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, July 31, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--MYSTERY AUTHOR TRACEE DE HAHN TALKS ABOUT FOOD IN HER BOOKS

Fondue on the Menu
Mystery author Tracee de Hahn is preparing to sail to Europe this fall with her two Jack Russells…where her husband promises to be waiting with new dog toys! Before she leaves, she’s stopping by to talk about food in her books. Learn more about Tracee and her books at her website. 

Food is important to daily life but I don’t consciously think about it when I begin writing. Or at least I didn’t think I did. Looking back, food….. and beverage if we’re being honest – seep in. In my series set in Switzerland, Agnes Lüthi meets her difficult mother-in-law halfway over food. In A Well-Timed Murder, a baking frenzy is an indication of trouble ahead, while at the same time sharing one of the warm loaves strike an accord between the two women. A peanut allergy is also at the heart of A Well-Time Murder, which on reflection may say more about my interest in food than I’d admitted to myself!

My husband is Swiss and we lived there for several years, so I am familiar with the classic dishes of the country. Rösti, spaetzli, and tarts prepared with leeks or rhubarb feature prominently. And, of course, fondue. Food can say a great deal about a culture and fondue is no exception. This classic melted cheese dish is a collective endeavor with family and friends sitting around a shared pot. It speaks volumes about the agrarian history of the Swiss, and the lives of small communities or those living in high mountain pastures where cooking over an open fire, and dipping into a shared pot, were a necessity (Switzerland also has a strong history of soups).

The Swiss cow is famous worldwide and it’s no wonder that fondue is, in essence, melted cheese. My favorite is a half and half mix of two cheeses: Gruyeres and Vacherin. This classic Moitié-Moitié (half and half) is rich and flavorful. A clove of garlic is often wiped around the pot before melting the cheese and a dash of white wine, kirsch or dry sherry is incorporated at the end. You may either dip a cube of French bread into the pot or spoon the cheese over small boiled potatoes. Either way, add a dash of pepper for a final touch. (Even my Swiss husband agrees that American grocery stores now sell very good pre-packaged fondue mixes in their dairy department. An easy way to sample without having to do more than melt and serve.)

The typical accompaniment to fondue includes dried meats and salami, cornichons, and pickles. You may serve white wine, soft drinks or hot tea alongside the hot cheese, but never water, as the water doesn’t mix well with fondue in the stomach. Save the water for an hour afterwards! If you have room for dessert, try vanilla ice cream topped with vin cuit (wine cooked down until it is a thick syrup and available in specialty stores) and a crisp meringue.

Many American households have fondue pots, particularly after the concentrated effort made by the Swiss to market the product worldwide in the 1970s (all because of the Cheese Mafia….. truly).

Currently I’m working on a mystery set in Kentucky, where I grew up. A scan through my draft mentions the Hot Brown (open faced sandwich with ham and turkey, topped by a sliced tomato, cheese sauce and slices of bacon) and Kentucky Bourbon. I’ve taken my interest in food to a new level, giving my heroine a distillery as part of her inheritance!

Food and beverage not only clue a reader (and writer) into location, but they illuminate the lives of the characters. Are they silver and china or a leg of fried chicken wrapped in a napkin, people? Do they drink hot chocolate topped by three inches of real cream (and likely live in either Venice or Austria) or do they eye a bottle of bourbon when the sun goes down?

Despite the heat of summer, I think that later this week when we have a guest for dinner, he will find fondue on the menu. I’ll call it a tribute to my Swiss husband, but really it’s because now I think that would taste good!

A Well Timed Murder
Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show, and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--DROP DEAD ORNAMENTS COVER REVEAL

Today I bring you cool news—cool, as in exciting, and cool, as in mind over matter because we’re stuck in the dreaded three H's here in New Jersey: hazy, hot, and humid. The dog days of summer didn’t both to wait until August this year. They struck early and with a vengeance. And from what I’m seeing on the national weather map, we’re not alone. Most of the country is sweltering along with us.

What better time for Christmas in July! We’re thinking cool to stay cool and doing so with a cover reveal for Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh full-length novel in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.

