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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Multi-award nominee Cindy Sample is a former corporate CEO who decided plotting murder was more entertaining than plodding through paperwork. Her national bestselling humorous mystery series features single soccer mom Laurel McKay and now includes five books. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Laurel McKay, the protagonist in my mystery series, is an addict. A donut addict. Or, as she prefers to phrase it, a donut aficionado. There is nothing Laurel likes better than biting into a melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon apple donut. Or a vanilla frosted apple donut. Or a…well, you get the idea.

Luckily, my protagonist and I both live near Apple Hill, located in the Gold Country of Northern California, and home to over fifty apple farms. During the season, which goes from Labor Day to Christmas Eve, over a million tourists visit this area to pick apples and savor their delicious donuts, fritters, strudel, and more. While researching my book, I toured one of the apple farm kitchens. I was amazed to learn they sell over 50,000 donuts a month.

My family is also included in those demographics. When my daughter flew here from Seattle one Thanksgiving, we drove sixty-five miles from the Sacramento airport directly to Apple Hill so she could savor her favorite glazed apple donuts. That’s when my sugar-fueled brain decided Dying for a Donut would be the next book in my series.

My protagonist is quite excited when her daughter, Jenna, lands a job at the Apple Tree Farm and Bakery. That is until Laurel stumbles over the owner of Apple Tree Farm covered from head to toe in powdered sugar. Did someone try to sweeten him up? Investigating his murder ends up being far more perilous than she first anticipates.

I should know. My research for this book proved to be my most dangerous yet. And now I am definitely dying for a diet!

Continuing with the theme of the story, I asked readers to contribute one of their favorite fall recipes. I chose twelve apple, pumpkin and pear-related recipes which are featured at the back of the book. Plus one recipe for Man Catcher Brownies. How could I not include that one!

Below is the recipe for the original Apple Hill cake. Since I’m better known for eating than baking, if I can make it, anyone can.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
4 cups diced apples

Combine sugar, oil and eggs, then add diced apples. Sift together the flour, salt, spices, and baking soda. Add to apple mixture. Pour into a 9” x 13” greased cake pan and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Serve warm or cold with your favorite topping.

Happy reading and eating.

Dying for a Donut
To Laurel McKay, there’s nothing better than spending an autumn afternoon munching on caramel apples and cinnamon donuts. It’s a good thing her daughter Jenna has landed a seasonal job at Apple Tree Farm and Bakery.

Then Laurel stumbles over the bakery owner coated in powdered sugar. Axel Thorson was a well-respected member of the community. Who wanted to sweeten him up? And who might benefit from his death?

Any number of business owners, friends and family it soon turns out.

When the police arrest the heartthrob grandson of the bakery manager, Jenna decides to help him by solving the case herself, a move that lands her in jail. With Laurel’s detective honey in another state, and her octogenarian grandmother threatening to chase down the culprit, what’s a soccer mom with a sweet tooth to do but go undercover?

Detecting among donuts should be a piece of cake, but not if Laurel discovers first-hand that sugar can kill you.

Buy Links


Angela Adams said...

Yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

Cynthia Sample said...

You'll love it Angela. And it's quick to fix.

Kathleen Asay said...

I haven't baked in years and I'm tempted. After Christmas. Or maybe we'll just drive up to Apple Hill and buy something already made! It's a great place to visit and a great place for a murder, fictional, of course.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Love where your ideas come from, and all of your titles are so clever. Dying for a Diet just might work -- send your protagonist to a fat farm :) Happy holidays!

Cynthia Sample said...

Thanks, Kathy. Apple Hill is the best place to visit for apple treats and souvenirs. And it makes a great scene of the crime!

Cynthia Sample said...

Thanks, Donnell Ann. I'm not sure how Laurel will feel about Dying for a Diet but I certainly am. I think Laurel may be dying for a diamond!

R. James said...

I hope your recipe is as great as Dying for a Donut!

Cynthia Sample said...

Thanks, Rae. What a lovely compliment. Happy holidays to you.

Lisa Dane said...

When it comes to culinary arts, I'm with you, Cindy! Let's just say, a friend made me an apron that says, "I'd Rather Eat Than Cook." This recipe does look easy, and because it has apples in the ingredients, I'd call it "healthy". Happy 2016!

Cynthia Sample said...

Trust me, Lisa. If I can make it, any one can. Happy 2016 to you too!

Teresa Judd said...

I'm thinking mysteries about food should announce calories included! First it was donuts and now cake. I read the book. It's non-caloric but fun!

Cynthia Sample said...

Thanks, Teresa. This book does make you crave donuts and more, doesn't it? So glad you enjoyed it.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Sounds like yet another delicious read designed to create Sample addicts. I'm not a big donut fan, but I love visiting Apple Hill and can't wait to do so in your latest novel.

Cynthia Sample said...

Kathy, you will love this book and I may turn you into a donut lover yet!. Of course there's always apple fritters, apple strudel etc. Happy holidays to you!