Monday, June 23, 2014

Apologies, Explanations, and Trying to Make Up for Lost Time!!!

First for the apologies!!! I am soooo, soooo sorry that I haven't been posting to my blog. I am very grateful for all you loyal readers who are waiting patiently and checking in with me occasionally to ask about Danger Ahead (which is just the working title and could be published as something else!!) I turned the re-write into Covenant at the first of February and heard back in April that they wanted some significant changes again. I was disappointed, of course, but when I went  back through I had to agree with most of the complaints. So I finished the 2nd rewrite at the first of June and am now awaiting their decision. I feel good about this one - so I'm hoping that the October release date will stand. I will happily announce on this blog when I get an approval!!!

Now on to explanations (some might call these excuses...) In November (back when I was blogging semi-regularly) I had two grandsons born - one in Idaho and one in Birmingham (and I managed to miss both births). I flew out to Idaho for Ranchel's birth and missed it by two days. Then while I was there John Thomas Green Jr. was born a few days early here. I flew home to see him and then we flew back to Idaho for Ranchel's blessing/Thanksgiving. It was a lot of flying around and a complete departure from regular routine. The Thanksgiving trip was particularly exhausting for Butch since we spent almost an entire day flying and then had to drive to Victor, Idaho (another 4 1/2 hours). Anyway, after a very busy month we finally got home on Dec. 2nd and sent Clay to the store while we were unpacking. On the way he was hit from behind by a driver with a suspended learner's permit who was driving someone else's car without permission and therefore their insurance didn't cover the accident. We ended up not only having a wrecked van (we only carry liability insurance on it) but we also had to pay the towing fee and the 'holding' fee that the tow company charged per day and a 'premium' fee - basically a kickback to the City of Bessemer - because the policeman called the tow company for us ($125). So that kind of began our spiral into bad luck/hard times. We taped the rear window up with garbage bags to keep the rain out (it's not worth the price of replacing the rear door) and still drive it - but obviously we can't take it far. So we bought a use Nissan Versa that I really like and life moved on.

Then Christmas was fine - crazy busy but nice. Butch had a sore on the bottom of his foot that got infected and he had to the doctor for some antibiotics (that's foreshadowing a disaster yet to come). In January we had a sudden snowstorm. I know those of you from other parts of the country where it snows often can't understand why it is such a problem for us when it snows, but no one here has snow tires, no one has experience driving in the snow, we don't have plows, and maybe worst of all - the storms are often a surprise since a few degrees difference in temperature can make a rainstorm turn into a mini-blizzard. The weathermen had downplayed the possibilities of bad weather and so the school systems decided not to cancel school. When the snow started about 10:30 in the morning all the schools systems changed their minds and let out at the same time. The snow was wet and packed onto the roads quickly in the form of ice. The temperatures were dropping rapidly (down into the teens for the next 2 days) so the ice hardened instead of melting. Parents were coming from everywhere trying to get their children, people were trying to get home, buses were blocking roads or in ditches. It was almost instant gridlock. Thousands of children across the state of Alabama spent the night at school. Parents and others spent then night in their cars stuck in hopeless traffic. I made it home but had to abandon my car and walk the last mile or so. Emily got Clay and made it home. Butch was stranded in Atlanta for 3 days and 2 nights. The first night he spent in his UPS truck, the second night in a roach motel. We were out of school for almost a week.

Andy was scheduled to come home from his mission in North Carolina on Weds, February 12th. We usually go to Nauvoo at the first of February to participate in the commemoration of the pioneer's exodus to Utah. But we delayed our trip so that Andy could go with us. We arranged for Andy to be released on Weds night and planned to pick up the rental van right afterwards. And we planned to leave for Nauvoo at 2:00 on Thursday morning. Everything was planned perfectly.

But then we started getting reports of a possible snowstorm (another one!!) School was dismissed early on Monday and we were out Tuesday as well. The storm was past us but headed east - toward Raleigh where Andy was!!! I had to work with the Church Mission Travel Office and Delta airlines to reroute Andy around the weather. We got him on a Southwest flight into Baltimore and then to Birmingham. The mission president risked weather to get him to the airport and his plane was the last one that left the Raleigh airport that morning (seven other missionaries were stuck at the mission home until Friday/Saturday). We went out to lunch and took him shopping. Then we took him to the church in Hoover to meet with our Stake President and be released. On the way home it started snowing - again. There had been no prediction of snow at all. I hoped it was just some flurries but by the time we got home we couldn't make it up the driveway. So we couldn't go get the rental van and we couldn't leave for Nauvoo at 2:00 AM as planned. Then next morning the snow started to melt. We picked up the van and left late. Traffic was bad because there was still snow on the roads. We were very late getting to Nauvoo - where snow covered everything. It snowed the entire time we were there and we got into an ice storm on the way home (two inches of frozen ice on the windshield and hood of the car - windshield wiper broke - it was terrible).

