Dinner At Deadman’s Is Free!

DAD free2

Dinner At Deadman’s is free today and tomorrow. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a guest post from my recent blog tour to get you in the mood. Enjoy!

Would You Eat A Dead Lady’s Food?

Lorado Martin, star of my new novel Dinner At Deadman’s, loves to rummage around estates of the newly-deceased and prepare them for sale. He’s attracted to all sorts of collectibles, antiques, about anything lying around someone’s house that proves interesting.

The title Dinner At Deadman’s comes from a night Lorado is working in a woman’s home and decides to eat some cereal from her kitchen. I have been surprised by how revolting people find the idea of eating something from a dead lady’s home, so I thought I’d explore that idea with you a bit today.

One of my most surprising food finds was a can of peaches at the bottom of a set of cellar stairs. The can had rusted through. The peaches had seeped out and all that remained of them was a dark-colored spot on the wooden shelf underneath the can. The can must have been sitting there for several years and I wonder if anyone considered eating those peaches in the few years before I found them.

I think we can all agree we wouldn’t eat peaches from a rusty old can, but what about a can of soup in the pantry that was shiny and new? Could there really be anything wrong with soup that’s been lying around a while? If it was free, would you take it home? Would you check the expiration date first?

For me it would be an easy call. If it was canned food that I would buy anyway, I’d take any can that was in good condition. I’m not sure exactly what makes eating food from a dead person’s house weird. Is it the idea that whatever killed them might be infectious? Or is it a superstition that the food could be haunted? Or maybe the ghost of the previous owner would torment you for taking it home?

Let’s go to the kitchen next.

I remember eating cereal at my grandmother’s house. It was always stale. And she always filled bowls by hand, reaching in, grabbing a handful, and dropping it in a bowl like an excavator. That always seemed a little gross to me as a kid. The idea of a strange old lady’s hand on my cereal is enough for me to forgo an open box.

How about you? If you found an unopened box of your favorite cereal would you take it?

It’s a slippery slope once you get started. You open the freezer and see frozen steaks. The food starts to have value and in these tough economic times I think a lot of us would be tempted to take some of that free food home, especially if it was in a sealed container.

Whether this sounds like a great idea or a crazy one, I hope you’ll check out Dinner At Deadman’s and explore a sweet little old lady’s kitchen alongside Lorado.


Giving Thanks By Giving Back

Over the last four years I have spent a lot of energy thinking about how to make our world a better place by helping those who have gotten off to a rough start. The End of Marking Time highlighted just how tragic life can be for kids who don’t find the right kinds of love and support as they grow.

This year I met a man who is helping make life a little easier for needy kids now and in the future by delivering clothes, toys, books, and other important household items. GiftsToGive founder Jim Stevens has created an organization to be proud of with a mission anyone can get behind. I was so impressed, I included Jim and his organization in my latest book, Dinner At Deadman’s to tell people about the great work they are doing.


CJ with Jim Stevens, Founder of GiftsToGive


The genius of GiftsToGive begins with volunteering. I’m pictured below with a Girl Scout troop from Marion, MA. These young girls worked hard to sort donated clothing. Just walking into the building these girls learned a valuable lesson about how many people really need our help. Working to provide that help gave them a feeling of joy that you can’t get any other way.


The Girl Scouts volunteer with a little help from CJ.


Below is a narrow shot of the women’s and girl’s clothes processing area. Area families donate piles of clothing that need to be sorted, washed, and delivered. Because the staff is entirely made up of volunteers, GiftsToGive performs a mountain of work on a tiny budget. The clothing is donated. Volunteers sort, wash, and package it. Social workers deliver the finished gift packages. I feel great helping this cause because everything I give goes to the kids. No one is collecting a paycheck. The entire organization works because they care.


Sorting for women’s and girl’s clothing


This year I’m proud to partner with GiftsToGive to help provide some of the things kids need new. If you’d like to join me and help buy a pair of socks, a toothbrush, or a birthday present for a child who really needs our support, visit my website and buy a signed book for yourself or anyone on your Christmas list.

Signed books cost $18 (delivered in the United States) and $2 of that will go directly to a child in need.

Please join me by buying a book anytime between now and the end of the year and have a very happy holiday season!



The Next Big Thing

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing


My friend Gina Fava tagged me with these interview questions this week. Her timing couldn’t have been better. My latest book is just hitting the shelves. So check it out!

What is the working title of your book?

My latest mystery is Dinner At Deadman’s, where amateur sleuth Lorado Martin sifts through piles of clutter to discover a cold-blooded killer.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Lorado Martin is my real-life brother. I was looking for a hero for a new series and decided he was perfect. He is a quirky guy who loves junk (he calls the stuff collectible). He also does interesting work with recovering addicts that makes him the perfect entry way into a world that many of us don’t get to see.

What genre does your book fall under?
This is a traditional mystery. Lorado is a funny guy and his humor comes through, but the book is a mystery first.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Lorado is a 320 pound, funny, rugged redneck. Who could master that role? I need help here. I like Naomi Watts for his sexy girlfriend, Roxie.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Junk man Lorado Martin digs through the estate of Mary Newbury and discovers evidence that she’s been murdered. Her affable, recovering addict grandson stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not. (okay, that’s 2 sentences. I cheated)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I started self-publishing long before it was cool and I’m going to continue.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m not sure how long the first draft took, but start to finish, the book was done in about six months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I have to admit that I don’t normally read humorous mysteries. The humor in Dinner At Deadman’s came from Lorado. I’m not responsible. My brother is a really funny guy and the best compliment I’ve gotten on the book so far was from my mom who said, “It sounds like your brother wrote it.”  Since he is the narrator, that’s high praise. of course mom is a little partial.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired to write a book about my brother’s life, but when I sat across the table from a recovering addict, the book took on much more meaning for me.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Lorado is an expert in antiques and collectibles. Throughout the book he provides ideas to help readers get the most from yard sales, eBay, or even the things in their own attic.

One more thing… I’m a character in this book. My brother needed a side kick and I picked ME. I had some fun with myself being omniscient and all. You can also see how my brother sees me in real life and get some insight into what I’m like day to day.


The new tags are:
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Susan Wingate
Jillian Dodd
Diane Capri
Mike Faricy

And here are the rules:

* Give credit to the person / blog that tagged you 
* Post the rules for the blog hop 
*Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog 
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Deadly Junk

I’m about halfway through the first book of my new Deadly Junk series and this weekend I had an experience that will give you a behind the scenes look at Deadly Junk and what’s coming this fall.

One serendipitous thing about this title is that it keeps taking on new meanings for me as I work through the story. Usually my book titles have at two meanings, one apparent and one that you understand a little more when the book is finished. This time around I’m finding meanings around every corner.

This weekend my brother held up something for me and said, “Now this is Deadly Junk.” He was right.


Doesn’t he look like an action hero?

Lorado, the main character in Deadly Junk, is modeled after my brother’s life. He’s involved in two very different worlds . Bringing them to life has really been an eye-opening experience for me.

The first world is junk. Yard sales. Estate sales. Stuff people leave on the side of the road. You name it. If it has value, my brother can spot it at thirty miles per hour.

Each book in the series talks about several valuable things he’s found while I’m writing the book. I incorporate them into the story and tell you a little about what they are, why they are valuable, and how you can find them for yourself. If you are an eBay junkie, or can’t help stopping at yard sales, you’ll enjoy the antiques and collectibles mentioned in the books.

Today’s topic is something for the kids.

About two weeks ago my brother was offered a collection of toys that would make any ten year old boy lose sleep for a month. Someone had been saving Matchbox army vehicles and plastic figures for years and decided it was time to get rid of them.

When he told me how many pieces I was amazed. There were 8 bins brimming full of cars and army men.

In July I’m going to visit some good friends who also happen to read my books. One of the boys is having a birthday, so I decided to combine the parents’ love of books with the boy’s birthday present and give him something straight out of Deadly Junk. Here is the collection I assembled.


Notice the heap of green men in the background!

The 2,000 men and dozens of vehicles didn’t make a dent in my brother’s collection. But it took over an hour for us (yes I had some help!) to set the pieces up for these photos.

Here are some more action photos:


Great detail on these tanks.

I loved these crawling guys



Playing with these guys brought back memories for me. When I first saw the collection I was in awe of the sheer numbers of pieces. The shiny helicopters, all in mint condition, grabbed my attention first. When you are a kid, you get a helicopter, maybe two. This collection held fifty identical helicopters! What kid wouldn’t want them for his airbase?

My brother has spent days with these toys, but he wasn’t excited about the pieces he had fifty or a hundred of. He spent his time researching rare models. The thing I’ve learned about buying large lots is that there are a few pieces mixed in that are valuable. In this case, one piece paid for the entire lot of 50,000+ pieces. The trick was finding that one piece and a few more like it.

When you read Deadly Junk this fall, you’ll learn about finding the treasure mixed in the chaos. I hope you’ll join me then.

So, did you play with toys like these? Or were you a Barbie girl?