Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Ghost Who Came for Christmas is at Barnes & Noble

BarnesYesterday, The Ghost Who Came for Christmas went live at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes. It also went live at Barnes & Noble, the only problem; it didn’t come up in the search, so I couldn’t share its Barnes & Noble product link with my readers. I actually had some sales on the book over on Barnes & Noble yesterday; how the readers found the book there, I have no idea.

I have the link now, so if you are a Nook reader, you can now find it at Barnes & Noble!

Barnes & Noble

What are you thankful for this year?

jibjabWishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving!

I belong to a local woman’s group—the Woman’s Network Exchange of Arizona. It’s Mission Statement explains its purpose best: To provide a forum wherein women may enter into an exchange of philosophies, with an enlarged and diverse circle of friends and acquaintances, for the purpose of attaining success in business and in life. We also raise money to fund scholarships for local women.

At our last meeting we were urged to write down three things every day that we’re thankful for. I’ve been doing that on my private Facebook page.

To be honest, I’m grateful for many things this year. Since it’s Thanksgiving Day, I’ll mention just a few that I am particularly thankful for this year.

I’m thankful I have two breasts and didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy. Last year at this time I thought I was possibly facing a mastectomy and chemo. As it turned out, I only had a lumpectomy and radiation—no chemo.

I’m thankful my Haunting Danielle series has been so well received by the readers. How lucky am I to be able to make a living doing what I love?

I’m thankful our children are doing so well—and our grandchildren. Our granddaughter started kindergarten this year and she is so happy and thriving. And our grandson, who struggled with speech because of ear issues, is doing so much better now that he has tubes in his ears, and his food allergies seemed to have subsided.

I’m thankful my husband is my best friend. We will be married 40 years this summer—I think it is pretty amazing that I’m not only still in love with him—I genuinely like him.

I’m thankful my mother is still with us. So many of my friends have lost both parents—my husband lost his last parent last year. Mom is in relatively good health, and I am thankful she is able to have a real relationship with her great-grandchildren.

There are so many other things I am grateful for—my sister, family, friends, our home—I feel blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Starring in the JibJab video: Me, my husband, mother, daughter and son–should I tell them they are in the video???)

Careful when stuffing that turkey!

Turkey_002If you’ve already started to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be tempted to stuff your bird with dressing the night before. Even if you put the bird immediately into the refrigerator to keep it until it’s put in the oven on Thanksgiving day, you run a real risk of food poisoning. And seriously, do you really want to make your family sick?

This is the problem—when food reaches a certain temperature, bacteria starts growing. When you shove warm dressing into a cool bird, the dressing’s temperature encourages the bacteria to grow. It’s simply not possible to cool down the dressing quick enough while sitting in the bird. Basically, it’s a nice little incubator to grow bacteria.

Stuff your turkey in the morning, right before you put the bird in the oven. Or, you can do what I do, and skip the stuffing part, to speed up your cooking and prep time, allowing you to spend more time with your family and friends on Thanksgiving day.

But it won’t taste as good, you say. It will if you use my trick.

Prepare your dressing and place in a casserole dish. Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to put it in the oven.

After your turkey is finished roasting, drain off all the juice into a large glass jar. Let the juice sit a moment, so that the fat rises to the top of the jar.

Remove the fat—use a portion of it to make roux for your gravy, and spread a portion of the fat it over your dressing, right before you put it in the oven. I normally poke the dressing with a knife, making holes of sort, so that when I spoon the fat over the dressing, the fat will seep down into the dressing while it cooks. How much to use? That is a personal choice.

Your bird can sit while you prepare your gravy, get the potatoes and other side dishes together, and while your dressing is in the oven. Normally, the dressing will be done by the time you are ready to call everyone to the table. But keep an eye on it; you may need to turn the oven off if it gets too brown on top. I normally bake the dressing at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until piping hot and lightly brown on top.

Enjoy!

Have you thawed your turkey?

MeredithGrandparents_003Thanksgiving is just two days away, and if your turkey is still sitting in the freezer, you may not have enough time to thaw it in the refrigerator—and you really shouldn’t let it sit out at room temperature.

According to the Butterball website, your turkey will need to sit in the refrigerator about one day for every four pounds. This means, if your frozen turkey is over 8 pounds, it won’t be thawed in time for Thanksgiving.

But don’t despair! You still have time to safely thaw your turkey—it is the method we used in our restaurant. Place your turkey—still in the wrapper, unopened—in cold water. The turkey should be completely covered with water. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled. This will take about 30 minutes per pound for the turkey to thaw. Do not use warm or hot water!

Happy cooking!

(Photo: Grandma Hilda and Grandpa Pete Meredith.)