So we finally made it home, had Andy's welcome home talk and a family lunch afterwards. Andy was settling in and we were enjoying him. But the sore on Butch's foot was bothering him again. He finally went to a doc-in-the-box and they gave him antibiotics but said he needed to go to the his regular doctor first thing on Monday. We should have taken him to the emergency room, but... we didn't. By Monday his foot was swollen huge and discolored and he ended up in the hospital. They started him on IV antibiotics but the infection had gotten into some bones on the top of his foot. So he had to have surgery to remove the infected bone. The infection was also in his bloodstream so they started him on really strong antibiotics that made him so sick. He was in the hospital for 11 days and left with stitches on the top and bottom of his right foot. About a week later he started having an irregular heartbeat. By the time I got home from work he had called his doctor who had set up an appointment with a cardiologist on Friday (this was Weds). I listened to his heart and knew we couldn't wait that long. So we loaded him into the car and took him back to the hospital. He was only there for 3 days this time.

At the end of March Andy and Clay drove out to Rexburg for Andy to start school in April (Clay flew home). Then in April a tornado went through our neighborhood (missing us by about a hundred yards). Power was out for over a week. And during this time - Butch had to go back to the hospital to have a procedure done to regulate his heart rate without medication (didn't work - still has to take the medication). I didn't expect to have to spend the night at the hospital but after the procedure (which never got done until 5:00 that night) he had to lay flat on his back for a certain number of hours so I had to stay with him. That meant that Emily and Clay were alone in our dark house in our tornado ravaged neighborhood (and most of the neighbors were staying elsewhere). It was a difficult night but they made it and we got Butch home - again. Finally in the middle of May - after over 10 weeks out of work - Butch was released by his doctor and went back to work.

The day before he started back to work Emily was driving home from work on I-459 and was hit by a retread tire that peeled off of a dump truck. Her car was totaled but she wasn't hurt so we were thankful. But now down a car (again). The trucking company's insurance provided a rental car for a few days and paid her a good price for the car so she's now in a new car (and unfortunately also has a car payment). But things seem to be looking up around here.

And through all the dark days, the worry about Butch's health and finances and car problems, I had a peace that everything would be okay - one way or the other. I am thankful for my faith in the Lord and my knowledge that He hears and answers my prayers. I'm thankful for family and friends who rallied around us. I'm really glad it's over (for now) but I'm left with a renewed gratitude for all I have.

Now, back to writing!!! I'm working on a Haggerty-related book, similar to the Kennedy Killingsworth books that take place in another neighboring town - Booneville. I hope to have it turned in before school starts so that it might be released in the spring of 2015. I will keep you posted on that! And I'll try not to let 6 months pass before I blog again!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

And as we move on into November...

And the winner of the October Book Giveaway is…..

*********Stephanie Bladen********

Congratulations, Stephanie, and thanks to everyone who commented on my blog. Now on to my November Book Giveaway!!!! Keep those comments coming!!!

Announcing a new grandson –
Ranchel Robert Farrer joined our family early on Sunday morning. Mom and baby are both doing fine. Welcome Ranchel!!!!!

Recipe of the week - Kissin’ Cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour                     1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt                                              ½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar                               ½ cup Crisco
½ cup butter (softened)             ½ cup smooth peanutbutter
2 TBSP milk                                         1 egg
1 tsp vanilla                                          Hershey Kisses (unwrapped)

Cream butter, Crisco, and peanutbutter. Add sugars. Add vanilla, salt, and egg. Dissolve soda in milk and add. Add flour and mix until blended. Roll into small balls. Preheat oven to 350. Place cookie balls on slightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. As soon as you remove cookies from oven press a Hershey Kiss into the middle of each cookie. Allow them to cool before serving.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Costumes, Candy, and Terror - what could be better????

