Saturday, April 15, 2017

Read 'Em & Eat-Package Deal

I’ve always liked dinner and a movie whether it’s on a date or the TV show.  You Tube’s, Cinema Sins, has added their take on the dinner/show by featuring professional chefs and their dishes inspired by a particular movie.  The chef talks about his favorite movie scene while the host and editing staff of Cinema Sins enjoy a delicious repast.  I’m always fascinated how one creative pursuit inspires another, so with that in mind, Read ‘Em & Eat posts will profile a delicious title flanked by a tasty accompaniment.

Package Deal was inspired by Reno’s Salsa scene.  While being one of my favorite dances, it is also the key ingredient in one of my go-to recipes.

Salsa Chicken (Can also use leftover Beef, Pork…Turkey you get the idea).
Cut leftover cooked chicken into smaller pieces and place into medium sauce pan.
Season with chili powder, salt and pepper.
Cover chicken with salsa and cook on medium heat stirring and adding salsa as needed.  When the chicken shreds, it’s ready to be used for tacos, quesadillas, nachos or even on top of a salad if you’re feeling virtuous. Even better this dish cooks up quickly, leaving you more time for reading (or dancing).

Package Deal-1st title in Rhythm & Romance series.

Widowed attorney, Liz Grant, buries her grief in a deluge of paperwork.  On whim she takes a free dance lesson at the club Eclipse where the mojitos are cold and the Salsa is hot.  She falls for Salsa’s spicy rhythms and Patrick Cavanaugh’s sexy grin.  But can Liz handle the dramatic change of tempo in her well-ordered life?  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Third Man (1939)

Poor Holly Martins, not only did his parents saddle the pulp Western writer with an odd moniker, but when he travels to Vienna at the invitation of a school chum, he arrives just in time for his friend’s funeral. Harry Lime’s death leaves his lovely actress girlfriend, Anna Schmidt, to grieve and Holly with many questions. Though warned by British MP, Major Calloway, that Lime was a criminal, Holly is determined to uncover the truth and clear his friend’s name.

Set post-WWII Allied-occupied Vienna, The Third Man has all classic elements of noir, a grieving beauty who knows more than she reveals, chase scenes down shadowy streets and a hero intent on discovering the truth.  A common pitfall of mysteries is too many plot twists and not enough character development.   Thanks to Graham Greene’s script, the British film has both mystery and distinctive characters.

“A person doesn’t change just because you find out more,” Anna Schmidt declares.  
A statement you’ll want to consider when you check out The Third Man.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why You Should Be Dancing

"We should consider every day lost in which we have not danced at least once." Friedrich Nietzsche

If German philosophers aren't your thing, consider a University of London study which revealed that patients with anxiety disorders showed significant improvement when they participated in a modern dance class.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that dancing may boost memory and prevent dementia. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory) naturally shrinks as people grow older. Aerobic exercise (like dancing) can reverse volume loss in the hippocampus.

Plus dancing is a great way to meet people. Dancing attracts people of all ages from college to retirement from all walks of life. On the dance floor I've met architects, engineers, professional musicians even a doctor who kept her profession on the down low since she wanted to dance not diagnose on Friday nights at Salsa.

With one activity you can improve your memory, lose weight, reduce stress and meet interesting people. What are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Author Interview-Judy Penz Sheluk

Tell me about your latest book.
Skeletons in the Attic is the first book in my Marketville Mystery series, which I envision as a trilogy. In the first book, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherits a house in the commuter town of Marketville from her father, who died in an “unfortunate occupational accident.” The catch? She didn’t know the house existed and there’s a condition: she must move into the house for the period of one year and find out who murdered her mother, a woman Callie believed had left, voluntarily, 30 years before, when Callie was just six years old. It’s what I would call a suspenseful amateur sleuth mystery.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Skeletons, as well as the sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first book in my Glass Dolphin mystery series.

Who are your writing role models?
Not sure I have a role model, exactly, but there are a lot of authors I read and admire. For example, Sue Grafton is a wonderful example of a prolific author who has improved with every book. Read A is for Alibi (a fine read) and then X (simply wonderful) and you’ll see how she has grown. I’ve read and loved every one of her books. John Sanford’s Prey series is a great example of how a character can grow and age over a series. And nobody paces a story as well as Sanford.
How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?
Who said I could balance it? In all seriousness, it can get a bit crazy. For a while there my day jobs included freelance writing magazine articles, editing two magazines, plus writing fiction. I’m gradually evolving to just fiction writing and one day job. It’s tough, because I love writing fiction, but I also enjoy eating.
What are your other passions outside of writing?
I belong to two golf leagues. I’m not particularly good, but I am passionate. Unfortunately, I live north of Toronto, Canada, so our season is May through September. If you’re lucky, there are some days in October. But I usually put my clubs away October 1st.
I also enjoy running. I’ve done some marathons and half marathons, but lately I’ve been happy to run three to five miles 3 or 4 times a week. I’m dreadfully slow, but it’s about clearing the mind.
I have a golden retriever, Gibbs, who I enjoy walking the trails with. Basically, I love to be outside, though I prefer spring/summer/fall to winter!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I have a few short stories published in anthologies, and two self-published collections. If you enjoy short fiction, they’re all available on Amazon
I’m on the volunteer for Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto. Bouchercon is a mystery readers/writers conference that moves to a different city each year. In 2017, it’s Toronto. October is a nice time in Toronto. The weather is usually decent, without being too hot or too cold, and we have all sorts of cool things planned. Check it out at
Last, but not least, I’ve signed a contract to release Skeletons in the Attic in audiobook format. I’m not sure of the release date, so stay tuned!
Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.
Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.
Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog  where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life. You can also find Judy on Facebook ( and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk) and on her Amazon author page,

