Tag Archive for: Chocolate

A smorgasbord of replies

It’s that time of month again when I have no idea what to write or talk about. Instead, I posted a status on my Facebook page seeking help for topic ideas and what you see below is a smorgasbord of replies.

First Mystery
The first mystery book I read was Encyclopedia Brown and I read every book in the series. Believe it or not, I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book. I did read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I enjoyed the television show as well. Reading mysteries is like solving a puzzle and you know how you smile and jump for joy when you place the last piece of puzzle, that’s the joy I have when I figured out the mystery and watch how it all came about.

Why I do what I do?
It all started with my emails to author saying I love their book; thanks for writing it and when’s the next one coming out. The more I read and enjoyed the books, the more these emails went out. One day I read the same book twice and that’s when I decided to write my thoughts and put it online for my enjoyment and as a journal of the books I read. My musing was not a “review” site then, nor is it now. It’s just a short (okay, sometimes it’s longer than I intended) paragraph on what I thought of the book. I also keep a database of ALL the books I read as not all books are mused. In the beginning I gave ratings, but someone commented that my rating wasn’t worthy of what I gave it. Hello…it’s my thoughts and not everyone is going to like a book the same way I do, so I stopped rating books on my blog. Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool and I wanted to share the books that I read with my friends and this was the perfect way to do it.

How did I get a monthly post on the Cozy Chicks?
After reading several of my book musings, I was invited to do a monthly post highlighting the Berkley and other publisher’s books that I’ve read. I had some reservation because I knew that I could not write a “proper, standardized” review, but that was not a concern to them, so after some thoughts, I accepted the role and I do enjoy it because I get to bring books to readers who might not have seen the books listed elsewhere. My first Dru’s Cozy Report was on August 15, 2010 and featured “Death in Show” by Judi McCoy, “Maid of Murder” by Amanda Flower and “Death by Diamonds” by Annette Blair.

How did I come up my monthly feature “A Day In The Life?”
I would post a musing 3-4 times a week on my blog and I recall that I had a vacation planned which I took and while away, there was nothing new on my blog. I’ve learned that if you don’t have fresh content on a daily basis, you can lose readers and since my blog was still in its infancy, I had to come up with something to keep readers interested and coming back and that is when I came up with my feature. I always wanted to know what a protagonist’s day was like and just that snippet gives you some insight into the character and the book. I’m having so much fun reading all that the characters have to say and I hope my readers are too. This is another way of introducing characters and their book that otherwise they might not have known about since there are 1,000+ books published a day in the U.S. and U.K. combined. My first featured post was by Nora McFarland on August 8, 2011.

Several years ago, we went to a chocolate and wine tasting event and it was fun, but the lady who was leading it had me laughing as she kept says cacao and only 70% chocolate will do. I am not a fan of dark chocolate; I prefer milk chocolates. One of my favorite candy bars are Kit Kat, Snickers, and Hershey kisses. It’s no wonder my preferred hot beverage is hot chocolate.

Fangirl moment
One of the best fangirl moments was at my first Malice when I was invited to dinner with the Cozy Chicks and other cozy authors. Talk about going to heaven, I was in my glory or as I often said “I was in my element.”

When was the last time you sought help to jump start a conversation, blog or your work in progress?

Check out dru’s book musing here or on Facebook.

Confessions of a non-chocoholic

Hello. My name is Joelle and I am not addicted to chocolate.

There. I said it. And even as I admit my lukewarm feelings about chocolate, I feel as if I should hang my head in shame. Why? Well, almost all my female friends adore chocolate. They can’t get enough of the stuff. Whether they need comfort, are celebrating a great event, are having a sexy night with their significant other or a ratty robe night in front of the television—chocolate factors into their day.

Me…not so much. That’s not to say I dislike chocolate. I think chocolate is a wonderful thing. Especially dark chocolate. But after one piece, I can push away the box and be satisfied. Something none of my friends understand.

Sigh. I guess it is no surprise that in the chocolate category of life I march to the beat of my own drummer. Heck, that seems to be the case in just about every other avenue of my life. I went to college for musical theater and grad school for opera performance. Being an honors student, I didn’t have to take general education classes at my college. So, my days were filled with music theory, voice lessons, acting classes and dance. Woot! Not a single English class in the mix. So naturally, as I march along to my own little drummer I end up writing books and becoming an author.

Yeah – I’m not exactly the type to do the typical. Whether it be in my food indulgence preference (Skittles and Starburst Sour Jelly Beans all the way) or in my entertainment choices—can you say Baseball, Basketball, Football anyone?—I tend to go against the grain of the women I hang around with.

But that’s okay because it means I’m…well…me. It also means that my friends love when I come over because after I eat one piece of chocolate the rest belongs to them.

Since they say confession is good for the soul – here is your chance to feel good with me! What things do all of your friends love that you have luke warm feelings about? 

Taking Comfort (Food) Where I Can Get It

Finishing a book is like the 25th mile of a marathon…except I’m not looking for water to get me through that last chapter. I’m looking for rice pudding with raisins.

