Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pictures from Cleveland!!

I spent the last few days in Cleveland, Ohio -- hubby was attending teacher training at a college there, and since I lived there in the mid-90s during grad school and after, I went along to visit my old haunts. Lots of fun! And lots of memories too. Here are some pics:

The Cleveland Browns new football stadium and the Cleveland skyline

Sunset over Lake Erie

Wind turbine outside the Great Lakes Science Center downtown

Visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Author Websites - What Do You Think?

"Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will." ~Goethe

I read an article in the recent Romance Writer's Report about author websites. The target audience, of course, was writers, so the article talked about the pros and cons of websites: when you should get one, what you should include, who should design it, etc.

For both readers and writers out there, what's your take on author websites? Do you look up a favorite or new-to-you author to see if s/he has one? Do you visit any regularly? What do you like most about author websites, and what do you like least?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

An Interview with Rosemary and Larry Mild

Welcome to a special Thursday author interview - Rosemary and Larry Mild, who are currently in the midst of their blog tour for their mystery novel, Boston Scream Pie.

Rosemary and Larry Mild have published award-winning short stories and essays. Members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Maryland Writers Association, the Milds divide their time between their homes in Maryland and Hawaii. Most of all, they treasure spending time with their five grandchildren in Hawaii and South Carolina’s horse country.

Enjoy their interview -- and yes, any comment you leave on today's post will also enter you into the One Night in Napa Blog Giveaway Contest! Plus, read through to find out how you can win an autographed copy of Boston Scream Pie as well. Take a peek at the synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Neuman, a Maryland high school student, is plagued by a series of bizarre nightmares about a horrific car accident on a snowy road. The lone survivor of a car crash that claimed both her parents and twin sister years earlier, Caitlin was too young to remember the details of that fateful night. But are these present-day nightmares simply Caitlin’s mind working out the past, or is there more to these vivid images that haunt her every waking moment?

As the harrowing images escalate, Caitlin takes matters into her own hands and seeks out the one source she knows can solve the mystery of the nightmares: retired Baltimore detective Paco LeSoto.

For any other detective, such a case would seem impossible. But for Paco LeSoto, nothing is impossible. Paco, after all, has both a keen ability to solve mysteries, and the loving support of his wife and biggest cheerleader, Molly, a woman whose deliciously skewed language, exquisite culinary skills, and shrewd cleverness are equaled only by her girth.

As Paco and Molly set out to find answers, they’ll uncover a string of unsolved deaths and a case of mistaken identity buried deep in the past. As the clues mount and the tension builds, Paco and Molly are led to a nearby family embroiled in a crisis of its own.

Newlyweds Newton Boston and his blonde bombshell wife Delylah are mired in their own family turmoil as Delylah’s adult children churn up trouble that threatens this already-fractured family. But what Newton doesn’t know is that four dead husbands lie in Delylah’s past. When another Boston family member dies under suspicious circumstances, all clues point to murder.

Can Paco and Molly stop another killing, bring justice to the culprits, and right an egregious wrong from the past—before it’s too late? As they uncover the sinister clues, Paco and Molly will either shed light on a long-hidden secret, or stir up a recipe for disaster.

Congratulations on your release! Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

LARRY: There are several things that come to mind. First, there is the finished novel, Cry ‘Ohana, A Young Hawaiian’s Search for His Family. It’s been around for awhile, mainly because of its epic length (470 pages). ‘Ohana means family in the Hawaiian language, and although its theme explores the wonderful multicultural nature of Oahu, it’s full of suspense, adventure, murder, despair, and romance. It’s the novel Rosemary and I cut our teeth on.

Second, there’s the novel Death Goes Postal, A Dan and Rivka Sherman Murder Mystery. Its theme traces printing artifacts from the time of Gutenberg to the present in a series of vignettes, while murder, kidnapping, and suspense accompany the search for the artifact cache. Third, we have a repertoire of short stories (dozens even). Many have been published in e-zines online. Our soft-boiled detective series (four Slim O. Wittz stories) will be published in four online issues of Mysterical-E, beginning in Fall 2009 .

