Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Witches and Murder and Ghosts, Oh My! (A book review, and a giveaway)

Putting on the Witch, the latest entry from the writing team of Jim and Joyce Lavene, is a potent potion of witchcraft and mystery, seasoned with secrets and murder, and topped with a dollop of romance.
Like all the best stories, this is at heart a story of family.  The family we are born into and the family we create through the simple act of loving another human - or inhuman - being.
With a cast of engaging characters, an intriguing world, and complications galore, the Lavenes have put a unique twist on the locked room mystery- or, in this case, a locked castle mystery. 
Retired witches Molly and Elsie are back, along with Dorothy and Brian from earlier volumes in the series (Spell Booked, and Looking for Mister Good Witch) and the ghost of Dorothy's mother, Olivia.  New additions include Dorothy's father, the renegade Draco, all the members of the Grand Council of Witches, and a centuries-old Inquisitor, direct from the Spanish Inquisition.
Putting on the Witch is a worthy addition to the rich trove of mystery goodness the Lavenes have provided us.

Unfortunately this is the last book from this talented couple.  Their passing has left a huge hole in the cozy mystery community, and saddened those of us who counted ourselves among their friends and fans.  I felt very lucky to have known them, and am grateful for the opportunity to share in one last tribute to them for all they contributions to the cozy world.
They will be missed.

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, here's a link to a giveaway.  Good luck!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Lesson From Sports (No, Really!)

Image result for This American LifeI confess, I'm no longer much of a sports person.  I was a big football fan in high school and college, and I loved baseball as a young adult.  But those were a lifetime ago, and I never really got into basketball (except for the John Wooden years at UCLA).
So imagine my surprise when a few days ago I was listening to This American Life on Pandora, and found myself listening intently to a segment on basketball.  (Dangerous discovery, you can stream complete episodes.)  The overall topic was about making bad choices, and several of the segments were fascinating, and held lessons that could be applied to writing, and to life.  I highly recommend the entire episode,  "Choosing Wrong.", but there was one segment that had me running over to stop and start over so I could make notes ("Swish Miss."  featuring Malcolm Gladwell.  It's only 28 minutes, if you don't have time to listen to the entire episode).

The segment was about (in part) crowd behavior and a theory Gladwell references called the "threshold model of collective behavior."  The basic premise is that there is a threshold - different for each person - of the number of people who have to participate in a given behavior before an individual will join in.  Early adapters obviously have a very low threshold.  Same for individuals with a high anger level when the behavior is destructive.

Image result for basketball free throwGladwell went on to talk about basketball, and free throw style.  And this was where my writer brain tuned in.  The subject was Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry.  Chamberlain wasn't great at free throws (he was great at everything else, just not free throws).  Barry had an excellent record.  He set several NBA records, and retired with a 90% free throw average.  (For comparison, a quick search shows Chamberlain's percentage hovering around the 50% mark every year, and current superstar LeBron James hits in the 70% range.) 

But Barry threw underhand; he looked like "a granny."  There's a You Tube video of Barry demonstrating his shot here. Chamberlain took Barry's advice and tried underhand throws. His scores improved.  A lot.  And then he went back to overhand throws and missing.  A lot.  In his autobiography Chamberlain admits point-blank, "I know I was wrong."  But he couldn't bring himself to continue using the underhand shot because it made him feel like "a sissy."

That was the underlying message.  Gladwell describes Rick Barry this way:  "His drive to be a better shooter is stronger than his worry about what others think of him," and draws these two conclusions: 

1.  He put mastery and perfection ahead of ALL social considerations.

2.  It takes courage to be good.  Social courage.

This is really just another way of saying what my writing mentors (Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch) say about not letting other people in your writing office.  As soon as you start to worry about what someone else will think or say about what you are doing, you risk putting social considerations ahead of your drive to be your best; you give up that successful underhand free throw for a more socially-acceptable form, EVEN IF IT MEANS BEING LESS SUCCESSFUL. 
Image result for Courage 
And, man, is that a lesson I have to keep re-learning.

It doesn't just apply to writing, of course.  In all aspects of our lives we need to remember to be socially courageous.  Speak up for what you believe in.  Dare to write, or paint, or sing, or dance, or dress, or live, in a way that makes you successful - by whatever definition of success matters to you. 

Courage.  I wish courage for all of you, my friends.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The More Things Change

I have been missing in action from this blog (and most everything else) for several months, though not exactly by choice.

Image result for ambulanceA few days after my last post I got shoved into an ambulance—again!—and taken back to Oregon Health & Science University.  Again.  All the way there I kept telling myself this was just a research trip, a way to write more knowledgeably about ambulances.  It didn't change the fact that I was admitted to the hospital and stayed for another surgery.

 I didn't stay as long this time, and my recovery was textbook-perfect, but I have been focusing on my own health and well-being since.  I found the walking and yoga I'd been doing made a tremendous difference in how quickly and thoroughly I bounced back, physical therapy can do amazing things, and attitude is everything.  I may not be 25 any more, but I definitely feel better than I have in a long time.

