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.

Friday, June 22, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KATE McKEEVER'S SECONDARY CHARACTER JACOB "KID" LASSITER

Today we sit down for a chat with Jacob "Kid" Lassiter. He appears in Saving Sidewinder from romance author Kate McKeever’s Brotherhood Protectors World series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Pretty boring. I was in rehab after the hospital. That was after I was injured by an IED in the Middle East.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I guess I'm good with animals. That was a surprise.

What do you like least about yourself?
My memory is shot after I was injured. I have to think hard to remember stuff that shouldn't be that hard.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Go to the Brighter Days Rehabilitation Ranch in Montana. I was born and raised a southern city kid in Memphis, then joined the Army and the Rangers. Never had any experience on a ranch but it's working out okay.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Nah. She's pretty much had my best interests in mind, so far.

What is your greatest fear?
Letting down my buddy, Sidewinder.

What makes you happy?
Being with the horses and getting my life back on track.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I'd not be injured. I'd still be in the army and doing what I do best.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
This guy, Price? He's one bad apple and we've had a lot of trouble out of him. Haven't even met him yet but he's out to get Alana and Charlie and doesn't care who he messes up in the doing it.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Talley, the ranch foreman. He knows his place in the world and knows his job.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Kate is a dark horse. She's all nice and kind but in the back of her mind, she has some deviousness about her. Her website has stuff about her books and things she enjoys. Her facebook page, the one with friends on it, tells you more about who she really is and what she cares about.

What's next for you?
I'm going to stay on at the ranch for a while. I've had a bit of an accident and need to recuperate. And that means I get to stay near the horses, which is a good deal for me.

Saving Sidewinder
Sam “Sidewinder” Jameson left the Rangers to keep an eye on his young friend, Kid, as he recovers from their last mission, an injury Sam blames himself for. To tide him over and be close at hand, Sidewinder agrees to a short stint with Hank Patterson’s Brotherhood Protectors. He expects his assignment to guard Alana Christian and her son from threats to be a job, nothing more. What he doesn’t plan on is how the job will change him and his expectations, both of Kid and of himself.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

CHRISTMAS IN JUNE! A SPECIAL SNEAK PEEK AT THE NEXT ANASTASIA POLLACK CRAFTING MYSTERY

Today we say goodbye to spring and hello to summer. If you're like me and prefer cooler weather, you're probably starting to complain about the heat. So I thought I’d offer a treat to keep you cool, at least psychologically, with a sneak peek at the next Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. Drop Dead Ornaments, which will be available in October, begins in December on the same day Scrapbook of Murder ended. Click here to read the first chapter. 

Drop Dead Ornaments
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7

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 volunteer at and raise money for the county food pantry. Anastasia has helped them by tapping her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments to sell at the town’s annual Christmas bazaar.

While at the bazaar, Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, who appears evasive regarding his profession and where he and his family had formerly lived. She also notices a stranger hanging around, apparently attempting to eavesdrop on their conversation. She points the woman out to Mr. Lambert, but he denies knowing her.

When the woman turns up dead later that evening, Sophie’s father becomes the primary suspect. Alex begs his mother to help find the real killer. Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies, especially since they keep endangering her own life. She’s vowed to retire forever from amateur sleuthing, but how can she say no to her son?

Meanwhile, for those of you who still haven’t met Anastasia, Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series is currently on sale at Amazon as an ebook for only .99 cents. The sale ends Sunday, June 24th, after which time the book will return to its regular price of $4.99.

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
When Anastasia Pollack's husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. She's left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband's secret gambling addiction, and the loan shark who's demanding fifty thousand dollars.

Anastasia's job as crafts editor for a magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her office chair. The victim, fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg, collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos on her ruthless climb to editor-in-chief. But when evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the number one suspect.

Amazon 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

TRAVEL BACK TO THE 1960'S AND MEET PSYCHEDELIC SPY NOELLE McNABB

Today we sit down for a chat with Noelle McNabb from author Sally Carpenter’s new Psychedelic Spy Mystery Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I play the Winter Witch in the Candy Cane Capers, a silly musical show at the Country Christmas Family Fun Park, a holiday theme park in Yuletide, Indiana. When school is in session, the park is only open weekends, so in those months I work part time at the Groovy Vinyl Record Store. I spend time with my family and friends and teach tricks to my cat, Ceebee. He’s very smart but a glutton.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m smart and flexible. That comes from being an actress. Improv helped me to think on my feet. I have a good memory, learn things quickly (like lines) and remember faces.

What do you like least about yourself?
That I’m twenty-five years old and still stuck in my boring hometown. Even though the year is 1967, the older generation acts like it’s 1950. What a drag. I’m saving money so I can move to Hollywood and be a big star, but some days I wonder if I’ll never make it.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
She got me involved with a super-secret spy organization called SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage). Those cats are so far under the radar, nobody knows about them—and they like it that way. One of their couriers almost died on my front porch, and next thing I know, I’m running around at night in the weirdest places, looking for missing microdots.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
So far we haven’t argued much. My author is much like me. She and I are both tall, are former Girl Scouts, love cats, go to church, and watch too much TV. We both grew up in small, rural Midwest hometowns. When she was my age, she, too, wanted to go to Hollywood and be an actress with her own TV series. Years later she finally made it to L.A., but instead of acting she wrote mystery novels about an amateur sleuth who once had his own TV series.

What is your greatest fear?
That in my spy work I’ll die in some faraway place and my family will never know what happened to me and I’ll be buried in a strange place in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

What makes you happy?
When I do something that makes my parents proud of me. They were pleased when I made honor roll and dean’s list in school. They’ve always gone to the plays I’ve been in. They were impressed when I found the killer of the young man who showed up on my doorstep.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I want to brag about the work I do for SIAMESE, but I must keep it a secret, which drives me crazy. When I was away for a couple of days on spy work, Mom wondered where I went and I had to lie to her. I hated doing that. One of my good friends is a reporter for the Yuletide Herald newspaper and he’s been snooping around. Someday he’s going to find out about SIAMESE. I can’t tell him, either.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Gus E. Monty, one of the many dopey boys I grew up with in school. He sells insurance. His parents are bugging him to get married, and since I’m one of the few old maids left in town—most girls in Yuletide get married when they leave high school—he’s always pestering me to go out with him. Ugh. I’d rather be caught by an enemy agent than to date that creep.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
I like who I am, but the person I admire most is Destiny King, the SIAMESE agent I work with. She’s a beautiful black woman, very sharp and good at what she does. She’s a black belt martial artist and can pack a punch when we’re in a fix. At first, she didn’t seem to like me, but now we make a good team. But she won’t talk about her personal life. Because of her job she doesn’t get close to people. I’d like to know more about her.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
I’ve mentioned a little about her already. She lives in Southern California and works full time at a community newspaper. She has a cat that is a mouser like Ceebee. She’s written four books in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, three short stories published in anthologies and a chapter for the “Chasing the Codex” group novel. To atone for killing people on paper, she also pens a newspaper faith column. She posts once a month at the Ladies of Mystery blog. Her website is http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com.

What's next for you?
A guru comes to town, preaching about love and peace and meditation. His hippie followers arrive as well, which doesn’t set well with the old folks. One of the hippies dies of a drug overdose, but I don’t think it was accidental. And my boss at SIAMESE thinks the guru has something up his sleeve besides his hairy arm—perhaps a scheme that might involve my dad’s work at the electronics plant.

Flower Power Fatality
A Psychedelic Spy Mystery, Book One

The Cold War gets cozy in this retro-cozy spy caper set in 1967, a year of music, miniskirts—and murder! Actress Noelle McNabb works at the Country Christmas Family Fun Park in Yuletide, Indiana, but she longs for the bright lights of Hollywood. Real-life drama comes her way when a stranger with a fatal gunshot wound stumbles across her doorstep. When she attempts to finds the man’s murderer, Noelle encounters a super-secret spy agency, SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage). SIAMESE recruits Noelle on a quest to find missing microdots under the guidance of a street-wise agent, Destiny King. As Noelle goes undercover in a cheesy nightclub and faces the enemy in late-night chases, she uncovers family secrets and finds her moral values put to the test. Along with her pet cat, Ceebee, and the kooky residents of Yuletide, Noelle discovers it takes a village to catch a killer.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--BEST-EVER BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

Best-Ever Butter Cream Frosting

This is by far the best butter cream frosting I’ve ever eaten. It’s light and not too sweet, and once you try it, you’ll never make your butter cream any other way. The recipe makes enough frosting to ice a 9” layer cake or a dozen or more cupcakes, depending on how thick you like your cupcake frosting.

Ingredients:
3 T. flour
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Whisk together flour and milk, adding milk to flour slowly. Beat out any lumps. Slowly cook until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. When cool, whisk in vanilla.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk mixture, whipping on high speed until frosting is fluffy.

Monday, June 18, 2018

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--RAINY DAYS WHEN THE KIDS ARE STUCK IN THE HOUSE

Summertime is a time for enjoying outside activities. But it’s also a time for thunderstorms, and if you have kids at home or grandkids visiting, when a rainy day hits, you need indoor activities. Having some basic craft supplies handy will make for a fun day and keep the kids from being glued to the TV or their various devices.

Here’s a simple project to get you started. Print out this skateboarding, pigtailed girl for the little ones to color with crayons or colored pencils.

Mount the finished drawing on a piece of colored construction paper. If you have pinking shears, trim the edges of the construction paper for a decorative look. Glue a piece of ribbon to the top back corners for hanging.

Glue on buttons, beads, and ribbons for added decoration.

Stop back next Monday for a coloring project for the boys.

Friday, June 15, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--INTERVIEW WITH SNEAKY, THE COBBLE COVE LIBRARY CAT

Sneaky, the Cobble Cove Library Cat
Today we’re joined by library cat Sneaky from author Debbie De Louise’s Cobble Cove Mystery Series. Learn more about Sneaky, Debbie, and her books at Sneaky’s blog and Debbie’s website.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I was a lost kitty looking for a home. It’s a vague memory for me because I was quite young before I found my way to the Cobble Cove Library where I was taken in as their library cat and later became Alicia’s furry friend.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m flexible, and I don’t mean that I can stretch out my paws and flip on my back. I can play a variety of parts and do justice to them all.

What do you like least about yourself?
I’m too much like a real cat. Even though I help with clues, I don’t talk like some of the other cat sleuths such as Midnight Louie.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Creating my blog was my own inspiration, but my author was the one who set it up. 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I always want juicier parts. I also requested to be on a cover. Debbie finally agreed to that, but it took her three books to do it.

What is your greatest fear?
That my series will end because Debbie will move on to another series. She already has one book of a new cozy started, so it’s a dark shadow hovering over me.

What makes you happy?
When people buy our books and write good reviews about them.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I’d like to be talking in some scenes or at least thinking and communicating with readers.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
I won’t say Fido, the dog in the series, because I don’t see him as a threat. He’s too dumb for that. I love Alicia and Laura, the children’s librarian who joins our crew in our second book. I can’t really say that I dislike any of the other characters. Sheila, the library director, was a challenge, but she came around.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Possibly Sheila. I’d love to be a library director. I’d put in more sunny windows with seats for watching birds and sunbathing, and I’d also schedule a lot more Sneaky story times with the kids.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Debbie is a librarian and that’s why she can write so well about libraries. She also writes other books and stories besides our series. Most of them are mysteries (not necessarily cozies) but some are other genres. You can find out more about her on her website where she writes her own blog, too.

What's next for you?
Debbie has written a fourth Cobble Cove mystery which we both hope will be published soon, but she still has to edit and submit it to her publisher. If you look on YouTube, Debbie has some trailers for our series. The latest one gives a sneak peek to the upcoming book. 

A Stone’s Throw
A Cobble Cove Mystery, Book One

Widowed librarian, Alicia Fairmont, travels to the small upstate town of Cobble Cove, New York, where her dead husband spent part of his childhood. There she meets newspaper publisher, John McKinney, a widower. When she accepts a position at the Cobble Cove Library and becomes romantically involved with John, she learns some secrets that tie him and his father with her husband’s family. As strange events take place, Alicia begins to suspect that the hit and run accident that killed her husband may have been murder and that John is the prime suspect.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

MEET AUTHOR KELLI A. WILKINS' NEWEST HEROINE

The Goat Farm of Katarina's Youth
Today we’re chatting with Katarina, the heroine in Redemption from a Dark Past, the new historical romance from Kelli A. Wilkins.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Before the book started, my life was pretty miserable. I was working on a goat farm in a tiny village, and I was terribly lonely. When I was a child, my “employers” took me out of an orphanage and brought me to work for them in exchange for food and shelter.

Unlike most of the young women in my village, I always wanted more for myself. I wanted to explore new places, have adventures, and fall in love. I’m happy to say that Kelli made all those wonderful things come true for me.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’ve always liked the fact that I’m clever. I’ve been told that I “think like a man” and most other women always thought I was too smart for my own good. I’m proud of the fact that I can (and do) think for myself. I’m also brave and headstrong, which are also uncommon qualities in women from my village. All these traits came in handy once Kelli started writing about me and my adventures in Lord Adrik’s castle.

What do you like least about yourself?
I was always ashamed that I couldn’t read or write. Even though most people from the lower classes (men and women) can’t, I felt that I should know how. Being uneducated made me feel stupid, and I thought that I was missing out on a lot of things.

When I met Lord Adrik, I’d spend hours looking at the books in his library, wondering what stories and adventures were locked away inside them. I’m pleased to report that now I can read and write, and I even play three musical instruments!

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Well… this is a bit personal, but in the book, Kelli wrote a scene where I was bathing and Lord Adrik came into the bath and… Let’s just say, he showed me the ecstasy a woman feels when making love. I thought it was strange at first, but after receiving Lord Adrik’s affections, I was quite pleased!

Kelli also wrote a few other strange happenings in the book. One night, I chased down the ghost haunting the castle, and on another night I followed Lord Adrik into a strange room and discovered one of his deepest secrets. Kelli says that Redemption from a Dark Past is a romance blended with mystery and suspense, and she’s right!
 
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I don’t really argue much with her. After writing nineteen romances, Kelli seems to know what she’s doing. Although I’ll admit, at times I was concerned with how the book would end and what would happen to me. The story has lots of twists and turns, but Lord Adrik and I trusted that Kelli would make everything work out just fine in the end.

What is your greatest fear?
I don’t have many fears, but I suppose I share one with just about everyone—I worry about losing the people I love. Life is very short and I think everyone should enjoy the time they have here with the people they love the most.

What makes you happy?
I love spending the day with Lord Adrik. We go riding, attend concerts, and take long walks. When we’re not together, I’m happy painting, playing music, tending to a garden, and reading. 

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I would rewrite the part of the story where Lord Adrik and I have to attend a meeting at Count Varady’s estate. That’s where I encountered a group of fancy noblewomen who were very nasty to me. Lord Adrik also had a lot of troubles there, and basically, everything fell apart. I’d change the book so that we never went there at all. But as Kelli reminds me, all that bad stuff had to take place so the story could develop and other important things could happen. I know she’s right, because if I changed that scene, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
There were a few characters who bothered me. Mr. and Mrs. Gurka, the owners of the goat farm, were always mean to me. They also tried to arrange for me to marry a horrible man named Oleg. And then there was Baron Radych—he plotted against Lord Adrik and tried to kill me. Kelli made sure he didn’t bother anyone again!

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I’m perfectly happy being me!

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Kelli asked me to tell readers that she is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, nineteen romance novels, and five nonfiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories. Imagine!
She wrote a writing book called You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction. It’s a fun guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
She says readers can visit her website and blog to learn more about all of her writings.
I can’t wait to read all of her historical romances. I want to see what other interesting characters she has written about, and follow their adventures.
What's next for you?
Well, I don’t want to give away anything from the book, but Lord Adrik and I are expecting our first child soon. I’m very excited about that! Kelli says that she’ll be busy for the rest of the year, too. She’s working on two more romances, horror stories, and an online writing class.

Thank you for letting me chat here today. I hope everyone reads Redemption from a Dark Past and catches up on all of Kelli’s other romances.

Redemption from a Dark Past
Lord Sebestyen Adrik has an unsavory reputation as a madman, murderer… and worse. Lonely and searching for love, he seeks the companionship of local young women, hoping one of them will ease his torment and bring him the happiness he longs for. Katarina is his last chance—but will she fear him like all the others? Or is she the one who can lift his curse?

Desperate to avoid a forced marriage, Katarina agrees to become Lord Adrik’s latest companion, despite the rumors she has heard about him. She discovers the “Dark Lord’s” secret past and realizes he’s not the monster everyone thinks he is.

As their love blossoms, she renews his passion for life—yet they cannot escape the ghosts of the past.

When a meeting of the nobility goes horribly wrong, Sebestyen’s world unravels, and his enemies plot to destroy him. As all seems lost, a mysterious stranger arrives at the castle. Sebestyen must decide if he is a friend or a foe…and if he can find redemption in his love for Katarina, or lose her and everything else that he holds dear.

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