Liz Jasper’s Top Five Work Avoiders

5. Clean the bathroom with a toothbrush and half a Q-tip
4. Stress bake five pans of brownies at once
3. Netflix marathon of a series with at least three seasons under its belt
2. Try to train the cat to fold laundry
1. Other work

Hold on.

What happened to my wonderful procrastination list? There is something very wrong with this list. #1 should definitely NOT be on there. But it has been.

In addition to writing books, over the last couple of years I’ve gone back to grad school–again–and studied for and passed The Big A** Ten Hour Test (over a 24 hr period but still!), and then I took another test and…. I want you all to know the dedication I have to my writing that I went back to school again just to get fodder for writing classroom scenes. (Ok, I had other reasons. And I do like learning.)

But the good new is that I’m done with school and tests (YAY!) andI have finished Underdead With A Vengeance.

HOORAY!

Kim Van Meter is messing around with the cover. My final readers are reading away. My editor is sharpening her red pen. And I’m napping. I hear other writers cackling knowingly. Ok, I’m not napping. I just really want to nap, so I’m trying that “putting it out to the Universe” bit. (If someone knows a way I can promote my next book by napping, please, I beg of you, let me know immediately.)

I took last weekend off and it was bliss. No work. Quiet. I listened to bees buzz and wind rustle through the trees.

And then I came back home and boom! all the todo lists collided in my head and I think something shorted out.

So. Help an author out. What do you have on your procrastination list? So that I can steal it?

Writer’s Lair

I’m using this interlude while Underdead with a Vengeance is off being critiqued to deal with something that has been a pressing on my mind for a very long time:

I don’t have a lair.

A few months back, fellow writer Mike Schulenberg (his funny blog is here) and I were doing a little twitter brainstorming to try to solve the problem. It went basically like this:

Liz: You have a lair?

Mike: Of course I do. Where else would I hatch my diabolical schemes?

Liz: I need a lair! Volcano?

Mike: Don’t overlook the timeless appeal of a moon base

Liz: Too cold. Maybe volcanic moon of Jupiter, but that’s too far from Swenson’s Sticky Chewy ice cream.*

* The best chocolate ice cream. I don’t know why other manufacturers bother trying.

The truth is, I’ve had my eye on the perfect lair since I was twelve, or however old I was when I saw A Man With a Golden Gun.

(Imagine picture here. I took it down. Because I was getting  visitors.)

Lairspot: Ko Tapu Island in Thailand. AKA James Bond Island. AKA Liz Jasper’s sweet new Lair.

Keep.
Off.

It has everything I need. It’s warm, it’s gorgeous, it’s in the middle of nowhere, and it comes with minions. Minions who can swirl me up a soft serve and keep the tourists off the beach.

Opportunity for world domination–bonus!

I think I’ll move in this weekend. It’s been deserted for decades. James Bond fully ousted that lame squatter who drew attention to himself by trying to takeover the world. (That is NO way to treat a secret lair. He deserved what he got.)

If you have a lair, please do tell me about it. Perhaps I’ll send one of the minions over with a nice bowl of soft serve.

How to Make Jo Gartner’s Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

I repost this recipe about once a year, when I’m cranky or stressed. Last year, I posted it after spending the morning with some nameless company’s tech support. I know. Good times. You are all jealous.

Today I’m posting it because I promised it to a couple of awesome UNDERDEAD readers (Rebekah and Terrie) who commented recently on my blog. Also, my sister’s wedding is next weekend (hooray!) and her cat had to be put down a few days ago (v. sad!). Time to stress bake.

This recipe tells you how to make really great double chocolate chip cookies. To make them Jo Gartner style (Triple Chocolate), you’ll need to bump up the chocolate factor. I’ve put how Jo would make them in the recipe.

