Spring has sprung! April Fools — no, it hasn’t. I’m writing you from Colorado today, where I am currently enveloped in a heavenly blizzard. We’ve been here for the past few weeks on retreat and have had two major winter storms, both in the 14-inch range. I don’t know if you’ve read about my rather unique upbringing in the wilderness — if not, here’s a little of it in my unofficial bio, and an essay I did about growing up in the woods. Oh, chickens, there’s something about snow on the pine trees that yanks me back in time.
I’ve also just returned from a weekend in Colorado Springs at Left Coast Crime, a wonderful conference full of good friends and fun readers. The Cheyenne Mountain Resort took wonderful care of us, even allowing Randy and I to stay an extra night when the snow started to pummel the state. We managed to make it home to the top of our little mountain today moments before another system moved in and trapped us. Again. I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve made a huge pot of turkey chili and opened a lovely bottle of Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zin, and as I watch, the snow tumbles down from the sky, the flakes chasing each other like puppies.
Revisions are back for THE FINAL CUT, and I’ve also made a start on WHEN SHADOWS FALL, Sam Owens #3. The beginning stages of a book are always interesting — so full of possibility, so many ideas... and changes to the proposal (shh — don’t tell my editor.) You can’t ever know a story until you’re living and breathing it on a daily basis, but I’ll tell you this — Sam Owens may think she’s retired from being a Medical Examiner, but the bodies keep finding her. This story is harrowing and exciting, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
I’ve also been updating my website — it will have a new, minimalist look, not so much clutter and a simple interface. Hopefully it will be ready in the next few weeks. If there’s something in particular you love about the site, or if I’m missing something you want, please let me know!
I hope to see some of you in Bowling Green on April 21 at the Southern Kentucky Bookfest!
Books I Recommend
One of my favorite authors is Tess Gerritsen, and her new book, LAST TO DIE, is simply amazing. I read it in a single sitting, couldn’t put it down. The same with Lisa Gardner’sTOUCH AND GO — it was ridiculously compelling. I’m halfway through Laura Lippman’s awesome LIFE SENTENCES, and I’m nearly finished with THE MAN FROM ST. PETERSBURGby Ken Follett. Then I’m moving on to his agent Al Zuckerman’s WRITING THE BLOCKBUSTER NOVEL — I’ve been told the book contains the secret magic juju recipe for outlining, something I’m afraid I’ll have to do for my next few books.
Left Coast Crime was full of amazing authors — three I must recommend are John Gilstrapand Leo J. Maloney — both writing spectacular thrillers — and Julia Pomeroy, a long-time friend who’s novels are simply wonderful. Check them out!
I’ve made a commitment to track all my reading this year, so if you’re on Goodreads, friend me, and follow along. I’m always interested in what you’re reading, too!
Every month there’s a new contest on my site. The April contest is live now — enter to win a copy of a very cool collector’s item, circa 2007 — The Killer Year Chapbook. It contains the first chapters from the books of all the original Killer Year members. This can’t be bought in stores — and of course, if you win, you really should tell the world about the coolness within.
One of my all time favorite meals growing up was a very 1970s dish called Chicken à la Queen. Queen, not King, because my mother was a Queen, and she who bakes, names. It’s a total throwback dish for me, one I haven’t thought about for ages, but I can’t wait to try it again. I managed to find an online recipe similar to my mom’s and with her help have amended it accordingly.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 ¼ cup white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup dry Sherry (real Sherry is always best)
- 1 cup Emeril’s organic reduced-sodium chicken broth (or make your own)
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 tablespoon half & half or heavy cream
- ¼ cup sliced scallions
- Paprika (My family wasn’t into pimentos, so my mom dashed Paprika on top)
- Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry — cooked to their directions
- Toss chicken and flour in a medium bowl until coated.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Reserving the remaining flour, add the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pan.
- Add mushrooms, bell pepper, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are softened and starting to brown.
- Pour in sherry; bring to a boil and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.
- Whisk broth and milk into the reserved flour until smooth. Stir the mixture into the pan.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring often.
- If using pimentos, add them now, with the chicken and return to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, ten minutes or so.
- Dish into puff pastry, top with paprika and pop on the lid.
That’s it from me, my friends. The snow has stopped, the sun is peeking through the clouds, and the deer are back for a visit. Have a wonderful month, and I’ll see you in May. Keep reading!