Friday, December 31, 2010

Celebrate with Salsa (not the dance)

Of course, you can dance if you want to! I feel like it today!

I'm talking celebration and salsa today at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Woo-hoo! Great review!

I am *thrilled* to share this link with you:
The Season for Romance reviewed Buffalo West Wing and I couldn't be more excited!

Kat wrote the review - and you can find it by clicking the little brown bar beneath the cover jpg on the site.

Woo-hoo - Thank you Season for Romance! Thank you Kat!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not exactly America's Next Top Model...

What a fun morning! The Chicago Tribune sent out a photographer who was just so kind and charming. Not to mention patient! Zbigniew was just such a great guy and took a boatload of pictures. Only one will make it into the news paper (Book Section, January 1st!!) and I asked if there was anywhere I'd be able to see the rest of them. Unfortunately not. I swear he must have taken 400 shots, if not more. Some with the cats. Some with a knife (LOL) and some just looking bookish. No idea which one will emerge as the winner. All I asked is that I not look fat.

Zbigniew said that, and "make me look younger" are the two biggest requests he gets.

They say the camera adds ten pounds. Yikes!

I can't wait to see how this article turns out. I so enjoyed talking with Julia Keller. She's wonderful.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Free Bookmarks (with a catch)


My bookmarks for Buffalo West Wing finally arrived today! They were due here in early December, but were held up due to circumstances beyond my control. I've been waiting eagerly for them to arrive and hoping they turned out well.

Very happy to report that they look great. The front is Buffalo West Wing and the back features covers of the first three WHChef mysteries. I think they're pretty cool. There's even room on the back for me to sign them. Perfect!

Tonight (or early tomorrow) I'll be mailing out bunches to bookstores who requested them. I bet those booksellers thought I forgot. I swear, I didn't!

Additionally, I would love to send out bookmarks to readers who want them, but there is a catch. Mailing one bookmark costs 44 cents. Believe it or not, that's more than I earn per book sold. (Seriously. When authors tell you they write for the love of writing, believe it!)

Anyway, here's the deal that I think will work for everyone: If you would be willing to share extra bookmarks with reader friends of yours, I'll be happy to send you *five* bookmarks (the maximum per envelope at 44 cents). You keep one and share the other four. That's the catch. That's it. Pretty easy.

I love when readers recommend my books to friends and if I can help by sending out bookmarks, then I'm thrilled to do so.

Now... if you belong to a group - women's club, men's club, book discussion group, etc. and you'd like more than five to pass out at one of your meetings - 25, or 50, even - just let me know. Yes, that will cost me far more than 44 cents, but I would be very happy to do it. Just let me know how many you need for your event and I'll scurry off to the PO to get them out to you.

To request bookmarks, please send me an email:

Julie Hyzy (at) gmail (dot) com

no spaces, of course.

Please put BOOKMARK REQUEST in the subject and let me know how many you need and where to send them. Please also let me know if you plan to share - I am willing to send 5 at a time - and unless you mention that you're willing to share in your email, I'm going to suspect that a robot is sending the request. Let me know you're a human, let me know that you're sharing. If you need a big bunch for your group, please let me know that, too - and specify how many you need - minimum 10.

UNITED STATES recipients only. Thank you!

That's it. Couldn't be easier, right?

Oh, and one more small catch. If you request bookmarks and aren't already receiving my newsletter, you'll be signed up to receive them automatically.

Remember, Buffalo West Wing comes out January 4th!
(Nothing like waiting to the last minute with these bookmarks, huh?)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Manuscript in One Day Early!

Just turned in the manuscript for White House Chef Mystery #5, which - as of this moment - is not yet titled. As I mentioned earlier, I intended to call it Secretary of Steak, but that one isn't going to fly. We'll see.

Now I get to turn my attention to blog posts that are due on other sites as Buffalo West Wing debuts. That one hits the bookstores on January 4th.

I'm also gearing up with changes for this site. I have lots of great plans for 2011. Hope you'll stay tuned to see what's new.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reading Aloud even without a Title!

Here I am again - the manuscript for WHChef #5 is finished, but I need to read the entire thing aloud to catch any last-minute problems. It always amazes me how much I do catch.

Wording that looked good on the page for the past couple of months doesn't always hold up when read aloud. That's why I do this, even though it results in a super-dry mouth and family members waiting patiently outside my "cave" - wondering when the murmuring will stop.

Last night I had a truly wonderful time hanging out with my writing group -- The Southland Scribes -- at the local Buca de Beppo. Even though I don't attend group meetings anymore, these generous people invite me to the holiday party and that's always a hoot. Even more fun this year was running into a bunch of other friends who were out with their Bunco group. They had a table in the next room.

One of the friends in the other room, Margie, had come up with the title for Buffalo West Wing. I lamented that I had no title yet for WHChef #5. I'd originally planned to go with Secretary of Steak, but that one isn't going to fly. Anyway, Margie and her group - and I and my group set to come up with a great title. Nothing solid yet... but lots of wonderful ideas out there.

Nothing like waiting till the last minute, huh? The manuscript goes in next week!

Hope you're enjoying the holiday season, and attending all the parties you can, too!

Monday, December 06, 2010


For those of you who get my newsletter... you may remember I promised to announce the winner of my "Share my newsletter" contest today.

The winner of the contest (and soon-to-be recipient of a $25 gift certificate) is:


Heather, I will be in touch ASAP!

Thanks for entering, everone!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tune in Today!

I'm on BlogTalkRadio today.

Noon central time, 10:00 AM PST - here: BlogTalkRadio
The show runs for about an hour. Hope you can stop by!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tomorrow - BlogTalkRadio!

Very excited because tomorrow I will be interviewed by Susan Wingate and Joshua Graham. Their show, DIALOGUE - Between The Lines - will be broadcast on BlogTalkRadio.

The show airs at 10:00 AM PST, which is... hmm... noon central time? Don't worry, I'll be ready on time :::grin:::

Here's the link: Between the Lines

Hope you listen in. Joshua and Susan said they might take call-in or chat questions from the audience.

Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Go, go to the light!!!

I set up the most perfect trap for Ollie to walk into. Guess what? She won't do it!
Argh. That girl has a mind of her own.

Or maybe the trap isn't so perfect after all.

Back to the drawing board... er... keyboard.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fresh Pick!

Fresh Fiction has chosen EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS as a Fresh Pick.

They say:

The Fresh Pick is chosen by a group of readers and is never a
purchased advertisement or promotion. We've chosen your book
because it appeals to us and we like to share our diverse tastes
in reading and hope other readers will give it a try.

Please click above to visit FRESH FICTION's site!

Woo-hoo! Pretty exciting!

Monday, November 22, 2010


More pictures from Europe. Today's visit: Luxembourg - where my mom's family hails from.

Curt with my cousin Will.
Will drove us just about everywhere in Luxembourg all day. He's 85 years old and incredibly generous with his time and knowledge. By the end of the day Curt and I were dozing in the car. Willy never slowed down.

One of many, many WWII memorials. This one for the Battle of the Bulge. Incidentally, one of Curt's uncles lost his life there on Christmas, 1944. From what we could tell, Luxembourg loves America.

In Wiltz - the house (much remodeled) where my grandmother and one of my uncles were born.

My great-grandmother, Catherine Schumacher-Minden, along with everyone else listed on this memorial, was killed by the Nazis when their cave hideout was discovered. Look at some of the ages 6 mois - 6 months, 2 semaines - 2 weeks. I remembered hearing these stories from my mom who'd heard them from her mother, but to see this in person just brought it all home.

A memorial where a school once stood. The Nazis killed two teachers here, in front of students. We'd just missed the anniversary, but you can see by the flowers that even now, so many decades later, those who died have not been forgotten.

Beautiful country.

The Old City. (My header at the top of this blog is also from the Old City. It's gorgeous!)

My favorite part of the visit to Luxembourg - getting to know my family. Clockwise from the front, left:
Xavier, Maria, me, Jean-Claude, Georgette, Christiane, Willy.

Why are we all laughing? Because Willy is smiling!
Good job, Curt!

We absolutely cannot wait to go back!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Did I mention my updated Website?

My website has been updated!! Woo-hoo!!
Thank you, Beth (CincinnatiMedia)

Not only is Buffalo West Wing up there, but the new cover for Grace Interrupted (June, 2011) is too! Love it.

With links for the Kindle versions of my old titles and a couple of new photos... I'm feeling great!

PS - It's Friday and you know what that means? I'm blogging at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Today... Pumpkin Pie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Comment and be entered to win

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be blogging on Killer Characters today and that I was running a contest. One lucky commenter at that blog will win a $10 bookstore gift certificate. Well, today's the day!

So... hurry over to Killer Characters and say hello!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tune in Tomorrow...


Tomorrow is the 18th and I'm wresting control of Killer Characters out of the hands of the Marshfield gang to announce a contest. One lucky commenter on the Killer Characters' site will win a $10 bookstore gift certificate.

So, pop on over there and see what the blog is all about. Leave a comment and be entered.

See you there!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Murder and Mayhem in Muskego!


I had the best time up in Muskego. Thank you to the wonderful Penny Halle, Ruth and Jon Jordan, and all the people who make this event possible. I was particularly thrilled to see Kim and Dave and Michelle again and to meet Mary F. for the first time.

Loved being able to connect again with so many friends and meet new ones, as well. What a fun crowd!

By the way, my publicist, Dana Kaye absolutely rocks. She was updating me throughout the weekend on how some promotional ventures were progressing. She's just so cool and I love her to pieces.

There was one cozy panel - featuring Denise Swanson, Shirley Damsgaard, Joanna Campbell-Slan, Deb Baker (Hannah Reed) and me. Last year we'd roped the handsome and studly Tom Shreck as our moderator and we were thrilled he agreed to come back for a repeat performance. He's great. A perfect foil for all of us, funny, witty, and very quick with the comebacks. Loved it.

We had so much fun and got a lot of laughs. Love these ladies (and Tom)!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Thanks for all the posts re: my Cozy Mystery question! It's so great to know these books have so much support from readers (and every cozy mystery author I know is a cozy reader, too!).

Speaking of cozies, I'll be on a mystery panel in about two hours - at Murder and Mayhem in Muskego - with authors Deb Baker, Denise Swanson, Joanna Campbell Slan, and Shirley Damsgaard, talking about our books and why we write them.

Thank you again!
More later...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cozy Mystery?

Just a couple quick questions here.
- Who has heard the term "cozy mystery"?
- Do you read them?

You can answer in the comment section, or email me. Just curious this Friday morning...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Moment of Triumph!

Remember not all that long ago I talked about the Star Trek convention and how I won the Trivia Challenge?

Well now (just in case you doubted the story) I have proof!

A lovely woman named Tammy was in the audience and snapped this picture which she just emailed to me:

That's me, just right of center, wearing a pink shirt (never a red shirt!! LOL) and a black sweater. Plus, I'm the only person holding up "NO."

I'm adding a second shot here, slightly zoomed in. Check out my very thoughtful expression. At that moment I was thinking, "No... his name is Porthos!"

Woo-hoo! Thanks for sending this, Tammy!
There's a PS to all this: I decided to send Tammy a copy of Grace Under Pressure as a thank you for sending this photo to me and guess what? She lives and works in a town/business called Marshfield. Just like Marshfield Manor in the book.

What a fun coincidence.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Krashing into Kindle

I did it. Finally, right? I put three of my out-of-print novels up on Kindle. They've been on Smashwords/nook/Sony/etc. for a couple of months, but not on Kindle. Until now.

If you know of anyone who owns a Kindle or who reads books on devices supported by that platform, and they like mysteries, I would appreciate you sharing the following links. Below are are my three first novels - originally published in hardcover. Eventually I hope to put some short stories up, too!

Artistic License (my first novel, ever!) - this is a standalone romantic suspense, btw.
After five years in a bad marriage, Annie Callaghan filed for divorce, quit her job, and began to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. But in the process, she made one very big mistake. As she tries her best to get her life back together with the help of an attractive widower, she inadvertently puts events into motion that draw her into a conspiracy involving a stolen masterpiece and murder.

Deadly Blessings
First in the Alex St. James Mystery series. Chicago news researcher Alex St. James is preparing to interview a young Polish immigrant - pregnant by a Catholic priest - when the woman is found murdered. Alex investigates, making enemies of powerful people in the Chicago Archdiocese. Unless she backs away from the story, the next thing Alex might hear are her own Last Rites

Deadly Interest
Second in the Alex St. James series. Reeling from public humiliation by a former lover, Alex St. James comes home to find that her neighbor has been murdered. Drawn into the investigation, Alex uncovers a shocking secret buried long ago. Determined to untangle the web of duplicity spun by those around her, Alex must face down the killer, a formidable foe with a Deadly Interest in her future.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Tower of London

In a prior post I mentioned that my husband and I climbed to the top of nearly every monument we visited on our European trip. By the time we got to the Duomo in Florence, I was starting to get very dizzy on circular staircases. Here's one from the Tower of London, below.

I don't know about you, but here, on my first trip to Europe, when the guide book said "Tower of London" I expected a huge tower. Like the one where you find Big Ben. Like the two from London Bridge (which was, incidentally, not falling down).

But the Tower of London is a former "keep" and -- if I'm remembering correctly -- this is the place William the Conquerer established for the monarchy to reside. Back in oh, about 1066, I think.

I loved this place, and we did climb to the top of the White Tower, the central structure of the keep.

This was only about four stories, so this was not one of our marathon climbs. But I wanted to talk about it today because our visit there was fascinating. I have about fifty pictures from this visit alone. I want to include them all, but time and space are holding me back. For now, just a few highlights (more to come):

The former moat. I guess it was a great moat for many years, until progress and other changes turned it into a sewer. (Sounds like the Chicago River these days.) Not such a happy place to keep a fortress at that point, so it was eventually drained and grassed in.


Isn't this gorgeous? This is the chapel inside the Tower of London. Some period movies were filmed here. Can't you just see Henry the Eighth striding to his seat? Can't you see a suspicious character eavesdropping from behind one of those pillars?


Those blue doors are painted in Victoria Blue and that residence (note the guard) is where the queen sleeps if she ever chooses to stay overnight at the Tower of London. From what we gathered, she doesn't visit often.

The grassy area above - and one directly opposite, not pictured - are where you could be beheaded, but only if you were very special. Anne Boleyn was beheaded here. As was Catherine Howard and Anne's sister, Jane Boleyn. Now, if you were just a regular, garden-variety beheadee, you were required to suffer your fate in town, in front of a sea of spectators.
This area was reserved for only the closest of the king's friends.

Oh, how lucky they must have felt!


Anybody looking for a knight in shining armor? I found one!
Well, I found his armor, at least!

More soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Encouragement for New Writers

Did I ever tell you that my first professional publication was in Star Trek, Strange New Worlds, Volume V?

I'd been writing, well, forever. Pretty much since I knew how to craft letters with a pencil. I loved books, loved stories, and couldn't wait to tell some of my own. But for all of you who love to tell stories, you know: Writing isn't the tough part. Submitting is. And rejection can be even worse.

Flash forward to the year 1999. I finally worked up the nerve to submit a short story to Strange New Worlds. It was an annual contest and I'd read the prior volumes, amazed by the stories I found there. Even better, there was an AOL group (remember those?) that chitchatted about how to enter, what mistakes to avoid (no staples, no wacky fonts, and for heaven's sake don't require the recipient to have to sign for it!). I sent in a story. But I still made a huge mistake. I forgot to include the SASE. Turns out the editor was sending comments back that year in checklist form. Comments that might have helped with writing the next entry. I blew it!

It's near the end of 2000 and I'm submitting again. This time I wrote a story that meant something to me. I sat down and made it the best story I could. But I hedged on sending it. I waited until the very last minute, and decided I had to mail it or I'd never know what might have been. So I rushed to the PO and paid a ridiculous sum of money to have it overnighted.

I couldn't wait to see the results online. But on the day the winners were announced, I sat back in my chair, disappointed. My story hadn't been chosen. But at least this time I'd included the SASE so I hoped, really hoped for some feedback.

Here's my favorite part of the story:
About a month later, mid-afternoon, just before the kids got home, the phone rang. It was the editor, Dean Wesley Smith, calling me at home. What???
I knew I hadn't won a spot in the anthology so I couldn't imagine why he was calling.

But he explained. He really liked my story. Liked it a lot. But because of other reasons, reasons that make perfect sense, it couldn't be published. To be honest, I kinda thought that might be a problem even as I wrote it.

In case I haven't made it clear: That phone call meant the world to me. Dean taking the time out to tell me that my story was good made me realize -- maybe for the first time -- that I really could do this. That maybe I had what it took to be a writer. I can't even begin to explain what an important moment this was for me.

So... why am I telling you this today? Because Dean, and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who have since both become friends, have a whole lot of information to share about the publishing world. Between them they've probably published 150 (more?) novels and countless short stories. They've edited, published, written, taught. You name it. They're great people and extremely generous with their knowledge.

Dean writes the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing blog and Kris writes the Freelancer's Survival Guide. Do you want to be a writer? Then click on either, or better yet, both, and read and read and read. I just noticed today that Dean mentions my short story in his latest chapter of Killing the Sacred Cows and it brought back a flood of memories. That's what inspired me to share it here.

What happened next, you ask? In 2001, I submitted a new story (I actually submitted a couple that year) and saw my first publication in SNW 5, in 2002. Then again in 2003 and 2004 (my "Life's Work" actually won the grand prize that year). And that year, 2004, was the same year my first novel was published by Five Star.

It's 2010 now, and I have two series with Berkley. Love them both. I've won writing awards (woo-hoo) and I'm doing exactly what I wanted to be doing since I was about six years old. I'm having the time of my life.

Dean's call that day still stands as the very best rejection I've ever received. And it probably will always be the best rejection ever.

I am so lucky he took the time to encourage this new writer. To me, it made all the difference.

So, new writers - read those two blogs linked above. And don't stop writing.

Author, editor, and agent friends - when you see something in a new writer's work that catches your eye, maybe take a minute to let that new writer know. It could make all the difference to them.

Thanks, Dean!

What I really want to vote for...

Today is election day and that makes me very happy. Why? Because as of today, the phone calls stop. The constant, annoying, robocall, useless phone calls stop. Woo-hoo!!

There I am, right in the middle of writing an intense scene, and the phone rings - shattering my concentration. Doesn't matter that I see it's an unfamiliar number and let it go to voicemail. Too late. The moment is lost. Elizabeth Spann Craig, an author friend of mine, suggested we all return the favor when our books come out. We can call these politicians - winners, losers, who cares? - and incessantly urge them to buy our books. I love it.

But if there was a vote for no more political calling, I'd be first in line!

Does anyone make his or her voting decision based on a recorded phone call? Have you ever been swayed by a call like that? Do you know anyone who has?

Seems to me these candidates are throwing money away.

Just my two cents here, on election day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Feed the birds...

The header at the top of this page was changed recently. Did you notice? This new picture is from Luxembourg - the old city. My husband and I visited there in September, on our whirlwind Europe trip.

Visiting Luxembourg and meeting family there was a true highlight, and I'll post more about that later. But I wanted to share a few pictures of the trip in general and just a bit of the fun:

St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Did you know there are over 500 steps to get to the very top?
We climbed every single one.
See the picture below? That teeny, tiny tower at the top of the dome?
That's where we wound up.

As I post more about the trip, you'll begin to notice a theme: climbing to the top of every available monument. No wonder I didn't gain weight!

This is a little window cut into the floor about halfway up to St. Paul's dome. The view is to the cathedral's floor. Pretty cool.

A quick stop for pictures and then... more climbing! Mind you, we had gone straight from the airport (10AM) to the hotel to drop off our luggage and then on to explore London. Five hundred steps on no sleep. But we were still smiling!

Isn't this a cool shot?

View from the top!

Back down on the ground again. I was trying to be the Bird Woman from Mary Poppins here, but the pigeons noticed I didn't have any crumbs to give them and they ignored me. Smart birds.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I hope to get a newsletter out soon. With this deadline and so much else going on, it may take me longer than I hope to get it polished and out to you. If you haven't yet signed up, please take a moment to do so now. I hope to include photos (or links to photos) of some of my recent events.

Also - Good News!

I discovered today that Grace Under Pressure will be released in LARGE PRINT! That edition should be released right about the same time the new White House Chef book - Buffalo West Wing - comes out.

A lot of readers ask about large print and I usually don't find out about them until just before they're released. Like now. It's October and the large print Grace comes out January 1st.

But I am very happy to announce it here. I can't wait to see the cover. This is a different company than has produced the White House Chef books in large print. I'm curious to see what their covers look like. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grace is going to Turkey!

It's been posted on PublishersMarketplace so I think it's safe to announce it here...

Grace Under Pressure will be published in Turkey! My agent sold the Turkish rights last week and according to the contract it should be in print within 12 months. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy! When I do, I'll be sure to post a photo here.

I'm excited. My first foreign rights sale! Time to celebrate!!

By the way, I'm working on my next newsletter as we speak... if you haven't signed up, please jump in. I'm not obnoxious and I only send them out from time to time. Probably 4 - 6 times per year. Maybe not even.

I'd better get back to work now. Ollie is in the middle of a jam and I'm not sure how to get her out...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Got My Geek on this Weekend!

Yes, I have a book deadline. Yes I know, I shouldn't be out playing on the holodeck when I'm running behind schedule on my timeline. Maybe I can figure out a way to do a slingshot around the sun and warp back in time to get more words done.

Nah.. figuring out the math would take too long.

I'd promised our youngest that we would do the Star Trek convention this weekend and we did! We had hoped to take a photo with Leonard Nimoy but he was a no-show. Unfortunately he had to have some minor surgery and couldn't make it to the con. Bummer!


Number one: My daughter and I meeting Armin Shimerman and Max Grodenchik (Quark and Rom from Deep Space Nine). I had no idea what to expect but these guys were great. Charming, generous, fun. And so cute!

Who knew you could love a Ferengi?

Number two: Winning the Star Trek Trivia contest. Yes, seriously! I won a certificate for $200 worth of ST merchandise. I won on the second question. Can you believe it? They were yes/no questions for 30 of us up on stage. They started with an easy one about Mark Lenard (Sarek). We lost a participant or two on that one. The second question was about Archer's beagle. The question was worded to sound as though it was asking if Archer had a beagle (yes) but in the question, the emcee threw in the dog's name - Athos.

Everybody knows the beagle's name Porthos. I held up my "No" sign. Everybody else held up "Yes."
And I won.

The emcee almost decided on a do-over because the "Yes" folks complained. But the audience voted that down and my win stood. Woo-hoo!!!

My daughter got to take a picture with Christopher Lloyd. He seems like a very nice man. Not terribly comfortable on stage, but nice.

The biggest surprise was how much I liked Casey Biggs (Damar). I never really gave him a lot of thought. Mind you, we're currently Netflixing the entire DS9 series and we're only in season 5. I think Damar starts playing bigger roles soon. Although Curt and I watched the show ages ago, when it was originally on, there is so much we forgot...

Anyway, Casey Biggs turned out to be an interesting surprise. I knew I would like Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat), Chase Masterson (Leeta), and Jeff Combs (how can you not like the guy who played Brunt, Weyoun, Weyoun, Weyoun, etc., and Shran?). But I had no idea I'd be so impressed by Casey Biggs. He, Jeff, and Marc did about an hour or so of Shakespeare. Yes, I said Shakespeare. Most of these actors are classically trained. Really wonderful performances. By the way, great quote of the weekend: Armin Shimerman said "...technobabble and Shakespeare... are not all that different." Before all you English majors go nuts, let me provide context. He was talking about how, as an actor, you have to make the words understandable for the audience. Shakespeare can be difficult to understand. So can technobabble. He was explaining how his training helped make him a stronger actor in all circumstances.

The only downside was that so much was shared about Deep Space Nine (spoilers) that my daughter now knows a lot that is coming in future episodes. Oh well... it was still worth it for the weekend we had.

Fun story:
Armin Shimerman, Casey Biggs, and Jeffrey Combs stood in for Leonard Nimoy on Friday afternoon. My daughter and I really enjoyed listening to them. Immediately afterward, we went to grab food because she was starving. We went to the on-site restaurant and had a nice big booth to ourselves in the back of the place. I faced the door.

Minutes later who should walk in but Jeffrey Combs and Casey Biggs. I whispered to my daughter that they were headed our way. The hostess put them in the booth directly behind my daughter... She kept mouthing "No way! No way!"

A few minutes after that, two Trekkie (I like "Trekkie" and "Trekker" and I use them interchangeably, okay?) came in and took the booth behind me. The two men were wearing Kirk outfits and were talking fairly loudly about who they wanted to see and meet. They had walked right by the two stars behind my daughter... and we were getting the giggles listening to them. When the younger Trekkie said, "I want to meet Jeff Combs," I thought we would fall over laughing. My daughter barely held it in.

Too fun.

We got our check a couple of seconds before the stars did. So, what did we fan girls do? We waited outside the restaurant pretending to take pictures of each other so that we could maybe get one of them in the background. We came close. The one below should have had Casey Biggs in it too, but he moved out of the way (to reach for a mint?) just as I took the shot. We didn't want to invade their privacy so we pretended to not even notice them as they exited. Yeah, we're cool...

If you look really closely in the doorway you'll see a man wearing short sleeves. That's Jeff Combs.

Yeah, we may not always show it, but we're Trekkies at heart.
Can you say geek girls?

Had a blast this weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed the videos. Too fun. Our favorite was "Pressure," which won the top prize, so I guess it was everyone else's favorite too. I hope it comes up on YouTube.

A woman in the audience took a picture of me during the trivia contest - where everyone voted Yes while I voted No. If she sends it to me, I'll post it here.

Live Long and Prosper!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


No, I'm not far enough along on my current WIP to be hanging out online. But does that stop me?

Couple of things I wanted to post here before I bury my head again:

The new Grace book, coming in June, 2011 will be titled GRACE INTERRUPTED.
I really, really love this title. Now I can't wait to see the cover. This was a fun one to write. We get to know a lot more about Jack. And a bit more about Frances.

I'm in the midst of reading the final typeset pages for BUFFALO WEST WING and I'm enjoying the story immensely even though I know what's going to happen next. Feeling really good about this story... is that bad to say? I think reading this just as I'm writing the next Ollie is helping me out a lot, too. Sometimes I forget what I've written, but I think that's normal.

I visited the Chicago Ridge Library Friday night to talk with their book discussion group and I had a fabulous, fabulous time. Pictures coming soon - here and in a future newsletter. Speaking of which, I think I ought to try to get an issue out before the next book's release. Yikes. Another to-do!

Lastly, I was able to sneak in a vacation while I was offline. That's why I'm really behind the eightball now with my deadlines. But my husband and I had planned this particular vacation for two years. I wasn't about to push it off to 2011. I'm paying the price now, but it's totally worth it. Over the next few weeks I'll share photos from the trip. Not all of them. I took over 2,000 and I don't want to bore you to tears. But once we have them organized, enhanced, and chosen, I'll post a few here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Internet Sabbatical

Just in case you've tried to reach me recently... I'm repeating what I've posted here and elsewhere online... I'm temporarily off the Internet. Completely by choice because I have so much going on and I need to avoid all those wonderful online temptations. This is probably the tightest deadline I've ever gotten myself into. My own doing, no question. I had a busy year, and although I carved out writing time when I could, it wasn't enough.

So... for the time being, I'm not answering emails, not checking here for comments, etc.

I hope you understand and come back to visit again once this site is up and rolling again!

Now, back to it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ollie, Ollie, Ollie...

Popping in temporarily to say that Ollie is giving me fits today. She and I are having a disagreement about how the next WHChef book should proceed. She'll win this argument, no doubt about it. She always does.

Of course, that's as it should be. Characters in novels know their strengths, their limitations, their hopes and dreams sometimes better than their author does.

So... right now I'm scratching my head as I work on WHChef #5. As you know, #4, Buffalo West Wing is finished and in process. That one comes out in January. I'll post the cover here soon. But for now, I'm waiting for Ollie to tell me why she won't do something I want her to do. Once she explains herself, I'll have a much better idea of where this story should go.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No phone, no email... Ah, the life of a hermit!

Have I ever mentioned how much I don't care for talking on the phone? Oh sure, there are exceptions - my family, Rene, required business calls, etc., but - other than talking to someone in person - I *much* prefer email over any other form of communication.

I think I'm jaded from all those years of answering telemarketing calls. Thank heavens for Do-Not-Call lists. Caller ID is great, too, although there's still that problem with the dratted ringing phone. It always interrupts my train of thought. I know I can turn off the ringer, but I just can't bring myself to do so when my kids aren't in the house.

Anyway, I really prefer email. A lot.

Which is why it's going to be so hard to give it up. Yep, I'm giving up email. Seriously.
Don't panic, it's only temporary.

Starting Wednesday, September 1, 2010, I'm signing off. Going cold turkey. I'm stepping away from my email and I'm not looking back (well, not much anyway).

Why? Because I have two major projects to work on and the Internet is my single biggest time-sink. Other than sleeping. Hmm.... or maybe not.

Will I monitor email? Sure. A little. How can I not? But I won't be reading/responding to every single one that comes in, despite the aching temptation to do so. I'm going to focus on work, and put horse-blinders on my easily distracted head. Did you see the movie "Up"? Remember the dogs? "Squirrel!!" That's me.

My friend, Sheila Connolly will be standing in for me at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen for a while, so please visit there and make her feel welcome. She's got a new book coming out in October - FUNDRAISING THE DEAD. I read it and it's great.

I still intend to write my blog post for Killer Characters this month, so please stop by there on the 18th. Heck, stop by there every day. It's a great little blog. This month I might invite Bruce and Scott to visit and chat about Grace. Not sure. What do you think?

But back to Ollie: Even though Buffalo West Wing comes out January 4th, there's still book #5 to write (no title yet) and that's due in less than 3 months! Yikes!!!

Wish me luck. The quicker I get momentum going on my writing projects the sooner I'll be back.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Money well spent

Update on the crashed computer...

The local repair shop was able to get me back up and running in almost no time at all. New hard drive, all data restored. Full delivered price? $190. Money very well spent. Since bringing the "baby" home, I've had to restore my Carbonite back up program. I wasn't sure it would recognize the new hard drive. But that seemed to go pretty smoothly too.

All in all. Not too bad. And if I can keep this desktop limping along for a while I'll be in good shape.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary! And no missing socks!

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary this past weekend. It was a bittersweet weekend because we spent most of it moving our daughter into her college dorm. Not my favorite thing to do and when we had to leave the campus at the "Family Farewell," I was not a happy camper.

We managed to turn things around a little bit. We had some errands to run afterward and that kept us busy. We'd had lunch on campus so we weren't eager to go out to eat, but we found a lot to take our minds off of leaving our baby alone in the real world. For the record, she seems to be doing great.

But, in thinking about our anniversary, I wanted to share an amazing factoid with you today. After 27 years of marriage not once - never once - have we ever lost one of my husband's socks. My socks, yes. Our kids', yes. But my husband's socks match up every single time we do the laundry and pull them from the dryer.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

He claims it's because he's careful about placing his clothing in the laundry hampers and that he always ensures his socks go in in pairs. That's probably the secret. Our daughters and I tend to drop our clothes into puddles on the floor and step over them several times before grabbing the piles and dumping them off to be washed. Socks will try to escape, you know. We've lost many, many favorites over the years due to their daring attempts to be free. But my husband's socks apparently subscribe to the buddy system. I suppose it's possible that we've lost them in pairs - if so, we'd never know. But all this time, and not a single escapee.

Hmm... maybe my husband should find part-time work as a prison guard. What do you think?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

She is Kaput!

My old reliable desktop bit the dust this afternoon. I was in the middle of my final revision when it froze. Not just a normal, run of the mill freeze-up, this one is starting to look like a permanent condition.

I should have known. I'm on my second keyboard with this machine, and although I haven't yet worn holes in the keys on this one, it's close. The tower has been wheezing a little lately and the Internet takes forever to react.

So... I may be leaving PCs for good. If I need to replace it, I'll move to Mac.

Now... have you noticed how calm I am about all this? Not only do I back up by sending my manuscript to my Mac every night, I purchased Carbonite Backup for that machine almost a year ago. Have never needed it until now. Because I "send" my manuscript to myself each night, I always have a current copy. But today, when I froze up, it was mid-revision. If not for Carbonite, I would have lost about four hours of work.

Although they can't do a full upload to a Mac from a PC, I was able to go in and pull out a couple of files I needed. Wonderful. Easy. Had my file here in under three minutes. I should be able to do that as necessary. I'll have to figure out a way to move the bulk of the documents elsewhere before long. But not today.

My final major revision (of Murder Most Civil) is done. Just in time to start my minor revisions...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meet Frances!

Frances is visiting Killer Characters today. Please stop by and make her feel welcome. Of course, knowing Frances, she'll make herself feel welcome...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Be a Cozy Book Booster!

As you probably know, I'm part of the Killer Characters blog.

The 25 of us who make up have been talking among ourselves about what we hear from our readers. We've discovered that there are many, many readers out there who are disappointed when their favorite authors stop writing a series.

I can assure you that in most cases, this is not the author's choice. It's the publisher's. And it's because that author's numbers aren't there. They don't warrant renewing a series.

I've been very, very fortunate so far. As you know, Berkley renewed the contract for the White House Chef series and (so far) it looks like there will be at least six. I'm hopeful they extend that further, but it's a little too early to tell.

It's also too early to tell how Grace Under Pressure is doing, but it did make the BN Mystery List and also (even better!) BN's overall Mass Market List. I'm pretty darned excited about that.

This is all a long way to say that if you like a series -- and I'm not just talking about mine here, but about all those books you love -- then you can support the authors by becoming a Book Booster. It isn't difficult and you may already be a booster and you don't realize it.

A really great description of Book Boostering can be found on on THIS page.

Before you pop over there to read it, let me just thank you for mentioning Ollie, Grace, and me on your blogs, in your Tweets, and on Facebook. Thanks for signing up for my newsletter, and thanks for posting reviews on BN, Amazon, and other review sites. And thanks in advance for sharing this with other readers who might be interested.

All your support makes a bigger difference than you may realize!

All Better!

After a trip to the doc's yesterday and a lot of delays by Walgreen's getting me my Neosporin eye drops, I'm on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, all the work I'd intended to do yesterday is still waiting for me today. Aargh!

Tomorrow one of my characters blogs on Killer Characters. And this week I blog Friday on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen.

Tune in today - my regular day - for a special post from Cleo Coyle! Chocolate Chip Cobbler and a chance to win a latte cup!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ack!! Pinkeye!

I woke up with pinkeye this morning. Ugh.
Haven't had this in years. Decades, maybe. I think I had this just once before. No idea where it came from. No one in the house has it and I haven't really had any contact with others... We all had dinner out on Saturday. The waiters didn't seem to have any issues. Who knows?

It's too early to call the doctor's office, so I did a little checking online for home remedies. Pretty much exactly what one would expect.

I'm extremely pleased that tonight's book discussion with a group from Wisconsin will be via Skype (figured it out. Pretty easy!) so that I don't share this new experience with anyone.

Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I'm planning my first SKYPE attempt soon. I downloaded the software but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. If worse comes to worse, I can rely on the old-fashioned telephone, but I'm hoping this will work.

Here's my question and if you know the answer, please pop in and tell me...

Now that it's all downloaded, the SKYPE folks are talking about using credits. Okay, fair enough. But I thought domestic SKYPE calls were free.

Before I load up on credits, can someone set me straight? I know the answer is probably on the site somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it. Of course, I have been known to miss things that are right under my nose...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


As many of you know, I read my manuscripts aloud before I turn them in. Sometimes I even read them aloud twice. Yeah, it gets tedious, but the typos and word confusions and continuity errors I catch make it worth it. I'm reading Murder Most Civil aloud today, but this is the first time I've done so with my kids around.

Most of the time they're out and about with their friends, of course, but I'm used to quiet mornings with them sleeping late. Not so much this year. They've been getting up early and hanging out in the room adjacent to my "cave" which makes me very self-conscious about reading my book out loud. I've been getting up earlier each day, but so have they!

Now, is it their fault that I join them in playing with the Wii Fit Plus? Nope. Is it their fault I amble into the kitchen for a snack break every 45 minutes? Nope. But it is really different this time. Prior summers had a different rhythm and it's taking me until now (pretty darned late) to get used to this one.

Next week my youngest heads off to college :::sniff::: and that means the house will be a bit more quiet. But we aren't empty nesters yet. I'm totally okay with this. I love having my kids around. But to whip this manuscript into shape I might have to get creative. I wonder if there are quiet rooms at the library (with doors) I can use.

This manuscript is due September 1st and then I have to really step up the pace on the next one, due December 1st. If I'm slow on responding to emails, or if I'm lax on popping in here, you'll know why.

Next year - 2011 - will be different. I plan to get both books done *before* summer.

Yep. I will.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chef for a Night at Tin Fish

Today I'm blogging about my big night at Tin Fish in Tinley Park, Illinois. I won the chance to be Chef for a Night! Pretty exciting stuff. I wasn't sure I'd be able to take advantage of my prize because we've been on the go so much this summer, but the stars aligned ... Curt was working late and I'd gotten through the first revision of Murder Most Civil (tentative title). I called Tin Fish the day before to see if I could get in - even on such short notice - and they were able to accommodate me!

I know that's a fairly unflattering pic, but I wanted to get one of me in my smock. The kitchen staff was running and busy, so I took it myself. Umm.. ugh! LOL

Check out the story and (better) pictures at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Podcast post

Rick Kogan (WGN-AM) is a *fabulous* interviewer. Such a nice man, so generous and fun. My publicist, Dana Kaye, set this up and I had a wonderful time yesterday down at the studio. My interview ended at 7:30 AM and Curt and I thought we might stay down there until places opened. We walked up to Oak Street Beach, then down to Ohio Street Beach, then back over to Michigan and it was still before 9:00. We weren't hungry, so we opted to skip breakfast (which would have taken about an hour), so we just went home. Good thing because we had a ton of stuff to do here including repair work on the garage floor, and pulling weeds.

But I'm getting off topic.

The Sunday Papers show now offers podcats!!!

Here's a link to my interview yesterday if anyone is interested:

I just love that Rick Kogan!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Listen in on August 8th!

Hey, guess what?
I will be a guest on Rick Kogan's morning show on Sunday, August 8th! Yep, to talk about GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, and the White House Chef books, too. I don't have the precise time I'll be on the radio, but it will be during his WGN-AM "Sunday Papers" segment.

More as we get closer!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I finished the first major revision of Manor House Mystery Book #2 - (Murder Most Civil? Grace Under Fire?) and I'm feeling pretty pumped. I really like this ending. Sometimes I waffle and have to rewrite the ending until it feels right. This one felt right immediately. Love that!!

