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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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


photo by JustaJeskova
R.E. Donald recently moved to a ranch in the South Cariboo region of British Columbia with a French Canadian cowboy, three horses and two dogs. Although she spent 25 years working in the transportation industry, she has never actually driven an eighteen-wheeler, and probably never will. Today she’s here to talk about Whistler, British Columbia and her newest mystery. Learn more about R.E. and books at her website. 

A Mountain of Mystery

My hero is always on the move. That’s because the sleuth in the Highway Mysteries series drives an eighteen-wheeler up and down the west coast of North America. Even truck drivers need a little R&R now and then, and that’s what brings former RCMP homicide investigator Hunter Rayne to the resort community of Whistler, British Columbia in the third Highway Mystery, Sea to Sky. While Hunter enjoys a few days of downhill skiing, he plans to become better acquainted with an attractive female lawyer he met in L.A. He doesn’t, however, plan to become the prime suspect in a murder on the mountain.

photo by Kevin Arnold
The town of Whistler became familiar to many winter sports fans around the world when it was the site of Alpine events at the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s a magnificent setting, with the snow covered peaks of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains towering some 5000 feet above the attractive and upscale Village of Whistler, where you can walk to dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Yet Whistler is only a two-hour drive from the port city of Vancouver, or four and a half hours from Seattle, the last hour of the drive on the spectacular Sea to Sky highway as it winds its way upward through the coastal rainforest and along the rugged shores of Howe Sound.

Visitors who come to ski can choose either Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain, and skiers or non-skiers can ride over two and a half miles on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for breathtaking views of both. Parts of the mountain are open for skiing as late as the end of May, and avid skiers can get their ski fix on Blackcomb’s Horstman Glacier up until the end of July. However, the end of ski season does not mean the end of mountain recreation, as it’s a popular place for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing all through the summer months. After a day of outdoor activities, or just a day of relaxing – reading Sea to Sky beside the hotel pool, for example – visitors can indulge themselves at one of the many fine restaurants.
photo by Randy Lincks
Whistler-Blackcomb has become a popular site for various outdoor festivals and events during the summer as well, from the Children’s Festival or the Wanderlust “Yoga and Music” Festival, or a week of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concerts, to the Subaru Ironman Triathlon and the Bull’s Eye National BBQ Championships. Visitors can go on guided Bear and Ecology Tours, or simply set off on the vast network of trails to enjoy nature on their own. Whistler provides a good balance between the Pacific Northwest’s amazing natural environment and its finest civilized amenities. As a travel destination it offers something to appeal to everyone. More information (and even webcams) can be found at the Whistler Blackcomb website.
Tell them Hunter Rayne sent you.

Sea to Sky
Sea to Sky is the third novel in the Highway Mysteries series featuring long haul truck driver, Hunter Rayne. The former RCMP homicide investigator drove the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler’s ski resort for what was supposed to be a pleasant weekend of skiing with an attractive female acquaintance.  Instead, after a murdered man is found riding the chairlift, Hunter finds himself at the top of the suspect list and has no choice but to get involved in the investigation in order to clear his name. In the midst of the investigation, Hunter’s life becomes complicated when the progress of his new relationship is arrested by the appearance of a woman from his troubled past.

Buy Links

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is a three-time Rita nominee. Her books have won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne and many others. Brenda joins us today to talk about a topic near and dear to her—her annual online auction to raise funds for diabetes research. Learn more about Brenda, her books, and the auction at her website

Cilene Dion concert
and meet & greet
How would you like to attend a Cilene Dion concert and meet the singer? Spend seven nights in Hawaii? Become a character in a John Lescroart novel? Have author Hank Phillippi Ryan attend your book club? Become the owner of a Kindle Fire HDX filled with six Sandra Brown novels? All these and more can be yours if you participate in author Brenda Novak’s annual online auction for diabetes research at http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com from May 1 - May 31st.

Brenda started the auction ten years ago, as a way to fight back after her youngest son was diagnosed, at five, with Type 1 Diabetes. Since then, she’s become acutely aware of the need for more research, and the funding that makes it possible.

Thad and Brenda
Brenda stops by today to tell us:
Ten things I love about my annual online auction for diabetes research:

1.     It reminds me that people are GOOD. More than good—AMAZING! Every year, I approach over 1000 donors and ask them to once again contribute a good or service to be auctioned off for the benefit of those suffering with diabetes. And the response is almost always an overwhelming yes, with fellow writers and industry professionals leading the pack in generosity. Touches my heart every year.

2.     I love, love, love getting the positive feedback when an aspiring writer gets an agent, sells a book or finds great value in published author’s mentorship or critique. Or when someone enjoys one of the trips—or another item they’ve won. It makes me feel good to know the auction is a win/win.

7 nights in Hawaii
donated by author Cindy Sample
3.     Watching and charting the numbers. My family wants to  kill me every year because I’m absolutely ADDICTED. I check and check and check—and pray and pray and pray that our totals go up.

4.     I love knowing that Author Lauren Hawkeye’s son, Ben, and that my son, Thad, probably won’t have to cope with diabetes longer than another 5-10 years because of the fabulous research we are funding.

Book club visit from
Hank Phillippi Ryan
 5.     I love so many of the cool items—like the Celine Dion tickets/meet-and-greet, the Kindles and Nooks, the promotion packages for authors, the cool jewelry, the handmade chocolates, the designer handbags, the themed baskets and the agent/editor evaluations.

6.     I love my auction team—my assistant, Anna and the four auction volunteers who have been so loyal and devoted this year, which include Danita, Stephanie, Debbie and Janice. These people have been instrumental in the auction’s success. I enjoy our planning sessions and getting to spend time with these wonderful people.

Kindle Fire HDX
w/6 Sandra Brown novels
7.     I love talking to the press and trying to get the word out. It’s certainly given me a lot of experience with handling interviews!

8.     I love that the auction runs every May because it’s a celebration of Mother’s Day and my birthday, which are usually only a few days apart. After ten years, May would not be the same to me without the auction.
Your name in a John
Lescroart novel

9.     I love that my kids and other members of my family (like my sister, Tonya) do what they can to support me by making things they can donate. My husband and children pick up part of the household load so that I can focus on the auction.

10. I love that my dream has come true. When I first started the auction, I imagined what it would be like to raise $1 million. It’s all I could think about. Now we’ve raised over $2 million and are shooting for $2.5!

If you would like to be part of this fun event, please join me! All you have to do is register at http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com and the information you need is right there (or feel free to email me with any questions via the contact button on my website.)

Monday, April 28, 2014


Linda Andrews lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, Arizona. When she announced to her family that her paranormal romance was to be published, her sister pronounced: "What else would she write? She’s never been normal.” Learn more about Linda and her books at her website and blog.   

I come from a family of foodies. Which means the holidays are full of homemade goodies. Growing up, one of the Thanksgiving foods in our house was sauerkraut and spareribs as a side dish along with the traditional fixings. It wasn’t until I celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family that I realized not everyone served sauerkraut and spareribs with their turkey dinner. How weird was that? Last year I introduced my children (all now adults) to this amazing side dish. Sadly, they all enjoyed it and there were not many leftovers. I found my husband layering it onto the brats we grilled up when we tired of leftover turkey. So you see, you can use it for backyard barbecues, too. And best of all, it’s a very simple recipe.

Sauerkraut and Spareribs

3—15 ounce cans of Libby’s Bavarian Sauerkraut (you can drain one can for a less salty dish, but don’t rinse)
4—6 pounds of spareribs

Cut spareribs into pieces so they fit in a crockpot. Add the three cans and liquid on top. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Serve warm.

Yep, that’s it. Some times the best things don’t require a lot of work. I’ve made it twice this year, mostly because I’ve been writing about World War I, and a derogatory name for the Germans was cabbage heads.

Hearts in Barbed Wire
Lieutenant Lucien Duplan is wounded and trapped behind German lines. To reach the Dutch border and freedom, he needs Madeline Thevenet—a woman who eases his pain but is destined to become a nun.

Aiding the man responsible for her parents' death is the last thing Madeline wants to do. But to get her young brother safely to Holland, she will do anything to avoid being caught by the Germans and tried for treason, including putting her heart on the line. 

Madeline and Luc must stay one step ahead of the enemy. But the war around them is nothing compared with the battle raging inside. For honor and duty demand one action; and love requires another.

Loves Great War: Belgium, 1914

"Madeline." Mille sighed. "Do you think she knows how pretty she is?"

Madeline's face blossomed in Luc's mind. The soft angle of her jaw, the two lines that appeared above her nose when she didn't understand something, and the gentle curves of her body. He hadn't meant to scare her this morning. He just wanted to punch through that clinical detached shell of hers, make her see him as a man, not a patient.
And he'd nearly kissed her in the process.

"No, she can't know. Girls that know, they know just how to tease. And they do it on purpose." Mille shifted his leg, banging Luc's ankle.

How could she be so tempting and innocent? How would Luc survive being next to her morning, noon, and night until they reached Holland? He clamped his lips together, forcing the groan into a grunt.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I’m not a quilter. I don’t have the patience for it. Never have. All those thousands and thousands of tiny stitches would drive me crazy. Maybe that’s why I love quilts so much. I look at a quilt and can’t help but appreciate the hundreds of hours that go into creating one. So when I arrived home one evening during a torrential rainstorm and spied my elderly neighbor’s quilts whipping around in gale force winds and about to be sucked off her clothesline, I ran to their rescue.
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished in AnastasiaWorld. I rescued the quilts but ruined my Nine West pumps, and if you know anything about me, you know I can’t afford to treat myself to a new pair of shoes.

Given that author Lois Winston never passes up an opportunity to drop me into the middle of another one of her mysteries, Rosalie Schneider’s rain-drenched quilts became the basis for Patchwork Peril, the third Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery.

After rescuing Rosalie’s quilts, I discovered Rosalie unconscious at the bottom of her basement stairs. Then the proverbial caca hit the proverbial fan when Rosalie’s estranged niece Jane arrived to care for her during her recovery. Seems there’s a lot of bad blood in that family, and Rosalie immediately suspected Jane of less than altruistic motives. She even went so far as to accuse Jane of trying to kill her.

I wasn’t sure whether Rosalie’s paranoia was a result of her head injury, or if there was something to her accusations. All I knew was that I had to uncover the truth before someone got hurt.

Want to know if I did? Patchwork Peril is available from the following online bookstores.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


L.B. Joramo lives in Montana on what she calls an accidental farm—her son wishes for animals and they appear, complete with a sixty-pound turkey! When not writing for the Immortal American series, she writes romance under the pen name Red L. Jameson. When she’s not writing at all, she enjoys hiking, historical research, reading, watching movies, and sloppily trying to cook and bake. Learn more about L.B. at her website and blog.  

A Most Unpopular Setting

A few months ago I was interviewed on another blog where I was asked, “How did you choose the American Revolution as your favorite era? What is it about the American Revolution that you like so much?”

I was stymied. Who said I liked the American Revolution so much? Since when did it become my favorite? To be fair, I understand why I was asked this question. My paranormal/historical book series, the Immortal American, so far is set during the American Revolution. And I do research that era painstakingly, ensuring accuracy as well as trying to bring to light some forgotten elements of this time. But I’m not sure this is my favorite era, let alone that I like it all that much. So why then did I write a whole series in the period? Because I’m an idiot! Or am I? You be the judge as I explain.

When I began writing the series, I had no clue about the publishing world and not that much about writing, to be honest. I wrote the first draft before I went back to school for my Master’s in history, so I didn’t know much about history either. Yikes! It was a trifecta of ignorance. But it was my bliss, the writing that is. I loved writing about my protagonist Violet in colonial Massachusetts. Back then I wrote Violet from the turmoil of the American Revolution to the revolutionary times of 1918, when the nineteenth amendment was lobbied for ratification, giving women the right to vote by 1920.

I wrote hundreds of pages of conflict, change, and Violet stumbling with love through centuries of time. During which I did go back to school and discovered a lot of my history (my main source had been Wikipedia) wasn’t exactly accurate. So I had to rewrite the beginning of Violet’s tale. Oh, and this whole time I had never sought publication with Violet’s stories. But after my critique partner rallied me to try it, I finally bit the bullet and began querying agents and editors. I lucked out almost instantly by winning a pitch contest. It was a public contest, judged by an editor and the commenters on the blog, and the editor openly asked for my full manuscript.

A week after the high of winning the contest died down, I received a very blunt email from that editor. She wrote something like, “Listen, I can tell you’re a good writer. But I can’t publish your manuscript. No one will probably publish your manuscript, because you have a whacky cross-genre. But mainly no one will publish a novel about the American Revolution.”

Ouch, right? I did ask why she’d asked for my manuscript then, to which she said that I had had the most votes and the best pitch, and she didn’t want her publishing house to appear biased. She also said that when I started writing a more popular era, she would love to look at my work then.

It was my first lesson in the publishing business and it stung. So what did I do? I decided to buck the system. I did warn you, I’m an idiot, right? I kept querying. And I kept getting rejected. All the while I kept honing the craft of writing and my historical research. Finally I received news that a small publisher liked my work.

This was years after that editor had told me “no one would publish my book.” In that time I thought more and more about what that editor had written to me—to give up my story. I might have had a much easier tale to tell you if I had. I might have gotten traditionally published, because the editor that asked for my work when I finally wrote a more popular setting was in one of the big houses. Who knows what might have happened to me if I had taken her advice.

The problem is, it wasn’t the story of my heart. And for me to give up on Violet would have been as painful as giving up on my right arm and hacking it off. I’ve written many other manuscripts while I keep plugging away at Violet’s story. And maybe one of them might prove to be “popular.” But each one is written from my heart.

So call me an idiot. Or you can call me the writer who writes from the heart. That sounds nice.

The Bones of War
It began with the ripple of rebellion, but ended in eternal change.

Cannonade erupts as the Battle of Bunker’s Hill commences, where Violet Adams is disguised as a soldier. She’s joined the sieging militia, surrounding Boston and the British redcoats, to run from her grief and from her affections toward the dark French spy, Jacque Beaumont—the ripple in her life that gave her an undying heart. To flee is the only choice she could think of, soldiering the only act that seems to bring her any comfort.

Then again, mayhap it isn’t the soldiering that gives her comfort, but more one of the soldiers. While trekking north to invade Canada with other Continentals, Violet finds herself drawn to a man who turns out to be more than just a friend—another immortal. From 1775 to 1776, through all the battles, Violet finds her mourning heart healing, only to discover it’s done the most inexplicable! It’s set its sights on another.

Similar to Violet’s phoenix-like heart, America’s War for Independence burns to ashes before the Battle of Trenton, where Violet spies for her Patriots and must choose between old flames or the revolution that never dies—love.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Marie Higgins is a best-selling, multi-published author of sweet romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who make your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Learn more about Marie and her books at her website/blog. 

Amazon’s Magical Rainforest

Many years ago, I read a romance novel set in the Amazon jungle, from one of those book-of-the-month clubs. At first, I didn’t think I would like the story, but it didn’t take long before I was pulled into the Amazon rainforest’s magical world. I remember reading about the exotic creatures in the jungle, the heat, and the dangers one can face, and this combination kept me enthralled until the very end of the story.

I was thinking of my next story, and I wanted something unique. I enjoy writing romances with suspense and a little adventure, but this time I wanted something completely different from what I’ve ever done before. Then I remembered that book I had read so long ago. What a perfect choice for my next story, a romance adventure in the Amazon Rainforest.

However, writing a story in that kind of setting would take a lot of research. But I enjoy research—I enjoy discovering new things about history or the world, so this story became a challenge for me. The first thing I wanted to know was how hot the rainforest got. After all, my characters are from the late 1800’s, so it’s not like they can put on a pair of shorts and halter-top and wear a pair of sandals. In my research, I found that the rainforest’s average temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter it’s 40 degrees. It rains on average from 130 to 250 days per year. Because humidity stays at a constant 80 percent, this is what keeps the rainforest living in like a ‘greenhouse’ effect.

Next in my research, I wanted to know what kinds of animals or any other form of creatures were dangerous, because naturally, I want something to happen to my characters that introduces vulnerability into the story. Crocodiles are always dangerous, so of course I had to add a few in this particular romance. The jaguar is the largest cat in the jungle and extremely dangerous…but aren’t they beautiful? The jungle has all kinds of snakes, so I used the Emerald Boa and the Coral. The jungle also has monkeys. I needed aggressive monkeys in my story, so I used the Howler monkey.

Another fascinating tidbit I found in my research was about the colorful frogs. The rainforest has some spectacular amphibians, but what I learned was the more colorful the frogs were—the more dangerous they can be. Not only is their bite venomous, but their skin is as well.  

I needed herbal plants…both good and bad, and I especially wanted to know what kind of reaction a person might have when they eat these herbs. Naturally, in the rainforest in the late 1800’s, there isn’t going to be a doctor’s office around every street corner. This means that herbal plants needed to be close at hand. I wanted to know what kind of food my characters could find in the jungle. Thankfully, there was a variety I could choose from; Maracuja (passion fruit), Bacaba (this one needs to be cooked before eaten), Kiwi, Papaya, Mango, and thankfully, nuts and seeds.

Out of everything I discovered about the Amazon Rainforest, my favorite had to be the waterfalls—not just one but several! This would be the only reason I would venture into the rainforest, because I adore waterfalls. Naturally, because I write sweet romance, you know there’s going to be a waterfall scene—or two.

I’ve learned so much about the rainforest, it really is magical!

All of these things I’ve mentioned (and more that I haven’t mentioned) help make my sweet romance, Amazon Sunset, a spell-binding, on-the-edge-of-your-seat book. I invite you to watch the book trailer, which gives you an idea of what my story is about. http://youtu.be/b4CtWmHz1Ic

I had so much fun writing Amazon Sunset, I decided I’m going to write two other books and put them in a series. So book #1 is Amazon Sunset, book #2 is Amazon by Moonlight, and book #3 is Amazon at Twilight. I can’t wait to write those other two stories. I know I’ll find more things to research and have just as much fun as I did with book #1.

Amazon Sunset
Katrina Landon’s life is about to change. The wealthy father she has never known wants to meet her. All she has to do is travel from the slums of Boston to Brazil. Her trek begins at the edge of the Amazon rainforest, and she'll journey from there to his rubber tree plantation. If that's not bad enough, she meets her guide—the handsome, too self-assured for his own good—Mr. Knightly, and immediately, he stirs her temper.

Felix Knightly isn’t looking forward to escorting who he assumes is a spoiled rich girl through the jungle, no matter how much her father pays.  He is shocked to find Katrina's distracting innocence, and charming demeanor makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on his job. He’d rather fight off the fire ants, howler monkeys and crocodiles than risk losing his heart to her.

As they delve deeper into the rainforest, they discover nothing is as it seems.  It's more than the unseen dangers of the jungle.  Someone wants them dead. Will Katrina and Felix solve the mystery before it's too late?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


photo by Pbj2199
Mystery author Lesley Diehl retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York where a shy ghost serves as her literary muse.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Learn more about Lesley and her books at her website and blog. 

The Chocolate-Filled Donut Sleuthing Approach to Losing Weight
(This diet won’t kill you!)

Don’t be put off by the protagonist in my newest cozy mystery, Murder Is Academic.  Sure, Laura Murphy, college professor, has a lot of degrees, but at her stage of life, they don’t mean a lot when she spends so much time plunging her head in the freezer to corral her hot flashes. And she notices something else.  She can be described as a short, voluptuous blond whose best asset according to herself is her chest and narrow waist, but a look in the mirror tells her something is going south.  Could it be that a combination of being a woman of a certain age and all those chocolate-filled donuts are catching up with her—  metabolically-speaking?

Here’s Laura’s so-easy, chocolate-filled donut approach to getting back in shape.  You can eliminate any one of the steps, although the results won’t be as radical.

First, try an exercise program.  Oh, sure you say.  Everyone recommends that.  But this one is different.  Laura and Annie, her best friend decide to enter a fifty mile canoeing race, although neither of them had tried the sport before.  The first day on the water they discover the dead body of the college president shoved under a pile of gravel at a bridge construction site.  You may want to just skip this last part.

Next you should extend your exercise program to include a variety of activities, not simply one.  Laura discovers dinner with a hunky biker dude can result in more than messed up hair from the wind.  It can result in messed up hair from a night spent in bed.  This is a highly recommended part of the diet regimen.  Don’t skip it.

On to the next part of the plan in which Laura investigates the murder of her president and gets herself into all kinds of trouble, but all the running around is a kind of exercise (see step two above, variety in your exercise program).  Another unexpected benefit of this is she also creates trouble for others, some of them people at the college she doesn’t really like.  Here is where you give yourself permission to be annoying to others you find annoying.  It doesn’t burn calories per se, but it is satisfying. 

Snooping a la the Laura Murphy approach results in a diminished appetite for donuts while maintaining an excellent appetite for the biker in her life.  If you think this part of the diet is easy, you should be forewarned that too much snooping can make the killer angry and lead to attempts on your life.  Take on this part of the plan only if you’re either a good runner or really smart.  Laura can’t run, but she’s pretty smart, smart enough to outwit a killer.

Once your weight has stabilized at the desired level of maintaining a zealous interest in the biker guy or any man of your choice, and the bad guy has been caught because of some clever, rigorous sleuthing, you may begin the donuts once more.  You didn’t really think you were going to give them up forever, did you?  That’s why it’s called the chocolate-filled donut approach to dieting.  Duh.

A final note: Taking up chocolate-filled donuts again will result in weight gain, so like Laura, you’ll have to find another murder to solve.  Laura does, and it’s called Failure Is Fatal.  In this one, the bad frat guys give her a real run around.  Expect Laura to be positively slim at the end.

Murder is Academic
Laura Murphy, psychology professor, thinks there’s nothing she likes better than coffee and donuts on a summer morning until she says yes to dinner with a Canadian biker and finds herself and her date suspects in the murder of her college’s president. Laura’s friend, the detective assigned the case, asks her to help him find out who on the small upstate New York college campus may be a killer.  The murder appears to be wrapped up in some unsavory happenings on the lake where Laura lives.  A fish kill and raw sewage seeping into the water along with the apparent drowning suicide of a faculty member complicate the hunt for the killer.  And then things become personal.  The killer makes a threatening phone call to Laura. With a tornado bearing down on the area and the killer intent upon silencing her, Laura’s sleuthing work may come too late to save her and her biker from a watery grave.

Monday, April 21, 2014


courtesy of TheOriginalSoni,
based on the fixture File:NASA Earth America 2010.jpg
Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to promote environmental awareness. 

Here are some easy things you can do to help preserve our planet:

Use as many locally grown foods as possible. 

Walk or ride your bike instead of driving everywhere. It's not only good for reducing your carbon footprint, it's good for reducing your waistline.

Keep your neighborhood clean. Never litter, and if you see litter, pick it up and toss it into a trash can.

Recycle everything you can. Many communities now pick up recyclables at your curb. These include newspapers, magazines, office paper, cardboard, metal cans, glass, and plastics. It's just as easy to put out the recycling as it is to put out the trash. Just use separate receptacles.

Use both sides of the paper. This cuts down on paper waste by fifty percent. The reverse side of mail, homework, office memos, etc. can be used for scrap paper, shopping lists, or your kids' arts & crafts projects. The Sunday comics section of the newspaper makes for fun wrapping paper.

Purchase paper towels that allow you to tear off smaller sheets. Not every spill needs a full sheet of paper towel. And use sponges instead of paper towels whenever possible.

Don't leave the water running while you brush your teeth and floss.

Showers use less water than baths.

If you have in-ground sprinkles, turn them off when it's raining or if there's been rain recently.  I can't tell you how many times I see sprinklers going on a rainy day or the day after we've had storms.

Turn off lights when you leave the room, and switch out your incandescent bulbs to energy efficient ones.

Don't stand in front of the open refrigerator, contemplating the contents.

Remember, only you can save the planet. Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Lynn Cahoon makes a return visit today to tell us about her latest book. A multi-published author, Lynn has written for the Chicken Soup anthologies, some of the confessional magazines, and had short stories published in Women’s World in addition to writing contemporary romance and mystery. Learn more about her and her books at her website

I’m a sucker for tourist stops. There’s just something about a store selling regional items along with the road trip necessities like a clean bathroom or a passable cup of coffee. 
Driving cross-country with no agenda in mind, I love stopping at those spots off the highway. Places where you can get a pink felt cowboy hat for less than ten dollars or a variety of souvenir spoons for display. (Yes, I do have a collection.)

A few years ago, I took a freedom trip to see my sister on spring break. I was in the middle of a divorce and trying to re-invent myself as an individual instead of the half of a couple I’d been for close to twenty years. During the day, I drove to local tourist spots, enjoying the weather and the scenery. At night I’d come back for dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and talk about my day.

Several times I found entire towns that had one function – to cater to tourists. Small craft houses where local artists sold their designs. From glass blowing, to country crafts, soap makers, and even landscape artists, each house on the main street focused on one skill.

As I walked through the towns, I wondered about the people behind the sales counter. Were they residents of the town? Did they live upstairs over the shop? Was the woman who sold the homemade fudge the same person who made the delight?

I loved the small town feel and uniqueness of each shop. Not a Target or Lowes on the street. Not even a McDonald’s. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those stores; don’t get me wrong. I went to Target today. But on vacation I want something different from my day-to-day life.

Guidebook to Murder was based on my personal fantasy about living in one of these tourist towns.

Today, I live near a touristy river town. We visit the flea market in the summer, walking through the many booths, then grab lunch in one of the many restaurants located on the deck overlooking the river. A mini vacation stop.

I always buy something to add to my souvenir collection. I love coffee mugs right now.

What’s your favorite souvenir to collect? 

Guidebook to Murder
In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store--Coffee, Books, and More--open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.