Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tool Heaven

Recently we took half a day off from the writing to do some house repairs. Our back door now closes without violently throwing your body against the door. We ended up having to cut off some of the bottom of the door and attach it to the top. Worked like a charm with a few more adjustments. I've managed to acquire a few nice tools and it sure makes a difference. On this job alone I used my big miter saw, my circular saw, my 18 volt screw gun, and my new nail gun. I do love my tools. Of course by the middle of the day I had to put away the tools and work on a copy-edited manuscript. It's an interesting life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bestseller List

A PEACH OF A MURDER came in at #3 in Entertainment Weekly this week. Bill Crider gave me the heads up on this, which came as a pleasant surprise. Bill also mentioned the book on his blog where he said some very nice things.

We have had a bit of an adventure trying to find a copy of this issue. James and I immediately went to Wal-Mart in our hometown to look for the issue. It wasn’t there, so the next day we headed for Fort Worth. We found a copy of Entertainment Weekly at Waldenbooks in Ridgmar Mall, but it wasn’t the right issue. At this time I didn’t know exactly which issue it was in and was afraid it was in the week before. This meant a stop at Half-Price Books. We came out of there with an armful of books, but the past issues of the magazine didn’t have right book list. We finished off the day at Borders. Since that day we made another run at the stores looking for the next issue, but the Nov. 17th issue was still in the stores. My daughter finally found a copy of the right issue, and there my book was on the list. It's a great feeling.

Friday, November 17, 2006

One Sad Dog

Max is really missing his little buddy, Clifford. He gets up with the sun and runs around the yard barking at anything and everything until late at night. James plans on trying to teach him to walk on a leash, so he can go on long walks with him, but I’m not sure if this is going to be possible. We’d never had a dog that totally freaks when a leash is hooked on, but Max does. When he goes to the vet, it’s always an adventure. He’s a fairly big dog and strong. So he doesn’t strangle himself or pull his collar off, we use a halter. At least we can control him with the halter.

Shayna, our oldest daughter thinks we should get another dog. My first response was no. We have had too many pets over the years. Most taken in because they were dropped on us. Living in the country does have some drawbacks. At this time we have one Nigerian Dwarf goat, Max, a small Doberman/Chihuahua mix that lives in the house and hates Max, three old cats, and a parakeet. We did have three goats. As they passed away, we did not replace them. We had four cats and when Ruffles passed away last May, we didn’t replace her. My youngest daughter, Joanna, started out with two parakeets. One morning as she was getting ready for school Ruffles climbed up close to the cage reached in and snapped the bird’s neck. Shocked both Joanna and Ruffles. Ruffles was our mouser. She would catch the field mice that managed to sneak in and kill it so the other cats could play with it acting like they killed it. After Ruffles killed that bird, she gave up mousing. We had to get traps, because the other cats couldn’t catch a mouse if it ran into their mouths. When Ruffles killed the bird, I went right out and bought another bird. When the other bird died suddenly, I went out and bought another bird. And when that bird died suddenly I realized these birds don’t have a long lifespan, so if I waited a little while we’d have no birds. After the first death, the bird moved to my bedroom/office. So, it’s been about three years that I’ve had the one bird. He’s not the friendliest thing, and I worry about him being lonely, but I refuse to go out and buy another bird.

I’ll admit, I’m wavering on getting Max another dog friend. He just looks so blasted lonely. He had this cute trick of grinning with full teeth while dunking his head. He doesn’t grin lately.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

R.I.P. Little Dog

Our little miniature Schnauzer passed away today. He became part of our family over eleven years ago. We wanted a dog that would play with our girls who were 7 and 10 at the time. He and our youngest, Joanna, became instant pals. We used him for physical therapy for her. She was born with problems with her left hand. Straighten the hand was impossible, but we tried to get her to use it as much as possible to pull tendons that were too short in the fingers. This is where Clifford came to the rescue. He was the sweetest dog ever, but not really the brightest. It was Joanna’s job to train him to sit. She would hold his head up with her right hand and push down his bottom with her left hand. It took a lot of training to get him to occasionally sit, and it did help Joanna’s hand.

Clifford started having more trouble moving around about three years ago. We thought we were losing him then. While at the pet store buying food, I came across Max, a golden retriever mix, that was a pet rescue dog and he looked like he needed a good home. There is always a worry about adding a new pet to the family but he and Clifford got along perfectly. They would play for hours. Clifford started getting around much better within days, and he was fairly healthy until just a few days ago. Max is really going to miss his little friend, and so are we.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Website at

I finally have a new website up. While trying to set up my domain name, I discovered my name, Livia J. Washburn, was taken. I could have used .net or .biz, but I wanted .com, so I dropped the J. It took me weeks to hunt and peck my way through FrontPage to come up with a website. I even gave up at one point after I did all the work creating the pages in FrontPage and couldn’t get it to publish. I went out and bought a simple web builder program at Half Price Books, created a new website, and then couldn’t get that to load either. One of the problems I had with the first program, FrontPage, was the fact I’d lost the manual since the last time I’d used it. I looked everywhere I could think of, but in a house full of books, it was a losing game. It wasn’t until I was trying to get my youngest daughter to please, please help me, that she pointed out my older daughter had borrowed the book. Hey, at least she still had it and apologized when she returned it.

