Killer Recipes Even a Klutz Can Cook!

Congratulations to contest winner Linda Lovely.

Cindy Sample's Hot Cha Cha Cha Chipotle CakeThere’s a nasty rumor going around that I can’t cook.  I’m not sure where this rumor started, but I’m guessing it began somewhere in my kitchen. Maybe near that burner that ignited the last time I tried to sear a salmon.

Possibly it originated in the microwave. Have you ever seen a hot dog explode? It’s quite a sight.

I’m still peeling dried sweet potato fluff off my kitchen cabinets from last Christmas. They did add a nice orange luster to the oak, though.

The cooking gene seems to have skipped a generation in my family. Fortunately, my children determined at an early age that they preferred to eat food that did not come packaged in Styrofoam cartons, so they learned to cook to avoid starving to death. My daughter particularly excels in baking any recipe that involves chocolate, while I excel in eating any recipe that involves chocolate!

When All Romance e-books asked if I wanted to be included with the hottest romance authors in town, and all I had to do was contribute a recipe to their new Passionate Cooks, I immediately said yes. I wasn’t going to let a little thing like my inability to distinguish between a TSP. and a TBSP. stop me from swapping recipes with other romance authors.

These ladies have crafted sizzling recipes with even more sizzling titles. Who could resist Sensual Sticky Buns, Date Me – Baby, Passionate Pesto Pasta, Smokin’ Hot Bourbon Beef, and my particular favorite, Sexy Stromboli.

I have no idea what Sexy Stromboli is, but I definitely want one. I’m just not sure if I want it in the kitchen or my bedroom!

My own contribution is a recipe that was not handed down from generation to generation. It was handed up from my daughter. With a slight tweak from moi. In honor of my passion for ballroom dancing, I’ve named it Hot Cha Cha Cha Chipotle Cake.

Once you’ve eaten a slice, you’ll need to cha cha off those tasty calories.

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Congratulations to contest winner Marilyn Meredith.

Written by Guest Blogger Kaye George

Kaye George by Ron WhitfieldToday I welcome guest blogger Kaye George. Kaye has been a janitor, a mental health center secretary, a short order cook, a violinist, an online mystery reviewer, and is now an award-winning short story writer, two-time Agatha nominee, and the author of the hilarious Imogene Duckworthy mysteries, Smoke, Choke, and soon to be released Broke. Kaye is also the President of the Guppies, an on-line chapter of Sisters in Crime devoted to helping unpublished and newly published mystery writers. Join Kaye for her post about the dreaded question fans just love to ask.

Dancing with the Baby Boomers (or What an Author Will Do to Sell Books)

Congratulations to contest winner Marcy Cox.

Behind the Scenes at Left Coast Crime

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a mystery convention? Shaking your head no? That was my initial response in March, 2009, when Robin Burcell asked me to co-chair LCC 2012 in Sacramento. I don’t know whether it was a lack of caffeine or too many piña coladas but I said yes, and raced off to share the good news with my agent. She immediately responded with something unprintable which boiled down to “Are you nuts?”
Cindy & Robin Take One for the TeamChairing a convention provides unique insights and mass quantities of emails. For instance, it took at least 250 emails before we discovered that dessert choices for a banquet should not be democratically decided by committee. This, of course, forced Robin and me to submit to a dessert tasting. A tough job, we know, but those carbs kept us fueled for weeks, and just in time to begin the huge task of preparing the program which means moving panelists around a huge matrix in order to provide the best panels for them as well as the attendees. Our program chairs, Marlyn Beebe and Elaine Yamaguchi, worked night and day, and despite a deluge of 2:00 AM emails, maintained their sense of humor.
Determining the price of a convention is always a challenge.  Initial registrants lucked in with an early bird fee of $150 and the price gradually increased to the 2012 rate of $225. It might surprise people to know that the meals that were included (2 breakfasts, one reception and an awards banquet) ran $168 per person. Then there are the free book bags, books, cool LCC promo items and program books.
You don’t need to be a math whiz to see that the bottom line for a convention can easily turn into something resembling the national debt (minus a few zeros.) Fortunately sponsors such as the MWA, the Sacramento and NorCal chapters of Sisters in Crime, and HarperCollins stepped in to share some of the expenses. A number of publishers graciously donated a truckload of books to fill the book bags to overflowing and to ensure shoulder dislocations among the weak.
Cindy and a Rapt AudienceI could go on and on (we all know my babbling skills are excellent) but the bottom line is that running a convention is like strategizing a military campaign. And the real bottom line is represented by the incredible group of people who were willing to put in thousands of unpaid hours to make this a wonderful event. Shout outs go to Sue Trowbridge, our webmaster; Noemi Levine, Treasurer and Fan GOH; Toby Gottfried, official book snarer; Janet Rudolph, publicity chair and master tweeter; Verna Dreisbach, who brought in ad revenue; and Vallery Feldman, who skillfully displayed the ads in the program. A personal thanks to Volunteer chairs, Pat and Larry Morin who worked through the duration of LCC, and without whose assistance, I’d be locked up in a padded cell. Stan Ulrich and Lucinda Surber not only handled awards, signs, and room monitors, but also took care of everything I forgot.
The financial benefactor of our convention was the Sacramento Library Adult Literacy Program. Library Director Rivkah Sass provided a stirring tale of the people benefited by this wonderful program. Jean Utley’s auction committee wrapped and tied ribbons for 75 donated silent auction items. Between those items, the raffle for the beautiful quilt created by Pam Dehnke and Vallery Feldman, and excellent auctioneering by Donna Andrews and Harley Jane Kozak, almost $8,000 was raised for this program.
Running a convention means you’re exposed to the good, the bad and the annoying. What never ceased to amaze me was the number of volunteers who not only paid the registration fee but also worked tirelessly and cheerfully. Putting on a convention is a labor of love and these folks, and there are many, will hold a place in my heart forever.
Cindy and Robin Are All Smiles at the Awards BanquetI’ll always be grateful I had this opportunity to work with Robin, to make new friends, to create a congenial networking atmosphere for mystery authors and fans, and to leave everyone with wonderful memories.
Plus I lost 4 lbs. in 4 days running up and down those darn stairs. Heck of a fitness program!
Some folks say e-books will make conventions disappear but based on our 600 attendees, I disagree.
The bigger, burning question is whether you attend conventions and if so, what do you get out of them? And if by chance you’re interested in chairing one, please let me know. I have a bridge I’m looking to sell.

