Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Home Again

I was out of town for most of last week, visiting with family.  I did bring a manuscript along that needs to be edited and actually got in a couple of hours of time on it.  But with two grandsons around--ages 4 and 5--plus a family home on a lake to visit, including boat rides, plus a visit to a local arts festival... well, I hadn't anticipated a lot of time to spend on writing, which was a good thing since I didn't.

It was a delightful trip.  Our younger son stayed home with our dogs, so I knew they were in good hands.  And I also got to see my "granddog" so that was enjoyable as well.

But while I was gone I received emails about an upcoming appearance as well as the need to draft a cover blurb and more, and had to wait till my return, when I'd have time to address them.

The appearance?  I'll be talking about writing in multiple genres at the Santa Clarita Romance Writers, a new chapter of the Romance Writers of America, on Saturday, so if you're around be sure to drop in.

And now I'd better dig in to the editing and other things I didn't accomplish this week!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August Marches On

Sunday Ellen and I and two other ladies went to brunch at the Mad Hatters restaurant in Anoka.  It’s in an old mansion (built in 1852), and encourages its patrons to wear hats.  So of course we did.  The rooms are elegant, the food is elegant, four or five kinds of kische, French toast stuffed with pulled pork or two kinds of fruit, eight or ten varieties of tea, sumptuous desserts, all served by pretty waitresses in small, fancy hats and black aprons.  There is a gift shop on the second floor, from which Tanya reported that the hats they sell are beautiful.  Having resolved to buy no more hats (I have fifty!) I resisted the temptation to "just have a look."

Then we drove from there to the State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul where we stood in line in a light rain to turn in our entries in the needlework competition.  I’m pretty sure Tanya will finish in the ribbons, but Becky and I have some hopes, too.  The Fair begins on the 24th; we’re going on the 28th,.   We will find out then if we've won.

Here's a picture of my entry back when it was still in progress:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pulled Pork Sliders

This past week has been a blur of working late and dinner on my own. My husband is moving into new office space and spent several weekday nights prepping and painting the walls. We had dinner to go from Olive Garden Saturday night, with leftovers for Sunday lunch.

August in Florida means the weather has been iffy, with a lot of late-afternoon thunder storms. We haven't had pulled pork sliders in a while, so I thought having a lighter dinner after a big lunch would be good. This goes together fast when you use pulled pork that is already prepared; if you have leftover pork, shred it and heat it up with barbeque sauce. It's delicious either way.

Pulled Pork Sliders

2 4-pack packages of Original Hawaiian sweet rolls, cut in half and toasted
1 1 pound package of pulled pork
1 or 2 slices of Swiss cheese, cut into roll-sized pieces (optional)
Bread and butter pickles, patted dry

Heat pulled pork according to directions (I bought a brand that was fully cooked and just needed re-heating; check package directions to make sure yours doesn't need to be cooked through). Slice rolls in half and toast.

Put a piece or two of Swiss cheese on the bottom roll, add pulled pork, and top with bread and butter pickles. Pop the top roll on, and presto! You've got dinner.

I served them with mini sweet potato puffs, baked in the oven to cook. I put the rolls on the same pan for the last few minutes of their baking time, put the broiler on low, and toasted the rolls that way. I had two sliders (cheese) and my husband had four (no cheese). I've also served these with potato chips and cole slaw.

When the weather is hot and you don't want to heat the kitchen up, pulled pork sliders are an easy dinner to make.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Love, Die, Neighbor Excerpt and Discount Code

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Author's Note: Over the next 14 weeks, I'll be re-launching all the books in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. For two days each week (Wednesday and Thursday),  one at a time in order, each of the books will be only 99 cents. 

This week on Aug. 16 & 17,  Wednesday and Thursday, you can buy Love, Die, Neighbor: The Prequel to the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series for only 99 cents by going here: 

The book is also available in paper from CreateSpace. You can use this code -- B3J4HBYX -- to get $5 off the print version when you buy it here:

I hope you'll take advance of the opportunity to own all the books in my series at a remarkably discounted price. In fact, I hope you'll buy a copy for a friend, or at least share this information.

And to get you started, here's an excerpt from Love, Die, Neighbor.

Love, Die, Neighbor: 
The Prequel in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series


My life in crime began with a good deed.

