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, May 22, 2017

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--MAKE A MOP DOLL

Can dolls kill? If you’re an aficionado of horror books and movies, you’ll probably say they can. But dolls are inanimate objects without minds of their own. Humans kill, but in Death By Killer Mop Doll, the dolls I’ve created for a new television show become a killer’s props. Pity my poor mop dolls. They took quite a beating before I figured out whodunit. If you’d like to make a mop doll of your own, they’re quite easy and require no special crafting skills. Anyone who can use a pair of scissors, some tacky glue, and a glue gun, can make a mop doll. Here’s how:

Basic Mop Doll Directions

Materials:
24 oz. mop head (available in the cleaning section of most hardware stores, discount centers, and supermarkets), 4” Dylite® (smooth craft foam) ball, 5” x 5” natural muslin, wooden craft stick, 3/16” black half-round beads, rubber bands, tacky glue, glue gun (optional), blush or pink powdered chalk, 1/4 yd. 3/8” wide ribbon, 1/2 yd. cotton or cotton blend fabric, 1-1/4 yd. 1-1/2” gathered lace, desired lace or ribbon embellishments for neck edge, needle and thread, 8” straw doll’s hat.

 (NOTE: All gluing can be done with either tacky glue or a glue gun except for attaching the muslin to the Dylite® ball and gluing the dress. These steps must be done with tacky glue.)

1. Cut a 4-3/4” diameter circle from muslin for the face. Snip 1/4” cuts around the perimeter of the muslin circle. Using tacky glue, glue the muslin to the front of the Dylite® ball, smoothing out any wrinkles.

2. Poke a hole in the bottom of the Dylite® ball directly under the muslin face. Glue the craft stick into the ball, allowing approximately 3-1/2” of the stick to extend.
3. Spread the mop apart on a table. Randomly pull 26 strands from the mop. Set strands aside. 
4. With the bottom of the doll head adjacent to the top of the mop, glue the craft stick centered over the mop tape. 
5. Glue several strands of mop closest to the head down over the craft stick and mop tape to conceal them. Flip the doll over and repeat the previous step to conceal the mop tape on the reverse side. Wrap one of the mop strands you set aside around the doll’s neck, gluing in place.
6.. At both the left and right sides of the doll, take the top 18 mop strands. Trim 3” from length, saving trimmed pieces to use for hair. Braid strands for arms, securing each wrist with a rubber band. Glue ribbon around wrists to cover rubber bands.
7. Tie the body together under the arms with one mop strand to form a waist. Trim ends even with bottom of mop.

8. Cut remaining mop strands into 3” lengths. Run a line of glue around the edge of the muslin for hairline. Fold strands in half, gluing folded edge to the muslin. Run a second line of glue in front of the hairline. Glue a second row of folded strands in front of the first row. Place the doll face down. Working in even horizontal rows from the base of the neck to the top of the head, continue gluing hair in place.

9. Glue beads in place for eyes.

10. Use blush or chalk to color cheeks.

11. To make the dress, press under short edges of fabric 1/2” twice and glue in place.  Glue gathered lace to right side of front bottom edge of fabric.

12. Press under remaining long edge of fabric. Run a gathering stitch along this edge. Gather fabric and tie under arms at center back of doll.

13. Glue lace and/or ribbon embellishment under neck.

14. Glue hat to doll’s head.

Death By Killer Mop Doll
Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR NIKE N. CHILLEMI

Author Nike N. Chillemi writes detective stories with a clandestine twist, murder mysteries, and young adult romantic suspense. Today she sits down for an interview. Learn more about Nike and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
About six years ago, after a run of reading one Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Lee Child novel after another, I thought, writing this stuff could be fun. Of the three authors, my voice most resembles that of Robert Crais, only because my contemporary stories have a lot of wry humor, not to mention, quirky characters.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
One and a half years.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
My first four historical murder mystery novels (of the post WWII era) were published by Desert Breeze both in ebook and paperback. They're now out of print and the rights have reverted back to me. I plan to republish. After writing those, I went indie publishing under my own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press.

