Thurs. Dec. 5, 2019: Release Day for GRAVE REACH

Grave Reach 3D Cover
Release Day: GRAVE REACH, the 4th Coventina Circle Novel!

Thursday, December 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool
St. Nicholas Night

It’s finally here! GRAVE REACH, the 4th Coventina Circle novel. You can read an excerpt and find out more about it by visiting the Grave Reach page on the Coventina Circlewebsite. I’m excited about this book – I achieved what I wanted with it. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Blurb:
Lesley Chase fought her way free from an abusive marriage, thanks to Coventina Circle. After her ex-husband’s murder, she took a sabbatical to study yoga, meditation, and dreamwalking in Costa Rica. A passionate affair with Sam Pierce helped her self-confidence and healing, but she insisted they break all contact when she returned to New York. She’s stunned when she runs into Sam, who has an office in the same building as her therapist. He convinces her it’s just a weird coincidence, and he won’t try to rekindle their passion. But when Lesley’s dreamwalking crosses into dangerous territory, and her ex-husband starts stalking her from beyond the grave, Sam is determined to set her free, once and for all. Of course, Sam has a few dark secrets of his own, on both sides of the veil . . .

$3.99 on multiple digital channels.

***

I was wiped out by the time I got back from work both Tuesday and Wednesday – which means I’m behind on the overseas cards.

The Remote Chat was great, as always. What a great bunch of people. I always learn so much.

When I got home yesterday, I baked 10 dozen Tollhouse cookies for the cookie platters. I also baked a Swedish Visiting cake, a recipe from YANKEEMagazine. It was simple, and delicious. I didn’t have almonds or almond extract, so I substituted anise (with trepidation, since I don’t always like it). But it’s excellent, and will become one of my go-to cakes.

Started watching Season 5 of SHETLAND. It’s always such an intense, well-done piece.

Out early this morning, doing a big grocery shop for the rest of the baking materials. This afternoon, I’m prepping the molasses spice cookies, and baking the orange cranberry cookies.

I have an essay to finish and polish, that needs to be ready to post early next week.

Tomorrow, I’ll bake the molasses spice cookies, and bake the oatmeal currant lace cookies. I’ll either start the stained glass cupcakes tomorrow afternoon or bake them on Saturday. Although I think I’ll bake them tomorrow, frost them Saturday, and deliveries start on Sunday.

In and around all of this, I have more errands to run, writing to get finished, and the overseas holiday cards to write and get out. But front-loading at the beginning of the month will allow me to relax and enjoy the actual holidays themselves.

Tonight is St. Nicholas night. We will put out a shoe (with a napkin inside) and tomorrow morning, it will be filled with candy – or coal! It’s one of the traditions of our childhood that we still retain, and I love it.

Dec. 12: Local Acknowledgement & Adventures in Holiday Baking

Monday, December 12, 2011
Waning Moon
Uranus DIRECT (as of Saturday)
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

It looks so pretty with the frost on the grass!

What a weekend!

The exciting news is that ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT was included in the CAPE COD TIMES’S column of “Books to keep you warm on Cold Cape Cod Nights”. I had no idea, and was thrilled to open the paper and see it. To be mentioned in the Sunday paper’s book section — with a cover photograph — I was thrilled!

Saturday morning was the holly walk — the first thing I did when I moved to the area last year, and still something I love to do. It was so much fun, and it’s fascinating to see how the Sanctuary evolved through the year. Got some holly boughs (yes, it’s part of the walk, I didn’t just take them) — will try to use some of the berries (well, the seeds in the berries) to start some hollies that are descended from these trees. They’d have special meaning.

Came back, baked 5 dozen tollhouse cookies. Tried the thumbprint recipe – which I’ve successfully used before — and it didn’t work. That’ll teach me. Instead of using my beloved Land O’Lakes butter, which I usually use for baking, I’d bought cheaper butter in bulk at Costco, knowing that I’d be doing hundreds of cookies this year. Well, the butter didn’t cream properly with the sugar. Didn’t matter the temperature, didn’t matter the type of utensil — wooden spoon, paddle attachment, regular mixer. I wound up with a streusel-like substance instead of creamed butter and sugar. It was fine with the tollhouse cookies, but the thumbprints couldn’t be imprinted — they simply shattered. Adding liquid just made them melt into puddles.

So the thumbprint cookies are not an option this year.

Prepped 5 dozen molasses spice cookies for the next day’s baking. The molasses took care of the streusel effect, and it was not a problem.

