Dialect ~ Lend Me Thine Ear

Harmful Intent, Amazon SmWhen writing my contemporary novel, HARMFUL INTENT, where my Brooklyn born and bred female PI is place in Texas, I had to get the rhythm and tone of the Texas accent right. So I listened to hours Kenneth Copeland tapes. I compared Copeland’s voice to that of his wife Gloria and also a bit to their son John.

Kenneth Copeland likes to throw in little tidbits about Texas life and has quite a few stories to tell. In a few instances, I stole from him. I don’t feel too bad because I understand his long time friend Jerry Savalle has also stolen from his sermons over the years.

Now that I’m writing my next detective novel, set in the north east, I find myself listening to hours of Mel Brooks and Billy Crystal tapes on You Tube to get the cadence and tone of my Jewish political activist character down pat.

A quick look at the story line of HARMFUL INTENT…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Link/Amazon

 

Holding Out For A Significant Crime Fiction Hero ~ Heroine

Detective, In Morgue

One of the best things about crime fiction is getting into the head and heart of an incredible hero/heroine. Does he have to be the nice and honorable guy next door who morphs into a superheo? No, he doesn’t! Not for me!

She could be that stalwart homicide detective, a beleaguered single mom with a defiant kid, and she’s fighting crime against all odds. He could be highly flawed. Perhaps a heavy drinker or former alcoholic fighting his own demons as he labors on to catch a heinous killer. I want the hero or heroine to arouse my emotions. I want to feel their distress, root for them when the odds against them seem astronomical, and fear for them when they encounter danger  as they run their course.

Antisocial is perfectly fine for a crime fiction hero/heroine — as long as the character gets their hooks in me. They “gotta have heart” to get me to recommend the book. No matter how jaded they’ve become (and I love jaded heroes), on some level they have to believe they’re there to protect and serve. They have to seek justice for innocent victims of crime. And when the victim is not so innocent, even if it’s their um-teenth homicide, they can’t be indifferent to murder’s pain and suffering…even if they want to be.

I also go for a heroine/hero who is aware of the inherent injustice within society where there are always haves and have nots. I can appreciate a detective who gives a basically good bloke who’s made a few mistakes a break. The ghettos are populated with mostly ordinary citizens who are trying to provide for their families and have a good life. My type of hero/heroine would be angered by predators who commit atrocious acts, even if they hail from the underclass. My type of heroine/hero would relentless pursue the killer no matter if she/he were from society’s A-list, the boardroom, or the hood.

Above all else, I have to believe the hero/heroine is a cop. If you’ve taken, or know someone who’s taken a criminal justice course in college, then you might be familiar with the proverbial lecture on “the police officer’s psychological profile.” Police officers take psych tests when they apply for their jobs. So, it could be argued that the police force choses a certain personality for the job. Be that as it may, there is a “cop personality.” Police departments tend to be looking for officers who are efficient, pragmatic, conservative, cynical, suspicious, and action oriented. Even sleepy little villages who have never experienced a homicide want this type of police officer. In today’s law enforcement environment the smallest of police forces are incredibly professional. The local yokel who makes it onto the force is, for the most part, a thing of the past. Barney Fife is no more. Of course we write fiction…and if the story is a cozy, a Barney Fife might be just what the author desires.

For those writing detective stories, suspense, and/or thrillers that more realistic “cop personality” might give the main character traits that garner acclaim for him on the job. However, they can wreak havoc in a marriage and as a parent (cynical, suspicious). So our crime fiction hero/heroine might be doing well in the police department carving out a distinguished career while her/his private life is falling apart. This makes for interesting, multi-dimensional reading.

Graphic courtesy of Microsoft online images

Recipes From the Kitchens of Sanctuary Point

Baking, Apfelstrudel, Apple Strudel

Some say I write “Foodie Fiction,” while others say I’m a crime fictionista. I’m okay with both of those. How about I’m a crime fictionista who writes foodie fic that also happens to be action packed, classic, historical whodunits with romance set in the mid-1940s?

Whatever the case may be, I love to pour over recipes. And here are two favorite recipes of mine that would’ve been used my characters in my Sanctuary Point series.

Apple Strudel is mouth watering. My paternal grandmother used to make this delicacy and our entire family enjoyed it so much. It’s a fairly complex confection to bake. There is several steps to it. The end result is well worth the effort. An amazing thing happened after I had finished writing BURNING HEARTS and my editor had the manuscript. I was reading it over and realized Mrs. Brogna was amazingly like my grandmother. I remember my grown father stealing a confection before she was ready to set it out on the table. She smacked him on the behind with a towel and chased my dad around the kitchen table while he laughed. That is something Mrs. Brogna would do.

Apfelstrudel – If I had Mrs. Brogna’s old-fashioned apple strudel recipe, this would be it.

Apple Strudel Dough:

2 ½ C flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil

13 tbsp. water

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.

2. Stir with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.

3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.

4. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with additional oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.

5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 9X13 rectangle.

6. Keep surface well-floured and gently flip the dough rectangle, keeping the long side toward you. Roll out as thinly as you can without breaking the dough. About 3 ft. X 2 ft. or slightly more.

Apple Strudel Filling:

½ C dark raisins

6  medium to large chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apples (not as fine as diced)

¾ C granulated sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)

4 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients together.

Preparing the Apple Strudel:

1 C melted butter

½ C white unseasoned breadcrumbs

1. Brush dough with slightly more than half the melted butter.

2. Evenly sprinkle the buttered dough with breadcrumbs.

3. Spread the filling along the longest edge of the dough as if it were a log.

4. Begin to roll the dough and the log of filling, slowly and gently.

5. Place the rolled strudel seam down in a horseshoe shape on a greased baking sheet.

6. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of granulated sugar    on top.

7.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

BH, Paper Back

BURNING HEARTS:

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs

Amazon/Print and Kindle. http://amzn.to/1b9pulE

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16A4y0b

Kolache

Kolacke (the precursor of Linzer Tarts)

Renata Lenart made hers with raspberry jam and served them on New Year’s Day in GOODBYE NOEL, the Christmas/New Years themed novel in the Sanctuary Point series. If I had Renata Lenart’s recipe, this is what it would be.

1/2 C butter, softened
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C jam (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
1/4 C confectioners’ sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add flour, and mix well.

2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles with a 2-inch round cutter.

3. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie; fold opposite sides together slightly overlapping edges.

4. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.

5. Remove to wire racks to cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Goodbye Noel

GOODBYE NOEL:

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

Amazon/Kindle. http://amzn.to/11L4fUc

Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/18TPVLc

Do you love delish baked goods? Love to pour through recipes? I especially love to do that right before a holiday. I’ll pile up stacks of cookbooks, some of them quite old, many of them with outstanding food photography. Then about a week before the holiday I’ll make myself a strong cup of black tea (perhaps Irish) and spend hours looking through recipes and making my holiday menu.

Nike. Pix

Do you enjoy reading “foodie fiction”?

What do you love about baking and baked goods?

Leave a comment…

The Wascally, Weasely, and Most Dreaded Modifier Dump

I love to describe. In my two novels, BURNING HEARTS and GOODBYE NOEL in the Sanctuary Point series, I can’t wait to visually portray the landscape, the aroma coming from a kitchen, and the latest 1940s fashion statement. Sometimes I have to put the brakes on. I don’t want the opening words of my next work in progress to sound like this…

“Gertrude rushed into the gothic, Victorian mansion’s dimly lit, heavily book-lined library on shaky legs and clasped her perfectly manicured hands to her pounding heart in an attempt to calm her fraying nerves. She managed to overcome the churning in her stomach and forged ahead past the brocade upholstered Queen Anne chair behind the Chippendale desk strewn with the pages of an ancient occult manuscript. On the parquet floor on the other side of the antique oak desk she spied the body of a middle-aged, balding man in a brocade smoking jacket and a pair of brown suede slippers who had a wooden handled, military stiletto sticking out of his back.”

You see, I have this teensy-weensy affliction. I greatly desire that my reader will know exactly down to the most minute detail what my heroine and hero are feeling, what the room looks like and what aromas might be gracing the atmosphere. So, I must therefore hold myself back, and utterly restrain myself. I have even gone so far as to take an oath to banish adjectives and adverbs from the pages of my manuscript.

Oh, and those dreaded weasel words…will they constantly plague me?  Some people say it seems likely that one “many” is too many in a chapter, but it also could be argued that it could be way too few except on those very rare occasions when it is obviously needed to make the author’s point. Of course unless the author is obfuscating by using an abundance of abstract words that might tend to obscure the meaning rather than elucidate the author’s point for the reader.

And so, dear and gentle reader, I hope this clarifies everything for you.

For an example of my writing when I get it right, you might try…

http://goo.gl/8KpQ3

 

 

 

 

 

http://goo.gl/EB9s5