There were other changes, too.  The one most significant for the readers of this blog is the future of the Christy Fifield books.  Unfortunately, Berkley Prime Crime has decided (after many months of wavering) that they will not publish another book in the Haunted Gift Shop series.  I am disappointed, but it appears that many series are ending as Penguin/Berkley adjusts to the merger with Random House.  Fortunately, in the modern publishing world it doesn't mean the series has to end, as writers can move to indie publishing and readers can follow them.  Now that I have an answer from Berkley, and am back on my feet, I am working on book #5.  The adventures of Glory, Karen, Jake, Riley, Felipe, Ernie, Sly, Bluebeard, and all the rest will continue!

In addition to the Haunted Gift Shop, I hope to launch a new series, The Spy Girls.  I have always been fascinated by the women of the Second World War.  They were the first generation to move into the workforce—in what were then non-traditional jobs—in large numbers, and they showed following generations that women didn't have to be relegated to "nurturing" roles (mothers, teachers, nurses).  They were, in my mind, the proto-feminists that laid the groundwork for all women to come.  I already have five short stories about my fictional spy girls, and they will be coming out over the next few weeks, and I plan to follow the release of the stories—singly and as a collection of all five with the possible addition of bonus material—with the first novel in what I hope will be a series.

The short stories explore the backstories of the two main characters, culminating with their meeting in the final short story, "Swamp of the Prehistoric Clan."  This story originally appeared in the anthology Fiction River:Recycled Pulp from WMG Publishing last September. Being me, I wrote a cozy mystery about two women who meet in a retirement community in the 1970s.  They both have their secrets, but eventually they will discover they have one in common: they both served in clandestine services during World War II.  Imagine Peggy Carter in retirement, trying to content herself with bridge tournaments and Tupperware™ parties.  Yeah, like that's gonna work!

There are more changes to come over the next few months, and I'll be talking about them here as time goes on.  Until then, thanks for your patience while I recovered!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reading Aloud

As many of you know, I suffered a serious illness a couple years ago, and spent an extended time in the hospital.  And, as I have talked about before, my husband read aloud to me when I was too weak to hold a book or focus enough to read.

All the nurses on my floor knew him - at 6'6" he stands out - but he was identified more by the way he treated me and looked after me during those weeks.  Especially the reading.  Sometimes he would catch a nurse lingering by the door, listening as he read.  They told me later that he was a keeper, they didn't often see that kind of devotion.  But I already knew that.

What those nurses didn't know was that this wasn't the first time he'd read to me.  In the early years of our marriage we settled the issue of who got to read Dave Barry's Sunday column first with an elegant solution: he got the paper first, but he read the column aloud - at least he did when he wasn't giggling madly over something Barry wrote.  (Confession time: I was usually in hysterics, too.)

Over the years we've been together (32 and counting) we have often read to each other.  I would find a passage especially amusing or amazing or enlightening, and I would read it to him.  He would do the same to me.

That's how he finally read the Harry Potter series.  We were on a car trip, I read him an early passage in Sorcerer's Stone (I was re-reading books 1-6 in preparation for the release of 7.  Yes, I am a nerd!) and he was hooked.  We traded off reading and driving the rest of the trip, and he dove into the remaining books as soon as we got home.

Reading to each other on car trips has become something of a tradition.  We've read thrillers and mysteries and science fiction, but primarily we read non-fiction.  And I look forward to those long hours on the road, listening to my dear husband read me something I might not have chosen on my own.  I hope he feels the same.

All of this is background, leading up to a discussion of the book we read on our last road trip.  Steve found it in Goodwill a few weeks back, we read a few pages, and decided it would be perfect for our upcoming drive to Reno.  It definitely was!

The book is The Lizard King by Bryan Christy.  Set in Florida (just like my Haunted Souvenir Shop series!) Lizard King tells the story of a dedicated Fish and Wildlife agent and the suspected smugglers that become his obsession.

Here's what's reviewer had to say:
Reptile smuggling is big business, and in his book debut, Brian Christy mounts an intense and highly readable investigation into this unique black market's surprising depths. Besides the reptiles themselves, this exciting narrative investigation focuses on two main protagonists: Michael Van Nostrand, a notorious dealer; and Chip Bepler, the Fish and Wildlife Service agent whose single-minded aim was to bring the former to justice. --Jason Kirk
While the Publisher's Weekly review (also on the Amazon/com site) has some issues with the book, we didn't find the narrative disorienting, instead enjoying the fascinating tale of cops and robbers.  It's like The Sopranos, but with snakes and lizards instead of arson, drugs, and murder - though I'm not saying you won't find some of those things in The Lizard King!
This one gets two thumbs up from the York Writers! And just maybe we will see some of those things show up in future Haunted Gift Shop stories...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Best Tapioca Pudding. Ever!!

Recently I had the best tapioca pudding of my life.  No exaggeration, this was amazing stuff!  I work at a resort hotel on the Oregon coast, and we shared dessert after lunch.  Both my husband and I were bowled over.  Fortunately for me, the chef is a friend, and he agreed to share his recipe with me.