Sunday, after reading the papers, I baked the 5 dozen molasses spice. Perfection. I prepped the dough for the eggnog angels, the only rolled cookie I planned for this year. Again — streusel effect, even with the eggnog. I put the dough into the fridge to chill, hoping that would help. Then, I baked 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies (the replacement for the thumbprint) and 5 dozen banana-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. The oatmeal raisin cookies can be a little crumbly, and the mashed banana helped smooth out the butter.

When I tried to roll out the dough for the eggnog angels, no dice. You could roll it, but as soon as you used a cutter, they shattered. So I used the same method used for the molasses spice — rolled into balls, dusted with sugar, flattened with a glass dipped in sugar. It made a lot more than the cutouts would be, and they’re round instead of angels, but they taste good. Hopefully, the icing will still work on them. Without using the sugar to roll and flatten, they fell apart.

Okay, I’m convinced, Land O’Lakes forever more! 😉

Today, I have the mini-lemon bundt cakes and all the glazes/icing to do. Tomorrow, the platters are packed and go out the door. The rest of the packages also have to be wrapped and packed today, and go out the door tomorrow.

In the meantime, I had to spend time with students, read a friend’s manuscript, and then a client project came in for immediate turnaround. This is not the client’s usual MO, so, while there’s definitely the rush fee attached, I’m not refusing the job. I’m also working on my business plan for next year. I want to change a certain amount of things. This was the first year I had a chance to really see what it was like to work without the pressures of scumbag landlords and Broadway commute. What I learned from this year, I can apply moving forward, to shape my work like into what I want AND what meets the financial needs. In order to do that, I have to tweak some things and radically change others.

And then there was The Stroll. The Village Holiday Strolls are a HUGE deal on the Cape. Every village has on. If you live there, you damn well better get out there and STROLL, or you hear about it all year. I was too tired last year, having moved here a few weeks before, and I’m STILL getting flack about it! So I stopped everything, showered (dough in the hair is not a good look for me), dressed, and off we went.

Parking was a nightmare, because there isn’t any. They block off the streets that actually have parking lots, so you’re off trying to find a side street with no lights on and park on the edge of someone’s property. Everything dead-ends, but there’s no room to turn around, because the streets are narrow, filled with parked cars, and more cars are coming at you all the time, but there’s no exit. And everyone’s in dark colors, darting around the streets, so you’re worried you’re going to run someone over. Only the dogs have reflective collars on.

And there ARE dogs — tons of them. Which is very cute. The dogs stroll as seriously as the people. And they’re so well behaved, with all the chaos and the noise and the smells and the other dogs. They don’t even try to steal the hot dogs!

The historic houses and everything else are all decorated to the hilt, the streets are blocked off so people can wander, and tables are set up with hot chocolate and hot dogs and baked goods and all kinds of stuff. There are donation buckets set up — not quite sure for what. And teens running around with buckets asking for donations for the needy. I’m such a cynical Manhattanite that I assumed it was a scam, but I was told it’s actually true. It’s fun and festive, although there were too many teenagers who’d consumed too much sugar racing around, shrieking. But they weren’t doing any harm, and they were having fun. It’s not like they were wilding or anything. Teenage conversation here is so different than in Westchester, where all they did was whine about their parents not paying for enough. Here, they actually go out and do stuff and talk about what they’re doing and want to do, and make up actual adventures, and then go HAVE them. They’re much more aware of and engaged in the world, which is nice. I think they’re smarter, too — probably because their parents aren’t all over-medicated and aren’t over-medicating them.

It was lovely, but such hell getting in and out with the parking situation that I may just risk local wrath an NOT do it again next year! They could use the shopping center parking lots on Rt. 28 and then take those historic trolleys they’re so proud of and shuttle people back and forth. But they won’t change, because “this is the way it’s always been done.”

And then the microwave died. Billowed smoke, got very hot, smelled weird. Unplugged it, cooled it with ice, will have to get rid of it. No microwave popcorn for me for a bit! Well, I don’t use it that much anyway, so it’s not THAT big a deal, but, after the holidays, I’ll probably get a new one.

I’m behind where I’d like to be on the cards — I wanted to have them all out today — not happening. But I’ll get them out in the next few days. And then I have to worry about the party invitations! 😉

I’m doing a live chat tonight at 7 PM over at Savvy Authors, talking about short stories in general, and my 5 in 10 short story workshop that starts in January in particular.

This week, I also have the Writers’ Association Holiday Dinner and a yoga party. Busy, busy!

And I figure, if I’m lucky, I’ll finish decorating the house by Christmas Eve!

Back to the page, and onward.

Devon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Violet keeps an eye on things

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Waning Moon
Rainy and mild

I kept thinking yesterday was Tuesday, so I feel like I have the gift of a day. Woo-hoo!

