Thursday, December 18, 2008

USA Today

There was a nice mention of THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE KILLER in USA Today, along with several other Christmas-themed mysteries. You can find it on-line here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We moved into the new house December 6th.

We have officially moved into the new house. It's finished other than a few little things I'm doing. I am very thankful to our builders, Larry and Karen Mackey at Prestige Builders in Azle. I would gladly work with them again. They were total pros and didn't charge an arm and a leg. The photos I have aren't the greatest but welcome to our home.
This is our entry where you can see the stained cement shining. I need to add another layer of sealer, but it's pretty as is. The ceiling is ten feet and there's a nice coat closet to the left.
This is our living area. The furniture is thanks to our youngest daughter and the television was bought by our oldest. We have great kids. The rug was a remnant from Brumbaugh's, where my brother works, and they gave us a wonderful deal on all our carpet. A gentleman there bound two of our remnants from our daughters' bedrooms for area rugs. The fire hasn't been lit in the fireplace yet, but it's pretty cold tonight . . .
This is my dining nook. As you can see I do love big windows. The little dog is the one James carried around when the house burned down. He's adjusting to the new house pretty well.
Larry did a wonderful job finding guys to build my cabinets and counter tops. The cabinet builder retired after building ours which is a major shame. He did a great job.
I have a nice pantry to the right, just past the refrigerator. I love this kitchen. And again it has a nice big window.

This is the master bedroom. I love the step up two tone ceiling. I haven't decided on curtains for this room yet, so I just stuck paper blinds up. Who knew they made paper blinds. They're very quick and easy to install.

This is James hard at work upstairs. I just finished the floor this morning. Larry had a guy who would have done it but I wanted to do something in this house and I knew James wouldn't care if it wasn't perfect. Now I need to go back to Lowes and buy more boards for shelves . . .
I would like to thank everyone who helped us get into this new home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gift basket giveaway winner was Janet Chambers and the runner up who will receive a signed copy of Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead, was Mary Cannon. Congratulations.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Basket Give Away

Email me at livia@flash.net to put your name in for a chance to win the above basket. All I need is your name. I'll email the winner for their address. The basket contains a signed copy of my book The Christmas Cookie Killer, a signed bookmark, a mug with the cover of the book, a tin of snowflake cookie cutters, red and white snowflake pot holders, Dark hot chocolate mix, biscotti cookies, two small boxes of chocolates, and a stuffed snowman. The drawing will be December 7th. Good Luck!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

House Snafu

We’ve run into a slight snafu on the house. The guys who did the sheetrock work put down cardboard to cover the stained floors. They taped it down with cheap masking tape. The tape does not want to come up. It’s around the edges with baseboard over it but not touching. There’s little room to work, and anything that will get the tape to release also ruins the stain. James and I took up all the cardboard last weekend, but we’ve had no luck with the tape. I took up a little in the bathrooms so the plumber could install things, but I had to use my pocket knife and bloodied my knuckles just clearing a small area. I tried goof-off on a small area and it discolored the stain. I'm not sure what we're going to do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bookmarks

If you would like a signed bookmark for The Christmas Cookie Killer, and or Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead, please send a self addressed stamped envelope to
Livia J. Washburn
P.O. Box 931
Azle, Texas 76098

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Fireplace

This is Gerald. He's doing our rock work. He finished outside and the fireplace should be done tomorrow. Just in time, too. It's starting to get cooler. It took 19 tons of stone and he lifted every stone.

I never dreamed we'd have a fireplace after losing the last house to fire. Of course we are a lot more careful with fire than the guy that caused our house to burn down. While just burning brush, I dug a hole four feet deep, including a foot and a half through gravel, with the tractor. I watched the fire until it had burned down and then buried it. I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable around fire again.

The old house had a gas stove and heater so we always had heat when the electricity went out. We decided to get the fireplace because the new house is all electric. When that next ice storm comes through this part of Texas and takes down half the power lines we'll still have heat.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New House Update

As you can see the house is coming along. We had some problems getting the green shingles that we wanted. Most places don't even carry green shingles and 30 year shingles blew off the old house, so we wanted something heavier. We ordered 50 year shingles but received a call the next week that they no longer make that shingle in green. We ended up with lifetime emerald green slate shingles. We're waiting for the ridge line shingles to come to finish the roof. The rock along the bottom should be finished this week.

