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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

#ROMANCE AND #HORROR AUTHOR KELLI A. WILKINS ON HER TOP 3 WRITING-RELATED FRUSTRATIONS

Actor portrayal of the author's frustrations
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 nonfiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories. Today Kelli stops by to do a bit of venting about her writing frustrations—and man, does she vent, but read on and you’ll understand why. Plus, just in time for Valentine’s Day, she’s got two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances, perfect to read during a coffee or lunch break. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog

My Top 3 Writing-Related Frustrations Are…
My name is Kelli Wilkins and I’m an author of sensual romances and spooky horror fiction. Over the years I’ve had my share of writing-related frustrations. Today I’m sharing my top three.

Editors Introducing Errors: I work really hard to submit a professional manuscript, whether it’s a 2,500-word horror story or a full-length historical romance novel. I edit, revise, and proofread until the submission is as perfect as I can make it. So you can imagine my frustration when I see the final product and find errors the editor introduced into the story.

This can be anything from scrambling words in a sentence so it makes no sense, omitting words from sentences, swapping out a correct word for a wrong one (one/once; sign/sigh; hours/horse), typos, and more. Recently I reviewed a galley and pointed out errors that needed to be fixed. The editor had relied on the “track changes” function of Word to autocorrect things—and it didn’t. It added errors! She promised she’d make sure everything was right before the file went to the printer. But when I received my printed copy of the book, guess what? All the errors were still there. They took away from the final product and ruined the story.

What’s an author to do about this? Not much. Sigh and move on. (And reconsider ever submitting to that publication again.) It frustrates me because readers will naturally blame the author for any typo, misplaced comma, or wrong word in a book—even if it’s not our fault—and we suffer the consequences.
 
This brings me to frustration #2 and all its hazards…

Poison Pen Reviewers: When authors submit their books for review they hope to get great 5-star reviews—not to be slaughtered in a public forum by a vengeful reviewer or blogger. Reviewers are supposed to be professional and actually read the book before they write an intelligent review.

If they didn’t like the book, fine. The review should tell readers what didn’t work: the characters needed more motivation, or the plot wasn’t exciting, etc. But to write the equivalent of: “I hate all books in this genre, so I’m not surprised that this book sucks. The author is terrible and can’t write, so nobody should read this or anything she ever writes again…” Not cool.

What makes this even more damaging is that the “reviewers” who write these scathing/snarky rants never let the author know about them ahead of time. They post the “review” to every social media platform, blog, and book site in the Universe, then sit back and congratulate themselves.

What can the author do to fix this? Nothing! There’s no reasoning with these unbalanced folks. Asking them to take the review down sparks flame wars, and commenting publicly or trying to defend yourself (or the book) only invokes a heap of trouble no author wants or needs.

We can handle a not-so-great review provided it’s done professionally, but not personal poisonous attacks. And it makes you wonder… If the reviewer hates a certain genre, why agree to read a book in that genre? It’s even more suspicious when the reviewer gets the plot wrong or uses the wrong character names in the caustic review. Did they read the whole book, skim it, or skip around to random pages?
  
And I have to ask… What qualifies these “reviewers” to judge others? Do they have any credentials beyond writing book reports in high school? Have these “reviewers” ever written anything? Probably not. Do they care (or understand) how much time, energy, and effort an author puts into a book, only to have all that work destroyed by a review that was cranked out in five minutes? Nope. They do their damage and run.

Some review sites have a policy not to publish a review that’s less than three stars. That’s a professional policy I wish all reviewers/book sites would follow. There’s enough negative energy and nasty people in the world, we don’t need to add to it.

My third frustration is another one other authors have probably encountered. I call it…

Blogger Boo-Boos: Authors love doing guest blogs and interviews on writing sites, book-related blogs, and just about anywhere. We spend time working on our posts, trying to make them interesting (and maybe even humorous). We edit, revise, and proofread before submitting our blog. So when we see the live post and our name is misspelled, the title of the book is wrong, and our links don’t work (or worse, link to somewhere they shouldn’t) we’re not happy.