Where do you write?
At home, in my guest room/office.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence is golden.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Not much is drawn from my own life. I'm constantly making up scenarios…some pretty good, some awful. I write ideas down on any scrap of paper available and later I enter them into a computer file. I do interject into a story a bit from my life, or something I have observed where it will work.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Always a fictional town. Years ago, I read a murder mystery set in NYC in which the heroine hopped onto a city bus on Fifth Avenue and went uptown. Well, Fifth Avenue is one-way, downtown. So, it's impossible the bus could've gone uptown. That ruined the story for me and I've never forgotten it.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Ronnie, the heroine in my Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy has a hair temper and a quirky sense of humor.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Last Detective by Robert Crais. It has the best Vietnam War flash-back  I've ever read. I could not have written it.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Whiny, helpless heroines, unless they're really funny.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 
My Bible, Pierce Brosnan, and a fully equipped RV camper.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Ocean or mountains?
Mostly ocean, but mountains are good, too.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Either. I live in the best of both, Jacksonville. It has downtown and within its borders, pure country where the oak trees are heavy with Spanish moss.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I want to finish the YA romantic suspense I'm working on, That Special One. Then there's another detective trilogy with a clandestine spin in the works.

Harmful Intent
Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels' family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he's not so sure at first, he's on the meddling New York PI's side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

GUEST AUTHOR LANE McFARLAND ON SCOTLAND AS HISTORICAL INSPIRATION

Northam Castle, Northumberland, England
photo by Karen V. Bryan
Bestselling author Lane McFarland writes historical romance, spanning the early Middle Ages through the American Civil War. While her books are fiction, each one is based on historical facts, and you will often see known figures such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, or The Red Comyn make guest appearances. Learn more about Lane and her books at her website. 

Historical Inspirations
Throwing my imagination into years gone by, researching dark periods of strife and violence, justice and quests for freedom, and dreaming of what it may have been like to live and survive during these hostile periods have been the most fascinating aspects of writing historical romance.

My new series, The Turnberry Legacy, is based on Scotland’s fascinating history in the early fourteenth century.

The death of Alexander III in 1286, followed by the demise of Queen Margaret in 1290, became a time of consternation for Scotland. Labeled as The Great Cause, a fight for the Scottish throne ensued between two powerful men, John Balliol and Robert de Bruce. Unable to agree on a successor, Scottish nobles requested the help of England’s King Edward I. The king and his vast army arrived at Norham Castle and agreed to settle the dispute under the condition of the Scot’s pledge to him as their feudal overlord.

Shrewdly, the Scots explained something of this magnitude would have to be the decision of the newly appointed king. Edward spent over a year arbitrating between 13 claimants for the throne. But before he would decree judgment, he forced all contenders to accept him as overlord of Scotland. Some say John Balliol appeared the easiest to manipulate so Edward ruled in his favor and appointed him as King of Scotland in November 1292.

The English king controlled Balliol, earning Scotland’s king the title of Toom Tabard or empty coat. Disgusted, Scottish nobles ousted Balliol and replaced him with a council made up of a dozen men who entered a treaty with France, the Auld Alliance, that united the Scottish and French kings, but infuriated King Edward.

As a result, Edward retaliated, and the Battle of Dunbar ensued in April 1296. The English overpowered the Scots and afterwards, the King of England had Balliol stripped of his power and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Many skirmishes followed the Scottish defeat. In 1298, Robert de Bruce, one of country’s most famous warriors, emerged as the Guardian of Scotland. During his reign, he led rebels bent on freedom from England’s tyranny and preserving their way of life, ultimately regaining the country’s independence.

Isn’t history fascinating?

The Turnberry Legacy Series
At the turn of the fourteenth century, danger abounds with Scotland’s leadership in flux. Amidst rumors of King Edward reinstating John Balliol to the throne, Robert the Bruce commands his most trusted men to resurrect The Turnberry Bond, a pact specifying loyal Scots and Irish nobles band together in resistance against all adversaries.

Follow the rebel warriors fighting for the rightful king of Scotland and their struggle with honor and love as their lives become intertwined with the brave women who challenge them.

To Support a King
Book One of The Turnberry Legacy series

Plagued by atrocities he committed against innocent victims while pursuing his father’s killers, Laird Mangus MacAndrew pledged to defend and provide for his clan. But his resolve is tested when two of his ships are attacked and his crews massacred. Desperate to fulfill his obligation to protect the clan, Mangus agrees to help reinstate The Turnberry Bond. His mission—garner support for the Bruce and avenge the deaths of his men.

The MacAndrew clan provides Catriona Butler something her Irish home could not, a safe haven. When she receives a missive her brother is being imprisoned and will be executed unless acceptable éraic can be obtained, she must return to her homeland.

