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.

Friday, June 28, 2019

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--WHY AUTHOR MADDIE DAY SET A COZY MYSTERY SERIES IN INDIANA

Maddie Day writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Edith Maxwell, she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. With eighteen novels in print and five more in production, Maxwell has been nominated for an Agatha Award six times. She lives north of Boston with her beau and two elderly cats, and gardens and cooks when she isn’t killing people on the page or wasting time on Facebook. Today she joins us to talk about why she set a series in Indiana. Learn more about Maddie/Edith and her books at her website and the Wicked Authors blog. 

Why Set a Series in Indiana?
Several decades ago, I spent five happy years earning my doctorate at the flagship Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
Maxwell Hall
It’s a school that every generation of Maxwells has attended and of which my great-great-great grandfather was one of the founders (also: my great-grandfather was the first dean of the IU Medical school, my grandfather was captain of the IU basketball team in 1916, and my own father was an undergrad there). Think huge university in a small town. You can walk or ride a bike everywhere. People are friendlier and talk more slowly than in the northeast. And neighboring Brown County is as hilly and pretty as Vermont.

The seed for this series was this: a fellow grad student named Benjamin dropped out of the IU Linguistics PhD program in the late 1970s. With his girlfriend he bought a run-down country store in the town of Story fixed it up into a breakfast restaurant as well as a bed-and-breakfast establishment. They served whole-wheat banana walnut pancakes, which I make to this day, and which figure prominently in my books. The Story Inn still exists, although my friends don’t own it any longer.
Story Inn
When I was imagining how this series might play out, I conjured up a twenty-seven-year-old woman named Robbie Jordan who grew up in Santa Barbara, California. Three years after Robbie moves near her mom’s sister Adele in Brown County to work as a chef, Robbie’s carpenter mom dies suddenly. Robbie uses her savings and a small inheritance to acquire a run-down country store filled with antique cookware. She uses the carpentry skills she learned from her mom to transform the place into a breakfast and lunch restaurant, later adding three B&B rooms upstairs.

Bean Blossom Covered Bridge
I’ve been having a ball remembering and researching phrases and pronunciations from that part of the country. “I might could do it for you.” “Faster than green grass through a goose.” “I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick.” Actual small town names are awesome: French Lick, Bean Blossom, Gnaw Bone, Floyds Knobs, and so on. When I saw South Lick Creek on a map, I knew that was the name of my fictional village. Strangled Eggs and Ham is the sixth book in this popular series, and there will be at least nine, plus a novella coming out in Christmas Cocoa Murder this fall.

(Note: a version of this post first appeared on the Wicked Authors blog in 2014.)

Readers: what are your favorite colorful sayings?

Strangled Eggs and Ham
A Country Store Mystery, Book 6

While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders South Lick, Indiana, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat. A developer’s plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County infuriates opponents, who concoct protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .  

Buy Links

Thursday, June 27, 2019

IRELAND AS AUTHOR INSPIRATION FOR JUDYTHE MORGAN

Today we welcome back award-winning author Judythe Morgan, an Air Force daughter and Army wife who has seen a quite a bit of the world and sets her stories in many of those places. Learn more about Judythe and her books at her website.

When Setting Drives Your Story
My grandmothers on both sides have Irish roots, but I never planned to set a story in Ireland. That is, until I went there, and the magic of the Emerald Isle captured my heart.

My grandmothers’ journeys to America were not easy for either of them. They didn’t talk much about Ireland. Traveling around the isle and talking to the Irish, I quickly learned about the two separate countries and how they came to be.

The Cliff Notes version for those who aren’t familiar: the island started as a single entity. After bitter fighting and political maneuvering with the United Kingdom, the island was partitioned in 1921 into Northern Ireland, which remains a part of the UK, and the Irish Free State or Republic of Ireland.

Many Irishmen were unhappy. They wanted a united Ireland and full independence.