Tapioca pudding is basically cooked pearls of tapioca starch combined with a sweet vanilla custard.  The pearls give it a bubbly consistency and cut the richness of the milk and the sweet of the sugar.  It’s dense without being overwhelming, but a small serving will satisfy your dessert craving.

I tried the recipe at home, and got the same stellar results, confirmed by several friends and co-workers who sampled the pudding.  Fortunately for you, the chef gave me permission to share it with you, so brace yourself for a real treat!

So here it is, compliments of Executive Chef Ken Martin of Fathoms Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Head.

The process takes time, so don’t try to rush.  You have to start the night before, so if you want pudding for tonight’s dessert and it’s already 4:30 p.m., make another plan.

Tapioca pearls and water for soaking
Start by soaking ½ cup tapioca pearls overnight in 1 ½ cup water.  Don’t use “instant” tapioca, it isn’t the same thing. 

Soaked pearls with the rest
of the ingredients
Sugar and milk before cooking

A couple hours before you want to eat, start the custard base. 

Boiled milk, ready to add pearls

In a large saucepan mix 1 qt whole milk with ¾ cup sugar and bring to a boil.  Watch this carefully, as once it reaches the boiling point, it will quickly boil over if left unattended.  When the milk foams around the edge of the pan, it’s at the correct temperature.

And the magic begins.  You can see where the milk foamed around
the edge of the pan
Drain the tapioca pearls and add them to the boiling milk.  Stir to mix well.  Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  

As you can see from the
stove timer the 25 minutes
is just beginning

20 minutes

The pearls should become clear.  
15 minutes
As you can see from this series of photos taken at five minute intervals, change is gradual, but you can clearly see the difference from the first shot to the last.  (I didn’t realize I needed a better background for these shots until partway through.  Maybe I should make another batch so I can get better pictures.  Yeah, that’s the reason I need to do this again.  For the pictures.  Sure.)
10 minutes

5 minutes

Simmering complete!  The pearl is still slightly opaque,
but much clearer than before.

Adding sugar to the eggs
Egg mixture ready to combine with milk mixture

While the milk mixture is simmering, combine 3 beaten eggs with ¾ cup sugar and blend well. 

Slowly mix eggs into milk mixture.  While Ken’s recipe did not specify, I did temper the eggs before adding them to the hot milk.  Tempering guards against curdling or scrambling the eggs.  To temper the eggs, slowly add about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and stir to incorporate.  Repeat two more times.  This will gradually raise the temperature of the egg mixture and make the two mixtures blend easily.

Here you can see a few tapioca pearls in the egg mixture
as it is poured into the saucepan
Bring the completed pudding back to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

Everything is in the pot.  Now we give it a final simmer.

Remove from heat, add ¾ tsp vanilla.

Cover and chill.  

Into a bowl to cool before going in the refrigerator.
To prevent a “skin” forming on top of your pudding, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.  Pudding can be eaten while still slightly warm, or completely chilled, as you prefer.

This is the finished pudding,
topped with a swirl of whipped cream .

Serving suggestions include layering with whipped cream in a parfait glass, adding fresh seasonal fruit, or spooning still-warm pudding over slices of pound cake.  However you serve it, keep your portions fairly small.  As I said before, this is dense and your guests may fill up quickly.  Or they may demand seconds!!

Cover and refrigerate leftovers (if you have any – this is a perfect “company” dessert).

Tapioca Pudding
½ cup large tapioca pearls
1 ½ cup water
1 qt. whole milk
1 ½ cup sugar, divided
3 eggs, beaten
¾ tsp vanilla
Soak pearls in water overnight.  The next day, mix milk and ¾ cup sugar, bring to a boil.  Drain pearls, add to milk, and simmer 25 minutes.  Combine eggs and the other ¾ cup sugar, add to milk mixture, return to boil, and cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add vanilla.  Cover and chill.

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Book Out Today!!

MURDER TIES THE KNOT is new today from Berkley Prime Crime, and I'm delighted to offer you the chance to win a free copy!

 It's the forth installment in my "Haunted Souvenir Shop" series. More northern-Florida murder and mystery, and more of Bluebeard, the haunted parrot!

Of course, you should go reserve your copy at your favorite book seller right now, but you could also potentially win a signed copy for free! We're trying to build our newsletter mailing list, and as an incentive to join, Chris(ty) has set aside twenty advance copies from her personal stash to be signed and sent out to subscribers.  Here's how it works: For every 25 people who sign up, she sends out a signed copy, until those 20 copies are gone. Every time we get 25 more people, YOU get another chance to win. So don't just sign up yourself. Spread it around and share it with your mystery loving friends.

And don't worry. We'll only send out an occasional newsletter or notification of new books and events. We won't clog your inbox, or share your list with others.

How do you sign up for our mailing list? Just click HERE.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Watch HANG TEN! (The pilot episode)

We're working on a new video podcast series, HANG TEN, with ten minutes (more or less) of Christy and Steve talking about writing, the beach, and other fun stuff. Here's our "pilot episode," as we work the kinks out. Watch for (probably more refined) episodes to come!