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, December 2, 2022

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR E.J. COPPERMAN

Today we sit down for a chat with mystery author E.J. Copperman, who when asked what genres he writes, answered, “Allegedly cozy, definitely humorous (we say “funny” in my house.)” Learn more about him and his books at his website and blog.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

When the 25th consecutive screenplay didn’t sell. I think I always wanted to write novels but didn’t believe I could until I couldn’t tame a script idea and it came out as a novel. You live and learn. 

 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?

Five days. I pitched the book to 150 publishers via email and got one response. The publisher there said to send him the first 10 pages “and if I laugh reading those, I’ll read the whole book.” The next email read, “I laughed on page 3.” Sold the book five days later. It’s never been that easy again. 

 

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?

I am traditionally published. I’m too bad at marketing and promotion to publish myself. 

 

Where do you write?

In New Jersey. 

 

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

It can go either way. If someone in the house is doing something nearby that might distract me, I plug in the headphones and play something without lyrics. Strauss. A lot of Strauss.

 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?

Since my first three books, which took my circumstances but exaggerated them shamelessly, nothing I have written has had the slightest hint of truth in it. I make stuff up. That’s what I’m good at. 

 

Describe your process for naming your character?

hate naming characters. I usually go by sound rather than word choices. If I think a character needs a hard consonant on the front of their name, it’ll have some bearing. Then I tell myself this is a placeholder name and I’ll change it later, but I never do. 

 

Real settings or fictional towns?

Fake, fake, fake. Although Sandy Moss lives in Los Angeles, which is allegedly a real place. My characters will drive through real towns, but never live there. 

 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?

Samuel Hoenig has autism-spectrum behaviors, so he does things some people will find quirky. To best evaluate a person’s character, he’ll ask them their favorite Beatles song. And he won’t take no for an answer. 

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I write novels for a living. What’s quirkier than that?

 

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo by Joe Adamson. People think I’m kidding but I’m not. It’s a brilliantly written book on a subject I’m passionate about, and it sounds like something I’d have written, only smarter. 

 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?

I would have skipped the 20 years trying to sell screenplays and started writing novels sooner. 

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

His name’s Gizmo. He’s a beagle, and he resents you calling him a peeve. 

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?

  1. My wife, because she’d see me through it.
  2. A luxury yacht and someone to sail it.
  3. A book called “How To Get Off A Deserted Island Using Only a Book.”

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

Movie usher. They were showing an awful movie and I had absolutely nothing to do but watch it four times a day. They could have nailed the stupid uniform coat to the back wall of the theater, and I would have been able to sleep through it without anyone knowing the difference. Unless I snored, in which case someone would have to alert me that there was a person snoring in the theater and I would have had to tell myself to be quiet.

 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Oh, there’s no way you’re getting me to answer that one. I have friends who are authors. Suppose I don’t say it was one of theirs. Heck no. But the Adamson book listed above is definitely my favorite. 

 

Ocean or mountains?

Um… see answer below. 

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

I like to visit cities. If I get too far away from buildings and movie theaters, I tend to curl up in the fetal position and whimper. 

 

What’s on the horizon for you?

The line between the land and the sky. Why? Do you see something else?

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? 

You can find out anything worth knowing at www.ejcopperman.com and you can buy discounted copies of many of my books at www.cohencoppermanbooks.com. Otherwise, pick one up and see if they’re your style.

 

And Justice For Mall

A Jersey Girl Legal Mystery, Book 4

 

Sandy Moss is faced with a client who won’t let her off the hook: eleven-year-old Riley Schoenberg walks brazenly into Sandy’s office and tells her she wants Sandy to mount an appeal for her father, who is in prison after being convicted of murdering Riley’s mother. And just to make it interesting, he’s confessed to the crime.

 

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--PAPER BAG SNOWFLAKE AND A CHRISTMAS NOVELLA FROM AUTHOR BETHANY MAINES

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter or glued to the computer, working on her next novel or screenplay. Learn more about Bethany and her books at her website where you’ll also find links to other social media accounts.

