New Cover for Underdead! Underdead…when one bite just isn’t enough!

Genius cover artist Robert McAndrews has designed a new cover for Underdead. Both books will be re-released soon!

The lovely cover model is Ida Mary Walker, aka mizzd-stock

Click here to read the first 2 chapters of UNDERDEAD!

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What’s on your coffee mug?

Everyone has a favorite coffee mug.

I maintain that the mug you choose says something about you, or at least about the day your having.

When I was in college and in the the worst ever 8 am math class (Modern Abstract Algebra–shudder!), my mug sported a lovely pastoral Christmas scene. The mug was a holiday gift from my roommate, who had broken all the rest of my mugs and who thought I needed cheering. It was cheerful. It held coffee. It was fine. Until I lifted it up and it jangled out a Christmas tune. Loudly.

Professor: “There is an element e such that for all a in R–”

Liz’s coffee mug: “Oh! The weather outside is frightful…”

Liz: (Muffled)”Crap.”

Professor: “A times e equals e times a–”

What Liz Hears: “Blah blah blah blah”

Liz: (internal) “Must…have…caffeine.”

Liz’s coffee mug: “But the fire is so delightful–”

Liz: (Muffled) “Crap!”

Professor turns from board and sweeps baleful glance over classroom. Liz has yet to have a sip of coffee…

Professor: (going back to writing on board) “Equals a, then the–”

Liz’s coffee mug: “And since we’ve no place to goooo”

Professor: “Miss Jasper, would you please turn off your coffee mug? Some of us are trying to learn.”

Liz: “Sorry, professor.”

Liz’s brain: “Caffeine! Caffeine! Now! Now! NOW!”

Liz’s mug: “Let it snooooowwww.”

Liz: “Crap! I mean…Whoops! Sorry, professor. I thought if I covered the bottom it wouldn’t sing–nevermind. Sorry. Won’t happen again.”

Liz: (internal) sigh!

Professor: “Blah, blah, blah, Q.E.D.”

Thankfully, for all concerned, my coffee always went cold and undrunk in that mug so it was only a matter of time that I hit desperation and stuck it in the microwave to reheat and fried the music chip.

Which brings me to the coffee mug I am using today. Today I have lots of mug choices. Also, today I have roofers overhead. So far as I can tell, they’ve got fifty 400-lb linebackers up there with oversized power tools, nails the size of baseball bats, and cement boots.

Which means I am desperately clutching my Shakespearean slurs mug and trying to get coffee down my throat.

(Good gad what are they using now? The hammer of Thor?)

In between gulps I’m muttering the rudest slurs on the mug that I can find. “Canker-blossom!” I yell at the ceiling. “Roast meat for worms!”

The slurs seem inadequate. I’m going to do what murder mystery writers do. And, frankly, what I’m sure Shakespeare would have done, at the very least, if he’d had to deal with this kind of stuff. I’m going to fire up my pen and kill them off.

(First posted at The Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers blog Jan 2008)

 

Blogging about…stuff

I used to blog. A lot. At least it felt like it. I used to have my posts archived, as a service to anyone stupendously bored at work, but when I moved my website, I lost all the archives. So I’m reposting them here and in time they’ll be archived with this site.  Just in case anyone was wondering what the heck I’m doing posting old stuff on a new blog. I’m sure there are more direct ways of doing this, but I don’t know them, so I’m being…creative.

(The things authors do when they’re busy writing their next novel!)

Cranky Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know what the rest of you were doing this morning. Probably you were having a wonderfully relaxing time reading the Sunday paper and lingering over that second cup of coffee and third pancake.  At least I hope you were doing something nice like that to help out the global Sunday morning average while I was on the phone with computer technical support.

I am cranky.

When I’m in a foul mood, I bake.  Usually cookies.  And today, I’ll be making chocolate chip. Now, my mother 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

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 EXTRACT
  • 1 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 AT 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
  • A 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 blind taste testing. Use whatever you like.)

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.

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.

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 just taken them out of the oven.

I can only hope no one besides me has to make these today.

(Original posting on Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers blog 10/2007)