We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into March (how did it get to be March already?!) with a smile.

The story I have chosen for this month combines two of my greatest loves–dogs and reading–and it sets forth a fantastic idea for getting kids to read. I think you’ll like it.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

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Guest Blogger John Lindermuth

Today I’m happy to welcome author John Lindermuth back to Reade and Write.

This is John’s third visit to Reade and Write. You may recall back in August, 2017, he was here to talk about his book The Tithing Herd  and back in August, 2016, I interviewed him about his books Something So Divine and Shares the Darkness. You can click on the titles of the books to read the posts.

Today John is here to celebrate the February 27th release of his latest novel, In Silence Sealed. This is the 8th mystery in the Sticks Hetrick series and I’m happy that John can be here to tell us a little about it.

Take it away, John!


“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.

Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”

Those lyrics from the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune illustrate what Lydia Brubaker, daughter of Swatara Creek’s police chief, is feeling as she begins a romantic relationship with Jason Russell in In Silence Sealed, eighth in my Sticks Hetrick crime series.

They met and began seeing one another after she handled sale of a farm property to Clay Stoneroad, Jason’s stepfather, a famous writer. Lydia is soon dismayed to discover she really doesn’t know Jason at all. He’s handsome and charming–all the things she thinks she wants from a man. But Jason has a habit of stretching the truth, and he’s proving to be a leech.

In fact, the entire Stoneroad household is acting a bit strange. Clay is seeing stalkers he later claims exist only in his imagination. A newcomer to town insists his secretary is her missing sister, which the secretary denies. And a reporter for a sleazy tabloid is trying to blackmail the family.

Lydia’s world comes crashing down when Jason is murdered and she becomes the prime suspect.

The idea for this story began as I considered how much a person can really know about another person. Our perception is based on our senses, what we observe about the person, which may be influenced by what they “allow” us to see. Our knowledge of others is based to a large degree on trust, and that makes for a great deal of vulnerability.

In the case of the Stoneroad family, everyone is keeping secrets. And that increases the difficulty for Daniel ‘Sticks” Hetrick to figure out who actually murdered Jason Russell.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“My dad would have a fit if he knew I came here,” Lydia Brubaker said.

Jason grinned. “What’s wrong with Vinnie’s? I kind of like the place, considering it’s where we spend most of our time.”

Lydia felt his hand on her thigh beneath the table. She leaned forward. “It has a reputation.”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“It is when it comes to my dad.”

Jason gave her another of those boyish grins that were among the things she found so enticing about him. “I’ve never dated a cop’s daughter before. Is he strict?”

Dating? Lydia wondered if that was the right word for it. They’d been seeing one another for about two weeks now, meeting in bars here and over in Harrisburg and out at the diner on the highway where she’d always been the one paying for the beers and their food. Making out in their cars. Could any of this be classified as dating? Jason was attractive—well, sexy. No guy had turned her on the way he did in a long while. Still, it was more than a sexual attraction made her want to be with him. She couldn’t explain it, even to herself.

“Lydia?” he said again and she realized he was waiting for an answer to his question.

“He can be,” she said. “Mostly he’s a big pussycat when it comes to me. But there’s a limit to what I can get away with. For instance, being seen in this place.”

Jason laughed. “What’s he gonna do—ground you? You’re an adult, aren’t you?

“Of course. It’s just…”

He leaned closer, his brown eyes peering into hers. “You know, that’s something I don’t understand. You make a pretty good buck, yet you’re still living at home with your parents.”

“This from a guy who still lives with his mother.”

“My case is different. We just moved here. And I don’t have a job.”

His hands were both flat on the table again. Lydia regretted her remark. She reached across and squeezed one of those beautiful hands. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sure you’ll find something soon.

“My parents are pretty cool. They’ve insisted I stay with them and build up a good bank account before I go out on my own. Actually,” Lydia added and felt the heat of a blush she hoped Jason wouldn’t notice in the dim light of the bar, “I think they’re hoping I’ll meet somebody and get married rather than moving into an apartment on my own.”

“I’m sure you’ve already had plenty of offers.” He squeezed her hand back.

Lydia frowned. “None I’ve taken seriously.”

“I’d like to meet your folks.”

“Really? But I’m not supposed to socialize with yours. Like last week when I offered to come out to the farm and pick you up…”

Jason shook his head. “You don’t want to spend time with them. They’re the original odd couple. Besides, I like it better when it’s only the two of us.”

Just then Lydia was jolted forward as someone bumped against the back of her chair. “Hey, watch it!” she shouted, twisting around.

