Diane Sawyer Newsletter/ Blog #1 November, 2012

  Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my first monthly newsletter, the November 2012 edition. Many of you have asked for news about my books, recent travels, and recipes, so I’d like to share the highlights with you. Thank you, one and all, and happy reading.

 

Fondly,

Diane Sawyer

Welcome

  • To friends Peggy and Grace, talented writers whose thoughtful suggestions improve my work from first to final draft.
  • To everyone I met at my book signings, books talks, and writing workshops; and to local writers, whose help and support is much appreciated.
  • To the people I met while traveling, most recently during the incredible adventure tour of Ecuador.
  • To my childhood friends from Greenport, Long Island, my college friends from SUNY at Albany, Seton Hall University, and Fordham University, and the students and faculty from Spring Valley High and Ramapo High, where I taught.
  • To my neighbors in St. Petersburg, Florida, to my volunteer friends at the Salvador Dali Museum, the Florida International Museum, the South Branch Library, the local schools, and to my tennis and fitness friends, especially Linda.
  • To all of you who are meeting me for the first time.
  • And last but not least, a very special welcome to every member of my wonderful family and extended family.

 

My newsletter begins with the cover pictures of my five novels and a brief summary. The paperback editions for all five are now available (with gorgeous covers); so is the e-book edition of The Treasures of Montauk Cove. The other e-books will soon follow. I’d like to thank the publishers, editors, and staff at Avalon Books, Worldwide Mysteries, and Amazon Publishing for their encouragement and support.

The Montauk Mystery by Diane Sawyer (2000)

Montauk Mystery  Montauk Mystery  Montauk Mystery  Montauk Mystery

Ripe for large-scale development, Big Shell Island is locked in a battle between preservationists and construction companies. Currently, the historic and mysterious island is the site of an archaeological dig for lost Native American artifacts. Artist Annie Devane agrees to join the team, despite conflicting feelings about charming and dedicated expedition leader Matt Revington. She suspects this scion of a powerful and mistrusted family is hiding secrets. Something is buried on the island that will change its future and Annie wants to know what.

Alone with people she’s not sure she can trust, Annie discovers a maze of caverns, tunnels and danger. As she unearths the real motive for the dig and the stunning truth at its heart, she pursues a terrifying trail of murder that leads back to her own tragic past. And a waiting killer.

 

The Montauk Steps by Diane Sawyer (2000)

Montauk Steps  Montauk Steps  Montauk Steps  Montauk Steps

Photojournalist Lilli Masters is hired to do a photo shoot for the Labor Day festivities in the Long Island resort town of Grayrocks. When checking into the Baywatch Inn, she learns two female guests have gone missing. Immediately intrigued, and using her eye for detail, Lilli begins to follow their trail—into danger.

The historic area is home to an old Indian ceremonial site called the Montauk Steps, where ancient ways and new perils are about to merge. Lilli pieces together clues using her photos of this hauntingly beautiful locale, even as acts of violence and sabotage follow her. Though she finds an unexpected ally in a vacationing police detective, not even he can keep her safe from a dangerous individual intent on murder. Lilli must make a choice—run and hide or move in for a close-up with the killer.

 

The Tomoka Mystery by Diane Sawyer (2002)

 Tomoka Mystery  Tomoka Mystery  Tomoka Mystery  Tomoka Mystery

 Photographer Lilli Masters is more than willing to embark on a little undercover work with her new boyfriend if it means spending time together. His assignment is to head to Daytona Beach, Florida, on the trail of a killer who’s hiding out among a group of hard-core motorcyclists. The weather is picture-perfect as Lilli and Detective Zack Faraday pose as a tourist couple. But growing danger quickly puts a damper on any sightseeing, and the discovery of a dead body tells Lilli that the trouble is just beginning. Soon she is stalked by dangerous men and immersed in a world of bikers, rare-flower poachers, murky waters and murder. Now it looks as if Lilli’s romantic getaway might just be the end of the line.