I baked for 9-1/2 hours yesterday. I used a Thumbprint cookie recipe from the 1960’s and it came out PERFECTLY. So the recipes published this year must have shifted proportions, which made them not hold together. After the holiday frenzy, I’ll spread everything out and compare them.

I filled the Thumbprint cookies with three different types of jam — apricot, raspberry, blueberry. Not in the same cookie, don’t worry — I’ve got three different flavors, and I made three batches. I may have to make one more batch just to make sure I have a few extra. I made more molasses spice cookies — Lara, I’m going to scan the recipe and send it to you — and several batches of toll house cookies, AND the miniature gingerbread cakes in the molds — some are Christmas trees and some are gingerbread men.

As I baked, I kept thinking, “Oh, I have to write about that tomorrow” and darned if I can remember what “it” was! Every available space is decorated, so I had to flip over some of those empty milk crates that I meant to take to storage but couldn’t fit in the car, cover them with a board and a cloth, and use them for cooling stations. The new mixer and the new, deep batter bowl are awesome. It made everything so much more efficient and easier. Using three cookie trays worked just fine — the two in the oven were staggered, so I was always prepping one while the others were baking. The good thing about a tiny kitchen is that I can stand in one spot and reach everything (unless I’m storing it on top of the cupboards, in which case I have to stand on a chair).

All in a galley kitchen so small that I have counter space big enough for the mixing bowl, and you can’t stand in front of a cabinet door when you open it. So the next time one fo the spoiled brat bitches on HOUSE HUNTERS whines she “can’t” cook in a galley kitchen and fakes bumping into her significant other, I will hunt her down and smack her silly! I figured that, over the years, I’ve turned out somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 cookies in various tiny kitchens all over the country, and probably close to 500 cakes and pies. Would I like a huge kitchen? Absolutely! CAN I work in a tiny kitchen? Well, I have for years. These spoiled brats on the show, who are just starting out and expect 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, granite counter tops, steel appliances, etc. for $200,000. My goodness, you can’t even buy a CLOSET around here for that! Studio apartments are usually two or three times that amount.

Maybe I need a break from HGTV! 😉

Anyway, today is Icing Day. I’m going to ice the sugar cookies and the eggnog angels. So, tomorrow will be the pack-and-deliver day. I’ve got all my packing supplies — plates, festive bags, ribbon — and I’m going to make some tags on the computer (I can never find exactly what I want in the store, so I often make them).

I wrote domestic cards through “L” last night, and I’ll push to finish the alphabet tonight. I’m a little late (I like domestic cards out the door by the 10th or 12th), but they’re getting there. I have two packages to mail tomorrow, domestically; I have to figure out what the heck to get my cousin’s son and get THAT out the door — it’ll be late, but it’ll get there, it’s going overseas. I have one more gift to pick up for my Mom, probably on Thursday. And I am DONE. I can set up Ornament Hospital, finish some decorating, and just enjoy the season. I’ve got all the stocking stuffers, I can concentrate on my anthology deadline. And I can have fun with the holiday.

My eye seems to be okay. It’s sore, but not inflamed or any vision problems. Those eye drops I bought in Prague are magic!

Gotta head to Trader Joe’s this morning for cat food (the felines were horrified by their empty cupboard after I fed them the last can), gotta hit Mrs. Green’s for some coffee, and Staples (all in the same direction), then double back to Costco for more butter. So far, I’ve used 16 pounds of butter, 15 pounds of flour, 8 pounds of sugar, 4 pounds of chocolate morsels, and, when I did the math, realized I could paper a football field with parchment. And I’m not quite done yet — I’ve still got a few cakes to make and a Trifle. I’m trying to figure out which liquor to use to soak the spongecake — sherry, port, madeira, brandy?

I’m having a serial dream about a story. Very weird, but interesting. I have to make sure I take notes as soon as I wake up every morning, so that I don’t lose it. I think it could be quite a cool piece.

I have a Toyland display set up — ornaments of children and toys that are too big and heavy for the little tree, but are able to stand on their own. When I came into the ktichen this morning (it’s in the eating area of the kitchen), they were all rearranged and facing different directions! I don’t know if the cats played with them (they’re in a place the cats can’t usually reach) or the Christmas magic touched them and they had a party while we were all asleep.

Or the building is shifting again and we’re all screwed! 😉

Personally, I prefer Option 2.

Gotta run, there are angels to ice and cats to feed!

Maybe one of these days, they’ll fix the boiler, we’ll have hot water for more than five minutes (trouble for nearly a week now), and I won’t have to keep boiling water to wash the dishes. Pain in the —- when you’re baking and washing up as you go. Scumbag landlords. They make cosmetic “improvements” that make the building look like a hootchie joint where we rent by the hour, and skimp on things like the boiler. Typical.

Devon