NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat?? We Vote Treat! Recipes & Giveaway


To celebrate All Hallows Eve, NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS are blogging about their favorite homemade Halloween treats. Enjoy!--And we are giving away four books for your delectation. Muwhahaha!!


Pumpkin Soup

Six green onions (Separate the white from the green).
Cook in two cups of chicken broth (approximately 15 minutes).
Add two cups of pumpkin (cook 15 minutes or tender when tested with a fork).
Drain and work through a sieve then combine with three tablespoons of butter, tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 quarter teaspoon of white pepper.
Cook over low heat about ten minutes.

Before serving add two cups of half and half, sliced tomato and sprinkle green onion on top.

 Elise
Scene Stealer
Bread Stick Bones with Blood

1 tube refrigerated bread stick dough
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt to taste

Unroll bread stick dough. Carefully stretch out and tie ends into knots. Use a scissors to cut a notch in the middle. Place on ungreased cookie sheet then brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with cheese and garlic salt then back at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until golden.  Serve with red sauce.

Wynter
Cookie ghosts
Take Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (or similar flat oval shaped cookie (for you furriners: try a lady finger, like you'd use for tiramisu?) and melt some white chocolate. Dip them in chocolate about half way. Lay they on a wax papered cookie sheet. Add some round candies for eyes...like mini M&Ms or sprinkles. Try a dab of black gel icing for an open mouth. Or just set out the decoration possibilities and let the kids go to town! (We always made dark chocolate ones as well, for an integrated ghost neighborhood.<g>)
Frankenheads
Get some big marshmallows, white or dark melted chocolate, your leftover holiday sprinkles, gel icing in different colors and a few toothpicks or small pretzel sticks. Use the marshmallow as the head. Dip one end in chocolate and add green or black jimmies for crazy hair. Use the toothpicks or pretzels to paint on spots of chocolate to attach eyes or draw some wicked looking scars. Set the finished "heads" in mini paper cupcake papers. Another fun kid-artist activity!

Last but not least, I always like to throw a few plastic spiders and eyeballs into some ice cube trays or small tupperware holders. The secret is to use the last of the boiled water in the kettle, which will freeze clear, not cloudy. Drop them in a glass for a surprise at dinner! (Note to the file: this can be a fun April Fool's moment, as well.<g>)

J Wachowski



Pumpkin & Choc Chip Muffins


Makes: 24
  • 415g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 600g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 500g pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 150ml water
  • 170g plain chocolate chips

Preparation method

Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 30 mins
http://www.clarelondon.co.uk
 
 
 

Severed Fingers Halloween Cookie

2 tablespoons red food coloring
30 blanched almonds
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:


1
Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.
2 Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. crack each whole almond into halves. and toss them into the bowl with the food coloring and stir them until the color is evenly distributed. leave them in the bowl and stir them every so often until the color is as dark as you like.
3 Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together yolk, remaining egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
4 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add egg mixture, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
5 Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into fifteen pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece back and forth with palms into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife. Transfer fingers to prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
6 When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.
7 Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
8 note: To make the knuckles more creepy just shape them big and uneven. To keep them from puffing out too much roll the fingers extra skinny (skinnier than you want them to look if that makes sense). I also try to get them out of the oven before they brown. I sometimes add a bit of almond extract to dough

Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/severed-fingers-halloween-cookies-135850?oc=linkback
 
Anne Marie
********************************************
 
And, because it's Halloween, we are giving away a copy of EDGE OF LIGHT, PROTECTIVE CUSTODY, SEA OF SUSPICION to one lucky commenter, today. Muwhahaha!!

Plus, a rare and special paperback copy of...
 Winners chosen at our discretion. Probably random, possibly Ouija board!
********************************************

Monday, October 29, 2012

Showing Off! (Shame on me...)


An acquaintance rushed up to me last year and said, “I didn’t know you had a new book out. You didn’t tell me!”

She’d already bought it, bless her, but it struck me how hopeless I am at all this promotional stuff. If someone who lives less than two miles from me doesn’t know, how can I expect people on different continents to find out about it? Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I’m a shy retiring Brit. We don’t like to blow our own trumpets. Every time I mention a new release, I hear my mother saying in a sharp voice “Stop showing off, Shirley!”

I make a rare visit to Facebook and Twitter when I have a book coming out, and I let people know via my blog – and that’s it. I know from experience that if I contacted the local newspaper, they’d do a very nice piece on me and my books. What puts me off? The fact that I also know from experience that the local radio station would see it and get on the phone to me. Words can’t describe how much I hate being on the radio. I get so nervous I struggle to remember my own name never mind the titles of any books I’ve written.

