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The high point of Easter Dinner: Dessert

Hi, All!

We just finished Easter dinner, and it was so good, and I simply have to share another recipe with you. The high point was dessert. We made Bananas Foster ala Brennan's, the New Orleans/Houston restaurant that's synonymous with this amazing dessert. Oh, my gosh, so good. So whenever you're up for  Read More 
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My Favorite Recipes: Crawfish Etouffee

Today I made one of my favorite recipes, and it turned out so well, I thought it would be fun to share the recipe. I can't take credit for it. This recipe for crayfish etouffee came from a friend in Louisiana.

Ingredients:

1/4 pound butter Read More 
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One Little Girl: Caylee Anthony and why we care

Lately, I've had a hard time concentrating on work. I keep wondering what the heck is going on in Florida.

Of course, you all know what I'm talking about. I'd bet the majority of folks in the U.S. have at least heard of the tragic death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony. We first learned in July 2008 that this precious child was missing, when her grandmother, Cindy, called police, saying Caylee hadn't been seen in a month. For the past three years, we've been mesmerized by the search for the child, the discovery of her body, and the bizarre behavior of Casey, little Caylee's mom. Now our attention has turned to the courtroom drama as Casey is tried for her daughter's murder. A guilty verdict could bring the death penalty.

Apparently I'm not the only one  Read More 
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Relief: Finally finished

I slept well last night. Perhaps because yesterday I sent off my latest manuscript to my editor at HarperCollins, my new true crime book on the Matt Baker case. Matt was a Baptist minister in Waco, TX, who's been convicted of murdering his wife, Kari, and staging it to look like a suicide. It's a heartbreaking case.

I admit it: there were times I thought I'd never finish! I've spent 17 months on this book, and it's one of the most difficult I've written. There were so many setbacks! At first hardly anyone wanted me to write the book. I found out later that they had their reasons, and I understood. Eventually, I think they realized that someone was going to write a book on this case and that I would work hard and do my best.

By the end, nearly everyone on all sides of the case talked to me. A few months back, I even drove north to Livingston, TX, and interviewed Matt Baker in prison.

It's been a long  Read More 
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True Crime Writing 101 -- Part two

Last week my post addressed those of you who envision yourselves writing true crime books. If I didn't dissuade you from that endeavor, let's take this a step further.

Now that you've decided you're up for the research and the seclusion of sitting at your computer day after day, the first thing you have to do is pick which case to cover. I bet that sounds easy. In a sense, unfortunately, it is. There never seems to be a dearth of sensational murders in America, perhaps the world. That's a bad thing, obviously.

Unfortunately, we can't change the reality that murders do happen. We're just reporting what's already taken place. So let's talk about how to pick  Read More 
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Throw away the key

I read an article today about the man suspected of being the East Coast rapist, Aaron Thomas. According to police, he's assaulted seventeen women, beginning in 1997, in Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Maryland. His bail is set at $1.5 million

Thomas has reportedly made incriminating statements to police, and a prosecutor has said that Thomas displayed a Jekyll and Hyde personality with women. "Why haven't you picked me up sooner?" he taunted police when he was arrested.

The case they're going after Thomas for is one in which he's accused of breaking into a woman's bedroom and assaulting her while her 4-month-old baby  Read More 
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A Big Day!

My dad blowing out his birthday candles.
Hey All,

Now this is exciting, and years in the making. Yesterday, my dad, Nicholas, turned 90. Can you imagine? Ninety!

Something struck me while I was talking to him. He said, "Boy, the world has really changed since I was born." My dad was born in the family home, on 17th Street, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1921. The family didn't yet have a car, only rich folks were born in hospitals, and television had a few decades before it made an appearance in most homes.

That seems like a long time ago, I know. But the truth is that life is short, too short. Unfortunately, for many of the people I write about it's way too short, as they fall victim to violent crime. But even 90 years is a brief interlude here on earth. Our old planet spins so quickly, the years ticking by. It's true that there's nothing we can do to slow it down.

Yet, there is something we can do to make our time  Read More 
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What people ask me....

I just finished filling in some upcoming events on my calendar, and I've been doing phone-in discussions with book clubs. It's a lot of fun for me and, I believe, for the club members. I get to hear their theories on the true crime cases I cover and the plots and characters in my mysteries; the readers ask questions and hear the stories behind the books. So it's a win-win situation, at least from my perspective.

Over the years, I've found that when I talk to groups there are some questions that nearly always get asked. One is: What's it like to interview someone who's committed a brutal murder?

Well, I've been doing that for a very long time. I started out visiting prisons when I worked for magazines in the Eighties and Nineties. In fact, I have a Rolling Stone article out on Kindle right now called Blues & Bad Blood. The cost is a whopping $0.99. At 6,000 words, it's always been one of my favorite magazine pieces. I think it's the mix of music and murder that makes the case so fascinating.

When I worked on that particular case, I traveled Texas over a period of two weeks interviewing four men convicted of two horrible murders, Read More 
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Why Sarah Armstrong Hates Me

Okay, writing fiction isn’t a popularity contest. That’s true. So this shouldn’t matter, right? Especially since, it’s not really possible for a character in a novel to hate anyone, including the author, right? Still, I’m beginning to wonder.

You see, Sarah’s my heroine. I’ve written three books featuring this Texas Ranger/profiler, a woman I invented sitting at my computer one afternoon after deciding against a host of other protagonists, including a crocheting grandmother and a junior league hostess. I’d been thinking about Sarah for a long time, whittling away at the block of marble trying to uncover the statue inside. Maybe, since my books are set in Texas, instead of a Michelangelo analogy, I should have said, taking a chain saw to the trunk of a fallen live oak to reveal the roughly hewn armadillo? No, that’s all just bad. Let’s just move on.

Anyway, to her delight or dismay, Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong has become my heroine, the center of my fictional world, and since 2007, I’ve literally tormented this poor woman’s life. But then she’s not alive. I know that. But to write about her, she has to be real to me and, to some extent (I’m sincerely not delusional), she is. The result is that I drive through Tomball, Texas, where I’ve planted the Rocking Horse, the ranch Sarah lives on with her mother and daughter, and I sometimes surprise myself by looking  Read More 
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