Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tardy by Leann Harris

As I was standing in the kitchen this morning, it occurred to me this was my day to blog, thus my title "Tardy." Now I don't have to tell you what I did in a previous life. Only a teacher would think in terms of tardy, instead of late. Well, I was in the teacher mode, since on Saturday night I went to a reunion of the first class of students I taught. There were a handful of new teachers, deaf ed, hired to bring the school district up to Plan A, regional day school for the deaf. It was fun seeing those students, seeing how their lives changed. It
didn't take long to start thinking in sign, but reading the other person is what's hard, but isn't that how it is in any language? Now when I saw the picture I took, I told me daughter I looked mad. She told me I had on my teacher face. Also my latest Indie book is out, Stolen Secrets. It happened around the time I started teaching, but there's lots of murder, mayhem, and old secrets coming to light .

Monday, July 25, 2016

Living in Tune with the Seasons by Marta Perry

In today's world, it really is possible to live insulated from the changing seasons. Thanks to air conditioned homes, cars, and businesses, central heating, indoor malls, deliveries from Amazon, phones and Facebook and texting and Twitter, sometimes I think many people have no idea what the weather is like outside their doors!

That's not true of the Amish, certainly, and it's also not true, for the most part, of those of us who live in the country. A few years ago, at about this time of the summer, I was chatting with some women friends at a reception, where I'd been introduced to a newcomer in our community. Our conversation turned, as always in summer, to what our gardens were producing, what jams we'd made, which orchard had the best deal on peaches, and how many quarts of tomatoes we should can.

Finally the newcomer couldn't stand it any longer. She looked at us in astonishment and said, "Haven't you people ever heard of getting your vegetables in a can at the grocery store?"

Well, we had, of course. But to us, our way of life was normal and natural--if not, we probably wouldn't live where we do!

So I've continued to follow the seasons in my cooking and to take an interest in everybody's gardens. Here in Pennsylvania, the progression of pies is inevitable throughout the growing season: rhubarb, then strawberries, then raspberries, then blackberries, then blueberries. By the time we're picking blueberries, the peaches are ready, and there are plenty of orchards close at hand where we can get them fresh from the trees, followed by pears and then apples.

As for the gardens, our suburban grandkids love eating tomatoes fresh from the plant! Who needs them washed and sliced?

We're at the height of zucchini and yellow squash season right now. They don't last long, and I've never found a very good method of preserving them, so we eat and enjoy every day while they last.

Here's one of my favorite squash recipes, guaranteed to appeal even to picky kids, as long as you don't tell them it's squash!

Squash Chips
Thinly slice tender young yellow squash or zucchini, leaving the skin on if desired. Dip each slice in beaten egg and then in a mixture of equal amounts of Bisquick and Italian crumbs. Bring about an inch of canola oil to medium heat in a large skillet. Drop each slice into the oil. They'll brown very quickly, so flip them as one side browns. Transfer to paper towels to drain and keep warm, and continue to do batches until reaching the desired amount. Serve immediately, while they're warm and crispy.

What's your favorite fresh from the garden or farmers' market treat? Your top recipe?

If you'd like a copy of my brochure of favorite Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, just e-mail me with your address at marta@martaperry.com or sign up for my newsletter at www.martaperry.com/lists/?


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Messy Manucripts

Keli Gwyn here to talk about making messes. Not just any messes, mind you, but messes of the manuscript variety.

I'm racing to meet a July 25 deadline for my fourth Love Inspired Historical, Her Motherhood Wish, which will be released in March 2017.

Until a couple of days ago, the manuscript was a mess. I have a hunch some of my fellow authors can relate.

I handed that messy first draft to my bright, beautiful daughter, who proofreads for another author, too, and is a line and copy editing whiz.

When Adriana completed her editing pass, I was reminded of a recent "catastrophe" she experienced when she accidentally flung cat food all over the bathroom floor--and counter, too. She had lots of little pellets to pick up; I had lots of little oopsies to address.

Adri returned the story full of notes telling me (nicely) about the many niggling ways I'd muffed up. Things like the heroine being blindfolded by the bad guy but not bound. Can you say oops? I'd made poor Callie look pretty clueless, since she could have just reached up and removed the bandana blocking her vision. Not to worry. That mistake has been corrected.

I'm happy to report that I've cleaned up the manuscript. There are only a few fixes left for me to make. I'm on track to hit "send" Monday. A huge sigh of relief will follow.

Questions for You

Think back to a time when your plate was overfull or your life got a bit messy. How do you handle such times? What works well for you when you're feeling overwhelmed? This fuzzy-brained, deadline-pressured writer welcomes your wisdom.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Such a perfect setting...

Story ideas can come from the most varied places, can't they? Completing a six week Citizens' Police Academy and also the local Citizens' Fire Academy, were perfect for gathering the right details for several of my novels. That's me on the left, in full fireman's gear. I still have no idea how a fireman can withstand the danger, as well as the heat of a fire plus hot summer weather in that heavy gear. I am in awe of those folks!

Travel to foreign countries in the last few years gave me fodder for indie novellas set in Ireland, Scotland and (coming out this fall) England--providing details that couldn't have been gleaned from researching books or the internet.

But my main love is writing for Love Inspired, and my settings for those are in the USA. When not using small towns, I often revert to my passion for the contemporary West--ranching, cowboys, veterinarians, high adventure in the mountains...or the pine forests of the north.

Speaking about pines, we've just returned from a long weekend up along the North Shore of Lake Superior, my favorite place in the Upper Midwest.

Superior is 1,333 ft at its deepest, with an average depth of 483 feet, and has almost 32,000 square miles of surface area. The rocky shores, crystal clear water and agate beaches are breath-taking, and the fresh, pine-scented air is delightful.

And goodness--Duluth itself is now a far cry from its shabby past many years ago, with its wonderful museums, restaurants, unique stores and hiking trails. There's even a downtown boardwalk and bike path that run along seven miles of the shore--barely visible in this night photo from our hotel balcony.

I've been going up there since the age of three--first with my parents, later on with my own family, and it never loses its appeal.  In fact, my very first novel was set along the North Shore...and returning to this beautiful place made me ponder the possibility of setting another book up there.
Right now, though,  The Single Dad's Redemption (Love Inspired) is out in the stores, and I'm working on the next book in that Aspen Creek series, which is set just a little more south--in the St Croix region of western Wisconsin.

What are your favorite types of settings when shopping for books in a store or online? Or does it matter to you?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Roxanne Rustand
USA Today bestselling Author
The Single Dad's Redemption, Love Inspired 7/2016
An Aspen Creek Christmas, Love Inspired 11/16