All posts by Karen Docter

Monday Musings: Search for justice is born….

Over the years I’ve developed a strong sense of justice. Whether in real life or in the books I read and write, I am only satisfied when justice is served to the deserving. Nothing drives me crazier than to see people get away with the wicked things they do to other human beings, from lying and cheating to abuse and murder.

I can tell you the exact moment my drive to understand the injustices of the world began.  I was ten years old.  My mom and dad had picked up me and my sisters from a movie or the roller rink or…isn’t it funny this one point escapes my memory when everything else about that night is still so clear?  I remember it was much later than we were usually allowed out so it was probably after 10:00 p.m.  Anyway, when we got within a block of our neighborhood, we were stopped by a police barricade and told we couldn’t go home.

Along with several other families from the area, we waited for several hours.  It didn’t take nearly that long before we knew what had happened.  A police call had turned deadly.  In a convoluted series of events, two police officers were sent to a home on a domestic abuse call.  We all know how dangerous those kinds of calls can be but the officers had settled things down and were leaving when a neighbor, evidently taking exception to their presence, opened fire on the police.  One of the officers was killed and the suspect barricaded himself in his home.  Police had to talk him out before they could arrest him.

I was pretty naïve for my age, though it was a long time ago and we were much more innocent when I grew up.  But this one event stayed with me for months – years – after it happened.  It launched my personal awareness of the injustices in the world.  The shooter wasn’t involved in the original call and the police officer who died was only doing his job.  Even worse the policeman left a wife and unborn child behind.  My 10-year-old sensibilities were appalled.

I considered going into law enforcement for a long time but, for a variety of reasons, my life went in a different direction.  It didn’t change the way I feel about justice.

I believe it’s the real reason why I ended up writing romantic suspense.  I started out writing traditional and short contemporary romances but there was always a thread of danger and threat drawn through them.  I fought the tendency because there’s no real space to explore the suspense elements with the shorter word counts.  When I began writing single title romantic suspense, I found my home.

I can’t change the fact that too many injustices still occur on a daily basis around the world.  I’m still appalled when I hear about a child who’s been abused or a family is murdered, and the culprit gets away with it for one reason or another.  I may complain when I receive the occasional jury duty but I know how important it is to serve as a juror, and I vote every chance I get in the hope we get the right lawmakers into office, lawmakers who can affect real change.

But in the world I create in my novels, I dispense justice that even satisfies my ten-year-old self.  Evil people pay for their transgressions, the innocent are protected, and love holds it all together.  It’s how justice is supposed to work.

Karen’s Killer Fixin’s: Chocolate “Cherry” Fudge

It’s time for Karen’s Killer Fixin’s!  Over the years, I’ve filled two 4-inch, 3-ring binders with my own creations as well as recipes my family and friends were willing to share with me.  I simply love to cook and want to share that love with my readers here.

So every Friday, I share one recipe I think you and your family might enjoy.  It might be a main course recipe.  A cookie or baked item.  Candy.  Salads.  Whatever strikes my eye and fancy…which today is EASY CHOCOLATE “CHERRY” FUDGE.

This “cherry” fudge actually tricks your palate. What’s the trick? I tweaked the fudge recipe on the package of semi-sweet chocolate chips by using almond extract. Blended with the semi-sweet chocolate, it tastes like you’re eating cherry fudge. Although, if I want true chocolate cherry fudge, with yummy cherries inside, I can have that too.  It’s just another tweak to the recipe. I love experimenting!! The basic recipe is fast and easy and the flavor combinations are limited only by your creativity.

I hope you enjoy today’s Killer Fixin’s.

Happy eating!

Karen

P.S.  We’re at 4 recipes and counting with this posting!  Hope you find some recipes you like.  If you don’t want to miss any future recipes, be sure to return to my blog next Friday.  Even better, subscribe to my blog and the recipes will come directly to your email Inbox!  If this is your first visit, check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column of my home page, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, etc.

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EASY CHOCOLATE “CHERRY” FUDGE
[2 pounds]

18 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (@ 3 cups)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
dash salt
½ to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional, walnuts or pecans are favs)
1 tsp. almond extract

In saucepan over medium heat melt semi-sweet chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and salt, stirring to prevent scorching.  When fudge is smooth, add extract and nuts and stir.  Pour into wax paper-lined pan.  Press the fudge flat in the pan using lightly-buttered spatula.  Chill in refrigerator until firm.  Pull fudge out of pan and peel off wax paper. Cut into squares and store in air-tight container in refrigerator.

