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 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.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

Putting Research to Good Advantage

If you are reading a book and lose interest in it, you probably realize you don’t like the characters or the plot. But you might also be annoyed that some of the details don’t ring true.

Often in a good story, the location is like an important character. Sometimes I can write about a place I haven’t visited–if I do a bunch of research. A few years ago I wanted to set a scene on Lincoln Road, the famous shopping area in Miami. Because I hadn’t been there, I got details from my daughter’s college roommate who was from Miami. I based the scene on what she told me, and I think it was true to the location. But later when I visited the area, I found it didn’t actually look like what I had pictured.

Not long ago, our friends’ son was getting married in Duck, North Carolina. They invited us to the wedding, and I decided that presented a wonderful opportunity to set a story in a southern beach town. The resulting novel is Scene of the Crime.

The wedding was at a mansion on the beach, and I use a similar location in the book. We also went to a lot of local restaurants. We stayed at a beach house the parents of the groom had rented for their guests. I noted the atmosphere of the town–observing that there were a lot of real estate offices, craft shops, clothing stores and new condo developments. And of course the beach and the ocean were important to the ambiance.

I went home and started plotting a story that took advantage of the location. It turned into a romantic murder mystery, because there were lots of opportunities for nefarious plots going on below the surface of the community.

The hero was framed for murder. But later DNA evidence proves his innocence. Bent on discovering the real killer, he has plastic surgery to change his appearance. Back in town he encounters the woman he has dreamed about the whole time he was in prison. But he can’t tell her who he really is, and he knows she will hate his duplicity. Then things really heat up when the actual murderers come after them. Can they prove his innocence, keep from getting killed, and work out their relationship before it’s too late?

It’s a complicated mystery with a lot of twists and turns–and a lot of the flavor of the beach town where it’s set.

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How Did You Learn to Cook?

You may know that I write cookbooks (as Ruth Glick) as well as romantic suspense novels. But of course, I didn’t always know how to cook. Some of my early experiments in the kitchen involved putting spices into canned soup. Then, when I was twelve, my Girl Scout troop took a cooking course at the Washington Gas Light Company. And when I was fifteen and my dad was very sick, my mom (who was getting a masters degree at The George Washington University), would leave me instructions for fixing dinner two nights a week while she was in class.

But when I grew up and got married, I realized I needed to know a lot more. One thing I did was make 40 different dishes from various recipes–some clipped from the Washington Post Food section. But my main teacher was Betty Crocker’s Cook Book.

 

As you can see, the old girl is now falling apart because she’s so well used. I learned a lot from Betty, like how to make a white sauce, how to measure flour without sifting, and how to store cookies.

Speaking of cookies, here’s one my favorite recipes from that old cookbook. I’ve updated it a bit. For example, I have you mix the dry ingredients together first and set them aside so they will be all ready to go into the butter mixture. Also, the original recipe called for 1/2 tsp salt. I leave it out. And apparently, Betty didn’t know about unbleached flour.

Rocks

These cookies get their wonderful flavor from a combination of cinnamon and cloves.

3 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts if you prefer)

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda. Mix well. Set aside.
  3. Combine butter, sugar, and eggs in a mixer bowl. At medium speed, mix until combined thoroughly, stopping and scraping down sides of bowl and paddle or beaters as needed.
  4. Blend in flour mixture at medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl and paddle or beaters as needed. Stir in raisins and nuts.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on an oiled or greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are nicely puffed and browned a little at the edges. Cool on wire rack.
    Cookies will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

My latest romantic suspense novel, Scene of the Crime, will soon be on pre-order and on special 99c sale on Amazon.

 

Wearing a new face, he comes back to the town where he was framed for murder to catch the real killer. Soon after he arrives, he finds the woman he has dreamed about the whole time he was in prison. But he can’t tell her who he really is, and he knows she will hate his duplicity. Then things heat up when the real murderers come after them. Can they prove his innocence and work out their relationship before it’s too late?

Sign up for my newsletter at www.rebeccayork.com . Newsletter subscribers can enter my contests for nifty prizes.

Homeless in Winter

Where do the stray cats go in winter? I hope they find a warm place to stay. Or perhaps my local cats stay in the shelters I provide.

I make the shelters out of big plastic storage bins. As you can see, this one is on its side, because that provides more floor space.


The door is a rectangle in the far side (actually, the intended top of the bin) facing the steps. Since the plastic is pretty tough, I asked a friend to cut it for me. Notice that the box is facing downhill so no water runs into it. The door is in the most sheltered position.

Do the outside cats use it? I’m not sure. But it’s the best I can do because there’s nowhere on my property free of passing raccoons and foxes. But I have another identical shelter in a more secure location, under my neighbors’ deck (with their permission). I know Holly’s mom hangs out in their yard because it’s fenced. When I went to change the straw in the box, she took off like a bat out of hell. (If you don’t know, Holly is the stray cat I took inside and socialized. Her mom was too feral to try it.)

The recommended material for bedding is straw. There’s a farm store around here that gives away loose straw for free. You bring your own bag and stuff it at your own risk. I asked what’s the risk? Snakes? The guy said no because it’s too cold for snakes. Oh.

Here I am gathering up the straw.

And with my full bag.

I know Holly’s mom and probably her dad hang around here for the food. In this picture he’s eating and she’s making sure I don’t come outside.

Rebecca York’s latest book is Killian Unbound from Changeling Press.

Watch for Gawain Unbound early next year.

 

 

Seven-Layer Dip

Every month we have a bridge party with friends where each couple brings a “heavy appetizer” to share. It’s like grazing for dinner. And every month I must figure out what to make. This month I went with a Mexican seven layer dip, served with corn chips. I looked online and found a bunch of recipes, then came up with my own variation. I bought the guacamole at the grocery store and used cherry tomatoes for the topper. The recipes I looked at varied so much that you can get away with altering the amounts of the ingredients. But don’t skimp on the refried beans, as they are the most substantial layer.

Of course, you don’t have to make the dip in a glass dish. But if you do, everyone can see the pretty layers.

Makes about 8 servings

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) refried beans

About 1 1/2 cups guacamole

1 1/2 cups sour cream (mixed with 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 1/4 tsp oregano)

1 cup shredded Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)

Spoon the beans into an 8- or 9-inch square glass dish, and spread with the back of a large spoon to cover the bottom of the dish, Next spread the guacamole over the beans. Follow with a layer of sour cream. Sprinkle the cheese on top and follow with the green onions and olives if using.

Refrigerate for at least an hour and a half to allow flavors to blend. I don’t know how long it can be kept in the fridge because the batch I made was eaten up.

Rebecca York’s latest release is Killian Unbound, a sexy medieval fantasy.