After that it was back to the first program to figure out exactly where I’d gone wrong, and what I could do to solve the problem. I would experiment and try publishing the pages, then try something different, then something else, and so on. It was really a shock when it finally worked. Of course there were a few things I wanted to change, so when I made the revisions, it didn’t work again. I’m amazed I have any hair left. So I went back to trying one thing after another until finally I have a new website. And when it’s time to make revisions . . . I won’t remember a bit of what I did this time.

Some of the problem might have been the pain killers I’ve been on for a bad toothache. I did finally get the site working properly after the root canal.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Release Date / First Review

A Fresh Baked Mystery
ISBN 0-451-21974-0
October 2006

Today is the release date for A Peach of a Murder, and I received my first review for it. The review is by Melissa Fowler at The Romance Reader's Connection at this link:

She had this to say about the book:

A PEACH OF A MURDER is the delightful first installment of author Livia Washburn's Fresh Baked Mystery series. A realistic small town vibe is created by the collection of characters and the author's vibrant narrative. Phyllis as a heroine is quite accessible, so too is her son Mike. The plot twists and turns smoothly, sure to keep readers eagerly turning pages until the very end. A PEACH OF A MURDER runs the full range of emotions, so be prepared to laugh and cry with this one!

Thank you, Melissa, for such a nice review.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Maraschino Cherry Incident

Don’t let anyone tell you that writing can’t be dangerous. While buying groceries, I decided to pick up some items to experiment on a new cookie recipe. I wanted to get started cooking some of the recipe ideas from the research I’d done earlier. I kept the items for the cookies separate to keep track of the money spent. Well, great idea, but I learned this can be hazardous to your health. I had picked up a jar of maraschino cherries and placed it with the growing stack in the part of the cart the toddler rides in. I failed to lift the plastic guard to cover the opening for the child’s legs. As the stack grew, something fell over and pushed the jar of cherries out. If you’ve never seen it, a jar of cherries explodes into a huge mess. First I had to make sure no children got into it while trying to find someone in the store to tell, “Yes, I’m the reason you have cherries, goo, and glass all over the aisle.” The girl was very kind. She was starting trying to put the glass in a pile while waiting for someone to bring more supplies. Pieces of the glass flew a good twenty feet. I helped her put glass and cherries into a bag, leaving her to mop up the mess. I left the store much poorer, sticky, with glass on my shoes, and shards stuck on my slacks, and still with great plans for making cookies.

If you’re wondering what the cherries were for, I’m trying to come up with a dark chocolate covered cherry cookie, or possibly a dark chocolate/white chocolate mix. We’ll see what works best. Luckily I can taste one, and then send the rest off to work with my daughter where I’ll have at least a dozen testers.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cookies and Poison

I had an unusual experience at the library. If you really want to get some interesting looks, check out all the poison books and the cookie recipe books. When I did this the clerk looked at the books, looked at me, and then looked at my husband, James. I just smiled.

The research books were actually for two different books. My third bake-off mystery is set during Christmas with a cookie exchange. While I have some recipes already, I would like to have an interesting recipe for every cookie in the exchange. The best way to spur ideas is to look at what has already been done and think of ways it can be done differently.

The poison books were for a proposal that I sent my agent with hopes of starting a new series. I never talk about proposals until they have sold, so here’s hoping I’ll have some more details about that later.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I just finished writing the second Phyllis Newsom Bake-off mystery, MURDER BY THE SLICE. The ladies get involved in a PTO carnival and mayhem ensues.

It has been a lot of fun writing about retired teachers. We have teachers hanging from the rafters in my family. My mother was a first-grade teacher for twenty-six years. She started late in life. She had a degree and job in accounting, but when she started having children, it was harder then to have a job and raise a family. That’s when both my parents decided to go to beauty school and become beauticians. They had a shop that was attached to our house so they could watch us grow and work. This only lasted until we were old enough to manage somewhat on our own, then she went back to school to become a teacher. Watching what a difference she made in children’s lives was great. Each year those children became part of her family. When I married James Reasoner, I married into a major teaching family. His mother, sister, sister-in-law, and later his niece were all teachers. Now both of our daughters are planning on becoming teachers. Our oldest has just graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and plans on getting her teaching certificate so she can teach high school. The youngest is still in college, but after only one year she’s a junior. She takes as many classes as possible and goes during the summer, too. She wants to teach elementary children and she wants that as soon as possible. The personalities of the ladies in my books are a combination of some of my past teachers, some of my daughters’ past teachers, and some of my family, with a strong fictional twist. I really like these characters, and I hope it shows.

It was a natural to add the PTO since both James and I were board members for several years. The PTO ladies in the book are total fiction, since the ladies we worked with were just too nice. It was pure luck that we joined ourselves. I checked the box on a volunteer sheet that my elder daughter brought home from her fifth grade class. I offered to help the room mother with parties. I received a call saying that there was no room mother and could I possibly do that. Since there was no one else, I agreed to handle it. There was a room mother meeting the next week. While attending this, I was approached by one of those wonderful PTO ladies. Our daughters had been going to the same school for years; she was my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout leader, so she knew that James and I wrote novels. She explained that the lady who called me had quit and asked if I’d be willing to join the PTO board as the school reporter. She used the old, “since you write novels, writing a newsletter every month will be a piece of cake.” I told her that I would have to talk it over with James, because I knew it would cut into the work. When I discussed it with him, we decided to handle the position together and share the chores. By the time our youngest was in her last year there, James was the president. If you get a chance to get involved in your children’s school, do it. It’s time you’ll never regret giving.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Peach of a Murder

The first in my cozy new series -- and what's cozier than homemade baked goods?

On Sale October 3, 2006