Monday, October 22, 2018

Creamy Portobella Chicken


Here's a recipe from Cutefetti.com that sounds absolutely delicious, and oh, so easy!


Creamy Portobella Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1 Pint of Baby Bellas (or equivalent in sliced portabella mushrooms)
  • 1.5 - 2lbs Boneless Chicken Tenderloins or Sliced Chicken Breast
  • 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
Instructions
Place chicken in the bottom of slow cooker, evenly dump the mushrooms on top and then cover with the cream of chicken soup. Sprinkle desired about of salt and pepper on top. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Do a taste test to determine if your dish could use a little more salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Inside the Mind of a Murderer

"Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man's life." Daniel Webster

I recently read an excerpt from Michael Capuzzo's new book, The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases. The section I read focused on a woman who murdered her live-in boyfriend after finding out he'd found a "decent girl" to bring home to mom and dad.

I thought the information provided would be useful to anyone developing a character who just happens to be a murderer.

The victim, 24 year old ladies man Scott Dunn, had moved from his well to do home in Philadelphia, to a small West Texas town in hopes of turning his troubled life around. But his real troubles began upon meeting waitress Leisha Hamilton.

A year after Scott's murder, his father, James Dunn, was put in contact with Profiler Richard Walter. By this time the unsolved murder had become a cold case.

Dunn explained the first time he heard from Leisha. She'd found his name on a phone bill and thought he needed to be contacted because Scott had been missing for four days and she was concerned. Dunn had never heard about her. The only girl Dunn knew anything about was Scott's soon to be fiance, Jessica. Leisha claimed Scott had vanished without a trace, only leaving behind his car. And she hinted in subsequent conversations that since she was closest to Scott, she should get his car. Hmm...

Leisha Hamilton
Dunn had recorded Leisha's cold, atonal voice, and played it for Walter, saying he'd never heard anything like it. After Scott's disappearance, police regarded it as a missing person's case. Dunn pushed for a luminol test in Scott and Leisha's apartment. Luminol detects blood as diluted at one part per million. Even after rigorous cleaning, when the chemical is sprayed on walls in darkness, they'll glow blue for 30 seconds. The walls in the apartment glowed blue like they'd been spray painted. DNA tests confirmed the blood as Scott's.

According to Profiler Walter, "the careful cleanup speaks to an elaborate plot. The murder was purposeful, not recreational." Recreational is choosing a random victim for sadistic pleasure. But a carefully organized crime, cleanup, and body disposal indicate a power assertive, or PA killer. "The killing is all about power--incapture, restrain, torture, kill, throw away, 'I win, you lose' kind of power."

Upon examining Leisha's personality, Walter found her very bright, sexy, flippant and manipulative. She had a long list of lovers, husbands, and one night stands, as well as five children--all by different fathers. She claimed only to love the ones conceived in love. Hmm...

The end for Scott came the day Jessica called and Leisha answered the phone. Walter says, "If anything is going to get you killed, it's to reject the psychopath and say, 'I'm better than you are.'"
Scott Dunn

Before Scott disappeared, he was seen sick, leaving a party with Leisha. Walter believes at that point, Scott was poisoned. He speculates that Leisha then called on neighbor Tim Smith to help murder Scott. Smith had sent Leisha fawning love letters saying that if Scott weren't around, they could be together.

Walter says this is classic setup for a female PA killer. She'll enlist trickery to disable a stronger male and/or acquire a sympathetic and weak accomplice.

But calling attention to herself was Leisha's biggest mistake. She called Scott's father. She also played the coquette with detectives on the case calling them with new information and pretending to be afraid of Smith. But she moved in with Smith in order to set him up to take the fall. Walter says, "The need for stimulation is quite insatiable for a psychopath, the ego gratification to prove they're smarter than anyone, the gotcha."

In a later meeting with Leisha, Walter says, "I've noticed you seem to have a great ability to attract men...But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they see in you. Can you explain it for me?" After a startled silence, she smiled and said awkwardly, "Well, I don't know," then excused herself to get back to work.

When a detective with Walter asked why he called her a dog, he said, "Leisha thinks she is smart enough to outwit everybody. What we must do is make her feel insignificant--unimportant. This will drive her crazy, and she may well make a mistake."

Walter later received from a detective a pencil sketch by Leisha of the murder scene. The drawing had been given to the detective by an ex-boyfriend she took up with after Scott. The drawing documented the torture of Scott Dunn. It indicated that she'd chained him to a pallet. At the bottom of the picture was a key depicting handcuffs, a needle, a knife and a gun. Also shown were fists and a blunt instrument.

"This is classic," Walter said. "She drew this to memorialize her achievement." She'd also made other dramatic changes classic to post murder behavior. Walter says killers use murder to to stimulate personal growth. "It was a very dark self-help movement--'I'm Okay, You're Dead." Since the murder, she'd moved on to two more boyfriends and had a child by the last one. She'd also gone to nursing school, while continuing to work as a waitress, and graduated at the top of her class.

Walter says,"If you're accused of being a murderess, how do you cleanse yourself of all suspicion? You become a healer and dress in white."

Leisha was eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Phew! One less murderer roaming the streets.

Hope this information is useful in any future fictional character development you're working on. And be sure to read Capuzzo's book! I'm looking forward to reading the whole thing. How about you? Do you have a true crime work you'd like to recommend?

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Originally posted 8/9/10

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Bad Seed

It's October and Halloween is right around the corner. Lots of creepy, scary and unsettling movies will be on television this month, and one of the most unsettling to me is The Bad Seed.

I'm referring to the 1956 version. One was released in 2018, but I haven't seen it. I'm sure the recent release is even more unnerving than the original!

Here's part of the synopsis from Wikipedia:

Kenneth and Christine Penmark dote on their eight-year-old daughter, Rhoda. They say their farewells before he goes away on military duty. Their neighbor and landlord, Monica Breedlove, comes in with presents for Rhoda – a pair of sunglasses and a locket. Rhoda, pristine and proper in her pinafore dress and long, blonde pigtails, thanks Monica for the gifts. She dances in tap shoes and tells Monica about a penmanship competition that Rhoda lost to her schoolmate, Claude Daigle; Monica speaks of it as a childish disappointment, but Rhoda's face darkens with fury. Christine and Rhoda leave for the school picnic at a nearby lake.
Later, Christine is having lunch with Monica and friends when they learn on the radio that a child has drowned in the lake where Rhoda's school was having their picnic. Christine worries that the drowned child could be her daughter, but a follow-up report indicates that it was Rhoda's schoolmate, Claude, the winner of the penmanship medal. Relieved that Rhoda is alive, Christine worries that her daughter might be traumatized by seeing the boy’s corpse. When Rhoda returns, however, she is unfazed by the incident and goes about her daily activities.
Rhoda's teacher, Mrs. Fern visits Christine, revealing that Rhoda was apparently the last person to see Claude alive and that she was seen grabbing at Claude's medal. Mrs. Fern alludes to the fact that Rhoda might have had some connection to the boy's death, but stops short of actually accusing her of it, and says that Rhoda would not be welcome at school the following year. As the two women talk, Claude's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Daigle, barges in. Claude's mother is both distraught and drunk. She accuses Rhoda's teacher of knowing something that she is not telling. Mr. Daigle steps in, apologizing for the scene.
When Christine finds the penmanship medal in Rhoda's room, she demands an explanation. Rhoda lies that Claude let her have the medal after she won a bet. Later, Christine's intuition about having been adopted is confirmed: she is the biological daughter of a notorious serial killer, Bessie Danker, and was adopted at two years of age by her foster father, Richard Bravo, and his late wife. Christine now worries that Bessie (and therefore Christine herself) is the cause of Rhoda's sociopathy and that her behavior is genetic, not subject to influence or reversal by good parenting or a wholesome environment.

For the complete synopsis, click here, or if you don't mind being unsettled for an evening, watch the movie!  If you've seen it already, what did you think?  And if you've seen the newer version, did it creep you out? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Great Things About Fall


I'm a summer girl! I love hot weather, I love wearing shorts, sundresses, and sandals. I love being able to go outside and not bundle up. With that said, I know there are many out there who love fall. I certainly don't mind it.


I enjoy a change of season and that crisp smell of turning leaves in the cooler air. Fall weather seems to put me in the mood for root vegetables and homemade soup. It also stirs up the holiday spirit. Cooler weather reminds me that Thanksgiving is right around the corner!


As much as I hate to say goodbye to summer, I'll welcome the fall by enjoying these wonderful things, especially the edible ones!



  • The colorful sight of autumn leaves
  • Crisper air and crunchy leaves
  • Big comfortable sweaters
  • Cozy fires in the fireplace
  • Thanksgiving
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Hot apple cider
  • Hot chocolate

What do you like most about fall? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Arrive Late, Leave Early

"Too many words..."
"Figure out what the action of the scene is going to be, or what its thrust is, and then start writing just a fraction before the action begins." Robert Masello, Robert's Rules of Writing, Rule 42: Make an Entrance

Masello's Robert's Rules of Writing is one of my favorite craft books.  It's a small work jam packed with excellent advice!

I'm currently revising a WIP, and this rule reminds me that I don't need to fill up scenes with lots of superfluous information.

Masello uses the example of a scene that takes place in a lecture hall.  Is it really necessary to show the students filing in, the professor straightening his notes at the podium, then clearing his throat and beginning the lecture?


Absolutely not!  If the oncoming conflict is an argument that takes place between the protagonist and the professor, that results in the protagonist getting kicked out of school, focus on that.

Masello says, "If that's what the scene is about, if that's what moves the action of your story forward, then come in just before the argument flares up and out of control.  And once the expulsion is given, end the scene...Lingering in that lecture hall will only dilute the power of the confrontation."

In closing, get to the point, and know when to quit.  Rambling and meandering is okay in a first draft, but while revising, cut what's possible so the reader won't be bored!

I know I can be a little too wordy sometimes! How about you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 4/18/11.