For regular fudge: Add 1½ tsp. vanilla instead of almond extract. You can also use milk chocolate chips in lieu of semisweet chocolate chips.

For coconut fudge: Add 1 tsp. coconut extract instead of almond extract AND ¼ cup shredded, sweetened coconut instead of nuts.

For peppermint fudge: ½ to 1 tsp. peppermint extract instead of almond extract AND ¼ cup chopped peppermint candies or candycanes. Peppermint extract is stronger than many extracts so add extract to taste.

 

 

Wacky Wednesday – 5 things you don’t know about me….

For today’s Wacky Wednesday, I thought I’d list five wacky — maybe not so interesting – facts about me.  There is a person behind this computer screen!  Honest!  🙂

FIVE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ME….

1. I don’t have any difficulty getting up before the crack of dawn on my own without an alarm clock when I’m fishing. I love to fish lakes because it’s the process and wallowing in nature that I adore.  Of course, it’s always good when there’s fish sizzling in the breakfast skillet!

2. I’m famous in my circles for my homemade almond rocha and cherry fudge.  My writing friends have been known to tell me not to bother coming to events if I don’t walk in with candy.  Now that my son is in the army I’ve been adopted by the soldiers he works with, too.  Nothing like a bunch of soldiers yelling their “horrays” over the speaker phone!

3. Out of necessity, I own three pairs of shoes: tennis shoes for exercise, crocs to meet civilization requirements [no shirt, no shoes, no service], and flats for those days the snow snakes through the airholes in my crocs. I’m happiest in bare feet. I could so easily move to Maui and never wear shoes. 🙂

4. I have 25 Zebra Finches [estimated since the little buggers refuse to stand in a line and be counted]. Started out with two pair. Didn’t know they breed faster than rabbits, don’t restrict their baby-making activities to springtime, and aren’t too picky about breeding with siblings.  Can anyone say “ewwww!”?  At first, loved the whole process of watching babies hatched and raised.  But, it didn’t take me long to start pulling nests out of the aviary and throwing eggs laid willy-nilly on the floor in the trash.  My 4-foot, hexagonal glass aviary sits in the corner of my livingroom. The males make a sound like an itty-bitty goose honk.  Too cute!

5. My wonderfully supportive — and understanding — husband moved my 15 cases of TBR books across the country four times, storing them in various garages for ten years, before we finally unpacked them onto bookshelves. It’s like I’ve been blessed by the Good Book Fairy!! The challenge is finding time to read. At this rate, I figure it’ll take me ten years, 4 months, twenty-seven days, and fourteen hours (give or take a few years) to get through what is collecting dust on my bookshelfs.  Hey! If I have time to dust, I have time to just read them.  Right?!

Shhhh, we’re not telling my dear husband how many titles I’ve put on my new Kindle in past three months.  The TBR titles are breeding like…Zebra Finches! 🙂

Monday Musings: The Big Kids Clubhouse Secret Handshake…Finally!

This post is for all of my author friends out there. I wrote it several years ago but it’s as appropriate now as it was then. And this “renewed” post has nothing to do with the fact I spent the entire weekend writing my heart out with my fellow writers at Colorado Romance Writers’ annual retreat in the beautiful Rocky Mountains!

Girl_Writing_1.jpg


The Big Kids Clubhouse Secret Handshake…Finally!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to show up at your next writers’ meeting or conference and sit right next to that one author who knows “the secret?” You know she’s out there somewhere, willing to share the one tidbit you need to take that all-important step into publication, be invited to write for the publisher that pays “big bucks”, and top that Best Seller List that proves you’ve touched the hearts of a gazillion romance writers.

If only you could find this author and cultivate her cooperation, you’d be there! You’d finally learn the Big Kids Clubhouse Secret Handshake. Senior editors would fly you in for cocktails. Famous agents would drop all their other clients so they could grab the tail of your rising star with both hands.  Readers would cry when they close your latest book because your next novel won’t be released for two more months!

Are you salivating yet?

Now, we all know there are no magic formulas, no shortcuts, and no secret handshakes. That does not mean this author is a figment of our all too vivid imaginations. She does exist.

She’s that author who taught the last workshop you attended.  She’s the woman who advises you to send your book to another editor because so-and-so can’t stand the kind of hero you’ve written. He’s the recently-published author who shares his newbie mistakes so you don’t have to learn them all over again the hard way.  She’s that wonderful critique partner who gently tells you your story needs to start on page 92.  And, finally, she’s the New York Times best-selling author who reveals her own struggles with her forty-second novel she’s sure is “the worst drivel she’s ever written.”

