Month: April 2014

Until I finish with edits and have time again to blog…

… my dead Romanian ancestors will handle blog responsibilities on my behalf.


They’re very friendly dead Romanians. Perhaps, if you ask nicely, they’ll blog about their appearance on Romania’s Got Talent.


Still learning life lessons

I had the pleasure of spending last night in NYC at the launch of Jenny Milchman’s second book, Ruin Falls. Commenting recently about her first book, Cover of Snow, I said, Jenny’s book is a testament to what can happen when talent and hard work coalesce. Any time I speak to Jenny, I am reminded of a couple of life lessons that are critical for writers (and probably for everyone else as well).

You see, when Jenny’s first book was published by Random House in 2013, it was hardly her first attempt. It took Jenny eight books, thirteen years and countless rejections before Cover of Snow was acquired by Random House. Most of us would have grown impatient. Many of us would have taken a shortcut. Certainly in the current world of publishing, there are an endless array of publishing options that bypass the gatekeepers and eliminate the wait. And they truly are viable options. But I have said before that too many people self-publish for the wrong reason. I have suggested that it is essential for an aspiring author to understand his/her publishing goals before heading down a particular path to publication.

My fourth book, Death and White Diamonds, will be published by Intrigue Publishing and is scheduled for release in January 2015. Recently, I have found myself growing impatient with the process. I am reminded today that patience is a virtue and though I have suggested elsewhere that it must be someone else’s virtue, today I am looking forward to enjoying every bit of the process leading up to the book release.

Which brings me nicely to the second life lesson. Getting a book published is fun. It is an event to be celebrated. And Jenny was determined to celebrate it with her readers. When Cover of Snow was released, Jenny packed her husband and two children into their car and set out on the road. They spent the next seven months on the road, visiting hundreds of book stores, libraries and any place else where readers congregate.

I can’t spend seven months on the road; I can’t live or work remotely for an extended period like that. But I can damn sure celebrate my book with my readers and I am already thinking about times, places and ways of doing that. And since the book won’t be released until January, I have plenty of time to figure it out.

In the meantime, if you’re not familiar with Jenny Milchman, pick up a copy of Cover of Snow and/or Ruin Falls. Settle into a comfy chair and enjoy the read.

And if you’re in the area, this Saturday, April 26, I’ll be reading an excerpt from Death and White Diamonds at the Rosemont College Book Festival.

I’d like that in triplicate

Kukla, Fran and Ollie
Bacon, lettuce and tomato
Larry, Moe and Curly
Manny, Moe and Jack
The good, the bad and the ugly
Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll
Crosby, Stills and Nash
Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Huey, Dewey and Louie
Wynken, Blynken and Nod
Id, ego and superego
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Peter, Paul and Mary
Athos, Porthos and Aramis
Duty, honor and country
Faith, hope and charity
Planes, trains and automobiles
Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil
The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria
Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic
Me, myself and I
Up, up and away
A priest, a rabbi and a minister (walk into a bar)

Things that go together

Lucy and Ethel
Tea and crumpets
Cowboys and Indians
The lime and the coconut
M and M’s
Flo and Eddie
Beany and Cecil
Me and Bobbie McGhee
Cookies and milk
Boardwalk and Park Place
Chang and Eng
Mad dogs and Englishmen
Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Beavis and Butthead
Cheech and Chong
Crimson and clover
Over and over
Smith and Wesson
New Jersey and you
Ebony and ivory
Ham and eggs
Fish and chips
Bagels and lox
Rhythm and blues
Mac and cheese
Thing One and Thing Two
The Cat and the Hat
Hall and Oates
Sonny and Cher
Batman and Robin
Abbott and Costello
Bogey and Bacall
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Lone Ranger and Tonto
The Captain and Tenille
Dumb and Dumber
Flora and fauna
Hollywood and Vine
Lady and the Tramp
Pinky and the Brain
Porgy and Bess
Proctor and Gamble
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Sears and Roebuck
Live and Let Die
Peanut butter and jelly
Beauty and the Beast
Anthony and Cleopatra
Ben and Jerry
Black and Decker
Bonnie and Clyde
Corned beef and cabbage
Cagney and Lacey
Barnes and Noble
Barnum and Bailey
Adam and Eve
Abercrombie and Fitch
Arm and hammer
Yin and yang
Barney and Thelma Lou
Johnny Walker Black and Oxycodone

R.I.P. Archie Andrews

How do you kill off a character in a popular series? It is a question that comes up whenever writers decide to kill a fan favorite. On television, the question often results from an actor’s decision to leave a series (eg. the death of Will Gardner on The Good Wife, the death of Henry Blake on MASH). Fictional characters in books rarely have contract disputes with the author, but they do have disputes that may lead the author to contemplate homicide. Arthur Conan Doyle desperately wanted to kill off Sherlock Holmes. “Holmes keeps my mind from better things” Conan Doyle is reputed to have said. J.K. Rowling contemplated killing off Ron Weasley. When asked why, she explained, “Sheer spite.”

Now, Archie Comics has decided to kill off Archie. I never did relate to Archie. I was more a Jughead fan. Still, how do you kill off Archie and continue to have Archie Comics? Apparently, all you have to do is to create multiple series. So Archie will die in Life with Archie #36, which will be released on July 16. But Archie will continue to live in Archie and also presumably in Betty and Veronica and in Jughead and Archie and in, dare I mention, Afterlife with Archie.

But when you read all those other series, in the back of your mind you’ll know that Archie is dead.


Rest in peace, Archie.

Asian Pickles

1. Two days in advance, chop up a small napa cabbage. Toss the cabbage with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, and a 1/4 cup of fine sherry. Put in an airtight container and store at room temperature for 48 hours.

2.  One day in advance, slice 3 – 5 kirby cucumbers (or seedless mini-cucumbers) into 1/2 inch slices. Toss with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil until it begins to smoke. Pour the sesame oil over 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder and set aside.

4. Drain the cabbage, reserving 1/2 the cabbage liquid. Drain the cucumbers and reserve 1/2 the cucumber liquid. Cut the cucumber slices into half moons. Combine the cabbage, the cucumbers and both reserved liquids in a mixing bowl. Add 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper finely chopped, 2 teaspoons of Asian chili-garlic paste and 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, thinly sliced. Mix. Pour in the cayenne oil, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro and 2 scallions, chopped. Mix.

5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours.

6. Strain the mixture, reserving the liquid.

7. Separate the cucumbers from the cabbage mixture. Discard the cabbage mixture.

8. Place the cucumber slices in a mixing bowl. Add garlic powder to taste. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid over the cucumbers. Discard the remaining liquid. Add 1/4 cup of roasted peanuts. Mix. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (or serve at room temperature).

Adapted from Sichuan Pickles, New York Times, May 29, 2011.