Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring Has Sprung?


After a month of "extreme cold" weather days, I'm posting a picture I painted years ago just for a taste of summer! While we have had a lot of snow this winter, it's the bone-penetrating cold that has me the most down. In the past I would go tanning to take the edge off. This winter has been busy since September with my workload increasing at work, events, health issues, kids' activities, etc.
Top off all the local insanity with the book I had due to my publisher March 1st and I've been a meltdown waiting to happen!

I'm glad to say two great things have happened this past month.

  1. I got Book Two in my Yin-Yang Mysteries done! Woohoo!
  2. We are rebranding the entire series for a relaunch.
What does that mean? It means all those copies of Death of a Jaded Samurai will be worth money one day. The new series will be called Gilda Wright Mysteries and will soon have exciting new covers! It also means they books will have new titles. Sorry, no sneak peeks just yet. I'm gnawing on my fingernails in anticipation as well. I can tell you that there will be a new anthology coming this summer that will include a new Gilda Wright mystery.


Just had to squeeze in one more painting. It's been such a long time since I pulled out my paints. While today won't be the day, I think I will have to make time soon. One of my best memories of being a kid was sitting on our back porch painting. I didn't have a lot of skills back then, but I certainly had the passion! I think that's one thing I need to rekindle. My passion, both in my books and in my art.

Watch for some great new paintings, great new books, and a lot of awesome energy!
Yes, spring has certainly sprung - even if only in my imagination!

Diane

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February Round Robin Blog Fest

GOOD MORNING!!
Welcome back to another episode of:



My apologies for disappearing for the past couple of months, between getting Book 2 done for Gemma Halliday Publishing and a few other things, I've pretty much been hiding in a cave! I promise you, the results will be worth it!

If you are unfamiliar with the Blog Fest, grab a cup of tea and sit back to jump from author site to author reading their answers to the question: If you have (or even if you don't have) a bucket list, what top priority thing(s) do you want to accomplish?

This made me think of the movie The Bucket List, which I thought was very funny and stirred both my mind and emotions. Aside from the movie, I've been thinking about this question a lot lately. Every January in karate class, we set our goals for the year. The three basic ones include: Something karate based, something personal, and one other. This year, like every year, my goals include earning my next belt and getting a book published. I'm proud to say I exceeded my goals for last year. I had three books published, ran two 5km events, and earned my blue belt. This year may be a little more difficult.

This year's goals include earning my brown belt, publishing two more books and losing 20 pounds - sorry, Letting Go of 20lbs. With one book already off to my agent for submission to Gemma Halliday Publishing, I've started the fourth book in my Wild Blue Mysteries series for my other publisher Books We Love. I'm also at work on a short story for Gemma to put into an anthology this summer and we are doing a revamp of my Yin-Yang series to give it a different vibe and reach a wider audience. 
Eventually, I would like to start a whole new series of books once the Wild Blue Mysteries are done. The characters and settings are already waiting in the wings!

The physical side is where I'm running into trouble. Last year my goal was to run a 5km race. I ran one and ended up walking one. Something in my body has held me back to the point I struggle to walk some days and am in pain most days. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a whiner by any means. I've still done karate and yoga classes up until karate became too painful. Yoga helps alleviate the pain, but only for a while.

On the upside, I've been to my doctor. I have an anti-inflammatory and have had vial after vial of blood taken to find out what's going on. Then I can get my goal to become a black belt (eventually) back on track!

From here, you can jump over to visit Victoria Chatham and see what she's written on her list! Below is the list of all the writers on our tour. Feel free to check them all out and show them some love!
Stay warm,

Diane


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Taking Time for Mom

 As I sit and stare at the remains of Christmas, I can't help but wonder what 2015 will hold in store. This past year has been very busy! I've had three books released - The Mystery Lady (March), The Bakery Lady (Sept) and Death of a Jaded Samurai (November). I've done a few author events, taken on a second part-time job, and been overwhelmed with many things in both my personal and professional life that have made me seriously consider major life changes. 

Yet, here I sit.

