8 posts categorized "It's The Weekend!"

April 04, 2010

With Three You Get Egg Roll


HANK:  Do you know Julie Hyzy? If you don't, I am delighted to introduce you to one of the most charming, intelligent, witty and hard-working rising stars in mystery world. Julie and Karen Olson and I toured the hot spots of North Carolina together a few weeks ago--we were the Triple Threat Mystery Tour under the watchful eye and wise shepherding of the amazing Molly Weston. And someday really, I'll post pictures of the hilarity: books, barbeque, sweet tea, some wonderful bookstores and libraries and non-stop fun--but the photos are still in my camera, so you'll have to imagine.  Oh, wait! here's one, courtesy of Karen Kiley (xoxo) at the Cary Library. (Notice Julie and me, listening, enraptured, to Karen, while Molly Weston prepares her next tough question.)

North caro tour



So you see--just like any good writing ,the weekend has a theme! The Triple Threat reunion.

Yesterday, the fabulous Karen shared her tattoo secrets. Today, we're eggcited to welcome Julie. Yes, I can spell.  But that's eggzactly what I meant to say.




Julie Hyzy: Today is Easter Sunday, and whether you celebrate the day because of its religious significance, or just because you enjoy Marshmallow Peeps, you have to admit one thing: Eggs are everywhere. There are plastic eggs filled with treats, hard-boiled eggs colored in bright pastels, cream-filled eggs, and those superbly smooth Dove truffle eggs. Ooh… I could go for one of those right now.



Hank generously invited me to guest blog today because my latest book—the third in my White House Chef Mystery series, Eggsecutive Orders, is set just before the Easter Egg Roll. These books feature Olivia (Ollie) Paras as Executive White House chef who feeds the First Family and saves the world in her spare time. Although we truly do have our first-ever female Executive Chef in the real White House, my books are fiction, and my President Campbell and his wife bear no resemblance to our current leader and his family. (Buffalo West Wing comes out next year and…cough, cough…that may change…)


Tomorrow, in the real world, in a tradition that dates back to 1878, President and Mrs. Obama will open the White House lawn for the annual Egg Roll. The event is for kids and their families—provided, of course, those families were lucky enough to snag tickets. As I’m sure you know, books take a long time to get published.


   Back when I turned in Eggsecutive Orders, the only way to get a ticket was to stand outside the White House on the prescribed date, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. The Obamas have since updated the process so that Egg Roll lottery tickets are awarded online. Now hopeful families sit at their computers with fingers crossed and hope for the best. So, even though it just came out, Eggsecutive Orders is already a little bit dated.

This year’s Egg Roll theme “Ready, Set, Go!” is designed to dovetail with Mrs. Obama’s mission of promoting kids’ health. And just for the record, the Egg Roll is no small event. There will be live music, cooking stations, storytelling, kids’ activities, and of course there will be eggs. Lots of eggs.


And hey… even the Oval Office is in on the fun. It’s in the shape of an egg, isn’t it?



When I was researching Eggsecutive Orders I discovered that the White House provides over fifteen thousand hard-boiled eggs for the event. Think about that. Fifteen thousand eggs. That’s one thousand two hundred and fifty dozen. When my kids were little and we colored eggs the Friday before Easter, it sometimes felt as though we went through at least that many. Nowadays we color just enough to make a pretty platter at dinner. But it’s still a lot of work.


When I envisioned what it might be like for my characters to produce fifteen thousand eggs, I had a hard time wrapping my head around that number. But I also realized that the White House kitchen staff does this every year as a matter of course. No big deal. Just one more “herculinary” project on their platter. So I decided to make things a little tougher—to give Ollie’s group an extra challenge this time around.




When Eggsecutive Orders opens, it’s eggsactly (sorry, couldn’t resist!) one week before the annual Egg Roll and Ollie, Bucky, and Cyan are hauled in for questioning, eventually finding themselves banished from the kitchen. Seems one of the president’s guests didn’t make it to dessert. What’s the worst kind of dinner guest a chef has to deal with? You got it—a dead one. Carl Minkus, head of the NSA, keeled over at the table, a victim of poisoning. And except for the kitchen staff, no one had access to his meal.



