featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR AND BAKER CADENCE DENTON

Cadence Denton has worn many hats over the years—retail sales rat, dental assistant, fulltime mother, part-time cheer coach, and dachshund wrangler. When she’s not chasing runaway dachshunds, you can find her at her desk devising ways to make her characters suffer. Learn more about Cadence and her books at her website.

No matter the season, baked goodies have always been a staple at every gathering in my family.

Of course, Thanksgiving must have my baby sister’s traditional Golden Pecan Pie, and Christmas isn’t complete without a scrumptious Hummingbird Cake. July Fourth demands my mom’s Sock-it-to-me Cake, and Valentine’s Day is known for my daughter’s special double fudge brownies with pecan coating. However, the one catch all treat guaranteed to please everyone’s palate is my Coconut Cake with basic butter cream frosting.

I discovered the joy of baking early in life. My grandmother, an accomplished home cook, always had a lovely homemade dessert waiting at the end of every evening meal. Some of my earliest memories were standing at her side watching as she dusted her counter with flour then rolled out sugar cookies. It’s particularly poignant because, ever patient, she let me use her special cookie cutters to cut the dough. Granted, my stars may have come out shaped more like blobs, but she never complained. To her they were always perfect. My grandmother had several large, aluminum shakers filled with colorful sugar that she used to sprinkle the cookies before she popped them into her oven. To this day, if I close my eyes, I swear I can almost smell them.

She was the mother of eight, (four still at home back then) and sixteen grandchildren. Even so, she single-handedly cooked a full sit-down Sunday dinner for us all every week! Poor dear, I would have so been picking up Popeye’s Chicken or Little Caesar’s Pizza, right?

I believe cooking was my grandmother’s way of showing her love for her family. From the quality and amount of food she cooked, I’d say she really, really loved us. Was she a chef on a Julia Child level? Nope. If you were looking for fancy cream sauces and lobster you wouldn’t find it on her table, but what you would find was hot and hearty and filling.

While I’m not a slave to the stovetop, I do enjoy baking and have shared this love with my daughter. I know my grandmother would be proud that her legacy has been handed down. I only wish she and my daughter could have met.

Grandma’s Coconut Cake

Ingredients:
2/3 cup softened butter                                               
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups sifted flour                                                           
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt                                                                       
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/4 cups milk

Combine sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. Sift the dry ingredients. Beginning with the dry mixture, add to the butter mixture alternating with milk. Beat on low speed until smooth. Pour into two prepared pans. Bake for 30–35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool on rack.

Simple Frosting

Ingredients:
16 oz. box confectioner’s sugar
1 stick softened unsalted butter
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract
2-1/2 cups flaked coconut

Mix the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar and flavoring. Add milk as needed. Frost each layer and sprinkle with coconut. Enjoy!

Midnight Delight
Call me Contessa. Forget my name, you couldn’t pronounce it. I’m a professional chef—actually, I’m the LeBron James of chefs. Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay even Julia Child have all been my students, and that’s just a few. I’ve probably forgotten more about the culinary arts than any chef alive has learned. I was in the thick of things when today’s conventional culinary techniques were first being developed. You ever used the three basic steps in dicing an onion? Prego. That was me. Ever heard of clarified butter? Bingo. Me again.

How can that be? I was born in Genoa, Italy in the year of our Lord 1642. That’s right. I’m an Eternal, a creature of darkness, a vampire…and I’m obsessed by what I cannot eat. Food.

Ironically, I’m the star of my very own cooking show on the Foodie Culinary Channel. My dream job! Where I get to create the recipes I adore and share them with my audience and one lucky dinner guest. Which is where my troubles began. And will end.
I was caught partaking the red jungle juice from the neck of my dinner date. I was threatened, attacked with Holy water, and finally blackmailed by my mild-mannered joke of an Associate Producer. As it turns out, she isn’t so mild-mannered. Now I have two choices: turn her into a child of darkness or risk exposure to the human world.

I’m thinking there’s a third choice. His name is Rocco Guadagnino.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--PAINTED GLASS JARS

Summertime…and the kids are outdoors, splashing in the pool, at the playground, playing sports. Except on those days when they’re stuck in the house due to summer storms and “I’m bored” becomes a common cry. Suggest they read a book during vacation, and many of you will wind up on the receiving end of a “parents are such dorks” eye roll.

Of course, you can allow them to veg out in front of the TV or computer all day, but do you really want your little darlings turning into zombies? Of course not!

So how about a crafts project?

Grab a few empty jars from the recycling bucket and have your kids repurpose them as vases or storage containers. Even though this is a painting craft, it’s one that’s far from messy, no matter how young your child, and it will keep all the kids busy and away from the TV, computer, and their smart phones for at least a few hours. The more glass jars you can scrounge up, the longer they’ll be occupied at something that stimulates their brain cells instead of numbing them.

Materials:
empty glass jars
rubbing alcohol
assorted acrylic paint colors in squirt bottles
clear acrylic sealer
glass paint markers (optional)
paint brush

1. Clean the glass jars with alcohol.
2. Squirt one paint color inside a jar. Allow paint to drip down sides. Let dry.
3. Squirt a second paint color inside the jar. Allow to drip down sides. Let dry.
4. Paint inside of jar with a third color. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat. Allow to dry.
5. Paint inside of jar with clear acrylic sealer.
6. If desired, decorate outside of jar with glass paint markers. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR JENNY MILCHMAN

Award-winning author Jenny Milchman is the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and chair of the Debut Authors Program for International Thriller Writers. She also goes out on very long book tours as you’ll discover from reading what she has to say today. Learn more about Jenny and her books at her website.

Sheer Bliss or Utter Insanity? The Story of the World’s Longest Book Tour

I’m not usually one for titles, but I believe I should be in the running for this one: She Who Goes on the Longest Book Tours.

OK, as a title it may be a little cumbersome. As a reality, though? It fits. When my debut novel came out last year, I traveled 7 months and 35,000 miles. My second novel is out now, and I’m on the road for another 4 months and 20,000 miles.

When I met mystery writer Mary Stanton at Murder on the Beach in Florida last year, she said, “I would rather eat rats than do what you’re doing.”

Did I mention that my husband and our two children are along with me? He works from the front seat, kids are “car-schooled” in the back. And just to share a few more details…we rented out our home in New Jersey to cover costs, traded in two cars for an SUV that could handle Denver in February, and gave up a place at the kids’ charter school.

Why did we do all that? Well, there are many reasons, and none include my having a taste for rat—although I will say that Mary is not alone in her thinking. There’s a look I receive that ranges from incredulous to fall-on-the-floor shock when I describe our exploits.

But when it takes you thirteen years to get published, a few things happen. The first is that the road to that “first” book—my debut was actually the eighth novel I had written—becomes something of a quest. And a dream. Another is that a great number of people become supports and supporters along the way. Once It finally happened, I wanted to get out there and thank everyone who had kept me going all those years.

I also have a deep belief that no matter how the web has widened our worlds—and it has, wonderfully—there’s nothing like the connection that takes place in real time. I have seen this occur over and over—and over and over and over some more—during our ten months of traveling. A handshake or a hug is different than a smiley face emoticon. Both enrich our lives. When the twain meet, though—that’s when the real magic happens.

There’s a robust and lively bookstore scene that doesn’t reflect the messages we get from the media. Small town America and Main Street are thriving, thanks in part to a renewed penchant for locavorism—and this is happening in cities, too. Bookstores often become a hub of this revitalization in astonishingly creative ways.

I have sat down to a ticketed three-course dinner held off-site by a bookstore—it was like a wedding with books. Square Books in Oxford, MS brings in 200 attendees to their regular author radio and music night. The Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA holds a coffee & crime brunch. Yum. Macintosh Books on Sanibel Island, FL goes for lunch a little later in the day. I could go on and on, describing events that draw attendees from as far as three states away.

As much as I love them, bookstores aren’t the only sites I visit. Libraries, book clubs, schools and other even more outside-the-box locations bring people together for a lively discussion about books, culture, and our lives.

