Sunday, November 23, 2014

Recipes Of The Day!

For readers of APRIL, MAYBE JUNE (and everyone else, of course), a couple of recipes for foods seen in the novel.


Based On Toll House Oatmeal
(About 4 dozen cookies)

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ½ cups old-fashioned oats (Quaker oatmeal)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels (Hershey's or Nestle's)
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in separate mixing bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter, and sugar with mixer (in large bowl) until creamy. Gradually beat in eggs, milk, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels, and nuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 9 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 to 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Watch so that they don't burn! Let stand for 1 minute; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

APRIL'S TRAVEL MIX (like trail mix)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup dried pineapple pieces
1 cup candy-coated dark chocolate pieces (such as M&M's Dark Chocolate) or Reese's Pieces; you could use 1/2 cup of each
2 1/2 cups salted deluxe mixed nuts (without peanuts)

Combine (shake, shake, shake!) and store in an airtight container.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Signing 6/14--Partied Heartily!

The Magical Mystery Book Launch Party for APRIL, MAYBE JUNE, at Lucky Dog Books/Lochwood in Dallas today was a great success!

I'm simply exhausted--my legs are aching from the knees to the tootsies--but I had to post these photos, taken by Hubby with his phone camera. Believe it or not, I didn't even get my purple SureShot out. I am the big photo nerd and I didn't take any!? Ridiculous. But it's true. I was so busy answering questions and talking about publishing, my writing process, why I have two names, and so forth . . . we could hardly keep the food table replenished. I would say it was a great success! Thank you to all who showed up and stayed or just perched with us for a time! See you there again around August 9th for a multi-author party!

No photo could have done this cheese/grapes/berries tray justice. Especially since we snapped this photo as soon as we got the food table set up. It was the Rustic Cheese Tray from Central Market in Plano, the large size, and it was simply FABULOUS! We also had the Cracker Basket that went with it (Carr's Pepper Water Crackers and other stuff). Then the lady who helps with bookstore events brought beautiful strawberries. The mini cupcakes and cookies/brownies went quickly, as well. But this TRAY! I can certainly recommend the Central Market (HEB) catering items.

This is SUCH a fabulous local bookstore! The staff was nicer to us than anyone deserved, and we wish more people would drop by (I left books for sale on top of the counter in the front . . . but you could browse their VAST selection of art books, novels, educational stuff, DVDs, and everything you can imagine, too!) Our fave location is this one in funky East Dallas, but they have an Oak Cliff location and one in Mesquite, as well. So come on down.

I really, REALLY should have had my camera out. But oh well. Sometimes you cope as best you can! Hope to see you at the next signing!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Magical Mystery Book Tour Begins! Launch Party 6/14 in Dallas

Shalanna Collins' Magical Mystery Book Tour! Launch Party-Book Signing 6/14 in Dallas, Texas!

Saturday, June 14th, from 11 AM to 1 PM, there will be a launch party for *APRIL, MAYBE JUNE by Shalanna Collins*, given by Muse Harbor Publishing, held at Lucky Dog Books/Lochwood, 10801 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218, 214/827-4860.

We will have wine (I can't drink it, but why can't you?), cheese tray, appetizers, and cupcakes from the best bakery in Dallas that's right next door (voted by Dallas Observer and D Magazine fans), along with entertainment including the author acting out part of a scene from the book with willing audience participants and (with luck) accompanied by interpretive belly dance troupe. Come one, come all. You'll have the chance to buy the book at a discount or WIN it. Door prizes include tote bags, T-shirts, stationery, gift certificates to Lucky Dog Books, copies of the book, a disposable (ha) video camera, and a few joke gifts. You get a ticket to the drawing just for staying to the end, and you get an extra ticket with each book you buy. Such a deal!

See you there!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

FREE KINDLE BOOK! YA fantasy/urban fantasy (no vampires, though)

Did I mention that one of my YA urban fantasy novels is up FREE for the Kindle this weekend?

CAMILLE'S TRAVELS, my gritty, streetwise YA fantasy/urban fantasy ebook is FREE on Amazon until Tuesday.

Camille MacTavish is a seventeen-year-old runaway escaping an abusive home life with a stolen magic dragon in the pocket of her jeans. Which could be fun, if the dragon didn't attract all the wrong people. Who is after her, and why?

PLEASE take advantage of this and get your FREE book. Tell me what you think of it.

Hey, what can it hurt--it's FREE!

Camille's Travels

Monday, February 24, 2014

Musings on process and result

I kind of hate to put a post up that will "override" the one inviting you all to come to Left Coast Crime to hear me talk on various panels (and get a chance to win one of my books FREE, or get bookmarks and pens anyhow). But I was talking with another artist about process and results, and I thought our convo was worth sharing.

She's focused on process more than results. She says she knows her art (painting sets for the theater, doing small paintings or sketches for individuals, and the like) is ephemeral, but it doesn't bother her. She writes:

"It's not the legacy but the execution, the actual doing, that gives me zen."

This is a great orientation. I somehow got the "make something that lasts and possibly outlasts you" gene. I think that when my cousins (the boys, anyway) used to take my crayon drawings and tear them up off the fridge, I got the impression that I didn't like working hard on something that there was only one copy of and that didn't even get seen by my grandmother before it got destroyed. Although I do enjoy the process of creating!

If we didn't love the process, we couldn't do it. We'd be like that raging bull guy in the construction business who can't stand his job because he has to be up on the broiling roof all day.