Inside the pipes and wiring are in the walls and ceilings, and the insulation is almost finished. We decided to get the foam insulation even though it's more expensive. In the long run it should save money. After it's all blown into the studs and ceiling, the shaved pieces will be added to the insulation in the ceiling. The house will be well insulated so our energy bills should be low. The sheetrock will go up this week.

I ordered 24 small fast growing dragon trees (Paulownia). By ordering them this time of year, I was able to get them for half price. They're small 6-8" and I put them in pots for the winter. This way I can move them inside if we have a hard freeze. I'll set them out next spring. Dragon trees are fast growing trees, about 30 feet in 3 years. A dozen are Kawakamii which only grow to be around 30 feet, and a dozen are Elongata which are supposed to grow to be 80 feet. We should have some nice trees in a few years. I never would have known about the dragon tree if my cousin hadn't told me about her tree. Thanks for the tip, Sabra. We definitely lost the big pine tree that was close to the old house. The fire just did too much damage and the branches died one after the other. Now it'll have to be brought down.

Reduce Reuse Recycle


I'm always on the lookout for new uses for things we no longer use or need. Of course I had to go to this website: 29 new uses for old nylons
Yahoo! Green - Many women have felt the frustration of getting all dressed up when — rrrrip! — a run in your nylons. Here are some great uses for damaged stockings.

I would really like to create an outdoor hand-washing station. Now I need some damaged stockings. You would think with three females living in one house we would have produced some damaged stockings since January 29th. To tell you the truth, I haven't even bought a nice dress to need stockings since the fire. I'm a slacks kind of gal. Guess it really wouldn't be going green if you have to buy the stockings to make the hand-washing station. I'll have to give this some more thought.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Kirkus Reviews Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead

Rhett Butler is murdered, and the suspects naturally include Scarlett O'Hara.

Sassy southern divorcée Delilah Dickinson has just started up a literary-tour business. Her maiden voyage involves Gone With the Wind—and is nearly gone with the wind itself. Delilah, her son-in-law, Luke, and her teen twin nieces, Amelia and Augusta, are shepherding the tour group around the Margaret Mitchell home and Movie Museum when one of her charges, a German tourist, accuses another, Elliott Riley, of trying to steal his camera. After Delilah smooths things over, the group buses out to Fontenoy Hall, a plantation that provides food, a ball, overnight accommodations and characters from Gone With the Wind in period costume. The group is charmed until Riley finds the corpse of Rhett Butler, aka Steven Kelley, in the garden. When the police arrive and hold both tourists and actors for questioning, Delilah decides to turn sleuth and salvage her tour. Steven, head of the drama department at a nearby college who supplied the student actors and costumes, enjoyed quite a reputation with coeds despite a wife who played Scarlett to his Rhett. Although frozen out by the police, Delilah keeps hunting for clues and finds enough to put her life in danger.

The first in a Literary Tour Mystery series from Washburn (The Christmas Cookie Killer, 2008, etc.) is a promising addition to the ranks of cozies featuring strong Southern women.

ISBN: 0758225660
ISBN-13: 9780758225665
Format: Hardcover, 304pp
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pub. Date: November 01, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

9 More Days . . .

The official release date is September 30th by NAL Trade. I love this cover and I can't wait to see the book!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just in Time for the Rain

Front of house.


Back of house.