No one said publishing was easy. If it were, everyone would be writing the great American novel, making beaucoup bucks, and being shamelessly feted by the
muckety-mucks.

That means the path to success falls upon you.  Join that local writing group, attend meetings.  Take online workshops to build your skills.  Network like crazy.  Read prodigiously across the genres.  Pick the brains of every author, editor, agent, publisher, marketing expert, and reader on your social loops.

The secret is there…at your fingertips.  All you have to do is take the initiative to find the resources that best serve your needs, then share your own experiences and knowledge.  The truth is you might be the one who holds the key to the Big Kid’s Clubhouse Secret Handshake for another writer.

Welcome to the club!

Karen’s Killer Fixin’s: Mexican Chicken Casserole

It’s time for Karen’s Killer Fixin’s!  Over the years, I’ve filled two 4-inch, 3-ring binders with my own creations as well as recipes my family and friends were willing to share with me.  I simply love to cook and want to share that love with my readers here.

So every Friday, I share one recipe I think you and your family might enjoy.  It might be a main course recipe.  A cookie or baked item.  Candy.  Salads.  Whatever strikes my eye and fancy…which today is MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE.

This filling, delicious casserole was shared with me by a very dear friend. Thanks, Jan!! There’s nothing like chicken, chilis and oodles of melted cheese to make your family and friends happy!

I hope you enjoy today’s Killer Fixin’s.  Happy eating!

Karen

P.S.  We’re at 3 recipes and counting with this posting!  Hope you find some recipes you like.  If you don’t want to miss any future recipes, be sure to return to my blog next Friday. Even better, subscribe to my blog and the recipes will come directly to your email Inbox!  If this is your first visit, check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column of my home page, you can look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, etc.

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MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE
[Serves 8]

1 cooked chicken (boiled)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ can chicken broth (from chicken stock)
1 large onion cut fine
1/8 tsp. Garlic Powder1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Cumin
1 T. Chili Powder
1 can green chili peppers
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
corn tortillas

Tear tortillas into strips.  Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Mix soups, broth, onion and seasonings together.  In casserole dish, layer tortillas, chicken, soup mixture and cheese.  Repeat to top—finish with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for ½ -¾ hour.  Can double recipe and freeze one.  Works great!

 

 

Wacky Wednesday: 5 Urban Myths ANSWERS


Five Urban Myths…Truth or Myth?   ANSWERS!!

Yesterday, I threw some urban myths at you and had you tell me if they are TRUTH or MYTH.  Today, I’m posting the answers to those questions.

How did you do?!

Karen

1.  Bats are blind .

MYTH – All bats can see, but some species rely on echolocation more than they rely on vision.

2.  The deer botfly can fly faster than a jet plane and has been clocked at 818 mph.

MYTH – The deer botfly travels at 64 mph – a ratio of 300 body lengths per second.  A jet fighter at Mach 3 is faster, but only reaches about 100 body lengths per second – hence the source of this MYTH.

3.  A portrait of Woodrow Wilson appeared on the U.S. $100,000 bill.

TRUTH – The American $100,000 Gold Certificate was never released into general circulation.

4. An Ohio grandmother, en route to her 100th birthday party, was killed when a truck delivering her birthday cake ran her down. .

MYTH – A classic tale of bitter irony in a mad, mad world – but once again, it never happened.

5. Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewels to pay for Columbus’ trip to the New World.

MYTH – The city of Palas paid a debt to the Crown by providing two of the ships; Italian financial backing made up most of the rest

Wacky Wednesday: 5 Urban Myths for your day….


Five Urban Myths…Truth or Myth?

I’m going to throw some urban myths at you today just for fun.  It’s your job to decide if they are TRUTH or MYTH.  You don’t have to post your answers but, if you’d like to, feel free to post them today.  Tomorrow, I’ll post the answers.

Karen

1.  Bats are blind.   TRUTH or MYTH?

2.  The deer botfly can fly faster than a jet plane and has been clocked at 818 mph.  TRUTH or MYTH?

3.  A portrait of Woodrow Wilson appeared on the U.S. $100,000 bill.   TRUTH or MYTH?

4.  An Ohio grandmother, en route to her 100th birthday party, was killed when a truck delivering her birthday cake ran her down.  TRUTH
or MYTH?

5.  Queen Isabella of Spain pawned her jewels to pay for Columbus’ trip to the New World.  TRUTH or MYTH?

SEE YOU TOMORROW WITH THE ANSWERS!  HAVE FUN!!

