Rebecca York

About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  View website

Beef Soup for a Cold Winter’s Day

I hadn’t used my Crock-Pot in maybe twenty years. But a Facebook cooking discussion inspired me to haul it out.

A friend recommended a version of the recipe below. It sounded perfect for the cold and nasty weather we’ve been having lately. But after reading over the directions, I made a number of modifications that streamlined the preparation. The original was called Crock-Pot Steak Soup. I decided that it would work just as well with stew beef. I can’t say I was right, because I never tried the steak version. But the less-expensive beef variation was delicious and had us both going back for seconds. I also added vegetables, using a combination of sliced celery, baby carrots and green beans.

I’ll call the dish Beef, Vegetable, and Noodle Soup. It was fabulous the first day; but on the second day, the noodles had absorbed a lot of the broth and changed the flavor. I had to add more broth to turn it back into soup.

Ingredients
2 T canola oil
2.5 lb stew beef cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t black pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 T tomato paste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1-oz pkg onion soup mix
2-3 cups mixed vegetables (such as celery, baby carrots, and green beans)
2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles

Instructions
1.Place oil in a large, deep skillet. Add beef cubes. Sprinkle with flour and pepper. Turn cubes to coat with flour mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring a few times, for about six minutes, until beef is browned.
2. Meanwhile combine beef broth, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce in a large Crock-Pot. Whisk to incorporate the tomato paste into the liquid.
3. Add onion soup mix and beef cubes. Add vegetables, and stir to combine.
4. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Turn heat to low, and cook for an additional 7 hours, until beef is tender
5. Add noodles, cover and cook for 30 more minutes, until noodles are tender

Recipe and image courtesy of recipesthatcrock.com

Hollow Moon is Rebecca York’s latest book.  It is now up for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

It’s a New Year

The beginning of a new year always makes me reflect on the months just past and the time that stretches out before me. What would I change about the previous year, and what am I going to do differently?

Interesting what leaps to mind first. Like most women, I think I ate too much! <g> And probably not enough of the right things. Why is a good Danish pastry so tempting when there’s all that kale in the produce section begging to be cooked? And what should I really be doing to eat healthy? Thirty years ago I thought I understood nutrition. But since then, the experts have changed their minds a lot. In 1987 Nancy Baggett, Gloria Kaufer Greene, and I wrote Don’t Tell ‘Em It’s Good for ‘Em (Times Books), a cookbook designed to help homemakers gradually change the ingredients in recipes so their family didn’t know they were eating healthier versions of old favorites.

Back then, the main goal was to lower fat in the diet. In fact, we were urged to consume fewer than thirty percent of our calories from fat. And when Nancy Baggett and I wrote 100% Pleasure for Rodale Books, published in 1994, low-fat was still king. Then gradually, we started hearing about a lot of other things like the distinction between good and bad fat. Fiber. Oat Bran. The Paleo diet. Gluten free. The health advantages of intermittent fasting. Baggett and I got in on that one a few years ago with The 2-Day a Week Diet Cookbook.

Then there’s the whole question of exercise. I didn’t do enough in 2017. I hope I’m going to do better this year. But the difference between diet and exercise for me is—I love to cook. I’d rather sit and read than walk around the block. A friend told me to listen to a book while I exercise. I’ve tried that in the past, and it never worked too well. Maybe in 2018?

In one blog, I can’t cover all the things I’ve been considering. But there’s one big hairy issue I should mention—my professional life. Devoting more time to getting my writing done is definitely on the agenda. But how do I balance it with everything else? And how much time should I commit to publicity versus developing and writing fiction? Should I think about another cookbook? How much time should I spend on social media? And which social media? As I sit here now, I’m telling myself I’m going to do more writing. But yeah, I’m also itching to check my Facebook feed to see if I got some responses to the post I put up yesterday.

My latest novel is Bedroom Therapy, and it is available in the anthology Love on Fire: 6 Hot Romances.

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

You Got What for Christmas?

Today a friend came over to visit. When she asked how I was doing, I got up and danced for her. She was amazed, not because I’m a great dancer but because I could do it at all.

A month ago, as I write this, I got a new right knee. This is not something you want to do on a whim. In fact, you probably don’t want to do it until you are desperate—or until you come to grips with the realization that you are not getting any better or any younger.

There was nothing sudden about my knees giving out. Ten years ago I had arthroscopic surgery on both of them, where an orthopedist fixed up the rough edges of the cartilage. For some people, that’s a useless procedure. It kept ME out of pain for a decade. But finally there was no cartilage left in my right knee. I tried a cortisone shot. It did nothing. And when I came back to the doctor six weeks later, I made my decision. If I wanted to walk pain- free, I had to take the plunge.

