First Tuesday Recipes and a New Release!

Contrary to what the thermometer is telling us today in South Jersey, it’s still winter out there. With that in mind, I’ve got three comforting winter dishes for you this month. And in keeping with my New Year’s resolution to have more plant-based meals in 2020, the recipes I’m sharing are vegetarian.

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Barley Vegetable Soup

2 T. olive oil

1 med. onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, diced

1 stalk celery, sliced thinly

1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 c. pearled barley

1/2 t. each dried basil, oregano, and thyme

6 c. vegetable broth

1 potato (I use white, but you can use sweet), diced into bite-sized pieces

1/2 c. frozen green beans

1/2 c. canned corn

1/2 c. frozen peas

salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add carrots, celery, tomatoes, barley, basil, oregano, thyme, and broth to the stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once barley is softened, add potato. Simmer for 10 more minutes, or until potato is tender. If using sweet potato, you will probably need to simmer for longer.

Add green beans, corn, and peas; stir to combine and heat for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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 Veggie Frittata

2 1/2 c. broccoli florets, trimmed to bite-sized pieces if necessary

1/4 c. roasted red peppers, cut into small strips and patted dry

1/4 c. artichoke hearts, chopped and patted dry

8 eggs

1/4 c. 2% milk

2 t. Dijon mustard

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

1/2 c. grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Place broccoli florets in a steamer basket over the water and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover; steam 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain broccoli and pat dry.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, pepper, and cheese until blended. Add red pepper strips and artichoke hearts. Mix well.

Spray an ovenproof nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until hot. Pour egg mixture into the skillet and heat over medium-low heat until edges are set, about 5 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are set and no visible liquid eggs remain, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.

This is really good with salsa.

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Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

(I have shared a Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta before—here—but this one is different and just as good)

1 1/2 t. unflavored gelatin

1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. water

1 c. milk

1/3 c. sugar

1 c. buttermilk

1 c. whole milk Greek yogurt

honey for drizzling

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring milk and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about a minute. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until it is dissolved. Occasionally I have to put the saucepan back on a low burner, stirring constantly, in order to dissolve the gelatin.

In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk and the yogurt. Whisk in the warm milk mixture until smooth. Pour mixture into 6 (4 oz.) ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 3-4 hours. To serve, drizzle with honey.

Enjoy!

Remember, you’re invited to to submit recipes for my First Tuesday posts! Email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com.

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And don’t forget that today is Release Day for Be My Valencrime! Click here to order your copy today! Many thanks to everyone who has already ordered the paperback and preordered the ebook! ❤

Until next time,

Amy

 

Guest Blog: Robert Germaux

Today on Reade and Write I have a special guest: author Robert Germaux, who is celebrating the release of his new book, More Grammar Sex, by sharing some essays from the book (I’m told the book is not about sex!). He’s also offering free review copies to anyone interested in reading and (hopefully) reviewing his book. Take it away, Bob!

Robins and Me: The Never-Ending Story by Author Robert Germaux

My wife and I moved into our new home in a suburb of Pittsburgh in June of 1994, and early on we were delighted to see that there was a robin’s nest sitting atop one of the pillars supporting our deck. I thought it was kind of cool having some avian neighbors. Every day I’d go out and kneel down to peer through the wooden slats to keep track of the three light blue eggs that eventually appeared. Cynthia grew up in Kutztown, a semi-rural community in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, so she saw animals on a fairly regular basis. I, on the other hand, was a city boy through and through, so this was my first up-close-and-personal exposure to actual wildlife, unless you count all the episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom that I watched, which you probably don’t. Anyway, I was pretty excited about my new flock of little friends. And I was especially thrilled the day I saw that the babies were beginning to emerge. Soon after that, we had a nest full of miniature robins, constantly craning their necks up as mom and dad arrived with their daily meals of worms, insects and the occasional berry. It was as though I was tuning in to my own personal episode of Wild Kingdom every day. I even named the robins. Since I had no idea how to determine the gender of a bird, I just went with Harry, Tina and Elliott. Cute, huh?

And then the little suckers learned to fly.

Apparently, newly-fledged robins can’t fly very far, just about five feet, which turns out to be the exact distance from their nest to the top of the railing on our deck. For the next couple of weeks, the three little robins spent most of their time perched on that railing, doing what came naturally after a hefty meal of worms and whatnot. In short, my cute little birdies had been transformed into big-time poop-producing machines, and our beautiful new deck soon became almost unusable. You for sure weren’t going to lean on that railing and admire the sunset.

Let’s back up here a minute. Birds relieve themselves on the windshield of our car all the time, but that’s different. That’s out on the highways and byways, but our deck? I mean, I don’t have to take this crap from no robin. As the guys in the NBA say about opposing teams coming in to try to beat them in their arena, not in my house.

There wasn’t much I could do that first summer. Cynthia and I just had to live with it, spending a lot of time hosing off our deck any time we wanted to enjoy a meal out there. But the following year, I was ready. As soon as I saw the beginnings of a nest, I immediately knocked it off its perch with an old broom handle. My reasoning was that the robins would simply build the nest elsewhere, but I underestimated their affinity for our deck, or their persistence, or their stubbornness, or whatever. Who knows what goes on inside those tiny brains? Instead of building elsewhere, they kept trying to build in the same old location. As soon as I’d knock one nest down, another one would appear.