 

The Cinderella Murders by Diane Sawyer (2008)

 Cinderella Murders  Cinderella Murders  Cinderella Murders  Cinderella Murders

A young woman disappeared three weeks ago from a popular tourist hotel along the scenic New Jersey shore. With nothing but a cryptic phone call to go on, Kelly Madison, the victim’s sister, demands action from the local police, who seem oddly reluctant to look for trouble. Luckily for Kelly, one detective agrees with her suspicions, and together they try to retrace the victim’s last few days in the sunny seaside town.

With help from a local college professor who has been documenting the very quiet disappearance of several young women in the area, the clues point to a horrifying possibility—the woman has been abducted by a serial killer. If so, why are so many townsfolk willing to look the other way as murders happen all around them? Kelly’s persistence soon puts her in harm’s way, stalked by a madman eager to make her his next victim.

 

The Treasures of Montauk Cove by Diane Sawyer (2010)

 Montauk Cave  Montauk Cave  Montauk Cave  Montauk Cave

Photojournalist Lilli Masters returns to Grayrocks, a resort town on Long Island’s North Fork, intending to photograph the weekend history conference and forget about handsome and heroic Zack Faraday, who has broken her heart. But when she rescues a bottle of wine that has washed ashore missing its label, her life takes an unexpected and dangerous turn. She finds herself embroiled in decades-old intrigue that includes mysterious symbols, historic correspondence, a secret vault, an underwater passageway, and threats on her life. All appear to be parts of a disturbing and dangerous puzzle relating to two murders that occurred at Montauk Cove near where Lilli found the wine. If she can survive and uncover the mystery of the treasure, Lilli vows to finally find time for the mystery closer to her heart: Zack Faraday.

 

My books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online sites.

 

Let’s take a break from mystery, murder, and mayhem and think about food.

 

COOKING DELIGHTS

What’s your favorite holiday meal? My family likes the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The amazing part is that they enjoy the following day’s “leftovers” dinner just as much. You can delight 8 hungry people with what I call “Turkey Stack-Ups” and my family calls “delicious.”

In addition to the leftovers—turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing (all cold, except for the gravy which should be heated), you will need 16 slices of cooked bacon and an 8-oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

Lightly butter a large baking pan. Shape the leftover mashed potatoes into 8 patties, each about the size of a hamburger. Set them in the pan so that they are not touching each other. On top of each potato patty, set a patty of leftover stuffing, slightly smaller in diameter than the potatoes. On top of the stuffing place two or three large slices of turkey. On top of the turkey put two pieces of crisscrossed cooked bacon. Pour 2 tablespoons of warm gravy over each patty stack. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cheese on top of each patty. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until thoroughly heated, about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. Serve with any leftovers, such as corn casserole, pumpkin bread, sweet potato pie, and cranberry salad. Bon appétit!

 

Travel News

As some of you may know, I travel solo to a different country every year where I join a tour group organized by a travel company. Last month, thinking that an active trip would be fun, I chose the “Classic Ecuador and Amazon Adventure Tour,” arranged by Virgin Vacation/Gate One Tours. I flew from Tampa, Florida, to Miami, to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, located at approximately 9200 feet above sea level. As the LAN airplane began its nighttime descent toward Quito, thousands of lights glistened through the fog encircling the hillsides and high-rise buildings. Beautiful and mysterious, I thought, an impression of the country that held true throughout the eight-day trip.

The tour manager, Alfredo Carrera and the tour driver, Carlos Y’anez, accompanied me by van from the airport to the seven-story modern Quito Hotel. They were so pleasant that I pushed aside any doubts about tackling such an adventurous trip (not that previous travels where I’d climbed Peru’s Machu Picchu or trekked over Slovakia’s cascading waterfalls were like a walk in the park). I fell asleep dreaming about Ecuador’s bio-diverse regions and couldn’t wait to explore them all.

In the morning I rode the elevator to the top-floor restaurant where walls of windows provided panoramic views. Wow! Right before my eyes, the majestic Pichincha Volcano poked through the morning mists and towered over the city of Quito. I checked the itinerary. Climbing a volcano wasn’t on the agenda. I relaxed and enjoyed the delicious breakfast buffet until it was time for the orientation meeting with Alfredo and a chance to meet the other members of the group.

