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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hoppin' John for a Happy New Year

Hoppin’ John

Stop by our house tomorrow, and you’ll find me cooking a mess of “Hoppin’ John.”

“Hoppin’ John” is an essential part of southern lore, especially honored in the Low Country, South Carolina’s coastal counties. If you stop in an area restaurant around New Year’s Day, no matter what you order, they’ll slip you a small dish of beans and rice—gratis. Eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is said to give a body good luck all year long.

The dish is believed to be first made by the slaves as a form of pilau. Black eyed peas, rice and ham hocks or bacon are traditional ingredients. The New York Times called the meal “a nutritional marvel, the culinary touchstone of the African diaspora and a hangover remedy without equal.” And the article goes on to date “the first known appearance of ‘hoppin' John’ in print was in 1838, in Caroline Gilman's novel ‘Recollections of a Southern Matron.’

My version is lowfat, and only 6 Weight Watchers’ points. If you swap out bacon for Bacos, of course that number will change.

Hoppin’ John

1/3 C chopped celery
1 tsp. olive oil
1/3 C chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 bay leaf
1 T Bacos (or bacon)
1 C chicken broth
½ can (1/2 C) black-eyed peas (cooked in a can)
¼ C chopped lean ham (Okay, if you want to use a ham hock, who am I to stop you?)
1 C brown rice, cooked

Saute first 4 ingredients. Add to other ingredients, mix well. Put in 1 quart casserole dish and bake, covered, in 350 ยบ oven for one hour.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back from Vacation

Just home from Kiawah Island, SC, and a marathon bookreading vacation.

My husband David and I laugh that we must be getting old. We ENJOY sitting around, reading, and going to bed early. I particularly loved reading In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spenser-Fleming. Wow. That's all I can say. It's an absolutely terrific book. One that I wish I'd written. The protagonist is an Episcopalian priest, a woman. Since I grew up in the Anglican church, I was still surprised that I could actually learn more about my nascent religion.

The tension between the female protagonist and the male protagonist is just super in this book. I loved it so much that I went back to Indigo Books and bought the next two in the series, which I "gobbled" up on the flight home. Today I ordered book #4 in the Clare Ferguson and Russell Van Alstyne series. (I think I have that right.)

Last night our Sisters in Crime chapter in association with Missouri Romance Writers Association had Luci Zahray, The Poison Lady, as our guest speaker. She's always a treat.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's New for October 2007

So what's new?
  1. Forensic University--Is right around the corner, Nov. 1-4, 2007. This will be the first all-forensic conference for writers ever held. I'm co-chairing with my pal Michelle Becker. She's done a great job, and I've worked hard too!

  2. Paper, Scissors, Dead--Will debut September 2008. (This used to be called Over Exposed. I like this new name much better.)

  3. My Young Adult novel is making the rounds in New York. I hate to even share this, because I always think I'll jinx any deal. But since my pal Shirley Damsgaard gave me a variety of powerful stones and crystals, I'm feeling a bit more lucky.

  4. Michael has a new car--A 1969 Cutlass convertible. He named it LAURA. (I was a bit surprised by how romantic this is....) In order to get the car, he had a whole list of "things to do," and getting a job was one of them. Today they called from Guitar Center. He starts on Tuesday. He's really growing up.

  5. David and I are going to Kiawah--To celebrate our 24th Wedding Anniversary. It's one of our favorite places on earth.

That's all for now!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Someone called me "that SCRAPBOOK author" this week.

She meant it as a perjorative. But all I can do is laugh. You see, I'm proud to be called "that SCRAPBOOK author" for a variety of reasons.

First of all, I love scrapbooking. And scrapbookers. Scrapbookers are the loveliest folks in the world. They care about their families, their friends and the stuff of life that matters. If you had seen as many pages as I have, you'd know that scrapbooking is what I call "a love letter to life." We find the sacredness of the ordinary by saluting the daily joy we're all so fortunate to receive.

When I first told my motivational speaker friends that I was writing a book on scrapbooking, they rolled their eyes. "That's a fad. Why waste your time?" my mentor added.

Huh. That fad now extends to one in every five homes in America. It's been around for years, as I can attest because at the antique markets in England I saw some early examples.

And, let's be honest, scrapbooking has been very good to me. I've met all the scrapbooking big names: Lisa Bearnsen, Stacy Jullian, Michelle Gebhardt, Debbie Mock, Vicki Breslin, Jill Davis, Angie Randall, Shimelle Laine, Mary Anne Walters, Jane Dean and more. My articles have appeared in Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, PaperKuts, and Scrapbooks Etc. reviewed my last book. I've gotten to teach scrapbooking on a cruise, and I've flown to the UK to appear at scrapbooking conventions. Best of all, I've struck up email conversations with women all over the world. Women in Israel, South Africa, Europe, and beyond who share their love of families on their pages.

Now about that "author" part of "that SCRAPBOOKING author." Yep, I plead guilty. I'm the author of 14 books. (I just finished a Young Adult yesterday--and it's off to my agent tomorrow.) Ten are published and three are under contract or spoken for. (One's a work-for-hire book that we've decided to publish as an ebook. It's called Leaving a Legacy: How to Write a Letter That Can Change Someone's Life.) My first book was a college textbook, Using Stories and Humor: Grab Your Audience, and Benjamin Netanyahu's speechwriter lauded it in an Israeli newspaper. I have the article!

Okay, my first fiction doesn't come out until Fall 2008 when OverExposed will hit the shelves, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

Yep, you can call me "that SCRAPBOOK author" all day long. Suits me to a T. In this blog I've added a graphic of the poster they used to promote my UK visit.

See, you can call me "that SCRAPBOOK author," but in England, they call me "America's Scrapbooking Queen."

Bow a little lower, folks!

Cogblogo Ergo Sum

Okay, I'm already writing for three other blogs, ( ) plus notes on Crimespace. What the heck am I doing here?

It's simple: I don't want anyone to take my name.

Why? Well, it's happened to me before (a long, ugly story), and I'm a tad paranoid about it happening again.

Cogblogo ergo sum. (I blog, therefore I am. I had to make up a new word in Latin to cover this, but hey, language should be flexible, and if you are grabbing your Latin primer to check me out, well, get a life!)

And what shall I blog about?

That remains to be seen.

1. What I'm reading.
2. How my career is coming.
3. Whatever strikes my fancy from the NYT. (Love the NYT, love it. It's my link to other thinking people.)
4. My author friends.

I'll try to have contests along the way. It's fun for you and it keeps me busy as well.

Next Sunday, I'll report to you about Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham. I'm reading it for my online bookclub. I'm very curious about what they'll say since the group is all authors, and authors tend to be very picky about what they read.

Ta-ta for now!