Monday, April 25, 2011

Terri's Easter Frittata

A recipe I made up yesterday for Easter (it was really yummy)

Terri’s Easter frittata

1 bunch spinach cleaned and cut

1 small onion, diced

½ carton button mushrooms

1 tsp garlic

4 slice Canadian bacon cut up

9 eggs

½ cup cream (or milk)

½ cup cheese

Put spinach in pot with water and lid.  Steam on high until wilted down

In oven proof skillet sauté onion, mushrooms garlic and mushrooms in olive oil.  Add Canadian bacon and sauté until nice and soft.

Add spinach to skillet

Mix eggs and milk until fluffy then pour into skillet on high heat.  As it starts to cook, lift from sides to allow some of egg mixture to slide under spinach et al.

When about half way set up – add about ½ cup cheese of your choice (I used romano) on top and put skillet into pre-heated 400 degree oven

Cook about 13-15 additionally minutes until cooked through and cheese is melted and golden.

Cool before cutting and  serving

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Blog - Duffy Brown

The Blog:

How I got into writing mysteries isn’t much of a’s what I read, watch on TV, go to the movies to see. I’m guessing that pretty much sounds like most of you.

I think mystery loves are born that way. As soon as we learned to read there were all these books out there and we chose the ones with questions involved. I loooove Trucks and Cars and Things that Go as a kid because I had to find Gold Bug. Then there was Encyclopedia Brown. Those books are the best because there are clues and you solve the mystery. I read every Nancy Drew and then went on to Sherlock and the rest of the gang.

Have you ever started rewriting the stories you read or saw? Have you ever thought...Gee, that was stupid. They should have done this or that and only someone with an IQ that matches their shoe size wouldn’t have seen that clue.

I did that a lot so, I started writing stories of my own. Just a side note...if your life sounds like mine, maybe you should try your hand at writing mysteries too. J

Dreaming up the characters is as much fun as writing the mystery. I’ve set my Consignment: Murder series in the South because I love Savannah, true Old South. And Paula Deen lives there and cooks. Is there anything better than real Southern food? You may live a few less years ‘cause of butter, cream and lots of eggs but I’m willing to take my chances on fried chicken, creamed potatoes and pecan pie. Lordy.

Now you know a bit of how I got into mysteries. I’d like to know when and how you got into reading them. Do you remember the first mystery your read? Who is your favorite sleuth?

I’ll give a copy of Hot Southern Nights, a romance with a mystery I wrote as Dianne Castell from the answers. I'll mail off Duffy Brown goodie bags to anyone who wants one. Just send your snail addy to: Duffy

Consignment: Murder

-Iced Chiffon 3/’12

-Killer in Crinolines

-Pearls and Poison

Duffy Brown

Berkley Prime Crime

Consignment: Murder

-Iced Chiffon 3/12

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Family Member


Frank and I are very lucky people this week. Over the weekend we found the perfect pet for us and she is adorable. She is a Corgi (just like in the Rita Mae Brown Mysteries) and she is five years old. Her name is Lady Mystery and she is making the perfect pet for us.

I hope you will agree that she is a real beauty.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's Add Some Flavor

Okay so let us add a little flavor to our mystery reading today. I love to read mysteries that feature coffee I love all of our mystery titles that have coffee in them. Tea is also good for flavor and great titles and who could forget ice cream titles by our very own Wendy Watson. Of course we have pie shoppe mysteries out and cupcake, donut mysteries are on the market. I am waiting for a cook channel mystery because will definitely spice up my mystery series reading.

Give us some of your most flavorful titles from some of your favorite authors.

One or two of mine are MURDER MOST FROTHY (What a great title) another SCOOP TO KILL (just perfect) another A PEACH OF A MURDER just perfect and so the list goes on for me.

I think I have discovered I like mystery titles that lend flavor in one form or another.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blogger - Ritaestelle Christiano

