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, May 14, 2021


Years ago, I worked with a woman who retired and moved down South. The thing she missed most were the changing seasons, especially around the holidays. As far as she was concerned, Christmas lights should be strung on evergreens, not palm trees. And snow was essential, even though a white Christmas was never a guarantee, other than watching the iconic movie every year. It was the principle of the thing.  

To compensate for her lack of a traditional Northeastern holiday, she’d be the first to admit she went more than a little bit overboard. First, she bought an artificial Christmas tree and left it up year-round. But that wasn’t enough. She then decided to buy artificial trees for each room of her new home. Some were small, some large. Some traditional, others, like feather trees, not so much. She strung lights and hung wreaths in every room and interspersed other holiday decorations throughout the house. Each room had a specific Christmas theme, such as Santas, or snowflakes, or angels. It was like living in a year-round Christmas shop. Or an extremely scaled down version of the Biltmore Estate at Christmas.


But it made her happy. And that’s all that mattered.


Has this anecdote made you want to get a jump on your holiday-themed reading? Christmas in July sales are just around the corner, but now through May. 19th you can grab an e-copy of the 2-book Christmas bundle of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 7-8, which include Drop Dead Ornaments and Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide,  for only $.99. After the 19th, the set goes back to the regular price of $7.99.


Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 7-8

Drop Dead Ornaments

Anastasia Pollack's son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they'll sell at the town's annual Holiday Crafts Fair.


At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie's father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie's father is arrested for her murder.


Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She's also not convinced of Shane's innocence. Besides, she's promised younger son Nick she'll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?


Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he's crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.


In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira's attacker dead in Santa's sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man's murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she'll keep her nose out of police business. What's a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?


Craft projects included in both books.


Buy Links



Apple Books 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021


M. Elle Kelso is a Canadian writer who crosses genres from western/action, paranormal and suspense. But they all have one thing in common—a little hint of romance. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Home, Home on the Range…

...where how many deer and antelope can live together in harmony, finding enough to feed themselves without running out of food for twelve months at a time?


That’s the question and I’ve found over the years that there are writers who seem to forget about those details when they write about life on a ranch. I understand that, to many, the idea of land mass is something outside the boundaries of their normal world, since most live in a house, set in a yard, in a block of like yards and never stop to think about how much space they actually occupy. 


I remember reading my first romantic suspense novel about thirty years ago, while living on my hobby farm (anything under 10 acres in my locale) and raising horses. I knew I could safely feed and look after two horses on the first four acres and one on each of the other 6 acres (based on how much they eat and how much I’d have to feed them hay and grain.) Then I read the bookI don’t remember its name or who wrote it, and when I read out loud how much fit on the hero’s ten acre ‘ranch’, my husband and I burst into hysterical laughter and loud guffaws. Why? Because the writer had a herd of 100+ cattle on a ten-acre ranch. Kid you not! Those cows would have been standing on top of each other.


On four acres of pasture, you can feed two horses, for one year, and you will have to supplement.


On ten acres, you can have a smallish herd of 6-8, absolutely no more than 10, with no buildings, trees, barns or riding rings/arenas. On eighty acres, you could care forwell here it gets tricky, so you sign into sites like this oneanswer the questions, and their algorithm supply the answer. Or you ask someone like me who can answer the question for you. I’d tell you about one horse per acre, IF: there are no trees, creeks running through the land, houses, barns, riding rings, garage for your car, sheds for your farm equipment or any other building you can think to put on this fictional ranch. And if there’s a road running through it, take more land from the horses and remember that it does not take more than a few minutes to drive from one end to the other. 


I remember one book where it took someone about ten minutes from the gate to the house, on 50 acres. NO! Maybe thirty seconds at 20 mph. 


One of the ways I explain acreage to others is that one square mile is 640 acres. If your speed is 30 miles an hour on a straight, flat road, you could drive from one side to the other in two minutes.  


Never go too small. Readers will catch you out, and if they understand land mass, there’s nothing that throws them out of a story faster than ridiculous numbers of animals and dwellings on too few acres. 


 My new release, Eagle Down, is the third book in my Cyber Cowboys series, and while most of the action in the first two books centers around dog kennels and ranches (not farmsthere is a complete difference,) the third book takes place on a ranch with a side trip to a hospital. These books came from my overstimulated imagination but are factually based on what I knowbreeding and showing horses and Labrador Retrievers, farming and veterinary care of said animals. 


Even the flying: I took the ground school part of my pilot’s license but had a major problem with cloud formations. But again, it is something I know a little about. Many of the incidents in my books are based on actual experience. As far as locations, I use Google, Google maps, and my map books to keep me informed. I use the satellite view a lot to tell me about the topography. And if I’m quoting cattle prices, I use the market information in the area for my prices. And to do that you have to know ranch languagelike the definition of a boner steer.


The internet is a huge source of this information if you ask the question correctly. Someone with knowledge and experience can be even better. I set most of my books just outside Portland in the Pacific Northwest (a fictional town) or the state of Wyoming. I’ve been to Portland twice. Thank goodness for Google! And if you need help, contact me at mellekelso@gmail.comI’m happy to assist if I can.


Mercy Rule

Cyber Cowboy Series, Book 4


Meet the Cyber Cowboys—a tough bunch of private eyes who know computers and the law inside out and backward. Every time they step out of their computer-P.I. boots—answer a call that doesn’t include black-hat hackers, online hustlers and fraudulent con artists—they meet nothing but trouble. Attempted murder, arson, rustling, and abduction they can handle. Falling in love sends them looking for the ‘help’ button. Computers? Artificial intelligence has nothing to do with it! In every case, these laid back investigators have to get down and dirty to save the women they love. They help multi-national companies and governments fix their problems...but when trouble hits and love gets involved? They’re the ones who need rescuing


The Corbin, Taylor & Wynn Investigative Agency is three men (Blake Corbin, Jared Wynn and David Taylor) who’ve been in business together for years. The agency is headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming when the series begins but soon moves to the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. Business is so good they hire additional investigators and even the new guys aren’t immune to the trouble love can cause.


The Cyber Cowboys series is four stories of romantic suspense and skullduggery set in Wyoming and Oregon. Additional stories may augment the series based on the characters who work for the agency. 


In Mercy Rule we meet Will Carter, the first non-computer-literate member of the Agency. Will is a lawyer/legal investigator with the Seattle DA’s office when Blake offers him a job. His first case takes him back to Seattle and nearly costs him his life when defense attorney Mercy Brittain’s brother Todd is abducted. 


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Monday, May 10, 2021


Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Now she’s a USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop home staging cozy mystery series where she kills off characters who remind her of people she dealt with during her career. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

People often say they would like to write a book or that they are writing one. But statistics show that a whopping ninety-seven percent of people who start a book never finish it. Startling statistics. It made me wonder what enabled me to write a book and have it published and not end up part of the ninety-seven percent. 


I don’t have outstanding writing talent, nor do I possess compelling stories that nearly write themselves. I spent a career writing technical manuals, procedural guides, and policy. All pretty boring stuff. And although that experience helped me develop a good sense of grammar and organization, it didn’t help move me into writing anything that required some imagination—especially writing murder mysteries. What if I had thought I couldn’t write fiction?


So what did I possess that helped me become a published author? I can only chalk it up to sheer stubbornness. I was like the character in the film, Galaxy Quest, who continually states, “Never give up, never surrender.” Once I decided to write a cozy mystery, I was just too stubborn to give up. What if I hadn’t been so stubborn?


I began my mystery-writing journey when I signed up for an online course on mystery writing through my local community college. The course required work, and I noticed as the course progressed how many people began dropping out. I kept at it and came out of it with a complete outline for my mystery. What if I had found the course too much work and quit?


With the outline, I had a road map for my story. It didn’t take me long to flesh it out, but when I finished the complete first draft and wrote The End, I only had 45,000 words. A far cry from the 70,000 words required by most publishers for a cozy mystery. What if I had decided I didn’t have anything more to add to the story and had given up?


So I brainstormed and thought of things I could add. Some of my ideas were pretty lame, but somehow I got them to work. I polished my manuscript and gave it to five friends to read and give me feedback. They were supportive and gave me suggestions on which to base changes. What if I had been reluctant to show my work to anyone or been discouraged by their comments and stopped there?


I kept learning all I could about writing novels, specifically mysteries, and attended several mystery conferences. I met other aspiring writers there and formed friendships. They encouraged me and offered to read my manuscript and provide feedback—this time from experienced mystery writers. I took their suggestions and started rewriting. What if I had been reluctant to attend a conference or had been too shy to approach other writers?


Having made strides in my writing, I joined professional organizations that support mystery writers, specifically Sisters in Crime (SINC) and Mystery Writers of America. Through SINC, I discovered an online chapter, the Guppies, that consisted of unpublished mystery writers helping each other to move ahead. They kept me going when I got discouraged. What if I had viewed myself as unworthy of being a member of a professional organization?


Throughout the intervening years, ten in fact, I learned much about writing mysteries. I revised my first manuscript thirty-eight times. What if I had stopped at version ten, twenty, or even thirty-seven?


Then I took the next hard step—querying agents requesting representation. I sent out queries, week after week, sometimes hearing no thanks, and other times hearing nothing at all. What if I decided I couldn’t deal with rejection?


No matter what, I didn’t give up, and when that call came from an agent saying that she liked my manuscript and wanted to represent me, I was sure glad I hadn’t. She sold my manuscript to a small publisher, and my first book, Staging is Murder came out—almost ten years from the month I completed that online course. It became an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Mystery and a USA Today bestseller. My second book, Staging Wars, came out April 2020. This past April, Upstaged by Murder was published. 


So if you want to write a mystery or accomplish anything else, remember, never give up, never surrender


Have you ever thought about writing a book?


Upstaged by Murder

A Laura Bishop Home Staging Cozy Mystery, Book 3


When professional home stager Laura Bishop enters a competition to become the next TV home staging star, she figures it will be murder—but she doesn’t expect it to include a body. As tensions rise and rivalries rage, a coded notebook flips the script and Laura’s on the case.


But she’s not alone. Her closest confidantes pitch in by sleuthing, eavesdropping, and even staging a sting to protect those near and dear. Yet she’s still corralling a runaway teen, sparring with a handsome detective, and handling the shock of her life with a blast from her past. All while creating a cozy cabin retreat fit for first place.


Amidst constant cameras and glaring lights, Laura tries to style the stage and pull back the curtain on a killer before her career—and her life—get cut.


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Friday, May 7, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with 
Tally Holt from author Kaye George’s Vintage Sweets Mystery Series.

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

I was doing fairly well. I had my own business and was making money. Then that author had my best friend from childhood, Yolanda Bella, talk me into buying—okay, putting a down payment on—the shop next to hers in Fredericksburg  Texas, where we both grew up. It’s been a struggle ever since I got here! Getting the business off the ground, keeping employees, having people get murdered in Tally’s Olde Tyme Sweets, my shop—that last one is very bad for business!


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

I like to think that I keep a level head in emergencies, but I’ve found that’s not always true. I thought I had good business sense but am having to talk Yolanda into looking over my books. I’ve always been a good judge of character until I got fooled by a few people. Maybe being flexible, going with the flow, is what I’m good at. After all, I’ve never had a pet cat, and am loving the one my brother dumped on me. It doesn’t hurt that Nigel is the sweetest big lump in the world, a Maine coon.


What do you like least about yourself?

I’ve found I have a tendency to get too involved in the lives of my employees. I find myself micromanaging if I’m not careful. That doesn’t go over well with them. 


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

I’d say that coming up with dead bodies is pretty strange! I never had to deal with them before she stepped in. And why would she pick Gene as a victim? There aren’t many men more good-looking that him! It’s a loss to womankind. 


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

I tried to get her to focus on someone else as the main suspect for Gene’s murder, but nooo, she went with Yolanda, my aforementioned best friend. I had no choice but to try to dig up whatever I could to get her off the hook that I knew she shouldn’t be on. 


What is your greatest fear?

Let’s see—my shop failing, me being the next victim, Yolanda shunning me for making her look guilty… Now that I look at the list, I’ll pick #2. I don’t want to be next!



What makes you happy?

I’ve found that Nigel can do that, no matter what else is going on. Yolanda is such a good friend, she can cheer me up, too. 


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

Any part? I’d have parents who had regular jobs and lived in one town. My brother Cole and I have to worry about them all the time. They are musician/dancer/singers who trot the globe with their wildly successful act. In fact, Cole doesn’t bear his share of the worrying. It’s mostly me.


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

Mrs. Gerg, bless her heart. She can’t help trying to do nice things for me. Her idea of nice, though, is picking up cast off junk at garage sales and giving it to me. Since she’s also my landlord, I can’t chuck all of it. She comes in sometimes and would notice if nothing she ever got me is on display. So it’s all on display. I even had to buy another shelf. Luckily, she doesn’t pick up large items. 


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

I wouldn’t mind being Yolanda. Her parents hover and her father treats her like a child, but they hand her money all the time. And they’re here—they live right outside town. She has a huge safety net. It also looks like she might have a love life. I’m pretty much lacking in that department. Every time I think a guy is working out, he’s not. 


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

She used to live outside Austin and loves the vineyard-studded Hill Country where Fredericksburg is located. She’s now in Knoxville TN, near some of her grandchildren. The third in this series, Into the Sweet Hereafter, came out in March, and that was her lucky thirteenth novel. She’s also written about 50 short stories and loves doing those! 


You can find pretty much everything about her at her website, including an audio free short story and links to her other social media accounts and a couple of blogs. 


What's next for you?

I have no idea. You’ll have to ask Kaye. But if you’re interested in knowing what she’s doing next, she’s continuing to work on the third in book in her People of the Wind series. These are books set 30,000 years ago at the beginning of the last Ice Age and her main characters are a small Neanderthal tribe. She’s also always working on more short stories.


Thanks to the readers here for stopping by! There is another free short story for you if you sign up for Kaye’s newsletter. She tries to keep her fans up to date with it, bringing out a new edition about quarterly-ish, unless there’s breaking news. Stay safe, everyone!


Into the Sweet Hereafter

A Vintage Sweets Mystery, Book 3


Spring has sprung in the charming tourist town of Fredericksburg, Texas, and one of the tastiest attractions is a trip to Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets—until a bizarre burglary leaves a bitter aftertaste...
Tally Holt is thrilled to see her new replicas of vintage sweets displayed in the window of Bella’s Baskets, a gift basket shop owned by her friend, Yolanda Bella. There’s just one problem—the creations appear to be melting. The ladies assume the culprit is the broiling heat of the Texas sun—until that night, the store window is smashed, and there’s only one thing missing: the replicas.
Tally is positively stumped. Clearly, the useless fake candies are more special than she bargained for—but why? When a rash of seemingly unrelated burglaries sweeps through the area, Tally is determined to sleuth out the answer—and stop a thief from killing more than the town’s appetite...


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Wednesday, May 5, 2021


In her previous life Sophy Smythe was a Dutch medical doctor, specialising in chronic pain and burnout. Like her protagonist Charlie Martens, MD, she reinvented herself, and now writes fact-based mystery-thrillers. The Medical Code is her debut novel. Learn more about Sophy and her books at her website. 

Like my protagonist Charlie Martens, I have a soft spot for sushi.


I’d like to share the chef’s recipe from the super-secret three-star restaurant in The Hague as mentioned in The Medical Code.


Soft-Shell Crab Maki

Put 1/2 cup of tempura batter mix in a glass bowl and mix it with 3/4-cup of cold water.


Sprinkle 1/4 cup of white breadcrumbs (or more, depending on the number of crabs) on a plate. Dip the soft-shell crab in the tempura batter, then roll it in the breadcrumbs.


Deep fry until golden brown. This should take two to three minutes or less. Let the fried crab cool on a paper towel. The paper absorbs excess fat.


Make sushi rolls


Half a tempura soft shell crab


Finely sliced carrot


Sauce made of mayonnaise and chili sauce


The Medical Code

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in Antwerp, Belgium, Doctor Charlotte Martens receives an urgent late-night call from her friend who is a member of the European Medicines Agency. The next day Charlotte learns that her friend was violently murdered and that she herself is now the prime suspect. Because the police find a baffling code beside the murder victim, Charlotte enlists the help of an investigative journalist. She and the journalist discover that her murdered friend was about to expose a conspiracy of fraud and corruption within the pharma industry involving the government, certain reputable doctors, and even the European Medicines Agency.


With both the police and the murderer closing in on them, Charlotte and the journalist must stay alive long enough to find the hard evidence necessary to bring down a faceless pharma company that will clearly stop at nothing to protect their secret network.


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Monday, May 3, 2021


Peggy Ehrhart is a former English professor with a doctorate in Medieval Literature. She currently writes the Knit & Nibble mystery series about amateur sleuth, Pamela Paterson, founder of the Knit & Nibble knitting club. Peggy herself is a devoted crafter, dating from her membership in 4-H as a child in southern California.Learn more about Peggy and her books at her website. 

Knit and Nibble member Roland DeCamp prides himself on rising to the occasion with a dessert goody to serve at break time when the Knit and Nibble knitting group meets at his house. He’s not an experienced cook, however, and so I enjoy finding recipes for him that don’t tax his cooking skills. 


In Knitty Gritty Murder Roland serves a fresh strawberry pie featuring a sweet glaze made with strawberry Jell-O. It’s a great summer recipe, best when strawberries are local and at their peak. Since Knitty Gritty Murder takes place in May and was released in April, I thought Strawberry Jell-O Pie would be a perfect choice for Roland’s cooking project in that book. 

It's also one of the first desserts I learned to to make, taught to me long ago by my best friend in high school. After I'd gone away to college, I wanted to make it for a boyfriend, and I wrote to her, asking for the recipe. She mailed it to me on a postcard that I still keep in my recipe file.

Coincidentally I recently revisited a fascinating cookbook that surveys the favorite dishes of U.S. presidents all the way back to Washington. Molded gelatin creations were a feature of elegant dining for centuries, but in earlier times they were much more labor-intensive than the recipes we can create now with a box of Jell-O. 


A recipe for “Wine Jelly” from Jefferson’s era starts with instructions to boil four calves feet! This step provided the collagen that created the gelling effect. Another source of collagen was isinglass, made from dried fish bladders. A modern food writer has noted that these early gelatin desserts had to be quite aggressively flavored to cover up the lingering hint of beef or fish, and that they probably tasted less thrilling than they looked.


Jell-O, the convenient product in the little box, was trademarked in 1897, but it really came into its own in the 1940s and 1950s. My husband recalls with great fondness the Jell-O desserts and salads that were a feature of church suppers when he was a child.


I hadn’t made my friend’s Strawberry Jell-O Pie for ages, so I checked online to make sure Jell-O hadn’t been modified in the intervening decades to the point that my old recipe wouldn’t turn out right. But the versions I found online were essentially the same as the one on my recipe card—though you might note that I made a few tweaks in the recipe I give below. Touchingly, several people commenting on the online recipes observed that the results were just like what they remembered from their youth. 


Strawberries, however, have gotten much bigger.

Roland’s pie is not difficult or time-consuming, especially if you use a premade pie crust and Cool Whip or aerosol whipped cream rather than whipping your own. But the pie crust needs to cool before filling, and the completed pie needs to chill for a few hours. So plan to start 4 hours or so before you want to serve the pie.


Roland’s Strawberry Jell-O Pie


3 tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1-3/4 cups water

1 3-oz. box strawberry Jell-O

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups strawberries, sliced vertically into quarters (1 pint)

1 10” baked pie crust

Whipping cream


Fill the pie crust with the sliced strawberries. I like to arrange them so most of the red sides are facing up. 


Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and simmer, stirring frequently, until it thickens and becomes less cloudy. This will take about 5 minutes. 


Stir in the Jell-O and the vanilla until the Jell-O dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the contents cool for half an hour. Pour the mixture over the strawberries and chill the pie until the Jell-O mixture sets, about 2 hours. Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream sweetened to taste. 

You can buy ready-made but unbaked pie crusts in the refrigerator section of your supermarket. The packaging usually explains how to bake them unfilled. Or you can make your own. 



1 1/4 cup sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. shortening

1/6 cup cold water—approximately


Sift the flour and salt together. Cut in the shortening using two knives, your fingers, or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Sprinkle the water over the mixture while tossing with a fork until the dough clings together. 


Flour your hands and gather the dough into a ball. Transfer it to a floured surface, sprinkle more flour on it, and press it into a disk. Using a floured rolling pin roll it into a circle a few inches larger than your pie pan. Turn the dough over a few times as you roll and sprinkle more flour on it and on your rolling surface. Fit the dough into your pie pan—it’s easier to do this if you fold it into quarters and then unfold it in the pan. Crimp the edges and prick it all over the sides and bottom with a fork. 


Bake it 15 to 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Check on it after 15 minutes.  

Knitty Gritty Murder

A Knit & Nibble Mystery, Book 7


Pamela Paterson and the Knit and Nibble ladies have plenty of talents that don’t revolve around yarn. But their penchant for patterns has led to a dangerous hobby they just can’t quit—unraveling murders.


Most times of the year, the tight-knit community gardens in quaint Arborville, New Jersey, overflow with seasonal vegetables and herbs. But who planted the dead body? Farm-to-table enthusiast Jenny Miller had a cookbook in the works when she was suddenly found strangled by a circular knitting needle in her own plot. Now, the pressure is on Pamela and her neighbor Bettina as they weave together clues in search of the person who kept Jenny’s renowned heirloom plants—and budding career—from growing. With suspects and victims cropping up like weeds, it’ll take a whole lot more than green thumbs and creative minds this spring to entangle the crafty culprit . . .


Knitting tips and delicious recipe included!


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Friday, April 30, 2021


Whether fiction or nonfiction, Justin Murphy explores many themes in his work, including probing into the darkness of pure evil and exploring obscure figures often forgotten in entertainment, such as Gene L. Coon, an ex-marine, pharmacist, journalist, and the unsung hero of the original Star Trek franchise. Learn more about Justin and his books at his Facebook Author Page. 

I wrote a full-length biography of forgotten Star Trek writer-producer Gene L. Coon, a man who has been obscured in the franchise’s history. While many extoll the virtues of Gene Roddenberry and his, “vision of the future’’, Coon is the man who created the nuts and bolts of the fictional universe we see today. 


To be fair, Gene Roddenberry and his associate producer John D.F. Black brought Star Trek’s initial concept to the screen. Yet many of the ideas didn’t take. Despite taking inspiration from Horatio Hornblower sea adventure tales, Westerns like Wagon Train, and the unaired pilot, “The Cage”, which resembled the classic sci-fi film Forbidden Planet, the first ten or so episodes were without much depth. Many of these featured supernatural beings of the week, mad scientists, and a space virus. However, one episode did introduce the Romulans.


Coon took over as writer-producer midway through Season 1. He first nixed a failing romance storyline between Captain James T. Kirk and Yeoman Janice Rand. He incorporated the more humanistic elements, such as giving villains a sense of dignity despite the terrible things they do. Displaying this in the Klingons in’’Errand of Mercy’’ and in Khan (co-created with Carey Wilber) in ’’Space Seed’’. He also reversed the role of the typical monster of the week by showing how humans harmed them and commented on the futility of war as in ’’A Taste of Armageddon’’. He expanded the concept of warp technology and created greater interaction between the three lead crew members with the level-headed Kirk settling arguments between the logical Mr. Spock and the emotion Dr. McCoy.


I’d heard of Coon over the years but noticed there wasn’t much written about him. My research involved combing newspaper archives such as The Los Angeles Times and The Beatrice Daily Sun, his hometown periodical. This is where I found details of his earlier life, including his stint singing on an Omaha, Nebraska radio station at the age of four. Along with his career as a pharmacist, trained during his Marine service in Korea, he also freelanced as a reporter, covering atomic bomb tests in Yucca Flats, Nevada.


Coon died on July 8, 1973, a year after Star Trek first became profitable in syndication and on the convention circuit. For many years, his name didn’t even get a mention until William Shatner’s memoir Star Trek Memoriescame out in 1993 in which he dedicated an entire chapter to Coon and his accomplishments on the series. Leonard Nimoy corroborated these claims is in his own 1995 tell-all I Am Spock, as did many behind the scenes personnel such as Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman in Star Trek: The Real Story.


Coon was an amazing man who had much to do with what Star Trek became. Yet his premature death from throat and lung cancer and Gene Roddenberry’s self-promotion as the sole creator of Star Trek did much to conceal Coon’s legacy from the public. Gene L. Coon has only a few living relatives, and none of them receive royalties.


I’ve received both positive and negative feedback on the book in the few years since its release. Would also like to thank actor Jack Nolan for narrating the audiobook. My hope is those read or listen to the book will be enriched by the legacy Gene L. Coon left behind. So much of it belongs to him, despite his lack of recognition. Roddenberry was far from the only, ’’Great Bird of The Galaxy’’. It’s the story of a man who left behind a great body of work yet doesn’t get a lot of his due credit.

Gene L. Coon: The Unsung Hero of Star Trek:

Gene Roddenberry has long been painted as the visionary who made Star Trek possible. Yet not much has been written on Gene L. Coon, the real workhorse behind the original series. This man built the universe around Roddenberry’s initial concept we all know today. He almost single handedly created the Klingons and had a hand in creating the franchise’s greatest villain…KHAN! Any notion of Starfleet Command, The United Federation of Planets, warp technology, and its fictional creator Zefram Cochrane all belong to him. Coon died from cancer at forty-nine, just as Star Trek got popular through reruns and conventions.

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