Drop Dead Ornaments begins immediately after Scrapbook of Murder ends. And I do mean immediately—as in later the same day.

Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.

At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.

Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life, but how can she say no to Alex?

Drop Dead Ornaments will release on October 22nd and will be available for pre-order before the end of August—when it will most likely be even hazier, hotter, and more humid. If you’re like me and can’t stand the haze, the heat, and especially the humidity, apply a little psychology by thinking snowflakes, and Christmas ornaments, and gingerbread—not to mention the next Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. While you're waiting, if you're not caught up on the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, now would be a perfect time.

Friday, July 27, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST ROMANCE AUTHOR LIZ TALLEY

Meet multi-award nominated contemporary romance author Liz Talley. Her books are set in the South where the tea is sweet, the summers are hot, and the men are hotter. Learn more about Liz and her books at her website. 

Hello, I’m Liz Talley, the author of several contemporary romances and a small town series set in rural Mississippi. The idea for the Morning Glory series came from a mish mash of a favorite movie – Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – and a television show – Sex and the City. I wanted to do a take on the beauty and depth of friendships. I hit upon the idea of a charm bracelet that would be passed around between friends and thought it was…well, charming.

The latest book in my series, Third Time’s the Charm, answers the question of who receives Lacy’s cherished charm bracelet. When Lacy passed away, she willed it to her three friends and told them that once they’d attached their chosen charms to the bracelet, they were to give it to someone who had no hope left.

Enter Sunny Voorhees.

Recently widowed and mourning the loss of her fifth pregnancy, Sunny returns to Morning Glory intent on selling the family home and settling her viper of a mother into a retirement community. But things get complicated fast when her ex-boyfriend’s son runs over her Harley and a homeless stray pup finds her. Sunny doesn’t want to look back, but her past catches up with her, and before long, she wonders if her past is her future.

Morning Glory is an interesting little town. Settled not too far from Jackson, Mississippi, it’s the quintessential country township with a square surrounded by businesses and plenty of quirky personalities. Writing about small towns has always been a delight for me because I’m from a small Louisiana town. I love the idiosyncrasies, the busybodies, the charm and warmth of neighbors who care (maybe too much) and the simple, slower pace of life.

Growing up, I didn’t have much to occupy me in my small town. I biked to the library and sometimes visited the local swimming hole. Okay, it was a public swimming pool, but I walked there, barefoot, no phone, no towel and no fear. I built forts in nearby woods, trampled through pastures, picked my weight in dewberries and baited my own hook.

Growing up in a small town, being a country girl meant shelling butterbeans on the porch, having coffee at friends’ houses, and knowing everybody’s business. There’s an idyllic patina of rosiness that blankets my memories. Things weren’t perfect in a small town, of course, but I can indulge my own penchant for the “good ol’ days” when I write my own rosy version of a small town.

Readers seem to always connect to a small town. Maybe it’s the idea that there’s an Aunt Ruby Jean waiting to give the perfect piece of advice or a meddling ice cream shop owner who things she know better than you, or the chatty mailman who’s the biggest gossip around. Somehow they just sound like good friends.

If you were writing a small town story, what's the most essential place you'd have to have in YOUR town?

Third Times the Charm
A Morning Glory Romance

When you find someone who has no hope left, give the bracelet to her…

Sunshine “Sunny” Voorhees David would rather be dead than back in Morning Glory, Mississippi. But after losing both her husband and a pregnancy, she comes home temporarily to the place she swore she’d never return to. Before she can leave for good, she’ll have to fix up the dilapidated family home, convince her mother to move, and avoid the man who broke her heart.

The mistake Henry Delmar made years ago has always haunted him, and now the woman whose dreams he destroyed is back. He wants her forgiveness, but this new Sunny is nothing like the innocent he remembers. This Sunny is hurt, angry, and has built a mile-high wall around her heart. 

When Henry’s son runs over Sunny’s motorcycle, the stars line up for an opportunity to show Sunny how much he regrets the way they ended. With the help of his children, a stray dog, and the townspeople, Henry must find a way to rekindle their romance and prove to Sunny that she’s right where she’s always belonged…in his arms.

