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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

#TRAVEL TO MARION, MASS. WITH GUEST AUTHOR CHRISTINA LORENZEN

Christina Lorenzen is the author of six sweet, small town romances. When she's not writing she can be found herding her cats or reading on her backyard swing. Learn more about Christina and her books at her website.

Entering Marion

As a child, I was blessed with parents who loved to travel. Whenever my father had vacation time, he would plan a family trip to a number of destinations along the east coast. But the trips that were most memorable were the summer trips we took to my mother’s grandparents’ house in the small town of Marion, Massachusetts.

The five-hour car ride from our home in New York to my grandparents’ home in Massachusetts was always an adventure. My mother would pack our favorite snacks, and as we crossed from state to state my dad would play the license plate game with us as he drove. I can still remember how excited my brother and I were as we called out the license plates we spotted on other cars traveling the interstate. We always looked forward to stopping at the roadside Howard Johnson’s for lunch and a box of saltwater taffy. It was one of our summer traditions. But it was nothing compared to our squeals as we came upon that sign. Entering Marion. It was our signal that we were just minutes away from Nana’s house.

I can still hear the crunch of the white gravel as my father drove down the long driveway that led to the back of the house. As I look back now, I have to wonder if my grandmother heard it, too, because she was out the back door within seconds of our arriving. After all the hugging and ‘look how big you’ve gotten’s, my brother and I would run upstairs to the small room we shared, aptly called the twin room for the set of twin beds it housed. As the oldest I always grabbed the bed closest to the window. I used to love to lie in bed before drifting off to sleep and stare at the cape ceilings. I think I had every crack and line memorized.

Our visits usually lasted anywhere from a week to ten days, dependent upon my dad’s vacation time from work. During that week or so, we spent all of our time with my grandparents, my aunt and my three cousins, all of them girls. My poor brother! He truly was the odd man out, but even still we all had fun together. We loved playing out in my grandfather’s huge backyard that seemed endless with its strawberry and raspberry patches. There were also a dozen fruit trees – pears, apples, peaches and plums. My grandfather was a farmer, and my grandmother knew how to can and preserve everything that grew in those gardens. But the best days were the days we spent at Silvershell Beach.

Silvershell Beach

It was these memories, times spent on the sand and splashing in the ocean, that prompted me to write The Silvershell Beach Inn. What better way to honor my Massachusetts family than with a sweet romance on the beach where we spent all of our childhood summers? Of course the beautiful inn in the story is fictional. But all those memories I have of those summers on the beach? Those are the real deal and I will always hold them near to my heart.

The Silvershell Beach Inn
Blindsided by a broken engagement, Jacy Penna hastily throws an overnight bag together and leaves New York City, heading to the place that never changes - her grandmother’s house in the small town of Marion, Massachusetts. But in her haste she forgot about Zach Silva, the local boy that broke her heart when she was fifteen years old. Hoping to spend some time reliving sweet memories of summers past with her grandmother, Jacy is blindsided again when she finds out her grandmother has sold the house – to Zach Silva’s family. Determined to avoid running into Zach during her short visit, Jacy soon finds out that while nothing stays the same, love endures.

Zach Silva has come home to The Silvershell Beach Inn, his family’s elegant seaside inn, for as long as it takes to step down from his part in the family business. Sure his life is back in New York City, he’s ready to leave small town Marion in his rear view mirror. But he’s never completely forgotten the summer he said goodbye to his teenage sweetheart, Jacy Penna.

Always fond of Jacy’s grandmother, he convinced his family to buy Jacy’s grandmother’s house and bring the aging grandmother to cook at the inn. Augusta’s Portuguese specialty meals will bring a touch of the Silva family’s culture to the Inn. He hasn’t heard a word about Jacy in years. Sure she’ll never return to Marion, he’s shocked to find her sunning on Silvershell Beach. Seeing Jacy brings back too many memories and he begins to doubt his future plans.

Will one weekend back in the small town where memories of summer love still haunt them both be enough to help Jacy forgive and Zach find where his future really lies?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

#DIY HOME DEC PROJECTS

Author Lois Winston, who writes about all of us in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, is back today with some more discoveries from her recent vacation in Canada.

A week ago last Monday I wrote about a blinged-out tiresculpture I came across in Montreal in front of the Musee des Beaux-Arts. This museum is actually five museums connected by underground tunnels. One of those museums features decorative arts and design. Today I’d like to share some unique yarn projects from that museum. If you’re a knitter or crocheter who also enjoys DIY home dec projects, these pieces will be right up your alley—or perhaps not. 😕


Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I won’t begin to try to explain the chair and light fixture in the photos because, frankly, they left me speechless!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR ADELE DOWNS AND PEACH PIE

Because it’s peach season and picnic season and fresh fruit pie season, we’re featuring a recipe from author and former journalist Adele Downs for peach pie. This recipe appears in Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing. A portion of the profit from the sale of the book goes to NoKidHungry.org. Learn more about Adele and her books at her website.  