Right. Here’s the reposted recipe, complete with rude remarks about tech support:
My mom says chocolate chip cookies are boring because everybody makes them. I disagree. I think the reason they’re boring is because most people don’t make very good ones. And while normally I would very tactfully opine that no one who reads this blog could possibly be the sort to make less than perfect chocolate chip cookies, I lost all tact about 45 minutes ago when I was put on hold for the fifth time. So, here, for anyone else who may be having a day like mine, is a recipe for GOOD chocolate chip cookies. The sort you need after an hour and a half with technical support.

LIZ JASPER’S CRANKY DAY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (With Jo Gartner modifications!)

Preheat oven to 375. Fahrenheit. If your oven thermometer only works in Celsius, you’re on your own for the conversion. I’m in no mood to look it up for you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • TWO STICKS NUCOA MARGARINE. I’m sure other brands of margarine are fine, but this one is superlative. Get it. It’s cheap and you can always stick the other two cubes in the freezer for next time. Vegetable shortening is tasteless and leaves a nasty coating on the roof of your mouth. Butter is what you need for shortbread and such, but frankly it gives drop cookies the wrong consistency. I had a hard time accepting margarine was good for anything, but it is what you want for this sort of cookie.
  • A SCANT 1/2 CUP WHITE SUGAR.3/4 CUP BROWN SUGAR. If you have problems with your brown sugar getting hard, store it in a plastic bag in the fridge
  • 1 TEASPOON VANILLA EXTRACT1 EGG (room temp is nice, but if you just took one out of the fridge and don’t want to wait, don’t worry about it. You’re making cookies, not negotiating world peace.)
  • 2 AND ¼ C. all-purpose FLOUR. (I use 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1 and ¼ c. whole wheat pastry flour. You’d think adding whole wheat flour would make the cookies heavy and icky tasting, but the whole wheat pastry flour is v. light and gives a nutty flavor. So far all tasters, even my “I only eat Wonder Bread” friends have preferred this blend to white flour alone. But if you don’t have the whole wheat pastry flour, don’t worry about it. And on the subject of white flour, get the unbleached. Who wants bleach in their food?)
  • 1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
  • TINY PINCH SALT
  • ½ HERSHEY’S BAR, GRATED (yes, you can leave this out if you don’t have it. They’ll still be good.)
  • ONE BAG SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS. (I use Nestlé’s because that’s what I like, despite what I read about how they fare in blind taste testing. Use whatever you like.)
  • TO MAKE THEM JO GARTNER STYLE, you can do one of a few things. Or all of them. Trust me, she’s gone nuclear many a time. You can add in a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, and/or grate in a half a bar of dark chocolate, and/or toss in another bag of chocolate chips (Jo prefers more semi-sweet, but please yourself.)

Making them:

If your margarine isn’t nice and soft, nuke it in the microwave for five seconds and give it a stir. You can keep doing that until it’s good and soft. Stir in both sugars.Add egg and vanilla and take out your aggressions on the batter until they’re both well incorporated. Stir in the grated chocolate. (And extra grated chocolate and/or unsweetened cocoa powder if you’re Jo Gartner-ing them.)

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and pinch of salt. If you’re feeling lazy, or the need to thwart authority, you can add the salt and baking soda directly to the batter, give it a mix, and then add the flour.

Open the bag of chocolate chips. Take a good deep whiff. Eat a few. They’re your cookies, and by gum if you want a few chocolate chips, you can darn well have them. Poor what’s left into the batter and give it a stir. (If you are Jo Gartner-ing them with extra chips, add them now.)

I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper because they no longer make aluminum cookie sheets and those heavy steel ones seem to work better with parchment paper. Also, the last ones I got had the manufactures information stuck to it with some glue like substance that didn’t fully come off the cookie sheet, no matter how hard I scrubbed, and though I’m sure it’s long gone by now, I don’t particularly want to eat even a trace of it. I slit my sister’s Silpat (sp? Eh, who cares.) sheets once with a spatula and ruined them, so obviously I don’t go that route. So, parchment paper.

Stick blobs of dough on the cookie sheet. My blobs are about the size of a fat, lumpy walnut. I put about 12 on a cookie sheet. Put it in the oven.After seven or eight minutes, give your cookies a check. If you like them chewy, take them out when they’re still white and a little raw in the middle. I take them out a few minutes after that, when they’re nice and brown on the edges but still a little pale in the middle.

This recipe turns out cookies that are chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.Slide them off onto brown paper grocery bags. I rip my paper bags (la la la, thinking of you, tech support) and use the inside as Lord only knows what’s in that ink they use.

Cookies are best between about five minutes and a half-hour after you’ve taking them out of the oven. The first hardening has set in. The second one, which eventually turns your cookies soft and stale, starts in after about a half hour. But that’s okay. If you’ve had a crappy day, there won’t be any cookies left after half-hour. If there are, these freeze really well. When they’re totally cool, toss in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. If you pop them in the toaster oven for about a minute until they defrost, they’ll taste as if you’ve just taken them out of the oven.

That’s it. These are the bomb for stress baking. Go forth and add decent cookies to your life! It’s important.

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Yeah, I’m behind in blogging. And I haven’t taken down the holiday decor here. I have an excellent reason…

Namely that I have been very busy being sick. I’m not kidding. I have managed to infect those around me, including–and this is impressive even to me–a friend who lives 10 miles away and whom I hadn’t seen for a month before I got the cold. Yeah, top that!

Now. I’m going to go back to my special box of tissues–Kleenex with the aloe and e lotion. I have done an exhaustive test on my own nose and I think they are the best available. Yes, I have put myself out there for the team.

Hope all of you are doing well in your new year! If you’re having a tough start, go snuggle up and read a book. Yeah, it’s an order.

7 Day Mistletoe Blog Hop Blog and Giveaway

Note: I’m participating in a great blog hop. Grand prize is a Nook filled with great books including UNDERDEAD. You can ALSO enter to WIN an ebook of UNDERDEAD by leaving a comment on my blog between December 16 and December 23. AND I’ll post the links to the other blogs (where you can win MORE great prizes) at the end of this blog. Exhausted already? Not to worry–this blog is for you!

 

Secret Holiday Relaxation Tips for the Shameless

Right now the idea of shopping or making anything–doing anything more–is so horrifying that I have been responding positively to a facebook posting about bacon and Twinkie sandwiches.

In fact, I can’t even remember what I was slated to write about. I think it was something sweet and special about the holidays (if anything about vampires can be sweet and special over the holidays) but already I’ve deep-sixed it.

All I can think about it how I’m going to relax. I need some down time in the worst way. I’ve started scheming of how to get and spend an hour or two all by myself so I can sink down on the couch with some snacks that are bad for my waistline but excellent for the inner woman…and then sink down for a nice long nap.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well that’s nice, but how do I relax when I’ve got people staying with me? Weird Uncle Fred is camping on my nap couch in the den.” I hear your pain (and your incipient hysteria–go have a chocolate break. It’s okay. We’ll wait. Back now? Better? Okay then…) So I’m going to share a really special holiday tradition with you that I guarantee will make you relaxed and happy. You do this after Christmas dinner. It’s particularly good after Thanksgiving dinner, but Christmas is good too. I can’t recommend it enough.

Ready?

Timing is important. You do this right after you’ve finished your meal when everyone’s a bit glassy eyed with food. You know the time–when they’re pondering whether they should roll themselves to the living room now or wait another half hour until they’ll actually fit through the door. That’s when you strike. You volunteer to clear the table. Stay with me now.

You grab a few of your favorite dishes off the table, sling a finger through the gravy boat handle and tear off into the kitchen before anyone can follow you. Then you eat off the serving spoons. Yes, you heard me. Spoon up a fat wad of mashed potatoes, drizzle a little leftover gravy on it and shove the whole wide-load into your mouth, completely ignoring the little horrified voice begging you to stop, the one that sounds a lot like your mother and your grandmother.

It’s sublime. Food tastes better this way. It’s the best part of the meal. No one will know. No one will be in there with you. They’ll think you’re being helpful and noble and doing dishes and will avoid the kitchen like you’re brewing up plague in there.
Go back and get some more dishes. Eat off those serving spoons.