ROSEMARY: Death Goes Postal is Larry’s personal baby, in about its second trimester.

How do you go about developing your characters?

LARRY: Rosemary agrees that I’m the more devious of the two of us, so I’m mostly involved with plots. The characters I create are mere skeletons fashioned out of essential story requirements. Rosemary takes my skinny runts and flushes real people out of them—appearances, personalities, attributes, emotions, reactions, and expectations.

ROSEMARY: Without Larry’s talent for inventing plots and characters, I couldn’t write fiction.

Who is your favorite author?

LARRY: My all-time favorite is Ken Follett. His Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are magnificent examples of the historical novel—plot, characters, suspense, excitement, and an education (12th and 14th century England).

ROSEMARY: I’m crazy about many authors, but not necessarily about every book they’ve written; quality often varies or the subject doesn’t turn me on. At the top of my list is Tolstoy for Anna Karenina (but not War and Peace). I, too, love Ken Follett’s historical novels—and Hornet Flight, about the Danish Resistance in World War II.

What do you find most difficult about writing?

LARRY: Re-writing the first chapter and its “hook”— I never know when I’ve done enough or too much.

ROSEMARY: Fresh descriptions of characters. I find it hard to be original describing hair, faces, gestures, etc. I’m still working on that, and trying a little poetry too.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

LARRY: I write four to five hours a day, six days a week when we are at home. This leaves plenty of time for all our other activities. Ain’t retirement wonderful? It’s the queries, submissions, marketing, publicity, and other necessary evils that steal precious time from our lives.

ROSEMARY: Larry has a waaaaay longer attention span than I do. He has a high concentration ability no matter what he does, whether it’s writing, fixing our fence, or doing carpentry. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, master of just about everything. Me? I go to Jazzercise, which satisfies my suppressed desire to be a Rockette. I’m also an obsessive birdwatcher and commune with our resident birds throughout the day. What a happy distraction, and any time I spot a new visitor, it makes my day.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block?

LARRY: Mostly I walk around with what I plan to write before I sit down at the keyboard. So writer’s block is a rare ailment for me, but it does occur.

ROSEMARY: No writer’s block, but I also write nonfiction and am dealing with a tough subject: a second edition of Miriam’s Gift: A Mother’s Blessings—Then and Now, my memoir of our daughter killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I remember that event quite vividly, as I was a teenager living in upstate NY at the time, and several Syracuse University students were on that flight.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

LARRY: My ailing back has curbed our love of tennis. We take long walks on the Baltimore/Annapolis trail a mile from our home. Swimming’s great, and so are crossword puzzles and reading. We also enjoy world travel—Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Canada, Israel, Egypt, the British Isles, and most of Western Europe. Visiting the kids and grandkids in Hawaii and South Carolina is most cherished.

ROSEMARY: We watch my favorite show, Jeopardy! My comic essay about taking the test to get on the show appeared in Slow Trains, winter 2009 issue.

Thank you so much for being here today! Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

LARRY: I enjoy rubbing elbows with mystery fans and other mystery writers. There’s an important feedback connection to be made, so we attend as many genre conferences and conventions as are practical. Since October 2008 we attended Bouchercon in Baltimore, MD; Maryland Writers’ Association in Linthicum, MD; and sat on panels for Left Coast Crime on the Big Island, Hawaii, and Malice Domestic in Arlington, VA. We also favor our luncheon and dinner meetings with Sisters in Crime (both the Chesapeake and Honolulu chapters) and Mystery Writers of America.

ROSEMARY: I get a kick out of the pearls of wisdom from mystery authors like Harlan Coban (Tell No One):
“Isn’t every good writer full of fear and insecurity?”
“If someone tells me he never rewrites, I don’t want to party with him.”
“If an author is super-confident, he’s either over the hill or someone else is writing his books.”

Readers, for a chance to win a signed copy of Boston Scream Pie, simply go to Rosemary and Larry's blog tour page and enter the following pin #: 4415.