Where do these errors come from? Usually the blogger introduces them into the text when he or she writes an intro paragraph, a headline, or inserts links. I get it—we all make mistakes—but please proofread the blog before posting it. Or at least double-check anything you’ve typed that the author didn’t send.

My name has been changed to just about everything: Kellie, Kelly, Kelley, Kathy, Wilkens, Wilks, Wilkems, Willens, and I was once credited on a short story as Kathy Williams. Hello! My name is at the top of the blog, please use it.

So those are my top three writing-related frustrations. (Don’t get me started on the “everyday life” or job-related ones, or we’ll be here forever.) Unfortunately, I’m sure I’m not the only author who has encountered these issues. Maybe we should start a support group…

But no matter what challenges we face, we keep writing and submitting. Why? Because the stories need to be told, and we’re the ones telling them.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I like hearing from readers and other authors. Feel free to contact me on my blog or site with questions, comments, or your frustrations. You can also follow me on social media for updates and other fun stuff.
  
Cupid’s Schemes - Volume 1
A Collection of Sweet Romances
In these 16 flash fiction vignettes, Cupid’s arrow hits the mark and ignites a spark between two strangers—whether or not they’re looking for romance. Their unusual meetings lead to new beginnings and new chances at love.

Sweet stories of couples falling under Cupid’s spell include:
* a Medieval knight courting a pretty lady
* two neighbors discover that romance can happen when you least expect it
* a dehydrated mermaid rescued by a handsome stranger


Cupid’s Schemes, Volume 2
A Collection of Sweet Romances
In these 12 mini-romances…
* a photographer falls for a sexy cowboy in a supposedly abandoned ghost town
* new neighbors discover that romance can happen when you least expect it
* a long-lost love returns in an unexpected setting

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

WHEN YOUR AUTHOR DOLES OUT LEMONS...

Since Lois Winston, she who writes about me, suggested we start out the New Year by inviting authors and their characters to share their best of/worst of experiences on the blog, she insisted I also share mine. Well it seems obvious to me that the worst moment of my life happened when Lois decided to take over my life.

Pre-Lois I was a happily married middle-class suburban working mom of two teenagers. Post-Lois? Hey, there are seven books and three novellas that document everything she’s put me through since she first decided to mess with my life, and there’s no sign she’s about to stop anytime soon. Rumor has it she’s hard at work on Book 8. Not only did she knock off my husband, she decided he was living a secretive life that involved gambling and loan sharks, leaving me with debt equal to the gross national product of your average Third World nation.

You’d think that was more than enough, right? Oh no! Lois wasn’t finished messing up my world. She stuck me with a cantankerous communist mother-in-law who is now permanently ensconced in my house—until death do us part. The woman has never had a kind word for anyone other than her deceased son and her fellow commies.

Still not satisfied, Lois decided to put my life in jeopardy, not once, not twice, but continually. She turned me into a reluctant amateur sleuth—emphasis on the reluctant. Trust me, I don’t go looking for danger. I don’t need to. Lois thrusts it upon me on an almost daily basis.

So there you have it, the worst thing to ever happen to Anastasia Pollack. And the best? Two words: Zachary Barnes. Except Lois wasn’t satisfied to give me a new love interest. She had to complicate my life further by hinting that he may be much more than a photojournalist—and the much more involves certain government agencies, the alphabet kind. He says it’s all in my imagination, that my worries are groundless. I say it’s all in Lois’s imagination, and I don’t trust her.

Anyway, Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, has been on sale all month at 80% off. Tomorrow is the last day of the sale on Amazon and iTunes. If you haven’t yet read how Lois turned my life upside-down and sideways, now is your chance to find out at a huge savings.

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 1

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.

Buy Links

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--BAKED PORK TENDERLOIN

Pork tenderloin is a great workweek main course because, unlike a pork roast, it doesn’t take very long to cook.

Baked Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:
1 or 2 pork tenderloins (each tenderloin will feed 2 people)
1 tablespoon  olive oil
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 carrots per person, sliced (optional)
5 dried apricots per person (optional)
additional tablespoon olive oil (if adding carrots and apricots)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking dish.

Pierce tenderloins all over with a fork. Rub oil onto all sides of the meat.

Whisk together Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and smoked paprika. Spread seasoning mixture onto cutting board. Roll tenderloin in seasoning, coating the meat on all sides. Place in prepared baking dish. Drizzle orange juice over top of tenderloin.

Optional: Toss sliced carrots and dried apricots with a tablespoon of olive oil and arrange around the tenderloin.

Bake 25-35 minutes until outside is browned and crispy and center cooked through.

Spoon juices from the dish over the meat. Cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1” pieces. Spoon remaining juices over the slices.

Monday, January 28, 2019

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--ANTIQUE PERFUME BOTTLES INSPIRE MYSTERY AUTHOR JUDY PENZ SHELUK

A Tappan collection. Photo courtesy of Helen Farnsworth.
Judy Penz Sheluk, author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries, as well as various short stories, returns today to talk about antique perfume bottles and how they factored into one of her books. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website. 

Facts in Fiction: Herman Tappan Perfume Bottles
Until recently, I was the Senior Editor of the now-defunct New England Antiques Journal. During my decade-plus of employment there, I learned a lot about antiques, the show and auction scene, as well as the various collector associations that represented specific areas of interest. One of my favorites was the International Perfume Bottle Association (IPBA). While I don’t collect perfume bottles, the images that accompanied their press releases always captivated me.

The Herman Tappan perfume bottle
that inspired the text.
Photo courtesy of Helen Farnsworth.
 
When I was writing A Hole in One, the latest book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery series, I needed a decorative item, ideally valued in the $100-$150 range—something my protagonist, Arabella Carpenter, could donate on behalf of the Glass Dolphin antiques shop. I went to the IPBA website and started checking out their virtual museum. When it became quickly apparent that I had no clue what to select, I contacted the IPBA, who in turn put me in touch with longtime member/volunteer and archivist Helen Farnsworth. I did so, explaining my mission, and Helen came to the rescue.

Her suggestion of a figural bottle of a small girl wrapped in a wolf skin fur, made by the Herman Tappan Perfume Company, New York, NY, circa 1890, was perfect, and not just because it was valued in the $100-$150 range. This was the kind of “sleeper” find Arabella might have discovered at an auction or estate sale. While Tappan’s colognes and figural bottles were aimed at the middle class and the prices affordable, he’s not a household name like Lalique. In short, it was the sort of thing that could have been found in an inexpensive box lot.

Facts in fiction, like this perfume bottle, are often just a small part of the overall book—anywhere from a single paragraph to a couple of pages—but they are by no means insignificant. An author who gets the facts wrong is guaranteed to lose more than one reader for life. Get them right, however, and the author not only satisfies those in the know, she’s added another layer to the story, providing a bit of trivia for those who enjoy such things.

A Hole in One
A Glass Dolphin Mystery, Book 2

Hoping to promote the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, co-owners Arabella Carpenter and Emily Garland agree to sponsor a hole in one contest at a charity golf tournament. The publicity turns out to be anything but positive, however, when Arabella’s errant tee shot lands in the woods next to a corpse.

They soon learn that the victim is closely related to Arabella’s ex-husband, who had been acting as the Course Marshal. With means, opportunity, and more than enough motive, he soon becomes the police department’s prime suspect, leaving Arabella and Emily determined to clear his name—even if they’re not entirely convinced of his innocence.

Dogged by incriminating online posts from an anonymous blogger, they track down leads from Emily’s ex-fiancé (and the woman he left Emily for), an Elvis impersonator, and a retired antiques mall vendor with a secret of her own.

All trails lead to a mysterious cult that may have something to do with the murder. Can Arabella and Emily identify the killer before the murderer comes after them?

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Friday, January 25, 2019

AUTHOR KATHLEEN KASKA ON VERTIGO IN MONTANA--HERS AND HER SLEUTH'S

We continue our new Best of/Worst of feature today with award-winning mystery author Kathleen Kaska, who writes the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s; the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book; and the Kate Caraway animal-rights series. Kathleen is also a writer and marketing director for Cave Art Press and the author of Do You Have a Catharsis Handy? Five-Minute Writing Tips. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

The Best and Worst of Montana
Awhile back, my husband and I drove the Hi-Line (U.S. Hwy 2) across northern Montana from west to east. This stretch immerses you in “The Big Sky State.” The road was flat with unobstructed views over rolling prairies and wheat fields of infinite continuity. Surely there were other vehicles on the road, but the only ones we saw were in the small towns along the way. One afternoon, we stopped in the middle of the highway, turned up the radio, left the motor running, got out and danced. We’d just spent the night in Cut Bank and were still in a jukebox mood from the Pioneer Saloon. For me this was the best part of Montana.