Violence erupted again in the 1960s and continued through the 90s. The ceasefire of 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, along with the rebranding of the Orangemen parades in Belfast and Northern Ireland counties, helped reduce flare-ups.

Still, the history remains fresh for those personally affected and, after a few pints of Guinness, discussions about what is known as The Troubles can become heated. I quickly recognized how deeply The Troubles touched Irish lives and decided to use that connection in a story someday.

Slowly that plot seed percolated.

On another trip, I visited an Irish girl's boarding school in County Connemara. Wandering the grounds and talking to the girls, I had a rare writer moment. Annie Foster sprang fully formed into my head, commanding me to tell her story.

Claiming Annie's Heart blends what Annie wanted, and the suspense element centered around The Troubles that I wanted.

I hope readers enjoy Claiming Annie's Heart as much as I did creating a story that started with the setting.

Claiming Annie’s Heart
Annie Foster remains in Ireland after boarding school to nanny a widower’s infant daughter. Five years later, she accepts the widower’s marriage proposal.

Her first love Chad Jones, whom she believed deserted her, arrives on an undercover assignment weeks before the wedding investigating her Irish fiancé’s connection with an IRA terrorist organization. Chad’s determined to change her mind because he’s never stopped loving her.

Annie is torn between the man she'll always love and the young daughter of her fiancé whom she’s promised never to abandon. Will Chad be able to claim Annie’s heart?

Buy Links

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

AN INTERVIEW WITH SUSPENSE AUTHOR SYLVIA HUBBARD

Detroit author and founder of Motown Writers, Sylvia Hubbard has independently published more than forty contemporary urban psychological suspense and dark romance novels. As an avid blogger, Sylvia has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, plus has had five #1 Bestsellers. She’s also a speaker, literary encourager, and busy mom expert. Learn more about Sylvia and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I was young. Close to my twenties when I saw author, Beverly Jenkins standing at an expo. I’d met other authors in the past, but it was the first time I saw myself as an author. From that moment and her words of encouragement, I told myself I was going to be a serious writer.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
About ten to twelve years later after seeing literary shero, I found a way to independently publish my books.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
The year was 2000 when I published my first book, Dreams of Reality. Since then I’ve had a nightmare of a journey, but I’ve learned from the bumps and bruises of life.

Where do you write?
Raising three children alone, I found a way to write anywhere. I didn’t have time to get into some special place. Wherever I went, there was a kid trying to get my attention. So I had to learn how to do with where I was. Using technology worked for me. For instance, using Google docs or a Bluetooth keyboard to my cell phone and even carrying an extra battery for my phone.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I’ve been ruined by my kids. I actually need a lot of noise around in order to write. So I usually write while watching a movie or television show listening to my writing playlist on my Alexa. I know it sounds chaotic, but I’ve never been more productive than when I do this.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Usually, it’s always something that was about to happen to me or what if I had done something that starts the predicament of the story. I tell myself I’m bad on paper so I can be good in life.

Describe your process for naming your character?
My character names come from somewhere deep within me that connects me to them. I get to know them and then as I come to create a story around them, their names come. I’ve always loved the name Abigail and wanted to use it in a story.  

Real settings or fictional towns?
The majority of my books take place in Detroit. I love this city and I love writing love stories around this place, but Stone’s Revenge is the only book that takes place in Davenport, Ohio. This is a real city, but I’ve never been there.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
He becomes obsessed with stalking the prosecution's daughter

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I like to put a McDonald’s Chicken Sandwich and a Double Cheeseburger together and eat them together in one big sandwich.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Stand by Stephen King. It was just amazing, and I couldn’t believe I’d read such a long book and still couldn’t get enough.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I would not be silent about the hurt people inflicted upon me.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Stinky feet and when people spit on the sidewalk instead of the grass.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
A book (The Stand), an endless supply of bananas and fish, and a good playlist

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Being a telemarketer

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
All of Stephen King’s books, Indigo by Beverly Jenkins, The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Ocean or mountains?
Mountains

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City girl

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m finishing up Emperor’s Addiction Part 2 and the last book in Betrayal by the end of this year.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I wanted my readers to walk away from all my books loving the protagonists and believing that despite everything they have gone through, happily-ever-afters always can be reached—between the pages and outside of my books.