Anyway, now that it's done, I'm going completely offline for a few days. Gasp!! No checking email! No checking blogs! Will I be able to survive?

I'll let you know...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Slow Boat to China

Although the next Grace book (tentatively titled MURDER MOST CIVIL) isn't *exactly* finished yet (I have a couple of final scenes to write), I've gone in to begin the revision. I've found this method helps me a great deal. I don't know about other writers, but I often forget a few throwaway details along the way. It's exactly those details (if not attended to later) that can pop readers out of a story. Inconsistencies are just wrong...

Plus, revising before I write the final scenes helps me keep the flow going. At least I think it does.

In any event, this revision is going *very* slowly. Too slowly.

I wanted to jump in here today, however, to let you know that Grace really will be blogging at Killer Characters this month. As a matter of fact she's scheduled for Sunday, July 18th. Last month, as you may recall, she was detained and Ronny Tooney (that annoying PI-wannabe) had to step in. If you have a chance, check out the blog today, Angelica from Lorna Barrett's Booktown Mysteries is holding court. And that's no exaggeration. That girl likes attention!

Okay, now that the commercial break is over, it's back to work for me!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Three fabulous new books debuting today

Coming out of lurkdom long enough to announce that three of my friends are releasing new books today:

Avery Aames' debut mystery THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE


Mary Jane Maffini's CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL (I have no idea why I can't make this image the same size as the other two)




Please check these writers out! I know you'll be glad you did. These are talented ladies and excellent friends, too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Going Dark

I hit 3,000 words yesterday - and the story really moved for me. So I'm feeling pretty good. Keeping away from the Internet as much as possible and basically having no life at all during the day is doing wonders for my writing. I love it.

But, I'm still far off my planned schedule and the deadlines haven't changed. So, just letting you know this blog will go dark for a little while unless something amazing comes up that I have to share.

See ya....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Name change


So, as I'm writing this next installment in the Manor House Mysteries, it occurs to me that I don't often call it the "Manor House" series. I tend to refer to them as my "Grace books" - and that got me thinking.

(Btw - did 3,700 words yesterday and am at 2,000 today. Hope to get back in and crack 3k today.)

Here's my thought - what do you think about keeping "Grace" in all the titles? I think it has the potential to brand the series better and make it more recognizable. I also think it could be tough to come up with Grace-based phrases, but it could also be a lot of fun.

Right now I'm considering a new title for my second Manor House book. The storyline deals with a Civil War reenactor's murder on Marshfield grounds. The new title I'm thinking of?

Grace Under the Gun.

What do you think?


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Murder Most Civil

I'm going dark for a while here. I need to make some headway on Book #2 of the Manor House Mystery series. So far I'm calling it Murder Most Civil, but you know how titles get changed...

Anyway, I'm determined to stay off the Internet for as long as my online addiction will let me. Wish me luck!

See ya later!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Killer Characters!

Killer Characters is kindly posting about the release of Grace Under Pressure today. I hope you check out the site, but not because of Grace -- because this is a wonderful new blog where a couple dozen characters get a chance to talk. Yep, I said characters!

The blog started June 1st, and we've already had visits from Olivia Limoges (A Killer Plot), Jeff Resnick (Lorraine Bartlett's psychic protagonist), Charlotte Bessette (The Long Quiche Goodbye), Charlotte Adams (Closet Confidential) and so many more. Read back through some of these posts and you'll come to love these folks as much as I do.

Tomorrow is Grace's turn to talk to readers! Please come see what she has to say.

I hope you bookmark this fun page and get to know some of these ladies and gentlemen. They're eager to talk to you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing, writing, writing

Too much play over the past few days (er... weeks? months?) and now I'm buckling down to write. I don't intend to come up for air until I make some decent headway on Book #2 of the Manor House series (tentative title: MURDER MOST CIVIL)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Graduation part 2

I should have taken more pictures!! Shoulda definitely taken pics of all of us in the jumpy on Friday night. Way too fun! Loved it even though I had a hard time keeping my balance. The kids were great and "bounced" me a lot. I think it was because I'm a pretty good screamer.

Anyway, despite the hot, muggy, rainy, windy, cold day... everything went great! More pictures and a recipe for raspberry bars on Mystery Lovers Kitchen today!

Happy Graduation, Biz!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Happy Graduation

Today's graduation party day. Looks like it's going to storm but good. Of course. We Hyzys tend to always have parties during a monsoon. But we were able to get in to the jumpy yesterday for a little bit at least. All the craziness begins shortly as I finish up the decorating and cleaning.

Pictures later...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Meanderings and Muses

Do you know Kaye Barley? If not, you should! She's one of the sweetest, most wonderful people in the mystery world and she runs a fabulous blog where lots of people congregate daily to meander through her posts and muse about them. Join me today as I guest blog: Link

More pictures from the book launch...

Just a few more....

I met Barb in the spring when she invited me to her book discussion group. So much fun! And what a wonderful bunch of women!

Allan Ansorge is just a great guy and this was the first time I met his lovely wife!

Jan is always smiling, isn't she? She and Diane sat down to chat for a bit...

Bookseller and friend, Augie Aleksy

And... the fam...
Most of the family... Robyn was out of town and couldn't join us but this is me with hubby, Curt, daughters Sara and Biz, and Sara's boyfriend, Luke.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

More pictures from the book launch...

Chatting with Lisa...

Augie keeping busy...

Darn glad to meet you! *grin*

Kathy! Haven't seen you in ages!

So great to see Mr. Gurney!

The room starting to fill a bit... even though we weren't sure if we were supposed to start at 1:00 or 2:00!

Rob and Claire Mendenhall. Good friends for a long time. Rob and I had short stories in two Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies back in 2002 and 2003.

Still a few more coming tomorrow....