Baking, Recipes, Writer In The Kitchen

Writer In The Kitchen: Blueberry Muffins

Tasty blueberry muffins on old baking tray sitting on rustic wooden table, text space

We’re a few weeks into summer and let’s just say I’m looking forward to fall. It’s my favorite season because it’s filled with all the things I love – pumpkins, sweaters, mums and cozy nights. While summer is filled with things I really could do without – humidity, humidity hair, poison ivy and sunburn. I know complaining won’t get me anywhere because it is what it is and that’s summer. So rather than complain, I’m creating special moments to get me through the hot, humid months. This past weekend, I baked. There’s something so special about starting a Sunday with a basket of freshly baked blueberry muffins out on the patio. These muffins burst have a buttery flavor that mingles with the tartness of the blueberries and were the perfect way to start my day. I hope they do the same for you!

 

 

 

Notes from Deb

Notes from Deb 6/9/22

Female in beautiful dress holding picnic basket with food and bouquet of lilacs outdoors.

Happy Friday! It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I turned in HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES to my editor. It felt so good to send out that manuscript. Yes, I did a happy dance. And then, boom! Proof pages for my December release, SLEUTHING IN STILETTOS, landed in my inbox. Out of all the parts of the book writing process, proof pages are my least favorite to do. But, I’m halfway done so the pain won’t be lasting for long. Yay!

Last week, I was down in New York City visiting with my parents for four days and I got home Sunday night, very late, which meant I had a slow start Monday morning.

But I did make a dent in my long to-do list. I even got outside to do some weeding. At least one garden bed looks decent now. Actually, I enjoyed tidying up the bed. I gave our dwarf Japanese Maple a trim, added a base from a water fountain that’s seen better days to the bed tucked behind the Japanese Maple and the Holly bush. There’s a small stone bowl that I purchased during a garden tour in Newport RI years ago that needed a home so I set it on top of that base for a little visual interest.

There were also errands done and a quick trip to TJ Maxx. I always love squeezing in a trip there. You never know what you’ll find! I had a return and of course, I browsed and picked up a new vanity mirror. Today I’m going to have a Zoom call with my critique partner and I’m so looking forward to catching up with her. I’m even more excited to hear about her progress on her current WIP. So far, the pages I’ve read are awesome! I definitely want more.

In the middle of the week, I listened to a podcast and I loved it. I found a new Instagram account to follow. I love when that happens. The episode was How The Farmhouse Style Is Changing and featured blogger Liz Quick. She and host, Lisa, discuss how the very white farmhouse style is changing and becoming more old world. I loved it.

Since it’s the end of the week, I’m starting to think about planning out next week. On the list of things to do, will be creating content for an upcoming Facebook event I’m participating in. I’m so excited about this book hop. The Spring Into Summer multi-author book hop is happening on June 21st. Visit the event page, let us know you’re going to attend and then on June 21st, visit each participating author’s Facebook page for lots of fun and prizes. There’s a grand prize for one lucky person and it’s the ‘first in series’ book from each author! That’s a lot of books. The book I’m including in the grand prize is a copy of The UNINVITED CORPSE.

 

Thanks for stopping by to visit. My weekend will consist of some house chores and weeding. Yeah, it’s going to be a wild weekend here. I’m going to try and pace myself. Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re up to this weekend.

Debra

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Writer-to-Writer, Writing

Five Ways to Have A More Sane Relationship With Social Media

Woman's hands typing on a laptop

Writers spend a lot of time on social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok and the next new thing that just came out between me writing this post and publishing it (can somebody say Clubhouse). Social media has a lot going for it and no doubt you’ve been encouraged to have a presence on at least two platforms. You’ve found that you’ve been able to connect with readers, influencers, and other authors. Hopefully, this networking is building relationships and spreading the word about your books. But social media is constant. It’s open 24/7, even on holidays. It can be all consuming if left unchecked.

You know your most important job is to be a writer not a social media manager and yet it feels like you can’t get off your device, tapping one social media app and then the next. And then you finally take a look at the time and realize that a good chunk of the day has disappeared with little work to show for it. What happened?

Mindless scrolling, doom scrolling. Constantly updating your account to see how many new likes you’ve received or comments you immediately need to reply to. You’re looking for good news from author friends –  who sold a new series, who hit a new list, whose book is out on NetGalley. That’s where you block of what should have been writing time went. Now you’re stuck having to make up that writing time somewhere else in your busy schedule. Which puts you on the proverbial hamster wheel and lamenting there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.