And have a great day!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Loving Frank

"...this noble woman had a soul that belongerd to her alone -- that valued womanhood above wifehood or motherhood. A woman with a capacity for love and life made really by a...finer courage..." ~from Loving Frank

I recently read Loving Frank, a historical novel based on the life of Mamah Cheney Borthwick, a wife and mother who became Frank Lloyd Wright's mistress from 1907-1914. Anyone else read it? I originally picked it up for a couple of reasons: I knew a bit about Wright but didn't know he had this scandalous love affair; the book received rave reviews; and the book was also billed as a great love story.

What did I think?

I did enjoy it, though not as much as I thought I would. In places it's a little slow. There's an awful lot about the details of their travels together, about his creations and his horrific business sense, and her own discovery of her self. Actually, that last element is the focus of the book, overall, and I did like that part of it. Though not too much is known about Mamah historically, the author does a nice job painting her as a woman torn between duty to family, spending her life with her true soul mate, and developing an identity and voice of her own.

At times it's hard to get beyond the fact that she virtually gave up her life with her young children to follow this man she loved around the world. She's an adultress, and some readers will probably struggle with understanding or sympathizing with her. But I did enjoy the way the author makes both characters come to life. You really get an insight into Frank Lloyd Wright the man, beyond the famous architect.

It's a dense novel but richly written. The ending is a bit of a surprise if you don't know what happened in real life -- and I didn't. But I admire the author for taking on such an interesting piece of history and making it come to life. I'd give the book 3.5 stars, but if you like historical novels/reading about true people in history, you'll probably enjoy Loving Frank.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Meet the Heroine of One Night in Napa!

OK folks, it's two weeks and counting until One Night in Napa releases in ebook, so here's today's excerpt. Meet Kira March, the unconventional heroine who has spent the last few years trying to get as far away as possible from her former life. Of course, in a matter of hours, she's going to be thrust back into it, but for now, here's one of the first times we meet her...

A towel wrapped around her head, Kira stepped from the tiny bathroom into the kitchen of the apartment she and Isha shared.

“What the hell is that?”


The moon-face woman pointed. “You got another one?”

Kira glanced down and ran a fingertip over the small black symbol on her hip that peeked over the top of her boy shorts. It still stung, though she’d had it inked there almost a week ago.

“Oh. Yeah. Moment of weakness. And too much sangria with Scotty.”

“You get it downtown?”

Kira nodded.

“They’re not supposed to do it if you’re drunk.”
“I wasn’t, not really.” Just stupid, she added silently. She’d given in to memory on whim and a dare, and for the first two days, she regretted it completely. Most of the time, she had no desire to remember the life before she came to Yuba City, and before she became Kira March. Yet another reason not to consider that job offer in LA. At all.

Isha frowned. “What is it? Some kind of Chinese symbol?”

“Greek letters. ‘Gnothi sauton’,” Kira said, reading the words upside down.

“A sorority?”

Kira laughed. “Nope. It’s a phrase that was supposedly carved into the temple of the Oracle at Delphi.”

“What the—where?”

“In ancient Greece. It means ‘know thyself’.”

Isha frowned at her. “Huh. That’s pretty philosophical.”
Kira shrugged. “I guess. But I liked it.” The tattoo artist had scripted the tiny Greek letters perfectly; the entire phrase spanned less than an inch across her skin. Still, it was there, branded to her. Forever.

Isha picked up the remote and pointed it at the eight-inch-screen television in the corner by the refrigerator. “The View is doing their whole show on Edoardo Morelli this morning.” She propped her elbows on the countertop. “God, he’s gorgeous. Did you see him in Another Tomorrow?” She sighed and chewed on the end of her braid. “Just heard he has another movie coming out later this year.” She wriggled in anticipation. “I can’t wait. I don’t know if it’s in Italian or English, but I’ll tell you, I don’t even care. I’ll read subtitles all night long for that man. He’s so…um…yummy, you know?”

Kira cringed. ‘Yummy’? How old are you, twelve?”

“Shut up. You know what I mean.” Isha stared from the television to Kira and then back. “See, if you took that assistant job in LA, maybe you’d run into him.”

