Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Cowboy Returns

Today I'm interviewing Glenn Nilson, author of Murder on Route 66, his debut mystery featuring bad boy biker Bobby Navarro.  Glenn has just returned from his cross country trip on his motorcycle promoting the book.  Unfortunately he returned to the clean-up of a flooded basement and a few other jobs around the house, but he's eager to share his adventures. 

L.  I know the high point of your trip for me was when you got home, but what was the high point of the trip for you?

G. There were many high points, the people I met, riding through country I enjoy so much, seeing old friends. But, I'd have to say the high point was sitting on the patio with my friend and biker buddy, Abe Martinez, sipping good whiskey and talking far into night. On the business side of the trip, it was probably driving into Tucumcari for the first time since I did my research for the novel and seeing an announcement on the marque at the chamber of commerce announcing my signing.

L. What was the low point?

G. That's easy. Sitting in a motel in Gallup, hearing how much the stream had risen, hearing that roads were closed, eliminating options for a high place to go to wait out the flood, and knowing there was nothing I could do about it, nothing I could do to help someone I love and wanted to protect. That was tough.

L. I know you’re writing a sequel to your first mystery and that it will be set in the southwest also.  Can your wife expect you to take another trip cross-country to promote the next one?
How long do you think you can fool her wife into believing you’re promoting your books and not just simply having a good time with your biker buddies in Las Cruces, NM?

G. She's never said she loves the idea of my taking off on a motorcycle for several weeks. I don't expect that to change. I don't blame her. I wouldn't like it if our roles were reversed. She also knows riding has been an important part of my life for a very long time. I'd have to say, if there's another trip, we both know the time for us to talk about it is never when I've just completed the last one. As to the second part of the question, I don't think I've ever had her fooled on setting my story in the Southwest as a good excuse to go there. What better?

L. Why do you like the southwest as a setting so much?

G. That's a good question, especially given what I've just admitted. In part, I like the Southwest as a setting because I love the Southwest. Guilty. But I like it as a setting because it's a land that can render people into a simpler mix of qualities and character. It sometimes calls upon them to stand as tall and strong as they are able. That's good for writing strong characters facing intense challenges.  Plus, the West always seems open to me. It feels free, unfettered. I think that makes it easier to convey basic values and morality issues, critical to a murder mystery.

L. Is your protagonist Bobby Navarro like you?

In some ways he's like I'd like to be. But he's a fictional character, and I know I have to let him be who he is, and I have to be who I am, and I'm happy to have it that way. I like Bobby, and I like who he is. I don't want to make him "like" me, even if we might share a thing or two in common.

L.  You wife says you are a sour dough expert.  In fact, she tells us that when you and she traveled cross country by car that the vehicle smelled like booze because you insisted bringing it along.Tell us about sour dough, how you make it, and why you like to cook with it.

G. Sourdough is a mixture of flour, water and an active yeast culture living off the flour and water mix. It's like a pet, you have to care for it, feed it, house it, and so on. You can start a culture by introducing the yeast, or you can let the yeast, present in the air, come and settle in for their new home. Once a good culture is established, you just have to maintain it. Part of that means using it, and there are dozens of delicious things you can make with sourdough, including pancakes, breads, and even cakes. One of my favorites is making sourdough English muffins.

L. My favorite sourdough is your flat bread on the grill.  We could have it tonight if you’d buy propane for the grill. What don’t your reading fans know about you that might surprise them?

G. When I was growing up, around twelve years old, my mother taught me to cook on a wood stove.

L.  I’m not surprised at that.  It’s all about food with you, isn’t it?  Tell us what’s in your saddle bags other than food, of course.

G. That’s like asking my mother what’s in her purse...everything I can get into them. Actually, since I like the long ride so much, my saddlebags are the result of careful selection. In the right hand bag, accessible away from passing traffic when I’m parked along the roadside, I keep my rain gear, gloves and facemask if I’m not already wearing them, a polar fleece pullover for cold weather, and my tools. I’ll usually have a leather vest folded on top of it all. I put my clothes and other travel gear in the left saddlebag, and the rest of my gear in a backpack I carry fastened to the back of the sissybar (backrest behind the rear seat).

L. Tell us about the places you stayed on your trip.  I understand you avoided Hiltons and other fancy places.  What motels attract you?  Why?