If it were the fact that you were just wasting time, that wouldn’t be the worst thing. What’s happening when we’re on social media too much and seeing everyone’s fantastic news and new ranking on Amazon, creates an overwhelming feeling of FOMO. And given enough time in this state, the FOMO creeps into our lives and our writing. It can be detrimental to your creativity and production.

But, social media is a part of an author’s job so what can you do? Here are five tips on how to have a more sand relationship with social media. Creating these rules for your social media consumption and usage will help the relationship.

 

Set time limits

How much time do you really need to be on Instagram or scrolling through your Facebook feed?

Do you use scheduling tools for your social media posts? If not, consider trying one of them. Benefit: you won’t be distracted and you’ll get your posting done quicker.

After you’ve set the times you’ll check-in to reply to comments, cheer on a fellow author or like your cousin’s fabulous DIY project, you’ll need to assign how much time you’ll be on each platform.

 

Check comparisonitis before tapping the app

Here’s where FOMO ratchets up. It’s natural and happens to every writer whether they admit it or not. You see another author receiving an accolade, an ad placement from her publisher, hitting a big list or getting oodles (sorry, I couldn’t resist) of comments on her sparse, one-sentence mid-week update while you haven’t hit a list, there’s no ads for your book and your posts go largely unseen because of algorithms. Envy and FOMO happens. Just keep in mind, social media doesn’t always show the entire picture. And while you feel like you’re missing out on something, the author you’re feeling a twinge of jealousy about probably feels the same way about you at times. Before you tap the app, remember that. (Ooh, that’s kinda catchy.)

 

Turn off notifications

You really don’t need to be notified every time you get a like, a comment or when you’re tagged. Remember, you’re in charge of your daily schedule not Facebook. See tip number one, set time limits.

 

Set a limit of how many people you follow

You don’t have to follow everyone. I know, it’s an etiquette thing but the truth is it’s okay not to follow a Facebook page or friend or business acquaintance if you don’t want to. There are a lot of reasons not to follow someone and it’s okay if you don’t follow everyone.

 

Take a break

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Can this be said about stepping away from social media? I’m not sure, but I think it’s a good idea to take a break from your online accounts even if it’s just for a couple of days. Or, you can try a whole week or *gasp* a whole month. Social media is a tool you have in your toolbox to promote your books and your author career and you get to decide how to use the tool.

There you have it, five quick ways to help rebalance your relationship with social media.

Do you have some other tips? Please share in the comments below.

Cover Reveal, Resale Boutique Mysteries

Cover Reveal – Sleuthing in Stilettos

The next Resale Boutique Mystery has a cover and it’s so adorable. What do you think?

Kelly Quinn, owner of a high-end consignment shop, is a booster for her Long Island town’s small businesses—but now a store owner’s murder has brought big trouble . . .

Locals in Lucky Cove seem to harbor hostility toward Miranda Farrell, proprietor of a new shoe store. Nevertheless, Kelly invites her along to a Chamber of Commerce meeting. But soon afterward, Miranda’s body is found in her shop, with Kelly’s uncle—who’s had multiple public arguments with her—standing nearby. Could her uncle really have committed murder over a business dispute? Or is Miranda’s death related to her late husband’s long-ago embezzlement case?

Kelly feels compelled to investigate, despite her detective boyfriend’s objections—not to mention her commitment to promoting Small Business Saturday. But her effort to pump up sales may fall flat. After her presentation to the committee is sabotaged, the Chamber gives her the boot—and tongues start wagging. Now she has to do some fancy footwork to find the killer . . .

Reads

My 2022 Reads So Far

I am very much a mood reader which means I’m terrible at reading challenges, creating TBR’s for coming weeks/months, and keeping track of what I’ve read. Since January I’ve read a few books but because I was so focused on my writing deadlines and dealing with my parents, I wasn’t very good about logging my reads.

And because the past six months have been a blur, I feel that I’m missing a book or two from the list below. I decided not to let that little detail keep me from sharing the books I do remember reading with you today.

Now, this is only a list of my reads so far for 2022. If you’re looking for a review, you won’t find one here. I’ve made the decision that since I am an author, I will not write book reviews on my blog. If I share a book with you know that it’s a book that I’ve enjoyed. I will not share a book that I didn’t finish or that I hated.

