Saturday, May 16, 2015

Who am I?

Today I'm posting from the RT Booklover's convention in Dallas, Texas. In the past couple of days I've danced at a number of parties, dressed in costumes, and attended several seminars on independent publishing. In general I've had a great time.

I've also introduced myself to a number of people I've never met before, which means I try to tell people who I am. They know I'm a writer because my badge says "published author" and I hand out promo cards that mention what books I've written. But is that all I am?

I am also:
A software engineer who works at a large company in Silicon Valley.
A wife and mother of two children who are now grown up.
An avid gamer who plays social games with people all over the world, many of whom are much younger than I am.

I love movies, good television, and books. Lots of books in lots of genres as I am a very wide reader. 

And that is only a part of who I am. I put a lot of me in all my books. My characters have been known to watch movies (albeit on a "holovid" rather than a DVD) and they make things that I have made myself. They play games and garden... I even have one character who is a romance author.

So that who I am. 

Who are you?

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Do You Cook to get ready for a Family Gathering? by Rolynn Anderson

As you read this, I'm busy entertaining my family, brothers, sister, in-laws and nieces/nephews, at a family reunion.  Over the second week in May, they're all gathering at my house to celebrate my birthday.  Seven of these ten members of my family, have never visited me in California before.  To say I'm excited is an understatement.  To say I'm in a flurry of preparation?  Oh yes!

I'm wondering what you prepare when a crowd of loved ones comes to visit?  Here are some of the foods I'm preparing before they all arrive:
1.  Banana Bread
2.  Yule Kake (A Norwegian sweet bread)
3.  Peanut Butter Cookies
4.  Granola
5.  Tapenade (variety of chopped up olives and garlic in olive oil)
6.  Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There's something about a trove of homemade stuff that says 'I'm glad you came.'  What are your favorites to have on hand?

Here's my standard (Quaker Oats) recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Simple, but yummy!
    • 1/2 Cup(s) (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 3/4 Cup(s) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 Cup(s) granulated sugar
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) vanilla
    • 1-1/2 Cup(s) all-purpose flour
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) Baking Soda
    • 1 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 Teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
    • 3 Cup(s) Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
    • 1 Cup(s) raisins
Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Writing to spec

One of those things that I have done a lot during my writing career is write a story to meet a given specification. What this means is that there is that a company puts out a request for a story that meets some criteria and I then figure out how to do a story that meets that criteria and still makes sense to me.

For example here are a few of the story specs I've written to:

1. An Ellora's Caveman story that involves one of the following: a heavyset heroine, a vampire, futuristic, or bondage.

Or as I put it "so if I write a story about a vampire who lives on a space ship and finds a heavyset heroine tied to a tree, that would work, right?"

My editor said "Yeah, that would work."

And it did work. The story was "Darkpilot's Bride" and it is in Ellora's Cavemen Legendary Tails, volume 1

2. A story based on a Tarot card to be part of a card set put out by my publisher.

I wrote "Imperfect Judgment" and it was about an abandoned space colony that uses Tarot cards to make important decisions, and the "judgment" card featured prominently in the story.

To date I haven't written another story in that world, but I really enjoyed creating it.

3. A story where people ask Mrs. Claus for something that changes their life.

In "Perfect Hero" my heroine puts on a white board at work her request to "Mrs. Claus" for a new monitor and gets a magic one the next day. When she uses it to design a game character she ends up with a"hero" that steps out of the monitor. He then goes on to ensure she has a magical Christmas.

I've done others but you get the idea. I enjoy the challenge of taking a story concept and twisting it into something I want to write.

Recently I joined a group of writers who are doing an outer space anthology. The concept is a short work, ten to twenty thousand words, set in a casino on a space station. Now there are all sorts of ideas this brings up but I've decide to do a story set in my Gaian world. So the story will be a Gaian man who finds his match in a woman working the equivalent of a black-jack table in a small space station. The tentative title is "a turn of the cards" and I've already gotten several thousand words written and the plot planned out.

I'm pretty excited about it so watch this space for more information.

Janet Miller/ Cricket Starr

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


As you read this posting, I’m golfing at La Quinta with two friends, an event I bull-dozed into happening.  Enough of saying ‘let’s take a golf trip together.’  If this is something a bunch of friends want to do, then someone has to organize the ding-dang thing. 

Time’s a wasting and I'm not getting any younger.  I'm taking control of my bucket list!

Most of you know I’m a golfer, leaving my writing desk to play a couple times a week...for exercise, for the competition and for the camaraderie.  My husband doesn’t play golf, so I’m going on these trips with my girlfriends.  Ready?  Set?  Go!

What golf courses are in my bucket?  Easy!  I pulled up a list of the 30 best golf courses in California:
1. Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach
2. Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach
3. Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz
4. Torrey Pines (South), La Jolla
5. Trump National LA, Rancho Palos Verdes
6. Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach
7. CordeValle, San Martin
8. PGA West (TPC Stadium), La Quinta
9. Pelican Hill (Ocean South), Newport Coast
11. Rustic Canyon, Moorpark
12. Pelican Hill (Ocean North), Newport Coast
13. Poppy Hills, Pebble Beach
14. Indian Wells (Players), Indian Wells
16. Marriott Shadow Ridge, Palm Desert
17. Aviara, Carlsbad
18. The Grand, San Diego
19. Barona Creek, Lakeside
20. TPC Harding Park, San Francisco
21. Desert Willow (Firecliff), Palm Desert
22. La Costa (Champions), Carlsbad
24. Old Greenwood, Truckee
25. Maderas, Poway
26. Half Moon Bay (Ocean), Half Moon Bay
27. Indian Wells (Celebrity), Indian Wells
28. Journey at Pechanga, Temecula
29. Saddle Creek, Copperopolis
30. Coyote Moon, Truckee

Three of us are driving to Palm Springs, staying there three nights to play golf courses #10, #21 and #11.