The time aspect puts me off too. Social media, especially for people like me who can never think of anything interesting to say, is a huge time-suck. There are blog posts to be written, websites to be updated, newsletters to be sent out, a Facebook status to update frequently, tweets to hurl into the universe – aargh. I tell myself that I’d be better off spending that time writing. I also tell myself that Ruth Rendell isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. But then my inner voice replies with a sarcastic “She doesn’t need to be, she sells plenty of books without all that. No one’s heard of you…”

Love it or loathe it, writers have to promote themselves these days. So here goes…

In a fortnight, Dying Art, #5 in my Dylan Scott series, will be released and I’m determined to tell the whole world about it. Well, maybe not the whole world, but certainly you lovely people, and people who live near me. Wish me luck!

Portrait of a mystery

Dylan Scott vowed never to return to the dreary town of Dawson's Clough. But one visit from a beautiful ex-lover and he's back in Lancashire, investigating a possible murder. The police think Prue Murphy died during a burglary gone wrong, but her sister isn't so sure—and neither is Dylan. After all, the killer overlooked the only valuable thing in Prue's flat.

So who could have wanted the quirky young woman dead, and why? Dylan's search for answers takes him to France, where he discovers Prue's family didn't know her as well as they thought they did. And the more he digs, the more secrets he unearths—secrets someone would kill to keep buried…

(Coming to a device near you November 12. For more info, visit my website.)

How about you? Are you confident at selling stuff, including yourself, or are you a lost cause like me? More important perhaps, do you have any tips for those of us who’d rather hide under a stone?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Twins

So, what is the first thing you think of when you see the word, twins? Females? Males? Breasts? (C'mon, admit it... some of us do consider the girls on our chest twins...but I digress.)

Twins. My dad is a twin and his mom was a twin. I have lots of cousins who are twins. (Thankfully, I did not give birth to twins as I don't think it's in my genetic makeup to handle the double trouble.)

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because I met two nineteen year old twins a few weeks ago. They happen to be Abercrombie and Fitch models. They also happen to be PERFECT for the hero I'm about to write. Please excuse the poor picture. Photography is not my strong suit. This picture doesn't do these boys justice at all. (As you can tell they are fun and not shy around a camera.) Luckily, the hero of my upcoming book is young and either one of these two young men could be the cover model. They are Josh and Caleb Pryor and if you find them on FaceBook, you will be amazed at the ABsolutely fabulous abs that await your viewing pleasure. All that is well and good, but the BEST thing about these boys is that they are funny, nice and totally adorable. (I found myself wondering if one of them might wait a few years for my daughter to catch up...)

I'll admit to utilizing twins in my book, Dangerous Race. I guess the twin factor in my own house had me thinking that the scenario wasn't so far-fetched. Twins were a commonality in my family so writing about them seemed natural. 

So, how about you? Any twin action in your family? Or twin action that happened outside your family? (Nothing like a little twin fantasy every now and then!) Have you ever thought of what having twins on the cover of your book might do for sales?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wheels


Recently I had to go car shopping. The car I wanted (this baby blue masterpiece you see to your right) did not fall into my budget.

Safety features were high on my list of prerequisites. The Smart Car (the ridiculously minuscule vehicle you see below with the aid of your magnifying glass) comes with something like 12 airbags. I envision it turning into a hot air balloon and simply floating safely away from the accident.

I confess. I like cars. When I was a kid, we had a family outing to Busch Gardens, and the last portion of the monorail ride traveled out over the parking lot.  My mother was so mad because my brother and I enjoyed looking at the cars in the parking lot more than we did the giraffes and zebras inside the park. LOL

Do you put any consideration into what vehicle your characters drive? I have yet to go all James Bond on my heroes and have them tooling around in Lamborghinis.  But I wouldn't mind throwing in the Ferrari for my heroine. You can picture the scene, can't you? The heroine is trapped on the third floor balcony of the Monte Carlo Casino. A hired assassin is crossing the suite from inside and is just about to reach her when she leaps down onto the assorted fruit kiosk on the street below. The pliable awning catapults her into a triple somersault as she executes a perfect three-point landing in high heels directly beside the unlocked door of an exquisite blue Ferrari.  A quick glimpse through the tinted glass confirms that the keys are in the ignition. On the balcony above, the man in black is aiming an automatic weapon at her.  