But before that we drove through Glacier National Park. For those who are not acrophobic, this might seem fun. For me, mountainous roads are nightmares. After finding that motel in Cut Bank, the Pioneer’s shot of tequila slowed the spinning in my head. So I had another.

On our many travels, I’ve encountered several such mountainous roads. The result is always the same: vertigo, dry mouth, racing heart, sweaty palms—shear panic. There’s a few times where I can’t even remember the descent. I didn’t pass out, but some type of survival mode must have wiped out the experience. The times I do remember are feelings of elation whenever the ordeal was over, like an adrenaline rush.

Sadly, the worst part of Montana, for me, is one of the most scenic drives in America. It’s the Beartooth Highway, a sixty-seven-mile stretch of State Highway 212 through Carbon County in southern Montana. Winding through the mountains, it climbs to almost 11,000 heart-stopping feet. This is the setting of my second Kate Caraway animal-rights mysteries, A Two Horse Town. Each book deals with an animal-rights issue. The subtheme is facing one’s fears. Kate is also saddled with my affliction and is forced to face it as she travels these roads—giving me personal insight on a few hair-raising scenes.

A Two Horse Town
Kate Caraway hates giving lectures at the University of Illinois so much that she fears she’ll lose her mind. So, when a student, Nate Springfield, walks into her office with a story of wild horses in danger, Kate takes an immediate leave of absence. Forty-eight hours later, she arrives in Two Horse, Montana, one of the most rugged and isolated areas in the state. In a race against time, she uses her expertise and influence as a well-respected animal-rights activist to assist Nate’s eighty-two-year-old great-grandmother, Ida, in saving her herd of wild mustangs. If the county’s proposal to dam the Crow River passes, Ida’s water source will disappear. Her horses will be sold to the highest bidder and, most likely, turned into dog food.

Before Kate can meet with a small coalition of citizens, who also stand to lose if the dam proposal passes, she stumbles upon a corpse with a knife wedged in his back. The dead man is Frank Springfield, Ida’s estranged son and her number-one enemy, a highly vocal member of the ranching community, who favors the dam. Since Nate is the last person to have seen his grandfather alive, the sheriff issues a warrant for his arrest, and the young man goes on the lam. Kate is convinced of his innocence and determined to prove it, but as she gets closer to truth, she discovers that some men will do anything, including murder, to keep their nefarious scheme from being exposed.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

#TRAVEL TO FERGUS, ONTARIO WITH GUEST AUTHOR DIANNE ASCROFT

St. Andrew Street East, Fergus, Ontario, Canada
Dianne Ascroft, author of the Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series and the World War II series The Yankee Years, is a Canadian who has settled in rural Northern Ireland, with her husband and an assortment of strong-willed animals. She is fascinated by the history of the places where she has lived, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys walks in the countryside and evenings in front of a roaring fire. Learn more about Dianne and her books at her website

A Street That Beckons To You
Sometimes you find a place that captivates you and it just lingers in your mind. For me that spot is Fergus, Ontario, Canada, a small town one hundred kilometres northwest of Toronto. In fact, it has made such an impression on me that it inspired Fenwater, the town in my Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series.
Carnegie Library

One of the best things about Fergus is St Andrew Street East, the main street. The downtown section is only three blocks long but it has a diverse collection of shops and restaurants where you feel welcome as soon as you walk through the door. The last time I visited the town, I wandered along the street and stopped to admire the historic architecture of the squat, granite Carnegie Library, then walked a few doors farther to pop into an eclectic bookshop where I leisurely browsed without interruption. When I reached the end of the street, I rummaged in an old-fashioned market housed in a rustic, barnlike building. I also stopped at several craft and artisan shops. In one of them, I watched a craftswoman thread a beaded necklace together and another artisan paint stained glass decorations, and in another shop I sampled homemade chocolates.