Come back to Morning Glory for puppy kisses, lattes at the Lazy Frog, and a happily-ever-after.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

CLEVER USES FOR TOOTHPASTE

Toothpaste, it’s not just for shining those pearly whites. Here are a few other uses for toothpaste.

· If one of your kids gets hold of a crayon and mistakes your wall for a coloring book, attack it with some toothpaste on a rag. The gritty texture of the toothpaste will cut through the waxy residue.

· Toothpaste is a much more wall-friendly way to hang posters in your teen’s room than using tape. Apply a dab of toothpaste to the corners of the poster and position in place. When it’s time to change out the poster for the next band du jour, peel off the poster and wash away the toothpaste residue with a damp cloth.

· Most colleges require a deposit for dorm rooms, just in case your darlings do damage. If they’ve put holes in the wall from nailing up pictures and other items, use toothpaste as a calk to plug up those holes and avoid losing your deposit.

· Toothpaste also makes a great jewelry polish. Use a soft brush or your fingers and rinse your baubles in warm water. One caveat: don’t try this on delicate jewelry or pearls!

· Were you cooking with garlic and now can’t get the smell out of your fingers? Lather up your hands with some toothpaste to eliminate the odor.

· Mint toothpaste is an excellent way to soothe the itch of a bug bite. Apply a small amount directly to the bite for relief.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

MEET TESS GALLAGHER--VETERINARIAN, NINJA WARRIOR, GENIUS & ROMANCE HEROINE

Today we’re joined by Tess Gallagher from Second Chance Option, the first book in romance author Elizabeth Spaur’s Gridiron Knights series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings? 
It was routine. I spend a lot of time at my veterinary practice. I’ve been taking over more and more for my father since he’s started teaching more. When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my three younger brothers. They’re American Ninja Warrior fanatics. We built a course in my backyard to workout and spend more time together.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m reliable. If anyone in my family or small-town needs help, I’m there.

What do you like least about yourself?
I may be a genius, but I can’t seem to figure out the meaning of the word “no.”

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
I’m competing in American Ninja Warrior. Practicing with my little brothers is one thing, but actually going on the show. When she told me I was asked to compete in the qualifiers I thought she was crazy.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Sometimes I argue with her. She wanted to bring my big brother in to help out when I was overwhelmed by responsibilities. I didn’t want to drag him away from his life because there was a little too much on my plate temporarily. She keeps making me ask for help. I’m the one who’s supposed to help everyone else.

What is your greatest fear? 
It’s a toss-up between being laughed at and being alone in a hospital.

What makes you happy?
Relaxing on the couch with Cade and our animals.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why? 
If I were going to rewrite anything, it would be the way I treat my friends in the beginning. I wish I’d been a better friend to them from the start.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Brian Gill, Senior. He’s been the boogey man in my life since I was a little girl. He’s a bully who doesn’t like to lose and tries to intimidate anyone who threatens his sense of superiority.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 
I sometimes want to trade places with my friend Delilah. She’s not afraid to say what she means and tells it like it is. I wish I had her courage.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 
Elizabeth Spaur has been reading romance since she was twelve and writing it since she was thirteen. She loves writing stories that bring strong women and men together to make an even stronger team.  Readers who want to know more about her and her books can find her at her website. www.elizabethspaur.com

What's next for you? 
Cade and I got our happily ever after in this book. Now we get to spend out lives together and watch our friends find their own happy endings. And pets. I won’t rest until all the amazing animals in my mother’s animal shelter have their forever homes.

Second Chance Option
Gridiron Knights, Book 1

He was looking for a fresh start. She was looking for a new path. Love is what happens when they least expect it.

At loose ends after a medical discharge from the Navy, a call from Cade Maguire’s college coach gives him a new objective. Help save his alma mater’s football program. A gut-wrenching betrayal drove him from the game once. Can he finally stop running long enough to let go of the past and find his future?

Veterinarian and genius Tess Gallagher has an abiding love for home and family, she’s spent her life taking care of everyone else. Doing what was right always came before doing what she wanted. When her younger brothers enter her in the American Ninja Warrior competition, can she finally stop hiding her true self from the world?

Sparks ignite between Tess and Cade when she saves his injured dog and love is on the horizon when Cade’s new job is put in jeopardy before it even begins. Will Cade realize Tess is the second chance he really wants? Will Tess realize that Cade has always seen her for who she truly is?

Will the both realize that love is the only option that matters? 

Welcome to Second Chance Option, the first book in the Gridiron Knights series where football is king in this small town and the locals have something to say about everything. When you come for a visit, you’ll never want to leave.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--AND PROCRASTIBAKING BISCOTTI WITH COZY AUTHOR HH BRADY

H.H. Brady is a cozy mystery author stalked by a loving but needy toy poodle. Known for her Earl Grey addiction and monarch butterfly obsession, each humored by her family thanks in part to her culinary prowess. Learn more about her and her books at her website.  

Procrastibaking: Dunesleaf Apricot-Ginger Biscotti
By Vinnie Vargas & HH Brady

The term procrastibaking (i.e., baking as a means of procrastination) might be new but it’s something I’ve been doing for years! It’s handy whether you’re stuck on a manuscript, putting off cleaning your house, or trying to distract yourself from a murder investigation where you’re the (innocent) prime suspect. It’s the best of both worlds really, you’re doing something (productive!), it’s often for someone else (altruistic!), and it smells great/takes up time (#goals).

This is my favorite recipe for biscotti, it’s one of my best friend Charlene’s favorites. Most people think biscotti is only for coffee, but actually such dry Italian cookies were traditionally served for dipping in your wine. That's the way I like them. I love the smell of butter, sugar, and vanilla as they're creamed together – it's one of the few things that can always cheer me up.

A few slivered almonds on top would toast nicely and add to the flavor. I let them bake until they were firm to the touch and golden brown. Then I cut them into 1/2” slices, turned them on their sides and put them back in the oven at 325 degrees F for another 15 minutes to dry out some more. By this point I was feeling a bit artistic so I finished them with a drizzle of extra-dark chocolate and arranged them on a pretty grapevine plate.

Dad had said he was going to bed early so I took him a bowl of soup and a cookie for dinner. He was already half-asleep in his chair. He would never admit it but it's pretty obvious harvest is getting harder and harder for him.

Charlene was halfway through the plate when I got back. “This is amazing Vin. I mean it, you should sell this in the tasting room, you'd make a million.” A shower of crumbs fell as she spoke, and she brushed them off her cleavage in the offhand way one might scatter food for the pigeons in the park.

“Good idea, I should probably start developing a Plan B at this point, the bank is cutting my credit line. They seem to be under the impression that a murder is bad for business.”

Apricot Ginger Biscotti
Yield: About 40

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
4 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup slivered crystallized ginger
1 cup chopped cranberries, fresh (or you can use dried cranberries or cherries)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla

Soak the dried fruit in the orange juice for 30 minutes. Discard excess liquid. Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients and flavorings. Finally, stir in the fruit and nuts.

Shape the dough into logs on two greased cookie sheets. Note, they will spread during baking. I make mine on the shorter side, so I divide the dough into four logs.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Cool 20 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 300. Slice the logs diagonally. Turn the slices so the cut sides are exposed and bake another 15 minutes.

When the slices are completely cool, if desired, melt one cup of dark chocolate chips with 2 T. butter. Stir until smooth. Spread the bottom of each slice with chocolate. When the chocolate has hardened store the biscotti in a tin or ziplock bags.

Fun fact - did you know that a single cookie is called a biscotto?  If you enjoyed this post there's plenty more of my recipes (and lots more excitement) in A Case of Full-Bodied Red.


A Case of Full-Bodied Red
A Lethal Leelanau Wine-Cozy, Book 1

Reformed party girl Vinnie Vargas is struggling with her empty nest, her 40th birthday, and waking up (at dawn) to still-vibrant dreams of Bret Michaels—all while helping her father run Dunesleaf, his dream business. Let's face it, living at a winery on Michigan’s beautiful Leelanau Peninsula does have certain advantages. However, there are dregs as well - namely the pudgy but powerful personage of Bill Murphy, local reporter/wine reviewer. When Bill pans Dunesleaf's latest release in print, he sets the tiny family winery up for ruin and everyone knows it

Two days later Vinnie discovers Bill's body under 1600 gallons of her best pinot noir. She'd be the prime suspect even without the incriminating message she left on his work phone - now the newspaper's calling for her head and cashing in on the scandal. It's going to take everything she's got, and remembering what she had, to find the real killer before she loses her dad's winery - and maybe her life.

A Case of Full-Bodied Red includes a small-town, winter-hardened cast of characters, including Vinnie's best friend Charlene (a ready-for-anything EMS tech/firefighter), her loving yet scatterbrained father, the good-looking loyal cop from her high school class, pushy reporters with a loose grasp on facts, and several prominent community members harboring a secret love of cosplay. It's the perfect blend for one spectacular Halloween party, when Vinnie's taste for the wrong kind of man just might come in handy for once.

Monday, July 23, 2018

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--MEET MINIATURIST FRANCES GLESSNER LEE

Frances Glessner Lee working on one of her Nutshell Studies
This blog is called Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, and no one personifies that category more than Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress born in 1878. Frances wasn’t your typical cloistered society matron, though. She had a rather unique hobby for a woman of her time. Rather than devoting herself to the typical domestic life of well-to-do wives of her day, Frances preferred to dabble in murder investigations. After being introduced to forensic science by future medical examiner and Harvard professor of pathology George Magrath, she set about creating a tool to help train homicide investigators.

Glessner Lee enjoyed hosting dinner parties, not for the elite of society, but for law enforcement investigators, encouraging them to discuss the details, no matter how gory, of their cases. She learned that crime scenes, when observed correctly, held many clues to the solving of crimes. However, crime scenes have a limited lifespan, and evidence can be lost or corrupted.

So Glessner Lee created “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” to help investigators learn how to apply deductive reasoning to assess the elements of a crime scene. She did this by recreating objective recreations of actual crime scenes in miniature, crafting detailed dioramas based on police reports and court records, complete down to the smallest detail, including the dead body. Her miniature models taught investigators how to analyze a crime scene objectively.

Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies now reside in the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office. They are not only on view to the public but are still used to teach forensic investigation.
Camille Minichino has been a frequent guest of ours over the years. Along with being a cozy mystery author (writing under her own name, as well as her Ada Madison, Jean Flowers, and Margaret Grace pen names), Camille is also a miniaturist. This is one of her creations, To give you an idea of the scale, the paperback books are 1/2” x 3/4”.

Does this miniature depict a crime scene? Note the titles and name of the author of the books. Is that mystery author Lois Winston pictured in the photo frame? But wait! There’s a gun on the rug. And is that an uneaten dish of caviar? There’s a tale to be told here…is it a tale of murder?

Friday, July 20, 2018

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--MEET WESTERN ROMANCE AUTHOR CAROLINE CLEMMONS

Today we sit down for a chat with western historical and contemporary romance author Caroline Clemmons. Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave.  Learn more about Caroline and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I don’t count the “stories” I wrote and illustrated as a child, most of which featured a beautiful blond princess and a castle. In school, I loved journalism and served as editor of my school newspaper. As an adult, I first wrote newspaper stories. When I was ill and confined to bed, I plotted a short romance. The first novel I wrote was poorly written because I didn’t understand the craft. Attending RWA chapter meetings and listening to qualified speakers made all the difference.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Around five years

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I had four titles traditionally published but now am indie published. I enjoy the freedom and control of being indie published.

Where do you write?
I write in a tiny office my family calls my “pink cave” because the walls are pink. I prefer to write on my desktop PC and have a large monitor. My friend Jacquie Rogers gave me the monitor idea because she uses a TV as her monitor. We had a bedroom TV set we never watched, so my Hero set it up as my monitor.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I prefer listening to classical music when I write. If I’m using my Dragon speech-to-text program, I don’t listen to music. My West Texas twang is confusing enough for Dragon software without the added interference of background music. When I’m working on other projects or email, I listen to a mixture from jazz to classical to light rock.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
We are the sum of all that has happened to us, plus all that we have seen and read. So even though I get my plots from my imagination, I probably subconsciously draw on real life events and people. As far as I’m aware, plots and characters in my books are straight from my imagination.

Describe your process for naming your character?
If the book is historical, then I choose a name that was popular at that time. For this, I use names from my family. If I’m looking for a character name for someone foreign, I rely on Google to supply popular names for that country. Isn’t technology wonderful? For contemporary names, I Google popular names for the year the character would have been born.

Real settings or fictional towns?
With a few exceptions, I use fictional towns. Then, no one can say that street doesn’t go there or there’s no business at that address, and so forth. I can create all the businesses, streets, and homes needed for the plot.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
I like the housekeeper Lily Chapa in Be My Guest. Lily is a secondary character who says, “I would never interfere” or “It’s not my place to interfere” and then does so by telling the hero what he should do. 

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I suppose the fact that I like to stay up very late and write after my family is asleep. I have quirky circadian rhythms that make me a night owl. That’s another great thing about being a writer—I can choose my office hours.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
I think Julie Garwood’s Prince Charming. This book seamlessly combines two genres I enjoy: British Regency and American western. I reread this book about once a year. My second choice would be Loretta Chase’s Lord Perfect. Her descriptions are wonderful. In fact, when I’ve given programs and taught classes, I’ve used as examples the passages from this book when the hero and heroine first see one another.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
There are far too many to list here. When someone says, “If I had my life to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” I shake my head and wonder, “Didn’t you learn anything?”

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Negativity. I admire people like Kirsten Osbourne who are always kind. I’ve never heard Kirsten say a bad word about anyone. Thankfully, I can say the same about several of my friends. That kind of person is a joy to be around and have as a friend.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My husband, a sharp machete, and fresh water

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I once worked for a doctor who was rude to patients unless they were wealthy. Of course, he was rude to those of us who worked for him. He was one of those people who, when speaking to someone who didn’t understand English, yelled as if that would somehow make the person understand him. He was mean-spirited and penny-pinching. I’m sure you get the picture.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
That depends on my mood and what I’ve just read. With so many authors as friends, I really can’t answer this question. LOL

Ocean or mountains?
I prefer the mountains. I do like the ocean, but I dislike hot weather. A nice mountain lake to look at would be great. One of my favorite memories is of a hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The room had a huge picture window overlooking the forested landscape and I had my laptop with me. Watching huge snowflakes drift down onto the trees was a lovely sight. In fact, the view was so lovely I didn’t get much writing done on that trip.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I am a city girl. I enjoyed the years we lived in a rural setting, but that was due to the house and the people I knew. I prefer being close to everything we need now that we live in the city.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m adding to my Kincaid series this summer and fall with the novella Monk’s Bride and the novel Rafe Kincaid. In October, the first of two books I’m writing for the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series will be released, Blessing. That’s a woman’s name, by the way, but she prefers to be called Buster. The second will be in April, Garnet. Early in 2019, I’ll release Snowy Bride, another of my Stone Mountain, Texas series. I love writing and get excited even talking about my books.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
In addition to the new release of Under a Mulberry Moon, rights have reverted to me for the six books I wrote for Debra Holland’s Montana Skies Series for Kindle World. These Loving a Rancher Series titles are Amanda’s Rancher, The Rancher and the Shepherdess, Murdoch’s Bride, Bride’s Adventure, Snare His Heart, and Capture Her Heart. I’ve changed the names of all of Debra’s characters and will republish these six books with the same title and cover (minus the Kindle World logo and Montana Skies banner) beginning later in July. They will be released two weeks apart until all six have been republished. I’ve already released book seven, The Rancher’s Perfect Bride. I may write three more for this series.

Under a Mulberry Moon
An anthology offers Adventure! Mystery! Romance! Nine award-winning and bestselling authors present sweet western historical stories to ignite your imagination and feed your passion for reading. Let us sweep you away from your daily cares and entertain you with our sigh-worthy novellas set between 1865 and 1900. What a line-up we have for you! 

Stories include:
Millwright’s Daughter by Zina Abbott
Worth the Wait by Patricia PacJac Carroll
Ada and the Texas Cavalryman by Carra Copelin
A Family For Merry by Caroline Clemmons
A Family For Polly by Jacquie Rogers
Comes a Specter by Keta Diablo
The Widow Buys a Groom by P.A. Estelle
Matthew’s Freedom by Cissie Patterson
The Lady Lassoes an Outlaw by Charlene Raddon

Buy Link (limited time .99 offer) 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

THERE'S A NEW COWGIRL IN TOWN! MEET AUTHOR PATY JAGER'S NEWEST HEROINE

Today we sit down for a chat with Lacey Wallis, heroine of author Paty Jager’s new Tumbling Creek Ranch series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I was climbing the rankings in the PBR. That’s Professional Bull Riders and she had to go and make me get run over by a bull.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
Determination. I’m determined to be the first woman to ride in the National Finals.

What do you like least about yourself?
I tend to react before my brain engages. Which gets me on the wrong side of people because I don’t always listen to what they have to say before I react.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
I don’t know if it’s strange, but I have to sneak in from spending the night in the cabin with Jared and I get caught by my cousin Brett.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I don’t think we’ve had an all out argument, but I’ve balked at some of the more sissy things she thinks I need to learn or do.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is to have spent the years, hours, and pain I have to be the best female bull rider and have my chance to show the world women can participate in the bull riding, taken away from me. It’s a dream, a goal, that I have to attain.

What makes you happy?
Sitting atop a bull for 8 seconds, riding a horse over the Tumbling Creek Ranch, seeing desire in Jared’s eyes.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
That’s hard. I didn’t want to get hurt in the beginning of the book, but it brought Jared and me together. And I didn’t want him to get shot, but it helped me put my life into perspective.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
It would have to be my cousin Brett. He’s in love with his housekeeper and won’t admit it. But he keeps harping to me how Jared cares for me and he can see we belong together. He really needs to take a good look at himself in a mirror. 

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
None. I love what I do and how I find love with the guy I’ve had the hots for since I was 13.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Paty lives in SE Oregon. She hasn’t participated in a rodeo but enjoys watching them and living a western rural lifestyle. You can learn more about her at her website.

What's next for you?
At my wedding to Jared, Brett and Melanie finally move on their feelings, but she has a secret that could tear them apart. That’s book 2, Love Me Anyway, in the Tumbling Creek Ranch Series.

8 Seconds to Love
Book 1 of the Tumbling Creek Ranch series (now on sale for only .99 cents)

Lacey Wallis has put blood, sweat, and tears into her dream of making it to the National Finals Rodeo and isn’t about to let an injury stop her. However, she didn’t expect the ER nurse to be the man she had a crush on years ago, or to discover that crush hadn’t been one-sided.

Jared McIntyre lived through loving and the death of one thrill-seeking woman and wasn’t about to let that happen again. Especially not to Lacey. But that would mean he’d have to allow himself to love again.
  
Which will it be, a life-long dream, or the love of a lifetime?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR MARY FELIZ

Today we sit down for a chat with mystery author Mary Feliz. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’m not a natural writer. My first college essay came back with the notation, “Did you sprinkle the commas in with a pepper grinder?”

For me, writing a novel seemed like the ultimate challenge. Some people want to win the lottery. Others want to climb Mount Everest or become president. I wanted to try to write a novel that was good enough to be traditionally published. I’m not sure when that goal first seized hold of me, but it was when my children were small, my days were long, and my imagination kept me sane. I’ve often thought that knowing what you want is one of the hardest things in life, but when you know, getting what you want is relatively easy. It still requires a lot of very hard work, but the path becomes clear. Everyone’s path is different, and many may be windy and uphill, but those who stay on the path tend to get published.

How long did it take you to get published?
How long depends upon when you start counting. In 1999, I began a YA historical trilogy centered round California statehood and the early Spanish settlers. I found an agent for them, but they were never published. In 2014, I tried again with mysteries, and my first mystery was published in 2016. So, did it take me two years or seventeen? I’ll let you decide.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author. I’m published by Kensington’s Lyrical Press, which focuses on e-books but also offers print-on-demand and mass market paperbacks.

Where do you write?
Anywhere. I’m writing this in the dentist’s office while waiting for my 91-year-old mother. I’ve written in coffee shops, in cars, on airplanes, and in hospitals. My favorite spot is the guest room/office in our tiny condo at the beach on Monterey Bay in California.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by?
I prefer silence. I can tune out the noise of a crowded coffee shop if I have to, but I always travel with earplugs, just in case. I love music, but I’m unable to let it float in the background. I find it distracting.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
“None of it” and “all of it” are both true. Everything gets filtered through the lens of my real life and real events. But first it goes into a blender where it is mixed, sifted, and changed so that all the pieces fit together in an order that serves the story. Story always wins, regardless of which pieces are fictional and which are factual. None of my characters are based on real people, but all of my locations are plucked from real locales.

Describe your character-naming process.
Many of my characters come to me with names already attached. I don’t know how that happens. Frequently, they’ll all come to me with names too similar for a reader to keep straight, so I need to try different names on them until we get a proper fit. It becomes a negotiation between me and my character, but when it’s right, we know it. Some poor characters may spend most of the book being known as “dead guy”, “strange woman”, or “motorcycle dude,” before I finally discover their given name.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Orchard View, in which the first four books are set, is a fictional town that’s a mash-up of Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and other Silicon Valley towns. It contains many real locations and landmarks, including the house the McDonald family lives in, which is based on the historic Griffin House at Foothill College. I try not to have anything bad happen at a real location. Although I blew up a building at Stanford University in Scheduled to Death, the building doesn’t exist and real campus security would have easily thwarted the plan if fictional students and staff had followed real university safety protocols.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
That’s a difficult one. Tess, Maggie’s best friend, has two sides to her life and personality, with completely separate wardrobes for each one. She and her husband have a happy successful marriage with a unique living situation. So, Tess might win, but some of the other characters give her a run for her money, including Paolo, who always arrives at crime scenes with a new and different piece of athletic gear strapped to the roof of his car.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Everything I do is completely normal and expected, of course. J

If you could have written any book, which one would it be? Why?
Time Magic, because it’s a great pun and a great book that entertained me endlessly as a child.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I’m not a big one for do-overs, because I see even the most dismal of experiences as a learning process. There is usually something positive to be gained. To get a do-over would mean giving up the good things along with the bad. It’s tempting, but once the bad situation is behind me, I’d hate to go through it again, in case it turned out worse than it did the first time!

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who don’t take the time to be polite. It takes so little effort and makes life so much more enjoyable for everyone.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Assuming it can’t be a desserted island, which would be much more fun, and that it has clean water and shelter, I’d love to have writing materials, reading materials, and a dog.

What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
We called it “The Prayer Factory.” And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Today, I’m going to say A Wrinkle in Time, because I loved Meg, her mother’s lab, and the kitchen. But tomorrow, my answer might be different. There are so many varied and wonderful books, with plenty to satisfy every mood and personality.

Ocean or mountains?
I like the mountains, but I love the ocean so much that I moved to the beach.

What’s on the horizon for you?
After the sixth book in the Maggie McDonald series, in which she heads to the mountains, I’ll be working on a new series set near Monterey Bay. The McDonalds and their animals may return, but I think the poor people of Orchard View need a break from the spate of murders that have beset them since Maggie and her family came to town.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I have the best job in the world and I love it. I’m also infinitely grateful to all of my readers, especially the ones who love the books and say so to other readers! You’re the best!! Thank you!

Disorderly Conduct
Book 4 of the Maggie McDonald Mysteries

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald balances a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .

With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover a dead body—the husband of Maggie’s best friend Tess Olmos. Tess becomes the prime suspect in what's shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie launches an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. When her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?