The ExPat Returneth

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Humor Writing on Mysterious Musings

Book launch day found me on mystery writer, Julia Buckley's, Mysterious Musings...
Mystery Writer Larissa Reinhart on Coffin Portraits, Japanese Adoptions, and Funny Brits

Larissa Reinhart's new mystery, Portrait of a Dead Guy, is out today!  Here's our interview about her book.

Hi, Larissa!  Thanks for agreeing to be on the blog, and for discussing your book, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, with me.
You write funny!  They say that writing humor is the hardest kind of writing.  How did you choose to write a humorous narrative, and how do you maintain your funny narration and dialogue?

To be honest, that’s just how Cherry speaks in my mind. She kind of talks out the side of her mouth and uses these descriptive phrases. I love humorous books, so I probably absorbed a lot of humor through reading-osmosis. If I’m having a bad day, I like a good dose of PG Wodehouse or Jasper Fforde. If only I could reach UK-humor level... Brits are hilarious people. I love their dry wit. I’m not so subtle.

Two of my favorites! The premise of your book is unusual .  A struggling artist snags the job of painting a recently-murdered man, in his coffin, as a memorial for the rather odd family.  Therefore, your heroine Cherry Tucker has to spend a significant amount of time with a stiff.  Did this situation strike you as funny or horrifying?

It strikes me as funny, but when I explain the plot I get a lot of “are you a lunatic?” looks. I think I’d rather paint a stiff than take on a killer. That would be horrifying!

One of my favorite characters is a billy goat named Tater, who seems to make it his life’s ambition to annoy visitors (or maybe just Cherry?).   Do you have some experience with goats and their whims?

My personal goat stories are fairly innocuous. However, goats have a love/hate relationship with my sister. As children, any time we were near goats they would flock to her, knocking her down, and attempt to eat her clothes. To this day if we take our children to a petting zoo, she refuses to have anything to do with the goats. She was horrified to hear I had a goat in my story. But I believe in making lemonade from other people’s lemons.

Haha!  Speaking of sisters,  I like the relationship between Cherry and her sister.  Cherry is fiercely ambitious, but Casey “couldn’t find ambition if it drew her a map and hired a Sherpa.”   Do you have sisters, and if so, did you draw from the relationships to write about these women?

I have one sister who is nothing like Casey. She’s a hard worker and a great mom. But I can relate to the sniping and one-upmanship between the siblings. My sister and I don’t do that anymore, but we had some memorable arguments in high school. Because their mother abandoned them as children and they then lost their grandmother when they were in high school, I see the siblings as emotionally stunted. However, they’re all very creative. Cherry’s a talented artist, Casey is an amazing cook, and Cody is a skilled mechanic. Unfortunately, Cherry’s the only one who wants to make her mark in the world. Or start paying her own bills.

There are a number of men in Cherry’s life—specifically her  ex-husband, Todd, to whom she was married “by accident,” and of course the handsome Luke.  It reminds me of the interesting triangle Janet Evanovich creates between Stephanie Plum, Ranger, and Morelli.  Have other people compared you to Evanovich?

Read more at Mysterious Musings!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Love a Crabby Heroine

I'm still on the blog tour for PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY's release week. I visited RomCom & today's post is from RomCom's Special Sneak Peek of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY.

Honor Harris from THE KING’S GENERAL, by Daphne du Maurier. Claire Randall from OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Emma Woodhouse from EMMA by Jane Austen. What do these heroines have in common? They sprint toward trouble. They’re very stubborn. Their perceptions often lead them off course. And sometimes they can be crabby. They’re also a lot of fun to read. You just never know what they’re going to do or say or in what kind of trouble they’ll find themselves.

These are my favorite kinds of heroines. That’s why I made one of my own. Cherry Tucker. She’s an artist, so she’s got a strange, er, creative way of looking at the world. Like in her decision to obtain a commission to paint the coffin portrait of a murdered man and to then try to figure out the man’s killer. She can be obstinate and ornery, particularly around Luke, her old flame, who’s back in town for his stepbrother’s funeral. When it comes to trouble, she doesn’t just sprint toward it. She seeks it out with her Remington Wingmaster. And crabby? That can be blamed on her inability to rid herself of her ex-boyfriend and flaky family.


