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?

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Underdead With A Vengeance–news on the third book in the series

I feel like I have to start this post with,”No, I haven’t died,” which I do realize is how my last posting started. Nevertheless… No, I haven’t died. I HAVE been working on the third book in the Underdead series. And I’m here because yesterday I finished a rewrite pass. Hooray!
Now, some writers would have used “the” re-write pass. (Jealous moment.) I’ll be doing another one before I send it off to my editor.

But, that’s all fine tuning, and as a former Life Science teacher who used to spend quality time with microscopes, I can attest that fine tuning means the end is in sight. (Note: nylons and fresh lettuce leaves (chloroplast streaming makes you wonder at the definition of what is alive) are very cool under a microscope. Never get tired of them.) (Or parenthetical phrasing!)

So, third book coming soon. There will be a fourth for certain. And possibly many more.

I need a wee bit of space before I look at the book again, and I won’t know what to do with myself if I don’t spend my commute time and lunch hours writing so I might actually post blogs. I know, you’ll all faint from the shock if that happens.

Happy Labor Day everyone! I’m going to put the computer away, get off the couch and go for a hike.

I haven’t died but I might be turning into a dwarf

Sneezy, to be specific. I refuse to consider that I am suddenly succumbing to seasonal allergies so turning into a dwarf is the only logical explanation for my sudden onset tissue needs.

Other than that very exciting update, the fun news here is that I’m hard at work writing the third book in the Underdead series. Woo hoo!

Jo at home

This week I’m composing a brilliant (yes, sarcasm is part of Bad Limerick Wednesday) verse about Jo.

There once was a Milky way
That on Jo Gartner’s shirt went astray
It didn’t stay new
But melted into goo
And she…ate it anyway

If you’ve read the Underdead books, you’ll know that I’ve captured Jo at home in her sweats when no one is around.

Be honest, you’d eat it too. Surely you’ve eaten something off your shirt before?

And yes, I realize I seem to be unclear on the concept of Limerick Wednesday, seeing as it is Tuesday. Not to worry–I feel a few Thursday postings in my future. It will allll average out.

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!