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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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


A former English teacher, Lynette Sofras gave up a high level career in education to focus on her writing a few years ago, thus fulfilling her lifelong dream. She mainly writes women fiction, often with suspense and/or a supernatural twist. When not producing novels, she works as an editor and writing tutor at 24houranswers.com. Learn more about Lynette and her books at her website and blog.

It's said that most Americans will experience poverty at some point in their lives, particularly inner city or rural dwellers. What seems almost ludicrous to me is that as the world advances in so many ways, poverty is steadily increasing. In the UK, the dramatic rise in the number of people using food banks is testament to the fact that poverty is no longer a third world issue.

When times are tight, there are numerous ways you can cut back on expenses to save money for essentials. You don't have to starve or live in misery, thanks to food banks and the supermarket price wars. Buying budget brands doesn't always mean sacrificing quality and essential nutrition. In the UK, stores like Lidl and Aldi are forcing competition and the big name supermarkets are having to downprice accordingly. If you don't want to switch loyalties, try switching brands for a month to see how much you can save. Search for offers and money-off vouchers in free magazines or the Internet. Visit markets, boot/garage sales and auction houses to hunt down cheaper alternatives.

Foregoing expensive forms of entertainment for a short while can also help you save pennies. Cut out fancy restaurants and get experimental in the kitchen. Visit museums and libraries and broaden your mind for free or simply get healthy with a walk in the park and perhaps a picnic lunch.

While I've never known real deprivation, I did go through a period of financial hardship when I was bringing up a young child with virtually no support from the father, while putting myself through university and beyond to ensure I could provide for us both in the future. It is perhaps hardly surprising, therefore, that money issues infiltrate some of my novels. In my latest romantic suspense, The Nightclub, two half-sisters, fleeing a pretty dreadful past, find themselves living hand to mouth and surviving only with great difficulty. Money is so tight, they have to live in a squalid flat, shop at charity shops or scavenge for market bargains, and re-use teabags to save pennies. But they have each other, determination and ambition.

The Nightclub
Trying to make a living for her teenage sister and herself, naïve Laura Hamilton accepts a job offer as a hostess at an infamous London nightclub. As she struggles to survive in a world of sex, drugs and corruption, she certainly doesn't expect to find her own knight in shining armour in the club's owner, Julian. But will he really save her from a future as a fallen woman? And is he involved in the criminal organisation that threatens not only her sister's life, but will change her own fate forever?

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Monday, June 29, 2015


Catherine the Great
Today is the last day of Adopt-a-Cat Month. If you’re looking for a feline friend, head over to your local animal shelter today. You can share this recipe for Catnip Cookies with your new kitty. Both Anastasia's Mama and Catherine the Great, her white Persian, love these treats.

Catnip Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon catnip
1 lg. egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon honey
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flours and catnip in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, blending well.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/4” thickness onto a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake for twenty minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool, then store in tightly sealed container.

Want to learn more about Catherine the Great? You’ll find her royal highness strutting around throughout the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Meet her in Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the critically acclaimed first book in the series.

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.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015


Every so often I come across a new craft material that becomes my new favorite. Lately it’s washi tape, a craft material that originated in Japan. You may have seen projects using washi tape on various craft blogs or Pinterest pages. It’s becoming a real obsession, and now I’m one of the obsessed. Why? Because in a matter of seconds and with not a single discernable crafting gene, anyone can create fun, decorative projects from just about anything.

I’m sure you’ve all seen colorful, patterned Duck tape in craft stores and home improvement centers. People have been crafting with Duck tape for several years now, even creating prom dresses and tuxes from the sticky stuff. But crafting with Duck tape, precisely because it’s so sticky, is more difficult to master. Washi tape has none of the drawbacks of Duck tape.

Even though washi tape is made from paper, it’s nearly as strong as Duck tape. This is because it’s made from natural fibers—bamboo or hemp or the barks of the mulberry or gampi trees or the mitsumata shrub.

