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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A COWGIRL'S FRUSTRATIONS

Donna Schlachter writes historical suspense under her own name and contemporary suspense under her Leeann Betts alter ego. Donna also teaches writing classes and courses and is a ghostwriter and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about her and her books at her website where you can receive a free book by signing up for her newsletter. Today her heroine, “Cactus” Lil Duncan, from A Prickly Affair, one of the seven stories in the A Bouquet of Brides Collection, joins us for a bit of insight into her life.

At the time my story begins, I would say my biggest frustration was the fact that I was penning love stories but had never been in love. Not even once. Not a kiss behind the schoolhouse. Not a pitter-patter of my heart when dancing at the local barn dance, not even a dreamy thought in my head about a handsome cowboy glimpsed on a shopping trip to town.

Which might surprise you, but wasn’t really so strange at the time.

Love was a scarce commodity in a land as harsh as Arizona Territory of the time. Hot days, desiccating winds, piercing sand storms, droughts as deep and black as the devil’s heart—at least, if I believed what my mother said—none of this encouraged tears of joy or gasps of delight.

So with none in my real life, I set about to create a world I could escape into. And I didn’t need a fancy dress, or a parasol, or button-up boots. All I needed was a pen, paper, and a few minutes in the evening between eating dinner and collapsing into my bed. Alone.

But looking back on the entire situation now, I can see the hand of God in all of this. If my head was filled with useless notions of how love should be, I might have missed the real thing when it came along.

Just another example of how He had it all under control the whole time.

A Bouquet of Brides Collection
A Collection of Seven Novellas by Seven Different Authors

Meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

A Prickly Affair
A rough-and-tumble cowgirl, “Cactus” Lil Duncan longs for true love, but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--LEMON CREAM CHEESE COFFEE CAKE WITH PECAN STREUSEL

The other day I found myself with 4 ounces of cream cheese that I needed to use before it turned to mold in my fridge. This one’s for the lemon lovers out there.

Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

Muffins:
1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup sugar
4 oz. cream cheese, cut in 1/4” cubes
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
4 oz. lemon curd

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3 T. cold butter, cut in 1/4” cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 7” x 11” pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in cream cheese.

In a separate bowl combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

Add the wet to the dry mix a little at a time just until all ingredients are combined.

Pour battr into pan. Microwave lemon curd for 15-20 seconds. Drizzle over top of batter.

For streusel topping use a food processor to pulse brown sugar, pecans, and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Monday, January 22, 2018

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON'S FINE ART DOPPELGANGERS

My Selfie
There’s an app for everything these days—whether you’re looking for a parking spot or tracking the number of steps you walk each day. Now there’s even an app that will show you your fine art doppelganger.

I recently learned about a new app developed by Google. It’s called Google Arts & Culture. It’s free and fun and even though it’s from Google, it’s available for iPhones, as well.

The app’s description states, “Meet the people, visit the places and learn about the events that shaped our world. Discover collections curated by experts from the most famous museums. Be moved by stories depicted in thousands of photos, videos, manuscripts and artworks on every type of screen and in virtual reality. Find your favorite artworks, create your own collections and share them with friends.”

But the coolest feature of the app is that it will show you which famous artwork you most resemble. All you do is snap a selfie and let the app do its thing. I couldn’t resist.

Then I saw my closest match. Ugh! By 46% my closest museum double was a portrait painted either by or in the style of Franz Hals. I’m not sure it’s even a woman! This was so embarrassing that I’m not even going to show it to you. I will, however, show you the other matches.
Coming in at 41% is "La Muse de Rops", an 1895 sketch by Felicien Victor Joseph Rops. It hangs in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
At a 40% match is an 1864 portrait of Harriet Weld Corning by Charles Loring Elliott. It can be found at the Albany Institute of History & Art.
At 39% is a 1944 charcoal portrait of Sgt. Lois Wilson by Francis Vandeveer Kughler. You’ll find it at the Hudson River Museum.
And finally, at a 36% match is the daughter from "Mother and Daughter" by Victorio C. Edades. Painted in 1926, it’s in the collection of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.