Stone’s Revenge
There is a copycat killer in Davenport and William is the number one suspect. William is the son of a serial killer; Therefore William's nemesis, prosecuting attorney Ramsey McPherson feels the apple does not fall too far from the tree. Ramsey makes it his number one mission to put William behind bars. William vows revenge against Ramsey with every intention to hurt what Ramsey holds dear in his life and that is the prosecuting attorney's daughter Abigail, who thinks someone is trying to frame William. Abigail and William fall in love and they keep their love affair a secret from Ramsey. Yet with a murder so gruesome happening on a night when Abigail and William are together, Abigail is forced to choose between not telling where William was or revealing to her father that she is truly in love with William. Only question remains : Who's the real killer?

Buy Links

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--JALAPEÑO CHEDDAR CORNBREAD FROM AUTHOR JODI RATH

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. She splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. Learn more about Jodi and her books at her website.    

Fiction or Reality?
Being someone who has wanted to be a writer for the last forty years, now that I can pursue my dream, I do it with a vengeance. I spent twenty years in education as a high school English teacher. Before that, I worked as a Vice President of a credit union. Before that I worked in communications and advertising. All of these jobs were more than an eight-hour workday. Teaching was by far the most challenging and time-consuming as it took a toll on me mentally and drained my energy, but that’s a good thing. A teacher needs to care about her students, and I cared a lot. I was not able to entirely leave education when I dived into writing.

Here I am at age 46 with a whole new career path as a business owner. My business is split into the education side, where I teach up to ten online courses working with Ohio teachers. Also, I write on deadline monthly for multiple educational blogs and affiliations. The other side of my business is writing my culinary cozy mystery series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. I also work as a marketing consultant for authors in my spare time.

So far, I have had success with book one, Pineapple Upside Down Murder, which came out in November of 2018. Book two, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Murder, comes out June 21st. Currently, I’m working on Turkey Basted to Death, a Thanksgiving book, which is really fun but weird writing about Thanksgiving in June. That book will come out on November 18th.

While I thought education won with the most multi-tasking and hours put into a job, I was completely wrong. My current business, while enjoyable—and often feeling like play—has me working sixteen to eighteen-hour days, seven days a week. I used to be someone who went to bed and woke up at the same times every day. Now, I sleep and work at various times within any twenty-four-hour period.

As a kid, teen, and throughout my twenties, I would fantasize about the day I could be a full-time writer—and here I am—AND, it’s working. I’ve found that a lot of me comes through in my protagonist, Jolie Tucker. Also, I tend to write a lot about my family and friends in my series. It is fictional—mostly. All of the cats on the covers of my books are based on one of the sixteen cats that my hubby and I have had over our seventeen years together.

My latest book, Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Murder, has a spicy twist to the plot. I loved testing out tasty cornbread recipes, then playing with the recipes to find one that matched my love of cheese and spicy food.

I’ve come a long way from crunching numbers as a VP of a credit union or creating ads for campaigns or spending days creating lessons and delivering them. But the truth is every single thing I’ve done over the last twenty-six years has contributed to helping me make this business successful. I’m still an educator; I market my work and work with other authors in marketing; I keep my financial profits and expenditures monthly and do quarterly reviews of my business; I write for education; I write a fictional mystery series. So my reality has become the fiction I write; yet, the fiction I write is partially my reality also. What a wonderful world!