Washi tape isn’t one of those hard-to-find craft supplies. Many craft supply manufacturers now produce lines of washi tape. I found rolls in 1/2” and 5/8” widths and varying lengths available at Target and several local craft chains.

Washi tape is loved by scrapbookers, but it can be used to decorate just about anything. For my first foray into the world of washi tape, I decided to spruce up some old, boring desk accessories, adding washi tape to some banker’s clips, a stapler, and the galvanized pail I use to hold pens and markers.

What will you decorate with washi tape?

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Today mystery author Annette Dashofy sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about Annette and her books at her website and blog.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
When I was in high school, I started writing “novels” longhand in spiral-bound notebooks. I’d write a chapter or two and pass it around in study hall to my “fans” who would take their turns reading it before returning it to me with orders to “write more!” Now, there’s a term for what I wrote: Fan Fiction. Then it was simply inserting a character who was basically ME into a story involving my favorite television shows at the time. Recently, while cleaning out my mom’s basement, I found a binder with three of those early “novels” written when I was 13!

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I’m not counting those teenaged efforts! I got serious about writing for publication in 2004. From then, it took about 10 years for it to really happen.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’m traditionally published with Henery Press, a small, but fabulous, publisher.

Where do you write?
Mostly I write in my home office, but when I travel, a hotel room does nicely. And my hubby and I have a “fishing/writing camp” on the Youghiogheny River. He fishes. I write. That’s probably my most productive writing location.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I need silence or as close to it as I can muster. The only time I need music to write is if there happens to be music or dancing in the scene.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I often get ideas from local news stories, but then I “corrupt” them into something completely different. A few story lines have been inspired by family folklore-type tales or stupid stuff that’s happened, but they’re just a seed from which to start. As for my characters, I use some real-life experiences. For instance, I have worked as an EMT on a small-town ambulance service. I own cats (or they own me) and have owned horses. However, that’s the extend of similarities between me and Zoe. We have totally different family backgrounds.

Describe your process for naming your character?
I like to use local names for characters, but I mix and match a lot. Pete Adams for example: Pete was the name of a local police chief, who passed away years ago and who was also a dear friend of my dad. Adams was the last name of the minister who married my husband and me. I like to walk through a local cemetery and pick names from tombstones, too.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Both. Monongahela County and Vance Township are fictionalized versions of southwestern Pennsylvania. Folks recognize aspects of the places I write about, but as with names, I like to mix things up. If I relocated stores and roads, or mashed together different police jurisdictions the way I do without fictionalizing it, all my neighbors and police friends would be calling FOUL! I do occasionally mention Pittsburgh and other real settings, though. Pete takes Zoe out to dinner in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, for example. It’s a real place, but I fictionalized the name of the restaurant.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Although Zoe works as a deputy coroner, she can’t stand the smell of autopsy. Not really a quirk for the average person, but for someone who’s considering a future in the Coroner’s Office, it’s a problem!

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m not sure I want to share that! I will confess to loving old Westerns with a passion. I own a lot of them on DVD and love to binge watch.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Oh… Just about any of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s novels. I love her writing and have always said I want to write like her when I grow up. I love how she writes setting. And I love how 3-dimensional all her characters are.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Forgive me if I channel Frank Sinatra for a moment, but as for regrets, I’ve had too few to mention. I do sometimes wonder what if I’d made a different choice… But I’m really happy with my life as is right now, and I don’t know if a do-over would have made it any better.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who never look up from their cell phones. From moms not paying attention to their kids in Walmart to folks not paying attention to the road when they’re behind the wheel to people just missing out on what’s around them. Put the phone down!

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My husband and a knife (because he’s a pseudo-MacGyver and could build a shelter and catch food as long as he has a knife!) and the latest Craig Johnson novel (which I could read over and over while Hubby builds the shelter and catches the food).  

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I once worked at a kiosk in a mall where I sold cheap jewelry and pierced ears. I hated it. I hated piercing little kids’ ears and making them cry. Plus after you do one side, it’s really hard to get them to sit still for the second one because NOW they know what’s coming!

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
From previous answers, you can probably guess I’m a huge Julia Spencer Fleming and Craig Johnson fan. It would have to be one of theirs, but narrowing it down to one is HARD. I think I’ll go with Johnson’s Kindness Goes Unpunished, although if you asked me the same question on another day, I’d probably give you different answer.

Ocean or mountains?

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Country. Definitely country.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m currently completing With a Vengeance, the fourth book in the Zoe Chambers mystery series and noodling with ideas for the fifth one!

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I’m thrilled that Circle of Influence was nominated for an Agatha for Best First Novel, and I’m also tickled that it’s recently been nominated for the David Award for Best Novel of 2014. Truly a dream come true!

Bridges Burned
Paramedic Zoe Chambers is used to saving lives, but when she stops a man from running into a raging inferno in a futile attempt to rescue his wife, Zoe finds herself drawn to him, and even more so to his ten-year-old daughter. She invites them both to live at the farm while the grieving widower picks up the pieces of his life.

Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, of course, is not happy with this setup, especially when he finds evidence implicating Zoe's new houseguest in murder times two. When Zoe ignores Pete's dire warnings, she runs the very real chance of burning one too many bridges, losing everything--and everyone--she holds dear.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Photo by Neesa Rajbhandari
If you visited the town where New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lynn Cahoon she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. Learn more about Lynn and her books at her website. 

Do you buy used clothes?

Fashion alert: Vintage Duds, a-new-to-you shop, selling designer clothes has opened in my fictional town of South Cove, California. Sherry King and Pat Williams are the newest business owners in my tourist trap town.  The store is filled with classic and modern designer creations, and Sherry has even added a small runway area for trunk sales that allows her to play New York Fashion week whenever she buys out an up-and-coming starlet’s closet. Or more likely, an on-the-way-out-of-Hollywood has-been’s clothes.

Either way, the clothes aren’t new off the delivery truck. Some have been worn once, some a little more often. I love walking through a local resale shop here in St. Louis. Some of my finds have lasted me longer than items I picked up new at mall stores. I’m a cheap shopper; I’ll admit it. I have great taste. I can point out whatever’s most expensive on the store floor. Sadly for my closet, I can’t bring myself to pay full price for anything. My wallet on the other hand, thanks me.

I shop clearance, out of season, and, yes, I’ll admit it, I also shop resale. Goodwill stores are too overwhelming. Too many bad choices, too much stuff to sort through. Even though I’m cheap, I’m also picky. I want to look professional and sharp in my new-to-me items. 

This season, I’m planning on hitting the charity resale shop to see if I can snag a little black dress for upcoming conferences. Whatever I’m wearing when you see me in NYC or Raleigh, NC at different conventions, you can count on one thing: I didn’t mortgage my house to buy the dress. 

So it’s your turn to dish. Are you a closet re-sale shopper? Do you love finding a garage sale where the woman used to be your size? Or does the thought of buying used creep you out a little?  (Read Joe Hill’s A Heart Shaped Box, and you may never let a used piece of clothing near you again.)

Dressed to Kill
Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More in the tucked-away town of South Cove, California—is not particularly thrilled to be portraying a twenties flapper for the dinner theater murder mystery. Though it is for charity…

Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn’t acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor’s conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill’s main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Today we have a return visit from award-winning and bestselling author Karen Rose Smith who will see her 87th novel published in 2015. Although she has written romance novels for over twenty years, she has now branched into mysteries as well as women's fiction. Learn more about Karen and her books at her romancewebsite, her mystery website, and her blog.

In my Caprice De Luca mystery series, my sleuth Caprice is a home decorator who turned to staging houses to make her business thrive. I can share my experience as a home decorator through Caprice.

