I hope everyone had a nice Christmas/Hannukka/Kwaanza and/or Festivus. Don and I did our usual thing. We got up late, opened presents, drove around for awhile just to see out of idle curiosity if anything was open. Then we came home and fixed a Christmas dinner of fake chicken and okra pie. The okra ‘pie’ is an old family recipe that I’ve been practising on so that I can include in the my next book. It’s not really a pie – it’s okra sliced up with egg and cornmeal and fried into a kind of large round fritter. It can be sliced into wedges and eaten by hand, so it’s not only quite delicious, it’s fun to eat, as well. My mother raised okra in her backyard garden, and always had tons of it every summer. Usually we ate it fried, sometimes boiled with tomatoes or in a stew, but she made it into a ‘pie’ for us quite often, and we loved it. I made it myself quite a bit when I was younger and actually cooked at home with some regularity, but it’s been so long that I had forgotten the particulars and had to ask my sister Carol to help me reconstruct the recipe. Most of the time I can make it just right – perfectly brown and toasty and all in one piece. However, it takes a practised eye to know just how long to cook it on one side before attempting the flip-over, and occasionally I end up with a pan full of loose fried okra with egg in it. It doesn’t really matter. It’s still yummy.
A couple of days ago, I received my first request for a cover quote, much to my surprise. The book is called Map of Murder – Original stories of mystery and suspense, edited by Susan Budavari and Suzanne Flaig, soon to be published by Red Coyote Press in Phoenix Arizona. (www.redcoyotepress.com) I’m about three-quarters of the way through the book as I write this, and I must say that the stories are very good. Which is a relief, of course. What if I had not liked the book and had to return it with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’? I would have, too, rather than put my name on a less than quality work. So, assuming that the last few stories are as good as the rest, I’ll be dusting off my blurb-speak and attempting to devise my first irresistable cover quote. Map of Murder is Red Coyote’s second mystery anthology, after last year’s Medley of Murder.