They worked hard today to finish closing up the roof and cover it with felt to protect everything from the rain that we're sure to get from Ike

The builder is talking about pushing the downed trees away from the house and burning them. I cringed when I heard that, but it would cost a pretty penny to haul it off and it'd just be landfill. I may sit up all night with a water hose in hand, or maybe two or three.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Publisher Weekly Review

Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead Livia J. Washburn. Kensington, $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7582-2566-5

Gone with the Wind provides the inspiration for Washburn's fun Literary Tour mystery, the first in a new cozy series. Divorcée Delilah Dickinson, who owns an Atlanta travel agency, has high hopes for her new tour to sites associated with Margaret Mitchell and her landmark novel. Unfortunately, by the time the group reaches “Tara” for a dinner dance, which includes local actors portraying the famous characters, nothing's running smoothly. Then Steven Kelley, the actor playing Rhett Butler, turns up dead in the mansion's garden. In classic Agatha Christie fashion, a sheriff's department investigator tries to catch the killer by keeping the group at Tara overnight—with Delilah's unasked for assistance, of course. Much like the charismatic Rhett, Steven had an eye for the ladies, but otherwise lacked any Clark Gable charm. Washburn (Murder by the Slice) supplies an amusing, breathlessly quick resolution to what proves a featherlight crime of passion. (Nov.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three Guys and a House

I'm amazed at the speed three guys can build in this horrid heat. This morning there were no walls.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cement Trucks Came!

The ground was finally dry enough for the cement trucks to come.

The slab will be scored today for stained floors.

Monday, August 18, 2008

And Then It Rained


It looked like everything was going to be done quickly, and then it started raining. We've had two delays on having the concrete poured, and we had another heavy rain today so that will delay it again. This black clay turns to gumbo when it rains, so it will be a while before it will be dry enough for cement trucks to drive on. That pile of brush out front was once a thirty foot tree, a twenty foot tree, a twenty foot Crepe Myrtle, and about fifteen feet of pine tree. We only lost half of that pine tree, maybe. Anyone know a good, fast growing, shade tree that grows well in black clay?

Monday, August 11, 2008

House Update













As you can see, the rebuilding has finally started. The cement for the foundation is supposed to be poured today.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

FRANKLY MY DEAR, I'M DEAD

Coming out in hardback November 01, 2008.

No one is surprised when feisty Delilah Dickinson opens her own literary travel agency in Atlanta after her divorce. But during her first group's tour of an old plantation modeled after Tara from Gone With the Wind, she finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery-and everyone knows death is not so good for business. So, with God as her witness, Delilah vows to find the killer.

Things start quietly enough: a visit to the quaint apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote her great opus, then a stop at the Gone with the Wind Movie Museum, and a hearty Southern luncheon at Mary Mac's Tea Room that will surely guarantee her new clients will never be hungry again. What could possibly go wrong?

Quite a lot, it turns out. During an overnight stay at a lovely recreation of Tara-complete with a full cast of actors-things start to really go south. The actor playing Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler is found dead, apparently the victim of a fatal dose of Southern in-hospitality. Before anyone can even think "Where shall I go? What shall I do?" the police have the place under lockdown, insisting everyone remain at the mansion while they investigate.

Delilah finds herself taking over the investigation when their #1 suspect is her son-in-law Luke-the not-so-bright husband of her daughter, Melissa. But life starts imitating art when the actors begin taking their roles a little too seriously-believing they actually are Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett O'Hara, and Melanie. Next stop: Sunset Boulevard.


With all the drama of Margaret Mitchell's epic story suddenly coming to alarming life, Delilah's only chance to head off a not-so-Civil War is to track down and confront the deranged murderer. But shemust move quickly and very quietly, or risk becoming the next victim of a killer-who frankly doesn't give a damn.

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
ISBN-13: 9780758225665



Saturday, August 02, 2008

THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE KILLER



Christmas comes to Weatherford, Texas, in this delicious new entry in the national bestselling series.

Yuletide is here—and retired teacher cum amateur sleuth Phyllis Newsom looks forward to finishing up this unlucky year. But she won’t be hanging up her apron just yet—because this year’s Christmas bake-off is going to be cutthroat.Phyllis would like to think she’s entering the Christmas cookie contest for the fun of it—but that’s not exactly true. She can’t imagine anyone beating her snowflake-shaped lime sugar cookies. Then, during her annual Christmas cookie exchange, Phyllis heads over to the elderly Mrs. Simmons’s home and finds her dead, in a pile of lime sugar cookies. But with a number of names on Santa’s naughty list, this case may be a hard cookie to crumble.