My bright yellow pickup glowed like a radiant beacon in the sea of black, silver, and white cars. I opened the driver door with a yank, cursing a patch of rust growing around the lock. Standing on my toes, I reached for the portfolio bag on the passenger side. The stretch tipped me off my toes and splayed me flat across the bench.
“I recognize this truck,” a lazy voice floated behind me. “And the view. Doesn’t look like much’s changed either way in ten years.”
I gasped and crawled out.
Luke Harper, Dustin’s stepbrother.
I had forgotten that twig on the Branson family tree. More like snapped it from my memory. His lanky stance blocked the open truck door. One hand splayed against my side window. His other wrist lay propped over the top of my door. Within the cage of Luke’s arms, we examined each other. Fondness didn’t dwell in my eyes. I’m never sure what dwelled in his.
Luke drove me crazy in ways I didn’t appreciate. He knew how to push buttons that switched me from tough to soft, smart to dumb. Beautiful men were my kryptonite. Local gossip said my mother had the same problem. My poor sister, Casey, was just as inflicted. We would have been better off inheriting a squinty eye or a duck walk.
“Hello, Luke Harper.” I tried not to sound snide. Drawing up to my fullest five foot and a half inches, I cocked a hip in casual belligerence.
“How’s it going, Cherry?” A glint of light sparked his smoky eyes, and I expected it corresponded with a certain memory of a nineteen-year-old me wearing a pair of red cowboy boots and not much else. “You hanging out at funeral homes now? Never took you for a necrophiliac.”

Read more at RomCom...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Day in the Life of Cherry Tucker

From A Day in the Life of Cherry Tucker on Dru's Book Musings.

Hey ya’ll, and thank you Miss Dru for having me on your literary blog. Which is a little strange, considering I’m an artist and all, but hey, book people like art, too, right? 

If any of you readers are in the market, I’m a portraitist. I live in Halo, Georgia, but don’t let the small, Southern town fool you. I’m classically trained. Even went to school at SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design. Could have probably moved on to the big city lights of Atlanta and had a studio or something, but I choose to move back home. My family -- minus the ones that are dead or run away -- still lives there and somebody’s got to keep an eye on them. But selling art in a small town is as formidable as selling freezers to eskimos. Halo likes to buy their art from the guy hawking velvet paintings in front of the Piggly Wiggly. I do get some commissions. I did a nice portrait of Snug the Coonhound for Terrell. You might have seen that. I’ll paint most anything if it keeps me from working the night shift at the Waffle House. So if any of y’all are interested let me know.

Actually, I just heard through the prolific Halo grapevine that the Bransons (Not just a Branson. The Bransons. Like in JB, Central Georgia’s King of Ford Dealerships and catfish restaurants) wants a portrait of their son, Dustin. Actually it’s Miss Wanda, JB’s wife, who wants the portrait of her stepson. Which would make sense except Dustin’s dead. Murdered actually. No surprise to us locals who have know that thug-wannabe was destined for the county jail or an early grave since preschool. But a coffin portrait does make an odd choice for a memorial. Gives me the heebie-jeebies, but a commission is a commission, and it’s not like I’ll have to ask Dustin to sit still. Considering he’s dead and all.

However, word is that JB offered the commission to his niece, Shawna Branson. Yeah, that ---, well, you know the type. An Amazonian, flame-haired, femme fatale who steals boyfriends, cupcakes, and reputations. That girl can’t paint her own nails, let alone a portrait. She just wants to prove she’s better than me. So I’m going to paint the best dang portrait of a dead guy I’ve ever done just to show the Bransons what qualifies as quality art. Of course, it’s the only portrait of a dead guy I’ve ever painted, but who’s counting? 

And another little problem that popped up is dead Dustin’s stepbrother, Luke Harper, who just waltzed back into Halo after taking off for the military. You probably haven’t seen that tall, dark drink of water for seven or eight years. At least I haven’t, not since we broke up. Yeah, he’s hot enough to steam shrimp and acts the southern gentleman, but don’t let that business fool you. The man’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Particularly about his reasons for asking around about his murdered stepbrother. The man’s better at skulduggery than the Pentagon.