There’s a practical reason for getting out there—if not for seven months, then perhaps for seven days—and it’s about introducing a book to readers in ways that are less focused upon these days. When a bookseller who never otherwise would’ve discovered your book continues selling it a year after it’s come out because her customers tell their friends about it…that’s word of mouth in action, and WOM may be the only real way we know to sell books. Zigging while others are zagging also just makes good sense—you stand out, and that’s awfully hard to do amidst today’s clamor of voices.

But there are also what I call reasons of the heart. Is the driving hard, especially with two kids in the back? Sometimes, I guess, but if you find a school, you find a playground, and kids don’t need much more than that when they’ve got their parents with them. And there’s nothing like turning the whole country into a classroom—watching those same kids come alive over civil rights or environmental infrastructure or The Hunger Games  in that evening’s bookstore.

About those nights spent in bookstores. When you walk into an audience of one—which you will do, no matter how big you become—and that person doesn’t buy your book, you might think, “What am I doing out here?” But then say that person buys a different book, one you recommend, so the bookseller is happy. And say he tells you that he didn’t buy your book because he already owns two copies—one to read, and one to keep pristine. And then he tells you that he has to go—because he’s got a three hour drive home after coming to see you, which he did because your book meant so much to him.

That’s a reason of the heart. And believe me, it’s a lot better than eating rats.

Ruin Falls
Liz Daniels should be happy about taking a rare family vacation, leaving behind their remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have only met their paternal grandparents a handful of times. But her husband, Paul, has decided that despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.

The family doesn’t make it all the way to the farm and stops at a hotel for the night. And in the morning, when Liz checks on her sleeping children, all of the small paranoias and anxieties from the day before come to life: Ally and Reid are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice cold terror as the hours tick by without discovering a trace of her kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, detectives are called in. Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind.

But the children are safe. In a sudden, gut-wrenching realization, Liz knows that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room and kidnapped her children. Instead it was someone she trusted completely. And as the police abruptly wrap-up their investigation, Liz identifies the person who has betrayed her. Now she will stop at nothing to find Ally and Reid and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

TRAVEL WITH SERENA--GUEST AUTHOR KAREN McCULLOUGH ON EDISTO ISLAND

Award-winning author Karen McCullough is a web designer as well as the author of a dozen mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories. Learn more about Karen and her books at her website and blog.

The Beach That Inspires Me

For the last several years, my sister-in-law has been renting a beach house on Edisto Island, a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina between Charleston and Hilton Head. My husband and I and various other family members join her for a week of sun, surf, and sand in early to mid-May. 

It’s a wonderful break for all of us, but like everything else, the sights, sounds, smells and other experiences of the coastal visit go into the idea-churn inside my brain and come out in new pieces in various stories.


Although Edisto Island isn’t the exact model for the island setting of most of the first third of my paranormal romantic mystery, The Wizard’s Shield, the experiences I’ve had there over the years do figure largely into the descriptions and events in the book, especially the first part.

A violent storm in the first couple of chapters forces my two main characters, one-time friends separated by circumstance and betrayal for many years, to work together to save the island and its inhabitants. It brings them back together and reminds them of the unique bond they’d had at one time.

Although I’ve never had the opportunity to fight the effects of a squall with magic as Michael and Ilene do, I’ve experienced the frightening way storm winds howl and flatten the sea oats along the dunes, the way they churn up the ocean, making waves roar and foam, the sizzle of lightning that seems way too close, and wind-whipped rain that feels like bullets. I’ve looked out across the ocean and seen the dark cones of waterspouts dropping from cloud to sea. All of that became part of the scene, amped up by magic.

Later when the two protagonists take a long walk on the beach to have a painful but necessary conversation, I use the sights, sounds, and objects found on the sand to punctuate their talk.

“What did they do to you?” she asked.

He didn’t know how to answer, so he started walking again. He stalked along, occasionally glancing out at the ocean. The roar of the waves beat against his ears, keeping time in some odd way with the beating of his pulse. His chest seemed to collapse inward, making it hard to get enough of a breath to speak. It took a while before he realized that Ilene had caught up and was nearly running to match his pace. He slowed enough to let her stop jogging.