Over the next year:

  • I have a deadline looming for Murder of a Fallen Fighter (Book 2 in my Yin-Yang Series).
  • I need to finish The Painted Lady (Book 4 in my Wild Blue Mysteries Series).
  • I want to grade for my Brown Belt in karate.
  • I want to integrate both Yoga and Meditation into my life to help keep my sanity. Eventually becoming a Yoga Teacher one day.
  • I'd love to keep in touch and spend more time with my friends and family (even though they're 2,000 miles away!) Going to Las Vegas this fall with my mom, brother and sister-in-law was a definite start!
  • I need to become more balanced and not let the negative things others say affect me so deeply.
  • I want to map out several more books for over the next few years. The ideas are there, I just need to make a plan. Including one fabulous idea given to me by a neighbour. Lots of research needed for that one!
Baby steps - just as in the movie "What About Bob?" with Bill Murray. Whenever I have a large task to get through, I break it down into a series of baby steps.

Bob Wiley: (to himself) ...baby steps get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle, baby steps...

I wish you all a wonderful 2015 filled with both big events and baby steps,
Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 20, 2014

December Round Robin Blog Fest


Our Merry Christmas Blog Fest!

Welcome back! 'Tis the season for fun, food and visiting with friends. Today's topic is about hope, love, forgiveness, Christmas, or a special gift. I've chosen to use an excerpt from one of my new books The Bakery Lady. Christina Davidson is struggling with keeping the Christmas spirit after losing her mother and feels the sting of not being able to fill her mother's shoes. 
I do hope you enjoy not only my excerpt, but the recipe for Gingerbread Cookies that I've included!

...an excerpt from The Bakery Lady (Books We Love Ltd.)

     Christina squeezed a solid line of icing down the edge of the wall. Her focus never wavered. She set the wall on the foil-wrapped cardboard and held it in place with one hand while she added the second wall. One by one, she assembled all four walls and held them in place with bowls. Only then did her gaze stray to the ornate tree in the corner.
     Her mom had loved Christmas Eve. The lights, the music, the commotion, it was all right up her alley. Every year, she would make a huge gingerbread house to feed all of her customers at the bakery who stopped in for their last minute Christmas treats. Christina and her brother Clancy got to decorate it with candies, cookies and chocolates.
     This year it was up to Christina.
     Scattered on the table were bowls of candy and chocolates. She would get to them soon enough. For now, she had to figure out how to put the roof on and keep it in place. Did she put them on one at a time and let the icing set in between? Did she put both halves on at the same time? Did she just give up and break it into chunks and say there was an earthquake?
     Building a gingerbread house wasn’t as easy as her mom had made it look. Nothing was ever as easy as her mom had made it look. Even her death was a graceful exit from this world to the next. A peaceful smile, a squeeze of her hand and she was gone. At least that was what her father had told her. Christina wasn't able to say good-bye. He'd been too stubborn to call her. Her mom's cancer, to him, had been little more than an over-exaggerated stomach ache.
     She set one side of the roof in place then eased on the second slope. The roof collapsed first then the walls. She stood, frozen in place, and stared. Then she swore a blue streak.
     "Take a deep breath." Her mother's words came back to calm her.
     Christina blew out a frustrated breath then inhaled. It seemed her mom remained with her in spirit while she scraped off the old icing then held the sides upright on the foil-covered cardboard. Instinct guided her to add extra icing to the inside. This time, the structure stood firm.
     She smiled. "Okay. We're halfway there."
     The roof was trickier but didn't slide off this time. She sat back and admired her handiwork. "That's much better."
     She spread a layer of icing on top and added candy after candy until the whole thing looked like one of her mother’s mouth-watering creations. Not quite as perfect but instinctively she knew it was good enough. Her customers would be touched by the tribute to their favorite baker.
     She smiled.
     Her mom would have been proud.

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
3/4 cup water
7 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground allspice
Beat sugar, shortening, molasses and water in a large bowl on medium speed for 1 minute.
Stir in remaining ingredients except raisins. Cover & refrigerate until chilled, 1-2 hours.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered surface. Cut with gingerbread men cutter. Lift cookies carefully onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake until set, 8-10 minutes; cool 3 minutes.
Carefully remove from cookie sheet; cool. Decorate with frosting, if desired.


Thank you for joining us on our Christmas Round Robin Blog Fest! Now off to visit the talented Rachel Kosnski and read her story about hope, love, forgiveness, Christmas, or a special gift.
Please be sure to check out the other writers on tour and show them all some love! 
Merry Christmas to all!

Ginger Simpson ~ http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman ~ http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier ~ http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Diane Bator ~ http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rachel Kosnski ~ http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Margaret Fieland ~ http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Helena Fairfax ~ http://helenafairfax.com/
Anne Stenhouse ~ http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun ~ http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire ~ http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham ~ http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Kay Sisk ~ http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Skye Taylor ~ http://www.skye-writer.com
Lynn Crain ~ http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright ~ http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Virtual Cookie Blog Hop!