No question about it, we will have fun and we will be challenged…and we’ll be ready to play more of the courses on our bucket list next year.  Goal?  Three courses a year for the next 9 years.  Can we do it?  You bet we can!

Talk about meeting goals: I’ll be trotting out two novels this summer.  Here’s a sneak peak at one cover; expect pages in June or July.  Meanwhile,  grab LIE CATCHERS if you haven’t yet read it!

FEAR LAND is coming soon.  Watch for it in June!  Happy summer adventures.  Rolynn

Friday, April 10, 2015

Time is running out!

For my giveaway, that is.

If you haven't signed up yet, go here to get a copy of the first book in my Deadly Landscaping trilogy. Good Reads is sponsoring a giveaway and I have 10 copies waiting to get into hot little hands.

If you've already read the series, maybe post a review on Good Reads or Amazon. Love it? Hate it? Meh? Doesn't matter, a review is good no matter the number of stars.

I'm always gratified when people take the time to post a review of one of my books. It takes time to read a book and time to craft a review.

So thank you, all those folks who reviewed my books -- I do appreciate you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Springtime and murder

Janet's post about their landscaping project leads nicely into my post about my Deadly Landscaping trilogy. It's about Cassie Whittington, a 50-something ex-software geek who starts a second career in the landscaping business. Along the way she gets embroiled in murder and romance and millionaires.

I know of what I write because I have a degree in landscaping and nursery operations. That was my "second career" thought at one time until I realized how much intense physical labor is involved. But I enjoyed my schoolwork immensely, and the experience gave me three marvelous books...


What timing! Just in time for spring!

Here's a link to the giveaway. Sign up and maybe you'll be chosen to receive the first book in my Deadly Landscaping trilogy.

The three books follow Cassie as she embarks on a new career and re-discovers romance. Of course, her new guy might be a murderer, but then again -- maybe not. She hopes!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Updating the backyard

One of the big things going on at the Miller house is that after over fifteen years of ownership we are finally doing something about the backyard. Over the years we've done some updating and maintenance, mostly when our hands were force like when the hot tub sprang a leak and the gazebo surrounding it collapsed under the weight of the jasmine that had grown up around it. Sadly the removal of these left a big sandy hole in the yard that we made several attempts to do something about until it became clear that the problem with the yard wasn't the big sandy hole...

It was the whole yard and the lack of useful space in it.

The pool was old and looked dated with rough white plaster on the bottom. There were vast amounts of old cement patio that was broken in places, uneven in others, and unshaded. You didn't want to lie in the sun out there. We had a nice table and chairs and an umbrella but that was the only real place to sit and there weren't any real paths other than the walk around the pool. Nothing about the space was real inviting.

Basically we'd look outside and not feel like going out there most of the time. And to make matters worse, most of the back of the house has windows that look out on the backyard.

So we got a designer who first made us look at a lot of landscaping books to get a feel for what we wanted. We marked the pages and went through them with her later on. That led to a bunch of decisions like wanting colorful plants, liking darker blue pools, and more naturalistic settings rather than formal gardens. A plan was made, contractors for the pool, new fences, and a landscaper were hired, and we've been living with a work in progress for the past few weeks.

This is a current image of the backyard:
The view from my window
As you can see there is the edge of the pool, the new slate patio, a big deck in the background, new plants every where, a large dirt area that will be some sort of low ground cover, and places where paving stones will be put. Every day the place looks nicer. 

Eventually we'll have seating on the deck in the back, and the dining table and chairs will be back in place. I fully expect to be able to sit outside to write a blog post in the future.

Watch this space!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

DO IT NOW...OR IT MAY BE NEVER by Rolynn Anderson

Warning!  Do not count your jewelry sets after you've read this article.  I don't want to be responsible for your bout of depression.

Okay, here's the deal for anyone who's lived half a century or more.   If you're like me, you've got hundreds of pairs of darling earrings and scores of gorgeous necklaces.  Yet I was rotating the same three or so sets every day.  No more: I've vowed to wear the jewelry I've bought over all these years, accumulated treasures and memories, for sure.  Instead of waiting for the right occasion or the perfect outfit to wear my precious gems or costume sets, I wear a new ensemble every day.

I figure: jewelry doesn't take much room, but clothes do.  So I've sorted through skirts, suits, fancy tops and sparkly bottoms and ditched most of them.  Now I wear comfortable pants and tops and have enough dressy jackets to manage any occasion, from wedding to funeral.  The rest of my unworn-for-twenty-years apparel goes to Goodwill.  I dumped a dresser; my walk-in closet is all I need.  Yay!  I always hated that dresser anyway.  Ashcan the headboard, too.  Oak is out; dark cherry is in.

Whew!  Minimalist wardrobe and bedroom arrangement; lots of cool jewelry.  I wear a new set every day, even if it's just to Starbucks; even if the gems are paired with jeans or a golf outfit.  Surprising the number of compliments I get on my glitter from complete strangers.

If you want to read about a heroine who has REALLY interesting attitudes about jewelry, meet Liv, in  LIE CATCHERS.  She's intent on solving two cold cases is Petersburg, Alaska, and she uses jewelry to catch lies!  Check out my website at