Mangus agrees to take Catriona to Ireland and vows she will not become a distraction, but he longs to be near her. Catriona witnesses Mangus’s fierce anger and grows distrustful. After a life of suffering her father’s vicious temper, she is skeptical of anyone with a penchant for violence. She attempts to keep her distance, but her traitorous heart pulls her in Mangus’s direction.

With the fate of the kingdom on his shoulders, will Mangus reunite the men of The Turnberry Bond? Can he pursue vengeance against his enemies without taking more innocent lives? And can Catriona free her brother while staying true to her heart?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

COMPUTER PRIVACY

Cyberdyke is a computer professional from the Pacific Northwest. She has worked for companies such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and McAfee. As a child, she wasn't finding any books that appealed to her, so she began writing her own stories. Today she joins us to share some important computer safety advice. Learn more about her and her writing at her website. 

Protecting Your Browser History: Why and How
By CD Cyberdyke Savage

Many of us are not aware, as we interact with the Internet, that we are leaving a trail or history of where we’ve been. Each time you type something into your open search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Safari, etc.), it is saved into your browser. To view where you have traveled on the Internet, click the ‘History’ button on your browser. Things you might find there: that embarrassing medical condition you’ve contracted and have been researching, the naughty anniversary gift you purchased for your spouse, or that unknown word you heard on TV. Who knew it was sexual bondage? All of that, and so much more, make up our browser history.

Why all this matters: in April of 2017, the US Congress, decided to allow Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc., to sell our browsing history. This is a huge blow to privacy. Anyone can now have access to what you do on or with the Internet if they are willing to pay.

We shouldn’t really be surprised that these companies are salivating to make money off our privacy/data. After all, Facebook and Google have been doing it for years.

Here’s what I recommend you do to protect yourself; stop using Google. They know too much as it is. Follow the instructions in this story to find out what Google knows about you and to delete that information.

Use DuckDuckGo as your search engine. They don’t track you, nor do they keep any of your history. Their search results are just as extensive as Google.

Use Brave as your browser. Unlike Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc., they don’t track you. TIP: It's more secure not to save and reopen tabs when opening your browser. (I receive no financial benefit in recommending either of these companies)

Both of these options are available for Androids, iPhones, Mac, and Windows. On the iPhone, Safari is the default browser and can’t be deleted. Access ‘Settings,’ turn off ‘Cellular Data/Wifi’ for Safari, and it will stop accessing the Internet.


Being smarter about the security of digital online technology should be a part of everyday life, especially now that we are so dependent on our devices. To learn more about how to do this, click here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--CHOCOLATE CHERRY ALMOND CAKE

Everyone loves home-baked desserts, but many people don’t have the time to make them. All that measuring and mixing is time-consuming and usually winds up making a mess that then requires added clean-up time. You shouldn’t feel guilty about using a cake mix when you’re pressed for time. However, by adding a few extra ingredients, you can create something that moves your basic cake mix to the next level.

Semi-Homemade Chocolate Cherry Almond Cake

Ingredients:
One box chocolate cake mix*
Additional ingredients as noted on cake mix box*
1/2-teaspoon almond extract
2 cups frozen dark sweet cherries, quartered
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4-teaspoon vanilla
1-2 T. milk
1/4-cup almond slivers

*I used Pillsbury’s Purely Simple cake mix. It contains no preservatives or artificial flavors. Basically, what they’ve done is pre-mixed the dry ingredients for you. You add the wet ingredients. In this case, a stick of butter, a cup of milk, and three eggs.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Prepare cake batter following mix directions, adding almond extract with your wet ingredients.

Fold in cherries and white chocolate chips.

Pour into bundt pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick poked into center of cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10-15 minutes. Remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely.

Mix confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and one tablespoon of milk. Stir in additional milk one teaspoon at a time until mixture is the proper consistency for drizzling. Drizzle over top of cake. Sprinkle with almonds.

Monday, May 15, 2017

COVER REVEAL--ONE SUMMER NIGHT BY CARIDAD PINEIRO

Anastasia is taking the day off so that author Lois Winston can show a little love to friend and fellow Jersey girl, Caridad Pineiro. Caridad has a new romance series debuting in October, and today Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers is excited to take part in the cover reveal for One Summer Night, the first book in her At the Shore romance series, which takes place at the Jersey shore.

Caridad is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with pork roll and the Jersey Shore, but still can’t get the hang of tomato pies. When she isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk to maintain her sanity and burn off that pork roll, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million books sold worldwide.

Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She’s a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at various writing organizations throughout the country. Learn more about Caridad and her books at he website
What Happens At the Shore, Stays At the Shore
Come and Meet Maggie, Connie, and Emma. These three Jersey Girls are in for the surprise of their lives as love finally drags them to the altar for their own Happily-Ever-Afters.

Maggie Sinclair, Connie Reyes, and Emma Grant have been best friends for years. The three women are as different as they come, but that has only helped sustain them during the trying times in their lives, like the marriage of yet another one of their acquaintances. As they stand at the altar, always as bridesmaids, they are the only single women who remain from their circle of college friends and business colleagues.

Successful women in their own right, they’re not in a rush to do the dash up the aisle, but Fate has a way of shaking the foundations of their very settled lives.

One Summer Night is the first book in the series and is available for pre-order now. It will be followed by Suddenly Last Summer and Sea Kiss Summer (tentative title.)

One Summer Night
Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family's business. Her options are dwindling, and she needs someone who can turn things around—fast. Problem is, the only person who can help her is trouble with a capital T. The Sinclair and Pierce families have been feuding for nearly 30 years, but that hasn't stopped Jax Pierce from noticing Maggie. And he likes what he sees—a lot. But getting involved would mean risking his family, his inheritance, and above all, his heart. Can Maggie and Jax keep their simmering attraction at bay—or will mixing business and pleasure bring nothing but heartache?

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Friday, May 12, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR ROBIN DEETER INTERVIEWS COVER MODEL VIKKAS BHARDWAJ

Robin Deeter currently writes a Western historical romance series and a Native American romance series. Learn more about her and her books at her website. Robin recently had the chance to interview her cover model and has shared the interview with us today. 

You’ve no doubt seen this hunky hero on many of the steamy romance novels you’ve read, but just who is Vikkas Bhardwaj? I recently had the pleasure of talking with Vikkas and while he may be gorgeous, what I found most striking about him was his compassion, humility, and love of family. He may have a smile that can melt women’s hearts, but his heart is one of the biggest around, as you’ll see in this interview. (And, yes, his dreamy visage is on the cover of my upcoming release, Taming the Wild Heart, as shown above.)


RD: How did you get started in the modeling industry?

Vikkas: I’ve been modeling internationally for 10 years. I’ve done runway shows and photo shoots all over the world: Dubai, London, Sri Lanka and, of course, India. I’m also a Bollywood Actor and I’ve done two films as the main lead. And I’m now the Face of Romance Novels World Wide. I am truly humbled by all the love I receive and I give it right back.

RD: What are your favorite kinds of photo shoots?

Vikkas: I enjoy every photo shoot because it gives me a chance to emote and be myself and exchange energies with other models. It gives me the chance to become a different person, show different types of expressions, and, most importantly, body language. 

RD: What modeling awards have you won?

Vikkas: I did Gladrags modeling contest in Bombay 10 years ago, where I ranked in the top 10. I’ve also been on magazine covers like Health, Men’s Magazine, GQ, numerous music videos, billboards, and I shot for loads of brands. 

RD: How many books covers have you been featured on?

Vikkas: Who’s counting, right? *laughs* But I think 260 so far and there are a lot more that I don’t know about. I’m very proud of my stock site, VikkasZone.com.

RD: What would your dream vacation be?

Vikkas: It would definitely be Europe. I would love to go to Norway, Sweden, Amsterdam, and, on the hotter side, Hawaii

RD: What is your biggest goal for the future?

Vikkas: That’s a secret that’ll be coming up. I’m hoping to do films in Hollywood and TV shows. I’m very focused and determined in what I want to achieve in my dreams, as we all should be. Life is too short and we have to make it in this one lifetime before we are gone and left with only the photos on the wall. I encourage everyone to go achieve their dreams. Every particle in our bodies screams our desires and dreams.

RD: What else would you like readers to know about you?

Vikkas: I love my family. Without my family, I am nothing. I worship my mother and father. Because of them I exist on this planet. I have not seen God, but I have seen them. Learn to love one another regardless of one’s imperfections. Also, please never waste food. If you can’t finish it, take it home. I’ve seen too many children go hungry all over the world. We must teach kids not to ever waste food. All my love to you all and I thank you for showering your love upon me.

Please visit Vikkas’ website to sign up for email alerts about upcoming works, events, and news as well as links for social media.

Sacrifice and Reward: The Paha Sapa Saga Book One

Mid-18th century North America is a hotbed of unrest between many Native American tribes, who are feuding over territory. By this time, most of the Kiowa bands have been pushed west by the Lakota, who are on the move southward from the Great Lakes region. These invaders from the north want the game-rich, lush pasture lands of the territory for themselves.

However, one small Kiowa band is determined to remain in their early homelands in the region of what will be one day known as eastern South Dakota. These two enemy tribes are brought face-to-face through the vision of a young Kiowa medicine man.  

Sky Dancer, a beautiful, Kiowa widow, and proud Lakota warrior, Dark Horse, are forced to marry in order to create an alliance between their peoples. Right from the beginning they clash in a test of wills, loathing each other on sight, making a happy marriage seem out of the question.

Will the sacrifice that is asked of them save their tribes? Can these two enemies overcome their initial hatred to find love in unlikely place or will distrust keep them from the reward they both crave?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FAILURE AS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE BY AUTHOR CJ WARRANT

CJ Warrant is an award-winning writer of dark romantic suspense, sensual thrillers and contemporary romance that pull at your heart, make you shiver with fear, and hope for a happy ending. She loves coffee, baking and family, but not in that order. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog.

Failures From Start To Finish
Today I would like to talk about failures I’ve had in my life. Through out the years, I’ve learned from experiences and people that failures are not all bad.

Over the years, I’ve learned to write in the dark. What I mean by this is that I never shared with anyone that I wrote stories and poems. Family, friends, and co-workers alike, I’ve kept my talent to myself. So when I seriously decided to tell the world what I did, I got a response like “You write?” Imagine a quirked brow, eyes wide with surprise, and sometimes with a slight frown as they absorbed the odd news.

I used to think not speaking up was my first failure to myself. But I know now that back then I wasn’t ready to tell. It was just one part of many stepping stones I had to climb to become an author.

As much as I wanted to be published, I needed to hone my craft—at every level in my writing. Granted, I still have trouble with grammar and mix tenses, which I find another failure, but as I write more and with each book, I’m learning to correct it before it goes in the hand of my critique partners. Mostly…I can be honest and still have pitfalls with my grammar, but I’m learning.

After writing my very first book, which won’t see the light of day, I pitched it to an editor at a well known conference. That was my next failure. I didn’t know what I wrote. Or my voice. I always thought I wrote contemporary. Who knew I had a darker side in me? It showed in my writing, which the editor graciously pointed out. But I learned from that experience and learned to hone it.

Another failure is learning about the publishing world, which is scary for some. It’s vast, with so many rules—and many players jockeying for contracts. What’s even scarier for me is finding an agent who would represent and support what I write. Some of my author friends don’t see it as a failure. But I do see my fear of rejection as one, more so than a publishing house rejecting my book. I think everyone has—at one time or another in their writing careers—had those fears.

Now, since I’m published, I’m more confident in submitting to an agent. But I don’t let it rule my head with worries. I know there is an agent out there for me. My purpose now is to strive for that next book deal. With or without an agent, I’ll move forward with my career.

Over all, my career is like a newborn. I have to nurture it, learn from my mistakes, and let it blossom. With each failure, comes success. I see all my failures as way of learning to grow as an author and as a woman in this crazy world. So take strides with what failures you’ve had in your lives—no matter personal or business. It’s another lesson to learn from and move forward with great knowledge.

Forgetting Jane
Amnesia and an unspeakable crime have stolen everything from Jane Doe except the haunting image of a girl in a yellow dress, which replays itself over and over in her mind.

Small town cop Elias McAvoy is haunted as well, by the crushing guilt he feels over the deaths of two women, one by his own hand. He can’t-he won’t-let Jane down too.

Together they delve deeper into Jane’s case, battling against her memory loss, and an increasingly tangled web of lies and murder that span forty years-and ties Elias and Jane together in ways they never imagined. As the mystery of the girl in the yellow dress unfold, so does Elias and Jane’s love for each other. However, when the killer reappears, intent on finishing what he started, Elias must face his demons in order to save the woman he loves or lose her forever.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

GUEST AUTHOR SANDRA DE HELEN TALKS TALK THERAPY

Sandra de Helen is a multifaceted author. Along with writing thrillers and a female-centric detective series that pays homage to Sherlock Holmes, she’s a published playwright and a poet. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States, including in New York and Chicago, as well as in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada. Learn more about Sandra and her books at her website. 

My thriller Till Darkness Comes features a young woman who goes to talk therapy for the first time and has a lesbian therapist. Both these things are central to the plot, and how they communicate in their sessions demonstrates their character traits through their interactions. I realize not everyone has had sessions with a psychologist, but I think they can see what is happening, even without that background.

As for me, I've had years of therapy, on an individual basis, in couples counseling, even family and group sessions. I've had both good and bad therapists, those who followed all the ethical guidelines, and those who didn't. Everyone in the profession is human, which is important to remember when you're going to a therapist, and when you're reading my book.

Risa Rispoli, the therapist in Till Darkness Comes is fictional and is not based on anyone I've ever met. Risa comes to her job with a background that leads her to want to take care of her clients, often to her own detriment.

The protagonist, Beth Vogelsang, has had a difficult childhood and an even more difficult early adulthood. She is broken. Will Risa be able to help her? Or will Beth trigger something in Risa that sends her spinning?

In my own experience with therapy, I learned the only thing I could change was my perception. Maybe it is because I was born with an optimistic nature, but I now view the "terrible things" from my life as obstacles I had to overcome in order to become who I am today. And as a writer, I was provided plenty of fodder, or as my writing buddy used to say, "grist for the mill."

Till Darkness Comes
 When Beth Vogelsang's Uncle Jerry is tortured and murdered Beth's estranged friend Regan is the first cop on the scene. Regan hopes for reconciliation, but they've led different lives. Beth has been abused, beaten, raped, and has experienced a devastating death in the family. She's also fallen in love with her lesbian therapist. Will she reunite with her friend? Or will their individual secrets keep them apart? Meanwhile, there's a serial killer on the loose, putting both their lives at risk.


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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!

Photo by ElinorD
Ever receive a gift you either already have, don’t want, or can’t possible use? Such was the case many years ago when my husband and I received a wedding present from one of my mother’s neighbors. The gift was a rather odd kitchen appliance that seemed to have very little practical application. So after writing a lovely thank-you note (after all, it’s the thought that counts, right?), we decided to exchange it. The gift was purchased through a private warehouse-buying club that seemed to sell nothing but similarly odd items. After wandering around the aisles for nearly an hour, we finally spied an ice cream maker. Now that we would use!

The ice cream maker was one step removed from the old-fashioned hand-cranking variety. It had an electric motor that did the cranking for you. However, it still required massive amounts of rock salt and hours of running time. Between the cost of the rock salt, the ingredients, and the electricity, the ice cream wound up costing two to three times more than if we bought the most expensive ice cream sold at our local supermarket. It was also next to impossible to make a batch without at least a little slurry of rock salt leaching into the ice cream compartment. After trying a few times, we finally gave up, and the ice cream maker sat on a shelf for years until we finally donated it to Goodwill.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I received a gift I already owned. This gift came from a shop that sold gourmet foods and high-end kitchenware and small appliances. Once again I wandered around the aisles, trying to decide on an exchange item. Can you guess what I bought? That’s right, an ice cream maker.

Ice cream makers have come a long way since I was married all those years ago. I also knew that if I wasn’t happy with the ice cream maker, I could bring it back to the store, no questions asked, something I couldn’t do with the one from the private warehouse club.

I’m happy to report that it was love at first try—no more rock salt, minimal expense, and a process that takes twenty minutes to create a batch of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten.

Now, of course, the problem becomes limiting myself to an occasional treat to keep from packing on the pounds!

Basic Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 T. vanilla
3/4-cup sugar
pinch of salt

Whisk together wet ingredients. Slowly whisk in sugar and salt until dissolved. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. 

Turn on ice cream maker. Slowly pour in mixture. Process 20 minutes. Serve immediately for soft-serve. For harder ice cream, scoop into a plastic container and freeze for a couple of hours before serving.

Note: Make different flavors by blending in 1 cup chocolate chips, diced fruit, chopped nuts, fudge, caramel, etc. at the 15-minute mark and continue processing for the remaining 5 minutes.