You know those cookie exchanges that are so popular during the holiday season? The ones where you bake  dozens of the same kind of cookies to take to a party where you give them away by the dozen to other participants in exchange for a dozen of theirs?

Well, it turns out you can't really do one of those on the internet, but you can host a Virtual Cookie Exchange, and that's exactly what I'm a part of this month. A Cooke Blog Hop courtesy of my lovely friend and author at Gemma Halliday Publishing, Ellie Ashe! This is my Peppermint Cookie recipe...my Gingerbread Recipe will appear on my blog Dec 20 so be sure to come back for that one as well!
Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Sift together in bowl and reserve:
         2 3/4 cups flour
         1 tsp baking powder
         1/2 tsp salt

Put:  3/4 cup soft margarine in large bowl

Add:  1 cup sugar
         2 eggs
         1 tsp peppermint (or any other flavor extract)
Beat with mixer or wooden spoon  until mixture is light and fluffy.

Beat in flour mixture, blending until smooth.
Chill 1 hour or until firm.

Roll out onto floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters.
Put on cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Decorate as desired.


Merry Christmas to All....


Monday, December 1, 2014


NOW AVAILABLE
Dec 1 2014 until January 31, 2015




    19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors!
Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance, and laughter

amid the backdrop of pine trees, gingerbread men, and Santas galore!

The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of 
cocoa...or waiting in line at gift wrapping!


Stories include:

Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti
Chasing Tinsel (Miranda Vaughn Mysteries ) by Ellie Ashe
Death of a Christmas Witch (A Crewel to be Kind Mini Mystery) by Diane Bator
Queenie Baby: Pass the Eggnog (Queenie Baby Mysteries) by Christina A. Burke
The Holiday Inside Job by Mary Jo Burke
Hard to Catch a Christmas Thief (Hard Targets) by Wendy Byrne
A Christmas Ghost & Zero Regrets (Dead by the Numbers Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto
Christmas Canap├ęs & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski
Christmas in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart
Santa Claus, Lies, and Murder (Amber Fox Mysteries) by Sibel Hodge
A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones
Mini Pie the Christmas Spy! (Mini Pie Mysteries) by Libby LaManna
Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson
Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey
Christmas in Venice by Maria Grazia Swan
Baby, It's Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by T. Sue VerSteeg
Santa's Little Mistake by Stacey Wiedower
This book will only be available December 1 – January 31, 2015
Get your Copy Today Here!


______________________________________________________________________



Monday, November 24, 2014

"Knot in My Backyard" by Mary Marks

I was lucky enough to receive and advance copy of "Knot in My Backyard" from Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review BUT I was already a big fan after Mary's wonderful first book "Forget Me Knot." So what's Mary Marks' new book about?

Baseball may be America's official pastime, but for Martha Rose and her friends, quilting is far more fun...and a lot less dangerous.
A diamond brocade pattern is more quilter Martha Rose's style than a baseball diamond--especially when it comes to the new eyesore of a stadium ruining her lovely San Fernando Valley neighborhood. Martha doesn't know a bunt from a bundt cake, but when she stumbles upon the battered body of baseball coach Dax Martin, she doesn't need a scorecard to know it's foul play. LAPD homicide detective Arlo Beavers is convinced one of her neighbors is responsible. But Martha and her fellow quilters Lucy and Birdie soon discover a whole field of suspects who might have wanted to take the coach out of the game permanently...

When Martha Rose stumbles across a dead body while on a walk one day as part of her latest weight loss plan, she stets off a chain of events that involves a group of homeless people, a motorcycle gang, and a giant of a man she refers to as a golem. Martha is a middle-aged, down to earth character who is thrust into several situations her conscience can't let her back out of and she is determined to discover who killed the baseball coach - in spite of the advice of her boyfriend Arlo Beavers. While she doesn't always make the safest decisions, Martha pokes her nose into a few dangerous situations and is lucky there is always someone there to save her.

Not being Jewish, I found I did stumble over some of the words Ms. Marks uses, but the charm and "homey" sense of the novel made it work and answered any questions I may have had. "Knot in My Backyard" neatly answers the question of who killed Dax Martin, but it also leaves us with a graceful lead in to Ms. Marks' next book to find out what will happen next in Martha Rose's romantic life.

You can find "Knot in My Backyard" on Amazon. Simply click on the book title!


Find more books by Mary Marks here.