline.  And Ansel Herstad, the tall, blonde Norwegian who’s Jazzi’s love interest, got good reviews.  I like him–a lot.  Will he make female readers swoon like Rafe does? Probably not.  But like I said, I don’t think I can write a bad boy and pull it off.  So I’m happy with Ansel.

Do you write mostly “good” characters?  Do you have a favorite love interest who makes you keep buying books?  Did you ever write a “bad” boy/girl for one of your stories?

It’s hotter than blazes in Indiana.  If you’re sweating, too, hope you get to hibernate–like I have–and write.  Happy Writing!  Judy

 

Webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel 

Twitter:  @judypost

Kyra Jacobs!

Hi, all!  I’m so happy to spread the news that Kyra Jacobs’s third and last book in the Checkerberry Inn contemporary romance series will be out on July 17th, and it’s available for pre-order now.  I love Kyra’s writing–both her romances and her dragon series–so I asked her to do a question and answer for us and to tell us a little about her new book.  Here goes:

Questions for Karen:

  1. This is the third and final book in your Checkerberry Inn series. How did you enjoy writing a series?  Did it have any challenges?

I love series writing, and being able to draw on the supporting cast from prior books to help drive new stories. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to plan ahead. I’ve got to be careful not to make a future hero/heroine act contrary to what you want them behaving like in their upcoming books.

  1. You tend to write about feisty heroines. Freudian, maybe?  A little bit of you sneaking into your fiction?

Hah! I’m pleading the fifth, here. Pleading. The. Fifth.

  1. Besides writing romances, you skip off to write PNR novels, too. How did that happen?

Honestly, I don’t know. The dragons struck me out of the blue (re-releases coming 7/31!) , as did my latest fantasy/PNR novel (work in progress). But I’ve found that keeping a foot in each genre tends to help balance me out, crazy as that may sound. With my contemporary stories, I have certain plot rules for romance to follow, as well as making the story/setting/characters believable. With fantasy, I get to break all the “normal” rules while I create new ones that shape my alternate worlds.

  1. Your third book features a female chef. Do you love to cook?  Are you a secret cookbook hoarder?

Ha! No, not a cookbook hoarder. Though, I’m certainly a cookbook/recipe user. If I don’t have directions to follow, I’m lost. Maddie, the chef in my story—she’s a wiz in the kitchen. Me? Not so much. I do love to bake (again, all about following the recipe) and have been trying my hand at grilling this summer. So far, so good!

  1. What about the hero, Cole? He’s a musician, isn’t he?  Can you tell us a little about him?  You’re a little addicted to music, aren’t you?  Do you listen to it while you write?

Ah, Cole. He’s such a sweetheart but so misunderstood. I was glad to bring him a much-needed HEA. And yes, I do love music. If I’m in the car, I’m singing along. Working in the yard or on a walk, headphones are likely in (but I spare the neighbors from hearing me sing). During writing time, though, the music stays off. I need quiet for the stories in my head to make it onto my keyboard.

  1. Okay, tell us a little about you. If you were gifted a perfect day, what would it be?

Oh, wow. There are so many “perfect day” scenarios to choose from! I’m thinking one that has a little of all my favorite things in there—time with my boys, time in my flower gardens, time writing, maybe even a bit of yoga thrown in the mix. And something tells me, music will be included as well. 😉 

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Can you share your new book’s cover, a blurb, and excerpt with us?

Thank you so much for having me here today, Judy!

herunexpectedhero-900px

Blurb:

Maddie Frye, the Checkerberry Inn’s snarky, introverted chef, just wants to be left alone. But with the inn’s upcoming gala, Maddie’s boss has matchmaking on the brain. So when the gorgeous new guy in town helps her out for a night, she comes up with the perfect solution to her problem…

Cole Granville is looking for a fresh start. When a part-time job opens in the Checkerberry’s kitchen, he takes it without a second thought. The only catch? He’s got to help his sexy new coworker snag a date for an upcoming dance. But as he coaches Maddie on attracting her crush, Cole realizes he’s the one falling for the curvy brunette. 

 

Excerpt:

“Hey! You!”

Cole froze, his heart racing. The last time he’d heard those words, they were followed by “Stop! Police!” Resisting the urge to run, he turned toward the voice and stared. The Checkerberry’s spitfire of a chef was running toward them, apron flapping in the wind.

“Uh-oh,” said Brent. “What’d you do to make Maddie leave the kitchen at this hour?”

“No idea, I haven’t seen her since church on Sunday. Maybe she’s yelling at you?”

Brent chuckled. “Looks like we’re about to find out.”

She came to a stop a few feet back, her peaches and cream complexion flushed from exertion. “Hey, hi. Cole, right?”

The men exchanged a glance. Brent offered him a victorious smirk.

“Yes, ma’am. What can I do you for?”

“Ma’am? Good grief, I’m not ninety. Even if I do feel that way sometimes. It’s Maddie. Just Maddie.”