So what do you think? Do you see any resemblance between these portraits and me? And do you think you’ll check out the app to find your own artwork double?

Friday, January 19, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR LINDA CARROLL-BRADD

Today Linda Carroll-Bradd, author of contemporary and historical romance, sits down for an interview. Learn more about Linda and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
Not until after I’d finished college and started raising a family. I kept envisioning different endings to the romances I was reading. Of course, when I tried, then I learned how many aspects are involved in creative writing.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I worked at writing on a part-time basis for twelve years before my first paid publication, which was a story for the confession magazines. My first sale to a book publisher came a couple years later.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
A hybrid. I’ve been published by seven traditional publishers and have also have indie-pubbed several titles under my real name and my erotic romance pen name, Layla Chase.

Where do you write?
In an office in our home in the southern California mountains.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I can write with or without music. When I want to create a certain mood or capture a tone, I’ll put on ethnic music connected to one of the characters.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I draw from real life for the plots because I research a lot and visit museums on any of the car trips my husband and I take. I find working a real-life event into a romance plot a thrill. The characters are all from my imagination.

Describe your process for naming your character.
I use The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook and start with the nationality I believe demonstrates the character’s background. I strive for unusual names, because I was most often one of several Lindas in my neighborhood or classes while growing up. So, I want my characters to be memorable.

Real settings or fictional towns? 
Fictional towns laid over real settings. That way I can find a map, even a historical one, and picture how the town is laid out in comparison with the surrounding geography.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
 I work hard to give my characters something unique. One of my heroes does scrimshaw, a skill he learned from his time spent trapping in Alaska.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Can’t walk into a movie theater or start a movie at home after the opening scene has started.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Pride and Prejudice because who wouldn’t want to be known 200 years in the future for her creative endeavor?

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Starting on my writing path at least a decade earlier.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People without the ability to wait their turn, either in traffic or in stores. People who are too me-oriented.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? Sunscreen for my easy-to-burn skin, wet wipes because I can’t stand damp sand on my skin, and a trunk filled with romance novels

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Telephone solicitor for vacation property as a high-school student. I didn’t have the maturity to handle rude hang-ups.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, because I loved the feminist bent of the retelling of the King Arthur tale.

Ocean or mountains?
Mountains

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Grew up in a city but always wished I could have lived in a small town.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m working on a couple of big-themed books that I hope to finish in 2018. One is a prairie historical I’ve been working on for several years involving a paroled convict half-breed and a Swedish immigrant on a homestead, and the other involves the Nez Perce tragedy and how the Army tracked them for months.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I write clean and wholesome stories that always have a bit of humor and contain lots of heart.

Tending Troubles, Book 6 in Lockets & Lace multi-author series

Traveling west to become a mail-order bride is the most adventurous act Bostonian Imogene Franklin ever did. Unfortunately, the groom chose another so now Imogene must make her way on her own. Dreading the idea of returning home to continue raising her siblings, she is reduced to waiting tables in the Dorado café.

Guilt hangs heavy over Reggie Othmann—ever since he brought home a childhood illness that claimed both his parents’ lives. The ink is barely dry on Reggie’s degree when he arrives home in Dorado to establish a medical practice. All he’s wanted since he was ten years old is to help people, but now he’s unsure of his future. When illness descends on the town, Reggie and Imogene tend the townspeople but is their emotional tie born of the closeness of the ordeal or perhaps something more?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR N.M. CEDENO

N. M. Cedeño writes mystery, science fiction, paranormal mystery, and children’s poetry. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I took a while to work my way up to novels. First, I wrote kids’ poetry and stories. Then, I branched out to short stories for adults a few years later. Finally, around age 30, I realized one of my stories needed to be a novel, but it took me a few years to figure out how to write it.  

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I submitted children’s fiction to publishers for years without success. Then, around 2008, I started submitting 250 word stories to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine’s monthly photo contest. A couple of my stories were selected as runners-up in 2009 and 2010, so I decided to try writing full-length short stories. My first short story to be published was in Analog: Science Fiction and Fact magazine in 2012. By that time, I’d been writing for at least nine years.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
My novels are all indie published, but I still submit short stories to magazines. Hybrid.

Where do you write?
I write at home, mostly in the office or at the kitchen table.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
For years, I wrote to the sound of squabbling children. Now I write to the sound of squabbling children and a dog barking out frequent proximity alerts: Truck! Squirrel! Person! Dog! Cat! Silence might be nice.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Details in my stories are drawn from real life. For instance, I like to put favorite restaurants in stories. I included a rollover car wreck in a book, and I’ve been in one. I once gave a character a variation on a job I had held. My science fiction stories frequently involve current social issues that I tweak to fit my needs. However, most of my stories involve murder, and none of the murder plots are taken from my life.

Describe your process for naming your characters?
Naming characters is a complicated process!  I use a baby name book to choose names that fit the personality of the character. I also Google names to make sure they are either really common or completely unique.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Real cities and towns, but with fictional buildings added. I’ve set stories in Houston, Dallas, and around Austin. Most of my fiction is set in Texas.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
In my Bad Vibes Removal Services stories, the character of Lea is a graduate student who studies the daily lives of ancient people. Her quirk is that she replicates the clothes, hairstyles, makeup styles, or even perfumes common to the ancient civilization she is studying, and sometimes wears them to work. Lea is also extremely sensitive to emotional atmosphere in buildings, and she sees ghosts!

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I refuse to buy desserts I can easily bake myself: no grocery cakes or bakery cookies, cupcakes, or brownies unless they’re something truly extraordinary.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers. I’d love to be able to write witty dialogue and intelligent characters while displaying a knack for comedy and creating humorous situations the way Sayers did in that book. Sayers broke a main rule of mystery writing by ending not with the capture of the murderer, but with the execution of the murderer after the trial. She showed the psychological ramifications of the execution on her detective. She could only do that because she was a brilliant writer who could create characters that readers were invested in knowing, characters whose lives and emotions mattered to the reader.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
To have taken a marketing class in college.  I didn’t foresee how much I would need to know that kind of stuff.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Places that advertise kolaches, and don’t sell any actual kolaches, but instead sell sausage rolls are my pet peeve. Kolaches don’t have meat in them, people! Some kolache shops sell sausage rolls (klobasniky), but that doesn’t make the sausage roll a kolache any more than selling a cinnamon roll in a donut shop makes it a donut. How would you like it if you wanted a donut, and the sign said the place sold donuts, but it really only sold cinnamon rolls? This is a Texas Czech thing.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
If I already have basic necessities (food, water, and shelter) as a given, then books, pencil and paper (or tablet or laptop) for writing, and chocolate.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
When I was in college, I had a summer job as a customer service representative (CSR) answering phones to schedule air conditioner repairs. Think of summer in Texas and cranky people with no A/C. The dispatchers used to bet on which of the CSRs would cry after being screamed at and cursed at by customers.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I don’t have a “best book” of all books. I’d have to give you a list with “best” books by category, such as Best Classic Novel--Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I have other “bests” for traditional mystery, romance, suspense, fantasy, and other categories.

Ocean or mountains?
Ocean! The beach is my happy place.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Neither. Suburban Texas girl. Access to museums, live music, and plays when wanted, but space for hiking and walking your dog through fields and trees, preferably with lazy cows and deer watching you as you go.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Until recently, I’ve only written stand-alone novels and short stories in different genres and subgenres. However, I now have a series in the works based on my Bad Vibes Removal Services short stories. I wrote three short stories, and then the novel, The Walls Can Talk. I have three more short stories in the series completed, which will be published in a few months, and am starting the next novel.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I write more short stories than novels, which allows me to write in different genres from day to day or week to week. I can’t stick to one genre! However, nothing I write contains graphic violence or graphic sex.

The Walls Can Talk, A Bad Vibes Removal Services Novel

The Hanovers inherited an ancient Irish castle that’s been moved to central Texas. But once they move in, they find not all is well in a home that seems straight out of a fairy tale. When things are moved in the middle of the night, is the explanation treasure-hunting teenagers or someone more malicious?

With a terrifying ghostly presence haunting their days and break-ins threatening their nights, the Hanovers reach out to a private detective, the famed Montgomery of Montgomery Investigations, and his employees at Bad Vibes Removal Services to resolve matters using the equipment he invented that detects and deciphers emotional residue and sound patterns long embedded in walls.

The Bad Vibes crew — Lea, Kamika, and Montgomery — are used to solving cases involving death. But usually Lea is the only one who sees the spirits. Not this time! This ancient Irish ghost seems bent on breaking all the rules, forcing the team to find new ways for removing old souls. Now the team finds themselves dragged into a convoluted drama of betrayal, murder, and hidden treasure. With their clients’ lives on the line, Lea, Kamika, and Montgomery work to identify the criminal behind the break-ins and free the castle from its haunted past.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HEALTHY LIVING--GUEST AUTHOR VIVIENNE K. MUNN ON RELAXATION

V.K. Munn is an author, educator, and inspirational speaker. Her latest book is more than apropos for this busy time of year. Learn more Vivienne and her books at her website/blog.

My latest book, RELAX: I need some Down-Time! To Rejuvenate, came about from the many conversations I had with a variety of acquaintance about what’s going on in the world. After many months and contemplation, I decided to write down thoughts, phrases, and notes, retrieving much from my journal on inspiration and relaxation, creating a lesson in learning to stay calm even through the storms. With this book I hope readers will appreciate and begin to—or learn to—calm down and relax. Consider it a prescription for R& R: Rest and Relaxation.

The book conveys messages with humor, love, compassion, and empathy. The one vehicle for helping relaxation is the soothing animal’s faces with their unconditional love throughout this book. 

The book will help you…
…turn negative into a positive
…turn sour apples into apple pie!
…enjoy a laugh and relax! 

The title is a collection of thoughts, inspirational words, phrases and expressive animal line-art images, suitable for coloring, to help relax the weary soul from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

This book is designed to create a smile and ultimately relax.

At some point, we all have crazy hectic days; it’s an inherent part of daily life at any level. But there is always tomorrow! To recognize this is one step closer to relaxation regardless of what you may be going through or experiencing.

RELAX: I need some Down-Time! To Rejuvenate
This book is a collection of inspirational words, phrases, and expressive animal line-art images to help relax the weary soul from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Enjoy a laugh, a thought and relax.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE WITH A TWIST

Where is it written that green bean casserole can only be served for Thanksgiving and Christmas? It’s a great side dish for any cold winter night. This take on the traditional recipe is for all the fungus-adverse out there—not a mushroom in sight. Serve with meatloaf and mashed potatoes for a real comfort food dinner.

Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
1 lb. frozen green beans, thawed and drained
2 T. butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
3/4-cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2-cup sour cream
1 T. sugar
1/2-teaspoon salt
4 oz. (1/2 can) fried onion pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place green beans in 9” x 13” glass baking dish.

Over medium heat sauté onions in butter until translucent. Stir in flour.

Gradually add milk and bring to boil. Add cheese, sour cream, sugar, and salt. Cook until cheese melts and mixture thickens.

Pour cheese mixture over green beans. Sprinkle fried onion pieces over top. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Monday, January 15, 2018

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--COLOR OF THE YEAR

Every year I do a post on the Color of the Year. The Color of the Year is a forecast of global color trends provided by the Pantone Color Institute, a consulting service that advises global companies in their efforts to develop products and create brand identity by leveraging the power, psychology, and emotional impact of color.

Color can inspire and influence. It can convey deep messages and various meanings—both subliminal and overt.

This year the Institute has chosen Ultra Violet as the Color of the Year. Purple has been a symbolic color throughout history. It’s associated with everything from royalty to Western pop culture. Think Prince. But the color has also been associated with non-conformity and mindfulness practices. Meditation spaces, for example, often suffuse the room with purple-toned lighting to aid their practitioners.

On their website Pantone states, “Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”

Throughout the year we should see more Ultra Violet in decorating trends, clothing, appliances, and automobiles as manufacturers release new lines. Maybe consumers won’t be swapping out their stainless steel refrigerators for purple ones, but we’ll probably see Ultra Violet featured in small appliances such as Keurig coffee makers and Kitchen Aid mixers. I also have no doubt we’ll see the color cropping up in linens, accent pillows, and wallpaper.

Everything has been about gray in decorating the last few years, but there are many shades of gray—from charcoal to blue-grays to green-grays and many more. We should probably see an abundance of violet grays in the near future.

In choosing Ultra Violet as the Color of the Year, Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute stated, “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.”

Perhaps she’s suggesting we all need more calm in our lives? I could certainly use more calm in my life. I’m now seriously considering investing in a few gallons of latex and painting my walls Ultra Violet.

Friday, January 12, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR V.M. BURNS

Mystery and cozy mystery author V.M. Burns sits down for an interview today. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I always read a lot. When I was younger, if a book or movie didn’t end the way I though it should, I would imagine a new ending. Eventually, I started to question why there wasn’t a book or movie about X. At some point, it dawned on me that perhaps, I could write that book.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I finished my first book in 2007. However, my debut novel, The Plot is Murder wasn’t published until November 2017. That wasn’t the first book I wrote, but it was the first book I sold.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published.

Where do you write?
I have turned a spare bedroom into an office. I do most of my writing there. However, I usually keep a notebook (or an old envelope) and pen handy and will often write longhand if I find I have unexpected free time.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I like to listen to music when I write. My favorite type of music is jazz. However, I find that I get more writing done when I listen to classical (baroque) music. So, I often alternate between the two.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Most of what I write is purely fiction. However, I do get ideas from events in real life. For instance, my protagonist’s dream in The Plot is Murder is to own a mystery bookstore and to write British historical cozy mysteries. That also happens to be my dream. My protagonist has two poodles, and I have two poodles. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

The British historical cozy that my protagonist is writing takes place in 1938. There are a number of events that are mentioned in the books that are pulled from historical incidents at the start of World War II.

Describe your process for naming your character?
In the British Historical cozy sections, I often surf the Internet for names that were common in 1938 in the United Kingdom. For the contemporary portions of my book, I do a character sketch and then try different names on to see what fits.

Real settings or fictional towns?
The Mystery Bookshop Mystery series takes place in the fictional town of North Harbor, Michigan. North Harbor is based on the real town of Benton Harbor, Michigan, which is located in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline where I used to live.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Irma, one of the seniors who assists Samantha and her grandmother Nana Jo in solving mysteries, swears like a sailor.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m a planner in practically every area of my life, except writing. In general I always have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to my backup plan. When it comes to writing, I am a pantser. I find that if I spend time plotting a book, then I don’t want to write it. I’m trying to change this, but so far, I have not been successful.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Murder of Roger Akroyd by Agatha Christie has to be one of my favorite books. I was thoroughly surprised by the ending and the clever way the clues were presented.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I think if I could do anything over, I would have gotten my Bachelor’s degree in English or Creative Writing. For two years I majored in Electrical Engineering because I believed I needed that degree to get a decent job. Needless to say, I was miserable for two years. Once I changed my major (to Political Science/Urban Studies), life was better. I enjoyed Political Science and Urban Studies, but I wish I had more of a solid background in English.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is being micromanaged.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Books, chocolate and coffee. Did I mention chocolate? Lots of chocolate.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
A job where I was micromanaged (see above under biggest pet peeves). My philosophy is to hire the most qualified candidates, give them six months to learn the job, then leave them alone and let them do their job.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. A book that was written over two hundred years ago, but can still capture your attention and emotions is a work of art.

Ocean or mountains?
I’m going to say ocean. Even though I can’t swim, I enjoy looking at the water. Plus, I never realized I had a problem with heights until I moved to Tennessee.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I am a city girl through and through. I find, all that open space and quiet of the country unnerving.

What’s on the horizon for you?
In addition to writing more books in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, I have two other series that will publish this year. The first book in the RJ Franklin Mystery series will release July 1st and the first book in the Dog Club Mystery series will release in August.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Readers can find more information about upcoming releases by checking out my website at vmburns.com or on my Facebook page

The Plot is Murder, Book One of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series

Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. Each book in the series will feature a contemporary mystery which Samantha, along with her grandmother, Nana Jo and her friends must solve. In addition, there is a story-within-a-story, set in England, featuring the Marsh family. Readers will have a chance to solve two mysteries in each book.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS WITH GUEST AMATEUR SLEUTH LINDSEY McKAY

Multi-award-winning Southern mystery author Maggie Toussaint’s has published eighteen novels as well as several short stories and novellas. Today one of her amateur sleuths stops by to talk about her fears and frustrations. Learn more about Maggie and her books at her website. 

Lindsey’s Fears and Frustrations
A Character Essay by Amateur Sleuth Lindsey McKay

I’d sworn never to go home again unless it was Christmas, and yet on this hot and humid day I was headed to the Georgia coast. Only a full-blooded emergency could’ve pried me out of Atlanta, but the middle of the night call from Aunt Fay changed my mind. My father wrecked his car and landed in jail.

It was in that moment I knew I’d been lying to myself about my so-called independence and not needing anyone in the family. I was bound by my heritage to Danville. The family newspaper was a legacy, and only I could save it.

That’s not to say I didn’t try to weasel out of the obligation. I suggested the new editor my father hired over the winter. He’s gone, Aunt Fay said. I suggested Dad’s assistant, Ellen. Don’t be ridiculous, she said. When I suggested Aunt Fay, Uncle Henry, or Cousin Janey could do it, she told me in no uncertain terms that it was my duty to come home and run the paper.

According to my aunt, newspapering runs in my veins, and here I thought it was O-positive blood. She lectured me for another five minutes about my duty to the family and chastised me for letting everyone down by running off and leaving my father to fend for himself.

She wore me down. Or at least that’s what I told my dog Bailey for the last 291 miles. Soon I’d see the landmarks of a place that held awful memories for me, the place where I learned my brother was lost at sea and never coming home. The place where every night I dreamed of drowning like my brother.

My biggest fear is that I’ll get stuck here and I’ll end up dead just like my brother. Pride drew me home, but courage would have to get me through the coming ordeal.

Lindsey & Ike Mysteries, The Complete 3-Novella Series

In this three-novella series, an amateur sleuth and her dog return home to a town of secrets … and murder.

Really, Truly Dead
Lindsey McKay has no intention of being Sheriff Ike Harper’s girlfriend when she returns home with her dog to bail out the family newspaper, but Ike has his eye on her. The murder of a local judge proves to be a boon for the newspaper, but the bad news hits when her father’s arrested for the crime. Will saving her father’s life cost Lindsey hers?

Turtle Tribbles
The Turtle Girl, a college intern named Selma Crowley, begs newspaper editor Lindsey McKay to write about the theft of turtle eggs from their nests. Lindsey agrees but asks for more proof. Selma disappears and is soon found dead. Lindsey blames herself because she demanded concrete proof, so she noses into Sheriff Ike Harper’s investigation. Can she discover the truth before time runs out?

Dead Men Tell No Tales
Newspaper editor Lindsey McKay’s small town is rocked when a suspicious hunting accident proves to be premeditated murder. Sheriff Ike Harper vows to get his man and keep Lindsey safe. Only, the more Lindsey and Ike dig, the more questions they uncover. People aren’t what they seem. If only a dead man could tell tales.

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