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.

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Friday, September 17, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Beth Chambers from romance author Josie Malone’s The Marshal’s Lady, part of her Liberty Valley Love series. 

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings? 

I was working hard to prove I’m as good a homicide detective, or better than the men in the department. They don’t believe we have a serial killer leaving bodies all over Liberty Valley, even if the computer finds an incredible amount of matches. They think it’s some kind of technical glitch, but now my best friend was attacked, and I swear I’m going to bring her assailant to justice.


What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 

I’m not a quitter.


What do you like least about yourself? 

I’m not a quitter.


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? 

I was hot on the trail of Gary Smith, a suspected serial killer and yes, he’d stolen a horse and hightailed it into Mount Baker National Forest in Washington State. But after he ambushed me, I’m supposed to believe we’ve gone through some sort of time warp and landed in 1888? Get serious! Time travel is pure fantasy.


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 

Marshal Rad Morgan, the arrogant lawman who is trying to convince me I’m in 1888. Yes, he’s smart, brave and super sexy, but if he doesn’t stop telling me how to dress and to pin up my hair, I’m seriously considering leaving him in the backwoods to survive on his own. Oops, I can’t do that. He was shot and left to die and as a former Army medic, the patient comes first even if I’m out of patience.


What is your greatest fear? 

I may be stuck in the Land Time Forgot – 1888 in Washington Territory is not paradise for a woman.


What makes you happy? 

Marshal Rad Morgan, but don’t tell him I said so!


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? 

Not having my best friend attacked. 



I’d still pursue Gary Smith and arrest him for his crimes. It’s my job.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? 

It must be Marshal Rad Morgan. Yes, he rocks my world when we’re in bed, but he also forgets that he’s not the boss of me. He gives me way too many orders and then leaves me behind when he knows he needs me to watch his back. Last time he rode off alone, Smith bushwhacked and left him to die in the middle of nowhere. Rad was lucky I showed up and knew how to deal with a sucking chest wound (lung-shot).



He’s convinced that I’m here to stay and I know I’m only here to capture the killer I’m after, and then I’m headed home. I want to live somewhere I can take long, hot showers, order in pizza and have a beer while I watch baseball on my flatscreen TV.


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? 

Trace Burdette. 



She’s smart, savvy and kicks butt. She reminds me of the women I served with in Afghanistan. Yes, I can believe she fooled people in Liberty Valley and made them think she was the toughest man around. I know we’ll be good friends.


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 

Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington State. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses, she finds in many cases, she's taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her master’s in teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve - all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website, www.josiemalone.com to learn about her books.


What's next for you? 

Letting my family know I’m safe and happy, but they’re in 2018 Liberty Valley and I’m in 1888.


The Marshal’s Lady

Liberty Valley Love, Book 3


While trailing a serial killer on horseback, homicide detective Beth Chambers finds she has somehow ridden back in time—to 1888! When she comes across injured Marshal Rad Morgan, she has no choice but to try to save his life. Though the handsome marshal believes a lady should stand behind her man, Beth is determined to catch the killer she’s chased through time and prove she’s a capable law enforcement officer in any century.


A former Union soldier, Rad has survived the Confederate hellhole of Andersonville Prison—but his toughest challenge is beautiful Beth Chambers. As the headstrong female detective from the future lets him in on why she’s there, Rad becomes convinced that her stubbornness may get her killed. But when he is shot and left for dead, the marshal has no other choice but to put himself in Beth’s hands—and hope they can both survive!


Two officers of the law from different centuries chasing the same killer could be a recipe for disaster—especially with the distraction of love!


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Wednesday, September 15, 2021


*Photo 1
Alyssa Roberts writes historical fiction and historical romance. Her historical romances to date are set in Regency England and Wales, and in American Revolutionary War Vermont. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

I’ve always heard you should write what you know. Naturally, that can’t always happen, but sometimes it works out. A lot of us have some entertaining interests, and one of the things my husband and I love is sailing. 


My recently released historical romance Duchess Deceived includes sailing scenes inspired by the adventures I have had with my very competent sailor husband. We have raced over the frothy waves to beat a dark, thundering storm behind us. We have battled tides and winds for exhilarating, unexpected rides into safe harbors.

*Photo 2

Duchess Deceived includes a wild sail across the Bristol Channel as our hero and heroine race against time. The Bristol Channel’s tides can be compared to the similarly huge tides in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia where within hours boats go from bobbing peacefully on the water to being moored on the sand! I have been lucky enough to see the strength of the Bay of Fundy tide as it comes in—and goes out. The moving water held me spellbound, just staring as it came in fast enough to cover a stone in minutes. It inspired me so much, I was determined to capture that power in my debut romance.