Some of the other things you’ll find on the street are hot tubs, carpets and flooring, jewellery, health food products and fresh produce. There’s a wealth of unique items on sale that you won’t get in a chain store.

When you’ve had enough of browsing in the shops, you can indulge your taste buds at a tearoom, a public house, a tandoori restaurant or eat Italian cuisine in a 150 year old stone inn. There’s also a family-style diner where you can order something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.

Entertainment is provided by the Grand Theatre, which stages a variety of shows and concerts throughout the year. You won’t find wild nightlife on St Andrew Street East, but there are lots of reasons to be there day or night.
Fergus Grand River

And as you wander along the street, the soothing sound of the Grand River’s flowing water winding its parallel path behind the street accompanies you.

Many of the buildings were built from granite quarried locally more than a century ago, giving the architecture a distinctive, charming character. Life on the street moves at a slower pace than on busy city streets and it’s not surprising to meet someone you know and stop for a chat. It’s just the sort of place where my protagonist, Lois Stone, feels at home. She left the big city for a slower pace of life and that’s what she’s found in Fenwater, the fictional version of Fergus.

On the flipside of the coin and the town are the huge supermarkets and chain stores in shopping malls, surrounded by acres of parking spaces, which have sprung up outside the downtown area. While they provide necessary products and services, they are impersonal and boringly predictable. The same brand name shops can be found in any mall on the North American continent. I think these cloned shopping complexes leach away the individual character of a town.

Given a choice between the two, I would rather meander along Fergus’s main street, not race my shopping trolley down unending aisles piled high with no-name brand goods. Since neighbours and community, and getting away from the rat race, are important to my protagonist I won’t be sending Lois to a mall to shop. That’s the world she was desperate to leave behind when she moved to Fenwater. So she’ll stick to the peaceful, welcoming main street of her town where there will always be friends to meet, something unique to discover and an intriguing mystery or two.

A Timeless Celebration
A Century Cottage Cozy Mystery
Book 1

A small town, a big party, a stolen gift.

When an artefact from the Titanic is stolen before her town's 150th anniversary celebration, it's up to Lois Stone to catch the thief.


Middle-aged widow Lois has moved from bustling Toronto to tranquil Fenwater and is settling into her new life away from the dangers of the city. Then two events happen that shatter her serenity: her house is burgled and an antique watch belonging to a Titanic survivor is stolen from the local museum. Her best friend, Marge, was responsible for the watch's safekeeping until its official presentation to the museum at the town's 150th anniversary party, and its disappearance will jeopardize her job and the museum's future. Lois won't let her friend take the blame and the consequences for the theft. She's determined to find the watch in time to save her best friend's job, the museum's future, and the town's 150th anniversary celebration.
And so begins a week of new friends, apple and cinnamon muffins, calico cats, midnight intruders, shadowy caprine companions and more than one person with a reason to steal the watch, set against the backdrop of century houses on leafy residential streets, the swirling melodies of bagpipes, a shimmering heat haze and the burble of cool water.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

AUTHOR JANICE SEAGRAVES AND HER WRITERLY CAT OBSESSION

Janice Seagraves grew up with a deep love of science fiction and adventure stories. Now she writes them, along with romances. And cats. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Cats in My Stories
I seem to write cats into my stories a lot lately.

In Matrix Crystal River, I have a Shadow Cat that the heroine names Fluffy. (Named after a kitten I had as a child.) The cat will become a large cat about the size and shape of a cougar, and you’ll see him again in Matrix Crystal Rebels. Both are in my Matrix Crystal Series.

In my Chronicles of Arcon series, there’s a cat Goddess. She’s about the size and shape of a fluffy Maine Coon but lavender in color. She also talks and can change her shape from a cat to an Arcon, which is what my aliens are called. So, if you like talking cats, you might enjoy my series. She’s not in every book, because she’s a cat, and you know, shows up only when it pleases her.

In the book I want to talk about today, Year of the Cat, I have Jared Catterick, a werecat who is one of my favorite characters. He was fun to write, and I enjoyed the interaction between him and Morgan, his love interest.