Monday Musings: Stretch for perfection….

Have you ever read a book, watched a video or examined an art piece, completely enthralled, knowing in that one instant you’ve experienced perfection?  It’s exactly how I felt when I watched this video the first time.  All I could do was lean back in my office chair in awe of the beauty these Chinese acrobats were creating with their bodies.  Perfection.  I was so bemused by my visceral response to
this unique interpretation of “Swan Lake” I couldn’t help but share it with you today.

Perfection. It’s what I strive for when I’m working on one of my novels. I’m not saying every word that drips off my fingertips to the keyboard must be rimmed with gold.  I don’t need the angels to weep for the beauty of my prose.  Actually, these kinds of expectations stand in my way if I’m never satisfied with what I’ve written.  No.  What I strive to create is that moment I feel a sense of completion when one sentence, or one paragraph, a scene captures the vision in my head.  It’s when I finish a scene and know, know, I can tweak and tweak and never recapture it just that way again.

I have no illusions I’ll ever achieve true perfection in my novels.  There will always be a different word I can use, another phrase.  My heroes can be hunkier, my heroines more sympathetic.  But, if I’m lucky, there will be one moment in time when one of my readers will sit back and sigh in awe at something I’ve written. It doesn’t have to be because I wrote the perfect story or the perfect hero, or even the perfect murder. I’ll settle for a single line. And another. Then another.

Why?

Because, someday I want someone to turn back the page and reread what I wrote just for the pure pleasure of it.  That is the day I’ll achieve perfection.

Until the next time.

Karen’s Killer Fixin’s…Easy Cheesy Broccoli Chicken & Rice Soup

It’s time for Karen’s Killer Fixin’s!  Over the years, I’ve filled two 4-inch, 3-ring binders with my own creations as well as recipes my family and friends were willing to share with me.  I simply love to cook and want to share that love with my readers here.

So every Friday, I share one recipe I think you and your family might enjoy.  It might be a main course recipe.  A cookie or baked item.  Candy.  Salads.  Whatever strikes my eye and fancy…which today is EASY CHEESY BROCCOLI CHICKEN & RICE SOUP.

We’re heading into the cooler, fall months when we start thinking about making hearty soups to warm up our families. I often have a soup pot on because it allows me to write and read and play with my family and friends without worrying about what to put on the dinner table. I love this recipe for those days when I’ve forgotten to get something started. It really is a quick and easy soup, not to mention scrumptious!  Serve with hot, buttered garlic bread or rolls.

I hope you enjoy today’s Killer Fixin’s. Happy eating!

Karen

P.S.  We’re at 2 recipes and counting with this posting!  Hope you find some recipes you like.  If you don’t want to miss any future recipes, be sure to return to my blog next Friday.  If this is your first visit, check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column of my home page, you can look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, etc.

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EASY CHEESY BROCCOLI CHICKEN & RICE SOUP
[Serves 4]

 

1 skinless chicken or 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4 servings cooked rice
1 stalk celery, diced
2 green onions, diced
1 to 1-½ cups broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup chunked Velveeta or processed cheese

In microwave casserole dish with lid, cook chicken in water [½ filled] until done.  Strip off bones if using whole chicken.  Set meat and water aside.  Cook 4 servings of rice as directed on package.  Set aside.  Chop and sauté in butter…celery, green onions and broccoli.

Combine chicken/water with both cans of soup and cheese.  Microwave until hot and cheese is melted.  Mix with vegetables and rice.  Stir together and serve with hot bread or rolls.

Hints: Keep chicken breasts in freezer for 10-minute thaw in warm water if you need a quick last minute meal.  I also keep packages of frozen broccoli and cans of soup on hand.  You can use any cheese; processed cheese melts easiest.  I’ve even used a bit of PepperJack or Havarti for some zip.

 

Wacky Wednesday: A little humor for your day….

RE:  Shampoo

Check your shampoo bottle label … Read the directions CAREFULLY !!!

I don’t know WHY I didn’t figure this out sooner!!!!  It’s the shampoo I use in the shower!  When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body and (duh!) printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning: FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY! NO wonder I have been gaining weight!!!

Well! I have gotten rid of that shampoo and I am going to start using Dawn dish soap instead. Their label reads: DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE. Problem Solved!!!

If I don’t answer the phone I’ll be in the shower!!!

(Anonymous)

I hope your day is a good one.  Happy reading!

Karen