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

Best Review Quotes Ever, from Kindle Nation

Rachel Dove just reviewed Underdead and Underdead In Denial for Kindle Nation–reading and posting the reviews in a record 2 days. (She’s going to make a steller teacher! Clearly has the chops and the sense of humor to succeed.)

  UNDERDEAD

“…a witty, funny read with more than enough mystery, intrigue and romantic tension to keep you reading till the last page….I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am already reading the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL, and I hear that the author is working on Book 3….keep them coming Liz!” Full Review

 

UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL (This review includes my new favorite quote)

“I loved this book …. This is Twilight with a brain. I adore Twilight, but Jo has more balls and brains than Bella has, which gives these books a ‘rare’ advantage…..” Full Review

 

Author’s note: Yes I AM working on #3. Have draft. Letting it sit while I work on getting Princess Crimson In A Very Wrong Fairy Tale polished and out.

 

 

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.

Beef with…pickles? Are you kidding me?

Nope. It’s called Rouladen. Or in my case, Rouladen that isn’t actually rolled. And it’s delicious.  One of those wonderful stews that takes what appears to be a contrary list of ingredients and somehow, with a little time, manages to become something wonderful. My Austrian grandmother used to make it. She was one of those cooks who made everything without a recipe, so a couple decades ago one of my aunts stood over her at the stove, night after night for months, writing down everything she did. The recipe I’m giving you is the one from my grandmother’s “cookbook”– a binder of Xeroxed pages that every household in the family has squirreled away in their kitchen. The only difference is I’ve added a little chicken broth instead of the traditional Depression era water.

I made a huge vat of it over Christmas for a family dinner last year—enough for 12 hungry adults because I wanted leftovers — and the eight of us, with eight different dietary preferences, nearly licked the platter clean. No leftovers to speak of. Even my sister, who isn’t much for beef, chowed down. It’s that good.

Rouladen–Unrolled and delicious

  • 1-1/2 lbs beef round or London broil cut in ¼ inch thick strips. Most butchers will cut it for you.  If you’re in a neighborhood where there are German residents, they’ll know what rouladen is. If not, just tell them you’re making brigole, the Italian stew, and you won’t have to bother explaining how you want the meat cut. (Note, I admit here to getting lazy sometimes and just cutting up cheap pot-roasts into slabs of whatever size and thickness my knife makes. I aim for long flat strips but let’s be real, I get chunks. Eh.  So long as you have pieces with long flat sides to brown, it does the job.)
  • 1 regular old yellow onion cut in strips or diced. Whatever floats your boat.
  • Dijon mustard (I use Grey Poupon or, as I call it, the big grey poop. Probably they won’t be hiring me to do their marketing any time soon.)
  • Dill pickles—not kosher or anything fancy. Just your cheap, supermarket brand dills.
  • No-salt-added chicken broth. Or low salt if you can’t find the former. Or a mixture of beef and chicken broth. Do not add all beef broth or it will taste as if it came from a can. Ick. if you’re feeling v. industrious, make your own beef or chicken broth, but don’t flavor it up with a lot of herbs.
  • Token amounts of pepper, flour, butter, vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil, as it doesn’t have a taste, is cheap where I live, and takes some abuse before it burns).

What to do: Pat the meat dry with paper towels, brush with Dijon mustard on one side and sprinkle with black pepper. Brown meat on both sides in a little vegetable oil. Remove.  Brown onions. Deglaze pan (scrape up brown bits) with a couple cups of broth.

At this stage, you can either dump everything into casserole, slap on the cover and throw it into a 325 oven. Or you can put the beef back in the pan, plop on a lid and leave it slowly simmering on low on the stove top. After 45 minutes or so, slice the pickles in quarters—3 or 4 pickles depending on size—you should have a good handful or two. If you are using low-salt broth instead of the no-salt-added, you can rinse the pickles first to get rid of some of the salt. (Though some salt-lovers will love going full strength salt all the way.) Add pickles to sauce. Continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes or until beef is tender.

The gravy will be thin. You can thicken it.  Mix 2 tbs of soft butter with 2tbs of flour in a bowl until you have mush. Put a quarter cup of gravy into a cup or bowl and mix in the flour/butter mixture until you have a paste. Stir this back into the stew and bring the stew back to a simmer.

Serve with rice, dumplings or noodles. Green beans and carrots go well with this. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. (As I did last Christmas).  You can also brown up up a beef bone and throw it in to the broth for flavoring.

I am not kidding, and I can’t explain why it is the case, but this is to die for. (Note, I stole a rouladen-like picture off the internet because I never think to take pictures while I’m cooking.)

This is part of a holiday recipe blog hop! Hop here to see more holiday recipes from authors who should be writing their next book but are tinkering in the kitchen instead!

Taking back the Back Back

I saw this car ad a few days ago in a magazine that was showcasing the third row of seats in the back of their fancy, behemoth SUV. The tag line was something on the order of “The Bak Bak seat is cool”.

Okay. First of all, it’s the Back Back for Pete’s sake. And I’m not sure I have their spelling correct, but it doesn’t really matter because however they had it, it was wrong. And that was just the beginning of their wrongness.

The back back is NOT cool. And it is not a row of comfortable leather seating.  The back back sucks. It’s not meant for people, not officially, and it usually has no seats. (Exception: the wagons with the pop up seats that faced the on coming traffic behind you, aka, the vomit seats.) It’s the place where people shove groceries and tire jacks and picnic blankets too filled with prickers ever to make it back into the house. It’s usually got cheap carpet that leaves rug burns and it’s got detritus from years of living and neglect. There are no seat belts. You usually have to climb over the back row of seats to get there and no one chooses to sit there. You get stuck there because you are the youngest or smallest or someone hates you and likes watching you suffer.

The only thing cool about the back back is that if you survived it in your childhood, you are somehow a tougher human being. The sort than can handle driving backwards around curvy hills. That can handle unmentionable goo on your clothes. That has learned to flip off bad drivers in oncoming traffic that have the gall to look at you as you sit huddled miserably in the rear of the car and smile and wave at you. 

There is NOTHING cool about sitting in a comfy third row of seats in a brand new SUV, probably with cupholders and tv’s and your own climate control. Unless you’re a coddled wimp. Maybe that’s why even the ad people shied away from calling it the back back and came up with a fancy yuppie name for it. 

Wimps.

Odd What Strikes One as Hilarious


 Okay, so this particular issue of The New Yorker came in the mail a while back and for whatever reason I LOVE this cover. I can’t explain why it makes me giggle and why I want to have it on my wall. I want to go to the effort of buying a frame for it and sticking it up near my UNDERDEAD books. And the number of such things I currently have framed on my wall? Zero.

It sort of seems obvious why I would find it funny. Afterall, I write cozy mysteries with vampires and this is pretty much in the spirit of my novels. And yet, there’s a decent chance that if someone had given this to me I would have held it with two fingered distain. In fact, I would think that the very obviousness of this cartoon would make me bored by it. But, nope! My eyes keep going to the picture as I type this and I get a little rush of giggle each time.

Humor is an odd, odd thing! I think that’s why we feel so close to people who share our sense of humor. So tell me–what’s something you find funny and you can’t quite explain why?