Holiday Cheer

This month as I geared up for the release of my Christmas mystery novella, Winter Wonderland, I found myself moving straight past Thanksgiving at the speed of Santa’s sleigh. I am more than ready for some holiday cheer, and I’m relieved that the calendar is about to hit December and I can officially fly the holiday flag AKA don my Nakatomi Towers Christmas Party shirt. I’m not always so Yule inclined but this year, like my heroine Larissa Frost, I want ALL the Christmas. I want cookies, crafts, and enough candy canes to build a fence. Unfortunately, my family are more in the category of my hero, Marcus Winters, and have forbidden decorating until December first.

 

I have lured my daughter onto my side with crafts, but my husband is unswayed by glitter. He knows that decorating means that at some point there will be the struggle to have an upright Christmas tree and sees no reason to rush into such things.

 

I can’t blame him. Verticality is both the hallmark and bane of a Christmas tree. If we wanted them to remain upright, we really should stop chopping them down. In the past, we've had two trees that decided to lodge complaints with management and went for a more recumbent position. They have a right to protest, of course, but it seemed unfair to take the lights and ornaments with them. 

 

I also understand the hesitation to launch into the extra work that the holidays take. Some years I don’t have the energy to invest in the full holiday extravaganza. (See pandemic years 2019-2021.) But this year I feel like I've got a few extra bars of battery life and I could manage a gingerbread house and an extra batch or six of cookies. 

 

If all you're up for is a soothing re-watch of Die Hard and White Christmas, then I salute you and wish you a warm couch, a good beverage, and a toasty dog for your feet. However, if you are also ready for some holiday cheer and would like a quick and easy craft, see below for instructions on how to turn paper sandwich bags into an oversized snowflake. This one is fun and good for kids who are of glue gun handling age. Younger kiddos can participate by pre-decorating the bags and letting their big people handle the gluing. 

 

Note from Anastasia: Using a low-temp glue gun or tacky glue will allow full participation by the young ones. Just make sure to allow the tacky glue to dry completely before cutting out the shapes.


Paper Snowflake

Materials: 9 paper lunch sacks with flaps, hot glue, scissors, twine, hole punch. (optional ruler, pencil, Xacto knife)

 

1. Glue the bags together, one on top of another, with the bottom fold flap side facing down. Make a T-Shape with the glue across the bottom fold and then 3/4 of the way up the seam toward the top of the bag.

 

2. After all the bags are glued together, cut out simple geometric shapes along each long side above the folded bottom portion of the bags the way you would have when creating snowflakes out of folded paper. You can first draw the shapes before cutting if you choose. 

 

3. Unfold and glue the final edges together. Sometimes it helps to stick your hands all the way into the bag, but be careful. Hot glue is…hot!

 

4. Use a hole punch to make a hole. Thread with twine or ribbon and knot ends together for hanging.

 

Additional ideas: Add glitter or spray paint or have the kids color on the bags ahead of time.

 

Winter Wonderland

A Rom-Com Mystery

 

Marcus "Bag Humbug" Winters is hiding from Christmas, and the rest of his life, when he gets an offer he can't refuse—the chance to photograph a top model with the enormous 70-karat Hartford Diamond. The Hartford Diamond shoot is also an answered prayer for set designer Larissa "I Love Christmas" Frost. But while she needs the job to pay for her brother's unexpected hospital bills, she does not need the headache of a demanding photographer who keeps calling her Larry. But when they finally meet on set, Larissa is unprepared for Marcus to be a hunk, for him to apologize profusely, or for the Hartford Diamond to be stolen. Now Marcus may be the only one who can keep Larissa from going to jail for a crime she didn't commit. For Larissa and Marcus, this Christmas is anything but a Winter Wonderland.

 

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Monday, November 28, 2022

PARANORMAL MYSTERY AUTHOR DR. RANDY OVERBECK DISCUSSES CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES--INCLUDING HIS NEWEST

Dr. Randy Overbeck is a bestselling author of the award-winning Haunted Shores Mysteries, each a cold case murder mystery wrapped in ghost story served with a side romance and set in a beautiful resort location. He is also the author and voice of a new podcast, “Great Stories about Great Storytellers,” which reveals the unusual backstories of famous authors, directors and poets. In addition, he shares his multi-media presentations with audiences around the country. Learn more about all at his website.

Christmas Ghost Stories

When readers pick up a Christmas story today, even a Christmas mystery, they will likely encounter brilliant Christmas lights, a decorated Christmas tree, or even a Santa Claus—in addition to a murder victim and a detective, of course. In fact, listening to the incessant stream of cheerful, holiday songs, readers might think it was always so. Not true. Not so long ago, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, children and adults were told stories of a different kind of “spirit.” In England—the same country that gave us such holiday traditions as Christmas cards and mistletoe—children and adults gathered around a fireplace on a wintry Christmas Eve and were frightened into the Christmas “spirit” via a few creepy ghost stories.

 

The most famous of these eerie Christmas tales is, of course, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with its four specters to scare straight Ebenezer Scrooge. But Dickens is hardly alone. Henry James’s most famous work, The Turn of the Screw, which also takes place on Christmas Eve, is the tale of a governess who encounters the ghostly figures of a man and a woman. 

 

In the same British holiday convention, A.M. Burrage’s eerie short story “Smee” is about a group of young people messing around on Christmas Eve who decide to play a game of hide and seek in a spooky house in which a young girl died years before. What could go wrong?

 

The list goes on and on.

 

This tradition of sharing ghost stories on Christmas eve is thought to emanate from the pre-Christian celebration of the Winter Solstice, a time when light dies and the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest…and many of these threads continue even into our time. For years, the BBC hosted “Ghost Stories for Christmas,” spooking late night audiences into the ‘70s. Even the recent hit series, Downton Abbey—which portrayed life in England in the first half of the twentieth century--featured a Christmas episode where family members are gathered around a Ouija board, trying to access a spirit.

 

My new title, Scarlet at Crystal River, (watch the video here) continues this fine tradition of spooky Christmas ghost stories. This year, why not continue a centuries-old tradition and grab an alluring Christmas ghost mystery to read by the burning yule log this holiday?

 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright! 

 

Scarlet at Crystal River

A Haunted Shores Mystery, Book 3

 

During the Christmas holidays, Darrell and Erin travel to Florida for their honeymoon, but, once there, the ghosts of two murdered children interrupt their romantic excursions. The newlyweds are driven to find out what really happened to the two kids, even when they are shot at, driven off the road and nearly killed. 

 

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA - MYSTERY AUTHOR AND NEW GRANDMA JOANNA CAMPBELL SLAN TACKLES BABY BOOTIES AND A NEW MYSTERY

New York Times bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan is a serial crafter, who likes to try a variety of creative hobbies in the evening after writing all day. She goofs up a lot, but mostly, she doesn’t care. Her latest book is Ship Wrecked, Book #8 in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series. Learn more about Joanna and her books at her website

I’m Forever Making Booties

On March 23 of this year, I became a grandmother. Like generations of crafty grannies before me, I wanted to handmake “something” –I didn’t really care what—for Landon James Slan. It’s a universal truth among makers that with every bit of effort we put into a project is really an act of love. The memory box in my closet still contains cross-stitched drawstring purses my late grandmother made for me. When I run a fingertip over the threaded pattern, I can close my eyes and literally feel her love. I wanted my grandson to have that emotional touchpoint, too. But what to make a little boy?

 

Booties. 

 

That was the answer!

 

Now if I was an ace crochet maven like Bippy, a character in my Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series, I could have whipped out a pair in nothing flat. But I’m not that experienced. Years ago, I attended a beginning crochet class at a yarn store. Booties were not included.

 

However, Google is a crafter’s best friend. By googling “crochet patterns for booties,” I found a plethora of options. The first pair claimed to be super simple. Basically, you made a T-shape and lapped over the sides to form a shoe. The result was lamentable, and they didn’t stay on.

 

Back to Google. I found a Baby-Bean Booties pattern by Brenda K. B. Anderson. 

 

The Baby-Bean Booties pattern comes with a video tutorial. Yes, the pattern was more complicated than the cross-over pair I first made, but these new booties were designed to stay on. Babies are terrific at kicking, and Landon is no exception. Baby-Bean Booties’ tall, stretchy cuff helps them to cling to those chubby little calves.

 

The pattern is well presented. The instructions are clear. By watching the video, I was able to work through any hiccups. Using yarn that I already had, I made my first pair. They fit Landon perfectly! Since then, I’ve completed four pairs—teal, blue, gray, and red. There’s a real value to recreating the same pattern, over and over. Each time I approach the project, my confidence grows and my skills improve. Of course, I also get faster. 

 

But I like changing things up, and a pair of Santa Claus boots would be adorable for the holidays. The idea of a fuzzy cuff thrilled me. Unfortunately, crocheting with fluffy yarn is a nightmare. Once again, I turned to Google for advice. Two tidbits made a lot of sense: 1.) pair the fluffy yarn with regular yarn so you can see/find your stitches and 

2.) use a larger size crochet hook. 

 

I set out to conquer the fur-trimmed booty.

 

The cuff on the Baby-Bean Booties is worked sideways in rows, starting with a chain of 19, putting the hook in the back loop of the stitch to give it stretch, and then slip-stitching the sides together to form a tube. Try as I might, I couldn’t FIND the back post of the stitches when I switched to the fuzzy yarn. After a frustrating evening, I asked myself, “What CAN I do? What do I know how to do already?” 

 

Time for a modification. With the black yarn. I crocheted a cuff that was half the size required, a chain of 9 instead of 19, but still making 26 rows. As directed, I slip-stitched the piece together to make the (shorter) tube and continued with the body of the shoe. Once I had the shoe and the stretchy top, I switched to the fuzzy-and-plain white yarn and increased the hook one size. Using this new combination, I worked into the top of the existing black cuff with a single crochet stitch. I kept going until I had crocheted an additional white, fuzzy band the same size as the existing black cuff. 

Ta-da!!! It worked!

 

Lessons learned: Don’t give up. Think up a work-around. Take a break when you get too frustrated. Find help with Google. And keep on making booties.

 

Ship Wrecked

A Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery, Book 8 

 

Cara Mia Delgatto is doing historical research when she visits the House of Refuge, a way station for shipwrecked sailors, on Hutchinson’s Island, Florida. But Cara gets a dose of hysterical reality when another visitor is stabbed—and she’s called upon to administer first aid. The subsequent death of the victim weighs heavily on Cara. The police are stymied, but Cara is spunky and determined. Until she finds out whodunnit—and why—she’s haunted by the senseless murder.

 

Pre-order Link 

Monday, November 21, 2022

AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR BARBARA PRONIN

Deadwood, South Dakota

Today we sit down for a chat with mystery author Barbara Pronin. Learn more about her and her books at her website

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

I was in sixth grade when Scott O’Dell, author of Island of the Blue Dolphins visited my school. I was struck by his charisma and his tale of how he came to write the book, and I knew right then I was destined to follow in that path.

 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? 

I have been very lucky. I sold my first magazine article with my first query, when I was a young mom with kids at home. When my kids were in school, I became a substitute teacher – and that resulted in my first book, Substitute Teaching: A Handbook for Hassle-Free Subbing, which sold to St. Martin’s Press. The book is still in print after some 30 years, and my success with that gave me the courage to finally try my hand at a novel – Syndrome – which sold to Avon Books and launched my career, writing as both Barbara Pronin and as Barbara Nickolae, which began with a collaboration on Finder’s Keepers and resulted in a two-book contract under that name. 

 

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? 

Traditionally published

 

Where do you write? 

At home, in an office cluttered with books, manuscripts, reference materials and ‘stuff.’ My ‘filing system’ is non-existent, but I can usually find what I want with little effort.

 

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

I love classical music, but I find I write best without distraction. 

 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular? 

I think I’ve been pretty guarded about writing from my own life, but my characters are often composites of people I have met. Syndromes’ Sister Althea was inspired by a former nun I met while working at a newspaper, and casual conversations with a forensic psychiatrist I knew inspired Sing Sweetly to Me. I typically start each novel with very motivated characters, which helps me to build out the plot. I have to admit, I am a pantserrather than a plotter. I trust my characters to tell their story. It’s what I love most about writing novels.

 

Describe your process for naming your character? 

Oddly, my characters mostly dance into my head complete with names. An exception is the novel I’m working on now, which takes place in the Netherlands. I did need to do the research to get comfortable with Dutch names.

 

Real settings or fictional towns? 

Mostly real settings. A trip to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore led me to the mining and gaming town of Deadwood, which was the impetus for The Miner’s Canary.

 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? 

Shannon Buchanan in Finder’s Keepers has more of a sense of trusting innocence than anyone I’ve ever known. It gets her into deep trouble, but I think it is very endearing to readers, because the book was optioned for film and published in eight or 10 languages by Readers Digest Condensed books all over the world.

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I have to practically slap my hand to keep from answering a ringing phone, even when the caller ID says, ‘Unavailable.’ Answering machines notwithstanding, I’m always afraid I’ll miss the one call I wish I had taken.

 

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. It speaks volumes to me about strength of character and making life’s hardest decisions.

 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours? 

I wish I had spent more time on exercise and health. I realize as I age that some of the aches and pains I deal with now might have been prevented if I had done that.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Having to click five times and listen to five stupid messages before you can reach a live person on the phone.

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 

Books. Family photos. A radio.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Making counter signs in the basement of a five-and-dime store. I did that when I was in college and my hands were permanently stained red and black.

 

Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why? 

Lula, the steadfast sidekick in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. I can’t write funny, but I so appreciate those who can, and Lula’s whacky antics makes me laugh every time.

 

Ocean or mountains? 

Mountains.

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

Hmm…City girl?

 

What’s on the horizon for you? 

My first venture into historical fiction – a WW II adventure and love story set in The Netherlands in the Hunger Winter of 1944. It’s based on fact, I fell in love with the characters, and I can hardly wait to see it between covers.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?

I was raised by parents who gave me a sense of self-confidence, which is so important when you compete in the arts – and I’m grateful for all the family and professional support I’ve had over the years.  But while I’m sure that talent counts, so does persistence and a deep resolve to keep learning and improving. That’s the one piece of advice I would give to younger writers: Hang in there. Keep your eyes open. You can do it.

 

The Miner’s Canary

They say you can’t go home again… For single mom Julie Goldman, who thought she’d left the ghosts of her troubled youth behind her, inheriting her aunt’s old Victorian in the Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota, is as much a test as a blessing. Her aunt was not the person she thought she knew, and a diary left by her long-dead cousin Kate sets Julie on a path to find her killer. But with two new murders in town, and faced with a series of escalating threats, Julie must overcome her personal demons to protect her daughter and stop the killer who has them clearly in his sights.

 

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Friday, November 18, 2022

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- AN INTERVIEW WITH COZY MYSTERY AUTHOR LIZ BOEGER

Today we sit down for a chat with award-winning cozy mystery author Liz Boeger. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

When I had a dream about the basic premise of AppleJacked in 2012.

 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? 

Nine years for the first book, ChainLinked, then AppleJacked followed this year. 

 

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? 

I’m indie published but part of an authors co-op called Misterio Press, where we help vet one another’s’ drafts and cross promote our work. They are an amazing group of writers.

 

Where do you write? 

Mostly in my head and then when it gets to the tipping point, I go to the computer. The typing usually happens at my kitchen computer nook, in my easy chair, or on the back porch.

 

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

SILENCE!!

 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular? 

The flavor of my life as a school administrator and teacher is there, but the stories and characters are completely fictional. The setting is a mashup of the many childhood and adult adventures I enjoyed on my beloved Florida Gulf coast.

 

Describe your process for naming your character? 

Some names come automatically, others take a lot of thought, but that’s usually because they sound like caricatures or cliches. I knew I wanted my main character to have an Irish/American heritage so she’s Ana Callahan. 

 

Real settings or fictional towns? 

Combo. The main town is a fictional island set in an area of Florida where a real nature preserve is established. There are also excursions to actual locations in Tampa and the surrounding vicinity featuring completely fictional endeavors.

 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? 

Ana does a lot of snarky self-talk, but it is mostly a stress response. I like to think of residents of the island itself as one big quirky character. Come to find out the good folks of Moccasin Cove know a thing or two about secret networks and ways to bypass the rabid press who besiege the town looking for juicy news tidbits after a murder or two.

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I write murder mysteries. Enough said.

 

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why? 

The list is so long. From adult traditional mysteries to middle grade fiction there are so many authors I flat out admire because reading their work makes writing look effortless. And I know that it absolutely is not. But to name one for middle grade—JK Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise because I admire her persistence and the planning that went into creating the entire arc of the series. For adult mysteries it would have to be the late great Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series.

 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours? 

I don’t believe in do-overs because I don’t believe in tempting fate. Work hard and deal with the incoming tide until you can ride the waves to success and happiness.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Cliches like “Ride the wave to success and happiness.”

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 

A sticky-note requesting rescue, a populated island within rock-throwing distance. A rock.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Babysitting as a teenager. Ugh.

 

Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?

You really want me to choose? Impossible, because I have so many more books to read.

 

Ocean or mountains? 

Ocean

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

Island Country

 

What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m deciding on the storyline for Book 3 in the Moccasin Cove series. I also have ideas for another cozy mystery series and a middle grade book percolating in the back of my brain for future work.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? 

Yes, thank you. I am indebted to the writing community for the encouragement and academic support they provide as I have learned to become an author. Likewise, for the readers who have embraced my books and left great reviews to encourage others to visit Moccasin Cove.


Applejacked

A Moccasin Cove Mystery, Book 2

 

Elementary principal Ana Callahan knows a thing or two about flipping failing schools, but she’s discovered the learning curve on solving murders is steep.

 

Now in the second year of her school rescue, in Moccasin Cove on Florida’s Gulf coast, Ana is on the verge of winning a pivotal grant award. But her grand plan hits a snag after a teacher is murdered and the crime is pinned on a runaway teenager Ana mentored. The story goes viral. Ana’s campus is besieged by the media, angry parents, and complex questions about the dead teacher’s past. Worse, the myopic rookie detective assigned to the case has her sights set on all the wrong suspects.

 

While grieving the teacher’s death, Ana starts her own investigation, but her discovery of a body on the beach pins a bullseye on Ana’s back. In her quest to solve two murders, locate the missing teen, and salvage the grant win, Ana unwittingly unleashes a riptide of childhood secrets that force her to learn a hard lesson... 

It takes a village to raise a child, but it may also take your life.

 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

AN INTERVIEW WITH CRYSTAL HAGAN FROM AUTHOR CHRISTINE DESMET'S MISCHIEF IN MOONSHINE SERIES

Today we sit down for a chat with Crystal Hagan from author Christine Desmet’s Mischief in Moonstone Series. 

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

I was teaching first grade in a village called Moonstone that hugs Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. I also live on a small acreage and enjoyed my animals, particularly my reindeer, Rudolph, that was going to be featured in our live-animal holiday display until he was stolen. 

 

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

Patience. If you teach first graders you have to be patient and kind, and of course a peacemaker because of the occasional scuffles among the kids.

 

What do you like least about yourself? 

My inability to give up some old habits—even an old boyfriend. I’m a bit too much of a traditionalist, too. When I apologize to people for anything small or otherwise, I always have to bring them a pie or cake I’ve baked, or Christmas cookies at this time of year.

 

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

She hid my reindeer Rudolph on me in a mansion we call the North Pole here in Moonstone. An older gentleman who used to play Santa Claus lives there, but he’s become a curmudgeon. And now, his rather handsome son is back from Arizona visiting for the holidays, and he says they’re not returning Rudolph to me. I believe his father is in cahoots with our mayor who wants my live-animal display discontinued. So, my author has me fighting for Rudolph on two fronts. And my first-graders are very upset because they think Santa Claus can’t find our town without Rudolph leading the sleigh.

 

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

I don’t argue with her so much as the local townspeople and the two men living in the North Pole mansion. Some of my first-graders don’t have much. Some won’t be able to see a parent for Christmas for any number of reasons. My author likes romance, and she’d like me to settle into a romantic story, but I tell her that Peter LeBarron may be handsome, but he stole Rudolph and I want him back! For me, the mystery has to be solved soon so the kids aren’t feeling sad.

 

What is your greatest fear? 

That I won’t be able to bring a good holiday to my first-graders and to the people in my quaint, little village. This is a poor area, and some of the children need me to come through for them with happy things like being able to pet Rudolph.

 

What makes you happy? 

I enjoy seeing my students smile. And baking and making candies. I make homemade popcorn balls for the students and teach them games in the snow, such as “Duck, Duck, Goose.” I’m hoping that the father of one of my students will be able to come home for Christmas. Jobs are scarce here in northern Wisconsin, and some of the guys travel to other states for construction or other jobs.

 

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

Sticking with my old boyfriend too long. I’m the loyal type, and somehow I keep excusing his slights or so-called forgetfulness. This new guy Peter LeBarron keeps pointing out I need to consider that we all outgrow people just as we outgrow other things. 

 

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

Peter LeBarron certainly bugs me. Those feelings have to do with him growing up here until high school when he left for private school and college. He essentially abandoned his father, I believe. He says there’s more to the story. But do I have the patience to listen to the man who stole my reindeer and won’t give back Rudolph? Of course, I don’t get along with Mayor Bob Winters either because he dislikes my ideas for drawing tourists to Moonstone for the holidays. Two men who don’t believe in Rudolph leading a sleigh “slay” me!

 

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

My best friend Rita Johnson. Rita is the postmistress in Moonstone. Her daughter Gretchen is in my class. Rita is so together, smart, and very quick with her wit and actions. She put up a flier on the “FBI Most Wanted” board for my missing Rudolph, and of course it said something to the effect “last seen with Peter LeBarron.” Peter wanted to rip that down, but of course defacing federal property might land him in jail. That action of Rita’s on my behalf began to change the dynamic in my relationship with Peter LeBarron. I learned he had a lot more secrets besides kidnapping Rudolph.

 

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

My author is at her website, where you'll find links to her other social media, and at Blackbird Writers, where you'll find a link to theBlackbird Writers Discussion Forum and the group's newsletter.

 

What's next for you?

My author has me continuing to get involved with new people coming to Moonstone. Murder and other types of mysteries appear in the remainder of the Mischief-in-Moonstone Series novellas. All have sweet romances included. In Misbehavin’ in Moonstone, No. 2 in the series, I meet the new chef Kirsten Peplinski, who discovers there’s an illegal gambling boat off-shore in Lake Superior featuring scantily clad servers. The men in town suddenly say they’re going fishing. Kirsten discovers evidence the party boat’s captain might actually be a pirate scouting Moonstone to steal jewels and other valuables. 

 

When Rudolph was Kidnapped

Mischief in Moonstone Series, Book 1

 

When her pet reindeer, Rudolph, is stolen from the live animal holiday display, first-grade teacher Crystal Hagan has a big problem on her hands. Her students fear that Christmas will be canceled. Ironically, the prime suspect is a man who lives in a mansion known as the “North Pole.” And to her shock, Peter LeBarron admits to kidnapping Rudolph and he won’t give him back without some romantic “negotiations.”



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