Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Marmite House

My sister has been trying to sell her house for a few months now. It's an unusual old Devonshire long house slap bang in the middle of the town, hidden behind other properties. The cobbled path to the front door is flanked by a cottage on one side and a high stone wall on the other. From the road, all that's visible is a green front door and tiny window. Yet, step inside and the house is huge with four bedrooms, a massive beamed sitting room with inglenook fireplace, a farmhouse kitchen and a beautiful walled garden covered in wisteria. It also has a ghost—but that's another story.

Her realtor (or estate agent as they're called in England), says it's a "Marmite House." You either love it - or you hate it ... so that got me thinking about my new competition. Marmite. And yes, the prize is a jar of Marmite!

Marmite is a savory spread that was introduced to the unsuspecting public in 1902. A by-product of the brewing industry, Marmite owes its existence to a German scientist, Justus Liebig's discovery that yeast cells left over from beer-making could be concentrated, bottled and eaten.

Marmite is filled with Vitamin B and soon acquired the status of being extremely good for you. It may look like tar but don't let that put you off. Personally, I love it. My favorite combination is marmite, cheese and cucumber sandwiches.

Here are some delicious combinations to try ...
Marmite and chocolate spread
Marmite and peanut butter
Marmite and marmalade

I'd love to hear your comments, folks! As always, the lucky winner will be selected by my random number generator on May 15.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fabio and Other Matters!

I’m not feeling particularly inspired today. It could be that I experienced my very first Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and have not yet recovered from the experience. 

Having been invited by my new friend, Kim Adams from Hawaii, whom I had met in cyberspace following a “virtual” appearance on her wonderful blog SOSAloha, I was quite excited about the prospect of prowling the floors of the Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, in the hope I’d brush shoulders with aspiring Fabio’s. 

Nothing could prepare me for the sheer number of women equally eager to brush shoulders with those aspiring Fabio’s culminating in the infamous Mr. Romance Pageant competition on the Saturday evening. (The last time I was exposed to such hard-muscled flesh was watching the Chippendales on tour in England way back in the 1980’s.) 

There was also an all-day Book Fair. Over 300 authors were selling their wares and let me tell you, Vampires are not really dead; Young Adult is super-hot and Regency Romances have never been more popular. I was pleased to see some kindred spirits bravely signing their mystery books there too—Rhys Bowen, D.P. Lyle, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Lee Goldberg and Harley Jane Kozak to name but a few. Evening events included “Ellora’s Cave Fantasy Party, the Venetian Masquerade Faery Ball and the Heather Graham and Helen Rosburg Vampire Ball. 

According to the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2010, the romance genre saw 9,089 new titles and $1.36 billion in sales in 2009, making the romance genre the single largest category in the consumer book market. 

Much as I am tempted to dip my toe into this popular genre—if only to have an aspiring Fabio on my book jacket—my real passion still lies in writing mysteries and suspense. It’s not the chase that keeps me reading a book, it’s solving the puzzle. It’s not the challenge of catching a handsome husband, but capturing the villain. I don’t want to be kept awake all night by a hot-blooded rake but by excellent storytelling. Having said all that, I did come home with quite a large bag of racy pirate adventure stories set in Devon, England. My Vicky Hill Mysteries are set in Devon, too …I always think one can never do enough research, don’t you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

March Winner Announced!

The correct answer for the March Guessing Game's question "Where is The Nobody Inn?" is ... Doddiscombleigh.

Doddiscombleigh is a tiny hamlet to the southwest of Exeter. It was first mentioned in "Expose!" when Vicky Hill set off for The Nobody Inn to meet Dave Randall who was drowning his sorrows in drink. It took Vicky Hill 3 hours to find this remote location in my book and it took me 3 hours to find it in real life, too! Although I'm notorious for getting lost (just ask my husband), the country lanes in Devon rarely  have signposts - or if they do, they aren't very helpful.
Here is a photo of a typical Devon country road.

There were quite a few eager souls anxious to win a British prize so I had to use the Violet Cottage Random Number generator (I have no idea why it has such a great name) to select the "random number."
DRU is the winner! Congratulations Dru. Please send me an email with your address.

Must go and make myself a cup of tea. It's gone 4 pm.