Ahhhh... to be immortalized in print! One of life's little joys! Oh, hi all! It's Ritaestelle and if this name sounds familiar, it's because Ritaestelle is the damsel (albeit elderly) in distress in Leann Sweeney's latest book in the Cats in Trouble Mystery Series, "The Cat, The Lady and The Liar". I'm thinking Ritaestelle is the Lady and I mean that with a capital 'WEALTHY'. A very likable, authentic character who has her quirky moments and truly loves her precious feline diva, Isis. Murderer, I think not. Anyhoo, little did I know growing up as a little Ritaestelle with my parents' relatively frequent reminders to correct misguided people that my name is Ritaestelle - not Rita, not Estelle - that this unique name would inspire a literary creation and a very charming character at that. I have never had a nickname - well, actually, my Daddy often called me Blondie - yet I have a sister, Terry, and 2 brothers, Sonny and Buzzy ----- all nicknames. Hmmm. Interesting. My parents must have known instinctively that I could handle this mouthful of a name and I proved them correct with the help of Leann and Ellery Adams whose latest in the Books by the Bay Mystery Series, "A Deadly Cliche", features a certain seafaring vessel named 'The .......(altogether now...) Ritaestelle". Yippeee!! I must say I feel honored to lend my name to these TALENTED authors and it is beyond fun to read and learn the character that bears my name. I feel kindred to Ritaestelle Longworth - perhaps an identification of sorts being somewhat quirky myself, a huge animal lover, from SOUTH Philadelphia (thus the southern connection :D), not as elderly at 58 as opposed to 70 but, alas, not wealthy and emphatically not living in a Greek Revival antebellum house. (trivia fact: Ritaestelle means Daisystar) When Leann first asked to use my name a year and a half ago, I couldn't wait to read how she would write about the character. I purposely did not want to friend her on facebook because I did not want to influence her creative juices. I am happy to say we are now facebook friends! Well, I could not love this character more and to know how much everyone LOVES this book and series makes the experience even more joyful!!!! Viva la RITAESTELLE!!!!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Squirrel Season

It's Squirrel Season:

What I mean by squirrel season is that our phones lines went out one day last week. So I've had no phone service for days except when the ind blew just right and then maybe for fifteen minutes. We called the phone company and of course they told us we had to wait until this morning for a tech to come out and fix it. Bright and early this morning he came and took a huge later propped it against a huge tree in the backyard and started working he was here almost an hour and said the problem was up the stree. Three hours later he's back and says that squirrels ate five holes in the phone line and of course it's rained and they filled up with water. He then said that he spliced things etc for a tempoary fix but that he would have to come back at some point and because he has to clear it with his boss but he wants to replace all the phone lines between our pole and the next two poles all the way to the end of the block. So this is part one of the squirrel saga. LOLOLOL

More to come I'm sure..


Monday, April 4, 2011

Review - Sex & The City 2

When I sat down to watch this I expected REALLY bad.  that was based on media comments I had heard back when it was released.  So expecting bad, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did enjoy it.  Not a oh I must watch this over and over again movie or a Wower or what not, but a fun escape nonetheless.  Carrie and the girls head to Abudabi (??) on a PR trip of Samantha's.  They have typical adventures and predictable moments but hey - great clothes and lots of silliness and fun.  Sex and the City was never meant to be heavy drama.  Like the Muslim women in the film who wear designer clothes under their black gowns and veils, I envy the girls their fashions and fabulousness.  Sure it is superficial to a degree but it is entertaining.  A fantastic film? No.  A fun escape on a Sunday afternoon for a couple hours - Yes.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

It’s April! How’d that happen? For Pete’s sake, the year just started, and it’s already April? There’s something wrong with that.

Oh, well. This month, instead of recapping my mostly mayhemly month (plumbing problems, deceased washing machine, my dying iPod, taxes, etc.), I’m going to discuss e-publishing. I know. Everybody’s discussing e-books these days, but to me, the big push to e-books is fascinating. Some of the truly big names (Connie Brockway in romance and Barry Eisler in thrillers/mystery) spring to mind. They’re eschewing (gesundheit) regular print publishers altogether, foregoing LOTS of money, and just putting their own stuff up on Amazon’s Kindle and Smashwords (which sells e-books for every type of e-reader in the world). What’s more, a writing friend of mine just got an agent who refuses to represent work to print publishers any longer. She, an agent at an old and well-respected agency, now only handles e-books. Wow. At least I think it’s wow. Mind-boggling, too.

There are good reasons for the authors’ decisions to go it alone. First and foremost, they’ll make more money. Print publishers take at least seventy percent of all earnings from the books they publish. If you self-publish your work on Kindle and/or Smashwords, you can make that seventy percent for yourself! Whatta deal! You don’t have to deal with being paid only once or twice a year, either. Kindle will pay you every, single month during the year, depositing the money you earned, plop, right into your checking account or whatever. Even Smashwords pays quarterly. You don’t have to worry about distribution. Anybody with a Kindle or another kind of e-reading device can download your book so that if, say, a train derails somewhere outside of Kansas and your books are on that train, your sales won’t suffer. Don’t laugh. That happened to a writing friend of mine. She wrote for Harlequin/Silhouette, and those little books have a one-month shelf life. None of her books got to the stores, so her sales suffered. Did her publisher blame her poor sales on the train wreck? Of course not! It’s always the author’s fault when her/his sales take a nosedive. Yet authors have so little control over anything about their books at print publishers. The only publisher that’s ever let me have input into anything at all is the one I’m with now, Five Star. They’ve not only bought my books, but they’ve also taken my cover suggestions, bless their hearts.