Fun stuff. Along with the dead guest and the team’s subsequent banishment from the White House, there’s espionage, Ollie’s mom and nana visiting from Chicago, Ollie’s frustrated Secret Service boyfriend, a couple of celebrity guest chefs with a possible motive, and an over-the-top newspaper reporter looking for scoop… all in a day’s work for Ollie. Heh heh heh. Why is it so much fun for writers to put characters in conflict?

I think that’s another blog.


Today—this Easter—I have far fewer worries than Ollie does. I’m carrying on a tradition set up years ago by hosting the extended family for dinner. I’ve owned Easter as my holiday for a number of years now, and although I can probably run dinner in my sleep I still worry about everything being hot at serving time and remembering to turn the coffee on before we sit down. Small concerns really. Even if I burned the entire meal, they’d all still love me…and probably even come back next year for another round.




But tomorrow—Egg Roll Day—just as Ollie puts all the pieces together to figure out who killed Carl Minkus, just as

she scrambles to make sure all of those fifteen thousand eggs are where they need to be, just as she brings the guilty person to justice while protecting innocent bystanders from getting killed, I’ll be here in my quiet house, enjoying the best part of hosting holidays: leftovers. Ham, potatoes, sausage, sauerkraut, lamb cake, jelly beans, and chocolate..



 For the record, I can skip on Marshmallow Peeps. But hand over those truffle eggs and no one will get hurt.


HANK: Thanks, Julie!  We used to make Easter Eggs by--writing on them with crayon? And  then dipping them into..something?  Am I remembering this correctly? Any Easter egg-making secrets out there?




Julie Hyzy’s first book in the White House Chef Mystery series, State of the Onion, won the Lovey Award for Best Traditional Mystery and the Barry, and Anthony Awards for Best Paperback Original in 2009. The series includes Hail to the Chef, Eggsecutive Orders, and (coming in January) Buffalo West Wing. Julie is also excited to announce the debut of her new Manor of Murder Mysteries. The first book in that series, Grace Under Pressure, comes out June 1st.

January 10, 2010

All is Revealed

by Hank

SO? How'd you do? I've looked at all your guesses...and some of you rocked! Others of you--well, let's just say the Tarts are good at keeping secrets. See below for the prize winners! But first, all is revealed!

Here are the questions again--with the answers!

Can you picture the Tarts as Tartlets? As little girls, two of the Tarts wanted to be veterinarians.  Can you guess who?  NANCY and  HARLEY


One planned to be a beautician. Who do you think that is?  KATHY

One, a geneticist. Who? HANK

And still today, one of us thinks if she weren’t a writer—she might sell real estate. SARAH

 As a kid, one of the Tarts played cello, oboe, clarinet and piano. (Not at the same time.) Which Tart is the musical prodigy? HARLEY

Which Tarts are artists? One of us won a contest—okay, in fifth grade but it still counts—for drawing a sketch of her mother. Who?   HARLEY

And one of us is still brilliant at drawing—horses.NANCYNancy martin

We had wonderful high school and college careers.

ElaineOne of us married her English professor. ELAINE

One was voted “Most Individual” in her high school.  HANK

One was her high school mascot—costume and all. Who danced for the crowd?KATHY

One was a majorette—baton, white boots and all. Who marched to Tuxedo Junction? HANK (But I was terrible. Middle of the back row)

 Athletics? Sure, we rock.  In our own ways.
One holds her high school’s record for the SHORTEST broad jump. ELAINE

 One’s a weightlifter. At her best, she could bench 250 pounds, which was more than twice her body weight. KATHY

One—qualified for the Olympic swim team.  NANCY!

And one took beginning tennis—a one-semester course—for three years.  HANK


One Tart collects decorating magazines. NANCY

One has an “absurd fascination” with Mormons. SARAH


One is really good at counted cross stitch. HARLEY

((And that ain’t all. The Tarts have many other talents. Oh, yes indeed. (This is where Me, Margie, kept raising her hand. I ignored her. You don't wanna know. She keeps trying to have me list her talents. Puh-leeze.)

Which of us can do mirror writing? (That’s cursive writing that can be read in a mirror.) HARLEY

Which of us can sing songs using only the first letter of each word?  HANK

Which of us can throw a bullet of a forward pass? (oh, that’s too easy)  NANCY!

SOO? How'd you do?  ANd now--tell us something WE don't know about YOU!


Who wins the prizes?  Here are just some of the winners...KERRY wins Nancy's new book!  JodiL and Storyteller Mary win ARCS of PRIME TIME!  Peach wins a DRIVE TIME canvas tote bag!  But that's not all--watch the comments space--for the rest of the many more winners! (Winners--please contact Hank through her website and she'll arrange to get you your loot!) (I'm flying back to Boston Sunday AM--so see you when I get home!)

January 13, 2008

To "F" or not to "F"

For those of you who don’t yet know, our own Elaine Viets’s MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS has been nominated for the prestigious Lefty Award for Best Humorous Novel! It’s not too late to sign up for Left Coast Crime in Denver, March 6-9, if for no other reason than that you can vote for Elaine. And swill champagne with her when she wins. [Elaine, you ARE going, right?]

For more info, go to: http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2008/awards.htm

And now for a vote of a different sort. Next Saturday we’re posting a guest blog from the fabulous Laurie R. King. We haven’t actually seen it yet, but considering the source, it’s going to be great.

Laurie has offered us the original version and the censored one, with the “F” word expunged. What is your preference? No hanging chads, no photo i.d.’s, just a simple “F” or “no F” will do.(Or a complicated and longwinded explanation as to why or why not. You know us.)

The polls are now open.

May 20, 2007

Not a Blog About Paris Hilton

No, really, this blog isn't about Paris Hilton.  Go to fullsize image

It's about you, dear reader, and your creative mind.

See, we hear that Paris is "distraught" Go to fullsize image  over being sentenced to jail for driving without a license despite numerous attempts to tell her such driving is Bad. She even signed a statement saying that she understood a police officer's warning about this Bad Behavior.  But still, she continued to drive and---yep, now she's going to jail.

Not for the originally scheduled 40-some days, but a reduced sentence of 21 days.  This sentence, in case you've been living under a rock, was reduced for her Good Behavior.

Now, we here at the offices of TLC have confidence that our regulars can come up with an appropriate punishment for Miss Hilton.  (Or her relatives.--Feel free to pick one.)  For whichever of her crimes you think is most punishable.    Go to fullsize image

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C'mon, we want to hear you at your most devious.

March 04, 2007

A Crazy Tour

Nancy isn't here. 

She is holed up in a hotel for a weekend of writing.  That's right----no hotel sex, no late nite movies.  No e-mail! Just a Do Not Disturb sign dangling on the door handle and lots of writing going on.

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Her new book, A CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED DEATH, will be released at a wingding party at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop on Monday, March 5 at 7pm. (After a weekend of being cooped up with her laptop, you can bet Nancy will be ready to par-tay!) If you can't be there, consider ordering your own autographed copy directly from the store.

But if you live in any of these cities, how about helping Nancy launch the book on your turf:

Monday, March 5, 7pm
Oakmont, PA
Saturday, March 10, 12:30
Seattle, WA
Sunday, March 11, 5pm
Portland, OR
Tuesday, March 13, 7pm
801 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy
Louisville, KY
Wednesday, March 14
Lexington, KY
Thursday, March 15, 7pm
Cincinnati, OH

Later in the month, we'll post more bookstore appearances for Nancy and all of the Tarts.

If you're a paperback person, please note that the paperback of HAVE YOUR CAKE AND KILL HIM TOO is also being released this week.  At bookstores everywhere. 9780451220417

January 28, 2007

What We're Reading Lately

What We're Reading Lately

by Nancy and Michele

A bunch of the other Tarts decided to go on vacation and leave Nancy and Michele behind to mind the store.  While they're off frolicking in their bikinis on white sand beaches, we're snuggled up by the fire with a good book. Who got the better end of that deal?  They did, silly!  We'd rather be reading on the beach.  But since we're here anyway, we thought we'd tell you about the books that have been keeping us company:


This week I read Truth and Consequences by Alison Lurie, who has been one of my very favorite authors since Foreign Affairs, which has been re-released and youmustgobuyitimmediately.  Anyway, T&C is about marriage and the sometimes ephemeral nature of that till-death-do-us-part relationship. I have such respect for this author's ability to craft words into unforgettable characters---ordinary people who aren't the least bit ordinary.

And I read Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.---Another look at marriage, but this time the husband suffers a brain injury and the wife must carry on, make decisions about his care that affect both of them.  It's a memoir, very moving and beautifully structured.  I picked it up because Stephen King blurbed the book, saying it was the best memoir he'd ever read.  If you found The Year of Magical Thinking wonderful, you'll go for this one, too.

Yesterday I started reading River of Doubt, about Teddy Roosevelt's trip to explore the source of the Amazon.  Can I be a Teddy Roosevelt fan?  Because he's my very favorite president.  (I am such a dork, huh?) What a life.  What a man.  They don't make 'em like Teddy anymore.

One more:  I've been slowly working my way through the Bob Dylan autobiography, Chronicles, Volume One, and it's eye-opening.  You expect Dylan to be a self-less, socially-conscious activist with an altruistic streak, right?  Forget it.  This book is about ambition.  Going after what you want with single-minded focus. And--okay, no surprise here---the man can write!  Sometimes the prose gets a little purple, but it's always entertaining.


I've been on a Marie Antoinette kick.  It started when I received a copy of Sena Jeter Naslund's Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette for Christmas.  It's an account of Marie Antoinette's life told in the first person, from the time she's shipped to France to marry the Dauphin at the age of fourteen (hello! -- can we say pedophilia?) to the moment of her execution.  The prose was gorgeous and the historical detail impressive, but I found that Marie Antoinette as a person was strangely absent.  While I enjoyed the book, I was left wanting more.  So I picked up a copy of Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which I'm halfway through and loving.  I just adore historical biographies that are engagingly written, don't you? 

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Anyway, reading about Marie Antoinette set me to thinking about the dangerous and volatile nature of celebrity.  Here's a woman who was positively adored -- no, literally worshipped -- in her early days as the Dauphine and the young Queen of France.  Her face, her walk, her style of dress, her preferences in music and dance, were trumpeted and imitated not only in France but throughout Europe.  She was written about endlessly in her own time, and eventually as the fortunes of France declined, she became the focus of public anger and frustration.  All along, she'd been nothing more than a well-meaning, self-indulgent dimwit, beautiful and graceful but utterly lacking in influence over policy.  So much got projected onto her that, when she died, the masses exulted to the point of bathing in her blood. 

I suppose people like Angelina and Paris and Britney ought to be grateful.  When the public turns on them, the worst thing that happens is a few crotch shots and a little negative press.

What have you been reading, and how do you feel about it?

January 06, 2007

The Good News

Sometimes you need to toot your own horn. 

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So today we're announcing that Hispanic Business magazine has named our own Michele Martinez one of the top 100 most influential Hispanics of 2006.  Way to go, Michele! Watch for the second book in the Melanie Vargas series, THE FINISHING SCHOOL, on January 30th, when it comes out in paperback.  USA Today calls the book "smart and gritty."

In other good news, Nancy Martin's HAVE YOUR CAKE AND KILL HIM TOO was named one of the best mysteries of 2006 by Deadly Pleasures magazine.  YaaaHooo!

Elaine Viets was surprised to discover her MURDER UNLEASHED was nominated for a Lefty Award.  Nice surprise!

Sarah Strohmeyer was nominated for an RT award this year. Which she is downplaying, but it's nice to be recognized, right?

And Harley Jane Kozak's trade-size paperback of DATING DEAD MEN has appeared on various bestseller lists!

And just to clarify any misunderstanding, Susan McBride reports that her Debutante Dropout mystery series is going strong.  Susan's also writing some YA books, but she wants to emphasize that her mysteries will continue. As she puts it,  "I'm embarking on a new and exciting path of my career, but still treading more familiar turf with my Deb Dropout books."

Margie reports that she--uh--got a blue ribbon (someone who saw it says it's really a thong with a ribbon for the front) for one of her modeling ensembles at the Victoria's Secret Holiday Men's Night Fashion Show.  She has it in a box with all the wet T-shirt trophies and other various honors.  She also won an award at the Texarkana FCI, but her lawyer has asked her not to talk about it.

Let's hear a round of applause!

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December 02, 2006

Notable Books

Here's a list of the most notable books of 2006, according to the New York Times.


How many have you read?  What did you think? C'mon!  Spill!