“Sorry, hon,” a seedy looking older man holding two mugs of beers in his hands said in apology. “I don’t think I spilled none on you.” He nodded at the two of them and continued on his way, weaving a staggering path toward another table to the rear.

“Oh, great,” Lydia said. “Now I know we have to get out of here. That guy’s one of the auxiliary cops. If he tells my old man he saw me here I’m toast.”

“Drunk as he is he probably won’t remember where he was by tomorrow,” Jason told her. He glanced at his watch. “It’s early yet. What say we have another beer before we leave?”


Sounds like another good one, John. Thanks so much for coming back to the blog to share your work with us.

Readers, if you’re interested in learning more about In Silence Sealed, you can find and preorder it hereAnd you can check out John Lindermuth’s numerous other works by following him on his Amazon author page. You’ll find the link here.

Until next week,

Amy

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Writers

Valentine’s Day is upon us again. We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day at our house, but we do like to acknowledge it.

For me, that means last-minute scrambling to get my kids something to place next to their plates at dinner (every year, it’s as if Valentine’s Day sneaks up on me. It’s the 14th this year, in case you weren’t aware). We are trying to get away from the habit of buying “stuff,” so gift cards for food and movies are usually the gifts of choice. The kids seem to like those things better than “stuff,” anyway.

My daughter, Carolyn, though, will be receiving a care package of chips and candy. Value of the items: $15. Cost to send it to her in England: $52. I would have sent an electronic gift card if I’d known it would be that expensive.

I realize that lots of people love Valentine’s Day and they like to make a big deal of it. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the writer in your life:

  1. A professional massage. I got one for Christmas (thanks again to you-know-who-you-are) and boy, does it help get out those kinks writers get from spending too many hours hunched over a keyboard.
  2. A gift card to a bookstore. Writers love to read! Most of them would love nothing more than the opportunity to spend an hour browsing through a bookstore. A real bookstore. But for those of you who don’t have a bookstore nearby, a gift card to an online book retailer is just as nice.
  3. A fancy pen. You know, for book signings.
  4. A fancy journal. For all the ideas writers have to write down before they forget.
  5. Time. Do some housework for the writer in your life, or get the car inspected, or whatever you have to do, to give your writer some time alone. And please tell them they can’t spend that time writing. They have to spend it doing something else they love. Like browsing in a bookstore or getting a massage.
  6. A house in the mountains. With a view. (It doesn’t hurt to dream).

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Love it? Hate it? No opinion? How do you plan to celebrate this year?

Until next time,

Amy

The First First Tuesday Recipes!

So my daughter, who is thousands of miles away, is sick. And the Dow fell off a cliff yesterday. And I was nursing a headache. And I forgot to schedule my car’s oil change. And today I have so much to do that I’ll never get it all done.

You know what?

I need food. And not just food–I need to cook.

Cooking is like food for the soul. I find it to be relaxing, meditative, comforting, and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve wanted to share recipes on this blog for a long time, and this year when I realized I needed to do something new, food came to mind (as it always does).

So welcome to the inaugural edition of First Tuesday Recipes. On the first Tuesday of each month, I’ll be sharing some recipes I tried and liked over the past month and I hope you’ll share some, too. You can leave your recipes in the comments, or you’re welcome to email me at amymreadeauthor@gmail.com and I’ll include them the next month’s post.

This month I’ve got a fish entree, a soup, and a salad to share. Another soup recipe comes courtesy of Sharon Aguanno, who tells me it’s one of her favorites.

Fish entree: Pan-Roasted Salmon with Soy-Ginger Glaze

I found this recipe on Foodandwine.com. Click here to visit the page. This is the entree in the photo at the top of the post (now you see why I never became a food stylist).

1/4 c. soy sauce

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 six-ounce salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce and ginger. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat and stir in honey and mustard.

Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle fillets with pepper and put them in the skillet, skin side up. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Turn the salmon over and spoon the ginger-soy glaze on top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

I served this with wilted spinach and Jasmine rice. It was a big hit!

Soup#1: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

I found this on allrecipes.com. You can click here to visit.

1 lb. ground beef

1 med. onion, chopped

1 can (16 oz.) chili beans–do not drain

1 can (15 oz.) shoepeg corn–do not drain

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

2 c. water

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) peeled, diced tomatoes

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles

1 pkg. (1.25 oz.) taco seasoning mix

corn chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Drain and place in the bottom of a greased slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients except corn chips, sour cream, and shredded cheddar, and mix. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Serve with garnishes, if desired.