But what I’m dying to find out is what that foreigner, Mr. Max Avtaikin, is doing in Halo. Rumor has it -- and in Halo, rumor is as close to fact as you’re gonna get -- that he’s got something to do with the proliferation of gambling going on in town. And by gambling I mostly mean poker. Some may say I hold a grudge against the poker population because it ruined my near-miss marriage with my other ex, Todd McIntosh, but they’d be wrong. Todd’s poker addiction saved us from making the mistake of our lives, i.e. getting hitched in Vegas. I just wish I could convince Todd of that fact.

So what to do first today? Convince the Bransons to give me the commission to paint their murdered son? Dodge two ex-boyfriends in one small town? Head to my Grandpa’s farm where I’d have to run from a goat in order to get to my sister’s homemade fried chicken? Hunt down an illegal poker ring? Or stay home an embellish some clothing with my Bedazzler?

Small towns have got more going on than you’d think.

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY released this week! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle; Barnes and Noble in paperback and Nook; and on Kobo for other e-reading devices.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Writer's Love of Pinterest

I'm at Terry's Place talking about using Pinterest for writing research. For my expat readers, not only do I have boards dedicated to novel research, but I also have boards on Japan and Japanese food. For those interested in Japanese earthquake news, there's a pinner who pins daily a map of Japan with earthquake spots on it.

There’s been a lot of debate lately about Pin­ter­est and how well it works in mar­ket­ing for writ­ers. If you go to Repinly, an offi­cial site of Pin­ter­est, you can find cur­rent sta­tis­tics on pop­u­lar cat­e­gories, activ­i­ties, and pin­ners. Under the Repinly stats on pop­u­lar pins, books don’t even rate a per­cent­age. “Film, Music, & Books” only makes three per­cent of the Pop­u­lar Boards pie chart. How­ever, con­sid­er­ing the #1 pin­ner — with 3,251,754 fol­low­ers — has a board on books, Pin­ter­est is still valu­able for writers.

But, you say, that’s just one more thing I have to do as a writer. I know. I’m with you on the whole time ration of things to do vs. writ­ing. Bear with me.

Check out Rob Eagar’s arti­cle on Pin­ter­est for mar­ket­ing your book in Writer’s Digest. Beth Hay­den also praised Pinterest’s mar­ket­ing appeal in her 56 Ways to Mar­ket Your Busi­ness on Pin­ter­est. Accord­ing to Hay­den, in “Jan­u­ary 2012, Pin­ter­est drove greater traf­fic to web­sites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Red­dit, and Youtube com­bined.” In both arti­cles, Eagar and Hay­den give help­ful hints on how to use Pin­ter­est for marketing.

I thought I would share how I’m using Pin­ter­est as well, not because I’m a black-belt in Pin­ter­est mar­ket­ing, but because I love the site. I hope that it helps me with mar­ket­ing, but I love it as a great place to do research.


Monday, August 13, 2012

For the Love of a Small Press on Romance University

I'm on Romance University today talking about writing for a small press. Follow the link below to read more.
Please give a warm welcome to mystery author Larissa Reinhart! I met Larissa right here on RU last year, and I was lucky enough to share the excitement of her first sale to Henery Press.
Larissa takes the podium to explain the benefits of working with a small press.
Asking me to talk about the publishing world is a lot like asking the mother of a newborn to talk about raising teenagers. My publishing experience is still wonderful and amazing in its infant stage. I am not yet jaded by my book’s sarcastic back talk and it doesn’t yet ignore me to hang with its friends.
So I begin with that qualification. I am still in love with publishing, and IMHO it is due to the small press (Henery Press) with whom I am working. I’ve heard small press horror stories. I’ve also heard plenty of large press horror stories. I can only speak of which I know. So I asked some other authors to contribute their opinions on working with small presses as well. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Goodreads Giveaway of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY!