Jared is Scottish and has a Scottish accent. His accent is softer in the beginning of the series because he’s working at a ski resort, but during the second half of the book it’s stronger because he’s comfortable around Morgan and allows his true personality to shine through. I don’t say this in the book, but you’ll see his accent get stronger, if you look for it.

Originally, Jared's story started off in three small segments and remained that way for years. I had Jared and Morgan’s personalities very firmly in my mind. I just had to connect the pieces, and eventually I did.

The original finished story was called “Werecat Love” and was only five thousand words long and published in an anthology. I enjoyed writing the story so much that when the contract ended, I returned to the story and added more to it to lengthen it and changed the title to Year of the Cat.

I just had to write a longer story about their love.

Jared was inspired by my cat Baron. I still miss him. He was a sweet boy, but he was a short haired, blond tabby where Jared is an orange tabby. And when Jared is in his human form, he has a shock of orange hair that stands on end.

And, I'm not seeing any end in sight for my fascination with adding cats to my romances. Which is good news if you're a cat lover and enjoying reading about my felines. 

Year of the Cat
Morgan isn’t expecting romance when she accompanies her friend for a week of skiing, but when she meets Jared, all bets are off.

Haunted by the loss of his parents, werecat Jared Catterick earns his keep working for the Catclaw Clan. Jared has secrets that he doesn’t mind sharing with a special lady, and he hopes Morgan is that special someone. When his past and present collide it’s worse than he imagined, and he’s forced to fight for his life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--INSTANT POT TURKEY LOIN WITH CARROTS

Why should turkey be only for Thanksgiving? Today we’re featuring another recipe perfect for making in your Instant Pot, and it takes a fraction of the time it takes to roast a whole turkey. So why not enjoy a turkey dinner at other times during the year?

Instant Pot Turkey Loin with Carrots
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 lbs. turkey tenderloin
5 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper (optional)
6 large carrots
1-1/2 cups turkey broth

Scrape carrots. Cut in half. Cut each half lengthwise twice into quarters.

Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting.

Brush tenderloin on both sides with 2 T. oil. Sprinkle with seasonings.

When pot heats up, add remaining oil. Place tenderloin in pot and brown on both sides. Remove tenderloin to plate.

Add broth to pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape pot to deglaze. Once deglazed, hit Cancel.

Place carrots in broth. Place trivet in pot. Place tenderloin on top of trivet.

Place lid on pot and set vent to sealing. Pressure cook on High for 30 minutes. When cooking is finished, allow the pressure to release naturally.

Serve with turkey gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

Monday, January 21, 2019

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--SILK RIBBON EMBROIDERY

Silk ribbon embroidered fashions from Godey's Lady's Book, 1876
Silk Ribbon Embroidery
Trends come and go. This is particularly true of crafting trends. Remember macramé? At one time it was everywhere—from plant hangers to vests. When was the last time you even thought of macramé, let alone saw a macramé craft?

One of the silk ribbon
applique prototypes
Silk ribbon embroidery was one of those crafty trends that came and went decades ago. Someday it may come back. But back in the day when it was hot, Lois Winston, she who writes about me, was commissioned to design a series of silk ribbon embroidered appliqués for a craft manufacturer. Lois recently came across some of the prototypes for the product line, and I convinced her to share them on the blog.

Silk ribbon embroidery first appeared in France in the mid to late 1700’s when the French court began wearing elegant garments elaborately decorated with embroidered ribbons. Eventually, the fashion made its way across the English Channel. From England it spread to various British colonies.

In the early 1800’s U.S. women were spinning silk from their own cocoons. Silk was in such high demand that by the late 1830’s silk factories were growing their own mulberry trees, which were essential to the cultivation of the silk worm. But mulberry trees were difficult to grow in the States, and as cheaper silk began to be imported from China, domestic silk production came to an end.

However, this certainly didn’t put an end to the demand for silk. French silk ribbons were being imported for use in clothing, millinery, linens, and crazy quilts during the Victorian era. It was the renewed interest in Victoriana that brought about the revival of silk ribbon embroidery toward the end of the twentieth century.