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Ingredients:
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds* removed and diced
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp. if using fine salt)
4 large eggs
1 cup cooked corn kernels plus enough cream, milk, or buttermilk** to equal 1 1/2 cups
1 cup grated cheddar cheese*** plus bit more for top before baking
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar

*see Notes

Place diced jalapeños in a 10-inch top diameter cast iron skillet in cold oven on middle rack. Preheat oven to 400°F. Check periodically to make sure jalapeños aren’t burning and to give them a quick stir. Remove from skillet when lightly browned and allow to cool. Return skillet immediately to oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisk in corn/cream mixture and cheddar cheese. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar with a wooden spoon**** until butter absorbs the sugar. Add the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the cooled jalapeños. Mix in the dry ingredients until barely incorporated.

Remove skillet from oven and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Spoon batter into hot pan and quickly top with a bit more grated cheddar cheese. Bake cornbread until top is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed, 25-28 minutes when baked in a 10-inch skillet (may be longer if your skillet is smaller). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes
*If you like your food extra spicy, leave the seeds in the jalapeños.

**This means you add the corn kernels to a measuring cup first, then pour in the milk until the milk rises to the 1-1/2 cup level. (I was not able to find buttermilk at my local store. If you have the same problem, then you can add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every one cup of milk.)

***I’m a cheese lover—I added an extra half-cup of cheese!

****I tried the recipe mixing with a wooden spoon and again using my Kitchenette mixer. Call me crazy, but I truly believe it tasted better when using the wooden spoon to stir ingredients.

This recipe was adapted from seasonsandsuppas.ca and foodiecrush.com.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder
A Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 2

Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder?

Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

Monday, June 24, 2019

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--ANTIQUE APPLIQUÉ QUILTS

Bunches of Grapes Antique Appliquéd Quilt, The Boston Museum
The Art of the Appliquéd Quilt

The word appliqué is derived from the Latin “applicare”, meaning to join or attach, and the French “appliquer”, meaning to put on. It’s thought that the art of appliqué was first invented in India and Persia, then traveled to Europe where it was used as a less labor-intensive substitute for raised embroidery in the decoration of household linens, vestments, and altar cloths.  

Appliqué, often described as painting in fabric, is the fancy ornamental sister of patchwork. Whereas patchwork quilting is made by sewing many small geometric pieces of fabric together to form one large piece, appliquéd quilts are made from cutting out fabric shapes and sewing them onto a large piece of fabric. The background fabric is often white, and the appliqués are sometimes stuffed with padding to create a more three-dimensional look.

As in patchwork quilts, the appliquéd quilts of bygone days were often completed by groups of women at quilting bees. The quilting bee was a social gathering for women where they could exchange news and gossip as they stitched. It often ended in the evening with the arrival of the men and children for a special supper party.

With materials on the frontier scarce, resourceful pioneer women would carefully patch clothing and household items. When these items became beyond repair, the good sections of fabric were cut into small scraps that were pieced together to make new quilts to replace ones that had worn out. These quilts were more utilitarian than decorative, using whatever materials were available.

However, as newfound affluence began to relieve the burden of the early settlers, women found they had both the means to purchase new fabrics and the time to indulge in more creative outlets. The economical patchwork quilt made way for the more time-consuming and intricate appliquéd quilt.

At the same time a new middle class was emerging in Great Britain. By the 1800s appliquéd quilts had become quite popular in both England and America. By the Victorian era friendship quilts, freedom quilts, autograph quilts, and friendship medleys became popular forms of commemorating friendships and events, such as marriages and births.

Unlike functional quilts that were created to provide warmth and used until they wore out, friendship and autograph quilts were not used on a daily basis. They were carefully stored and only taken out to display on special occasions. For this reason, many have survived, having been passed down from one generation to the next. Some are still treasured by descendants. Others can now be found in many museums.

Friday, June 21, 2019

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AUTHOR CHRIS PHIPPS ON THE INSPIRATION BEHIND HER LATEST MYSTERY

Chris Phipps writes the kind of books she likes to read: mostly mysteries, free of graphic violence, sex, and excess profanity. She is the author of three novels in the Wagner-Callender Mystery Series with another in the works, and one of her short stories was included in the Saturday Evening Post 2016 on-line anthology of best short stories. Learn more about Chris and her books at her website.