G. While I may have a destination stopping point once in awhile, like Tucumcari was, I usually start looking for a motel when I’m running out of daylight and the odometer tells me I’ve put in a good day’s run, usually four hundred-fifty to five hundred miles. I like to watch for billboards advertising lower priced motels at an upcoming exit when I’m on an interstate. If not, I’ll drive through a town and check out the motels on either end. I prefer small towns to cities. On this trip, I wanted to stay in motels from the heyday of Route 66. There are quite a few available, and they help convey the romantic nostalgia of being on the Mother Road, especially the ones with the little car ports. I remember staying in them traveling with my parents as a kid. They were exciting as part of the adventure then, and still are. One I stayed in, the Blue Swallow, in Tucumcari, is known all over the world among devotees of Route 66. The owners have done a terrific job of making it up-to-date comfortable while preserving the ambiance of the past. I love Hiltons, but the old places just add something to a bike trip that seems to work. Plus, they’re cheaper.

L. What do you know about writing that you didn’t know when you began? 

G. Since I first began writing, or left on my tour? Oh, Lord...where to start. I’ve always loved writing and wanted to write. So many people want to write and even have thoughts for a good story. What I know now is that you have to learn the craft, the genre, and the market. Writing is a skill which has to be developed, shaped and honed to a fine edge. It takes work. Lots of work. Writing is a business, so you have to develop some business skills and a business approach as well. Finally, there’s a big difference between “writing” and “being a writer.” When you truly think of yourself as a writer, you not only see the world differently, you engage the world and the people in it differently. That really sank in on my trip. I’m a different person as a writer. It’s exciting, and it feels good.

L. What advice would you give beginning writers?

G. Join some writing associations and groups, and attend their functions. You need to be around other writing professionals to become one. A critique group at the local level is helpful, and a chapter of a national organization is as important to a writer as any professional association is to some other avocation. Then, write, write, write.

L. Why don’t you and your wife write together?  Don’t you like her?

G. Yes, I do. Question answered. We love talking with each other about writing, even sometimes talking about our own work. We’re supportive, interested, and enthusiastic. We write differently, however, and with different voices. Trying to merge everything into one effort probably would be disasterous.

L. How can your fans find you and how do you promote your book if the readers missed you on your tour?

G. The easiest way to find me is on my website, They can also reach my blog through my website and read about my tour there. In addition, I will continue to do other signings and presentations, such as the one I have scheduled at Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta, NY Oct. 17th.

L. Thanks so much for joining us.  I know your time is precious because your wife has assigned you the job of cleaning our the flooded basement and there’s also a rumor that she talked you into building a storage shed.  You’ll hardly have time for riding, writing, or cooking, unless you go get that propane before dinner.
Now it’s your turn.  What question would you like to ask readers?

G. How do you find the books you enjoy reading, especially books by authors with whom you weren’t familiar before?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Again!

   Water heading toward the house
The fire department to the rescue

Let's see: there were the spring floods wiping out my willows, then Irene just two weeks ago throwing wind and rain around the area, and then Wednesday when Lee's rain blew in, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained.  The county closed the roads early on Wednesday so my next door neighbor and I hunkered down in her house.  We watched the water overflow the banks and begin to creep up on our houses.  Then it got dark, and we had no idea how high the water was.  We knew our cellars were filling up.  By eight Wednesday night, I had over three feet.  She and I listened to the continuous rain and hoped the flood wouldn't reach the houses, and we'd have to be evacuated by boat.  She has two kids, two dogs and one cat.  I have my two cats.  There were no shelters we could reach because of roads closed and bridges out.  I didn't sleep.  

By morning the water had stopped rising.  It had come up to my garden, swung around the pine tree in the back yard and flooded my other neighbor's field on the right of my yard.  Finally, the water began to recede.  It was time to call in the fire department to pump me out.  They did,  Twice.  And although my furnace was under water, once dried out, it ran.  How lucky can I be?

I am grateful for not having experienced the devastation others have.  Entire towns have been wiped out, roads and  bridges down,  houses toppled and swept downstream.  Most of what I experienced was fear not knowing how high that water was Wednesday night.  I admit I was terrified. And then there's my wet, moldy cellar.  I left that for Glenn to empty and clean when he rides in here sometime the end of this week.  Oh, right, you didn't know?  He missed all of this because he was still on his motorcycle journey. 
Much as I like to move beyond these events, this one will have a lasting impact.  Not only did the flood remove the five to ten feet of bank we'd rescued after the spring high waters, yesterday when I went out to determine if it was still too wet to mow, I noticed a series of cracks in the ground developing.  These run parallel to the stream about ten feet from the bank's edge.  They are deepening, a sign the bank will soon break away.
Have a look:
I guess I won't mow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Can I write humor with Irene Churning up the creek?