While I know the importance of book reviews for authors, I doubt you’re visiting my blog for reviews because there are plenty of other blogs who do that so much better. And even though I’m not writing reviews, I do encourage you to write reviews for the books you’ve read because it’s a great way to support your favorite authors. If you’re unsure of how to write a book review, I do have a free pdf you can download here.

Okay, ready for my short list?  BTW, at the bottom you’ll find the next three books I plan on reading over the summer.

 

THE JEAN HARLOW BOMBSHELL BY MOLLIE COX BRYAN

When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword

Charlotte Donovan’s overbearing boss, Justine Turner, is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. It comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin.

In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger―stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer?

THE AUDREY HEPBURN HEIST BY MOLLIE COX BRYAN

When it comes to writing Golden Age Hollywood biographies, the pen is deadlier than the sword.

Charlotte Donovan’s life changed drastically when her boss died, leaving her a grand New York City apartment and a small fortune, but with stipulations. While writing an Audrey Hepburn biography, Charlotte consults on a new “Holly Golightly” miniseries, and a reality TV show where America selects the lead of the new series. When the actress who’s the national favorite is murdered at Charlotte’s cast party, she feels obligated to pursue justice for the young ingenue.

Charlotte, along with her detective boyfriend and best friend, follow a a dangerous trail of smoke and mirrors. Nothing is as it appears, and nobody is who they seem to be, starting with the murder victim. With each detail Charlotte unearths, the more frightened she becomes—and the more determined.

THE CAT OF THE BASKERVILLES BY VICKI DELANEY

Sherlockians everywhere will enjoy puzzling out clues alongside Baker Street bookshop owner and sleuth, Gemma Doyle—a cozy mystery for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle

When Jayne Wilson’s mother is accused of murder, Jayne and Gemma have to eliminate the impossible to reveal the true killer.Legendary stage and movie star Sir Nigel Bellingham arrives on Cape Cod to star in a stage production of The Hound of the Baskervilles put on by the West London Theater Festival.

When Sir Nigel, some of the cast, and the director visit the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop at 222 Baker Street, Gemma Doyle realizes that Sir Nigel is not at all suited to the role. He is long past his prime and an old drunk to boot.The cast, in particular the much younger actor who previously had the role, are not happy, but the show must go on.Before the play opens, Leslie Wilson, mother of Gemma’s best friend Jayne, arranges a fundraising afternoon tea to be catered by Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room. The tea is a huge success, but when it’s time to leave, Sir Nigel has gone missing—only to be found at the bottom of the rocky cliff, dead.

Along with the dead body, Gemma finds evidence incriminating Leslie Wilson. When the police, in the presence of handsome detective Ryan Ashburton and suspicious detective Louise Estrada, focus their attention on Leslie despite the numerous other suspects, the game is once again afoot and it’s again up to the highly perceptive Gemma and the ever-confused but loyal Jayne to clear Jayne’s mother’s name.

THE SECRETS WE SHARE BY EDWIN HILL

At first glance, Natalie Cavanaugh and Glenn Abbott hardly look like sisters. Even off-duty, Natalie dresses like a Boston cop, preferring practical clothes and unfussy, pinned-up hair. Her younger sister, Glenn, seems tailor-made for the spotlight, from her signature red mane to her camera-ready smile. Glenn has spent years cultivating her brand through her baking blog, and with the publication of her new book, that hard work seems about to pay off. But her fans have no idea about the nightmare in Glenn and Natalie’s past.

Twenty years ago, their father’s body was discovered in the woods behind their house. A trauma like that doesn’t fit with Glenn’s public image. Yet, maybe someone reading her blog does know something. There have been anonymous online messages, vague yet ominous, hinting that she’s being watched. And with unsettling coincidences hitting ever closer to home, both Glenn and Natalie soon have more pressing matters to worry about, especially when a dead body is found in an abandoned building . . .

Natalie is starting to wonder how much Glenn really knows about the people closest to her. But are there also secrets Natalie has yet to uncover about those she herself trusts? For two decades, she’s believed their father was murdered by their neighbor, with whom he was having an affair. But if those events are connected to what’s happening now, maybe there’s much more that Natalie doesn’t know. About their father. About their neighbors. About her friends. Maybe even about herself.

But there are no secrets between sisters . . . are there?

Here are the three books I have in queue to read next. I’m dying to dive into all three.

THE SECOND HUSBAND BY KATE WHITE

WITH A SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE BY LENA GREGORY

MURDER IN A CAPE COTTAGE BY MADDIE DAY

 

What are you reading now? What’s on your TBR for the summer? Share below in the comments.

Debra