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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--EASTER CARDS

Have you noticed the price of greeting cards lately? It’s next to impossible to buy a nice one for under four or five dollars. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put that money toward a gift. But people do expect cards on holidays and are disappointed when they don’t receive them. So this year, why not make your Easter cards? I made the one above in less than ten minutes using materials I had in my crafts closet and downloads of computer images.

The first thing you’ll need is card stock. You can buy a package of pre-folded blank greeting cards with envelopes at any office supply store, or just use scraps of index stock you have left over from other paper craft projects. Cut the stock the length of whatever envelope you have on hand x twice the height. Score down the middle and fold in half.

Cut one or two sheets of scrapbook paper to layer on top of the front of the card. I cut the pink polkadot sheet 1/2” smaller than the card and the blue sheet 1/2” smaller than the pink sheet. Using paper glue, glue the layers on the card.

You can find Easter image clip art on the Internet. I Googled “antique Easter card images” and found many to choose from. Print your image to fit the card. I decided to glue mine on at an angle for a little bit more interest.


Finish your card by adding ribbons, lace, gems, or buttons as embellishments.

Friday, March 28, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST HEROINE BAILEY McSHANE

Still pining for a date this weekend?  No problem.  Sheep rancher Bailey McShane, the (aptly named) Texas Wildcat from Adrienne deWolfe's bestselling Western Historical Romance, is here to share her secrets for catching a mate!

Adrienne deWolfe is a #1 best-selling author and the recipient of the Best Historical Romance of the Year Award for Texas Wildcat.  She also enjoys mentoring aspiring authors. Learn more about Adrienne’s books at her website and her professional writing services here

How to Rope a Man: Dating Tips from the Texas Wildcat
by Bailey McShane

Howdy, gals!  Bailey here.

Now don’t you be moping around the homestead ‘cause some clueless male didn’t ask you to a weekend fandango!  The week’s not over yet!  I got plenty of experience roping stud ponies – ‘specially the two-legged kind. 

So listen up.

First off, don’t pay any mind to the prissy Missies, like that Amaryllis Larabee, who set her cap for my Zack. Prissies would have you believe that a real lady puts on lacy pink frou-frou, and totters around on stilts, and bats her eyelashes hard enough to set a prairie schooner sailing.

Hogwash.  No man worth having wants his woman trussed up in a corset.  Men like a gal who WIGGLES when she walks.  You ever see a ewe in a brassiere? I rest my case!

Now once you get the ram's . . . er, I mean, the man's attention, don’t gush and giggle every time the fool opens his mouth.  Teach that randy rascal some respect! 

When Hank Rotterdam and his twin sons were after my ranch, here’s how I set those cusses straight:

Hank: 
“Aw, c’mon, Bailey.  Why don’t you forget about Nick and marry Nate?  Shoot, they look just the same.  And they got the same equipment, if you know what I mean.”

Me: 
“I’ll keep that in mind, when I’m ready to raise hogs.”

You see that?  The old skirt-chaser was so floored, he didn’t even know which way was up!

Now here’s a sparkin’ tip for ya'll.  Girly punch and cucumber sandwiches ain’t gonna fire up your man’s blood! 

You want some bull pawing the sod to give your skirts a whirl?  Then I got one word for you, amigas:  MOONSHINE.

Serve it up by the barrel.

Here’s how my 100 percent all-beef male likes to tattle on me: 

Little Miss Bo Peep was so sure of herself, sitting over there with that mischievous smirk and that curl coiling so jauntily on her forehead. Besides, how powerful could the moonshine be?  Bailey had tossed back a belt without batting an eye.

Zack tossed back his own shot and choked. Fire burned a path from his gullet to his gut.  He was half-convinced his ears started smoking.  It was all he could do not to cough and sputter as the busthead went down.

Bailey thumped him helpfully between the shoulder blades. "Good stuff, eh?"

He wheezed. "You sure there's no rat poison in this?"

Yee-haw!  Take it from me, gals. Tarantula juice gets the job done!  After a coupla swigs, Zack started stamping and pawing so hard, he scooped me up in his arms, hauled me up a flight of stairs and . . . 

Oops!  Look at the time!  Gotta mozy on down to the barn to get those merino sheep sheared.

But before I go, I’ll leave you with one final tip.  And this one’s worth its weight in chocolate, if you know what I mean.

Do you want a man to kiss you tonight? I’m not talking about some namby-pamby buss on the cheek.  I’m talking about a REAL man, grabbing a REAL woman, and kissing the livin’ daylights outta her.

(Yeah, I figured you’d like that.)

Well, pay attention now.  ‘Cause here’s how it’s done.

Texas Wildcat
(Book 3, Wild Texas Nights)
First Kiss

"You know what your problem is?" Zack ground out, lowering his face within inches of hers. "Your daddy spoiled you rotten." 

"He did not!" 

"He spoiled you and coddled you. What he should have done was turned you over his knee."

"My daddy knew how to treat a woman, Rawlins!  Which is more than I can say for you!"

That was it. The final straw. Zack had borne Bailey's public insults to his manhood too many times. In a surge of primal instinct, he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her hard against him.

He heard her gasp as her heels left the ground; he saw the shock widen her eyes. Then his mouth swooped to cover hers. 

For an instant, the barest of moments, she swayed on tiptoe. Her hands clutched his shirtsleeves as their chests collided. His anger was snuffed out in a flare of desire. He slanted his mouth, demanding an entry to the enticing wetness that lured him deeper.

The din ebbed; and the rodeo crowd receded. In that moment, there was only Bailey.  Her lips trembled open, and her rigid spine softened, arching, letting him mold her length to his.

She was kissing him eagerly now, hungrily, demanding a response that every sizzling part of him ached to provide. But not here. Not now. God have mercy on his soul. 

Abruptly he pushed her back, setting her on her feet. She blinked up at him, her eyes brimming with wonder. 

He heard a buzz. Growing, crescendoing, it thundered to a roar. Boots were stomping, hands were clapping, spectators in the grandstands were howling with mirth. 

Dumbfounded, he stared at the lips that were so moist and swollen from his kiss.  He thought he should say something.  He thought he should apologize. 

He should have thought less and paid more attention.

A fist like a miniature locomotive slammed into his gut.  

Texas Wildcat
When the beautiful, hot-tempered Bailey McShane bursts into the cattlemen's saloon, waving her shotgun and accusing the cowboys of theft, simmering tempers start to boil.

Bailey wants restitution for the fence posts that some low-down cowpokes burned to steal precious water from her land.

No self-respecting cattleman would be caught dead siding with a sheep rancher, like Bailey—and yet Zack Rawlins, the youngest, elected president of the Cattlemen's Association, can't resist this pint-sized wildcat with the big blue eyes.

With drought-stricken Bandera County on the brink of range war, Zack faces political suicide if he can’t find a way to mend fences between Bailey and his cattle-ranching neighbors. But what's a cowboy to do with an unpredictable woman who refuses to be tamed?



Thursday, March 27, 2014

TRAVEL WITH SERENA--ROCKPORT, TEXAS WITH AUTHOR KATHLEEN KASKA

Today we welcome back Kathleen Kaska, author of the Sydney Lockhart Mystery series and the Classic Triviography Mystery series. However, today she’s not here to talk about her mysteries but about Rockport, Texas, the Birding Capital of North America; whooping cranes; and her non-fiction book The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, nominated for the George Perkins Marsh Award for environmental history. Learn more about Kathleen and her books at her website and blog.

Migration: If It’s Good for the Birds . . .

On one my first visits to the small town of Rockport on the Texas coast, I disturbed a clowder of cats as I strolled along the harbor. Seconds later, a fog seemed to descend like a curtain over the fishing boats moored along the docks, and the line, “A fog comes in on little cat feet,” from Carl Sandburg’s poem, “The Fog,” echoed in my head. Since then, I’ve spent many weeks in this quaint coastal town. Every visit has been as magical as that foggy day.

Many of you know me as a mystery writer, but when I’m not plotting murder and mayhem, I’m out with my binoculars and my iPhone, opened to the iBird app. So it’s not the furry felines that draw me to Rockport every year, it’s our feathered friends, in particular the severely endangered whooping crane.
The author (in white cap) out birding in Rockport, Texas 
Every October for tens of thousands of years, Grus americana, better known as the whooping crane, leaves the Northwest Territories in Canada and heads south to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport in Aransas County. Aransas County and neighboring Matagorda County are collectively considered The Birding Capital of North America. Between October and April, birds from all over the hemisphere descend on this area of the central Texas coast. Some stay for the winter; some refuel and continue south.

It should be no surprise that after my own numerous migrations to visit the refuge and to see my favorite bird, my passion for this severely endangered creature resulted in a book about its survival.

In 1942, there were only fifteen whooping cranes left in the wild. Many prominent ornithologists had written them off as a species destined for extinction. But because of the efforts of Robert Porter Allen, an ornithologist with the National Audubon Society, the species has made an unbelievable comeback. The key to saving them was discovering their only remaining nesting site, somewhere in the central Canadian wilderness, before development wiped it out. The story is a true race against time, an adventure for Bob Allen that lasted almost nine years. I like to say that my book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, can best be described as Indiana Jones meets John James Audubon.

Although there are almost six hundred whooping cranes in the wild today, their story of survival still continues. I recount those efforts toward the end of the book. Ever see the movie Fly Away Home? The story is based on an actual experiment to teach young cranes to follow ultra-light planes in order to establish a secondary migratory route. Operation Migration, described as wildlife conservation’s equivalent of placing a man on the moon, was started in 2001 and has resulted in more than a hundred whooping cranes now migrating from Wisconsin to Florida. The project is a continuation of Allen’s work, and the story of the pilots, research technicians, and volunteers is just as compelling.

Next time you find yourself on the central Texas coast in the winter, visit the refuge. Even if you’re not a birder, the more than 115,000 acres of coastal plains offers some of the best hiking around. Many of the hotels in Rockport and the neighboring town of Fulton are located right on the water. It’s not unusual to look out your window and see spoonbills, tri-colored herons, little blue heron, and most species of egrets flying by or feeding along the oyster reefs. And while staying in Rockport/Fulton, you’ll come to understand why the birds flock to the area. Not only is the weather enticing, you’ll have the opportunity to sample some of the best seafood in the country.

Find more information on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and Rockport, Texas at these websites: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/aransas and

Elizabeth J. Rosenthal, author of Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson, says, “Finally, Robert Porter Allen gets the credit he deserved for his tireless work on behalf of the whooping crane. Kathleen Kaska movingly recounts an adventurous life dedicated to the preservation of endangered birds when the odds were overwhelming against success. Kaska’s narrative reads like an adventure novel!”

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VICTORIAN DECORATING WITH GUEST AUTHOR TRACY L. WARD

Victorian Hair Craft
Tracy L. Ward is the creator of the Peter Ainsley Mystery series, chronicling the adventures of a morgue surgeon in Victorian England. The third book in the series, The Dead Among Us, is set for release in May. Tracy joins us today to talk about how Victorian women decorated their homes. To learn more about Tracy and her books visit her website. 

It’s no secret the Victorians loved their homes. An English homemaker, otherwise known as “Mistress of the House”, had no shortage of choices when it came to decorating her home. Able to draw influences from a number of eras, Victorian architecture and decorations encompassed everything from Greek Revival to English Renaissance, often including hints of Asian art and even a marked fascination with Egyptian novelties. There are a number of decorating trends that give Victorians a certain amount of distinction when it comes to the character of a home.

Green Textiles
Never before in history had textile workers been able to create a true green hue with their fibers. Although used for centuries for its medicinal properties, arsenic was found to have the ability to generate a lush green colour in textile dyes. It was this discovery that spurred on the rapid production of green drapery, upholstery and fabric. Women began wearing green skirts, bonnets and gowns with marked fervor.  In fact the presence of arsenic in so many common household items has since been connected to unintentional poisonings, especially in households that displayed green wallpaper. It was the wallpaper’s dye in connection with mold and mildew that made for a deadly combination.

Knick-Knacks
Well-to-do Victorians were very “House Proud.” An urban dwelling often served a dual purpose. Firstly, as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life but more importantly, the Victorian home served as a symbol of status and wealth. From the moment a Victorian couple tied the knot, they were expected to begin the fast accumulation of things to display. The more knick-knacks on a mantel, the more side tables flanking the furniture meant the more wealth a couple possessed. Doilies, china vases, and gilded picture frames…oh my!

Floral Wreath made from the hair of fifteen different people
Photo Credit: Tom Cooper, more information can be found at http://www.hairworksociety.org/wreath/wreath.htm 
Macabre Wall Hangings
One of the most fascinating pieces of Victorian decorating that I have come across during my research is Victorian Hair Work. Often harvesting hair from a beloved (and deceased) relative, Victorian women could fashion a broach or jewellery piece but the most common craft the hair was used for was a wall hanging in which a household could add to overtime as more and more family members passed away. The resulting artwork was a testament to painstakingly intricate work that survives to this day, often in museums and galleries all over the world. One such piece was displayed in the home where my father grew up on Bell Island, Newfoundland, garnering many spun yarns speculating as to its origins. Given the macabre nature of these crafts, many of those stories revolve around the dead and their wandering spectres.

In Modern Times
Interior decorators have been recreating the grandeur of the Victorian era in homes for the last century, drawing inspiration from antiques and other elements of the 19th century. Period inspired style experienced a strong resurgence in the 1980s and once again in modern day homes, though not as strongly evident as it was thirty years ago. Some modern homebuyers, however, are favouring the classic look of the two-story Victorian home, with front porches, gabled roofs and perhaps a small turret.

Even though the Victorians copied from a myriad of decorating styles, their unique take on old mainstays is what makes their time period so alluring, and it’s my guess as to why we enjoy the Victorian look even to this day.

Dead Silent
Book Two of the Peter Ainsley Mystery series

Peter Ainsley's mother, Lady Charlotte Marshall, hasn't been seen or heard from in three days. Even though Inspector Simms of Scotland Yard is 'unofficially' investigating her disappearance, Ainsley and his sister, Margaret, are loathed to reveal knowledge of their mother's affair, despite it being their best lead to her whereabouts.

When Simms brings a body to St. Thomas Hospital's morgue, Ainsley is forced to admit his double life as morgue surgeon and second heir to the Montcliff earldom. With a newfound ally in the police force, Ainsley gains access to information about his mother's disappearance and a new mystery regarding a murdered woman with childhood ties to his future sister-in-law, Evelyn Weatherall.

Scandal threatening two sides of Ainsley's family, the young surgeon uncovers an intricately woven tapestry of deceit, lust and a crime that forces him to decide whether family loyalty supersedes the letter of the law.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BOILED PEANUTS WITH GUEST AUTHOR C. HOPE CLARK

Boiled peanuts on left, unboiled on right
photo by Katori
C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series and also editor of FundsforWriters.com, a website chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 13 years. Her newsletters reach 45,000 readers. Learn more about Hope and her books at her website. 

Peanuts and Palmetto Poison

Boiled peanuts are the official state snack of South Carolina. Like a good Scotch, outsiders call them an acquired taste, but Southerners are addicted. Travelers often find them at roadside stands, ballgames and county fairs. They can be messy, and some don’t shell out easily, but peanut connoisseurs swear the delicacies inside each hull are worth every effort. Eat them outside, with a good beer or sweet tea. They somehow seem to taste better that way, plus you can throw the shells on the ground.

Word has it that during the Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression to a die-hard South Carolinian,) a lack of supplies resulted from Union General William T. Sherman’s successful split of Confederate territory. Soldiers had no bread or meat, but they could sure boil up a big pot of peanuts, giving them much needed nutrition. The combination of the salt and the boiling process allowed soldiers to keep the peanuts for as long as a week.

Palmetto Poison, the third in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, takes the feisty and inquisitive Slade into politics, confronting a shady governor with peanut farming in his blood going way back, lots of skeletons he’d prefer remain in the closet, and family deaths that don’t make sense. The setting is Pelion, South Carolina, peanut capital of the state, as represented by their annual Pelion Peanut Party, celebrating all things goober!

While boiled peanuts are not pretty or exotic or found on many four- and five-star restaurants, there is absolutely nothing that can substitute that flavor. The peanuts can come from anywhere, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Texas, but they all cook up the same way. And yes, you’re allowed to slurp as you eat them!

South Carolina Boiled Peanuts

30 minutes prep time. 4 hours cook time (depending on variety of peanuts used)

4-5 pounds of peanuts (must be green, also known as raw, not previously cooked in any fashion – best found in late summer months)
4-6 quarts of water
1 cup plain salt per gallon of water
Optional seasonings, such as crab boil, cayenne, Cajun, chili pepper, pepper flakes, garlic, onion, Chinese 5-spice, jalapeno.

Wash unshelled peanuts in cold water. Soak in large heavy pot of new water for thirty minutes. Add more water, bringing the level to two inches over the peanuts. Add the salt. Add the optional spice or your choice (or none.)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue to simmer for approximately four hours, checking occasionally to maintain the water level. The larger the peanuts or thicker the shell, the longer you have to cook. Up to six hours.

At four hours, taste a peanut for texture and salty flavor. Fully cooked results in a peanut the consistency of a cooked dried bean. Remove from heat and drain to avoid becoming overly salty. Eat hot, room temperature or chilled. They keep up to one week.