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Ghost of an Idea

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season or with me. May it haunt their house pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”  Charles Dickens-December 1843

People respond to suffering in different ways.  Moved by the plight of children working in the Cornish tin mines, Charles Dickens gave a series of speeches imploring audiences to fight ignorance with educational reform. He then considered writing an inexpensive political pamphlet, but opted instead for writing fiction finishing the novella in six weeks.  Published on December 19, 1843, the first run of 6,000 copies of A Christmas Carol sold out by Christmas Eve.

It always amazes me what other creative endeavors are inspired by a single story.  Less than two months after publication, there were at least eight theatrical versions in production.  Scrooge’s tale of redemption has been portrayed in a variety of stage and screen adaptations with even the Plymouth Philharmonic doing a musical version.   While I’m sure Dickens would have written an impassioned political pamphlet, I doubt it would have resonated through the years as his novella.

Wishing all of you a holiday season filled with more hope and less humbug.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Author Interview-Jill Archer

How did you become a writer?

I’ve been a lifelong reader so, at the outset, I had that love of books and the written word that every writer must have. When I reached the point in my life when I decided I wanted to try writing a novel, I just started writing. Those first scenes weren’t even close to a novel, but you have to start somewhere. Over a number of years, I took workshops, online classes, attended conferences, and read at least a dozen books on novel structure, character development, worldbuilding, etc. When I read other authors’ books, I started paying more attention to how they were written. I kept writing. Eventually, many years later, I was able to write a manuscript that was good enough to attract the attention of several agents. Leaving the practice of law to write about it (albeit with an interesting twist) was risky, but it paid off.

Who are some of your favorite romance characters?

Celia Bowen and Marco Alistair (Night Circus)
Claire and Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
Ramses and Nefret Emerson (Amelia Peabody series)
Aliena and Jack Jackson (Pillars of the Earth)
Kate “Puck” Connolly and Sean Kendrick (The Scorpio Races)

What inspired this story?

Noon was very loosely inspired by the Egyptologist Evelyn “Evy” Carnahan from the movie The Mummy. I was having lunch with a bunch of writers during the time when I was seeking inspiration for a new project. I was still practicing law and I sat next to a librarian. We each shared with the other that we felt our day jobs were fairly pedestrian and not necessarily something that could be tapped into to create a dynamic, otherworldly character. I then mentioned Evy as an example of a wonderful librarian character, who found love while battling the undead, despite her bookish ways. So that conversation got me thinking… If Evy could do it, maybe another similarly bookish lawyer character could do it too.

What is one of your favorite romantic locales?

Cape May, New Jersey is one of my favorite beach towns. Its Victorian houses are charming, its beach is beautiful, and it’s one of the only places on the east coast where you can watch the sun set over water. There’s a brewery, winery, lighthouse, and aviation museum. My husband and I have toured them all. J There’s also tons of great restaurants and places to sip cocktails in salty air. The Virginia Hotel’s porch is one of the best!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Advance review copies of Pocket Full of Tinder will be available on NetGalley via SFWA from November 15, 2016-December 15, 2016. I’m also running a Goodreads giveaway right now (chance to win one of 10 signed print ARCs).

Pocket Full of Tinder can be pre-ordered on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. On its release day, it will also be available on Nook and CreateSpace.

More about Jill

Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lessons From the Dance Floor

Some writers seem to be everywhere, doing blog tours, leaving clever comments on writing loops and making appearances on all conceivable forms of social media sort of like the popular girl who is always on the dance floor. The gals on the sidelines wonder if they need a shorter skirt, higher heels or darker lipstick to be noticed. Writers watch others cut a broad swath on the Internet and worry about how much blogging, tweeting and commenting is needed to attract readers.

You don’t have to be everywhere, but you do need to be seen. One night at Salsa my instructor noticed me pouting at a remote table.  “You need to be closer to the action,” he said nodding toward the crowd at the bar. I moved to a more populated area of the club and my evening improved considerably.  If maintaining your own blog is too much for you, consider being part of a group blog or look for guest posting opportunities at other author blogs.

Watch the other dancers for ideas, but ultimately you need to find your own rhythm.