What is a woman to do?

One thing my beautiful heroine will not do is to stop and consider the price of insurance on that Ferrari!  That is why I love the wonderful world of fiction. :)

ENDLESS NIGHT - Romantic Suspense
BEYOND - Something different

Monday, October 22, 2012

TORTURE, WRITER STYLE


It’s probably no surprise to readers of this blog, but most writers are—by and large—introverts. Oh, some do the schmoozing thing at conventions and workshops, talking to fans and giving readings, but I’m willing to bet they need alone time afterward to recover.

The main difference between extroverts and introverts is this: extroverts gain energy from crowds, from interacting with other people; introverts lose energy from crowds and need alone time on a regular basis to recharge their social “batteries.”

At least, that’s the way it is with me, which is why I kinda panicked when the folks at my local library asked me to come talk to their writers’ roundtable about e-books and e-publishing. I couldn’t say no. The folks at the library have been wonderful to me (heck, they even carry my books!). And I had taken a great workshop on e-publishing last year, an enterprise for which I received a grant. Since the public purse funded my learning, it was my duty and privilege to share what I had learned with other writers.

I spent two weeks preparing for it: reading over my notes from the workshop, talking to my e-published buddies, trying to distill an ocean of information into a 15-minute talk. I barely slept the night before. I showed up early and babbled incoherently to the organizers (who were probably doing a little panicking themselves at that point). Fifteen people showed up, which is Very Good for my little town. I could feel my batteries starting to drain.

Then it started, and honestly? I can’t remember a darned thing I said. Thank goodness I had written up notes and made copies for distributing. I hope I made sense, but some of those writers probably wondered if I was having a heart attack, my face was so red. They were unfailingly kind, and it only occurred to me later that they were writers, too, and knew exactly what I was going through.

It’s not the first time I’ve spoken in public, including giving readings, but I always react the same way. I can’t be the only one with this problem. How do others deal with it? How do some writers manage to do great readings AND talk to their fans afterward? I know some writers, like RobertSawyer, who are very comfortable in front of a large group and seem to thrive on the energy from the audience. I know other writers who need to take a few days off after a conference to recover.

What’s the difference? Am I in the minority?

Friday, October 19, 2012

PLOT TWISTS -- LOVE 'EM OR LEAVE 'EM?





To twist or not to twist, that’s the question. The answer depends on what you like to write or read.

As a writer, I love creating plot twists. I don’t want my story to be staid or predictable, especially when there is a mystery to solve. To accomplish that, I enjoy putting my characters in difficult situations. I like when things happen to shake them up, force them to think on their feet and outside the box. I like that plot twists usually create problems, sometimes seemingly insurmountable ones. After all, that’s the idea.

Now, putting the shoe on the other foot… As a reader, I like to read plot twists. I always get a little thrill when there’s a plot twist that takes the story in a direction I’m not expecting. This doesn’t mean there aren’t terrific stories out there that don’t have any plot twists. There are many such novels and I like to read those, too. I call those kinds of books my “comfort” reads. I’ll sit with one of those stories when I’m not in the mood to be thrilled, shocked or held to the edge of my seat. However, in most cases, I happen to be very fond of plot twists in both the books I write and read.

Is there a secret to writing plot twists? Not really. Many are individual or unique to the story itself. But there are a few guidelines. The most effective plot twists are those that are generally unexpected. An event that happens out of nowhere, but still ties into the plot. An action that is feasible within the world you’ve created, but something the reader did not quite anticipate.

Good techniques to accomplish a plot twist are causing something to happen at an inconvenient time in the story. For example, the serial killer is revealed as the hero’s uncle just as the hero is about to propose to the heroine. Now the hero isn’t sure the heroine would marry him, so he doesn’t ask her as the reader expects, and instead, goes to hunt down the uncle. Another technique is to shake up the characters themselves. A formerly “good” character goes “bad”. Or the “black sheep” character unexpectedly turns good, just in time to save the heroine/hero (i.e. remember Han Solo at the end of Star Wars?).

Still another technique used often by mystery and suspense writers is to cause an unexpected death. Kill off a character. Make it quick, sudden and shocking. An unexpected death is a good way to heighten the tension, move the plot along, and cause a plot twist that completely shifts the direction of the story.

Do you like plot twists? Is there a particular plot twist in a favorite novel that stands out as particularly memorable? Inquiring (and shifty) minds want to know!


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