Apparently, robins can build nests, like, really fast. (When I mentioned this to a friend of mine who was a science teacher, Jack said, “They’re birds, Bob. What else do they have to do?”) The only adjustment they made was to shift to one of the other open spaces right beneath our deck. There were a total of five places suitable for nest-building, and one morning when I checked, there were the beginnings of four new nests. That’s when it got personal. It was time to bring out the big guns. Well, the big jugs of water. A colleague of mine at work had suggested I fill those spaces with containers of water. I discovered that the gallon size did a nice job of blocking access to the areas, and just like that, problem solved.

As I write this, it’s late March, and many years have passed since that summer of ’94. The cast of characters has changed considerably. Obviously, I’m the sole remaining combatant from that initial skirmish, but each spring brings a new flock of potential poop machines, many, if not most, probably descendants of that first wave over two decades ago. There’s a part of me that admires their determination, but there’s a larger part of me that doesn’t want bird crap all over our deck. So I am ever vigilant. Right now, I’m looking out at a small gathering of robins in our back yard. To the untrained eye, they might appear to be simply hopping around out there, but I know better. Slowly but surely, the red-breasted beasts are edging closer to our house, and one of them in particular is definitely eye-balling the deck.

He looks a lot like Elliott.

 

ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX

Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, to almost anything about distant and exotic places. I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, but the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English.

I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, my wife Cynthia’s idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including “Hard Court” and the recently released “In the Eye.” I also wrote “Small Talk” and “One by One,” both featuring Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes.

Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write “The Backup Husband,” the plotline of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game.

I then tried my hand at writing humorous essays, which resulted in “Grammar Sex (and other stuff)” and its sequel, “More Grammar Sex.” Coming soon is “Small Bytes,” the first Jeremy Barnes novel, to be followed by two other JB mysteries, “Leaving the LAW” and “Speak Softly.”

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me via my website roberttgermaux.wordpress.com or his Amazon Author Page.

Thanks so much for being here today, Bob. I, for one, would love to review your new book. Let me know if you’re interested, and readers, I hope you’ll consider reading and reviewing Bob’s new book, too. Let him know in the comments.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Carolyn Ridder Aspenson to the hot seat. She’s here to talk about her newest release, Get Up and Ghost. Welcome, Carolyn!

Tell me about your new book.

I just published the first book in a new paranormal cozy mystery series. Get Up and Ghost is a psychic medium mystery about a woman who works for the historical society in a small North Georgia town called Castleberry. She falls down the last part of the stairs at work, bumps her head and suddenly starts seeing ghosts. She doesn’t realize it at first, but it becomes fairly obvious quickly. When a local resident is murdered, and she’s the last one to see him alive, she’s determined to prove her innocence, with the help of a long-dead woman from the town, who’s also in need of her help.

 

Who is the audience for the book?

This is a cozy, so it’s clean — no sex, no swearing, no death on the page. The main character is a mother in her mid-forties and recently divorced, with two senior aged friends and a younger coworker, so I feel like I’ve hit a lot of the variants for different types of women.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I live in the southern part of North Georgia, and I know this area well. The town is fictional, but I modeled it after a few local towns nearby to give it a traditional small town, North Georgia appeal. Since I’ve lived here for 23 years, I have a fairly decent handle on the area, and have incorporated some of the local flare and stories into this first book, and the second one I’m working on for the series. Each of the ‘haunting’ type stories (the ghosts of time past) will have a bit of truth to them for the area. Well, truth in the sense that it’s a story from here, though I’m not sure the ghosts are actually real. I’ve yet to see any, though I’ve certainly looked!

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Two things tie as the hardest part. First and foremost, I have another mystery series (it’s NOT a cozy by definition at all) with a psychic medium. I needed to make the character unique, and the storyline different. That character does make an appearance though, because she’s from an area close by. I also have another cozy series in a similar area, so I had to keep them different also. They are similar in some ways because there are two older women characters, but they are different types of older characters, and the main character is different. I’m hoping they will all be unique in their own ways.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

Oh gosh. That’s a tough one. I’m still getting to know them all. I do feel like one of the older women is a bit similar to Betty White’s character on “Golden Girls,” but I think Betty’s retired by now! I’d definitely go with a Hallmark actress, because this series has that appeal, other than the paranormal element. I could see Erin Krakow as the lead. I think the two older women would be well played by someone like Sissy Spacek. Wouldn’t that be great to have someone of that caliber in a movie about my book? Gosh, I’d be so excited!

Have you written any other books?

I have, I think, 21 books out now. Some are novellas, but I’ve got about that many published. I’ve got my Angela Panther Mystery series, which is not the cozy mysteries, and then the Lily Sprayberry Realtor Cozy series. I also have a few romances, but those weren’t my thing. I guess I’m not very romantic! I’ve also done a great deal of ghost writing, but those books are all business and nonfiction.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have a partner that I swap books with and we help each other, but other than that, no. I’ve found everyone has their own unique writing style, and I don’t like to infringe on that.