Writing a novel is part puzzle, part planning, part flying by the seat of your pants, and part listening for the Muse in case she decides to sing a while. The good passages in my books are when the Muse approved and began to hum. Very occasionally she busts into song ("bursts" is just not the Texan way to phrase it). Those are the great parts that people quote on Goodreads.

I have never believed the misguided advice in workshops to "kill your darlings," BTW. That would be silly. You must take out extraneous, redundant, silly, self-indulgent, incoherent, and politically incorrect stuff in the second/third/X-th pass. But your great passages, as long as they reveal character, move the story forward (or at least don't stall for too long--if they're really philosophical and insightful and shed light on the eternal human condition), help readers visualize setting or other important images, or drop hints about the tone/mood of the book to come, should stay. Those are the true darlings, and we should appreciate them! Because all around them are our clunky old bits that we can't improve any further, and we need the cadenced stuff for the reward.

Perhaps instead of the "kill your darlings" catchphrase (which is self-consciously clever and kind of obnoxious), they ought to say, "lose the self-indulgent parts--you know what we mean." They ought to point out that you should lose the stuff that is an inside joke, that makes you look clever when the character is not, or that is totally irrelevant to the story or to character development but is a cool factoid that you are dying to have readers know. THAT is the stuff to lose in the polishing draft stage.

I started out as a little BITTY kid wanting to be an actress, partly because I thought the actors made up their lines (I mean when it wasn't improv--on TV sitcoms and everywhere else). But then I discovered (1) I wasn't the ingenue type, but always played the character actress parts (read "old, fat, or ugly, or the harridan, or the one who has a couple of scenes of comic relief that has the audience screaming and crying, but it only lasts a couple of minutes on the stage), and (2) I had a bit of paralyzing stage fright at the most inconvenient times. So I went into the wings and started scribbling! LOL

In other news, today I got the galley proofs of APRIL, MAYBE JUNE, and the graphics and styling are AWE-INSPIRING. The book looks great! All I have to do now is read it over and see if there are any typos (which would have been introduced during editing, naturally) or glitches, check to make sure they didn't touch my commas and semicolons, and generally find any problems. By Thursday morning. That's so we can get books by the Left Coast conference. Whew!

I'd better get to reading!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meet me at Left Coast Crime in Monterey this March!

(Cross-posted from
Do you know how much fun readers/fans/writers' conferences are? Combine that with the paradise that is Monterey/Pacific Grove/Carmel-by-the-sea and you really have something!

And while you're there, you can be among the first to see my new release!


(Note that my name tag at the convention will read "Denise Weeks/Shalanna Collins." I'm dual-boot like J. D. Robb/Nora Roberts and many, many other authors.)

I'll be attending Left Coast Crime (Calamari Crime) this year. At last, a family vacation of sorts combined with an opportunity to meet my editors in person, meet fans, and schmooze with other authors I've only known online. I am really stoked and looking forward to it.

The BIG NEWS is that we will be launching my new YA urban fantasy/adventure, APRIL, MAYBE JUNE! Even though it is not strictly a mystery, it has a mystery subplot. I'll be meeting up with Muse Harbor Press's Dave Workman, my editor on the project, and perhaps with others from the company. We have books, bookmarks, and tote bags to give away! I'll know more about the venue for this later on. It might even be held where we're staying--in a beach house!

I don't think that any of my books will make it to the list of nominees for the Lefty this year, but maybe next year. I hear that you should be fairly well-known, and I'm definitely not. Still, I voted in the awards. We'll see who makes the list.

The exciting part is that I'll be renting the aforementioned beach house for the week in Pacific Grove, about a mile away from the hotel. My family (hubby, Mama, Pomeranian, and probably one of my cousins who loves to sketch) will run around and have fun while I do the con, and then in the evenings I'll get to sightsee and visit the Aquarium and the beach. We haven't had a family vacation in YEARS. They are fighting me on it even as we speak, knowing how expensive it all is (and being a bunch of homebodies, except for the dog, who LOVES to travel, as if he were born with wheels), but I believe I can get them into the van and get us all there.

I hope to be on a panel or two. Even if I'm not, I will be available for meet-ups, book signings, and schmoozing. Watch for my totebags!

Here's the pertinent con info (that you could get from their site):

Starts - Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:00 AM
Ends - Sunday, March 23, 2014 02:00 PM
Where: Portola Hotel & Spa, Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA, USA
(This hotel is sold out, but they have an overflow hotel or two, including the Marriott)
Writing Workshop Wednesday, March 19 with Jan Burke & Jerrilyn Farmer

Would your family like to come along? There are events especially for them! *Because we know they don't want to hear about the things writers and readers like to blather on about.*

Whale Watching Tour Tuesday March 18, 2014 9:00 AM – Noon (I wish I could do this one!)
Monterey Movie Tour Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:00 – 5:00 PM
National Steinbeck Museum Wednesday, March 19, 2014 9:00 AM – 2 PM (We'll hit the museum at some point, as well as the Henry Miller Library.)
Big Sur Scenic Tour Wednesday, March 19, 2014 1:00 – 5:00 PM (I may skip something so I can go on this with Hubby!)

There are also free events and activities, of course. There's a voluntary hike of about three miles that you can take, starting on the trail behind the Portola Spa. Or just walk along the beach!

I hope to see you there. It's a lot of fun to attend your first convention.

Anyone have any convention survival tips? (Other than get your flu shot NOW, and bring your cell phone and tablet(s)?)