Publisher: NAL Trade (September 30, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0451225341
ISBN-13: 978-0451225344

Friday, July 25, 2008

House Update


We’ve both been so busy with writing that we really haven’t done as much as we should have on the building front.

We moved into the mobile home at the end of February, one month after the fire. We settled in quickly and set up office spaces. James had the kitchen table and I used a desk in the living room that his brother gave us. Since then we’ve also set up a small table in our bedroom that James uses part of the time. Lately I’ve been using a lapboard and work in a recliner in the living room while we have two printers set up at the desk. The first printer we bought quickly and has a scanner and is wireless. We were never able to get it to work wireless, and the ink is expensive. I bought a used Canon printer that uses cheap cartridges that can be re-inked, and we use this for printing manuscripts. I still miss my old printer, but this Canon is pretty good.

After we moved in we were able to get the water well working and unhooked the hoses from my brother Bruce’s well. The next week our well went dry and we had to hook the hoses back up. Gas wells were going up all around us, including two within a quarter mile that were drilling that week. They use a lot of water. We called a well guy my cousin knew and found out that you can’t just drill a well deeper, you have to drill a new well. We arranged to have a new well dug, and then it started raining. It took weeks before it dried out enough for the trucks to come onto the property to drill. We had them drill this one twice as deep as the old well. Finally we had water again and the water wasn’t as hard as the old water, which meant I could finally use a dishwasher. The only problem was the water stunk horribly. The well guys added a new tank to our old one that fixed the problem. It took months, but we finally had good water.

The clean up also hit a snafu. I had my father’s tractor. It’s a medium-sized tractor with a front end loader. It wasn’t heavy enough to do the work easily. It took much longer than planned and when I finally had the dumpster loaded, I loaded it too much. I ended up having to empty part of it out of the dumpster. I became overheated and ill, and haven’t been able to take the heat since. So, only half of the mess is gone. I plan to leave the slab the garage was on, but the rest of the foundation has to go. We had pier and beam and need it all cleaned up before putting down a slab. We don’t want the new house to smell like smoke.

We have finally found a house plan that we like. I think things will start to move faster now. A builder is supposed to come look over the place in the next few days. It's been a long process.

With all the distractions I’m amazed we’ve written as much as we have. James has been amazing. I can’t believe how much he’s written in the last five months. He writes almost every day and usually all day. I get distracted too easily and find the whole day gone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recipe in Murder By The Slice

The case of the missing salt
It has been pointed out by a couple readers that the recipe for the peanut butter cookies is missing how much salt to use. I remember cutting the salt in the original recipe to use less, but the changes didn't make it into the book. It mentions salt in the directions but not the ingredients. If you make the cookies 1/4 teaspoon works great.

Murder By The Slice In Large Print

The second book in the Fresh-baked mystery series came out in large print earlier this year but I failed to post the cover then. I just received author copies and it's a nice hardback book.

Retired schoolteacher Phyllis Newsom's scrumptious baked creations are known throughout Weatherford, Texas, for many things, but being healthy isn't one of them. So this year's contest should be quite a challenge. . . . You catch more flies with honey, but it seems nobody ever told Shannon Dunston, despotic president of the Parent-Teacher Organization. Even though the carnival fare is heart-healthy, it won't help Shannon after someone stabs her in the chest.

I'll be posting more about this series and my new literary mystery series soon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Now with Sudoku

I've added Sudoku puzzles to my blog. This comes from my favorite online puzzle website. It's small on this page to fit in the area, but if you want a bigger puzzle just go to their site at http://sudoku.com.au/ They have other types of puzzles if you're really not into Sudoku.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel


We've had a very productive weekend. With my brother, Bruce, and his son, Eric, we were able to get the electricity hooked up to the mobile home. Now all we need to do on that is cover the long trench. That'll be easy with the tractor.

We didn't get the well finished. We just ran out of steam and daylight. We did get water hooked up to the mobile home, however. We just hooked it up to my brother's well for now. Bruce has done an amazing amount of work to get us into our temporary home. The sewer that my cousin, Ricky, put in works like a dream, too. Ah, the things that become really important when you don't have them. We were very thankful for him this past weekend. While he was putting in the sewer system, he also dug the trenches for the plumbing and electricity. If he hadn't done that we would still be digging rather than having power at this point.