She put a hand to her chest. Cole’s gaze followed the movement but he did his best not to let it linger there. He’d admired her curves from a distance many times, but never this up close. Today, her top was unbuttoned farther than it usually was on Sundays…

She cleared her throat and brought the hand down to plant on her hip. “You still looking for work?”

Cole stared at her, momentarily dumbstruck.

“Work.” She waved a hand in front of his face. “Are you still looking for work?”

He blinked, trying to clear the fog of surprise from his mind. “Yes, ma’am—I mean, Maddie. Did you need help moving something? Or lifting?”

“No. More like washing dishes. You got two working hands and arms?”

“Yes, ’um.”

“Then you’ll do. Please tell me this was your last run of the day.”

“It is.” More like his only run of the day. Probably wasn’t even necessary, but Old Tom hated to see him sit around bored on the days he filled in at Granville’s Hardware. Not that he’d ever complain—those days were what graciously supplied the roof over his head until Cole got on his feet financially.

“Perfect. You finish with Brent, I’ll call your grandfather.” She hurried back toward the inn, leaving the men to themselves once more.

“Come on,” said Brent with a grin. “I’ll help you unload so you can get to our queen bee.”

Cole smirked. “Thanks.”

“I hope you didn’t have any plans tonight. Big gathering up there, lots of old biddies. They stay longer than you’d expect.”

“Nah, no plans.” Cole looked back toward the inn, seeing it for the first time as a possible ticket to success. Who knew? If washing dishes paid a decent wage, maybe he’d find a way to stay longer than expected. And a cash advance.

In fact, his dream studio was counting on it…

 

 

 

Mysteries

Writers can end up talking about and researching strange things.  When I write mysteries, though, I always hope no one tracks the history of the sites I visit.  For instance, my character dug a hole near a septic tank–so no one would get suspicious why he was digging a hole in the first place, and then dumped a body in it.  Six months later, the house has sold and the toilets aren’t draining right, so another person digs near the septic tank and finds the body.  Question is:  what will it look?  Answer:  not at all like the body my protagonists found stashed in the attic–which was above ground and protected. Hence the working title:  The Body in the Attic.  But when I read the first chapter to my writers’ group, they all had different ideas of what dear Lynda’s remains would exactly be. Would the clothes still be intact?  The hair?  Would her skin and flesh have dissolved or mummified?  Would the pillow under her head be stained from when her flesh liquefied?

How I love my writer friends!  They didn’t blink an eye while they discussed how bodies decompose or dessicate–as Lisa Black explains in her book THAT DARKNESS.  A fellow writer in my group is working on a much more grisly mystery than mine and needed to know how long a body can hang in woods before the neckbone gives out and the head and body drop and roll in different directions.  Oh, the possibilities!

I bought Lisa Black’s book THAT DARKNESS, because she’s a forensic scientist and I thought she’d HAVE to make me start thinking about stuff I usually try to avoid.  And I was right.  It reminded me of when I went to a big mystery conference in Chicago and a coroner gave an hour and a half workshop on finding clues when studying dead bodies.  He brought slides of entry wounds and exit wounds.  A bullet goes in small, but exits big.  Unless it’s a .22, and then it might just bounce around inside the skull.  (Black used that in her book, but the coroner had already warned us about it).

Black’s book concentrates on crimes and forensics, so it was fun to read–unless you’re squeamish.  I want my book to concentrate more on characters but with realistic clues to the murders.  Black’s book has lifetime criminals and cops and forensic scientists.  Her characters work with crime day after day.  Professional criminals do WAY worse things than the killer in my book.  He’s an amateur with amateur detectives finding clues they don’t want to.  My book will have a totally different feel than hers.  On purpose.  But I’m so glad I read hers.  Details make a difference.  And she’s a professional, so her details drive the story.  When she has to cut off a dessicated finger to soak it long enough that she can get prints, you believe her.  And that’s awesome!

 

It’s not all about the writing

If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I’m a sucker for writers who can mesmerize me  with their use of language.  I’ve said it before, but Theodore Sturgeon’s The Silken-Swift (a short story in his anthology E Pluribus Unicorn) still stuns me with its lyrical beauty.  I reread it off and on just to remember how beautiful words can be–  (available here: http://www.baen.com/Chapters/9781625791177/9781625791177___2.htm).  Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen feel poetic to me when I read them because of their what-feels-simple-but-isn’t, visual, almost magical quality.  Elizabeth George’s mysteries…well, what can I say?  I idolize her writing.  It makes me work, it has so much depth, so many layers.  She’s NEVER a fast read for me.  I savor her.

