Posts Tagged ‘diner’

In the mail

Actually in the ether. But the point is that I wrote THE END and sent off another manuscript to my publisher. This is Book 3 of the Alaska Diner series.

Granted it’s not really the end because it has to go through the entire structure of the publishing house—editor, editor’s boss, copy editor, galley editor, production editor. And who knows what other “team” members. But at least there’s a core 84,000 words that make up the story, and most of that will survive the blue pencils, or these days “track changes.”

My first 4 mystery series were inspired by me; that is, careers or hobbies I’ve had—physicist, miniaturist, math teacher, postal worker. Even most of my standalones and short stories have been connected in some way to my past—a nun, a concession worker on a boardwalk, inspecting commercial nuclear plants.

But for this new series, my 26th  through 28th  novel, I broke from that pattern, and actually wrote fiction! Yes, it was my publisher’s idea. Oh, and so was a new name: Elizabeth Logan.

“How about a cat in a diner in Alaska?” my editor said. (As most of you may know, editors don’t ask, even when there’s a question mark at the end of their sentences. They tell.)

Book 2 of the series, available for PreOrder.

“Sure,” I said.

I’ve never owned a cat, but apparently every one of my friends has and they were only too eager to help me out with stories. Thus, an orange tabby, Eggs Benedict, Benny for short, was born. (He has his own Pinterest page, by the way. You can check out “Benny” there.)

It’s funny to have my critique partners argue over whether Benny can or can not do a certain thing, eat a certain thing, sound a certain way. So it’s not much different from other research, such as when you ask a question of experts in police procedure, for example, and you get “yes” from three or four, and “no” from three or four others. The good news is you’re then free to do what you want!

A funny example: one friend insists her cat eats corn on the cob, while it’s still on the cob. She demonstrates with her own hands and mouth, teeth running along a “row.” Another friend insists no cat would or can do that. I went with “can” because it was more fun, but my editor scratched it!

Moral here, in case you missed it: you never know whom to credit or blame for settings, pets, character names, pen names, cover design, story decisions. It takes a village!



BOOK 2 of the series will be released in November. It’s ready for preorder. BOOK 1, Mousse and Murder was released in May 2020.

I’m in the middle of my 3-book series set in an Alaskan diner, currently reviewing the galleys for Book 2, FISHING FOR TROUBLE.

How did diners get started? The best I can do is go back to 1872 and credit Walter Scott, a horse-drawn wagon in Providence, Rhode Island, and a menu designed to feed night owls, whether workers finishing the late shift, or revelers looking for an off-hours meal.

The wagon evolved into “rolling restaurants,” with a few seats added inside, and then dining cars and finally, around 1924, permanently located “diners,” most maintaining the train-car look.

With a new style of restaurant came a new set of phrases, or “diner lingo,” the way a short order cook might communicate with her staff. Some call it shorthand, but diner lingo is often longer than the regular term for the menu item.

“A side of bad breath,” for example is not as succinct as “with onions.”  And “a stack of Vermont” is longer than “pancakes.”

My guess: it’s more for adding fun to a job. Who doesn’t want to do that?

Probably among the best known call-outs are “Adam and Eve on a raft” (two eggs on toast), and “Battle Creek in a bowl” (corn flakes).

Other favorites of mine are:

“Burn the British” (toast an English muffin).

 “Cowboy” (western omelet).

“Cops and robbers” (coffee and donuts).

“In the alley” (on the side).

“Butcher’s revenge” (meatloaf).

A few phrases have been assimilated into our language, no longer recognized as diner-related, like sunny side up, BLT, OJ, and 86 it.

Post your favorites. But whatever you do, don’t be a camper*!

*One who stays at the table or counter for a long time, depriving the server of new tips.