(NOTE: You can freeze cooked peanuts. They keep forever!)

Palmetto Poison
Are peanuts capable of murder? Carolina Slade will bust this shell game. Big money, big politics, crime, greed, and big farming—Slade, an agriculture department investigator in the steamy state of South Carolina, once again finds herself planted in a dangerous mystery.

Her assignment? Find out if there’s a sinister connection between the drug-dealing arrest of wealthy peanut farmer Lamar Sheeler and the gruesome death of Lamar’s teenage son in a car wreck. Especially since the dead teen is Governor Dick Wheeler’s nephew.

Of course, the governor’s people practically sky-write STAY AWAY FROM THE FIRST FAMILY over the Palmetto state’s capitol dome in Columbia, which doesn’t make Slade’s job easier. Couldn’t she simply back off from what appears to be a tragic and ugly—but private—family matter?        
    
Not with hot-tempered DEA agent Pamela Largo on the case. Ex-wife to Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, Slade's romantic interest, Pamela's hell-bent on using Lamar Wheeler's situation to re-open a cold case involving an Atlanta drug lord and Wayne's long lost sister Kay.

Soon Slade’s shoveling shooflies uphill against Pamela’s obsessions, the drug lord’s vendettas, the Governor’s secrets, and the bizarre realization that those secrets involve peanuts with the ability to kill.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--GUEST AUTHOR TRISS STEIN

Today we welcome back mystery author Triss Stein who’s here to tell us about her love affair with decorative glass and the latest book in her Erica Donato Mystery series. Learn more about Triss and her books at her website

I'm not a crafty person at all, but I admire other people's skill and talent, and I especially admire glass. Maybe it's because my grandmother took me to the annual local antique show and the shimmery Victorian glass enchanted me.  

Maybe it's because we visited Corning and saw fragile glass that was, somehow, thousands of years old, and molten glass being blown into shapes. Talk about magic! I began to collect glass paperweights.

I fell in love with the modern perfection of Steuben crystal.

Then I discovered Tiffany. The glass, not the store.

Of course all this would have to become part of a book. My motto isn't "Write what you know." It's "Write what you love."

I can't give a  spoiler for my own book, so let's just say that many years ago, there was a crime involving Tiffany (and other) stained glass windows. And I read the newspaper articles and thought, "Wow, what a great background for a mystery."  It was a long time before I even finished my first Brooklyn mystery, let alone saw it in print, but I was thinking ahead to the next one.

Then, in 2007, there was an exhibit at the New York Historical Society. Called A New Light on Tiffany, it brought back to life the story of the Tiffany girls, an all-women glass cutting and design department of Louis Comfort Tiffany's business.   A recently discovered collection of letters from Clara Driscoll, the manager and chief designer, vividly told the story of the women who lived independent lives and established themselves as a creative force back in the days when they could not even vote. I was entranced. I knew that if I was ever going to write about Tiffany glass, this had to be part of the story.

I don't write historical mysteries, but my heroine is a Brooklyn historian whose research leads her into old and new crimes. So I gave her a scholar's mystery about what happened to a young woman who wrote charming letters when she was part of Clara Driscoll's team of designers. And then there is a problem relating to a Tiffany window at historic Green-Wood cemetery. Increasingly suspicious. And of course that leads to a modern day crime or two.

How much did I enjoy the many necessary visits to museums to look at Tiffany glass? And the purchase of a few beautiful books?  Plus some Tiffany stationery to use for think-you notes?  And a scarf from the Metropolitan Museum shop with a Tiffany design that matches my book cover, to wear for my book signing? 

What do you think?

Brooklyn Graves
A brutally murdered family man without an enemy in the world. A box full of charming letters home, written a century ago by an unknown female worker at the famed Tiffany studios. Historic Green-Wood cemetery, where a decrepit mausoleum with stunning stained glass windows is now off limits. Suddenly, all of this is part of Erica Donato’s life.

Erica is a youngish single mother of a teen, an oldish history grad student, and the lowest person on the totem pole of the history museum where she works. Arbitrarily assigned to catalogue the valuable letters for an arrogant expert visiting the museum, she is also assigned to take that same expert to see the mysteriously closed mausoleum windows. And as stressful as her working life become, her friendship with the murdered man’s family compels her to help.
Soon secrets begin to emerge in the most unexpected places. An admirable life was not what it seemed, confiding letters conceal their most important story, and too many people have hidden histories and hidden agendas. All set against the background of the splendid old cemetery and the life of modern Brooklyn, the stories of old families and old loves with hidden ties merges with new crimes and the true value of art.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR AUTHOR KATE WYLAND

Kate Wyland is a life-long horse nut who started riding at three years old. A few years ago, she exchanged her tech writing “bug” hat for a fiction writing Stetson. Suspense, romance, horses and sometimes the paranormal are the themes she likes to explore in her books. Learn more about Kate and her books at her website and blog.

