Wednesday, March 26, 2014

5 Stars and Top Pick at Night Owl Reviews

Gosh! Top Pick and 5-star review for MISSION IMPASTABLE at Night Owl Reviews! Thank you, Delanna!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Mystery Writer's Technical Book Shelf

DH worries too much. So I spend too much on books (says him). How can you spend too much on books, I ask?

Well, maybe it’s not the cost bothering him so much as the subject matter. I suppose it could give one a start to go for that first cup of coffee in the morning and find The Book of Poisons next to the sugar. (And me wondering all that time where I had left it!)

As a mystery writer, I work to ensure accuracy of crime scenes, murder methods, and police procedures. Reference materials and questions for public safety professionals is how I do that. I am a voracious reader of how to kill people!

In future posts, I will discuss/review the following books; for now, here’s the list. Don’t they sound like you just have to have them, too? Just so you know, I also have quite a group of craft books on mystery writing, but that’s for another time.

Another way I use these books that wasn’t the authors’ intent, I’m sure, is to search out plot point ideas. How could I kill? What are my options? Could one method mask that another was used?

On to the list: You will note all but one of these are from Writer’s Digest. They published a “Howunit Series” a number of years ago. Great idea!

Beres, D. B. (2007). Killer at Large: Criminal Profilers and the Cases They Solve! Franklin Watts.

Boertlein, John (Ed.) (2001) Howdunit: How Crimes are Committed and Solved. Writer’s Digest Books.

Chase, Elaine Raco and Ann Wingate (1996). Amateur Detectives: A Writer’s Guide to How Private Citizens Solve Criminal Cases. Writer’s Digest Books.

Corvasce, Mauro V. and Joseph R. Paglino (1997). Murder One: A Writer’s Guide to Homicide. Writer’s Digest Books.

Lofland, Lee (2007). Police Procedures & Investigation. Writer’s Digest Books.

Lyle, D.P. (2008). Forensics: A Guide for Writers. Writer’s Digest Books.

Page, David W. (1996). Body Trauma: A Writer’s Guide to Wounds and Injuries. Writer’s Digest Books.

Roth, Martin (1993). The Writer’s Complete Crime Reference Book. Writer’s Digest Books.

Stevens, Serita Deborah and Anne Klarner (1990). Deadly Doses: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons. Writer’s Digest Books.

Stevens, Serita and Anne Bannon (2007). Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. Writer’s Digest Books.

Wilson, Keith D. (1992). Cause of Death: A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder, & Forensic Medicine. Writer’s Digest Books.

With this kind of bedtime reading material, should DH worry?

Nah! Really.

Then again, I am writing a short story about a mystery writer’s husband who is beginning to suspect she will kill for real and not just virtually. What research will I have to do for that?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Red Herrings and the Culinary Mystery

I looked it up once. Did you know that herrings, once smoked, turn reddish? I didn’t. In my writing world, I associate red herrings with false clues, logical fallacy, evasive information, a diversion of attention. I didn’t know they were really real. I thought they were a reflection of the real but non-existent, thus misleading.

Mystery authors use red herrings in order to make the puzzle of the mystery tale an active interaction between the reader and the author. I think mystery readers have to work harder than any other fiction readers. Not only are there the normal elements to keep track of, such as character arcs and plot points, but the added element of purposeful distraction makes readers question everything.

Nothing can be taken at face value. The reader MUST mistrust the author. The author is out to fool the reader. The author purposefully misleads down dark alleys, shrouded doorways, and tunnels. The successful mystery writer has the reader searching for patterns, discarding data, elevating other pieces of information. The best mystery is a hard--but, doable--verbal jigsaw puzzle.

Because it must be solvable by the attentive reader. Or at least be a satisfying solution to the discerning reader who agrees that, even if not solved before the end, the author’s solution was foreshadowed appropriately. No good mystery writer uses the deus ex machina device. The clues, though obscured, must be there.

But back to the expression, red herring. For centuries, red herrings have had a dual meaning. My Oxford English Dictionary (Yes, I do have my very own OED!) records the first use in print of the misleading definition in 1686. That was a while ago, eh? In print, it was used as drawing the red herring food across the track to provide a distraction from the real issue.

Edgar Allan Poe, considered the first modern mystery writer (father of the detective story), used red herrings on occasion. Now it is de rigueur for mystery writers to use false clues to keep the mystery going.

On a food note, I guess I could use red herrings in some Jamaican dish or another in an upcoming book. That would be a twist in a culinary mystery no one would see coming--real red herrings to conceal the literary ones! Speaking of culinary mysteries and red herrings, have you read Mission Impastable yet?

For more info on red herrings, read these:

April A-Z Blog Challenge

Yep, I'm in again this year but on this blog not another one I write. I'll be blogging 26 days in April, with a different alphabet letter on foodie language. Stop back to see what's happening!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Month-of-Recipes: Flavored Nuts

Here we are at the end of another February with a Month-of-Recipes edition. Every year at this time I ask myself why I do this. It’s pretty hard keeping up with all my other writing commitments, life, etc. when I am posting food every day. I mean, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” is a “foodie-oriented blog”, but it is not a “food blog”. Thus my shameless self-promotions for Mission Impastable and the soon-to-be-completed sequel, Prime Rib and Punishment. Did I mention Mission Impastable has 5-star reviews? <blush>

Just to make sure we cover the whole “soup to nuts” thing, I have several nut recipes for you today. And mid-month, I shared my Chocolate Cinnamon-Sugared Pecans for Valentine’s Day.

Surely, you can set out dishes of nuts from the can for folks to scoop up, but with just a small amount of effort, you can serve nuts like these that clearly go, as Buzz Lightyear might say, “To infinity and beyond”.

These recipes are all from a great blog you should be following:  Not only does Shari write entertainingly about food and many other topics. It is BEAUTIFUL, too! Her food porn is right up there with the best! Try her recipes! Yummers!

Cinnamon Almonds (makes 2 cups)

2 cups almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine egg white and vanilla in small bowl; beat together until frothy. 

Stir in nuts, making sure almonds are evenly coated. 

Combine sugar, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl, and sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture over nuts until evenly coated. 

Roast nuts on prepared baking sheet at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. 

Separate nuts on baking sheet and cool allow to cool at room temperature.

Coconut Cashews (makes about 2½ cups)

1 1/2 cups cashews
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup shredded "angel flake" coconut

Toast coconut at 325° for 9-10 minutes on prepared baking sheet.  Stir coconut every two minutes to avoid burning. 

Combine water, salt, sugar and cream of tartar in saucepan over medium heat, stirring consistently until sugar dissolves. 

Once dissolved, remove sugar mixture from heat and add vanilla extract and toasted coconut in medium sized bowl. 

Quickly stir in nuts, coating evenly with sugar mixture. 

Spread onto baking sheet while still warm. 

Separate nuts on baking sheet and allow to cool at room temperature.

Maple Pecans (makes about 2 cups)

2 cups pecans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix syrup, egg white, butter, salt, cayenne and black pepper thoroughly.  Add pecans, covering evenly. 

Spread nuts onto prepared baking sheet and roast at 250° for 40 minutes, stirring once after 20 minutes. 

Separate nuts on baking sheet and allow to cool at room temperature.

Thus endth another Month-of-Recipes February. Wonder what you’ll pick for me to do next year? Oh, and do stop by Pink Blot Mom to see what else Shari is cooking up!

DH’s Rating: 3½ Tongues Up  A minimalist kind of guy, he really prefers his nuts scooped from a bin at a natural foods store. These are kind of like a dessert nut for him rather than something he’d munch on at a party or day-to-day.