Browse Month by May 2017
Kitchen Snapshots, Life

Kitchen Snapshots

Today I’m sharing a peek into my kitchen of the goings on this past week. The temps here in Connecticut hit the mid-90s for three days. A heat wave. I’m so not ready for summer. Actually, I’m never ready for summer. I’m much more of a cool-weather type of gal. Give my sweaters and boots any day over flip-flops and humidity. Since today is simply beautiful I’m not going to dwell on the two icky days. Instead, I’m going to focus on the kitchen successes I had this week. Come on, take a look.

This week I worked on a recipe for soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies that will appear in the Uninvited Corpse. I do love this perk of writing.

A pile of shredded sharp cheddar cheese left over from making mac’n cheese.

I know what you’re thinking. What the heck? This is a new purchase and I’m now wondering where this bad boy has been all my life. This power spinner is life changing. Seriously. I’ve only used it a few times but now I can’t imagine not having it in my cleaning arsenal. This handy little gadget paid for itself when it kicked butt on my slider door’s track. Oven door? Awesome. And the list goes on and on. I got it from QVC and if you click here you can read more about it. I’m going to be ordering some new cleaning heads. I want a set for outside and for the bathroom.

Rhubard season! There’s a batch of rhubard-ginger muffins waiting to be baked.

What went on in your kitchen this week?

Videos, Writing

Why I chose a food blogger for my mystery series

Recently I was asked why I chose a food blogger for my amateur sleuth in my mystery novel. The amateur detective in a cozy mystery tends to have a fun career (wedding planner, interior designer, baker) or an interesting hobby (knitting, quilting, gardening) and it’s an important hook for the series. When I set out to write The Uninvited Corpse I decided to make my amateur sleuth, Hope Early, a food blogger and in the video I explain why.



If you’re interested in cozies I found two websites that have extensive information on series published. The first one is Cozy Mysteries Unlimited and the second one is Cozy Mystery. If you’re a reader of cozies, what is a favorite profession or hobby of an amateur sleuth? If you don’t read cozies, what type of books do you prefer? I love reading across genres and I’m always looking for my next good read.



A Stitch At A Time

This past weekend I picked up a project that I haven’t worked in in a while. Actually, it feels like ages since I stitched. After just a few stitches I realized how much I missed my counted cross stitch work.

I absolutely adore counted cross stitch and have several completed samplers, none of which I’ve framed yet. One day. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the simple act of stitching. Sometimes a writer’s mind can race with snippets of dialogue and bright ideas for plot twists. Lately that’s been happening a lot to me. I think it’s because I’m spending more of my day writing and I don’t have my regular trigger to shut down the writer brain. Stitching turns down the volume inside my head.

I usually don’t work in large chunks of time on my stitching. I usually pick it up on a Sunday morning and work for about 30 minutes before I start my day and it’s a lovely way to start a day. I admit I’ve fallen off the stitching bandwagon over the past few months but I’m back on now. I reached for this project last week and I immediately realized how much I missed stitching. I’m going to continue with my early morning weekend stitching and I’ll share updates with you on this project.

Knitting, Reads

Knitting Update & A New Read

Happy Wednesday!

I’m sharing today my current knitting project and my new read.

After the success of knitting my first ever baby blanket I decided to attempt to knit a hat and scarf set.

This hat will have a pom-pom when it’s complete. I love, love, love a hat with a pom-pom. I’ll be tackling the matching scarf next. I’ve been trying to knit this set for ages. Seriously. I’ve run into problems with the pattern. If I miss a stitch I can’t tell where and I can’t tell what row the mistake was made in. It’s been very frustrating for this new knitter but I’m determined to make these two items. So far, so good with the hat. 🙂

I just finished reading a book and now I’m diving into Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake. Death by Chocolate Lab is the first in the new series Lucky Paws Pet Sitting series and I’ve been looking forward to reading the book. I love the cover, especially the hound dog. He’s adorable. The series is published by my publisher, Kensington Books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the cover of my debut novel, which I believe will also have a dog on the cover.