“It’s a long story,” he warned her at last, when he’d relaxed slightly.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a conversation that serious during my many long walks on the beach, but there is something about the surf, sand, shells and other bits of nature that inspire one to think about life and one’s place in the universe more deeply.

The Wizard’s Shield
A powerful wizard with a physics degree and a checkered past invents a shield to ensure he'll never again be tortured almost to death.

The wizarding powers-that-be fear the repercussions of such a device and send his former girlfriend, an accomplished wizard herself, to retrieve the device or destroy it.

When the shield is stolen by the magical mafia, Ilene McConnell and Michael Morgan have to set aside their differences and work together to recover it. Michael claims he needs the device as insurance against the kind of injury and injustice he suffered once before. Ilene maintains its potential to upset the delicate balance of power makes it too dangerous and that it needs to be destroyed. But none of that will matter if they can’t retrieve it before a ruthless, powerful wizard learns how to use it for his own ends.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

HEALTHY LIVING WITH JANICE--FOOD SAFETY

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 128,000 people are hospitalized each year due to E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and other food borne illnesses. Three thousand of them die. This is a sobering statistic. Ten years ago I spent three days in the hospital due to food poisoning. It’s not an experience I ever want to repeat or want anyone else to experience.

So here are some tips on food safety:

1. Buy whole produce only. I know it’s tempting to purchase that cut watermelon or cantaloupe because it’s easy to see if it’s sweet by looking at the color and texture of the fruit. But it’s not a good idea. The contamination risk of pre-cut produce is much higher.

2. Always place meats and produce in the plastic bags supplied by the store, even though the food comes pre-packaged. Those grapes and cherries that come in plastic bags with air holes can become contaminated when you place them in your shopping cart.

3. If you’re using reusable shopping bags, make sure you wash them frequently. They’re great for the environment, but any food particles inside them will quickly grow all sorts of nasty stuff in the heat of your trunk.

4. And speaking of trunks, don’t place your groceries in your trunk on hot days. Put them on your backseat where it’s cooler, and there’s more airflow.

5. Don’t rinse chicken and eggs before using them. Any bacteria on the chicken can splash to your faucets and countertops, and bacteria on eggshells can be absorbed into the egg washed. Eggs are washed and sanitized before their shipped to markets.


6. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw foods. A good rule of thumb is to sing the birthday song to yourself twice as you’re lathering up. And don’t forget to wash between your fingers and the tops of your hands.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ROMANCE SUPER BUNDLE II, SECOND CHANCES

Last fall Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and creator of all of us here at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, was invited to take part in the publication of a boxed set of romances. RomanceSuper Bundle, ten romance and romantic suspense novels by ten authors, debuted the beginning of October. It was so well received—selling over 100,000 copies within the first six months—that the ten authors decided to get together again for another boxed set. Only this time they invited an additional author to join them, creating Romance Super Bundle II, Second Chances, featuring eleven NY Times, USA Today, Amazon, and B&N bestselling authors.

In Romance SuperBundle II, Second Chances you’ll find eleven romances featuring a lonesome cowboy, a spurned bride-to-be, a heartbroken widower, an unexpected pregnancy, and more—along with a tasty smattering of intrigue, murder and suspense. Almost half a million words and two thousand pages of strong heroes and daring heroines who'll do anything for a second chance at love, all for the incredibly low price of .99 cents! If you love reading romance, Romance Super Bundle II, Second Chances will give you hours and hours of pleasure.

Here’s what you’ll find in Romance Super Bundle II, Second Chances:

Hooking Mr. RightLois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle)
A failure at relationships, Thea Chandler is secretly bestselling romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy. Luke Bennett is pursued by women using Thea’s books to snare him. When Luke and Thea meet, he thinks he’s finally found an honest woman, but Thea’s got more secrets than the CIA. Can a butt-ugly cat named Cupid play matchmaker?

How To Woo…A Reluctant Bride—Lyndi Lamont
A marriage of convenience, nothing more...until darkly handsome Evan Channing and demure Lydia Blatchford meet. The rules are simple for such an arrangement. No expectations, no illusions of anything more. But the rules are about to change...

Shattered—Kate Kelly
Failing to save his sister’s life, Jay Rawlings insists he be left alone to live the lonesome cowboy life. But when the woman he once loved returns to his ranch with a killer and the police in hot pursuit, Jay has to face the demons from his past.

Mo’s Heart (Miracle Interrupted, Book 5)Edie Ramer
Mo Vincent did the right thing in New Jersey, and it cost him his son, his wife, his restaurant. Now he’s found a home in Miracle, Wisconsin. He should be content...but his heart wants what he can’t have...

The Lost FinderPamela Fryer
The first halfway decent guy to come along in eons...and he’s from another planet.
Private Investigator Brooke Weaver hopes she can slip into her Oregon hometown, find her client’s missing teenage daughter, and be on her way again before anyone notices. Not likely.

Meghan’s WishAmy Gamet
Meghan O'Connor returns to the family she ran away from as a teenager, afraid they won't forgive her for leaving town with Liam Wheaton, the boy they tried so hard to keep her away from and the father of her baby.  She never expected to find Liam living there, looking sexier than ever and mad as all hell.

The Perfect BlendDonna Marie Rogers
Carrie is on the verge of bankruptcy when Matt walks in and offers her unwanted business advice. The rich playboy fled L.A. for the anonymity of small town life and quickly falls for the local coffee shop owner—who’s as infuriating as she is beautiful.

The Heart of the MatterStacey Joy Netzel
Heartbroken she can’t have kids, Allie keeps her distance when Rick moves home with an adorable 4 yr old son who’s as hard to resist as his father. Does she dare take a chance on an impossible dream, or will his desire for more kids devastate their future?

Second Chances—Dale Mayer
Go ahead. Take Charge of your life. Move forward...if you can...
Changing her future means letting go of her past. Karina heads to a weekend seminar to do try to do just that. But she soon realizes bigger issues are facing her...
And one of them is deadly...

Cape of Secrets—Georgina Lee
Marika Host lands a dream summer job helping renowned archeologist Sir William write his memoirs, exposing years of secrets. His son Derrick adds romance to her summer. But when Sir William is murdered, Marika realizes some secrets are best kept buried.

In His Embrace—Wendy Ely
When life’s glow threatens to die, love guides the way.
Tori expected an ordinary Friday. It wasn’t. Ben’s hand rested on her hip a little longer during their goodbye. Then her tests came back abnormal. Scared and alone, she wishes for Ben’s hand to hold. Can he make it back to her in time?

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Monday, July 14, 2014

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--GUEST CRAFTER AND AUTHOR BARBARA FASS LEAVY

Barbara Fass Leavy, a retired professor of English Literature at Queens College of the City University of New York, retains her honorary position in the DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College. After retirement she wrote The Fiction of Ruth Rendell: Ancient Tragedy and the Modern Family, a revised edition of which was published by Poisoned Pen Press (2012). Since then, she has been posting essays in criticism of crime novels on the Forum of her website. She still knits and crochets her own sweaters when she has time. And still hopes to complete a needlepoint canvas her mother never began. Learn more about Barbara at her website.

My Mother, The Mystery Addict and Needleworker
My mother, Marion Widom, passed on to me her addictive reading of mysteries. For almost eighty years of her life, she would walk to her local library, return home with armfuls of crime novels, read them, return them, and borrow several more. In her lifetime, she read countless numbers of mysteries.

As addictions go, this was a harmless enough one to pass on to me. I was therefore astonished when, the night before she died and I told her my study of Ruth Rendell, then in progress, would be dedicated to her, she apologized to me for influencing my own extensive reading of mysteries. We had been told that just before the end of her life, she would have a spurt of energy, and this was our last and lively conversation. I reminded her that she had taught me to read even before I started kindergarten and introduced me to folk and fairy tales, the subject of three of my published scholarly books and parts of two others. “That’s different,” she replied. Mysteries immerse readers in a world of crime and evil and putting me there was not, she insisted, a very motherly thing to do.