Hey Doc, Can I Tweet My EKG?

Congratulations to contest winner Liz Jasper.

Improving Your Blog: Helpful Tips and Reminders From an Award-Winning Blogger

Written by Guest Blogger Margaret Andrews

Congratulations to contest winner Murr Brewester.

Sex Anyone?

Written by Guest Blogger Lois Winston

Author Lois Winston and Mop Doll Today I welcome guest blogger, Lois Winston, author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Death By Killer Mop Doll, the sequel, was released earlier this month. Anastasia is one of the most hilarious protagonists I’ve ever met. Join Lois for a discussion of a very hot topic.


Let’s talk sex. (That got your attention, didn’t it?) I began my writing career in the romance genre. For romance writers, unless you’re writing for one of the inspirational imprints or “sweet” romance lines, it’s pretty much expected that your book will contain a sex scene or two. Or three. Or four. Or five. Sex sells.

However, now I’m writing a mystery series. A humorous mystery series. You won’t find any hot and heavy heaving bosoms in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. I’ve come to learn that mystery readers don’t generally care for sex in their reads. They’re interested in solving the mystery. They don’t mind a relationship between the protagonist and whomever, just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the whodunit.

Fair ‘nuff.

However, lately I’m seeing a trend toward steamier mysteries. The windows are definitely fogging up in some series. In one, the protagonist has actually begun doing the dirty with not one, but two guys on a fairly consistent basis.

Imagine having to decide between Hunk #1 and Hunk #2! It would certainly take Anastasia’s mind off her financial woes. And her pain-in–posterior mother-in-law. But Anastasia is a bit too old school to bed two guys. Heck, she’s fighting off the urge to bed just one. Will she or won’t she?

In Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Anastasia is recently widowed. So no matter how she begins to feel about tenant Zack Barnes and no matter how she now feels about her dead louse of a spouse, given that he gambled away their life savings and left her up the wazoo in debt before dropping dead at a casino in Las Vegas, propriety wins out over hormones.

Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series, opens three months later, and there’s a definite tug of war developing between propriety and those hormones.

Sexual tension drives romance novels. Once the hero and heroine have their happily-ever-after, though, they wander off hand-in-hand into the sunset. If there’s a sequel, it usually involves secondary characters who become the primary characters in the next book.

In an ongoing mystery series, the protagonist remains the protagonist throughout the series. Consummating a relationship often sinks a series. Although sexual tension doesn’t drive mysteries the way it does romances, it still plays a part in driving the characters’ internal goals, motivations, and conflicts. However, dragging the will-they/won’t they out too long can also spell disaster. Readers get bored with the same old/same old. Relationships need to grow in much the same way characters need to grow. If they don’t, each book becomes a clone of the one before, and no author wants that to happen.

Our characters’ relationships become a balancing act for us, one where we have to determine what’s too much and what’s not enough. Get it wrong, and readers will be quick to let us know.

Death by Killer Mop Doll by Lois WinstonSo how do you feel about sex in mysteries? Post a comment, and you could win one of 5 signed copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll I’m giving away as part of my blog tour this month.

The full tour schedule can be found at my website,, and the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, You can read an excerpt at You can visit me at my website: and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: You can also follow me and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth

Outrageous Hot Chipotle Cake and Other Delights

Cindy blogs her way through a hilarious Q & A over at Pots ‘n Pens.

To Give or Not to Give

Written by Guest Blogger Barb Beacham

Today I welcome first time guest blogger, Barb Beacham. Barb lives in the Sierra Foothills and works as an accountant for an El Dorado winery. She writes when she is not working, tooling around her garden, or whipping up something wonderful in the kitchen!


Do you find yourself inundated with catalogs wanting to sell you stuff they think is a “must have” for Christmas? Even though I have yet to order anything, year after year, I find my mailbox stuffed with a multitude of catalogs which represent a complete waste of paper, postage, and printing costs. Here are some of the pickings that really resonated with me. Be prepared. These may end up in YOUR Christmas stocking.

The winners of this year’s list of what I don’t want, and what I don’t want to give are:

Some Women Cook Turkeys; Other Women Date Them

Congratulations to contest winner Alyx Morgan.