Friday, September 28, 2007


When I told my youngest daughter Joanna that I was going to be writing a fourth baking mystery and I was thinking about setting it at the Texas coast, she just looked over at me and said, “So you’re going to cook flounder in Coke now.”

I do like Coke. I did not originate the two recipes in the first and third books. I did, however, make a few changes. The ham with cola in the third book THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE KILLER, which won’t be released until Oct. 2008, came from my brother Bruce. He lives down the street from us and I swear when he has his smoker going, the smells will drive you crazy. He cooked several briskets for my dad’s birthday party and it was some of the best brisket that I have ever had. You guessed it, he used Coke. The Coke roast in A PEACH OF A MURDER was a variation on my mother’s roast and I believe she discovered it from my father’s mother. Mama Kate was a wonderful woman and the best grandmother a person could have. She lived on a 200-300 acre farm in an old white farm house and of course there were no air conditioners. I don’t even remember any fans. What I do remember when we’d come up from a long hot day of either playing or working, she’d give us a cold frosty Coke. She would put the glass bottles in the freezer just long enough for them to get slushy. There was nothing better. To this day a good cold Coca-Cola will send me back to those childhood days and I swear I can hear her singing those gospel songs.

The only problem with Coca-Cola is James is allergic to it so we don’t have it very often in foods. If you want to see James drunk, don’t give him beer, just put Coca-Cola in his food.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sure, I Can Do That

Last week was an interesting week. My agent emailed that she was going to be out of the office for health reasons for a while. I promptly emailed back and said that we were fine and had plenty of work to keep us busy and wished her a speedy recovery.

The next day we hit the area libraries and bookstores for research books. While out we went into a Waldenbooks and discovered that the second Fresh-Baked novel, MURDER BY THE SLICE, was out. It’s always a special treat to see your book for the first time. It’s always a little amazing to see your name on a book, even after all these years. To see the finished product of baking mishaps, tons of dirty dishes coming up with just the right recipes, and a lot of hours at the computer. I explained to the man working the cash register that I was the author and asked if he would like me to sign them. He was pleased to have the signed books and was going to put them on an end shelf where they would be better displayed.

The answering machine was blinking as we walked into the house. The agent had called with the news that Signet wanted a fourth Fresh-Baked novel. She asked if I would have time to fit it into the schedule sooner rather than later. So of course I said, “Sure I can do that.” That’s been James’ and my mantra these days. Between family and work we have a very busy life, but we can always buckle down a little harder and do a little more.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

One Percent Of ????

I’ve spent the last week working mostly on copy-edited manuscript and page proofs. The copy-edited manuscript was easy. The editor and copy editor both asked for only a few changes. This is the kind of manuscript I don’t mind coming back. The page proofs were harder. By this time you’ve been back over the story enough times the eyes miss things because you know how the story should go, so you have to do a slow, close read. I’m not the greatest at catching typos, anyway. This particular book happened to have more typos than usual. For some reason someone along the way replaced “killer” with “packhorse”. I’m not sure how that happened, but I sure do hope I caught all of them. Yep, just imagine having a packhorse sneaking up behind you . . .

On the family front it’s been a relatively easy week other than I did get a frantic phone call from my father. I was there just the day before and it is very unusual for him to call. My father is hard of hearing and has always had my mother do all the calling. Now that my mother has Alzheimer’s, he has had to learn to do a lot of things. They had gotten a letter from Medicare about the prescription drug program my mother was signed up with. As it turns out she was signed in late and there is a penalty for this. He had it in his head they had done something wrong and that they were going to get in trouble, possibly even go to jail. A few phone calls and a couple of connections to the Internet cleared things up. Since she didn’t have prescription drug insurance before signing up late with Medicare, she has to pay 1% of the national average prescription insurance bill for the seven months she was late. The penalty came out to $20-$25, and no one is going to jail. Actually calling the number on the letter only came up with the information that she had to pay 1%. They didn’t know what that percent came off of. It took searching on the Internet to find the answers. I wonder how any of the typical non-computer-savvy elderly find out anything. I swear the government did their best to make the drug program as difficult as possible.

The actual writing is coming along. At this time I’m working on a new mystery series for Kensington set in Atlanta, Georgia. This book is in first person, which is a total change for me.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Past Year

I have been working more than usual for the past year, so even though I wanted to keep up a blog, it’s been very difficult. I’ve had to decide which to concentrate on, the writing or the blog. Needless to say the writing won. This doesn’t mean I want to give up on the blog. I thought I would try to jump back in by telling you about my year.

January started with James’s mother’s blood pressure shooting up. James took her to the doctor, who put her into the hospital for the night. She returned to her assisted living apartment the next day since it seemed her blood pressure was back under control. The next day came the call. She had a stroke during the night and had been taken to the hospital downtown. This mean it was more than they wanted to handle at the small local hospital. As it turned out, she had a major stroke. She lost the use of her left arm and leg and could not swallow. The doctor put a feeding tube in her stomach so she could continue to get nourishment. While all this was going on, she asked James to get her one of those realistic little stuffed dogs that are curled up in a basket. The dog looked like it was real and would even breathe (powered by batteries, of course). I think she just enjoyed freaking out the nurses. She also wanted her knitting. She was making a baby blanket and didn’t want to stop. She attempted to knit with her right hand while someone else held the left side. Unfortunately this didn’t work that well, but she was determined. She was moved to a nursing home where she was in a great deal of pain. It wasn’t until the whole side of her face swelled up that it was discovered she had an ear infection. After this was cleared up, she seemed to rally some other than her stomach was bothering her a great deal. She even started eating a little. Then she had to make another trip to the hospital to have her gall bladder removed. That was what was causing all the stomach pain. After this she never did get better. We lost her in June.

Now I need to go back to January again. In the middle of January my mother, who has been suffering from dementia, had to have foot surgery. The morning of the surgery there was a ice storm. My brother took her and my father to the clinic for the surgery. Everything went well and my brother managed to get them back home safely even though the roads were covered with ice. He got her inside the house and was fixing her a chair that would keep the foot elevated at the proper height when my dad said he wanted the newspaper. Well, it was at the end of a long icy driveway and my brother said to wait just a minute while he finished getting my mom settled. My dad doesn’t know the word "wait". He went out to get it himself, where he promptly fell and broke his ankle. Since he’s also diabetic and hard of hearing, it was a long road of healing that was very interesting. My brother and I took turns taking care of them. I would go over every weekday and he’d handle weekends. We discovered that my mother had Alzheimer’s and changed her doctor to one who would treat it better. Even though her foot had healed, she couldn’t take care of my father, so we had to handle things while his ankle slowly healed. He wasn’t able to put weight on the foot for months. My mother was confused and thought the therapist and nurses were my father’s girlfriends. So for most of the year the only writing I did was very early in the morning or on weekends.

During all this my writing career was getting very busy. I had the third Fresh-baked mystery novel to write for Signet, I sold a new mystery series to Kensington, and I sold my first vampire romance to Silhouette Nocturne with a proposal. My agent was able to get due dates far enough away for my dad to heal, but now I’m working like crazy to get caught up. This past weekend my brother and I also put on a birthday party/family reunion for my father, who turned 80. We had about sixty people in my parents' house, plus enough food to feed an army!

This is why I don’t blog very often. I will try to write more entries in the future.