Spooky Days Gone By…
So Halloween is this week and I've been kind of nostalgic. Some people get really into the holiday. I don’t have time, energy, or money to go all out, but in spite of it's negative origin – I really have always liked Halloween. It’s the first holiday in the holiday season – so I’m sure that accounts for part of why I enjoyed it as a kid. Thanksgiving was a lame holiday to me (I know I was a shallow child!). I didn’t love to eat turkey, the Pilgrims and Indians were okay but all that talk of how thankful we were for everything got old fast. Christmas was, obviously, the crowning glory of all holidays – but then you got gifts from your family – people who loved you. There was something magical about Halloween – a night when everyone was your friend. Each house was approachable – and profitable – even if you didn’t know who lived there. And there’s just something about dressing up that appeals to kids of all ages. So we would come home from school, dress up, and bide our time anxiously until the sun set and it could be technically considered ‘night’. Then my parents would turn us (along with a hundred other kids) loose on the neighborhood.  Wearing a costume gave us anonymity and courage. We knocked on doors, smiling adults answered, and they gave us candy. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of! I have been trying to remember for a week now a single costume that I wore as a child and I can’t. It seems like that would have been important – but I guess it wasn’t. I do remember that feeling of the world being my oyster as we began our walk around the neighborhood. There were so many houses, so many happy people anxious to greet us, so much candy to collect. We were fresh and energetic and dreaming of the pounds of candy we would eventually take home. The first phase was so fun, running from house to house – laughing and breathless. Then our bags started to get heavy and we started to get tired. But we persevered! So much candy, so little time. Finally we would find ourselves on the far end of the neighborhood. It was seriously dark. It was cold. Our feet hurt. Our bags were really heavy. Our costumes were awry. The houses between us and home no longer seemed like opportunities – they were obstacles. We just wanted to be in our warm living room where we could admire our spoils. So we started trudging home, not even stopping at the houses that earlier had seemed so appealing. It took forever, dragging our bags full of candy and sometimes carrying a younger sibling who just couldn’t make it without help. But when home finally came into sight – with lights shining brightly from the windows – we got a little second wind and ran. We were welcomed back like conquering heroes. Costumes were semi-discarded by the door and we each staked out a part of the living room to dump out our bags. One year there was a minor tragedy – we realized, too late, that my brother’s bag had developed a hole and most of his candy had fallen out during the walk home. But that was easily solved. The rest of us divided out a part of our candy and gave it to him. His tears dried up, his grief was gone. We separated the night's treasure into good candy, okay candy, and the candy nobody wanted. My dad would always ask for candy from the reject piles – claiming he liked it. I thought that was amazingly convenient since we didn’t want it and it was therefore easy to share (hard candy, those orange and black chewy toffee things). Now I realize he chose from that pile so we could keep the good stuff. We would trade and bargain and eat as much as our mom would allow. Then finally it was time for baths and tooth-brushing and bed. There was a little sadness that it was all over, but we were so tired and we had a lot of candy and there was always next year. As I drifted off to sleep I’d remember all those houses we left un-trickortreated and vow that next year we would get to them all! Happy Halloween to Curt and Julie and James and Amanda – my trickortreating buddies! Special memories with some really special people!

Book Giveaway
Thursday is the last day to comment to win my book giveaway for this month!

Recipe of the Week
This recipe is one of my favorites. I made some this weekend and it was delicious – nice and warm and filling and easy to heat up a bowl at a time on a busy weekend. So if you’re looking for an easy dinner this Halloween (and you’re tired of chili already!!!) here’s a suggestion:

Potato Soup
8 medium to large Idaho potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 cans chicken broth
1 can Cream of Onion soup
1 can Cream of Celery soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 pint half and half
8 oz. Pepper Jack cheese (grated)

In a large pot, cook potatoes in chicken broth on medium heat until just barely tender (about 15 minutes). Reduce heat and add cheese (stir regularly to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot). Add other ingredients and stir well. Continue to cook for just a few minutes until warmed through. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve it a bowl at a time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Where did October go????

The Week in Review – More or Less -
The man at the end of our street puts out so many Christmas decorations it’s spectacular (or a spectacle – opinions vary). I drove past his house last week and saw him getting it all set up (he won’t turn the lights on until after Halloween at least – but it takes him this long to get it all set up – seriously). It seems like just a couple of months ago he was taking it down! Seeing him with all that stuff gave me a moment of panic. This year will be over before we know it!