And so began the “trip of a lifetime,” as the 27 of us would later describe our experience. Maybe our opinion was based on our rafting (and, in some cases, swimming) along the Plato River currents; maybe it was the trekking, with the help of walking poles, through the jungle in our knee-high rubber boots and protective clothing, our hands and faces smeared with sunscreen and bug spray; or it could have been our visit to the home of a local Quechua family where we sampled their delicious brew of yucca and sweet potatoes and learned how to shoot a blowgun with darts sharpened by the teeth of a piranha; or possibly it was the zip lining over a gorge in a basket-chair; or maybe it was crossing that long swaying suspension bridge; or it could have been the visit to the national park where we

witnessed an unexpected heart-pounding sight—wild bulls charging across the plain eventually subdued by cowboys on horseback with skill, derring-do, and high-flying lassos.

Okay, it might have been the gorgeous grounds and rustic lodgings—our cabins featured wood-burning fireplaces, thermal pools just outside our front doors, a hammock on the verandah, comfortable furniture on the front porch, and a Jacuzzi pool in the bathroom; the main lodge served delicious Ecuadorian and international meals in gorgeous dining areas that defy description. But I would be giving the wrong impression if I portrayed this tour as merely a series of thrilling adventures and fantastic accommodations. Thanks to Carlos and Alfredo, we also had many glimpses into the daily life and ways of the people in this multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual country. The two of them filled our days with sights, historical information, and anecdotes as we traveled through diverse habitats extending from sea level to more than 13,000 feet high and everywhere in between. A few examples follow.

The very first day we walked the narrow cobblestone streets of Quito’s Old City to see the Congress Building, the Presidential Palace, magnificent churches, and buildings too numerous to mention. This area, showing the influence of Spanish Colonial architecture, as well as remnants of the Inca heritage and monuments to Ecuador’s independence, has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Who could forget the visit to the Center of the Earth, about 12 miles north of Quito? Dominating the windswept plain dotted with monuments, shops, and an insectarium (let your imagination run wild and creepy), stands a pyramid-shaped memorial. It recognizes the eighteenth-century French geodesic expedition that established the location of the Equatorial Line in Ecuador. Although the team’s calculations are now considered somewhat inaccurate, we enjoyed standing at (approximately) zero degrees latitude, with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and one foot in the Southern Hemisphere.

The lively town of Otavalo offered a huge daily market where talented artisans, whose skills date back through generations, sold their products crafted from leather, alpaca, wood, and silver…A farmer’s market was set up in a small roadside town where the native people came to sell their fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They cook for each other and the delicious aromas of unfamiliar foods and spices wafted through the air. They graciously talked to me about their preparation of empanadas and grilled plantain. I tasted both and agreed they were delicious.

The Cotopaxi National Park, nestled among four volcanoes, including the smoking Cotopaxi that rises 19,000 feet above the plains, is a favorite picnic area for local families. As our group hiked around a lake in the park, our local guide pointed out the plants and herbs that local people use to cure their ailments…The city of Baños is well-known for its thermal springs and “vegetable ivory.” We watched an artisan transform palm nuts into jewelry and animal carvings, using only a few hand tools and a drill.

Near Baños, perched at the top of a long winding road that clung precariously to the mountainside, was a family-run hacienda, where we stayed our last night before returning to Quito. Etched in my mind forever will be standing on the grassy hillside in the freshest morning air imaginable and gazing into the distance at the mighty Tungurahua Volcano.

Among the many surprises that occurred during this trip, I’d like to point out three.

Even though our tour took place during the beginning of the rainy season, it never rained during the day. A very cooperative Mother Nature sent rain, lightning, and thunder in the middle of one night. And what a gloriously bright and noisy show that was!

Because of the good weather, we were able to enjoy an extra canoe trip, this time to a rescue center for wounded or misplaced rainforest animals.

A former high-school student of mine was on this trip with his wonderful wife, high-school-aged son and college-aged daughter. Not only had he been in my French class, he was one of the twelve students whom I chaperoned to France as part of an exchange program. I am so proud of him and all that he has accomplished. What were the odds of our running into each other after all these years on an adventure tour in Ecuador? Slim at best, but on this trip anything was possible. I miss all of you who were on the tour…and Ecuador too.

 

Happy travels to all of you!

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