That's not a pretty sight, is it?  It's the once gentle, friendly and beautiful Butternut Creek, the trout stream that runs  the back edge of our property.  Irene came through here yesterday and I spent the day back and forth between my computer and the back yard checking on how fast the creek was rising.  It got almost as high as this spring when it took out the willows along its bank and forever changed our view up the valley.

I wondered if it would be possible for me to get any writing done worrying about the water level, and I was certain I'd never be able to write my humorous pieces.   The best I could do with the worry over the creek, the high winds and the rain was to watch mindless television, my favorite channel where people hunt for expensive houses and tear down and rehab ones not so impressive.  That's usually a good escape for me and a real treat since Glenn is away and, when here, hates that stuff.  I guess it reminds him what is left to do on this house. 

Since I found television not distracting enough (I kept getting up and looking at the creek level, driving my cat crazy since she wanted to sleep on my lap), I sat down at my computer and surprised myself by pounding out the rough draft of a chapter in a new manuscript.  It is the one I intend to be the sequel to Dumpster Dying.  I tentatively entitled it Grilled, Chilled, and Killed.  The chapter was about a tornado descending upon a campground and included humorous scenes between my protagonist and one of her beaus.  Maybe I could write the tornado part, but humor?  I surprised myself by working through the chapter in break-neck speed, shocked to find the time flying by and my mind off the weather outside my window.  I like to read escape literature for, well you know, escape, but who thought I would find pleasure in writing escape literature with a funny slant to it?

It got me through the day and part of the early evening.  When and if it's published, I hope it does the same for my readers.  And also gives them something to laugh at.  You be the judge.  Here's an excerpt.  Detective Lewis has rescued my tiny protagonist, barely five feet tall Emily Rhodes from the campground where the bathhouse in which she had taken shelter was destroyed by a tree falling on its roof.  Lewis is trying to drive her back to his condo when his car suffers the same fate, a tree limb falling on its hood.

“We walk.  Think you can make it?”
“Of course.”  She shoved open her door and stepped out onto the roadway into several feet of water. 
Lewis extracted himself from the driver’s side of the car and started down the road.  When he realized Emily was not by his side, he stopped and looked back.  “What are you doing back there?”
“Swimming,” she said.

It's not belly laugh humor, but it may be worth a tiny grin. It helped me get through the day. Glenn would agree it's better than watching someone demo a kitchen, but perhaps it's not as much fun as taking a sledge hammer to a real kitchen.  And no, honey, I'm not remodeling the house while you're gone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A day to curl up with a good book

Okay, so she's not really reading it, but she doesn't mind leaning against it, so it can't be that bad!

This morning was cloudy.  By noon we got rain, a real downpour, although we could use more.  I thought I'd never say that after all the rain in May and early June.

The second Hera Knightsbridge Mystery

Good news.  I signed a contract with Mainly Murder Press for the second Hera Knightsbridge master brewer story.  The tentative title is Poisoned Pairings, and it focuses on pairing beer and food, and, oh yes, murder.  It is set against the backdrop of the controversial procedure for extracting natural gas from shale, a process called "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing.  Water and other chemicals are introduced into the shale layer under pressure to break it up and release the gas.  Unfortunately, there is evidence to suggest it may pollute well water as well as introduce carcinogenic chemicals into streams and waterways.  The release date for the book is May, 2012.  I'll keep everyone updated on it.  I'm very excited its being published.  Many readers have asked if a second one was coming out so here you are.  I'll post snippits of it here in the near future to entice you.

Food and Brews

For those of you who are interested in cooking with beer or like the idea of pairing beer and food and are off on vacations soon, take a look at the right hand side of this bog where I've listed cities where you can tap into places featuring great food and excellent brews.  Click on one of them, and you'll be sent to a site providing you with information about pubs, breweries, restaurants, and events featuring food and beer.  There are recipes also.

Countdown to Motorcycle Widowhood: Murder on Route 66 hits the road

The cowboy is off on his book promotion trip, leaving around the middle of August.  He left the date open.  I hope he doesn't think he can sneak off, not with those pipes!  If you live in the southwest or anywhere near Roue 66 and hear a roaring in the distance, that's him riding by.  Give him a wave and wish him well.  Send me some cyber scotch in which to drown my loneliness. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who is the mystery man?

The Mystery Man

Who is this handsome and mysterious-looking guy?  Why, he’s that author with a new murder mystery entitled Murder on Route 66.  Better yet, he’s my very own cowboy.  Get your own cowpoke, ladies!

Last Friday night we launched his new book with a celebration at a local restaurant.  It was fun to have our friends and others join us.  In case any of you are interested, here’s the good stuff on the book:

Bobby Navarro, a bad-boy biker with a heart of gold, promises a young boy he’ll find who killed his father and left his body lying in a parking lot along old Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The victim was Bobby’s friend, and temporary employer. The boy is the victim’s son.  With his working vacation turned into a sleuthing quest, Bobby must deal with a hostile ranch foreman, suspicious police detective, and worried girlfriend to track down the killer before the victim’s widow, son, or Bobby himself becomes the murderer’s next victim.

Glenn will be promoting his book by taking a cross-country motorcycle trip on Route 66 beginning in August.  For those of you living in the southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, or in Texas, Oklahoma,and Missouri, go to his website to link to the blog he’ll be writing as he travels the country on his motorcycle. 

Condolences to me, his motorcycle widow while he's gone, will be gratefully accepted at this blog

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Remember the picture above?  It's similar to the one that serves as the banner in my website  It was the view from my backyard.  You can see an old willow on the left.  The entire bank was dotted with one hundred year old willows.  They served as the homes for birds and squirrels, and Glenn and I sat under them on many summer evening listening to the birds sing songs and fly from one branch to the other.  But things have changed.  High water in May took out the largest of the willows, dumping them across the stream, their tops landing on the far bank.  Because the stream undercut our bank so severely, we had to remove the other trees which threatened to fall also.

So the trees that fell into the stream were cut into sections and dumped into a logging truck.

The remaining trees were topped, then removed also.

We sadly said goodbye to the birds, the shade, the squirrels, and the familiar view of the creek.  I'm sad to see all this go, and I've apologized to those animals we uprooted.  I hope they find kind sanctuary downstream in the small willows and the butternut tree that still remain there.

Some critters were more resilient.  Our resident woodchuck's burrow by the stream was flooded by the high water, but he simply moved it back into our lawn, dug another hole near another already existing one and then discovered a better place--under our porch!  The chipmunks ferreted out a new home under the back deck with easy access to the garden.  It's kind of a munk buffet for them.  It's time for have-a-heart traps, so they too can find a new home, perhaps across the stream.  I'm sure they will be very happy there, and I've told them so as we baited the traps.

As you can tell, I've not lost my sense of humor completely, although I'd feel better if the neighborhood cats wouldn't come to visit and leave behind a their calling cards to let our house cats know they're around.

Removal of the trees opened up the view upstream, and it is beautiful.  The kids in the neighborhood are still enjoying the water as you can see.

Still, I'll miss those old trees.  The good news is that branches are growing from the old root balls of the fallen trees  In another hundred years, the bank will look as it did and provide homes once more for the birds and squirrels.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review of Jean Henry Mead's newest release, Murder on the Interstate

Senior Sleuths Reign: Jean Henry Mead’s Murder on the Interstate

Murder on the Interstate by Jean Henry Mead, new from Oak Tree Press

Not since Mrs. Polifax caravanned the Sahara has the senior sleuth pursued a villain so relentlessly and with such tenacity and cleverness.  This time it’s two sleuths who do the work: Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty.  And this time it’s not camels or jeeps, but a well-equipped motor home the sleuths use to give chase to a murderer whose victim they find at the side of the interstate.  All good amateur sleuths call in reinforcements when needed and Dana and Sarah are no exception.  Dana brings in her journalist daughter Kerrie who has the credentials to get into places and interview people the women cannot.  There is a bit of romance also, including a law enforcement officer eager to help them, but Dana has reservations about how much aid and comfort she wants from Walter.  A case calls him back to his job leaving Dana and Sarah to take on the killer alone with only Kerrie’s help.  What appears to be a murder committed because of jealousy turns out to be much more, a case of kidnapping, drug trafficking and domestic terrorism.

Mead couldn’t have chosen a better venue for her murder.  Although the motor home crashes early in the story, the women continue to pursue the killer and their leads across roads and Interstate 40 in the southwest, their search for clues and encounters with the killer dictating travel from one location to another.  It makes for a fast-paced read and left me breathless and in awe of these feisty protags.  They could have retreated to their home in Wyoming.  Or could they?  It appears the killer or someone in league with him awaits them there.  Mead makes their search for the killer compelling, drawing them in tighter with each dangerous adventure.  Every chapter provides the reader with yet another clue in this complicated case.  Mead cleverly plants the clues in the life threatening encounters Dana and Sarah encounter.  The reader won’t want to miss a page of the exciting journey.

The plot is complex, compelling, and designed to keep the reader guessing, but the characters are no less fascinating, sometimes quirky, and always call forth a bravery every reader wishes he or she could count on if challenged in a similar situation.  Along the way, Mead uses strangers to offer rescue in the form of rides and advice.  It’s a well-designed device to introduce some really interesting characters such as Big Ruby McCurdy who drives a big rig and is the first individual to offer a ride to our sleuths and a pursuit vehicle to chase the killer.  Readers shouldn’t be misled by the occasional rescuer.  Our gals are not whimps, nor are they kung fu experts. Mead does not rely on others to do the hard lifting of solving the case nor of wrestling with the killer, but she is realistic when it comes to how much her protags can do in physical encounters.  She walks the line between over-the-top ninja work to whimpering in fear.  Mead uses surprise and good detective work as well as physical confrontation.

Since my husband and I travelled the US for several years in a tiny motor home, I salivated at the motor home piloted by these two and shed a tear or two when it was taken out of action.  But our gals rent a series of vehicles, usually large, usually trucks to continue their tracking down the killer odyssey.  I found their shifts from truck to truck both funny and delightful.  Maybe there’s just something I love about driving big trucks on those southwestern roads.  I suspect men will find that aspect of the story particularly provocative.

Dana’s daughter says it best when she comments on what she might consider writing if she leaves her job at the paper.  “I just might write a mystery series featuring two sassy senior sleuths who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.”  Murder on the Interstate is the third book in the series.  We can hardly wait for the next set of troubles to tantalize Dana and Sarah.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Interesting People Celebrating Beer and Books!

The fellow on the left is Mike Benz, tasting Room Manager for Ithaca Beer Company in Ithaca, NY.  He gave us a tour of the brewery on Saturday.  Using the clear, cold water from Kayuga Lake, the eastern- most of the Finger Lakes, the brewery makes some tasty brews including an IPA named Flower Power, the perfect blend of flower essence with the bitterness of hops.  A quite exciting IPA.

I was in Ithaca as a guest at the spring meeting of a group of individuals-- writers, artists, a massage therapist, a lawyer, teachers, professors, business people and others--who come together twice each year to share friendship.  This meeting their theme was Brewing and Celebration.  On Saturday evening after the tour of the brewery, a dinner pairing food and the local brews was served up with a menu of apple salad, goulash, some of my Butternut Valley ginger stout muffins, and cheese.  The spiciness of the goulash was well balanced by the Ithaca Brewery's red ale.  I recommend a pairing event for your next party or dinner get together.  It's fun.  Don't worry about getting it right.  Just have a selection of beers and try them with your food.  Experiment and see what you like.  Be sure you include your local microbrewery's offerings.

Before dinner the group had an activity called "Advocating" during which each group member shared with us something important to them.  To avoid debates, my hostess, Susan, told me no contradictory opinions were to be offered only silence (no negative gestures) support or questions.  It was an interesting way for members to learn each others opinions and values without bitterness or argument.  "Metaphors" came next.  Each individual brought something to the group built on the theme of the weekend.  These gifts could be humorous such as the witch's costume for brewing or more serious with the presentation of some fine beers from Belgian or a tea cup and tea, also brewed.  The gifts were taken into another room and each individual drew a card for the order in which he or she could select a gift.  The selected gift was hidden somewhere in the house so that people didn't brag about what they had chosen.  Intriguing and sensitively designed events by people who like each other well enough to travel great distances (some drove for more than four hours) to share this weekend.

After dinner I talked to the group about writing, my books, and how the the publishing industry is changing.  Oh,sure, I sold some books, but what I took away was a sense of having experienced a special sharing event.  And, oh yes, I also ate the best brownie I've had in years!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pictures to go with Mother's Day card

Here are pictures of those little critters who composed my Mother's Day card.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother's Day card

My feline children wished me Happy Mother's Day today with the following card:                      
                                                                                                                                                          Happy Mother’s Day


Two Little Kittens What’s Pretty Good (Most of the Time)

--but loves you always.