Our heroine in Duchess Deceived, Juliana, does not want to go anywhere near the Bristol Channel because, as the result of an event in her childhood, she fears the water. The wild ride in this book helps Juliana overcome that fear. That result might sound unlikely, but when I faced my first storm on a sailboat, I was pretty scared. I found, though, that riding out a storm with someone who knows what they are doing, is careful and attentive about it, and actually enjoys themselves while doing it helped me overcome my fear. Later, when we raced ahead of a different storm, we ended up having a rollicking good time. 


In writing this book, I used what I saw of the Bay of Fundy (although I did not sail there), but I would love to also see the Bristol Channel. Has anyone been to the Bristol Channel? To the Bay of Fundy? Both? Do you have any great stories about either—or both?

*Photo 1: This is a picture taken near Brier Island, which is far south in the Bay of Fundy, so does not even experience the full extent of its tides, yet a boat is resting on the bottom – and the water is far out.

*Photo 2: This picture of a pier shows how high they must be built to accommodate the tides. Again, this is not even at the northern end of the Bay of Fundy! 

Duchess Deceived

Widowed duchess Juliana Barrington fears that men who covet her son’s title are trying to kill him. When greedy relatives discover her whereabouts, she flees her seaside hideout. Will she be running forever? 

Ransom Wolfe Hawkins, a Royal Navy officer in hiding, wants to protect Juliana and her son, but fears he'll lose her trust if she learns he's been accused of murder. Will he have to choose between clearing his name and protecting the woman he loves? 

Or will he deceive the Duchess?


Buy Link 


Monday, September 13, 2021


Crayola's box of 64, 1958. Notice the randomness of the
crayon placement. Still makes me twitch!
(Wikipedia-4 September 2021)
Today we welcome award-nominated debut mystery author Liz Boeger who writes the Moccasin Cove Mysteries. She describes them as mysteries with a cozy edge, a hint of Southern snark, and always a happy ending. Learn more about Liz and her books at her blog.

I don’t remember being a particularly crafty kid, nor was I a wannabee writer, despite reading most of the Nancy Drew series as a preteen. However, I can trace my concrete-sequential origins back to coloring in the lines and to sorting my box of 64 Crayolas into the proper order before I could even consider any doodling. I had the same issue with LEGO. 

Luckily, my artsy side emerged when I was in high school. I was drafted to spray-paint the school’s mascot on the football field before home games. Think of it as a flat mural on grass with thirty cans of spray paint. I still have a couple of watercolor trays from my art classes, both good as new 40+ years later. My artsy interests morphed from painting, to crafting dolls, and stitching needlework in my twenties and during the fraught young parenthood years. That’s also when I discovered the traditional mystery and series that kept me sane. 


In retrospect, I think my fabric and books fetishes may be genetic. My maternal grandmother was a single, city girl working in a bookstore before she become a farmer’s wife. During snowy midwestern winter evenings she honed her needlecraft and quilting skills, stitching lovely textiles for her children, and later for her fourteen grandchildren. I still have a few of her unfinished quilt tops and the log cabin quilt she made me for my eighteenth birthday. 

My early experimentation with cross stitch was probably inspired by her pillowcases. But the quilting eventually wiggled its way into my creative corner and by the time I was in my mid-forties, I had a full-blown addiction to fabric and freestyle quilting. I say freestyle, because I am not disciplined enough to perfectly match my corners or make my points pointy. 


I also took a happy detour into scrapbooking when the craze hit—what better way to enjoy the gazillion photos of our son and family outings. Many years past my son’s childhood, my current project is a collage quilt featuring a sea turtle I am planning for my future daughter-in-law. The planning stokes my creative muscle between writing stints.

So, what does all this chatter about my artsy-craftsy-quiltsy endeavors have to do with the publication of my first mystery? Crafting and quilting were largely self-taught, like my writing. The creative process gave me the courage and fortitude to experiment. Being a crafter requires risk, and planning, and thinking step by step from start to finish. Just like writing a mystery. The mental and emotional benefits of being a crafter are so tangible, that I’ve instilled some of these talents in my main character Ana Callahan. 


Ana is a veteran school principal who spent her entire career moving from one troubled school to another, attempting to turn their failures into success stories. She has a heart for children in impoverished communities, and luckily, her hard work has paid off. But in her demanding career, she’s never had time for relationships nor time to mend her broken heart. Her limited leisure time was devoted to quilting and the occasional dabbling in watercolors. Neither hobby takes up much space and is easily portable for her frequent interstate moves.


By the time she makes her way back home to Florida to turn around the troubled school of her childhood, she’s still single. Then, an interesting man captures her heart, just as she finds herself investigating a murder. But as any school principal will tell you, progress does not come easily. Ana is confident she can save the school but solving a murder and mending a broken heart are not in her skillset.


As an author I felt badly about layering on Ana’s troubles, but that is my job. So, I thought I’d soften the plot blows I’d inflicted by giving Ana time to build a scrapbook and take out her watercolors to ease her pain. In future books I am certain her quilting will emerge, probably with more skill than mine. Such is the stuff of fiction. I wish you happy crafting and hope you have a chance to get to know Ana and the kind folks of Moccasin Cove.



A Moccasin Cove Mystery, Book 1


Principal Ana Callahan knows a thing or two about turning around troubled schools, but she can’t fix the grief constricting her own heart. Now she must do both…while solving a murder.


Ana Callahan’s life fell apart, so she went out to save the world, one failing school at a time. Fifteen years later she’s back home in Florida, working her magic on the floundering elementary school of her childhood. But Moccasin Cove is not the sunny, middle-class beach town she left behind. With one eye on her school rescue plan and the other on her exit plan, Ana gets to work and chalks up a few small victories. 


Her confidence falters when a school contractor is killed, and a friend is implicated in the murder. An ambitious journalist tries to link Ana’s tragic past to the crime, and a powerful charter school corporation seizes on the political chaos by threatening a takeover of Ana’s school. Adding “investigate murder” to her lengthy to-do list, Ana finds herself paired with the school district’s handsome new security chief. The disturbing secrets they uncover about her friend and the killer’s twisted motives force Ana to admit she has a lot to learn about murder


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Wednesday, September 8, 2021


Susan's Hut and Palm Tree Indian Scene

Mystery author Susan Oleksiw writes the Anita Ray series along with the Mellingham series, set on the New England coast. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. She is a co-founder of Crime Spell Books, which will continue the tradition of publishing Best New England Crime Stories with Bloodroot, due out in November 2021. Learn more about Susan and her books at her website and blog.

Rediscovering Embroidery

When I lived in India in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, I discovered much that was unexpected. Almost everyone knows about the gorgeous silks Indian artisans produce, or the finely crafted silver or gold jewelry. For my marriage, an Indian friend of my mother’s sent me a piece of red silk threaded with gold (red is the traditional color of wedding saris in North India) and a shawl threaded and tasseled with real gold. From my grandmother I inherited a shawl, probably owned by her mother-in-law, woven and embroidered in the Kashmiri durokhu style, in which the shawl is embroidered on two sides with the same design in different or the same colors. 

Durokhu Embroidery

But the handwork that surprised me was that produced by Catholic women at a local nonprofit overseen by my landlady. The women made various crafts for sale, including handkerchiefs embroidered with Indian women in various traditional costumes in one corner, replacing a monogram. I bought loads of them to give to friends, along with other goods.


When I returned to the States I brought with me a new love of needlework beyond sewing (and my attempts as a child), and began doing needlepoint, again to give to family and friends, and later embroidery. My first project, however, was a free-hand image. One night in the middle of winter, I was sick of the cold, the gray, the general gloom of January in New England and pulled out a frame and fabric, and went to work. (see above Indian scene) I missed Kerala. 


I don’t claim any great skill. But I’m always willing to learn and try something new, including mastering various stitches. During the pandemic I’ve been working sporadically on a sampler. Sometimes I think of this as a way to decompress from the stress of the pandemic, or a way to let my mind wander while I’m in the middle of a novel or story that isn’t going well. But lately, I’ve had the same image come to me while I’m working, and now I think I know what it is. Look for Anita Ray to solve a murder using a hotel guest’s embroidery. 

Susan's Sampler

Until that story is written and published, look for the fourth book in the Anita Ray series, When Krishna Calls, soon to be available in trade paperback and ebook.


When Krishna Calls

An Anita Ray Mystery 


Anita is dismayed when an employee disappears and is later accused of murdering her husband, who was involved with a loan shark. But things get worse when she learns that Auntie Meena has taken out a crushing loan and tried to keep it a secret. How far will Anita go to protect her aunt and her home, and to rescue an innocent woman?


Hardcover Buy Link 

(trade paperback and ebook coming soon!)

Friday, September 3, 2021


By Lois Winston

Stitch, Bake, Die!, the tenth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is now up for pre-order with a release date of October 4th. In celebration of the upcoming release, I’m running a contest for a chance to become a character in the next book in the series. I can’t tell you what the plot of that book is yet because the idea is still incubating in my gray matter. However, I have dropped a few hints about the overall theme of Book 11 in Book 10.


I’ve periodically run a naming contest in the past and have found that readers love them. Some even ask to be the victim or the killer! If you’d like to place your name in the running, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletterThe next issue, which will come out Sept. 7th, will give directions for entering. Of course, I hope you won’t unsubscribe once the winner—or winners—are chosen. I may even wind up choosing more than one name. The winner(s) will also receive a paperback (U.S. residents only) or ebook copy of the book once it’s published next year and be mentioned in the Acknowledgments.


Stitch, Bake, Die!

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10


With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.


The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to find are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects. Can she piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?


Crafting tips included.


Pre-order Links

Paperback (available 10/4)




Apple Books 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


Lev Raphael is the author of 27 books ranging from mystery to memoir. He edits manuscripts, teaches writing workshops, and coaches writers at Write Without Borders. Learn more about Lev and his books at his website.  

Research Can Be Murder

In Department of Death, the latest Nick Hoffman mystery set in the wilds of academia, Nick has become chair of his university's English Department--but nobody reading the series could have predicted that would ever happen. It's definitely not something that Nick ever wanted. 


I introduced Nick to mystery readers in Let's Get Criminal as an English professor who wasn't respected in his Midwestern department for way too many reasons. To start with, he was a spousal hire, which meant he got his position only because the university wanted to hire his partner. Giving him a job, too, sweetened the deal.


Spousal hires at a university can arouse a lot of animosity in their new colleagues even when they're well-qualified, because they're basically just part of a package deal. In most cases, they would never have been hired on their own at that point in time. Other professors will feel they're intruders, unworthy of joining the rarified club whose membership they guard so zealously. And let's face it, it doesn't take much to anger highly combustible professors anyway in an environment where grudges flourish like feral hogs, walking catfish, Burmese pythons, and other invasive species that are ruining the Everglades.  


Nick was also looked down upon because he enjoyed teaching the most basic course the department offered: composition. His peers would do anything to avoid being stuck with it. That kind of course put him at the level of graduate assistants and adjuncts, and liking the hard work involved in helping students strengthen their writing skills created suspicion and even contempt: who was he trying to kid?


And then there was his scholarship: Nick is a bibliographer. A bibliographer of Edith Wharton. That means that he's not only read every single book, story, review, and essay that Wharton wrote, he's read everything that's ever been written about her. In every language. The project took him four solid years. He's annotated each item and created multiple indexes for the bibliography which is a splendid guide for anyone doing research about the American author who was the first women to win a Pulitzer for Literature.


That might sound significant, but to his new colleagues, it's grunt work, uninspiring--and worse than that, his book is useful. Unlike their own books which are written in abstruse critical jargon that only appeals to miniscule audiences.  


I chose this focus for Nick's scholarship because my college writing mentor was a Wharton bibliographer and I wanted to honor her years of research. And it appalled me how that book did not get her promoted to full professor when she should have been.


Nick has had a different path, pockmarked by murders of course. He did get promoted to full professor; a visiting authors' fellowship was established in his name by a grateful student who struck it rich; and through a bizarre twist of fate in the 10th book of the series, he's heading up a department filled with people who loathe him more now than ever.


He regrets having agreed to become chair before the first week in his new position is over. What happens? Nick is unexpectedly privy to a bribery scandal that threatens to blacken the name of the university. Nick himself is the object of intense administrative harassment and spying. And of course, he becomes involved in yet another murder. 


Can his research skills and his love of crime fiction help him out of this tangle of problems? They always have, no matter how little respect they've earned him from his colleagues.


In classic mystery form, the murderer and motive are revealed at the very end of the book amid a scene of crazy academic chaos unlike anything Nick has ever witnessed or dealt with before. 


Department of Death

A Nick Hoffman Mystery, Book 10


Nick Hoffman has been unexpectedly installed by his dean as chairman of his English department. It's a wildly unpopular choice and Nick is now the focus of more animosity from his colleagues than ever before. He can't seem to make anyone happy and can't get a handle on his myriad new responsibilities as an administrator, a position he never wanted. Tragedy strikes when someone seeking his help is murdered, and Nick becomes a prime suspect. Hounded by campus police, the local press, and social media, Nick wonders if this could finally be the end of his career—and if he can manage to stay out of prison. Department of Death is Lev Raphael's most blistering satire yet of the perversities of academic life.


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Monday, August 30, 2021


Award-winning author S. Lee Manning is a reformed attorney who now writes full time. Her novels reflect a lifelong interest in espionage and in Russia. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

The Perfect Street

A number of years ago - I'd prefer not to disclose just how many  - my family went on a vacation in a little town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, just north of the Vermont border. It was a pleasant vacation, except that the water in the house we'd rented smelled like rotten eggs and the house had been falsely advertised as being on the lake. It wasn't. But we managed to get ourselves to the lake; we practiced our French, and we had a lot of great meals. 


A bonus: my husband and I found an intriguing street in the town of Beebe Plains, close to where we were staying. One side of the street is in Vermont, and the other side is in Canada. Driving down the street, I could see US flags and Canadian flags waving at each other from yards on either side. Farther down, in neighboring Stanstead, is a library that straddles the two countries. The entrance is in the United States. The parking lot - Canada. Inside the library, a black line marks the border.


I talked with border agents, and then drove slowly from Beebe Plains to Stanstead, noting where the houses stopped and the fields began.


Border agents told me that neighbors couldn't even cross the street to say hello without checking in at the station. If you drive along the street, you're in Canada, but if you pull into a driveway on the Vermont side - unless it's been cleared, you'll get a visit from a US patrol very quickly.


Previously, goods of various sorts were frequently smuggled across the border, usually cheaper American products like jeans, sometimes drugs, but with 9/11 and increased security, smuggling became less frequent. It still happens - it just takes a little more skill not to get caught. 


I write spy thrillers, and I was fascinated - what a perfect location for something nefarious.


Canada is an easy drive from our home in Northern Vermont, where we moved a few years after that vacation. Before the world shut down, my husband and I would visit the Quebec towns near the border every few months. We found small and wonderful restaurants and kind people willing to endure our pathetic attempts at speaking French.


We also revisited the area that I had marked down for a future novel. Eventually, I wrote a description. I just didn't yet have the story to go with it. Of course, the story would have to involve smuggling - but what was being smuggling, who was smuggling it, and why - wasn't clear to me -  yet.


Fast forward: last year, I wrote Nerve Attack, the sequel to my award-winning novel, Trojan Horse. I needed to accomplish several things in this novel. Aside from the usual list of intricate plotting and in-depth characterizations, my protagonist Kolya Petrov, who had resigned at the end of the first novel, had to be enticed back into the spy game. Could I do all the above, and still use that fascinating street in Beebe Plains?


I came up with an idea: What if a smuggler brought something that could kill many innocent people - a poison - into the United States and what if the only person who had the contacts to stop the attack refused to work with anyone but Kolya? I had the perfect person to demand Kolya's return: Dmitri - Kolya's childhood best friend, whom he'd put in prison ten years earlier. 


I had the beginning of the plot and the perfect reason to insert Beebe Plains into Nerve Attack.


It took several drafts and eight months, but everything came together, plot, characters, locations. While Beebe Plains only plays a small role in the novel, it sets the tone - and I finally got to use the description I'd written.


Now that the border is finally open again, I can't wait to go back.


Nerve Attack

A Kolya Petrov Thriller, Book 2


Former U.S. intelligence operative Kolya Petrov, struggling with the physical and psychological aftereffects of kidnapping and torture, is drawn back into the game when Dmitri, his childhood best friend, holds the key to stopping an attack by terrorists armed with a deadly nerve agent. Working with Dmitri, however, is complicated. While their friendship had been forged during their years in an abusive Russian boys' home, the two men's lives took very different paths. Dmitri had headed the North American branch of a Russian gang until Kolya, working undercover, put him in prison. Ten years later, Dmitri's cooperation is essential to finding the smuggler of the nerve agent, and he refuses to work with anyone but Kolya.


Kolya reluctantly agrees to undertake one more mission, but to succeed, he must come to terms with the past. Can he trust Dmitri not to take revenge for the betrayal of their friendship? Can he rely on his own judgment and abilities, despite a leg injury and ongoing PTSD, to survive an elaborate plot that threatens his life and that of his fiancee, as well as the lives of hundreds of innocent people?


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