Loretta's Cinnamon Rolls

My eighth Samuel Craddock book, A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary, will be published in January, 2019, and it’s high time I talked about Loretta. As my readers know, Loretta Singletary has long been a major character in the books. She is gossipy, but not mean; gets easily flustered because she’s prim; and she is the voice of the community. Samuel counts on her to bring him news that helps him investigate crimes.


Recently, Loretta has changed her looks. As is mentioned in the first page of A Reckoning in the Back Country, “Several months back, (Loretta) showed up with a stylish new haircut and a blond tint instead of her curly gray hair.” Furthermore, “…she has started wearing slacks. She used to wear only dresses and expressed a low opinion of women who wore slacks.” What can all this mean? You’ll find out!


One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that Loretta still loves to bring baked goods to her friends, who complain that she’s trying to fatten them up.


I’ve been asked several times to hand out her recipes. So In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of them. Here’s the one most frequently mentioned:


Loretta’s Cinnamon Rolls



Pastry Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

½ c. warm milk (105-155 degrees)

1 egg, room temperature

½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 ½ cups plus 2 T flour


In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk, stir and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Add eggs, salt, and sugar. Mix well. Pour in flour and mix lightly, just until dough is sticky and holds together. Set aside for 5 minutes and prepare Butter Mixture:


To make cinnamon rolls:


½ cup currants

Pastry Dough

4 T melted butter

½ c Cinnamon Sugar (1/4 c sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon)

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water


Pour boiling water over currants while you roll out dough.

Sprinkle surface generously with flour. Turn yeast dough (which will be very soft)  out onto surface. Sprinkle top of dough with flour, then roll and pat into an 11 x 17” rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar. Drain currants and pat them dry, then sprinkle them over dough. Press ingredients into the dough with your fingertips. Starting with a long side, roll into a tight cylinder. Cut into 1” slices and place about 2” apart on backing sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise until puffy and almost doubled in size (45 min to an hour). Brush each slice with some of the egg mixture.

Note: if you need to use 2 baking sheets, refrigerate one as soon as they are formed, before they rise. That way the chilled ones will rise more slowly and you can stagger baking times.


Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake until well browned (12-14 minutes). Transfer to wire racks to cool. Brush with Glace Icing while still warm. Note: If you are going to freeze any of them, do not ice until they are thawed and warmed up for 5 minutes in a 400F oven.


Glace Icing:

1 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar

3-4 Tablespoons water


Add water to sugar and beat until smooth. If too thick, add a bit more water. If too thin, add a bit more sugar.


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Happy New Year

Yes, I know. New Year's was two days ago. 2017 went kicking and screaming, giving me a stomach virus as a parting shot that put me two days behind. So Happy New Year! 

Here's what I intended to do on the waning days of 2017: unclutter my office, my closet, and all those little piles of junk that accumulate during the year (okay, who am I kidding? Some of them have been accumulating for longer than a year). The uncluttering was to clear the space for me to get busy on my first order of business for the year, which is:

Launch Party Business!! That includes ordering the cake--wait, I said cake, but last year at my launch party although the cake was fun and delicious, someone tactfully pointed out that it was also a huge mess. So rethinking cake. It also includes: getting a poster made for Mrs. Dalloway's bookstore window, checking with the bookstore to make sure my books are stocked, as well as the books for Timothy Hallinan, who is doing me the honor of winging up from Los Angeles to interview me, reminding people on social media and through emails. Anything else? Oh, yeah, figuring out what I'm going to wear. (See closet uncluttering, above). And one more thing. Lose two pounds before the launch party. In the silver linings department, the virus took care of that!

With the new book, I also have a host of other things to do. Most urgent is completing my book tour schedule. Luckily, no one but me is super busy in the first few days of the year. Right? Right? Okay, wrong, but it's amazing how quickly people are responding to requests. Very heartening. For the first time, I'm planning to extend my tour to Florida and North Carolina. Why there? It's winter. I'd love to do the northeast, but have you looked at the weather reports? The northeast has to be put on hold until winter loosens its icy grip. And, by the way, I saw that it was 41 in Florida yesterday. If I want a warm weather tour, I may have to learn Spanish and head further south. 

Putting together a book tour sounds innocuous enough, but it entails: locating bookstores in areas where you think you can draw an audience, contacting the bookstores to see where you fit in their calendars, coordinating them so you can go from one city to another without doubling back, and then making flight arrangements. Then when that is done, following through with social media, making flyers and posters, and contacting friends in the area. This is when I start thinking I need an assistant. 

But who am I to complain? I know I'm really lucky to have these "problems." For years my biggest challenge was first writing a book that would catch the attention of a publisher, enticing an agent to take notice, waiting while the agent fielded rejections, and then repeating the above. I'll take the current challenges any day. To those of you struggling with the challenges of getting a book written and making publishing decisions, I send my hearty best wishes. Keep at it! Courage!

I will end on a tribute to Sue Grafton. Sue is like the French King Louis XIV. No, not the part where he was a big spender who bankrupted his country, nor the part where he threw lavish parties (although she could be great fun at a party), nor where he single-handedly invented modern bureaucracy. No, what I mean is that Louis reined for seventy-two years, from 1643 to 1715. People were born, lived long lives, and died while he was still king. There are those who thought he could not die! A lot of writers have started writing, become published, and had whole careers in the shadow of Sue Grafton. She reinvented the crime novel, and made it possible for many women to take their place in the mystery genre. It was easy to think that she would always be around. She will be missed by so many. 



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Holiday news

I've had a couple of nice surprises this week! One, I found out that A RECKONING IN THE BACK COUNTRY will get a starred review in Library Journal. I'll post the review as soon as it happens. 

Second, MysteryPeople announced their top five mystery writers of 2017--and I'm one of them, courtesy of AN UNSETTLING CRIME FOR SAMUEL CRADDOCK. Thanks to MysteryPeople for the recognition and a salute to my fellow authors on the list: Attica Locke, Reavis Wortham, Joe Lansdale, and Don M. Patterson. 

I love to get emails from fans, and this week I got a couple of keepers. One woman wrote to say that she was reading my series in order for the THIRD time! She said the books hold up under repeated readings. That's a holiday gift I loved getting.

In other news, my family is celebrating the holidays in Monterey. That's the good news. The hard part was that we had to cancel plans for Santa Barbara because we were unsure of the fire situation. Friends told us that the air quality was poor and that the approach of the fire was relentless. My heart goes out to the people affected by these terrible fires. And to the heroic firefighters who continue to battle the blazes. 

As the holidays near, take a few minutes to take a deep breath and to do something nice for yourself.

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