All that said, to my shame, I’ve discovered that I can be had with almost any magic and abandon, even if the writing’s just passable.  Sometimes, I just want something FUN.  If word repetition and misplaced commas are only occasional, I go with the characters and the story.  I’m reading The Crystal by Sandra Cox right now and absolutely enjoying it.  Yes, once in a while, commas are in the wrong place.  Do I care?  For about half a second.  I’m too busy trying to keep up with all of the characters’ shenanigans.  And there’s MAGIC.  Kathy Palm would be proud of me.  Her book series, which someday I’ll gladly announce and promote because she belongs to my writers’ club and she’s read us chapters that are AWESOME, is a fantasy series.  She loves magic, but I might love it just as much.  My magic taste runs to fun and games, though, like When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs and Firelight by Kristen Callihan.  And Sandra Cox delivers plenty of fun.  There’s a crystal ball–that was bespelled–by a fairy.  Gabby Bell buys it before Christopher Saint can steal it, and the mayhem begins.  (I found this book on Mae Clair’s blog:  https://maeclair.net/blog/).   I’d read three romances in a row–all good–but I was ready for something fun and frivolous.  And so far, this book is really delivering.  The writing is solid–(no, it’s not up to Elizabeth George, but neither am I).  The star of the book is the STORY.

Every once in a while, I get so absorbed in word choice, plot, and pacing that I forget to just have fun with my characters.  Yes, every book needs a BIG question that drives the story. It needs tension and pacing.  But some books, every once in a while, have a SPARK.  And that spark can make me stay up past midnight and risk turning into a pumpkin to see what happens next.  It’s just plain FUN.  And inbetween serious books, romances with angst, and characters buried under problems, a little fun is sometimes welcome.  Can’t wait to finish this book!

The Crystal, by Sandra Cox:  https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Cox/e/B002BM3AKC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1483562143&sr=1-2-ent

By the way, I put up chapter 3 of VERDANTA on my webpage if you like nymphs, sprites, and mortals.  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

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

Twitter:  @judypost

An Ode to Food, and Back to Routine

Happy New Year!  I don’t know about other people, but I’m ready for a fresh start and a new year.  2016 was a full, busy year with more “events” than usual.  Our grandson Tyler graduated from IU in May, then he traveled for a while before starting a new job in Indianapolis in June.  Our Friday night friends moved to Carolina in June, and now I picture them playing in sunshine.  I broke my leg on June 17th and that pretty much blew my plans for the summer.  My life revolved around physical therapy and lots and lots of TLC from friends–I’m one lucky person. Then our grandson Nate joined the marines, stayed with us to do Thursday night training sessions in town, and then shipped out for boot camp in early December.  He couldn’t wait to go.  I wasn’t quite so gung-ho to lose him right before Christmas, but he was ready to prove himself.  I get that.  And inbetween all of it, I wrote.  That’s what I love about writing.  It’s “my” space, my place to go when routines crash and fall around me.  Writing can be flexible, so I met all of my deadlines.   It was nice to end 2016 on high notes, but I’m still ready for 2017!

The high notes?  My daughter and grandson came to stay with us from Friday, December 23, to late afternoon on Tuesday, December 26, and all I concentrated on was lots of good food and lots of time to visit.  No work.  No “office hours.”  With my cane and the butcher block in the center of our small kitchen, I can cook like a crazy woman, as long as I remember to stop and ice my leg in the middle of the day.  And I love cooking, especially with my daughters (except Robyn and Scott couldn’t make it this year)!

Now, my romances mention lots of food, because cooking is such a passion of mine.  And for me, the holidays revolve around food, so this next part of my blog is a blatant tribute to wonderful recipes.  Holly and Tyler both love Thai food, so I made my version of Nigella Lawson’s Thai yellow pumpkin and seafood curry to put over rice for their first supper at home.  My hubs has always insisted on a “fancy” supper, with all of us together, on Christmas Eve, so Holly and I made desserts for Christmas dinner early on Saturday to get them done ahead of time, and then I made The Pioneer Woman’s Steak Oscar for supper.  (Holly loves to try new recipes as much as I do.  Steak Oscar was a HUGE hit, and if you want to impress, this does it!)  For Christmas, I made “the big-ass ham” (20 pounds) that John won at the Legion, and I glazed it with The Pioneer Woman’s red raspberry/dijon mustard glaze.  I took an extra mason jar of the glaze to my sisters’ house, and they wouldn’t let me bring it home, so I know it was a hit.  And I highly recommend Marcela’s slab apple pie (from foodtv’s The Kitchen): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/apple-slab-pie.html.

Aside from food, we watched a movie every night Holly and Ty were here–something unusual for us, but boy, did we enjoy it.  We were all in the mood for low-key this year.  I picked first: The Magnificent Seven.  I mean, it’s a Western, and it has Chris Pratt in it. How bad can that be?  Holly picked The Secret Life of Pets–just silly fun.  And Ty picked the new Jason Bourne movie with lots of action.  Then it was time for Holly and Ty to drive back to Indy and jobs and the real world.  I finished reading The Help, and John and I rented that movie and loved it.

I got a smidgeon of work done until New Year’s Eve, but nothing to brag about.  And tomorrow, it’s time for me to hit the real world again, too.  Time to get up and write again.  And I’m ready.  It’s fun to play, but it’s great to get back to routine again.  I’m ready to hit 2017 running…Okay, limping, but with purpose.  Hope your holidays were wonderful, and have a great, new, fresh year!