Kira shivered. She couldn’t think of anything worse.

“Or maybe you’d get to work with him. You really don’t think he’s hot?”

“Nope.” The show’s hosts giggled and cooed as they watched a trailer for Morelli’s latest movie. Kira grunted. Was she the only twenty-five-year-old in the modern world who didn’t find that man attractive? “Foreign good looks are overrated.”

Isha laughed. “Whatever. Not like you would kick him out of your bed.”

Kira didn’t answer. She ran one finger along her eyebrow ring and watched the shadows of the television turn from yellow to blue to brown and back again.

Isha was eyeing her. “Is this one of your moments again?”

“My ‘moments’? What does that mean?”

“Sorry. That’s not…I just meant…you never knew your dad, right?”

“Not really.” Kira stuck her glasses back on.

“So this is a father thing.”

“A ‘father thing’?”

“Yeah. You go through these phases where you super-analyze all the other father-daughter relationships you come across. ‘This one’s unhealthy.’ ‘That one’s smothering.’ ‘Edoardo Morelli’s an ass for letting his only child run away.’” Isha paused. “But she was eighteen, not ten. She knew what she was doing.”


“Listen, I don’t blame you. I don’t—I would never know what that’s like, growing up without knowing my parents. And I’m not saying it’s right, if he really did abandon her. Or force her to leave. But…” Isha’s gaze moved back to the television, where the face of the movie star filled the screen—dark eyes, dark hair with a touch of gray at the temples, laugh lines sketched across tanned skin. “I just don’t think I could say one way or the other, you know, whether he’s a bad guy. Just because his daughter up and left one day. Maybe he did try to find her. Maybe he followed her. Maybe she’s the one who didn’t want to be found.”

The camera zoomed in for another close-up of the actor, and Kira ducked into the bathroom while she still had a chance. She wondered if it was time to start thinking about moving again. Four years was the longest she’d spent planted anywhere, and though Isha seemed the nicest of the roommates she’d had, it was only a matter of time before she started stringing details together and found out who Kira really was.

She opened the blinds to let in some light. Three fresh coats of mascara, eye liner, and lip gloss, and she’d be set. She tried to keep it on the light side during the day, ever since her boss told her the Goth look was scaring off customers.

It’s not Goth, she wanted to tell him. She wasn’t depressed or suicidal; she didn’t listen to Marilyn Manson and she rarely wore all black. She wasn’t into sadomasochism, either. It wasn’t a Gothic look at all. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was. It’s just me, just vintage Kira March.

Problem was, she wasn’t sure exactly who that was, either.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life." ~Rita Rudner

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary. Amazing how time flies!

No big plans for celebration, though we'll go out to dinner tonight. On our first aniversary, we got into the habit of trying to choose gifts for each other that were in keeping with the traditional list of gifts. But 8 years is bronze. (??) Hmm. I'm still at a loss. Anyone have any good (inexpensive) ideas for a bronze-themed anniversary gift?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Holiday Berry Trifle

I made this dessert to take to a party yesterday:

It's always a big hit, and it's SO easy to make and relatively low in calories (as far as desserts go, anyway!). Thought I'd share the recipe with my readers today.



3 cups cold milk

2 pkgs. (4 oz) instant chocolate pudding/pie filling mix

1 tub (12 oz) whipped topping

1 9-inch square pan of baked brownies, cut into 1-inch squares

1 pint raspberries*

*This is what the original recipe calls for. I used a pint of blueberries and a quart of strawberries yesterday.

1. Pour milk into a large bowl and add the pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. Gently stir in 2 cups of whipped topping.

2. Place 1/2 the brownies cubes into a large serving bowl. Top with 1/2 the pudding mixture, 1/2 the fruit, and 2 cups whipped topping. Repeat layers and end with remaining whipped topping.

3. Refrigerate 1 hour or until serving time.

(Incidentally, I use skim milk, low-fat brownie mix, and fat free-sugar free whipped topping, and it still tastes delicious.)

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe?