Man-Made Snow is Murder

Originally posted on Kiss and Thrill:

I’m pleased to have Shannon Baker here today.  She’s the author of the Nora Abbott Mystery series, fast-paced murder mysteries which center around environmental issues and the Hopi Indians.  From the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson, landscapes play an important role in her books. Shannon worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder.  

Here’s the interview I did with Shannon at Malice Domestic:

Diana Belchase:  Shannon, congratulations on being nominated for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for Tainted Mountain and your new book, Broken Trust!  Can you tell me how you came to write them?

Shannon Baker:  When I moved to Flagstaff in 2006, there was a huge controversy raging about man-made snow on the San Francisco Peaks. Those peaks are sacred to 12 tribes and feature in their creation stories. I started researching the Hopi…

View original 366 more words

Diana’s Gripes and Kudos: Burger King Mustard

You walk into the Burger King at the Clara Barton rest stop on the NJ Turnpike.  Quick for ten points, who was Clara Barton?  (See answer below) Amid the vast choices of spectacular food you choose an exotic burger (that’s sarcasm for those of you who’ve never been to the teeny Clara Barton rest stop) and ask for extra ketchup and mustard.


Pretty standard so far?

Since Burger Kings north of the Mason Dixon line assume no one would ever want mustard on their burger, you’re told it’s strictly do it yourself.  Which means unwrapping the burger, disassembling it, adding that tangy yellow condiment yourself.  You know you’d better do it before you get back in your car or your entire wardrobe, seat cushions, and dashboard will all be yellow before you’re through.

Here’s a picture of the condiment bar at Burger King:

Burger King Condiment BarNow, being a normal person … I hear snickers in the audience and I know who you are … you pull out the logical choice for mustard in its bright yellow package and pour it over your burger.  While you do this, your husband is tapping his foot in annoyance telling you to speed it up before he gets stuck in rush hour.  Other women stand around you doing the same thing with little children tugging on their coats and crying — while their husbands also tap their feet.  You smile at them in sympathy.

This is what your mustard looks like:

Burger King Lemon Juice


It doesn’t look like this hot sauce or whatever it might be in the section to the left:

Burger King MustardYou quickly spray it at your burger only to realize you’ve pelted your burger with LEMON JUICE instead of mustard!  In the words of Charlie Brown:  AAUGH Good Grief!

Here they are side-by-side:

Now tell me Burger King, why did you do that? Is your idea of mustard an orangey-brown that looks like hot sauce or something vile like up chuck?  Could you not have put a picture of a lemon on the lemon juice packet? Are there a lot of people who are coming into BK for tea?

So now, I and my burger are sprayed with juice, and the burger is essentially ruined, as is my blouse.  It seems that lemon in a packet sprays even more than lemon in wedge-form does.

What do you think? I’d love to know your gripes, too.  Look out for more of my gripes and my kudos — because one isn’t fair without the other — coming up soon.

Answer to question above:

Clara Barton was an amazing woman in American History.  She not only started the first public school in New Jersey, she was the first female full patent clerk in the U.S.,  and she also founded the American Red Cross.  Any one of those would have been astounding.  She gave her heart and soul to making this country better in a hundred different ways and in proving women could be equal of men.

I think that deserves a rest stop in New Jersey, don’t you? ;)


Joyful Noise: Lessons Learned from the Yam Girl.

Diana Belchase:

Another fabulous guest post from Sharon Wray!

Originally posted on Sharon Wray:

IMG_2069 “Yams? I don’t want yams!” The woman ahead of me yelled at the cashier of my local grocery store. “I want sweet potatoes.” She slammed down a plastic bag and got in the cashier’s pale face. “And I want them now.”

I checked my watch and bit the inside of my mouth until I tasted blood. I was late and my arms hurt from holding two bakery boxes of muffins and a half-gallon of orange juice.

All of the self-checkout lanes were getting their yearly computer upgrades and I was in the “10 items and under” lane which had a short conveyor belt I couldn’t reach yet. So I kept my gaze on a nearby flyer. White paper with black letters that had two words.

Joyful Noise.

“But these are sweet potatoes,” the soft-spoken cashier said. “They are the same thing.”

“Yams are not sweet potatoes,” said the woman I’d…

View original 1,700 more words

He Texted, Now What does it Mean?

If you’ve ever wondered what a man means when he texts you a photo of his refrigerator, He Texted is the book for you.  Witty and full of straight-forward advice, authors Lisa Winning and Carrie Henderson McDermott, guide women in  21st century techno-dating. Not only do the two authors give you their usually right-on-target opinions, they utilize their own advisory panel of guys to chime in and give women the inside track into what men mean.


Texting isn’t all the book is limited to.  Facebook is discussed — not only in the way to use and not to use, but also the why it’s not good to know too much about a potential mate up front and how it can take the sizzle out of the relationship before the steak even hits the grill.  I found their analysis truly fascinating.

I wish there had been less preamble about the who was advising, how the book came to be, and why there needed to be such a book, right up front.  Ironically, the first example of a text isn’t seen until page 61 on my review copy.  I think this is akin to an author dumping too much backstory upfront in a novel.  Much of this could have waited until further on in the book and been subtly woven in.

Overall, I think the book is definitely worthwhile for any female trying to decipher male behavior.  Manuals have been written on every aspect of dating, finally there is one that talks about electronic communication and makes it clearer and easier for women to succeed.

How Delilah Marvelle Gave Me A Night of Pleasure

Writers around the world were mesmerized a few weeks ago when author, Delilah Marvelle, and Kensington CEO, Steven Zacharius, engaged in a public exchange of staggering honesty.  Each clearly stated their views about the relationship between authors and publishers and whether or not independent book publishing was the better course. (See link below).

I must say I had never read a book by Delilah Marvelle.  Pretty amazing since she’s written twenty wildly popular books.  But since her books have a reputation for being a bit more explicit — her tag line is “historical romance just got scandalous” — it wasn’t something quite up my alley — or so I thought.

As they say, no publicity is ever bad publicity, and the confrontation between her and Steve Zacharius had me interested.  When an opportunity came up to review her newest book, Night of Pleasure, I decided to give it a try. Boy was I glad I did.

Delilah Marvelle

First, I found the book to be one of the most well-written books as far as period and place I’ve read in quite a while.  I’m a fuss-budget on facts, and she got hers right without her characters turning into cardboard. Her use of language is astounding.  Her characters were so well developed, the reader even knows what kind of candy they prefer and and why. She takes what in less skillful hands would be a far-reaching plot and suspends reality so thoroughly, that every action seems believable.

Second, the scandalous sex scenes I had worried about were incredibly sensitive.  They weren’t plopped in the book in a gratuitous manner, but were well-crafted and essential to the story line.  Perhaps the nudge into dominance was a bit harder for me to swallow, but even that mated well with the heroine’s psychological dilemma.

Truly the only thing I found fault with was that her women seem overly fond of the color chartreuse in their gowns.  A flaw, that as an author myself, I find totally endearing.

So, here is a toast to better dialogue between publishers and authors and the books of Delilah Marvelle.  I believe anyone who reads historical fiction would enjoy this romp into her wonderful world. Reading it last evening definitely gave me a “night of pleasure.”

For those of you interested in reading more about the conversation between Delilah Marvel and Steven Zacharius, here is the LINK. Happy reading!

Be Strong. Be Brave. Be Dauntless.

Diana Belchase:

This tribute to Karen Johnston by Sharon Wray is so inspiring. I thought we could all use a little piece of Karen, today.

Love to you all. Be strong, be brave.

Originally posted on Sharon Wray:

This morning, March 14, 2014,  I was asked to say a few words about Karen Johnston, my dearest friend and critique partner who recently passed away from brain cancer. I’m humbly posting it here for all those who wanted to be there for Karen but were unable to make it. If you’d like to leave a comment, I will forward it on to Karen’s family. I know they will be grateful.KEMJ picture_cropped (JPEG)Nine years ago, I stood in Starbucks with a latte in one hand and my laptop case in the other, eyeing two empty seats near the window.

And I hesitated.

The last two free chairs were flanked by sketchy-looking men. The one on the left, in black jeans, dirty boots and leather jacket, was working on his laptop with files and a motorcycle helmet spread out on the empty table next to him.

So, to sit there, I’d have…

View original 1,898 more words

Diana’s Bookshelf: For All Time

What fun! I just finished an advanced copy of Jude Deveraux’s For All Time.  As usual, Jude’s books are anything but predictable.  In this story she weaves the story of a young woman planning a wedding on Nantucket, a Crown Prince, time travel, ghosts and even a headless horseman into a great tale.

91yCeFM-HrL._SL1500_Here’s the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Jude Deveraux returns to the ruggedly magnificent island in For All Time, the second novel in her Nantucket Brides trilogy—this time featuring the next generation of her beloved family of Montgomery-Taggerts.

The wedding of Alix Madsen and Jared Montgomery is a glorious affair at an elegant little chapel in the woods, followed by dinner and dancing, all while moonlight blankets the festivities in a romantic glow. While most guests are fixed on the happy couple, Jared’s cousin Graydon can’t look away from a bridesmaid, Toby Wyndam. It’s not just Continue reading