For the month before surgery, I religiously did exercises to strengthen my leg muscles. And I also stayed away from crowds, terrified that I’d arrive for surgery and a nurse would tell me, “Go home. You have a cold, and we’re not going to operate on you.”

After leaping that hurdle, I found myself at an orthopedic hospital at six in the morning on Halloween—of all auspicious times. And for the next two days, my life was kind of a surreal hostage situation. If you’re having major surgery, you turn yourself over to the doctors and nurses. And now you even get a wristband with a bar code.

My first memories of the whole experience are kind of fuzzy. The anesthesiologist told me my main anesthetic would be spinal—after a nurse had already attached an IV line to my right arm. He said, “Stand up, face away from me, and hold onto the bed.” That’s the last thing I remember before waking up in the recovery room and being asked to wiggle my toes.

After that, did Norman meet me in my private room? No idea.

Blessedly, they had put something magic in my knee at the end of the operation. For the first day, I really had no pain. And within hours of surgery, they had me up and walking to the bathroom. Some patients went home the next day. But my blood pressure crashed in the morning, and I had to stay two nights.

After the magic bullet wore off, I would have liked what I’ve heard other hospitals do—give you a morphine pump, so you can press a button and have pain relief. My hospital didn’t use them, and I had to rely on oral medications which weren’t all that effective. But the good news for me is that I tolerate pain pretty well. When they asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, I rarely got above a four. And that, they said, was unusual.

Once I got home, it was a gradual uphill climb. At first, I could barely move my leg. But inch by inch the muscles started working again. I went from a walker to a cane. I made it up and down the stairs—first, once a day and then more. And slowly but surely I got back to normal activity—with the help of first a home nurse and physical therapist and then trips to the therapy facility (aka torture chamber). Finally, one day I could stand long enough to cook a meal. And when I could pull on my slacks without gritting my teeth, I knew I was on the way to dancing again.

The latest Rebecca York release is Christmas Spirit.

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Using Memories of Holidays Past

So many memories crowded in around me as I visited Baltimore recently. We had taken our grandson to the Maryland Zoo, and I knew it was close to where my grandmother lived when I was a kid. I remembered the name of her street which was only a block long. Using dueling GPS’s, the two guys in the car found the location. It was sad to see the block so run-down, and truthfully, I can’t be sure which house was hers.

But that doesn’t dampen the memories of driving there from our house in DC to see grandma.  Especially memorable were her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. She didn’t actually do the cooking. There was always a maid in the kitchen deep into holiday food preparation. We’d have all the usual treats: turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. As a kid, I never understood why one bowl of stuffing was always so wet. Now that I’m the cook, I know it’s because it was actually in the turkey. On the table there was always a bowl of celery sticks with the leaves still on. I suppose that was a sop to healthy eating.

From an early age, I liked the dark meat best. They’d take some of the meat off a turkey leg and give me the rest to chomp on—sometimes while running around the house.  And while the adults were still relaxing at the table, we kids would climb underneath and crawl around on the crosspieces of the table legs. Then we’d come up for air to have cookies and pie.

In CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, my holiday romantic suspense, I’ve tried to recreate the holiday atmosphere from those long-ago dinners. Only because I’m writing fiction, I can make it even better. Well, not at the beginning, where my heroine Chelsea Caldwell sees a ghost on the road when she’s out picking up Christmas decorations for her aunt.

Ghosts and murder take up a fair amount of the book. But when my hero and heroine aren’t sparring about the reality of the supernatural, they’re enjoying the holiday spirit at Aunt Sophie’s B&B, the House of the Seven Gables. I had so much fun designing the Christmas decorations—garlands adorned with Eastern Shore ducks and a stunning tree that my hero and heroine decorate together. I put lots of glitter on it—and lights. That was always a sore point for me as a kid. Because my mother had heard about Christmas tree fires burning down people’s houses, we couldn’t have anything electric on ours. You’d better believe that when I grew up, the first tree I decorated had lots of lights.

I’m sure you have a ton of holiday memories, and if you’re a writer, you put them in your books. What are some of your favorite traditions that you still enjoy?

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Christmas Ghost Stories

Mixing ghosts and Christmas? Why not?

I should tell you that I’ve had a long association with ghosts. Well not personal encounters but fictional ghosts.

When I was seven and eight, I hung out with a bunch of neighborhood kids. Most of us lived in two apartment houses on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. An older boy named Martin from around the corner was also part of the group.

Back in those days, we’d go out to play and stay for hours. And when it was time for dinner, my mom would stand at the back window of our apartment and call me. If I was outside, I’d hear her and come home.

