November is Picture Book Month and in celebration I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites. If you have little kids on your holiday gift list, you can't go wrong with these books.
featuring guest 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.
Friday, November 17, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Thanksgiving is a week from today. As you plan your turkey and all the fixings, please keep in mind that there are children throughout the U.S. who often go to bed hungry. You can make a difference in their lives. When compiling your holiday gift list, consider these cookbooks for friends and relatives. A percentage of the profits from each sale is donated to NoKidHungry.org.
Who doesn’t love desserts? In Bake, Love, Write, an Amazon bestselling cookbook, 105 bestselling and award-winning authors present dessert recipes along with advice on love and writing:
What do most authors have in common, no matter what genre they write? They love desserts. Sweets sustain them through pending deadlines and take the sting out of crushing rejection letters and nasty reviews. They also often celebrate their successes—selling a book, winning a writing award, making a bestseller list, or receiving a fabulous review—with decadent indulgences. And when authors chat with each other, they often talk about their writing and their lives. Recipes. Writing. Relationships. In this cookbook 105 authors not only share their favorite recipes for fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, candy, and more, they also share the best advice they’ve ever received on love and writing.
Need a gift for someone always pressed for time? We’d Rather Be Writing is chockfull ofquick and easy dinner recipes and tips for saving time:
Have you ever wished you could find more time to do the things you want to do, rather than just doing the things you have to do? Most authors juggle day jobs and family responsibilities along with their writing. Because they need to find time to write, they look for ways to save time in other aspects of their lives.
Cooking often takes up a huge chunk of time. In this book you'll find easy, nutritious recipes for meat, poultry, pasta, soup, stew, chili, and vegetarian meals. All of the recipes require a minimum of prep time, freeing you up to read, exercise, garden, craft, write, spend more time with family, or whatever. The authors who contributed to this book are a rather creative and resourceful bunch when it comes to carving out time from their busy lives. So in addition to timesaving recipes, within the pages of this book you'll find timesaving and organizational tips for other aspects of your life. And if you happen to be a writer, you'll also find a plethora of great ideas to help you organize your writing life.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Katrina Marie lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two children, and fur baby. She is a lover of all things geeky and Gryffindor for life. When she’s not writing you can find her at her children’s sporting events, or curled up reading a book. Learn more about Katrina and her books at her website.
Pregnancy Hormones and Being a Teen
Tonya has a hard time dealing with her hormones. Being a pregnant teen is hard, and with her best friend away at college, she doesn’t know how to deal with her emotions.
The major plus in her situation is she has supportive parents. They may not have been supportive at first, but she’s able to go to her mom when she is feeling overwhelmed. Her mom always knows the right things to say to make her feel better, if only just a little bit. That’s one of the best things about having a family that’s close.
Music is another way she copes with everything going on in her life. She has a tendency to put in her earbuds and let the music shift her thoughts. It’s a sort of cleansing for her. Tonya feels like if she can put some music on to take away her frustrations, she’ll feel better in the end. Music has the power to cure what ails you, especially emotionally.
I’m not going to lie, Tonya relies heavily on comfort food. It’s not the healthiest option for an expectant mom, but it helped sooth her. It’s not often, but when you get food that your great-grandmother cooks, it brings peace like nothing else.
Everyone experiences pregnancy hormones so differently. Tonya is no different. She does the best she can with what she knows. The hardest thing for her is becoming very emotional when that’s not how she was before. She’s lucky to have her family and friends to lean on and talk her down when everything becomes too much.
I drew a lot on my own personal experiences during pregnancy while writing Tonya. I remembered those times when I didn’t know what to do with myself, or my feelings, and brought them to life within Tonya. Being eighteen years old is already confusing, add in pregnancy, and it makes everything feel so much bigger.
Welcome to Your Life
Tonya discovers she’s pregnant a month after breaking up with her high school boyfriend, Jake. She can’t decide whether to tell Jake she’s pregnant when he sees her at the mall with a maternity bag.
Tonya struggles to adjust to working, attending the local community college, and pushing off Jake’s advances to get back together. When she’s paired with Reaf, the good-looking guy from her Art class, she has to battle the confusing emotions swirling through her brain and heart.
Can she find love, herself, and become the parent she hopes to be while dealing with pregnancy hormones and drama?
