LUCY BURDETTE: Speaking of writing fast, Laura Alden offers this lesson on how important it is to pay attention to your husband when you're writing! (And Laura, we're all waiting for our invitations!)
LAURA ALDEN: My husband and I moved into our house ten years ago. To my husband,
this means it’s a perfect time to have a party. Now there are parties
and there are Parties, and my husband figures that if you’re going to
have a party you might as well have a Party. As in, invite friends and
family from near and far, get a keg, killed the fatted calf, and serve
it up with all the fixings.
We first discussed having a big shindig in February. Back then I was
frantically busy trying to work through the first draft of PTA Mystery
#4. At dinner one night, my husband casually mentioned that he’d like
to have a Party this summer. “A what?” I said vaguely. “Sure. Sounds
In early May, I was frantically busy trying to finish the final edits
of #4 before the May 15 deadline. He asked if I thought early July
would be a good date for the party. “Um, this July?” I asked vaguely.
“Sure. Sounds great.”
Then the other day I was starting to work on the synopsis for PTA #5.
My husband said, “We should probably start thinking about a menu.”
I blinked at him. “Menu? For what?”
“For our party.”
Though I didn’t actually ask, What party? I came pretty close. “Oh,” I
said. “Right. The party.”
He gave me a look. “You remember that we’re having a party, right?”
“Pulled pork,” I said quickly. “You cook a great pulled pork.”
He smiled modestly. “Well, it’s not bad, but the recipe could use a
While he went on about the ratio of vinegar to barbecue sauce, I
mentally lined up a list of easy-to-cook foods. Easy was crucial, for
while #4 was on my editor’s desk, the synopsis for #5 was due June 15,
and I really, really needed to get started on writing the first book
in my new series, the bookmobile cat mysteries. (Pen name, Laurie
Cass.) After my husband settled on how he was going to make the
perfect pulled pork, I asked, “How about grilling some hot dogs?”
“And the potato salad from that restaurant supply store is excellent.
Their spinach dip is good, and what do you think about getting some of
their vegetable trays?”
He eyed me. After umpteen years of marriage, he knows me pretty well.
Which is nice come Christmas, but he also knew perfectly well that I
was trying to weasel out of anything that remotely resembled cooking.
“It’d be nice if you made those shrimpy things.”
I bit my lower lip. The shrimp puffs were tasty, and I could make them
ahead and freeze the little buggers, but making enough for a Party
would take half a precious Saturday, at least.
“If you make those,” my husband said, “I’ll make baked beans.”
A marriage is made of many things. One of them is knowing when to bow
to the inevitable. “Deal,” I said.
Moral of the story? Pay attention to what your husband says in
February. You just might find yourself spending a Saturday in July
cooking shrimp puffs.
Laura’s debut novel, Murder at the PTA was an Agatha Award finalist for Best
First Novel. Her third book, "Plotting at the PTA," will be released
in early July. JRW tried to get her husband's pulled pork recipe, but he claims he doesn't use one! But here is the link for Laura's shrimp puffs, straight from the Food Network.
Laura says: Nothing fancy; just don't overfill the muffin cups. First time I made
this the bottom of the oven was a monstrous mess...