SO I had an interesting week. On Monday I broke a tooth so on Tuesday I had to go to the dentist. I expected bad news – root canal, crown, dentures . . . but he was able to fill in it instead so I was grateful. On Tuesday night Clay had youth baptisms at the temple and Jamie and Paris wanted to go to the 8:00 session. So I picked Clay up after football practice and ran him by the house to shower and change then we drove to the temple in Gardendale (about 30 minutes away). He was late but not too bad. Then Jamie and Paris brought the boys to me and we rode back home. It was a lot of driving around but we got everything done! And I got some time with two handsome gentlemen. I taught seminary on Wednesday night and Thursday morning which always gives me such an appreciation for our wonderful seminary teacher and these great kids (about 24 in our ward this year) who get up very early every morning and drive to the church to have some spiritual time before school! Then on Friday night we went to the Alabama Birmingham Mission Home where Butch was set apart as a counselor in the Mission Presidency. We are so excited and mildly terrified (me) about this new opportunity. I know that if I am going to talk the talk I’ll have to walk the walk so I’ll apologize in advance to any of my friends from other faiths who may not have any interest in learning more about my religion – because you’re probably going to!!!! After Butch and the other counselor were set apart we went out to dinner with Pres. and Sister Hanks (fabulous people). On Saturday Clay had a service project at the temple planting flowers while us girls attended a baby shower for Brittany that was so nice. Then Abbie and Andie and Avery and Banx and Thad came over to the house and made Halloween cookies (Brittany was of great assistance here). Then the kids watched a movie and ate popcorn while the adults watched ballgames. It was fun and crazy. The boys spent the night but the girls had to go back to Mississippi because they had their primary program yesterday. Anyway, on Sunday the missionaries were coming over to eat dinner right after church. I had been warned that the new sister had to have gluten free foods (no flour/wheat). So I planned my menu carefully. I found a recipe for chicken covered with breadcrumbs that could be adapted by putting only Italian seasoning on hers. It also had Parmesan cheese and sounded good. I made rice and green beans. I did make rolls but I was sure she was used to just passing on those. Then for dessert I made four-layer delight but did one in a separate little bowl with no crust. I thought that I was so prepared. Then I burned the rolls. They were almost done – almost perfect – but I decided to turn on the broiler for just a minute to get them a little more golden brown. I got them charcoal black – just on top. We ate them but they had that kind of campfire taste. Then I overflowed the rice. I have made rice a million times but for some reason I forgot to turn it down once it got to a boil and had rice water all over my stove. Worse, I had to estimate how much water to replace in the pan so the rice would cook properly (I guessed a LOT and that worked out okay). Then I splattered Crystal Lite on myself while I was mixing it up (the powder just jumped out of the pitcher when I added the water – it’s never happened to me before). But finally I had them all settled around the table. Then I found out that the new sister is not only on a gluten free diet - she's dairy-free TOO!!! That means no eggs, no butter, no milk, no crust-less four layer delight. She had to scrape the cheese off her chicken breast. She could eat the rice and green beans. I gave her a sugar-free Jello cup for dessert. She kept apologizing for being so much trouble and assuring me that she would just eat what she could and it would be fine but I wanted to cry. I felt like I fed her a lousy meal. You can be sure I’ll be better prepared next time!!!

“So You Think You Want to Write a Book???” Tip for the week
The Importance of Editing – It’s hard not to take it personal when someone changes or corrects your work. I remember when Covenant first accepted Hearts in Hiding I thought that the editing process meant that they were just going to add commas. I was wrong. An editor will (hopefully) catch all the grammatical mistakes but may also request changes in wording, content, even character names. An example is when I wrote Murder by the Book I had a couple of lines (referring to Kennedy’s ex-husband) that said basically, “At that point my marriage was over. I might have been able to get past Cade’s infidelity but knowing my sisters had seen him naked, well, that was just too much.”  Covenant didn’t want me to use the word ‘naked’. That seemed a little strict to me but it was pointed out to me that it only takes one parent – who buys my book for their twelve year old daughter – and then objects to Deseret Book or Seagull about the word and the bookstores might decide not to stock my book. And maybe not to buy my next one. So, it was changed to something like “knowing that my sisters had seen my husband with another woman”. I didn’t like it as well, but I accepted that my editor knew best.

And editing doesn’t begin after you turn your book over to a publisher. You will be the first editor of your book. Self-editing is the most pleasant part of writing to me. Once I have the basic story in the computer and I can just go back and fix things – that’s fun. But when you’re sure that you have it the way you want it – now it’s time to share it with someone else (or several other people). It’s hard to share your work with others – especially your first book – but you need fresh eyes for a fresh perspective. You know your characters, you know why they do what they do, why they say what they say – so you might not realize that your words are not conveying all this to the reader. A volunteer editor can help you correct this. Choose someone you trust but I don’t necessarily recommend your spouse at this point. You want a volunteer editor that can give you an honest opinion without damaging your relationship. If you don’t think you can take criticism well from your family or friends – hire someone. There are many editors who charge a minimal fee to read a manuscript and while it still might not be fun to read their criticism – it might be easier. I have my daughters critique my manuscripts. They give me enough encouragement to keep me from hitting the delete button but are honest too. Of course you want to hear your book is perfect – but you know it’s not, so be glad for constructive criticism wherever you get it. And remember that just because some things need to be changed doesn’t mean the book/concept is bad. I have a student who showed me a rough draft of a paper he had written. His teacher had corrected mistakes and there were a lot of them. He was discouraged by this and pointed to the top of the paper where the teacher had written “Good Job!” He said, "Why did she say it’s a good job if it’s all wrong?” I knew exactly how he felt and tried to explain that she liked the paper, she just wanted a few improvements. I’m not sure he bought it.  But it’s true. A written work can be good AND wrong! Content vs grammatical correctness. Both are important. I had this conversation with my high school English teacher who consistently gave me low grades for mechanics and high grades for content. The two were averaged for a very unimpressive composite grade and I was frustrated because to me the content was more important than the grammar. But she insisted that the bad mechanics reduced the quality of my work and so the mediocre grade was just. I didn’t agree with her then, but I do now. You can’t send a manuscript to a publisher that is a mess. The harder it is to read – the less likely it is that anyone will read it.

Feeding the Missionaries Fiasco Recipes –

Italian Cheese Chicken for Missionaries (made one without breadcrumbs)

6 large chicken breasts – cut in half lengthwise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp pepper
6 slices of Swiss cheese – cut in half
3 TBSPs olive oil
2 eggs – beaten well

Pre-heat your oven to 350*. Put eggs in a bowl. In another bowl combine these ingredients and mix well:
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup baking sherry (mix with broth)

Put olive oil in a large nonstick flying pan on medium heat.  Dip each breast in egg and then the breadcrumb mixture until well coated. Then put them in the frying pan. Brown on both sides then place in a 13" x 9" baking dish.  Add 1/2 slice of Swiss cheese to the top of each chicken breast, and pour broth/cooking sherry mixture around the chicken. (If you prefer not to use cooking sherry use a cup of broth) Cover tightly with foil and bake for an hour. Serve with rice.

Note – I had three breasts left over and people coming over for dinner so I cut up the chicken, made another batch of rice and mixed it together with a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. I put it in a casserole dish and topped it with some of the breadcrumbs and more Parmesan cheese and I liked it better than the original recipe!!!

Four-Layer Delight

1 ½ cups flour                          1 large Cool Whip
1 stick butter                            1 large Chocolate Instant Pudding
8 oz. cream cheese                   ½ cup powdered sugar
3 cups milk                               1 Hershey bar

Preheat oven to 300. Melt butter in the microwave and pour it into a large casserole dish. Add flour and mix. Press to the bottom of the pan to form a crust (you may have to add a little more flour to get a dry, crust-like texture). Bake for 10 minutes and cool. Mix softened cream cheese with powdered sugar and 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over crust. Mix pudding according to package directions. Pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to get a firm set. Then top with remaining Cool Whip. Grate Hershey bar on top and serve.

Don't forget to COMMENT on any October blog post for a chance to win the Thanksgiving book giveaway!!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

It will be Halloween before we know it!!!

First apologize for last week. I didn’t remember that I forgot to blog until Thursday and by then I figured it was too late!!!

So You Think You Want to Write a Book???
Creating compelling, realistic main characters
A fatal flaw is a weakness or negative personality trait that leads the character to behave in a certain way – and thereby play into the author’s plot. “Fatal” may not necessary mean deadly. It refers more to fate. It is a trait that the character is helpless to control (and may not even be aware of). It might be something terrible – like jealousy that leads to murder. Or it might be something small like curiosity or a tendency to be late. You will probably give all your characters a flaw or two – since perfection is unnatural and boring. And not all main characters have a fatal flaw – but it helps to add interest if either your hero or villain has one. It makes the story seem personal to them. The flaw may be overcome during the course of the book. Or maybe the main character just discovers the flaw. Maybe they learn to cope or work around the flaw. It is very amateurish to describe a character in detail and then use NONE of those traits in the storyline. Try not to tell too many things about your characters at once. Even introducing too many characters at once is confusing to the reader. Giving detailed descriptions of each one might run the reader away completely.

