Mayday! Mayday! Booklover’s buffet party tomorrow, May 1, 2014–great indy book finds!

Join yours truly and a bunch of great authors tomorrow when we have a Facebook party 3-10 EST!

Welcome to the Booklovers’ Buffet.

The Buffet will be open to the public on May 1, 2014.

To celebrate, we’re hosting a Facebook party, also on May 1 from 3-10 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Please join us for lots of fun and prizes from more than 50 participating authors.

Facebook Party here

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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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CRIMSON IN THE VERY WRONG FAIRY TALE coming soon!

The copy edits are done. It’s off to the line editor for the final type-oh check.  ETA July!!! (On the off-chance anyone reading this hasn’t spent quality time in airports waiting for flights, ETA means Estimated Time of Arrival. And if you are reading that and going, “Ohhhh, that’s what that means,” I envy you.) 

Crimson has a strategy for surviving high school. Blend in. Don’t cause trouble.
It works pretty well–until her sixteenth birthday when her long-lost father shows up and all hell breaks loose.
Literally.
It turns out that he is a demon king, which makes Crimson…a princess. Of Darkness.
Her castle is a sulfur-reeking cavern underground. Her Princess Training has nothing to do with tea and crumpets. Prince Charming isn’t rushing in to save her. And, to top it off, she still has to go to high school.
She can’t tell anyone the truth, not even her best friends. To survive, she will have to risk everything and use a cunning she didn’t know she possessed. And even then there’s no guarantee she or anyone she cares about will be alive tomorrow–for neither Hell nor high school comes with a manual.

 

Liz Jasper here again. Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale  is a YA (Young Adult) book. That basically means it’s written for teens but adults ignore that and read it anyways. At least that’s what I do. Crimson in the Very Wrong Fairy Tale is the first in a three book series. It will be available in trade paperback and as an ebook. And, yes, I’m back to writing the Underdead books now. The Underdead series will have at least two more books.

And as a special note for Father’s Day, thank you Dad for supporting my writing in your own, special Liz’s Dad way–by giving me all the reference books you can get your sticky fingers on and then telling everyone you know to buy everything I publish. You Rock. Special dinner tonight for you!

 

Have cover, will post! Crimson In the VERY Wrong Fairy Tale

Hi everyone. Book status update. I’ve got the first draft of the third book in the Underdead series done and am (reluctantly) putting it aside for a bit so that I can attack it fresh later. Gotta honor one’s writing process. In the meantime, I’ve started another series that I love. I’m planning to release CRIMSON IN THE VERY WRONG FAIRY TALE this winter. Here’s the first peek.

(Mis-) Naming your pet

We had this cat, Fuzzy. No, I did not name her. I would not have named her something so insipid, so…generic. In my family, we like to get a feel for the cat’s personality before naming him or her. (Unfortunately, this often leads to confusion, as the cat’s name tends to change over time as we get to know him or her better.)

Anyway, the point is. my cat’s personality was not the sort that goes with “Fuzzy”. “Fuzzy” belongs to a sweet cat. A nice cat. The sort that sits on your lap and purrs.

THIS cat was more the sort to sit on someone else’s lap and purr, just to stick it to you. And she’s not cute the way a name like Fuzzy would imply. Frankly, she was much, MUCH better looking than that. You know that euphemism about someone having a “good personality”? Well Fuzzy was the reverse. She had a terrible personality. We kept her because she was so darned good-looking. She was a ridiculously cute cat.

Eventually, after a few years of spurning, we got over her blinding cuteness, stopped calling her Fuzzy and started calling her by the name that went with her personality: That Little Turd.

But even that name didn’t last forever. As will happen, The Little Turd got old and her kidneys went on the blink. Which means I had to give her (foul tasting) meds twice a day and inject her with some stuff. As you might imagine, there was a lot of hiding under furniture and complaining. Often by me. We changed her name to Cranky Pants. That lasted about a minute, until we got caught in the death ray of her glare at being, once again, named something insipid. She became known from then on as Bitter Butt.

About that time I moved. I was good. I read all the books. I bought her treats and crooned at her. I bought two litter boxes so Bitter Butt could have her pick. And how did she respond? How did she show her gratitude?

Spite peeing. She never used the litter boxes unless it was as a place to stand while she went off the side. She hit the bathroom rugs, so you’d get a little damp surprise under your feet if you had to go in the middle of the night. She went inside closets. On luggage, towels, and electronics. She particularly enjoyed peeing on iPods. I don’t have an iPod. But she could sense it from two rooms away if a guest brought one in the house and was stupid enough to leave it unattended.