You see, I dialed 911 after a neighbor took a tumble off his racing bike. Under the right circumstances, contacting the emergency dispatcher would have been a normal response to Sven Nordstrom’s cry for help.

But Sven’s accident didn’t happen under normal circumstances. It happened after a series of nasty interactions between our family, the Lowensteins, and his, the Nordstroms. There was definitely bad blood between us.

When Sven took that fatal fall, my behavior as a concerned citizen linked me to his death in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine. Rather than prove my good intentions, my call to the authorities looked suspicious. The ugly finger of blame pointed my way.

That’s how I, Kiki Lowenstein, became involved in a murder investigation.


My husband, George, and I took possession of our new house the minute it was habitable, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. We literally walked in as the construction crew walked out. We were that eager to get settled. The technical term for this is “beneficial occupancy,” but in retrospect, it should have been called a “big mistake.”

We should have waited another week and allowed a cleaning crew to thoroughly vacuum, dust, and scrub all the surfaces. But after six months in a cramped extended-stay hotel, the three of us were desperate to get out of each other’s way. This house would actually allow us to go for weeks without bumping into each other. But first, we’d need to get settled in.

The interior of the four-thousand-square-foot building looked like the aftermath of a natural disaster. Sawdust thickened every surface. Loose nails and screws had been scattered everywhere. Drywall dust covered all the woodwork. Dirty footprints marred the tile floors. The wooden floors looked dull, thanks to a film of ground-in dirt. Stray pieces of lumber rested precariously against the banisters and walls.

In the midst of all that mess sat enough boxes to fill an entire moving van. All our worldly belongings had been packed in cardboard containers of all sizes. The stacked boxes towered over my head, in many cases giving me a surreal sense of existence. In the dim light, I could imagine visiting Stonehenge, where the stone monuments dotted England’s landscape.

“First on my list is setting up Anya’s playpen,” I told my husband. “Otherwise, I don’t know how I’ll keep her from hurting herself. Especially since she’s walking now. Once that’s done, I can dig in and try to sort out this mess.”

Anya had begun “cruising” at a year old, hanging onto furniture as a way of scooting around a room. Because we’d always lived in cramped quarters, she could toddle from one stationary piece to the next with ease. This new house would offer more of a challenge, thanks to the spacious floor plan. I had a hunch that by the time next summer rolled around with her second birthday, my daughter would be as fast on two feet as an Olympic runner, and every bit as determined. Already she fought me when I tried to put her in her stroller.

“Right,” my husband George said. “Once we get the playpen and the high chair, you can get to work doing your job, and I’ll get back to mine.”

My job. It would feel good to be productive.

George and I had met at my first (and last) frat party at college, where I learned that drinking Purple Passion Punch is the first step on the path to losing your virginity and getting pregnant in one fell swoop. When George found out I was expecting, he immediately offered to marry me. Faced with a lot of bleak choices, I took him up on his offer. Once we’d tied the knot, there was never any question of living anywhere but here — St. Louis ─ George’s hometown.

At the ripe old age of twenty, I’d gone from college sophomore to newlywed, from living in a dorm to a small apartment, here in “the Lou.” The Lowensteins had deep roots here. Their connections allowed George to go into business with an old friend from high school. Together, the men opened a real estate development company.

That partnership allowed us to build this honking big house, a regular McMansion at four thousand square feet on a big lot in Ladue, the swankiest town in the metro-St. Louis area. George acted as our subcontractor, borrowing crews from other jobs. This saved us a lot of money, but it also meant that building our house took longer than expected.

“Just think,” George had said. “This will be the perfect place for Anya to grow up. She’ll have everything her heart desires.”

I had agreed. Our child had definitely been born into a life of privilege.

“Okay!” George rubbed his hands together. “While I’m at work, bringing home the bacon, your job is to get this place cleaned up and make new friends in the neighborhood.”

~To Be Continued~

REMEMBER...the sale prices are good for two days only! Aug. 16 & 17, Wednesday and Thursday.  Buy your digital copy here:   Or your discounted paper copy by using this code -- B3J4HBYX -- to get $5 off the print version when you buy it here:

NEXT WEEK: I'll share an excerpt from Paper, Scissors, Death: Book #1 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. This book was an Agatha Award Finalist. It will be on sale for two days, and I'll share the links with you.