October Book Giveaway
Remember to comment on any October post for a chance to win this month’s book giveaway (which includes a couple of Thanksgiving items)

What are the chances?
One of my craziest life experiences happened when I was 19 years old (and I should have realized that it was just the first of many such things to come!!) My future husband had just left on his mission and I was working at the Wheeler Basin Regional Library. A friend, Teresa, also worked at the Library and I picked her up. It had been raining hard for days so there was water everywhere. At a stop sign near Teresa’s house the car behind me had wet brakes and therefore – ran straight into the back of my car. This was long before cell phones so we had to walk up to a nearby house and ask them to call the police to report the accident. Then I decided to walk the block or so to Teresa’s house to let her know I’d be delayed. I got out my umbrella and walked along the street. After giving Teresa the bad news, I headed back to my car. To save time, I decided to cut across a lawn even though it was covered with spots of standing water. My shoes were ruined anyway and I wanted to get back before the police arrived. So I started across the lawn and completely forgot about the drainage ditches that ran along the side of the road. So when I stepped into what I thought was just a wide puddle, I actually stepped into a drainage ditch. So there I was standing up to my chest in water – still holding my umbrella. And if that wasn’t crazy enough – the woman who lived in the house opened her door and hollered, “Honey, that’s a ditch!” Wow. Helpful information.

Recipe of the Week

Butterfinger Cheesecake

3 packages cream cheese                     ¼ cup sugar
3 eggs                                                  1 tsp vanilla
½ cup mini chocolate chips                   3 TBSPs whipping cream
½ cup brown sugar                               4 Butterfinger bars, crushed
½ cup smooth peanutbutter                   2 ready-made chocolate cookie crusts

Preheat oven to 450. Beat cream cheese, peanutbutter, and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Stir in crushed Butterfingers. Divide mixture between the two crusts and bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce oven temperature to 250 and continue baking for an additional 25 minutes. Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

Topping – melt mini chocolate chips, stir in whipping cream. Spread over cooled pies.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

And the winner of the September Give-Away is.....

Michelle Whaley!!!!! Congratulations!!!! Please send your mailing address to and I will get your Halloween gift box - that includes a free book - in the mail!!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome Fall!!!!

So you think you want to write a book – Creating a Villain  
This is actually harder than it sounds. Unless you are writing about a sociopath (contrary to what you see on TV – there really isn’t one living on every block in America) your ‘bad guy’ has to have a reasonable explanation for doing something unreasonable (murder or another felony). Normal people just don’t kill (or rob or burn buildings down). So if you are going to have your villain do one of those things (or something similar) you’ve got to create a scenario that is believable. All fiction readers agree to suspend reality to a certain extent – but you’d be surprised how little suspension they will actually give you. So make it realistic. Also, I hate it when I get to the end of a book and the villain is some barely mentioned character that no one would ever suspect. I feel cheated and resentful that I’ve spent so much time reading a book that I had no chance of figuring out. So if you want me to read your book (and not get mad at you) your villain has to be introduced to the reader in such a way that when they later realize he (she) is the bad guy they aren’t surprised. But the villain can’t be obvious or there is no suspense in your novel. There are several ways to cloak the villain. One is to make them seem suspicious at the beginning and then explain away the suspicion so that the reader forgets about them (or at least about their suspicions). Then when the ‘reveal’ takes place the reader has one of those V-8 hit-themselves-in-the-head moments, thinking ‘Of Course!’. You can also make your villain seem so sweet that no one suspects them or so awful that they look too obvious. You can have multiple villains so that there is no one guilty party. Or you can really have the ‘murder’ explained away at the end so there is no villain. If you use one of these ‘tricks’ you’d better have a really good plot or readers are not going to like it. Or you can let the reader know from the beginning who the villain is and it’s up to the characters in your book to prove it. Another tricky way to introduce a villain is to lead the reader to believe that one person is the villain and one is the victim and in the end reverse the roles. I cannot recommend the book I am about to site because it has objectionable content, but “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn is an example of this last technique.

Recipe of the Week –
Chicken Enchiladas

10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese ( I like the Kraft Tex Mex)
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and chilies. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake 25 min.

September Book Give-Away –
We will draw the winner in the morning to give people a chance to post a comment through tonight. Then tomorrow will start the drawing for the October Thanksgiving Gift Box – which also includes a book!!! So keep commenting! And remember that there is a delay between when you post and when it shows up on my blog – so don’t worry if you don’t see it immediately. If it still doesn’t appear after a day email me at and I’ll enter your name in the drawing.