Daydreaming
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of my time daydreaming. I was a very late child with much older siblings, so effectively I was an “only” with two sets of parents. My folks moved to California when I was nine, and coming from a small Midwestern town, they weren’t terribly comfortable with the relaxed mores and behavior of our new home. They were also the age of my friends’ grandparents. Add the fact I was shy and introverted, and I ended up feeling like an outsider who didn’t quite fit in.

As a result, I retreated into my horses, my books and my daydreams. While I loved stories set in another time and place, my fantasies took place in the “real” world. I constructed elaborate pictures of where I would live and what I would do. Unlike most of my friends, my future did not revolve around getting married and having a family. I didn’t plan elaborate weddings or design my dream house or fantasize about whom I would marry and how many kids we would have.

I was going to DO something—many times something heroic. In contrast to how I actually saw myself, my dreamer self would be brave and active. She would live on a big ranch in the mountains, raise horses and fly planes. Somehow (there were lots of scenarios) she would save someone’s life or perform some other feat of derring-do. I never told anyone about these fantasies and never wrote them down, either. I didn’t dare reveal that part of myself.

Of course these daydreams never really came true. I did marry and have a family. I lived in suburbia and carpooled instead of flying a plane. BUT I have done some flying. AND eventually we did move to a small acreage that allowed horses. While I have dealt with some emergency situations, I’ve never saved anyone’s life or done anything requiring physical bravery. But I have learned to face my fears over the years and even took on my terror of high places by zip lining down a mountain in South Africa.

Now I write my fantasies instead of daydreaming about them. Forewarning is set on a horse ranch in the Oregon Cascades. Kasey, the heroine, saves a man’s life and ends up facing down bad guys. I never realized before how much she fits my long ago dream self. Wyoming Escape is set on a Wyoming dude ranch, loosely based on one I’ve visited. The heroine, Mikela, must face her fears in order to survive and take down the killer who is after her. Another familiar scenario.

How about you? What did you daydream about as a kid? Have any of your fantasies come true? What do you dream about now?

FOREWARNING
Healing is her life. Will it be her death?

Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin closes her energetic healing practice and retreats to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.

Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NEW ZEALAND WITH AUTHOR VONNIE HUGHES

Author Vonnie Hughes sat down for an interview with us back in December. Today she’s returning to tell us about the glories of New Zealand and a bit about their police system. Learn more about Vonnie and her books at her website

New Zealand is a small, green country tucked away at the bottom of the world. Just as in Ireland, it rains a lot, hence all that green. Make no mistake—we have travelled widely, and I can truthfully say that New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. (And the hobbits like it.)

It is divided into two main islands with the imaginative names of North Island and South Island. The South Island takes the prize for grand, picture-book scenery. Still lakes, jagged mountains and deep fjords abound.

But it’s the people that make a country, and New Zealanders are friendly, phlegmatic, not given to hyperbole, well educated, and surprisingly well travelled. You’d think their isolation would hold them back, but no.
I set my suspense novels in New Zealand since that is the policing system I know best. Theirs is a British-based system i.e. the ordinary cops don’t generally carry weapons. At the top is a Commissioner, beneath him there are two deputy commissioners (for resource management and operations,) and below them are several assistant commissioners who either manage a district or a particular division such as counter-terrorism.

I write about the specialist divisions such as the armed offenders’ squads (SWAT teams) and the police negotiators (one is attached to each of the 17 AO squads.) The reason is that policing is rarely the shoot ‘em up stuff we see on TV. It is a painstaking, plodding, researching and negotiating process, and I see people who do this work as true heroes, the ones who work under extreme stress every day, trying to suit the solution to the target.

Lethal Refuge
An independent, mistrusting woman witnesses the aftermath of a murder and is thrown into the witness protection program. Once there, she is mentored by a police psychologist who demands complete trust from all the relocatees so he can help them adapt to their new lives. The stakes are raised when they are stalked by the killer who seems to be connected to the relocation team.


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