Do you write every day?

Since I’m now completely self-published (I was traditional for a while, but no longer) I consider this a business and treat it as such. I write for about 5 hours a day at this point and handle other business related things for an hour or so also.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

I’m such a book snob! It’s a horrible thing. I grew up reading mysteries from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to more intense thrillers by Jonathan Kellerman and the like. Hands down, my favorite writer is Robert B. Parker. The Spenser series is my favorite series. When Mr. Parker died, I cried. I am also a big fan of Robert Crais, and I love the Elvis Cole books so much.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

Back in time. I’d like to go back fifteen years to when my parents were both here and healthy and spend more time with them.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think the same thing most people would. Write every single day. Learn the craft and do what you can to improve. Hire an editor. Writing a novel isn’t easy and there is a lot to learn to make it something others want to read. Learn that ever-changing element.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I have two. I love “Shawshank Redemption” because the friendship theme is astounding. I recently found out that Mr. King wrote that, (Yes, I live under a rock) and I was shocked! It’s not his typical book at all, but it was so good.

My second favorite is “When Harry Met Sally.” I just loved the concept of that and Billy Crystal? He was the perfect pick for that lead. I loved that story.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Care less about what other people think sooner.

Describe yourself in three words.

Wife. Mother. Friend.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

Nope!

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolynridderaspensonauthor

My website is carolynridderaspenson.com where you can access my newsletter. I send it out once a week.

And I am also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carolynridderaspenson/.

I’m not a Twitter gal. I’m Italian. I need more than a few characters to say my thoughts.

Where can readers find your books?

Right now I’m primarily on Amazon, but Get Up and Ghost is on Kobo, iTunes and Barnes & Noble for a limited time. It just released there today!

The Lily Sprayberry Cozy Mystery Boxed Set (books 1-3) are at books2read.com/u/49oGEX.

Congratulations on your new release! Thanks for visiting. 

Until next time,

Amy

 

It’s a Book Birthday!

Today’s the day! The Worst Noel is out for the whole world to read (and hopefully they will)!

If you subscribe to my (mostly) monthly newsletter, you may remember that I promised a behind-the-scenes look at the book, and I’ve chosen to share a couple things about the book that most people won’t know.

First, the book is dedicated to Nana. I don’t usually explain my dedications unless someone asks, but for this one I’ve decided to tell you a little bit about Nana.

My maternal grandmother, Nana passed away in 2008. She was married for almost 65 years to my grandfather (whom I posted about in 2016–you can read that post here). Christmas was her favorite holiday and so it seemed natural to dedicate this book to her. The angel who sits atop our Christmas tree every year was a gift from Nana, so it’s nice to have a special way to remember her each year during the holiday season.

Some of the recipes I share on my blog and in my newsletter each month have come from Nana, too: I’m thinking specifically of the Lemon Jell-O Cake, but I know there have been more.

Here’s the other thing you need to know about Nana: she’s the one I keep in the front of my mind when I write. I’ve always said that my goal when I write is to publish something that my grandmother and my kids would be proud to read, and I think I’ve done just that. So The Worst Noel is for her.

Another interesting tidbit about The Worst Noel is the character, Noley. I didn’t make up that name–it belongs to someone special.

Often people ask me to donate books for fundraisers and charity events, and I’m always pleased to do so. Every summer my church hosts a big musical event coupled with a silent auction. I’ve donated several books to the silent auction, and for the past few summers I’ve also donated the opportunity to name a character in an upcoming book.

The winner of the book-naming two summers ago was a young lady named Noley, whose last name I will not post here because I forgot to ask her parents for permission (!). Anyway, can you guess the name she chose for the book?

I hope you’ll find an opportunity to read the book, review it, tell your friends about it, tell random strangers about it, take out ads in your local papers singing its praises, etc… You get the idea. 🙂

Here’s the Amazon blurb about The Worst Noel:

Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

As a single mom, small business owner, and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, the last thing she needs is to find a dead body on the floor of her jewelry shop on the busiest shopping day of the year. And as if that isn’t enough, Lilly has to deal with a deadbeat ex-husband, a mother with declining mental health, and two teenagers.

But when a second body turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. Can she figure out who killed the victims before she becomes one herself? And will her family’s Christmas be merry…or scary?

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy, here are the links you’ll need:

Kindlehttps://amzn.to/2ynjiHQ

Nook, Kobo, iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/m2vBEO

Thanks in advance to anyone who has bought the book, reviewed it, or passed along the info about it! You don’t know how much I appreciate it.

Until next time,

Amy

 

It’s Release Day!

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today (2)

House of the Hanging Jade comes out today! I hope you’ll join me in some virtual fresh pineapple and Kona coffee to celebrate its release!

Over the next couple weeks you’ll be hearing from me often, as I update the sites where I have interviews, guest blogs, giveaways, and excerpts. I invite you to take a minute and check out any or all of the blog tour stops- I had a great time with them and I hope you do, too.

Here are today’s appearances and events:

Interview on Island Confidential.

Giveaway on Three Partners in Shopping.

Thanks for taking a look!

Until next time,

Amy