Soup #2: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Sharon Aguanno found this recipe on allrecipes.com. Click here to visit.

4 c. chicken broth

2 c. water

2 c. boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves, shredded

1 pkg. (4.5 oz.) quick-cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3/4 c. flour

1/2 c. butter

2 c. heavy cream

In a large pot, combine broth, water, and chicken over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice, reserving the seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then stir in contents of seasoning packet until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and, one tablespoon at a time, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture to form a roux. Whisk in the cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and mixture is smooth. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir cream mixture into rice mixture. Cook over medium heat until heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Sharon recommends adding vegetables to this soup, too. This is one I’m going to try before the end of February!

Salad: Rachael Ray’s Asian Charred Broccoli Salad

Thanks to my aunt, I get Rachael Ray’s magazine every month and I have to say I’ve never tried a recipe from that magazine that wasn’t a hit. This one, which I adapted a bit, is quick and easy. You can visit the page here.

3 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. peanut oil

1 1/4 lb. broccoli florets

1 tbsp. ponzu sauce (I used a citrus one I found in the grocery store)

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

cilantro

chopped peanuts

In a wok or large skillet, heat 3 tbsp. oil over high heat. Add broccoli and cook, stirring, until broccoli is crisp-tender and beginning to char, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk ponzu sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and remaining 2 tsp. oil. Toss with broccoli and sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts.

I served this with a lemony breaded cod–another big hit!

I hope you get a chance to try a few of these recipes and that you’ll send in your own suggestions for next month’s First Tuesday Recipes post!

Until next time,

Amy

Casualty of Court by L.S. Fellows

Today I welcome another member of Mystery Authors International, Lynne (L.S.) Fellows, to Reade and Write to talk about her upcoming release, Casualty of Court.

But before we get to that, a couple of housekeeping reminders: first, next week is my inaugural First Tuesday Recipes blog post. Don’t forget to email me at amymreadeauthor@gmail.com by 2/2/18 with any recipe you’d like me to include in the post (and if it’s from the internet, please give me the link, too). And second, The Last Tuesday Book Club is reading The Art Forger for our first discussion on March 27th. I hope you’ll join us! I have finished the book and I loved it.

So back to today’s guest.

A British-born author living in Spain, Lynne Fellows has penned several books, including Lacey’s Law, Magic O’Clock, The Fifth Wheel, and Casualty of Court.

Casualty of Court  follows the characters from The Fifth Wheel, which is a short book that you might want to check out before reading Casualty of Court. According to Lynne, it’s not necessary to read The Fifth Wheel first, but it makes Casualty of Court more fun!

Take it away, Lynne:

Casualty of Court releases on March 21st and follows on from where The Fifth Wheel ended, taking the characters back to Portugal for the trial of Stefan Pereira.

As a frustrated, would-have-loved-to-be a lawyer myself, I couldn’t let him get away with it, could I? That doesn’t happen in my world. I’m a sucker for legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, always rooting for the underdog – assuming he/she is in the right, of course.

The trial story was inevitable, and placing it in my favourite part of the world a foregone conclusion. So, against a backdrop of sunshine and holiday fun, the court case rolls on. Mind games come into play, ratcheting up the tension. But, of course, not everyone is playing fair.

It’s a cosy-style saga with a hint of psychopath, a whiff of Chick-lit, a dalliance with drama, and an air of mystery. In short, I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ writer with a healthy aversion to sitting in any one box or genre.  🙂

The story is told from the viewpoint of four principal characters, each with a stake in the outcome. It mixes the suspense of a court case with their personal stories, showing how they have been influenced by life events such as abandonment, disability, and family responsibilities.

Little did I expect these characters to become as much a part of my life as they have done. I can visualise each of them, I know them so well (cue Elaine Paige & Barbara Dixon). But, it doesn’t end here. I’m already several chapters into a third book and have plans for more. Writing a series is definitely addictive! They’ve got under my skin – I hope readers feel the same way too.

Thank you, Lynne. I think it sounds exciting!

If you’re interested in pre-ordering Casualty of Court, click here. And I would highly encourage you to follow Lynne on Amazon for news about her upcoming releases. You can find Lynne’s author page here.

  

Until next week,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into February with a smile.

The story I have chosen for this month introduces readers to some special people in Wyoming who put themselves at risk to save a herd of elk.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Lynn Hallbrooks, Eric Lahti, Damyanti Biswasand Guilie Castillo.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!