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Award-winning author Lyz Kelley is a disaster in the kitchen, a compulsive neat freak, and a tea snob. She loves writing about strong women, who have endured challenges, and the men who’ve enriched the lives. Learn more about Lyz and her books at her website.
I love curling up with a good book and a nice mug of tea. In fact, I’m pretty much a tea snob. I have a whole cupboard full of tea, teapots, cups, and infusers. My favorite teas are:
Earl Grey De La Creme: A black tea from the Full Leaf Tea Company.
Chamomile Citrus: A fruit/herbal team made by Mighty Leaf Tea.
Orange Blossom: A black tea also crafted by the Mighty Leaf Tea company.
Candy Cane Lane: A green tea from Celestial Seasonings.
How do you make the perfect pot of tea?
According to experts, fill your kettle with fresh cold water—cold being the operative word. While the kettle is heating up, pre-warm your teapot and teacup by filling each with hot tap water. When the teakettle is ready, empty the tap water from your teapot and add the tea. Use one rounded teaspoon for each teacup. As a general rule, let the tea steep 1 to 2 minutes for green teas, 2 to 3 minutes for oolong teas, and 3 to 5 minutes for black teas. Then again, I’m an all-day tea drinker, and I’ve been known to double dunk my tea bag—gasp—a sin, I know.
Yet, have you ever wondered about teapots?
A friend of mine has this massive teapot collection, and I became curious, as every writer does. I wanted to discover the history of teapots. So I did a little research, and here is what I found.
The story of teapots begins with their necessity. Tea has been around for centuries. Early on, tea came in the form of bricks. A chunk was cut off and then broken up so that it could be boiled in water.
Shortly after, powdered tea became popular. The ground tea was mixed with hot water in a deep, wide bowl. This type of bowl helped facilitate the whipping of the powder by whisk into a froth. When the powder settled, the tea was drunk out of the bowl. As the drinking of tea continued to develop, its regular consumption required an efficient, and later an aesthetically pleasing, vessel for brewing and drinking.
It wasn’t until the 1300's, when leaf infusion started, making the use of a teapot necessary to allow for the tea to steep. Teapot-like vessels have been around in China for thousands of years, but they were originally used for wine and water. These vessels had a spout and handle, and eventually were adopted for the steeping of tea.
|An Antique YiXing teapot|
The most popular teapots from this time were produced in the YiXing region of China. These teapots were made of purple clay and were known to be of fine texture and high quality. These teapots were hybrids of the earlier drinking bowls and the modern teapots. The vessels were not only used to brew tea, but were drinking vessels with a spout from which an individual would drink.
By the 15th century, both the Chinese and Japanese were drinking tea for ceremonial purposes, and the beverage was no longer regarded solely for its medicinal properties. Chinese scholars and intellectuals became involved in the design of teapots. The "cult of tea" in Japan, led by the artist Sen Rikyu (1522-1591), became an impetus for stylistic and artistic evolution in YiXing teapot designs.
The Japanese imported Chinese artists to teach them potting methods, eventually developing new techniques for creating these delicate wares. Red clay was used to create what we now know as shudei teapots.
When Dutch importers brought tea to Europe in 1610, the teapot also made the trip and this sparked new teapot designs. Early on, the European teapot designs were inadequate due to poor workmanship and poor quality of materials. A breakthrough occurred in the early 1700's when new clay was discovered. With the help of new technology, fine porcelain was created that today rivals the best that China had to offer. While a china teapot or porcelain teapot holds heat the best, a ceramic teapot or stoneware teapot is fun and mood setting as well as a great conversational piece.
So, there you have it—the history of the teapot. I also studied all the different kinds of tea, and included some of that research in one of my books. Fun, fun, fun!
Question: Are you a tea drinker? What’s your favorite kind?
Elkridge Series, Book 6
Karly’s animal shelter business is failing. She’s desperate to find options having too many animals, and not enough foster parents, trainers, or adopters to keep food in the bowls. When her first love returns home from Afghanistan wounded and alone, she offers Thad a win-win situation—a job in exchange for training a special needs dog.
Thad wants to be left alone. He feels responsible for not spotting the IED before it killed his friends. When Karly drops off a dog for him to train, memories of the past haunt him. He doesn’t realize he still loves her until she mysteriously disappears.