The only problem with self-publishing on Kindle and Smashwords is that for every Connie Brockway and Barry Eisler out there, there are thousands of no-names who have been rejected by print publishers because their work isn’t up to par. Mind you, not everyone who’s rejected by print publishers writes poorly. However, in my editing work I’ve discovered that lots of good story tellers don’t have a handle on the tool of their craft, which is the language. And believe me, EVERY writer needs an editor. I don’t care who you are. I need an editor; you need an editor; every writer needs an editor. When you’re writing and you read what you’ve written, the chances are good (superb, even) that you’ll read what you want to read. Heck, I once had someone sitting on the “thrown” of England, and nobody caught the error until I finally noticed it at the very last-most minute. Earlier this year, I had Daisy Gumm Majesty standing under an emerald sky, and neither my editor nor I caught that until, again at the last minute, I thought “EMERALD? A green sky? Gimme a break!” So that got changed. Some of my books contain errors that are quite embarrassing, and that’s even after they were edited by several people.

My first rule on how to get published is: never give up. There’s no guarantee you’ll ever get published if you keep trying, but you’re guaranteed NOT to get published if you quit trying.

Okay, so that’s my first rule. My next rule is not as important as the first (just check out some best-selling writers. Not that I’m bitter or anything), but it is: LEARN YOUR CRAFT.

The language is the only tool we have to get our brilliant ideas and stories into a format by which they can be read and enjoyed (or not. Different strokes and all that). The better you can use this tool, the better your ideas will come across to your readers.

Did I ever tell you that my older daughter, Anni, is a classical guitarist? Well, she is, and a good one. So’s her younger son, Riki.

What does that have to do with writing, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Because they understand music, how to read it, how to use it, how to play it, and how to write it, they are infinitely more effective in their musical endeavors than if they didn’t know those things. They can play classical guitar; they can play folk guitar; they can play jazz guitar; and (God help us all) Riki’s even in a rock band. The fact that they’re trained classically doesn’t mean they can’t play anything except classical music. Far from it. It means they can play ANY type of music.

The same holds true for writing. Breaking a rule you know about in writing isn’t at all the same as not knowing what the heck the rule is in the first place. Readers can tell. Heck, Diane Levin, may her name reign in glory forevermore, gave me her used Kindle, and I’ve been reading $0.99 stories on my Kindle for some time now. Know what I’ve wished more times than not? That I’d had the editing of those stories. Honestly. It’s the truth. Mind you, I’m a professional editor as well as a multi-published author, but thinking a book needs an editor isn’t the first thing you want a reader of your own work to think about, is it? No, it is not (boy, I’m being authoritative today, huh?). You want your reader to get lost in your story. You don’t want him or her to wonder what you meant to say in that last sentence.

I’m not going to give writing tips in this blog. You can find out how to write properly in any English textbook. Or, heck, just look in the front part of your Webster’s. Webster will give you rules for punctuation (important), grammar (important), the difference between might and may, and all sorts of stuff like that. You can also log onto the Chicago Manual of Style’s website and find just about any writing-related information you need. Heck, when I used to teach on-line classes for Writer’s Digest, I made up a list of sites for writers who need help. Here’s the list: (this is Canadian, but it still offers a good deal of great information. Canadian English and American English have a few differences, but they’re mostly in spelling and quotation marks and stuff) (this is the website of the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by pretty much all the publishers these days as their standard of English usage. It’s not as easy to use as some of the other sites, but it’s very helpful)

Also, every would-be published writer needs to go out and buy a book entitled EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES, by Lynn Truss. Trust me on this.

There’s no excuse to self-publish a poorly edited e-book. True, print publishers publish bad books all the time, but you have to be really careful when you publish something yourself unless you already have a huge following of people who will buy anything you write, no matter how bad it is (I can think of a few names here but don’t want to get sued, so I won’t mention them). So few of us working writers can claim huge followings, more’s the pity.

And, what the heck, as long as I’m talking about e-publishing, I just published a short story on-line at Kindle and Smashwords. For a whopping $0.99, you can read a short historical cozy mystery story featuring Annabelle Blue, who lives in Rosedale, New Mexico, in 1923. Annabelle is kind of a sassy creature, although it’s her penchant for stumbling over dead bodies that really gets her into trouble. What’s more, you can buy it on Kindle ( and on Smashwords ( For $0.99! Can’t beat it with a stick.

Now I just hope my iPod lasts for a little while longer, ‘cause I can’t afford to replace it. And I have yet to figure out how to get to be one of those authors people buy automatically, no matter how awful their books are.

Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...