Retro Homemade Peach Pie

Use ripe organic peaches, real butter, and as many other organic ingredients as possible for the best-tasting, old-fashioned double-crust pie you’ve ever eaten. Serves 8.

15 ounce package pastry for a 9” double-crust pie.
1 egg, beaten
5 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (don’t use margarine)
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (For best results, preheat the oven with a pizza stone inside and bake the pie on top of the pizza stone. If a pizza stone isn’t available, use center oven rack.)

Line 9” pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with beaten egg to keep the crust firm.

Place sliced peaches, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Toss gently to coat peaches.

In separate bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, sugars, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of peaches and toss gently. Pour ingredients into the pie crust. Dot with butter.

Cover the pie with the second crust, folding edges under. Flute the edges or use the tines of a fork dipped in egg to seal them. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut at least four slits in the top crust to release steam while baking.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 30-35 minutes until crust is brown and the juice bubbles through the vents. To prevent the edges from browning too quickly, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking time, or use aluminum pie crust ring. Cool before serving.

Bake, Love, Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Adviceon Love and Writing
edited by Lois Winston

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 writing and relationships.

Check out the Bake, Love, Write video author Kaye Spencer created for the cookbook.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

SLEUTHING WOMEN II: 10 MYSTERY NOVELLAS

The authors (most of them) responsible for Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-SeriesMysteries are back! Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by eleven critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series—a total of nearly 700 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.

Due to prior commitments, two of the authors from Sleuthing Women: 10First-in-Series Mysteries weren’t able to join us for the follow-up, but we’re thrilled to have NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin teaming up for one novella and pioneering TV scriptwriter Rita Lakin for another.

The novellas in this ebook box set are:

Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin—Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe.

Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston—Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes?

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint—Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns? 

What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs—Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating.

The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice.

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven— When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?

Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen—Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one.

A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy—When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime?

The Color of Fear, A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter—Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family…and on Keisha.

Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin—Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment iat a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them?

Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is currently available for pre-order at the following sites and will debut on September 5th.

Nook 
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Friday, August 25, 2017

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS--GUEST AUTHOR BARBARA WHITE DAILLE

Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom. She’s here today to talk about one of her favorite things—chocolate—which she’s incorporated into her featured book. Learn more about Barbara and her books at her website. 

When I tried to narrow the focus of this post to one topic, I found it a challenge. So to ease my Frustration and keep me from being a Failure, I’m choosing a Favorite that covers all the bases!  In a word…

Chocolate.

I’ll confess, chocolate is my favorite food, snack, and indulgence, whether it’s included in cookies, cakes, ice cream, or served straight up.

Every year, July 7th is World Chocolate Day, and this year the Guinness World Records website listed the “Top 10 World Records for Chocoholics.” Check out the post for some amazing statistics, including:

·               a $25,000 dessert (No, that’s not a typo. Twenty-five thousand dollars!)
·               a 4,506-lb. 3.9-oz. box of chocolates
·               a cup of hot chocolate measuring in at 880 gallons

That’s a lot a chocolate! Maybe even enough to satisfy my cravings. Find that post here.

For more fun facts and figures, do a search for “Guinness world records” and “chocolate.”

Since everywhere you look, you read that sugar is bad for you, I recently decided to experiment to see what would happen if I gave it up completely…for a while. Of course, cutting sugar also meant going cold turkey on giving up chocolate, as it was the main ingredient in 99% of the items in my “goody drawer” in our pantry.

The results of the experiment? A big surprise.

Other than a few days of suffering a withdrawal headache, I didn’t miss either sugar or chocolate—and even lost some weight!

As some people say, though, everything in moderation. The goal now is to watch how much I eat while still allowing myself my chocolate indulgence. Even more important is keeping an eye on the sugar in those servings.

To the right are a couple of things I’m trying to cut down on the sugar count. I haven’t yet used the baking chocolate, but the candy bar is surprisingly good. There’s a learning curve for your tastes buds, though, as the sugar content of each is much lower than in a standard serving. There are 3 grams of sugar in the candy bar, and 0 grams of sugar in the baking chocolate.

I would love to hear whether or not you’ve ever kicked the sugar cravings and what tips you can share with us!