If you like mysteries or thrillers, you’re all too familiar with the tough cop. He’s the guy (or gal) who somehow manages to view the most horrific crime scenes without batting a single eyelash, staying focused on clues and evidence. To do his job effectively, he’s hardened himself, at least externally. That, of course, creates our flawed hero, the one who fights alcoholism or some other addiction, whether it be drugs or work, or something more esoteric.

But I wonder how they handle the injustices they encounter, the ones created by our own flawed systems?

How do they pick up a runaway girl, knowing she will probably be sent back to the same foster home she’s trying to escape? Do they choose between two evils, the abusive foster parent or the likelihood the girl will fall into the clutches of a pimp who will lure her with affection she’s never before experienced?

While there are many good foster parents, all too often, people foster for the money they receive, not for the love of children. Some treat the kids as unpaid servants. Some children are abused. Many are neglected or given minimal care. And most of the child welfare systems in this country don’t have the resources to find better places for the children, or even to check up on them as frequently as necessary.  Added to that, the explosion of drug addiction has introduced thousands more kids into the system.

How do police officers arrest the desperate parent trying to “kidnap” his own child from an abusive ex-spouse? And that does happen. All too often, the parent with the most money wins custody simply because he can hire the best lawyers.

In one instance, the father’s lawyer hired a child psychologist who testified in court that the little girl’s claims of abuse from her father and stepmother were simply attempts by the child to gain attention! Fortunately, at least for that child and her older brother, they had a caring court-appointed attorney. He gave each child his phone number and told them to call him each time something abusive occurred. The lawyer recorded the calls and, when he had enough information, called the father. His message? “I have enough to get you locked up for a good long while. If you want to avoid that, I suggest you give your wife sole custody of those children.”

The father complied. Today that little girl is an honors student at her local high school. Her brother graduated this year and has already joined the Navy. They’re both good kids, eager to give something back to their community and their country.

How does an honorable, law-abiding father continue to allow his ex-wife visitation rights when he knows she’s conniving to be the favorite parent by being their buddy, giving them alcohol, allowing them to stay up— and sometimes out—hours after their curfew? What does he do when he learns she’s also introducing them to drugs? He can’t prove it; the kids aren’t going to testify. Today one of those children is in prison for selling drugs. Another, a girl, has finally beaten the addiction and has been clean for three years. But during that time, she lost her baby into the system and subsequent adoption by another couple.

These are only small samples of what I found while researching the topic.

I wondered how a rookie detective would react to this aspect of the job and decided to explore it in Haunted by the Innocent, the third book in my series.

Haunted by the Innocent
Rookie detective Dee Callender has a puzzling crime scene: two men murdered, two wounded on a Sacramento golf course with top-of-the-line security. How did the killer–or killers—get in and out without being seen or their images captured on surveillance cameras? And why this strange foursome: a city councilman, an attorney with a questionable reputation, the owner of a suspected prostitution site, and a children’s dentist? The answers, when she finds them, shock and sadden her and make her question the limitations of her job.

Buy Links

Thursday, June 20, 2019

LAMBERTVILLE, NJ--QUAINT SHOPS, AN OLD CANAL, AND A COZY MURDER MYSTERY

Delaware and Raritan Canal, Lambertville, NJ
Author Lois Winston often travels to Lambertville, NJ to meet a cousin from Pennsylvania for lunch because it’s halfway between their two homes. Those of you who are frequent visitors to the blog will probably remember the Lambertville yarn-bombing photo I posted recently. Of course, given who Lois is and how she delights in tormenting me, it was only a matter of time before the bucolic town showed up in one of her books.