Corruption is tearing the small town of Elkridge apart. Thad is brave enough to give up his life to save Karly, but is he brave enough to fight to live? Will she be strong enough to survive? Will fate allow them to be together?
Monday, November 13, 2017
Mary E. Maki grew up in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York where her stories are set and now lives in Fredericksburg, VA. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
A Creative Mind Solves Crimes
When developing characters an author has to think about each character’s role. How does that role define the character, and how does it move the story along? What skills does each character need?
When developing the protagonist for my Caitlyn Jamison mysteries, I needed a female sleuth with an inquisitive mind and a quirky personality. In order to solve the crimes, she had to be detail oriented and creative. She had to have the ability to quickly connect the pieces of the investigation puzzle.
She needed an occupation that would allow her the time and mobility to do what she needed to do. She couldn’t be in a situation where she was chained to a desk. She needed independence, as well as a way to support herself. And that is when the pieces of the puzzle fit for me. Caitlyn Jamison would be a graphic artist—creative, inquisitive, observant, and able to think outside the box.
Because of her fiercely independent personality, Caitlyn had left her lucrative position with a New York City ad agency because she felt her creativity was stifled. Bottom line, she didn’t like being told what to do.
She moved to Washington, DC to start her own graphic design business, but found she had not put away enough money to rent an apartment and office space. Determined to make it in the world of business, Caitlyn rented a studio apartment in Arlington, Virginia, and put her shoulder to the wheel, developing her own clientele.
Caitlyn was also driven by her sense of right and wrong, her sense of justice, so when she learns of her teenage cousin’s murder in Upstate New York, Caitlyn was incensed. The culprit must be caught and brought to justice. Caitlyn was sure rural Riverview, New York, where her cousin had lived, would not have the resources to solve the crime. She would have to conduct the investigation herself.
Enter Sheriff Ethan Ewing, an experienced police officer, who had good instincts about people. Upon meeting Caitlyn he knew she would be a fierce adversary. Against his better judgment, because there was nothing legal or even ethical about her assisting him in the investigation, he acquiesced to her offer of assistance.
Caitlyn’s creative mind, as well as her training in the graphic arts, worked to benefit the investigation. When interviewing suspects, Ethan placed her strategically in the room so she could observe body language, and tone of voice, in order to take detailed notes. He made sure she had a steno pad, not one of those tiny notebooks the television cops carry. He wanted to take advantage of Caitlyn’s talent in observation, using all her sensory perceptions.
Caitlyn was determined to not get involved in another murder investigation, but six months later she is back in Riverview, and on the day of her arrival, an undercover federal agent is reported missing, and a college student is found dead of a . . . Fatal Dose.
Unwittingly, Caitlyn is drawn into the investigation. Again, Sheriff Ewing uses Caitlyn as his eyes and ears. She accompanies him on interviews, taking notes, observing, and putting her creative mind to work. It is in one of these interviews that due to her keen observation, she figures out the key to the investigation—a key that puts her in extreme danger.
Graphic artist Caitlyn Jamison is back in scenic Riverview, New York, working on a winery photo shoot—and hoping to reconnect with Sheriff Ethan Ewing. But the sheriff has a serious situation on his hands: an undercover agent posing as a professor disappears on the same morning a college student is found dead.
Meanwhile, Caitlyn’s Aunt Myra hears about a different kind of mystery from her friend, retired teacher Verna Adams. Verna is searching for her long-lost brother, who once lived on the abandoned road where the student’s body was discovered.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories :D ). Learn more about Linda and her books at her website.
Along with the other authors of the Sultry Nights Boxed Set, I’m very excited to share a bit about our stories. We’ve put together a collection of contemporary romances in a variety of settings. My favourite ones are set in small towns. How can you not love them? The neighbors are nosy and the townspeople quirky, but they care about each other and look out for one another. Despite the slow pace of a small town, there can be excitement and intrigue simmering under the surface. I always imagine that passion runs deeper and love lasts longer in a small town, so for my happily-ever-after-craving heart it’s the perfect setting. Whether you enjoy the tranquil façade of a small town or the fast-paced, edgy thrill of a big city, you’ll find our stories have one thing in common – steamy sultry nights.
I’m very excited to share my latest release, Perfectly Crazy in Love, one of twenty-two romances featured in Sultry Nights.
