Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author

News! Events! Contests!

Jenn McKinlay's News #11

May 28, 2014

BOOK NEWS: No new books coming out until September when my next Josie Belle mystery MARKED DOWN FOR MURDER will be released. Valentines Day and bargain hunters whats not to love?

Following that will be ON BORROWED TIME the next Library Lovers mystery which comes out in November.

CONTESTS: Im planning to give away whole sets of books starting in August with custom book bags. So fun! Stay tuned to the contest page on my website for details.

EVENTS: On Friday, June 20th at 2:30 pm, Ill be joining my friends Kate Carlisle and Hannah Dennison for a book signing at Clues Unlimited in Tucson, AZ.

On Saturday, June 21st at 2:00 pm, Ill be joining even more authors Donis Casey, Kate Carlisle and Eileen Brady at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ.

Ah, summertime, it started as always with days filled with hot sun, cannonballs into the pool, and the sound of the pantry and refrigerator doors banging open and shut all day long as the hooligans foraged for food like raccoons on a garbage can. I sat at my desk in the kitchen, trying to ignore them and bracing myself for the whining that I was sure was coming. You know that old chestnut -- Mom, Im bored! Only a kid can make this sound as serious as a case of leprosy.

But suddenly, it occurred to me that I never hear the hooligans say this. I was shocked. I remember hitting my mom with this a couple of times per week in the summer. Her standard response was, Go clean your room. Trust me this was a grand motivator to find something, anything, better to do even if it included antagonizing my older brother who would, naturally, pound me for bugging him.

Pulling my head out of deadline mode, I studied the hooligans. Why do I never hear Im bored? They have several activities to keep them busy as well as miscellaneous adventures with friends. They are also in the habit of reading before bed every night. Is this filling their days? Are they better at self-direction than I was? Yeah, no. It became apparent pretty quickly that self-direction meant constant electronic device entertainment. Oh, horror!

Now true confession time, I was a TV junkie as a kid. As children of the eighties with two working parents, my bro and I anesthetized ourselves with sitcoms. This is why I cant have a problem that lasts more than twenty two and a half minutes to this day. Im serious. My coping skills shrivel up like Craisins at twenty three minutes on the dot. Oh, and in case you doubt me, I can still name the line-up that we watched after school; Flintstones, Bewitched, Brady Bunch, and the Monkeys. Gee, life was good.

The upside to this, if there is one, is that television was all we had. Even with cable back then there just wasnt that much on the idiot box. Once wed seen an episode, it became meh, and the bro and I were forced to go outside and run wild with our imaginations. Now our kids have so many devices if one is out of commission they just grab a different one. More horror!

So, Hub and I devised a plan and called the hooligans to a meeting. We decided that electronic time had to be earned. Using a points based system, the dudes were presented with a long list of activities which included everything from cleaning their room to mastering a skill on their skateboard with open space for a come-up-with-your-own-non-electronic activity. We told them they couldn't touch anything electronic until they had accumulated 250 points for the day, oh, and there would be demerits for whining or complaining. They responded pretty well with only one small seizure when I gathered their devices to be checked out and in daily as we, the parentals, see fit.

So this is my report for day one. Bikes have been ridden, dogs have been played with, floors have been swept, dishes have been done, bathrooms have been cleaned, bread has been baked in the bread machine, books have been read and art has been created. I have not once heard Im bored but this time Im okay with it. Well have to see how this holds up after ten weeks, but right now, I am cautiously optimistic. Then again, I am dealing with hooligans so well just have to see if they can outsmart me or not.

All things being equal, I am going to take a lesson from the hooligans and am unplugging myself this summer, too. I have promised myself that I will limit my non writing electronic time to a half hour per day. Yeah, I had a little seizure of my own, but it's all good. With the hooligans home all day, I don't want to miss a minute of the mayhem.

May your summer days be filled to bursting with all good things, and as always thanks for being my favorite readers!

RECIPE: Since the hooligans have taken up cooking as one of their to dos, I am going to share with you the tomato sauce they are working on perfecting. If nothing else, I should get a few good meals out of them this summer!

1 (12 ounce) cans of tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes in water
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons of oregano
1 tablespoons of rosemary
1 tablespoon of basil
1 tablespoon of onion powder
A couple of pinches of thyme
1/3 of a cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves pressed garlic
tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients in a large pot and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for four hours, stirring occasionally. A good tomato sauce will coat a wooden spoon so keep a close eye to make sure it's not too thin or too thick and add water or cook longer as required.