Lambertville, is a quaint town on the Delaware River with a rich Revolutionary history. It’s also along the path of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, a forty-four mile canal that spanned the narrowest section of the state from Bordentown to New Brunswick. The canal was critical to the flow of cargo during the nineteen-century industrial and commercial development of the region.
Archival photo of when the canal was still in operation
The canal is now a park, but it’s also where, thanks to Lois, a body with a connection to my family and me is discovered at the end of Decoupage Can Be Deadly, drawing me into yet another murder investigation in A Stitch To Die For. The woman just won’t give me a break!

Shops along Lambertville's main street
Murder aside, Lambertville is a lovely town with quaint shops and restaurants, and as I mentioned above, a rich connection to the Revolutionary War. According to a plaque on the grounds of the 1st Presbyterian Church of Lambertville:

“On Christmas night, December 25th, 1776 at about 11:00pm, 7 miles south of this site General George Washington and the Continental Army crossed into New Jersey and proceeded to change the tide of the War with the 1st Battle of Trenton. Here in Coryell’s Ferry, another crossing took place that night with Captain William Washington and Subaltern James Monroe (Fifth President) who led a rearguard attachment of mounted soldiers and cannon to protect the main Army’s rear flank.”

The plaque goes on to mention the founding of the church 40 years later in1816 and was built on donated land by the Coryell and Lambert families near the Coryell’s Ferry Ancient Burial Grounds. On his return to the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette worshiped in the church on July 9, 1825 while visiting the Coryell family.

If you’re ever passing through New Jersey, plan to spend an afternoon in Lambertville. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself, and chances are, you won’t stumble upon any dead bodies.

Decoupage Can Be Deadly
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 4

Anastasia and her fellow American Woman editors are steaming mad when minutes before the opening of a consumer show, they discover half their booth usurped by Bling!, their publisher’s newest magazine. CEO Alfred Gruenwald is sporting new arm candy—rapper-turned-entrepreneur and Bling! executive editor, the first-name-only Philomena. During the consumer show, Gruenwald’s wife serves Philomena with an alienation of affection lawsuit, but Philomena doesn’t live long enough to make an appearance in court. She’s found dead days later, stuffed in the shipping case that held Anastasia’s decoupage crafts. When Gruenwald makes cash-strapped Anastasia an offer she can’t refuse, she wonders, does he really want to find Philomena’s killer or is he harboring a hidden agenda?

Buy Links

A Stitch To Die For
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

Buy Links

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

AN INTERVIEW WITH AMATEUR SLEUTH MERRY SUMMERFIELD

Today we sit down for a chat with Merry Summerfield from author Kris Pearson’s Merry Summerfield Cozy Mysteries.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
It was a bit staid, to be honest. I’m forty-four and divorced for a while now. And you might think that has set me free, but soon after the divorce, my lovely parents were killed in an awful traffic accident. This left me and my brother Graham the owners of the family home (right over the road from the ocean in Drizzle Bay, New Zealand.) It’s terrible having no parents. It’s wonderful having a rent-free home. But Graham is a fusty lawyer. He’s a few years older than me. He’s a bachelor, and showing no signs of changing his life in the least. He’s a stickler for detail and not very sociable, so, sigggghhhhh……I’m a freelance book editor, and I’ve decided to take on house-and-pet-sitting gigs so I can have a bit of freedom. Have laptop, will travel!

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I like that I’m optimistic. What’s the point of being continually worried and sad? Now that I’m free of Duncan Skene – my serially-unfaithful husband – I’m going to arrange my life so I can please myself, maybe have a few men-friends, make the most of my future. I don’t want to get tied down to one man again. (Not yet, anyway!) I can see the future opening up, and it looks good.

What do you like least about yourself?
My ex-husband. To my great joy he lost out on inheriting a share of our parents’ house because we were already divorced. No, that’s a terrible answer; I don’t like my hips. Good boobs though.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
Discovering I was lusting after the vicar was pretty bad. (Not that he was dressed like a vicar at the time.) Finding a body in the aisle of the church was the all-time worst. But strangest? Maybe finding I’d been cast as someone’s mother in a TV commercial in book 2. Then again, she had me feeding lasagna to the local detective who’s the bane of my life and never nice to me. Why did I have to be nice to him?