Perfectly Crazy in Love
A Perfectly Series novella
Dr. Patty Kelt is trying to get Dr. Ken Marshall’s attention. They’ve been friends for four years, and it’s time to turn it up a notch. She wants him to see her as smart, competent, strong, and sexy. So far she’s just managed crazy.
Ken’s used to solving problems and giving advice. Crazy he could handle. But dealing with crazy in love? That’s entirely new.
Perfectly Crazy in Love…it’s not as easy as it looks.
Love, passion, romance and desire… No matter what your preference, this set of 22 hot and sexy reads has just what you need. From surprise love affairs to bad boys that we can’t help but fall for, and couples that were meant to be, this compilation from Romance Collections is sure to please.
Authors include Nicole Morgan Jocelyn Dex, Alison Foster, Kate Richards, Linda O’Connor, Samantha Holt, Jerrie Alexander, Whitley Cox, Krista Ames, Ursula Sinclair, Measha Stone, Tuesday Embers, Siera London, Rachel Shane, Bonnie Phelps, Misha Elliott, Alyson Reynolds, Jenna Bayley-Burke, Madison Michael, Pepper Goodrich, Marcia James, and Destiny Blaine.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
One of our favorite guests returns today to talk about some of her favorite things. Camille Minichino, a retired physicist turned writer, is the author of twenty-five mystery novels in four series. She currently serves on the board of NorCal Mystery Writers of America, is on the faculty of Golden Gate U. in SF, and teaches writing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about Camille and her books at her website and blog.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Favorites, Failures, Frustrations?
A tough choice for me. I'm embarrassed to go on about a frustration since I have the food, clothing, and shelter that so many people lack these days. And too many failures to list on this blog. So Favorites seems to be the most appropriate category. Here are some of mine:
• Element of the periodic table — Polonium, #84, the first element discovered by Marie Curie, and named for her native Poland.
• Crime drama — "Ray Donovan," because of Liv Schreiber, Jon Voight, the Boston accents, and the dark, dark mood: "You don't want to know what really happened."
• Scientist— Enrico Fermi, "the architect of the nuclear age," for better or worse, and author of one of my favorite quotes.
• Favorite quote #1, from Fermi — Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture, I am still confused. But on a higher level.
• Female crime writer — Patricia Highsmith, because she gave us Tom Ripley.
• Drink — very dry decaf cappuccino with whole milk (Reminds me of that scene in "LA Story," where no one is ordering a simple coffee.)
• Favorite quote #2 — There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell them. – Louis Armstrong. (Know anyone who fits this description?)
• Favorite animals — the lions, Patience and Fortitude, outside the New York Public Library.
• Mathematician — Countess Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter and the world's first programmer, not because she was an addictive gambler, but because many people think she's an acronym. ADA, the Department of Defense programming language is named after her. And so is Ada Madison, one of my pen names.
• Museum — one with a Hopper, a Lichtenstein, a Wharhol, and a coffee shop.
• Sport — whatever is off-season.
• Male crime writer — Stephen King, because I'm only one degree of separation from him (My first agent was his first editor. Or is that two degrees?), and because he hugged me when I handed him his Edgar for Mr. Mercedes.
• Street — 42nd in Manhattan, running from the East River to the Hudson River. In between are the United Nations, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, Times Square, and one or two theaters and eateries.
• All-round great Author — Joyce Carol Oates, because she's on my mind. She was featured in the NY Times, 10/23/17, as part of the Set the Page Free project, between Xerox and the literary community. And because she's written a gazillion books that I love, from Them in 1969 to We Were the Mulvaneys in 1996 to The Man Without a Shadow in 2016. She's quoted in the article as saying "I like to write." Really, Ms. Oates? Tell us what you don't like to do.
Oops, my failures (to simplify) and frustrations (at not being able to list 100 more favorites) are also showing.
Love is in the air for postmaster Cassie Miller and the residents of North Ashcot, Massachusetts. Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and the town is gearing up for a special dinner dance at the senior center. But not everything is coming up roses. When one of the musicians, Dennis Somerville, is found shot in his home, rumors swirl over who might have wanted him dead. Cassie must determine if there is a link between a string of recent break-ins and Dennis's murder before another victim winds up with more than a broken heart.