Some book news:
I'm doing my last Goodreads Giveway of 10 ARCs of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY from now until August 21. See below to enter the giveaway.

PORTRAIT recently received a 5/5 star review from! We're counting down the days to the August 28 launch with a blog tour. 

Some highlights of the tour: Today, August 8, begins the tour at Kristi Belcamino's blog. An interview on Thursday, August 23, at the Mysteristas. A day in the life of Cherry Tucker at Notes From Me. Writer Julia Buckley's interview on August 28. An interview on the Waterworld Mermaids on August 29. And Get Lost in a Story on August 31.

I'll also be at a book signing on August 28 from 7-9 pm at Johnny's Pizza in Peachtree City and at the Decatur Book Festival on September 1, speaking & signing from 10 a.m. Hope you can make it!

Folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge, but commissions are scarce. So when the Branson family wants a coffin portrait of their dead son, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage and faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Between ex-boyfriends, her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she'll be luck to survive.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart

Portrait of a Dead Guy

by Larissa Reinhart

Giveaway ends August 21, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Japanese Summer Festivals: Obon and Grilled Corn

In Japan not a month goes by without a festival happening somewhere. This is likely true in any country of ancient origins. However, August is the true festival month because of the celebration of Obon. One of the few periods when vacations are taken from work, mid-August is the time for returning to your hometown and paying respect to your deceased ancestors (or taking a holiday to Hawaii if you are so inclined). Cemetery spots are cleaned. Lanterns are lit to guide the spirits home. Special gift boxes of household products are sent to family.

My favorite part of Obon is Bon Odori, the Obon dance. Neighborhoods celebrate Obon with a community dance. In the evening, lanterns surround a tall stage where folk music is played by a band or by elderly women djing from a boom box. The crowd, following prescribed steps specific to each song, revolves around the stage. The simple steps reflect local history in their movements. Men, women, and children wear yukata, cotton kimono. Anyone can join in the dance. It's magical to walk along a street, catch the sound of bon music drifting from a nearby temple, and suddenly happen upon bon odori.  And the dancing is actually fun because it's easy to learn.
Gigantic multi-neighborhood bon odori
(taken at Nagoya Port Festival)

With any festival, food booths can be found. Candy apples, choco-banana (frozen, chocolate dipped bananas), fried chicken bites, and french fries are normal fare. So are takoyaki (octopus chunks cooked in a ball of pancake-like batter), yakitori (grilled chicken kabobs), yakisoba (panfried noodles with meat and vegetables), dango (grilled pounded rice balls), and yakitomorokoshi (grilled corn).

Our favorites? Yakitori. Yakitomorokoshi. Yakisoba. Dango. And chocobanana, of course. I wrote about Yakitori, the grilled chicken kabobs, in April. Today I'll cover the grilled corn, yakitomorokoshi. And we'll look at yakisoba and dango in the following weeks. These are awesome summer foods that can be eaten year round. All are simple, delicious, and fairly healthy.
Various grilled stuff at a festival

Yakitomorokoshi (Grilled corn with soy sauce and mirin).

whole corn in husks 
soy sauce

Prepare a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce and mirin, depending on the amount of corn you are grilling. About 1/4 cup of the mixture per 4 ears of corn. Boil the soy sauce and mirin until it reduces to half the amount and becomes syrupy. You can do this while grilling the corn.

You might have your own way of grilling corn, so feel free to adjust to your grilling method. The crux of this recipe takes places at the end of grilling. The recommended method is to keep the husks during grilling. Soak them for about 20 minutes to keep from burning. Grill the corn at about 400 degrees (200 c) for 20 minutes, turning them every five minutes. Let them cool, then shuck the husks.

Replace the shucked corn on the grill and brush with the soy/mirin mixture. Allow for grill marks, but remember to turn so the corn doesn't char. Grill until corn is hot and cooked through.

The soy/miring syrup is also a great mixture for yakionigiri, grilled rice balls, and to brush on other grilled vegetables. 

Any festival foods that you like to cook at home? Please share! Thanks to Julie Johnston for reminding me of this yummy recipe!