Silk ribbon embroidery is simply traditional embroidery stitches worked with ribbons instead of yarn or floss. The beauty of the technique comes from the 3D quality of the ribbons. Silk embroidery is also quicker and easier than traditional embroidery in that allows for more coverage with fewer stitches in less time.

Sell sheets, samples, and packaging
for the silk ribbon embroidered appliqués

The craft also adapts well to other forms of needlework. Besides its use in traditional crazy quilts, when silk ribbon embroidery once again became popular, it was combined with punch needle embroidery, traditional crewel embroidery, and counted cross stitch. 
One of the combination cross stitch and
ribbon embroidery kits Lois designed for
another craft company

At the time you could find many projects in craft magazines for embellishments on various wearables such as blouses, vests, and jackets. Smaller pieces were crafted into accessories like earrings, hair clips, and brooches. The company that hired Lois to design the appliqués went a step further by eliminating the need for the crafter to create the silk ribbon items. You simply had to stitch or glue them onto whatever item you wanted to embellish.

Friday, January 18, 2019

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR MATT FERRAZ

Today we sit down for an interview with mystery author Matt Ferraz who has penned an interesting mash-up of Pollyanna and Sherlock Holmes in his newest novel. Learn more about Matt and his books at his website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I was five years old and my mother was helping my older brother with his school homework. She gave me a sheet of paper to draw on, so I wouldn't bother them. Instead of drawing, I wrote a short story about a wizard in a quest for a magic crow that can make him the most powerful man in the kingdom. It was my first story, and I haven't stopped since.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I was twenty-three when I released my first book. Pretty young by regular standards, but considering I'd been trying to get published since my early childhood, it felt much longer.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I'm a hybrid author, but I'm inclined to do a complete transition to self-publishing in the near future.

Where do you write?
After my brother got married, I turned his room into an office, with a small desk, a computer and a printer. I keep a picture of Dashiell Hammett (as played by Jason Robards in the movie Julia) staring at me all the time, for inspiration. 

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Pink Floyd is the best music for me when I'm working on a new novel. I also like classical musical, especially Paganini. His music is full of energy, and gives me a boost.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
To write the character of Pollyanna in Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game, I stayed as faithful as possible to how she was portrayed in the original novels by Eleanor H. Porter. But there are touches of a couple of people I know who talk all the time and always seen to be happy about everything. It was tricky, because she had to be funny and quirky, but not too annoying. 

Describe your process for naming your character?
The main characters in Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game are taken from the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Eleanor H. Porter, and so are their names. I did have to come up with a new surname for Pollyanna after she gets married, and went with Bloom. It's a good match for her personality.

Real settings or fictional towns?
I'm used to creating fictional settings for my books, but this one takes place mostly in London. Having lived in the UK for a year, I know the place well, and it was easy to set the story there. 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Pollyanna is always looking at the bright side of life. This was taken from the original books in which she was featured, and it was a challenge to recreate it. 

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I drink so much water when I'm writing! There's always a bottle of water next to me when I start working, and it's always empty when I'm done.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Glass Key, by Dashiell Hammett. I think it's one of the most perfect crime books ever written.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I miss the UK very much, and wish I had stayed there after finishing my Masters Degree. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I hate it when a book starts with something like "A week ago, if someone told John Brown would now be standing next to the most powerful man in the world, he wouldn't have believed it."

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Something I could use to write, something I could read, and a good sunblock. I would say a boat, but I already mentioned three things.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Ghosting a novella for 50 dollars.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Anna Karenina, by Liev Tolstoy.

Ocean or mountains?
Mountains

City guy or country guy?
Mostly city guy, but I enjoy the country.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I'm finishing the second volume in the Grandma Bertha Solving Murders series, and hope to release it in early 2019. After that, there are at least five different books I want to write. Let's see which one gets picked!

Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game
British sleuth Sherlock Holmes can solve any mystery from a small clue. American traveler Pollyanna Whittier can only see the good side of every situation. The only thing they have in common is their friendship with Dr. John Watson. When Pollyanna shows up in London with a mystery for Holmes to solve, she decides to teach the detective the Glad Game: a way of remaining optimistic no matter what. A dangerous - and hilarious - clash of minds, where these two characters of classic literature need to learn how to work together in order to catch a dangerous criminal.