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
No – she’s OK. I’d like to weigh a bit less, but if I ate less, I could fix that myself. She’s made me very fond of food, and there’s a great bakery in Drizzle Bay, and ten minutes away, in Burkeville, there’s a bar and cafe that’s a total temptation. Run by two American hunks, and I’m still trying to find out their real background. They’re not gay. They’re not father and son. Can they really be ex-Black Ops and in hiding, way down here at the end of the world?

What is your greatest fear?
That I’ll end up alone. I have one brother, who’s showing no signs of reproducing. No parents any longer. And I’m forty-four, with no current partner. I’m going to seriously consider any man my author provides for me.

What makes you happy?
Food, my new car, cats, dogs, walks on the beach, the view from our house (ocean), and nice underwear.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I did NOT enjoy being tied up for a whole night. I almost peed my pretty panties.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
DS Bruce Carver – the afore-mentioned detective. He’s really not keen on me being any help to him. He bites his fingernails and wears staggering amounts of cologne. He makes me sneeze and wheeze. There’s no way he needs to wear so much.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Bruce Carver’s offsider, DC Marian Wick. She has huge eyes and gorgeous legs. (She probably goes running.) I’m sure she’s having a little thing with John at the Burkeville Bar and Café. I wouldn’t mind having a little thing with him myself. So she gets to do all the sleuthy things that I really want to do. She has all the inside info while I have to prowl around the edges as a member of the public.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
She’s taking a risk, writing about me! Kris Pearson is the author of sixteen (I think) contemporary romances. They’re sexy and pretty intense. She’s had five of them translated into Spanish. She’s also rewritten five as much sweeter stories. You can find them all at http://www.krispearson.com She wrote the sweeter ones as Kerri Peach. (Peaches and Pears – get it?)

Murder in the Aisle is the first Merry Summerfield book, and she’s more than halfway finished the second, which will be Xmas Marks the Spot. She has at least two more planned. I’ve seen the covers. They’re very different from her romances – that’s why I say she’s taking a risk. But I suspect she wanted a change, and she does have one heck of a sense of the ridiculous, so I think she’s enjoying herself and maybe this is the ‘the real Kris’? She lives in the capital city of New Zealand, and has been married to the same nice man forever. They met working together in TV.

What's next for you?
Finding a quarter of a cow in my brother Graham’s car. With a warning notice for someone I’ve never heard of. A ride in a helicopter. Meeting the vicar’s sister from England. Watching her fall in love with Erik from the Burkeville Bar and Cafe. Being a bit jealous, to be honest. And helping to solve something a lot worse than an old flower arranger dead in the aisle of Saint Agatha’s. Xmas Marks the Spot had us all scratching our heads.

Murder in the Aisle
A Merry Summerfield Cozy Mystery, Book 1

Hi – I’m freelance editor Merry Summerfield, and it’s another fantastic day in drowsy Drizzle Bay. That’s until Vicar Paul and I find Isobel Crombie lying dead in a sea of flowers in the aisle of Saint Agatha’s church. Who’d kill a harmless old girl like her?

In no time flat I’ve scored a house-and-pet sitting gig – Isobel’s remote seaside cottage and her two darling dogs. It comes complete with hollyhocks and seagulls and a SEAL from California who looks a lot like a younger Jon Bon Jovi. He's certainly cute, but aren’t his questions about Isobel's house a bit – well, suspicious?

Then I find a secret office stuffed with alarming files about car thefts and Black Ops assassins. Maybe Isobel wasn't as harmless as we all thought?

Sleuthing’s more fun than I’ve had in ages, but how safe am I on my own now things are unraveling? Little white Bichons are hopeless attack dogs.