You might be reading this and thinking, “Oh that poor sweet dear kitty! So traumatized at illness and moving.” That just goes to show you’re a total sucker for a pretty face. “She was just expressing her feelings,” you insist.

Of course Bitter Butt was expressing her feelings! The feeling she was expressing most often was enjoyment in watching me me get down on my hands and knees and scrub up after her, coughing my way through thick vinegar clouds. I could tell because off in the distance, I could hear that rarest of all Fuzzy sounds: her purring. The little turd.

Anyone else gravely mis-named a pet?

Plotting by Magic Eight Ball

 

I don’t know why I’ve bothered to take all those classes, why I’ve wasted blood sweat and tears over my book plots…when I could simply have used a Magic Eight Ball.

“Yes!” it agrees.

Consider this passage beginning from a potential novel. “Esmeralda looked out her window and saw…”

Now, I could spend hours debating what she saw. I could dither over the wisdom of opening the novel with my heroine spying on something. I could fret over the sentence structure. And so on. You know, the usual writer’s angst.

OR

I could simply use the Magic Eight Ball.

Liz Jasper (to the Magic Eight Ball): Should Esmeralda see her hero?

Magic Eight Ball: Signs point to yes.

LIZ JASPER: Hmmm. I guess that means she should see him, but indirectly. Maybe he’s in costume?

Magic Eight Ball: Concentrate and ask again.

LIZ JASPER: Right, right. She sees him getting into his carriage on the way to a costume ball.

Magic Eight Ball: Reply hazy try again.

LIZ JASPER: They’re in the carriage together, on the way to a costume ball and he has on one of those mask thingies. AND, that when she realizes her guardian is the mystery man she kissed in the garden at the last costume ball!

Magic Eight Ball: Cannot predict now.

LIZ JASPER: And she knows he’s on his way to meet his fiancée, to whom he was promised at birth but has never seen, and Esmeralda knows she cannot let him marry someone else because she loves him! So she rings for her maid and dons the gown from that fateful night, the gown she swore never to wear again, and secretly follows him to the ball in the second best carriage!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Dammit! No, you’re right. It’s been done. Hmm. How about she goes with him to the ball and that’s when she realizes he’s the one?  Maybe when they’re dancing together?

Magic Eight Ball: Very doubtful.

LIZ JASPER:  You know, this is very annoying! Why can’t you like any of my ideas? I’m a published author, you know.  An award-winning published author. Fine, that was mysteries and the Esmeralda book is a historical romance, but still.  Authors need to stretch themselves. Who are you to say I can’t write a big thick romance?  Screw you.  She’s going to that darn dance, she’s going to follow him out of the garden, and she’s going to…to seduce that blind fool!

Magic Eight Ball: My sources say no.

LIZ JASPER: Fine. She’ll stumble and he’ll clutch her to him–just for the sake of keeping her from falling—and  then they’ll kiss. Ha HAH! Now that’s good stuff.

Magic Eight Ball: Outlook not so good.

LIZ JASPER: You’d probably like it if they didn’t even exchange a smoldering look!

Magic Eight Ball: Most likely.

LIZ JASPER: Maybe You think I should be working on the next Underdead book like I’m supposed to be!

Magic Eight Ball: “As I see it, yes”

As you can see, the Magic Eight Ball can save you hours of time wasting and even help you with time management! I’d let you borrow mine, but it’s having some technical difficulties right now. Maybe when the glue dries…

NOVEMBER NEWS

     Almost Turkey Day!

(Hey, I LIKE Thanksgiving. I’d do a countdown but I figure my time is better spent in the Thanksgiving spirit of looking up recipes of things I can slop gravy over. Mmmm. Gravy! No, I’m not sharing. Get your own gravy bowl!)

Award winning UNDERDEAD  and the sequel UNDERDEAD IN DENIAL are now available in eBook and trade paperback!

 

“Jo is terrific! An entertaining lighthearted romp!”~~Midwest Book Review 

“UNDERDEAD is certainly not your typical vampire story, it’s better!”~~ Two Lips Reviews

“Hilariously funny…a page-turner extraordinaire”~~MyShelf

“Fun to read murder mystery with vampires rivals TWILIGHT series”
~~ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction

 

As a launch special, the eBook version of UNDERDEAD will be on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. To find links to both books in whatever format you prefer, click here.

WHERE TO FIND LIZ IN NOVEMBER: Pin Up Hair Emporium and Unique Boutique. Reading, book signing and wine and cheese and palm reading. You saw it right, palm reading. 6-8:30. 1560 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA