Monday, September 26, 2011


My good friend Valerie Hansen has a new book out this month, and I want to urge you to buy this one. Val writes great romantic suspense, and I'm sure NIGHTWATCH is going to be one of her most popular yet.

Here's a message from Val:

NIGHTWATCH is the first book I've done about a group of volunteers that helps defenseless children by representing them in court and speaking the words they may be too frightened to say. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and is now a nationwide organization. I will have other books about the same organization but each will stand alone, so the books won't have to be read in sequence or saved until all are published to be enjoyed.

NIGHTWATCH begins with an arson fire that leaves three youngsters orphaned. The foster mother who takes them in and a firefighter friend of their late parents are called upon to defend these little ones against the same evil that stole their parents lives. The CASA worker who is assigned to this case will be back with her own story in June of 2012 when THREAT OF DARKNESS is published. In September of 2012 the children's uncle, an ex-Marine, is the hero of STANDING GUARD. All three books are published by Love Inspired Suspense.

From Marta: I promise you'll enjoy it!

Monday, September 19, 2011


On Saturday, September 24th, I'll be running down to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania to participate in Murder as You Like It, a mystery conference sponsored by Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop. Since we all know how rare independent bookstores are becoming, I'm delighted to participate when I hear of an interesting event like this one. The store has assembled a group of fifteen mystery authors to present a day-long event for fans of mystery, spy, thriller and horror novels.

Among the participants are Cordelia Frances Biddle, author of the critically-aclaimed Martha Beale historical series; Chris Grabenstein, who writes the popular "Haunted Mystery Series" for kids; mystery authors Valerie and Paul Malmont; and a number of others.

I'll be particpating on a panel called Reluctant Sleuths, and I'll focus on my Amish suspense novels, including the upcoming Danger in Plain Sight.

If you're anywhere in the Mechanicsburg area and you'd like to have a great day of chatting with mystery authors and fans, do join us. The event will be held at the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, 5000 Simpson Ferry Road, Mechanicsburg, PA. You can find a brochure online at

Happy Reading,
Marta Perry

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The perfect storm, they're calling it--that odd combination of the jet stream, the remnants of a tropical storm, the hurricane out in the Atlantic. All we know here is that it sent a steady trail of rain running right up the Susquehanna River Valley this week. In the past, we old-timers measured everything by Hurricane Agnes, back in '72. "Well, if you'd been through Agnes..." we'd say whenever the subject of floods came up.

But the river has made such comments obsolete, setting new, painful records which put over a quarter of Bloomsburg, our town, under water. Out here in the country we went through our own creek flooding on Wednesday, coming out with nothing worse than a couple of feet of water in the barn, ground water in the springhouse, and a lot of worry. I discovered myself baking muffins while checking the water rise, and I remembered that on that Thursday when Agnes hit, I'd baked a cherry pie. Apparently my default action to disaster is to start baking.

Now all we can do is watch and wait for the river to go down in town, praying for our friends who have been evacuated but unable even to go and help them. In the midst of the water and mud and misery, small stories of hope and heroism keep surfacing, reminding us that sometimes when conditions are at their worst, people are at their best.

Our community radio station, a dying breed, has stayed on air and on flood coverage 24/7, keeping people informed, bringing families together, directing help where it's needed. This despite the fact that the station didn't have electricity and many of its personnel had homes in the danger zone. Individuals and groups have sprung into action without being asked, putting on meals for any who need it, no questions asked, while local restaurants ferried food to the Red Cross evacuation centers as long as they had power and water.

It will be a long time before Bloomsburg and the other river towns are back to normal, but it will happen. Lives will be rebuilt along with homes, the park and the fairgrounds will once again be our community's pride. But we won't forget the flood of September 2011 in a hurry.

If you're of a mind to help, check out the website of the American Red Cross. They're doing their usual wonderful job with the aid of local volunteers, and they can always use your support.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Every year around this time, we have our annual tomato squeezing. Someone I mentioned that to laughed and said it sounded like a taffy pull. Well, not quite, but really, it's almost as much fun. Take eight friends, lots of tomatoes fresh from the garden, add one large Squeezo, and have at it. Each September, we invite some friends to come bringing their tomatoes, and we have a pleasant and amazingly productive evening.

For the uninitiated, a Squeezo is an ingenious hand-operated machine. It clamps to a table (our picnic table, in this case) and has a large hopper on top into which you put the washed tomatoes fresh from the garden. Press down with a wooden mallet, turn the crank, and the skins and seeds come out one side while the lovely tomato puree pours out the other. A tedious job if you're doing it all alone, it becomes a party when friends are invited! We end the work part of the evening with each couple having quarts of sauce ready to take home and be made into juice or soup or spaghetti sauce. And then supper is on the table--by tradition, I never serve anything made with tomatoes!

Gardens being sometimes unpredictable, each year we wonder what the harvest will bring. Sometimes one person supplies most of the tomatoes, sometimes another. Our particular tomato patch suffered this year: the ground was too wet to get the plants in on time, and then a long, hot, dry spell hit just when we were out of town and unable to water. As a result, our contribution will be sparse, but I understand our friends are more bountifully supplied, so I think there will be tomatoes for all. One community in our neighborhood has an annual tomato battle this time of year. All I can think is what a waste, when it can be turned into lovely homemade spaghetti sauce.

My spaghetti sauce recipe comes from my father, who always made the sauce in our house when I was growing up. There's nothing exact about it, since spaghetti sauce is as much by taste as by measuring. Here's how we do it:

Take one 12-quart kettle filled with fresh squeezed tomato puree. Add one cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of salt, one large onion, chopped, 4 large cloves of garlic, pressed, stir together thoroughly, then turn the heat on to medium high. As the sauce begins to heat, add a generous handful each of chopped fresh basil leaves and chopped fresh oregano. (I grow both of these in pots outside the kitchen door, but oregano seems to be trying to take over one of my flowerbeds, as well.) Add 2 bay leaves. (Don't chop the bay leaves, as you'll want to remove them when the cooking is finished.) If you don't have fresh basil and oregano, you can use dried, and be generous with the amounts. Add a pinch of red pepper. Stir thoroughly and taste, adding more spices as needed to bring it to your taste. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 4-5 hours. You want to let it cook down and thicken a bit. When it's finished simmering, I can mine in jars, using a pressure canner. You can also put it in plastic containers and freeze. I prefer canning, as I feel the flavors meld as it sits. This amount makes about 8 quarts of sauce. When you're ready to use the sauce, it's time to taste again. You can add a few diced fresh tomatoes, if you like that in your sauce. If the sauce seems too acid, add a tiny pinch of baking soda. If you prefer it a bit thicker, add a small can of Italian tomato paste. As I say, it's all in the tasting!