Over the years, the mysteries we read diverged widely. I will return to this difference shortly because it touches on questions concerning the mystery genres, who reads them, and their widespread appeal.

My mother also taught me how to knit, crochet, needlepoint, and embroider. My embroidery was never nearly as good as hers. In my home and that of my children and grandchildren, there are framed pieces of her meticulous work. We have embroidered placemats and napkins we are reluctant to use and soil. After she died, I completed her projects only partially finished, or projects she intended to work on, and both our initials are to be found on these for future generations to recognize our connectedness.

My mother would work on canvases already printed, including a very large needlepoint picturing the four seasons. Or she would use the diagrams in the many books she collected. Two of her six great-granddaughters knit, but I fear what she did may be a lost art in our family, for young women out of ambition and necessity have busy careers that consume their time, especially if they are balancing these with families. I too am busy but also impatient and one of the projects she never began was converted by me from needlepoint to what is sometimes called needle painting, which proceeds very quickly, as does bargello, which I enjoyed working on.

Probably the most impressive work she did is known as counted thread embroidery. I wish she had left more pieces of that, for the work is awesome. I never attempted anything like it. The intricate pieces are of museum quality.

To return to her apology for my own mystery reading addiction. I became a professor of literary studies, which was a source of pride for her. When I began to teach crime fiction courses, I focused on what are called literary mysteries, works of fiction that are reread even when the reader remembers whodunit. Such mysteries are often deeply psychological, dark stories about the most painful sides of life. They were continuations of the classic poems and books I read, taught, and published studies of.

They were not the books my mother read. She loved puzzles (she was good at crosswords), mysteries in which the investigators were involved with cooking, catering, gardening, quilting bees, and other crafts. Crimes were committed and the perpetrators had to be caught and punished but evil as usually understood were not their subjects. She had read some Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) books but after a few chose not to read any more, nor any books like them. Their subjects, she once explained to me, were exactly what she read mysteries to get away from. She wanted to laugh not cry when she read.

My mother was one of the smartest women I ever knew. Her intellect was as fine as her embroidery. Her choice of mysteries had to do with a healthy form of escapism. I was therefore outraged when I read one of the most famous essays on mysteries ever written, Raymond Chandler’s “Simple Art of Murder.” In promoting the hardboiled genre of crime fiction, he satirized another group of readers, among whom he would have placed my mother. “Old ladies jostle each other at the mystery shelf to grab off some item of the same vintage with such a title as The Triple Petunia Murder Case or Inspector Pinchbottle to the Rescue.

My mother and I respected each other’s reading choices but they were different. The first writing I ever did for the Poisoned Pen Press blog, addressed the question of mystery genres and who prefers which. Its title is “Invidious Distinctions” and I praise both mysteries as entertaining puzzles and mysteries as literary art. Here is the link for those who may be interested. 

The Fiction of Ruth Rendell: Ancient Tragedy and the Modern Family
Aside from Ruth Rendell’s brilliance as a fiction writer, and her appeal to mystery lovers, her books portray a compelling, universal experience that her readers can immediately relate to, the intra-familial stresses generated by the nuclear family. Even those who experience the joys as well as pains of family life will find in Rendell the conflicts that beset all who must navigate their way through the conflicts that beset members of the closest families.

Barbara Fass Leavy analyzes the multi-leveled treatment of these themes that contributes to Rendell’s standing as a major contemporary novelist. Rendell, who also writes as Barbara Vine, draws on ancient Greek narratives, and on the psychological theories Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung derived from them, to portray the disturbed family relationships found throughout her work.

Leavy’s analysis considers what distinguishes mysteries as popular entertainment from crime fiction as literary art. The potential for rereading even when the reader remembers “whodunit” will be the basis for this distinction. Leavy also looks closely at the Oedipus and Electra complexes and how they illuminate Rendell’s portrayals of the different pairings within the nuclear family (for example, mother and daughter) and considers the importance of gender differences. In addition, Leavy corrects a widespread error, that Freud formulated the Electra complex, when in fact the formulation was Jung’s as he challenged Freud’s emphasis on the Oedipus story as the essential paradigm for human psychological development.

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