Inspired by Veronica Mars

PhotoFunia-1448075208In March of 2014, I went on a Veronica Mars binge—watching every episode from start to finish, and then I rented the movie, which was released that month. I had never watched Veronica Mars before discovering it on Amazon Prime. It sucked me into the Mars vortex; I couldn’t stop watching.

At the time, I was between manuscripts. I had just committed to writing Sundered Hearts—a book in my Unlocked Hearts Series written under my Anna J. McIntyre pen name. At the time, the idea for Haunting Danielle was rattling around in the back of my head.

Some might see going on a TV binge  a waste of time. But in retrospect, I think it was an excellent writing exercise. After I finished watching, I asked myself, what about the show sucked me in? I wanted to do that with readers. I wanted to give them a series they wanted to keep reading—something they couldn’t put down.

I loved the characters of Veronica Mars—three dimensional with flaws—characters I started out hating and ended up loving.

I’m not saying I’ve managed to pull off what the writers of Veronica Mars accomplished—but they did inspire me when writing my Haunting Danielle Series. I’ve taken their lessons to heart.

So the next time you refuse to change out of your jammies and curl up by the TV or computer monitor to gorge on some series, don’t let anyone tell you you’re wasting your time. You never know what you might be learning.

Happy Birthday to me!

SONY DSCLast year was the biggie—I turned—dare I say it??—60. Yikes! Where did the time go? I tell myself I’m still a kid, because after all, Mom often treats me as one. It used to annoy me, but now it makes me feel younger.

Last year our daughter threw me an amazing surprise party. It wasn’t easy for her to pull it off, considering all that went on last year around the time of my birthday. My mother-in-law, Doris, who lived in the guesthouse on our property, passed away the end of October 2014. That was about the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

We were overwhelmed with  family who showed up in Havasu for her service—Doris would have been so pleased. And we were overwhelmed again, when so many of those same people showed up a second time—in Sacramento at our daughter and son-in-law’s home, for my surprise party. (Overwhelmed in a very good way.)

This year I’ll be celebrating a quieter birthday. We are in a better place this year—health wise. Plus, my Haunting Danielle series is going very well, for which I am grateful. We miss Doris—it has been even harder on Mom, who misses her friend. Last year both the moms lived with us; this year it’s just my mom.

We’re also looking forward to Christmas and spending it with our daughter’s family.

Doubt I will have any birthday cake today—but if I play my cards right, I bet I can talk Don into taking me to Yogurt Paradise.

The Ghost of Valentine Past

HautingDanielle_BOOK7While waiting for The Ghost Who Came for Christmas to go live, I’m already working on the next book in the Haunting Danielle series—The Ghost of Valentine Past. Its release date is Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016—and it is already available for pre-order at Amazon.

I recently discussed on my  Haunting Danielle Facebook page a question I frequently get from readers: Will there be more books in the series?

The answer is yes, providing the three following conditions are met. As I said in the Facebook post, all three conditions must be met.

1. Readers of the series want more books. What would be the point in adding more books if no one wants to read them?

2. I must have fresh new stories to tell. Fortunately, ideas for Danielle and the people of Frederickport keep popping into my head. But if that stops—and my stories are nothing but a rehash of previous stories—then I shouldn’t be writing them anymore. I want the characters and storyline to evolve.

3. I am physically able to author the books. Last year around this time, I decided not to put the book I was working on up for a preorder. The reason—I had no idea if and when I could finish it, because I was facing breast cancer. I am happy to report I am feeling pretty good these days and back to writing fulltime, but I understand we never really know what is around the next corner.

A reason to stay home on Black Friday!

woman holding shopping bagDo you really want to fight the crowds on Black Friday? I have a better idea—stay home and read The Ghost Who Came for Christmas, because that’s its release date!

Yep, the Ghost Who Came for Christmas goes live on November 27, 2015.

But if you have your heart set on getting trampled at the mall, you can pre-order the eBook and when you get back from shopping, you can kick off your shoes and curl up with the book. It’s available at Amazon, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo for pre-order. It will be at Barnes & Noble after November 27, 2015.

Haunting Danielle Paperbacks, a work in progress.

PaperbackI’m hoping to have the first six books of the Haunting Danielle series out in paperback by the end of the year—but I’m not making any promises. So far, the first book in the series, The Ghost of Marlow House, is available in paperback.

Before releasing the paperbacks, the manuscripts are going through another review. I wish I could say I rarely if ever find a mistake when reviewing one of my books—which has already gone through beta readers, an editor and proof readers. But that would be lying. I have come to the conclusion evil gremlins sneak into my manuscripts after they are published and switch words here and there, change a few names, and move commas around. I’m certain that’s what’s going on. I’m doing my best to keep the gremlins AWAY from the paperbacks versions!