I also put in a phone jack and ran the cable under the floor to the end of the house. We should have that live again on Thursday. Guess I'd better go buy a phone, now.

We still haven't gotten our recently purchased '91 pickup running. It supposed to go to the mechanic today, but the battery is dead again. According to the charger the battery is fully charged, but we left it charging, anyway. I'm starting to wonder if we made a mistake buying this one. Also, my youngest daughter's Blazer had the door smashed in while it was parked this weekend. It's always something, isn't it? The bed we were sleeping on last night started falling apart on my side. I finally ended up staying up all night. It's not the first night I've stayed up since the fire.

At least we've having an eventful year. James has rewitten the part of the book he lost in the fire and has started the new part of the story. Progress.

If this post makes no sense, remember I had no sleep.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Progress

I’m so excited. We’re actually making some progress this week on getting into our temporary home. It’s been over three weeks since the fire and we’re still camped out in my parent’s spare bedroom. Yesterday electricity was hooked up to a new pole. Now we can run wire from it to our home. With electricity I can get the well fixed. I bought some pipe earlier this week, cut and fitted some together without glue. Now I can go get the new well tank and control box and some fittings. This weekend I’ll start working on the fence and well house. That means I need to buy boards today, too. After everything is hooked up and the mobile home people do a walk through and fix problems, we can get furniture. Maybe we’ll be in the home by next weekend. I have hope.

When we get moved in we can start working on clean-up, and start investigating rebuilding.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fire

Many of you already know that our house burned down January 29, 2008. It was caused by a neighbor burning trash during a no burn period. Our county has been dry and windy for months now, so no one is supposed to be burning anything. He burned his trash the day before and left the next day for work. The forty to sixty mph wind stirred it up and blew an ember into the field causing a massage grass fire. It almost burned many houses, but only burned ours. By the time the first little volunteer fire truck arrived, our house was in flames, and my brother was struggling to save his. The firefighter had to make a tough decision. Whether to try and save something of ours, or save my brother’s. She only had a small truck. Thankfully she made the right decision. With the high winds she probably couldn’t have saved any of ours. She did help my brother save his. Unfortunately we lost everything. Including parts of books we were writing. Short stories we hadn’t sold, books we hadn’t sold . . . The list goes on endlessly.

We have decided to rebuild on the land. We are staying with my elderly parents right now. The first thing we did was arrange to have a mobile home moved onto the property. We were able to accomplish this fairly quickly. We found the cheapest single wide we could find and begged them to get it out asap. Electricity has been a major problem. We had to finally change electricity companies because the one we had was going to take too long to hook up. First we were told we had to have the mobile home moved out to hook up to. That was India we were talking to. Well, after we said it’s out there come hook us up, they said no they couldn't do that. We had to hire an electrician to put up a pole and then they’d hook it up. We found that another company had poles on the other side of our property and we could talk to them in our town in English. We changed companies. We’re still not hooked up, but we hope to be by later this week.

My cousin, Ricky Wright, has been putting in our new sewer. The craziest thing. After the fire burned our house down, one of the fire trucks backed into our sewer tank and busted it to pieces so they could water down the ashes of our house. Bad luck all around. My cousin has been working like crazy all week to get the new system up and running. He’s also dug the lines for the electricity. Isn’t family wonderful?

Mine is. My brother has been helping us with both the electricity and our well. Other members of the family have sent money to help us get started. They’ve helped us with love and support. My aunt Nina came over with supplies and a warm meal. Meals are one of the things we've neglected. We've skipped many the past few weeks. It's just too much trouble to deal with and most of the time we haven't felt like eating.