Eventually guilt will get some more people up from the table to help with the washing up and–here’s the genius of this plan–they’ll probably shoo you out since you’ve been, “all alone working so hard in there.”

And then you can go have first crack at the box of See’s and eat up all the molasses chips before your sister can get to them.

Heh heh.

Remember, ’tis the season to be jolly!

Also remember to leave a comment to be entered in a holiday drawing for UNDERDEAD. And visit these other blogs for entertainment and lots of stuff to win!

Click here to enter in the grand prize (the fully loaded Nook). Who all is ON the nook? Here’s the full list:

A Brush of Darkness -Allison Pang (WINNER MUST DOWNLOAD THROUGH ADOBE DIGITAL EDITIONS)

A Hard Habit to Break – KC Kendricks

Angel in the Middle – Marie Dees

Betting on Hope – Kay Keppler

Blood of the Maple – Dana Marie Bell

Cry Wolf – Angela Campbell

Dearly Departed – Lia Habel

Entanglements – PR Mason

Eris – D. Renee Bagby

Golden – Joely Sue Burkhart

Grey’s Lady – Natasha Blackthorne

Her Dark Knight – Sharon Cullen

Hunting Kat – PJ Schnyder

Knight of Runes – Ruth A. Casie

Leading Her To Heaven – Kayleigh Jamison

Love on Cloud Nine – Linda Andrews

Lust on the Rocks – Dianne Venetta

Men of the Sea Anthology – Eliza Knight

Murdering Eve – Kelly Lee

Redaction – Linda Andrews

Relearning the Ropes – DC Juris

Risking Trust – Adrienne Giordano

Shadows & Dust – Yvonne Nicolas

Sloane Wolf – Margay Leah Justice

Snowy Encounters – Clarissa Yip

Soul Catcher – Vivi Dumas

The Alchemist’s Perfect Instrument – AL Davroe

The Demon He Knows – RA Vaughn

The Fallen Queen – Jane Kindred

The Knife’s Edge – Stephanie Draven

Underdead – Liz Jasper

What Not To Fear – Robert C. Roman

White Hot Christmas: Santa’s Claws – Stephanie Burke

THe above authors and many more are participating in the HOP, which means they are giving away stuff on their sites IN ADDITION to particupating in the Nook giveaway. So check them all out by clicking here:

And if you NEED ENTERTAINMENT RIGHT AWAY–I know the feeling–visit the Book Lovers Buffet. All books are 99cents for the holidays.

Whew–I need some eggnog! Happy Holidays! –Liz

Guest blogging at the 12 Days Mystery Books of Christmas

I’m over at Cozy Mystery Book Reviews.

On the first day of christmas my true love gave to me

UNDERDEAD by Liz Jasper

Please join me in welcoming our very first author for the “12 Days of Mystery Novels for Christmas”, Liz Jasper.

Liz is the author of the Undead Mysteries, UNDERDEAD and UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL, and is currently working on the third book in this fantastic series.

Newbie science teacher Jo Gartner thinks her life has reached an all time low when she realizes the biggest excitement of her year is the staff Christmas party. Then she gets bitten by a vampire. Sort of. And then she’s a murder suspect. The police are at her door, the Undead are at her windows, and her vampire traits are growing harder to hide by the minute. If she doesn’t figure out who to trust she won’t be alive long enough to worry about all those papers she still has to grade.

Liz is here today to talk about Christmas, and more importantly what mysteries are perfect to read at Christmas time!

Welcome Liz to Cozy Mystery Book Review. Let’s talk mysteries at Christmas. It’s winter and snowing up here in Canada, so I’m always spending a lot of time indoors reading mysteries at this time of the year. What is your favorite mystery novel to read at this time of the year? ….

 Click here for the rest of the interview and a chance to win a copy of UNDERDEAD. Warning, we’re fighting over Ranger from Janet Evanovich’s books.