But sometimes we would sneak into a nearby parking garage. It was already dark and spooky in there, and Martin would make it spookier by telling us ghost stories. I’d sit with my back against the wall, trying not to shake as he talked of horrors rising from the grave and ravaging the living Then I’d run home as fast as I could, imagining the ghosts right behind me.

My next encounter with ghost stories was also with an older boy, who lived up the street from us after we moved to a house in the next school district. He had a stack of horror comic books. With them, I didn’t have to imagine monsters climbing out of their graves to attack the innocent (or sometimes the guilty). I could see drawings of them—which scared me more than the earlier ghost stories. But they also fascinated me.

Fast forward to my career as a writer. I still like ghost stories, but now I’m the one in control. And my paranormal are also romances, where the hero and heroine vanquish the specters before their HEA.

The ghost stories I like best are set in the holiday season where I get to intertwine warmth and joy with an exciting suspense plot and a sexy love story.

My first foray into Christmas paranormal was CHRISTMAS CAPTIVE, where Jordan Campbell is in a coma and being held captive by his greedy relatives who are hoping to kill him. Hannah Andrews is hired by Decorah Security as his nurse because she’s able to get into communication with him when nobody else can. Not only that but she visits the ghosts of his past. It’s a supernatural story with a totally happy ending.

My new release, CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, is also a ghost story, set in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In this book, the heroine, Chelsea Caldwell, has been communicating with spirits since she was a girl, but she’s tried to deny that talent because a lot of people in town thought she was lying and mocked her. As the story opens, she encounters a dead woman who is desperate for justice. At the same time she must deal with Michael Bryant, an investigative reporter and guest at her aunt’s B&B who wants to prove that she’s making it all up. Naturally, since I write romantic suspense, they must work together to solve a murder. And when Chelsea is in terrible danger, Michael must trust a ghost to help him save her.

It might seem strange to mix ghosts and Christmas. But if Charles Dickens could do it, so can I.

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Diving Into the Setting

There’s a charming town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that I love to use as a setting for romantic suspense stories. It’s called St. Michaels, but when I write about it, I usually change the name to St. Stephens. If I’m going to commit murder in a town, I don’t want to burden the residents with my crimes. And if I want to move a couple of buildings around, nobody is going to write me a letter complaining I got it wrong.

When Patricia Rosemoor, Ann Voss Peterson, and I decided to write a paranormal Christmas trilogy, with a murder mystery running through all three books, I suggested my favorite location. But because we were doing a series that wasn’t connected to any of my other works, we agreed to call the town Jenkins Cove. Then I made another suggestion: “Let’s all take a research trip there. You fly to Baltimore, and my tour director—Norman—will drive us over.  We can stay for a few days, eat fabulous Maryland seafood, and steep ourselves in the nautical atmosphere.”

I did a pretty good selling, job, and they both agreed.

It was a wonderful research trip with a lot of great opportunities for adding local color to our stories. (Mine’s called CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, and one of the characters is a desperate ghost who keeps trying to contact my heroine.)

               A restaurant where you can arrive by boat

We ate at a rambling crab restaurant where you could come by boat and tie up at the wharf outside.  We toured the downtown area with all the touristy shops that sold everything from tee shirts to duck decoys, handmade pottery, and silver jewelry. We found a graveyard and a warehouse to use as locations for foul play. On a boat trip up the Miles River, we spotted the grand estate featured in Ann’s story.

A graveyard that photographed spooky when there was no mist in the air

And one evening, I had a truly spooky experience.

We were staying at a B&B right on the Chesapeake Bay, a few miles out of town. After dinner, Ann asked if we wanted to go out and help her look for a location where she could commit murder (fictionally, of course.)

                                      Bed and Breakfast

Norman and I went with her. It was a warm summer night, and we tramped around the grounds and out onto the pier. The moon was so full and bright that trees and bushes cast shadows. And as I walked through the silvery light, I kept having very spooky sensations.

When we came back in, I asked, “Did you feel like you were walking through places where the air was colder than others?”  Ann said, “Yes.” Norman said, “No.”  I think he’s too logical to feel anything spectral.

But I knew those icy spots were going to add a nice touch to the ghost story I was writing.

You can research a place on the Web. But there’s no substitute for actually going there and soaking up the atmosphere for yourself.

Does the setting of a book make a difference for you?

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Welcome to San Francisco

When Dick Gregory died last month, I stared at obit pictures of him, seeing a scruffy guy with a long white beard and gaunt face. He didn’t look much like the comedian I had seen perform at the Hungry I in San Francisco years ago.


Bob Fitch Photography Archive

Back then he was clean-shaven, on the portly side with short dark hair, and wearing a business suit.