Work has been slow for both of us. There’s little quiet time. We were able to save two dogs, our little inside dog and our big outside dog. Actually the big dog saved himself. My parents don’t have a fence, so now they’re both inside dogs. The little inside dog was recovering from surgery at the time of the fire, so we’d been carrying him around all the time. He’s gotten really crabby now, so we have to watch him all the time to make sure he doesn’t bite anyone. The big dog wants back outside. We can’t leave them anywhere, so we have to take them everywhere we both go. Neither have traveled much before the fire. It’s been interesting. Mom has dementia and will open the door any time she hears anything. We have to jump and grab the dogs constantly. We keep them attached with halters and leashes at all times. Could be another reason the little dog is so cranky.

My new F150 burned up with the house. I'd had it a little over a month. It was the first new vehicle we'd owned. We can’t afford another new truck until we see how the insurance is going to cover rebuilding. I bought a little ’91 Nissan this week. It needed a little work, but should be ready Monday. It’s not my F150, but it’ll haul furniture and wood.

I borrowed my dad’s old truck to buy some boards to make a front step for the mobile home. I also had to buy some tools. I do love tools. I’d finally gotten a nice collection. My husband knows to get me tools for gifts and after over 30 years of marriage, I’d acquired quite a collection. This birthday came and went last week with no celebration. We needed too much to even think about it. We only buy what we absolutely need.

Clothes have been another matter. When you lose everything, you have to start over. It takes years to find the perfect clothing and shoes. I liked my collection. Now most things don’t fit well and are Wal-Mart markdowns. A very nice lady saw me looking at coats at a store in Lake Worth and she gave me a coat and many nice clothes. It’s people like my family and this lady that make this bearable. I hate that my daughters lost everything. I ache for them. All their photos, books, trophies, clothes, videos, childhood stuffed animals. The quilts James' mom made for them. And now she's gone too. My dad has been a bit crabby about all the stuff we have brought into his house. Everytime we'd bring in a bag, he's say, "More stuff?" When you have nothing, you need a lot of stuff. We've been living out of the cars as much as possible. The girl's trunks are full. I'm thankful they were both student teaching when the fire hit and have their vehicles. The teachers at their schools have been wonderful, too. Teachers have the biggest hearts.

I’m trying to work on a list for the insurance. We have to list everything we had. An impossible feat. How do you remember how many socks you had, how old they were, and how much they cost? Crazy. I know we had much more than the max they’ll allow, but they don’t. Now if I can just remember . . . everything.

We lost three cats and one little goat. Two of the cats we’d had since my youngest was in kindergarten. They were fifteen years old and major parts of the family. The third cat we’d only had for thirteen years. He was dropped on us when he was a kitten. He was a shy kitten that grew up to be a shy cat. He’d only recently started becoming attached to my oldest daughter. He’d haul his eighteen pounds onto her lap and purr like crazy. As I write this my parent’s cats are meowing, reminding us of what we lost. The goat was a dwarf goat that we got eighteen years ago. He was the last surviving from a small herd. We fed him with a bottle when he was a babe. And last was the parakeet. We got my daughter birds years ago, this was one of the first set, his partner was killed by our cat. Cat never was the same after that. I truly don’t think she meant to kill the bird. She just stuck her paw in and he was gone. Before that she was a great mouser, afterward she never caught another mouse. We bought another bird. That bird just dropped dead, we bought another and that bird died. I finally said no more. Cotton Candy was a pretty little bird and he loved to listen to Weezer. I’ll miss them all.

We also have to get many papers replaced. I kept wanting to get a fireproof safe. My back had been bad for a while now and I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to carry that much weight. Wish I’d done it. Now all our records and photos are gone.

Oh well, enough. We’re rebuilding. We haven’t decided what kind of house we’ll build to replace our home. When things settle down a little, we’ll talk to builders and look around. Now we just need to get into our temp house and get started cleaning up. We had a dumpster delivered Friday. My dad showed me how his little Kabota tractor works. I spread gravel all day Valentine's day and learned a lot about the tractor. I think I can get the mess cleaned up. I would like to save some of the rock around the house. It came from family trips, my grandparents old farms, and have value in my heart.



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fresh Fiction Reviews Murder By The Slice


A review for Murder By the Slice has been published at Fresh Fiction. You may see this review by visiting http://freshfiction.com/review.php?id=19684.