I don’t think I realized just how fattening writing a book could be. Personally I think I ought to get caloric credit for all the running that Rachel Brenner, my protagonist, does. I mean I’m the one who cracks the whip and keeps Rachel in such good shape. Here’s a woman who can whip up a pasta dinner for eight without breaking a sweat, keeps home-baked oatmeal cookies in her pantry, loves a good sauvignon blanc – and never seems to gain an ounce. So far she has no clear workout routine, although she does walk to work. Now I like to cook, I don’t have a regular workout routine, and I too walk to work, although admittedly that’s approximately ten feet, the distance from my bed to my computer. So how come I’m getting fat and Rachel isn’t?

And the answer is: I’m a writer; Rachel is the makeup artist in a funeral home, apparently an aerobic profession. When not creating fictional murder and mayhem with the Southern half of Evelyn David, I write nonfiction books on everything from veteran’s benefits to playgroups for toddlers. Apparently there aren’t nearly as many calories as I thought moving your fingers over the keyboard.

But it’s not only the sedentary life of a writer (and is that what attracted me to the career in the first place?) that packs on the pounds. Writers block, which can strike without warning at least twice a day, can only be cured by chocolate or rice pudding with raisins or in a pinch, Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies.

According to Wikipedia, “comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare…Small children often seem to latch on to a specific food or drink (in a way similar to a security blanket) and will repeatedly request it in high stress situations.” I confess that it’s been quite a few years since anyone considered me a small child, but I think trying to find fresh ways to create murder and mayhem definitely qualifies as a high stress situation.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Wolfe weighed one-seventh of a ton, which is just a Thin Mint away from 300 pounds. He understood that cerebral detecting requires a lot of calories. His dinners, prepared lovingly by Fritz the chef, always had at least four courses, including some divine dessert. I would be more than happy to chow down with Nero and sidekick Archie Goodwin. I’ll pay for my meal by challenging them to figure out the killer in Murder Off the Books.

I’ve never known anyone, other than my mother-in-law, who considered carrot sticks a comfort food. Macaroni and cheese qualifies. So does tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Pudding of almost any flavor would also make the list.

Those are some of the foods that sustain me as I struggle to create memorable characters, laugh out loud humor, and a believable fictional world where the good guys always win. How about you? What are your comfort foods?

Evelyn David

Valentine’s Day Blues

I think Valentine’s Day is kind of a wimpy holiday. For a lot of people, it’s an afterthought. For the others? The ones with great expectations of romantic gestures and heartfelt expressions of undying devotion? Well, the results are usually a disappointment.

By the way, if you haven’t already figured it out, the author Evelyn David is really two people. The smart, witty posts on Mondays are written by the Northern Evelyn. The “what the heck does that have to do with writing” posts that show up on Thursdays are done by me – the Southern Evelyn.

Today, in between annoying coal miners, legislators, and federal regulators, all within the same eight hours (a personal best for me at my day job), I’ve been worrying about this blog. It should be easy for me to write 600 words on anything. Normally, I can’t even write the opening to a scene in less than 300. But today (which is yesterday if you’re reading this) my mind was scattered. Gathering any blogging ideas was much akin to herding cats (I know, I know, that phrase has been overused, but it’s still a favorite of mine and I intend to use it until I find another that means chasing down elusive, furry things that bite and scratch when you finally nab them.) I drafted several blogs – one on lying before congressional committees (don’t go before them and don’t lie) and one on the powers of the number 3 (don’t ask, I was digging deep for that one).

Valentine’s Day was an obvious topic choice. But what to say that hasn’t been said before? I could discuss the impossible search for a perfect card and color coordinated envelope (a real feat if you shop in a super store.) Ever notice how many people don’t take the envelope that the card gods intended to go with a particular card? What’s with that? By the time I start looking, the remaining cards and envelopes don’t match up – not even in size. Sometimes I’m choosing the card not for the design or sentiment inside; I’m picking it because it fits in the one remaining uncrumpled envelope.

And then there’s the chocolate . . . . I’ve always thought that chocolate was an excellent gift choice on Valentine’s Day – but please don’t give me those heart shaped boxes of chocolate wrapped in red foil and ribbon. For me eating the chocolate in those boxes is a scavenger hunt with some nasty surprises. I don’t like nuts. I don’t like coconut. I’m not crazy about caramel or hidden cherries. My favorites are those pieces that taste the most like a plain 3 Musketeers’ candy bar.

When I was younger, my brother always parked himself by my side when I opened the boxes of Valentine’s candy. One tiny test bite and I was usually handing off the offensive piece to him – who, like the Mikey of cereal commercials, would literally eat any kind of candy. One time I made the old fashioned fudge – the cooked kind with butter, salt, cocoa and sugar. I got some measurement wrong. The stuff set up harder than a brick and I literally used a dishtowel-wrapped hammer to break it into pieces. It was also lacking in sugar. I couldn’t eat it. My parents couldn’t eat it. It took my brother a couple of months, but he finally finished off the whole batch. He was a real trooper! Thinking of it – I probably owe him some money for dental bills.

Before leaving work, I took an informal survey of the other ladies in the office. What were they expecting to get for Valentine’s Day? Surprisingly, the answer was much the same. To avoid a lot of hassle and hurtful recriminations, they now bought their own gifts and picked out exactly what they wanted. Their husbands and significant others reimbursed them later for the costs.

I think I’ll do the same. Anyone care for a Klondike ice cream bar with a red ribbon?

Maybe, I’ll just skip the ribbon.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Evelyn David