That was in June of 1962, the year before my husband and I wed.  One of his sisters was getting married in his hometown of Santa Barbara, and my grandmother paid my way from D.C. to L.A. so I could be in the wedding.

We took a cheap cross-country red-eye flight, a prop-driven plane that stopped twice—in Chicago and Denver.  O’Hare had just been built, and it was a labyrinth of an airport.  I know because there were no meals on our flight, and we decided to fortify ourselves with sandwiches. We had to run through endless corridors to get to a concourse where we could buy food—then sprint back so we wouldn’t get left behind. We should have waited until Denver which was a tiny rural airport about the size of my high school auditorium.

The wedding in Santa Barbara was on a Sunday, and Norman and I were staying an extra week in California. We wanted to drive up to San Francisco together, but I could see his mom was uncomfortable about an unmarried couple going off alone. So we decided to take his youngest sister with us.

She was only fifteen, but mature for her age. Could we waltz her into some of the clubs we wanted to visit?

She’d brought along a fancy dress, and I helped her put on a lot of makeup. Then we took her to the Hungry I where we sat at small table, a few yards from the stage.

Dick Gregory came out and did a comedy routine, and I can only remember a couple of jokes. He talked about what it was like to be a black man who had moved into a formerly all-white suburb.  One day when he was mowing his lawn, a neighbor came over and asked, “What do you charge for yard work.”  Gregory replied, “I get to sleep with the woman who lives here.”

Another quip was, “I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no old white guy would come to my neighborhood at night.”

Those were pretty daring commentaries for the time.

Then there was our next stop. Norman insisted on taking us into a club where we could see the ladies room—wallpapered with pages from the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. (Side note: My dad was a psychiatrist, and that book was on the shelves of our den. I’d already read it.)

After that, the trip was a little more mundane. Good food is always high on Norman’s list.  We got ice cream at Blum’s (a San Francisco landmark long since closed), ate at a prime rib restaurant and drove up Telegraph Hill.

Back then I hadn’t written any books, but I think it’s my novelist’s mind that remembers all those details years later.

Rebecca York’s latest Decorah Security novel is Boxed In.

Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Finally, a Book Where I Can Use My Experience

No, it’s not the murder I got away with.  (Just kidding.) It’s the sexual advice column I ghosted for three years. (Not kidding.)

I have a five-alarm romance, Bedroom Therapy, in the Love on Fire collection on preorder now.  ( http://a.co/7uFNSgi ) It’s about a psychologist, Amanda O’Neal, who is tapped to write a sexual advice column under the pseudonym of the previous author—after the woman is murdered. A detective, Zack, is investigating the murder, and since this is a steamy romance, he and Amanda are wildly attracted to each other and get into some very heated and, um, kinky scenarios together.

The book starts with a letter from a reader —

Dear Esther,

I have a problem, and there’s no one I can talk to about it. My husband is in the Navy, and he’s on a three-month cruise. Sometimes I get so lonely that I don’t know what to do. And sometimes I get so hot for him that it pushes me over the edge. I mean, I have to make myself come. It feels good when I do it, and I always pretend he’s making love to me. But afterwards I feel guilty. What should I do?

Sincerely,
Lonely and Hot in Norfolk

I made that letter up, but long ago, when I wrote mostly nonfiction, I got the job of ghosting a sexual advice column in a national women’s magazine. Since it wasn’t under my name, I can’t tell you which magazine. But every month the author and I would get together to read letters asking for advice. She’d sketch in answers, and I’d write them up. After I’d finished, I’d give them back to her so she could make any corrections.

Obviously this was quite an education for me. And I still do remember some of the letters all these years later. Actually, I paraphrased one of them in Bedroom Therapy.  You may think this monthly assignment was a fun job, but nothing stays fun when you have to do it on a regular basis. For one thing, a lot of readers had similar questions. How many times can you say that it’s okay to have an orgasm with your partner by manual stimulation or that a big penis doesn’t make a guy a good lover? At first, we worked around this problem by answering some letters from guys. But the magazine editor decided that since this was a women’s magazine, we could only take questions from females.

And then there was the month when the columnist had a dispute with the editor and refused to answer any letters.  I jumped in to write an essay on contraceptive methods—which my boss was willing to read and approve.

One thing we learned quickly was that readers were asking questions about one-night stands and brief affairs. My boss tried to teach them that sex should be in the context of a relationship. They absorbed the message, and we’d get letters that started off, “I had a relationship with a guy last night. . .”

Back then, I never thought my advice-columnist experience would be the basis for a novel. But when I was looking for a Love on Fire topic, I decided it was a natural.

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Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website