What’s Death by Chocolate Lab about? It features a pPet sitter Daphne Templeton who has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

I love the premise and now I’m going to grab my tea and do a little reading before I have to get back to writing.

What are you reading today or what craft are you currently working on?

Coffee & Chat, Writing

Coffee & Chat # 11 – Do you outline your plot?

Happy Monday! I’m hoping to get back to our regular Coffee & Chat visits. Between life and work it’s been a little cray-cray around here so I’ve needed to limit my time on the computer when I’m not writing. One of the questions I’m asked often is whether or not I outline. So today I thought I’d answer that question. I have a full cup of coffee so lets get chatting.

There are a few schools of thoughts on outlining. There’s a group that doesn’t outline. There’s a group that does outline. And there’s a group that does a combination of both processes, which means they loosely outline so they have an idea of where the story is going. Me? I outline. The outline for the Uninvited Corpse was about 20 (single-spaced) pages long and the outline for book two came in at 23 pages. I cannot imagine writing either book without outlining. Just typing that gave me the chills.

Why do I outline? Outlining gives me a clear direction of where the story is going and lays out the plot which includes twists and turns and defeats and triumphs for my amateur detective, Hope Early.

How do I outline? I begin with Michael Hague’s six stage plot structure. This method also serves as a template for writing the synopsis of the novel. Yes, even after selling your first book you need to be able to write a synopsis for your next book. Lets look at an example of how I incorporate this structure into my outlining.

Act One: First 25% of the novel

0-10% – The Ordinary World

This part of the book is her ordinary world, it’s Hope’s life before the murder and where I hope that readers will connect with her and want to follow her along the journey. I usually just write a few sentences with very few details.

Here’s what I wrote for the book I’m currently working on (the second in the Food Blogger Mystery series):

Hope Early is the publisher behind the growing food blog, Hope at Home. Her current project for her blog is a series on stress-free meals so she’s developing recipes for slow cookers and pressure cookers. She’s also continuing to remodel her antique farmhouse and the big project now is building a new garage on her property. The book opens with Hope arriving for the first day…I’m not giving any more away. 🙂

Now I’ll continue to go through the whole six stage plot structure and when it’s complete I’ll set it aside for a few days. When I return to the document I’ll add a few spaces to each section and elaborate on what is happening at that particular point of the story. Each section now will have several sentences which are a bit more detailed and the basis for the next step of outlining the novel.

When I begin outlining I include the chapter number, the scene number, the day in the story, the time of day, and the location. I also include all the details of that scene, snippets of dialogue if they come to me as I’m typing, descriptions of characters or locations or objects, and links to online research sites. My outline is jam packed with a lot of stuff. Here’s a snippet from the outline I’m currently using:

Day One – late afternoon

Hope arrives at home and is greeted by her sister, Claire Dixon. She didn’t expect Claire to be waiting for her or having to explain why she’s late getting home. Bigelow, her dog, comes racing to welcome her home. Claire is in a huff because…you’ll have to read the book to find out why she’s upset. 🙂

Writing the outline can take weeks and I honestly don’t remember how long it took to write the outline for book 2. I completed it last spring. Some writers feel writing an outline sucks the joy out of writing the novel. They’re not surprised by anything when they sit down to write the novel or they feel the outline structure is too rigid. Valid points. However, I don’t feel that writing an outline hinders the novel writing process. The outline isn’t carved in stone and can be adjusted accordingly as I write the story. During the draft writing process (I usually go through 4 drafts) I have changed things such as eliminating a scene – I did that in the first draft of book 2, the scene was flat and I was totally bored by it so I cut it and brainstormed a new scene to replace it – or adding a character or re-arranging scenes. Doing any of those things can be nerve-wracking for a writer but since I have a detailed outline that is guiding me, it’s like a safety net, I can make those changes on the fly.

If a new writer asked me if he/she should outline I would say “yes” and share my reasons why. But does a writer need to outline? No. Every writer writes differently and no one should impose his/her practices on another writer. But I think writers should outline. 🙂