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