When we think of home decorating, we usually consider furnishings, artwork and design composition within our homes. However, this time of year, my interest turns to my gardens and patio.  Here is how I go about it:

Flower Pots in Various Sizes
From plastic pots that resemble ceramic to ceramic to clay, containers can pretty up a patio when filled with greenery and flowers. I like colorful plastic that looks like ceramic (WalMart always has a selection) because I can find bright colors. They are also easier to handle because they are lighter. We have a store called Ollie's that offers a truckload of pots every spring. We’ve found some beautiful ceramic pots there for $10-15 in sizes from large to small. I prefer ceramic and plastic to clay because the clay pots don't hold moisture as well, especially as we move deeper into summer. Position groupings as you would with wall decorations around your patio furniture.  You can also add hanging pots on ground hooks for a different and lush feel.

Solar Lights
Solar lights and decorative items add enjoyment to your patio time. Not only do we enjoy the glow when we're sitting on the patio in the evenings, but even when I'm in the house and look out at the patio in the dark, those soft glowing lights are welcoming. A solar cat is a new addition to our patio this year and glows blue!

Hummingbird Feeders
Each spring I look forward to hanging hummingbird feeders. It might take a little while for them to put you on their trail, but they'll find the feeders. Especially if you plant phlox, zinnias, coneflowers and hummingbird mint in your gardens. It's an amazing sight to be sitting on the patio and having the hummingbirds flit from flowers to feeders. They're beautiful, happy little essences of nature.

Around the patio I try to plan gardens with blooming times in mind. I like to always have something blooming. In the spring, we go from daffodils and tulips to poppies and roses. Zinnias, marigolds and snapdragons see us through the summer.

Fountains can give a peaceful feel to your patio. Again, I like to invest in the solar variety. We don't have our fountains on the patio itself, but close by in the garden where we can hear them. Fountains attract birds and hummingbirds.

Come spring, I hang an ornament...just for the fun of it... in the garden or from an overhang. It usually involves a lot of sparkle with beads…or a cat!

Patio Furniture
Patio furniture can add pizzazz to your patio. But it doesn't have to be new or expensive. A can of spray paint can work wonders. Over 40 years ago, my dad gave my mom two patio chairs that are the most comfortable I've ever sat in.  Each year we refresh the color. For the past few years, this bright blue coordinates with the other blues on our patio. That chair gives me a sense of connection to the past.

Each year we refresh our patio with flowers as well as items we've collected over the years. My patio is a space for relaxation and peace, and prettying it up is a joyous undertaking each spring. I hope you enjoy your outdoor space as much as we enjoy ours.

Drape Expectations
Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery Series, Book 4 

Caprice De Luca's former client and now friend Ace Richland--an 80's rock star--asks her for a favor.  Can she quickly stage his girlfriend's house to sell?  Widow Alanna Goodwin, a transplanted Southern beauty, will be moving in with him!  Immediately Caprice realizes Alanna's southern charm can be turned on and off at will.  Caprice agrees to stage Alanna's Kismet antebellum-styled mansion for Ace's sake.  But she soon learns Alanna doesn't have a genuine love for her cat Mirabelle and also uncovers a plot her new client is hatching to sabotage Ace's comeback.  However, before she can tell Ace, Alanna is murdered and Ace is the prime suspect.  

As Caprice investigates, she learns Alanna had more secrets than pie safes.  With her Cocker Spaniel Lady by her side, she tracks down clues and adopts Alanna's cat.  In the midst of some of her own family upheaval--her uncle has moved in with her parents--she finds herself with a dilemma.  Grant Weatherford, her brother's law partner, advises Ace and reveals more of his past to her.  Seth Randolph, the doctor she dates, wants her to meet his family.  She must choose between them.

Danger stalks Caprice.  Will her refresher self-defense course save her life?  Only if she keeps her wits about her and Lady by her side.

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Monday, June 22, 2015


June Shaw is a hybrid author who writes in a variety of genres, including writing with her grandchildren. Learn more about June and her books, both her own and those co-authored with family members, at her website. 

Close Family Recipe—and Shrimp Creole

Here’s a different kind of recipe. This one is for bringing various generations in a family closer. Here’s how it all started:

I live around lazy bayous in south Louisiana. I’d always wanted to become a writer, but married young and became widowed when our five children were five to eleven years old. To earn money then, I completed my degree at our local university and began teaching.

Being with my children and attending all of their events was most important. Finally I managed to write short pieces and eventually sold a few. I was thrilled. By the time I first sold a novel, my children were giving me grandkids. What fun!

Spring forward a little. I’d begun selling a series of humorous mysteries. The series features a spunky widow who “thinks” she wants to avoid her hunky lover so she can rediscover herself. But he opens Cajun restaurants wherever she travels, and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men.

Okay, so my squeeze Bob and I have been “dating” for years now, and it’s great. And he is a terrific Cajun cook! I’d finish writing a mystery and tell him I needed some good recipes for the book, and he’d jot them down and even cook the dishes for me. Those books are Relative Danger, Killer Cousin, and Deadly Reunion. And yes, he wrote the recipe I’ll share below and prepared the Shrimp Creole dish.

What’s brought more of us in the family closer together is my eight-year-old granddaughter one day said, “Granny June, would you hurry and finish writing that mystery and write a book with me?” Was she kidding? We created How to Take Care of Your Pet Ghost and sold lots of copies. She helped write it and make sales. Later my teen granddaughters asked to write a novel with me. We all loved Hunger Games—so our recently released novel is Just One Friend.

Shrimp Creole

1 lg. onion chopped fine
1/2 lg. bell pepper chopped fine
1 sleeve of celery chopped
2 T. garlic chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 lg. spoon of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
2 lbs. peeled shrimp
cooked rice

Sautee onion, pepper, celery, and garlic until clear (about 20 min.)

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, sugar, salt, pepper, and water. Stir continuously, not letting mixture burn (approximately 1-1/2 hrs.) Add more water as needed while mixture thickens.

Add shrimp and cook about ten minutes longer. Serve over bed of cooked rice.

Serves 4-6 happy people.

Just One Friend
After warfare destroys most of the country, only one area remains where it’s known that people can survive. Because of limited resources and space, the ruler decrees that each person can have only one friend. A teenager decides things should be otherwise. If she is wrong, she and someone close to her with meet with horrible deaths.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015


Anna Castle is the author of the Francis Bacon mysteries and the Lost Hat, Texas mysteries. She’s earned a series of degrees and has had a corresponding series of careers—everything from waitressing to software engineerin to assistant professor to archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. Learn more about Anna and her books at her website. 

Point and Shoot: Tips for Taking Better Photographs
The more I write and the more I blog, the more I need photographs of the places where I do research for my books. A good photograph grabs potential readers on social media and might draw them toward my words. The photographs also cue my memories and the better they are, the more they help.

The good news about photography is that cameras have gotten so clever, you don’t have to do much more than point and shoot. You don’t need a bag full of lenses, filters, and little brushes for cleaning the lenses and filters. You don’t even have to remember which film speed is best for evening and which for afternoon. Most digital cameras allow you to manipulate light, focus, and depth of field if you want, but it isn’t necessary unless you’re shooting for special effects.

The camera on your phone is good enough for quickies, but I still prefer a single-purpose camera, like my Canon Powershot. Search for “compact digital cameras” and you’ll find half a dozen, most under $200. This little gadget is about the size of my phone, though three times as thick. It fits in my jacket pocket, the fanny pack (a stylish one) that I use when traveling, or an outer pocket of my purse. I bought spare batteries and memory cards, so I can take hundreds of photos when I’m traveling for book research. (Back up your photos every day!)

My little camera isn’t professional grade, but it does a great job of jitter control (aka image stabilization) and auto-focus, the two things that used to knock most of my pictures into the wastebasket. I have an astigmatism and can’t focus worth a darn. This camera has all the options, like adjusting the ISO (film speed) to take better pictures on a bright day. I’ve played with some of them, but usually I let the camera do the technical part while I focus on composition.

A word about formats: photography experts advise you to take pictures in RAW format, the highest quality your camera can produce. Those files are big; you can take 2-3 times more photos in jpeg, which is good enough for everything but professional editing or submitting to a court of law. I suggest you use jpeg and take more pics!

Fill the frame
My father was a truly gifted photographer. He had two cameras around his neck on all our wonderful trips. He taught me the first rule of amateur photography: fill the frame. Get close enough to the thing you’re shooting to see it in all its glory. The best thing about this guideline is that it’s easy to remember. You just need to be a little bolder than you might normally be.

Or zoom in, sometimes the only way to get close. The zoom function on my camera is better and easier to use than the one on my phone. This beautiful gothic goose stands high atop a building at Cambridge University.

The rule of thirds
This classic rule of composition (shown at the top of this post) applies to book covers and other artworks as well as photographs. It’s easy to understand, but takes practice to internalize. Divide your subject or visual field into three parts, both horizontally and vertically, to create a grid with nine cells. The photo of a bee comes from the  Digital Photography School online. The goal is to place the feature of main interest along one of the grid lines; that is, somewhat off center. To me this trick seems to provide a space for the observer, encouraging us to enter the frame.

I recommend going out sometime during your trip -- or even just around your hometown -- to play with your camera and experiment with this technique.

Frames and spirals
The golden spiral is a compositional term. It means look for lines that draw the eye into the world of the photograph. Water swirls, streets curve up hillsides, paths lead into woods. Framing is another device for adding depth to a photograph. This picture peeks through the keyhole in a hedge in a renaissance garden in Warwickshire.

Framing is easy enough, though it often requires backing up, violating the first rule. Find a pair of trees or gateposts for a vertical frame or frame horizontally by including a bit of the shore or a fence at the bottom of your composition. Spirals are more serendipitous. I’m still learning to keep my eyes peeled for curving lines in the landscape.

Patience, Penelope
This is the true secret to good photography: waiting for the tourists to move along, the cloud to pass, or that odd sheep to turn your way. My father used to lurk behind the group, enjoying the event, but also watching for that telling shot. It helps to have an extroverted travel partner who can chat with the tour guide or the flower seller while you drift to one side to get them into your nine-point grid. This photograph shows my mother chatting with a Zoque woman in Mexico.
Good timing might also mean getting up early to get that sweet morning light and do your streetscapes before the traffic starts rolling. I often tour a place first, to learn about it and see what catches my interest. Then I’ll go back again just to take pictures. When I went out at 6:30am in Cambridge, I kept bumping into three other people out doing the very same thing.

Finishing touches
You can take courses in Adobe Photoshop if you really want to get serious about editing. I’ve learned a few tricks, like erasing all the cigarettes from my old photos, by searching the net for “remove unwanted objects from photo.” Add the name of your software and you’ll likely find a step-by-step tutorial to do that one simple thing.

I use Photoshop Elements. All I usually do with my photographs is crop to improve the composition and apply the built-in auto-fix functions to correct color and brightness. Not even a great camera can fix a gloomy day! Cropping can help with less-than-ideal conditions, too, by reducing the amount of flat gray sky in the background. That’s my typical problem in England; in Texas, the light is always too bright.

I roam about with my camera, trying to think like my photographer protagonist, getting a little better at applying the classic rules each time out. It’s another fun way to dig into these intriguing locations that inspired me to write the stories in the first place!

Black & White & Dead All Over
When the internet service provider in a small town in Texas blackmails one client too many, murder follows. Photographer Penelope Trigg has to rattle every skeleton in every closet in Lost Hat to find the killer and keep herself out of jail.

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