A Rancher of Her Own (The Hitching Post Hotel #2)

A reason to stay

Ranch manager Pete Brannigan has no interest in playing tour guide to a city slicker like Jane Garland. But spending a few days with the headstrong photographer is a small price to pay for everything her grandfather has given the single dad. Though Pete's drawn to Jane's sharp wit and striking beauty, he won't hurt his young children by falling for another woman who puts her career before family. 

Jane's seen the world through her camera…and used it to shield her emotions. With Pete, she can finally let her guard down. If only he could do the same. Despite their powerful bond, Pete still can't trust Jane with his kids or his heart. But if he keeps pushing her away, he may ruin any chance their relationship has to develop.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

#FASHION--WHAT THE WELL-DRESSED TRUCK TIRE IS WEARING THIS YEAR


Bedazzled, Canadian Style
By Lois Winston

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I believe the same can be said for art. As someone who majored in art and design in college, I’ve viewed exhibits that included everything from the Mona Lisa to a mound of dirt piled on shattered mirrors. (Seriously. I first came across a series of these in a gallery in Manhattan many years ago, but you can find one of them in the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

I appreciate creativity in all forms, but I’ve often wondered, is there a difference between creativity and art? I’ve come to the conclusion the answer is up to the viewer and the gallery or museum curator.

My husband and I recently returned from a vacation in Montreal and Quebec City. Both cities are filled with outdoor artworks. One sculpture, in particular, caught my eye outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The artist (I couldn’t find a plaque listing the sculptor’s name) had bedazzled an assortment of truck tires.

Now, bedazzling is a fun craft, especially for teens who love to bedazzle everything from their jeans and sneakers to their cell phone cases. I’ve seen all sorts of items that have been bedazzled, including certain body parts, which I even wrote about in Decoupage Can Be Deadly. But truck tires? That was a first for me!

Is it art, or is it craft? Obviously in Montreal the Museum of Fine Arts has deemed it art. What do you think?

Decoupage Can Be Deadly, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery

Anastasia and her fellow American Woman editors are steaming mad when minutes before the opening of a consumer show, they discover half their booth usurped by Bling!, their publisher’s newest magazine. CEO Alfred Gruenwald is sporting new arm candy—rapper-turned-entrepreneur and Bling! executive editor, the first-name-only Philomena. During the consumer show, Gruenwald’s wife serves Philomena with an alienation of affection lawsuit, but Philomena doesn’t live long enough to make an appearance in court. She’s found dead days later, stuffed in the shipping case that held Anastasia’s decoupage crafts. When Gruenwald makes cash-strapped Anastasia an offer she can’t refuse, she wonders, does he really want to find Philomena’s killer or is he harboring a hidden agenda?

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS--GUEST AUTHOR KELLYE GARRETT

There's no place like home.
Kellye Garrett spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for Cold Case. A former magazine editor, she now works for a leading media company and brainstorms ways to commit murder for her novels. Today she stops by to tell us about her favorite books. (We also think she should expand her love for mysteries with New Jersey settings to include the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and the Empty Nest Mysteries 😀. Learn more about Kellye and her books at her website. 

Favorites, Failures & Frustrations: There’s No Place Like Home

People love books and movies because it lets them explore different places. Oz. Hogsmeade. A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Although I love The Wizard of Oz, the Harry Potter series and the Star Wars movies just as much as the next person, some of my favorite books don’t show me a place I’ll never go. In actuality, nothing gets me more excited than when I recognize a place I’ve been in a book.

You see as a long time mystery lover, book characters are my version of rock stars. And since I can’t have a celeb sighting of Kinsey Millhone from the Sue Grafton series or Spenser from the Robert P. Parker novels, I settle for the next best thing: location sightings. There’s nothing like seeing a place in a book and going “I’ve been there, too!” It makes the characters feel even more real to me.

That’s probably why hometowns are often characters in a good mystery novel, whether it’s Spenser’s Boston or Kinsey’s Santa Teresa. It’s why I made a point to pack in as many real Los Angeles noticeable landmarks as I could in my debut mystery, Hollywood Homicide. You’ll find Melrose Avenue (it’s more than just a place), the ArcLight movie theater (it’s the one that looks like a golf ball smushed into the ground) and the Warner Bros. Studio (their water tower is iconic).

As much as I love Hollywood, I love New Jersey even more. I’m a loud and proud Jersey Girl, which for many people is known as that place people live because Manhattan is way too expensive. As you can imagine, I didn’t read a lot of mystery novels set in my neck of the woods. I can only think of two—and, no surprise, they’re two of my favorites.

The first is the Anthony Award winning Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Myron is a former-athlete-turned-agent who always ends up solving crimes for his clients. He also still lives in his parents’ basement in a town called Livingston, which is conveniently right next to where I grew up. He spends a lot of time on Route 10, which is suburbia at its best. Target. TGIFridays. Marshalls. You name it, it’s probably on Route 10 or being built on Route 10. (I even saw a Shake Shack is coming the last time I visited my mom.)

The second is the critically acclaimed Tamara Hayle Mystery series by Valerie Wilson-Wesley. Tamara is a black, female lone-wolf private investigator in Newark, which is where my Dad grew up and where I spent so much time as a child. Even today, I live about five minutes away and spend every weekend visiting family in the city. So we spend a lot of time in the same areas (East Orange! The Ironbound!) and traveling the same highways (Hello, Garden State Parkway!)

When I read these books, I’m not just getting amazing characters and great plots. I’m getting a sense of home. And like Dorothy said, there’s no place like it.

Hollywood Homicide
Actress Dayna Anderson’s Deadly New Role: Homicide Detective

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money—she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR ALLIE BONIFACE'S BERRY TRIFLE

USA Today bestselling author Allie Boniface has written over a dozen romances, mostly set in small towns. She enjoys traveling with her husband when not teaching high school English or working on her next novel. Learn more about Allie and her books at her website.

What better way to celebrate the dog days of summer than with a small-town romance series filled with heat and suspense? Summer’s Song, Book 1 in my Pine Point series, re-released yesterday with Entangled Publishing, so I’m celebrating today with one of my favorite sweet treats. I’ve always loved writing about the quirky wonderfulness of small towns, probably because I grew up in one (and I also currently live in one). They’re charming, often picturesque, and filled with characters who know, love, hate, and have all kinds of juicy gossip about each other – some that goes back generations!

One of the best things about a small-town summer, in my opinion, is the classic backyard BBQ. Fire up the grill, set up some chairs and lawn games, and invite your friends over to eat, drink, and enjoy the long, warm days and nights. My classic go-to recipe, if I’m a guest at a summer party, is this Berry Trifle. I originally found it in a Cool Whip cookbook years ago, but I’ve tweaked it a bit since then. If you have a sweet tooth and love a colorful dessert that’s a little bit different from the norm, give this one a try!

Berry Trifle

Ingredients:
3 cups cold milk
2 packages (4 oz each) chocolate instant pudding/pie filling
1 tub (12 oz) whipped topping, thawed (or you can make your own by whipping heavy cream and adding confectioner’s sugar to taste)
1 9-inch pan of brownies, cooked, cooled, & cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup each of sliced strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries

Pour cold milk into bowl. Add pudding mixes & beat with wire whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of whipped topping.

Layer half the brownie cubes in the bottom of your serving dish (I like to use a glass trifle bowl, so you can see the colors). Top with half the pudding mixture, approximately one-third of the berries, and 2 cups whipped topping. Repeat layers and top with remaining berries and whipped topping.

Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Then enjoy!

In Summer’s Song, the heroine comes home to Pine Point after 10 long years away. She doesn’t have plans to stay, but that changes once she meets a local hunky handyman. But like almost every main character I seem to create, these two have secrets waiting for them. Each title in the Pine Point series is on sale for only $0.99 through August 27 so you can treat yourself to this entire collection for less than $4.00! Even better, I’ve joined with 7 other Entangled authors to create a Hot August Nights giveaway

Summer’s Song
Summer Thompson doesn’t remember the night her brother died, and she certainly doesn’t want to go back to Pine Point and face any memories that might be awoken there. But ten years after leaving her small hometown, she’s back to settle her estranged father’s estate and be rid of the half-renovated mansion she’s inherited. What she doesn’t expect is to find the house occupied by a hunky handyman reluctant to talk about his past.

Damian Knight has been helping his mother and sister hide from a brutal stalker, but now the peace and carefully guarded safety they’ve found in Pine Point is in danger. The refuge they live in is about to be sold out from under them by the lovely but haunted Summer, a woman who quickly finds her way through Damian’s defenses and steals his heart.

But in a small town full of powerful secrets, the past won’t remain buried. Summer has to face her memories and could lose the man she loves, and maybe even her life.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

HAPPY TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE DAY!

Happy Total (for those of you in the Path of Totality) Solar Eclipse Day!

Ever wonder how people depicted a solar eclipse before modern photography? The Princeton Art Museum is currently featuring an exhibit of paintings by Howard Russell Butler (1856-1934). Butler was a graduate of Princeton University’s first School of Science. He was also a portrait and landscape painter who founded the American Fine Arts Society.

Left Panel
In 1918 Butler, who had already established himself as a renowned painter of transient phenomena such as sunsets, was invited to accompany the United States Naval Observatory Eclipse Team to Salem, Oregon. At a time when photography was not yet sophisticated enough to capture the nuances of a solar eclipse, Butler’s painting, completed from memory and notes within hours of observing the eclipse, provided an account that astronomers heralded for its scientific accuracy.

Center panel with image of Bailey's Bead
In 1925 the American Museum of Natural History commissioned a triptych for an astronomy hall Butler had designed. The hall was never built, but the triptych was later mounted over the entrance to the Hayden Planetarium. The smaller version pictured above was given by Butler’s son to Princeton University in 1958. The left panel is the solar eclipse from the 1918 expedition. The middle panel is the 1923 solar eclipse in Lompoc, California, which captures what is known as a Bailey's Bead, a bead of sunlight that is glimpsed briefly amid the craggy topography of the moon. The panel on the right is the solar eclipse of 1925 in Connecticut.

Right panel

Friday, August 18, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR PATRICIA HALE

Patricia Hale writes mystery and suspense. Today she sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about her at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
As a child, I wanted to write biographies. Then as an adolescent, I began writing poetry. I even sent one (handwritten in pencil) to the New Yorker. I received a very professional rejection letter. I was devastated and threw it away. Now, I wish I had framed it. When I had kids in my twenties, I wrote a few children’s stories, but I never sought-out publication. I didn’t try my hand at a novel until I was in my forties.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
After completing an MFA at the age of forty-two, I wrote two novels. I tried to get an agent, but never had any luck. They are both in the drawer of my desk. I read a lot of mysteries and decided I would give the genre a try. My first book, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published. In the Shadow of Revenge, was with Carina Press. The Cole and Callahan PI series is with Intrigue Publishing. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book of the series.

Where do you write?
I write at home in my office.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence is golden while I write. But I do keep my windows open (whenever possible in New England). I like the everyday background noise; a breeze rustling the leaves, the birds at the feeder and the neighborhood dogs barking (usually my own).

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I don’t get plots from my own life. (My life isn’t nearly that exciting.) I do sometimes play with something I see in the newspaper. And I pull from friends and family for character traits or quirks. Since I write in first person, I guess you could say that many of Britt Callahan’s opinions are my own.

Describe your process for naming your character?
It’s not very complex…. I sit quietly and think about the character, their looks and personality, and I almost always take the first name that comes to mind. I like to go with my gut.

Real settings or fictional towns?
I tend to use both. My series is set in Portland, Maine and since I lived in Maine for 20 years, I know the area. I enjoy reading a book that describes places I’m familiar with. I think others do, too.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Britt Callahan smokes honeyberry cigars, a quirk I stole from a coworker.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Maybe my dogs… I tend to fawn over them with the best of everything. We never miss our walks and I can’t leave them for too long, even a weekend away makes me anxious. People say, “They’re just dogs.” But they’re so much more than that.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
This might have to be a list instead of just one. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn comes to mind as does My Big Brother and We Have to Talk About Kevin, both by Lionel Shriver. The reason is the same for all three. The writing is excellent.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I would have gone to college right out of high school instead of waiting twenty years. And I would have gone for a journalism degree instead of an MFA. More marketability.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who say, “Yeah, I’m gonna write a book someday.” Like it’s on their to-do list along with painting the kitchen and losing 10 pounds.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My dogs, my computer and books.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Packing strawberries. I stood on a cement floor with twenty other women for 8 hours a day with a half-hour break. I didn’t have a car at the time and rode my bike 10 miles each way. The ride in the morning wasn’t bad, but the ride home was killer. I only lasted two weeks.  

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
That’s like saying which of my children do I like the best? Impossible to answer, but here are a few that come to mind. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, Plague Dogs, by Richard Adams, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, by John Irving and We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

Ocean or mountains?
Definitely mountains. I have always lived on the coast, but travel to the woods and mountains as frequently as possible. It’s where I rejuvenate.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I’m a country girl, without a doubt. I visit the city and enjoy it while I’m there, but I can’t tolerate the noise and so many people for longer than a day or two.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m anxious to take the two novels I wrote ten years ago out of my desk drawer. I am committed to the stories and believe I can bring them both to fruition with some re-writing.

The Church of the Holy Child
A woman with a history of domestic abuse is missing. Her sister hires private investigators Cole and Callahan.
When the woman is found dead, her husband is charged, but when a second body appears showing the same wounds, questions arise and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. The case goes to John Stark, a veteran cop and close friend of Griff Cole.
The bodies are piling up, and one person knows where the killer is. Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child, listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the holy orders that bind him to secrecy.
The case takes an unexpected and personal turn when Cole’s ex-wife goes missing and a connection to his past points to the killer.

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