Marley and Squeaky

Glenn helped them with the wording a little.  He also included two pictures of them, but until Iget my picture upload issue solved on this blog, you'll have to imagine two dark striped grey cats.  Or you can picture any cats you want, even your own if you prefer.  We call them Key's Greys because they are rescue cats from a Key Largo campground.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gifting and What You Get in Return

Several Saturdays ago, the library here in Okeechobee sponsored a book party for me to celebrate my newest book, Dumpster Dying.  The setting for the book is rural Florida in a town much like Okeechobee.  I was excited to be able to talk about the book and do a book signing.  But I wanted to do something unusual for the people who attended so I made up raffle baskets.  Each one featured items that might be associated with a character in my book.  For example, I had one entitled "Cocktails with the Widow Davey."  Lucinda Davey is the widow of the man found by my protagonist in the country club's dumpster.  Lucinda is quite a woman, big in every way, voice, hair, make-up, and emotional presence.  Her basket contained fake nails, purple nail enamel, red lipstick, a martini glass and the makings for a pucker sour martini. A good friend of mine won it (it probably wasn't her first choice!).  I asked her the next day if she'd tried out the polish or lipstick and she said she was giving those to her granddaughter.  I assume she'll keep the fixin's for the martini.

The other baskets included "Fishing for Dead Bodies with Donald" (the guy basket), "Belly Up to the Bar with Emily" (my protagonist, a bartender), Vicki's After Interrogation Rescue (with a Key lime pie recipe and ingredients to make it), and "Get out of Jail with Clara" (complete with champagne, glass, bubble bath, and razor).

It was a great book party.  I had so much fun putting the free raffle baskets together and people seemed to enjoy winning them too.  The laughter in the room was the best return on the minimal investment of time and money I made on those baskets.  I intend to do the same when I return north and do programs on the book there.

The best outcome, however, was the ten year old girl who came to the party with her social secruity card and birth certificate to prove she had the same name as my protgagonist.  Sure, she bought a book for herself and her firend, but the best thing she did for me was to give me a big hug. Wow!  I don't know which one of us was the most excited. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fond Food Memories of Sleuthfest

Above: The view across our canal in Florida

Glenn and I returned a week ago from our favorite conference, Sleuthfest, sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, Florida Chapter, and I am still trying to catch up with everything I need to do.  The panels at the conference were informative and entertaining as usual. Guest speakers Dennis Lehane and Meg Gardiner gave us personal stories of their writing journeys, and the talk up and down the halls often focused on ebooks.  Neil Plakcy moderated a panel on the subject, which confirmed my decision to digitize A Deadly Draught.  It is now available on Kindle and Nook for 2.99; and

One evening a group of us decided to get off the hotel grounds and go down to the beach to find a seafood restaurant.  Glenn and I were fortunate to have Christine Kling as our navigator.  We joined Neil Plakcy, John Urban, and Mike Jastrzebski for dinner.  When I looked across the table I saw Christine had ordered a bowl of steamed mussles.  It looked tasty and reminded me that I have a great recipe for steamed mussles done with, you guessed it, BEER!

Here it is:
                                                    Mussels Cooked in Beer

4 pounds mussles
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 bottle (12 ounces) lager beer

Clean mussels under cold running water and scrape beard from the shell.  Discard open mussles that will not close when tapped with a knife.

In large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot and add shallot, cooking one minute or until translucent.  Add lager and 3/4 cup water and increase heat to high.  Bring to boil.  Add mussles, cover and cook five minutes until mussles are open.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Serve with crusty bread.  You may also make a simple aioli with mayo, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and pepper to spread on the bread.

To find out more about our fascinating and talented dinner companions go to and read about Christine, John, and Mike.  Visit Neil's website at

In another month we'll be back in the Butternut Valley where I will be finishing the second of the Hera Knightbridge books, this one entitled Poisoned Pairings

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe for a Happy Valentine's Day

This recipe has no beer of any kind in it.  It's more reminiscent of Florida and I offer it to celebrate my newest book Dumpster Dying.  The pie is the one the next-door neighbor in the book serves to Emily and her friend Clara.  And the recipe comes from my neighbor in Florida, Vicki Eriksen.  I've eaten her cooking many times, and it never fails to please.  So if you're looking for something to take you out of the cold and into the tropics, try this. And it's so easy.

Key Lime Pie

1 9" graham cracker crust or make your own
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 c. key lime juice (this can usually be found at most supermarkets in bottles, see note below)

Combine milk, egg yolks and juice.  Blend till smooth. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then refrigerate.  Cool several hours.  Top with whipped cream and decorate with key lime slices if you have them.

Note:  This is my note.  Do not make this with regular lime juice (you know, the green limes; Key Limes are tiny and yellow) unless you want a regular lime pie, not Key Lime pie. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's out!

My second book Dumpster Dying is here.

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster.

Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.