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.

Monday, August 19, 2019

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--CERAMIC BATHING BEAUTY

When most people think of ceramics, they think pottery wheels for “throwing” utilitarian items such as bowls, plates, and vases. Many ceramic artists create decidedly un-utilitarian items, though, sometimes utilizing a pottery wheel but often through freeform sculpting.

This mid-century inspired bathing beauty was a birthday gift from a friend years ago. She has no purpose other than to put a smile on my face—and I hope on yours.

Friday, August 16, 2019

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR JEANNETTE DE BEAUVOIR

Today we sit down for a chat with mystery and historical fiction author Jeannette de Beauvoir. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I wrote my first novel when I was eight years old. It was awful. I’ve kept improving on it since then!

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I was first published when I was in graduate school, though soon thereafter one of my publishers went out of business, which rather put a damper on that experience!

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

Where do you write?
I’m terribly conventional: I love my desk. I have set it up to be both functional and inspirational, with everything I need to hand. There’s a tray filled with objects that are meaningful to me: a vase with fresh flowers, a calendar, a lamp, some books, and (of course) my MacBook. Oh, and my fountain pen collection.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I’ve always preferred silence, but recently I’ve been trying to listen to Radio Classique out of Paris in the background while I work. I turn it off a lot, though, to focus.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I’m very influenced by real events, whether they’re historical or present-day. My ex-husband used to say that any of my books could be subtitled, “Jeannette goes to therapy,” and in a sense that’s true: I figure things out by writing about them. Sometimes it’s just because stuff happens that you could never make up, and I grab it for my stories.

Describe your process for naming your character?
I took one of the Great Courses on the history of espionage and was quite taken with Sydney Reilly, the spy Ian Fleming based his James Bond character on. I liked his story and liked his name, too, so I adapted it for my protagonist in this series. It’s really important to find the right name, I think, especially when you’re doing a series, because you’re going to be stuck with that name for a long time! (And if I had it to do over, I’d probably give her a different name, as more than one person has gotten confused and thought Riley was her first name!)

Real settings or fictional towns?
Almost exclusively real settings. I love being able to delve into a real place, learn its history and secrets, and bring readers into a relationship with it. I love when people come to visit Provincetown they find that the places Sydney frequents are real, that many of the people she knows are real, and that they already feel at home here.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Sydney works at an inn that has a world-class restaurant. The quirk isn’t so much with a character, but in the way others refer to her: the inn’s diva chef Adrienne. We haven’t yet met her, but her influence on everyone who works at the inn is clear. And everyone says, “our diva chef Adrienne.” (I don’t know that I ever want her on stage, so to speak: I’d probably never be able to do justice to her after all this buildup!)

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m not sure I have any, which makes me sound completely uninteresting! Though people who know me might have an opinion on it…

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Trapeze by Simon Mawer. I was just starting to write a similar book—something about the women who parachuted into France during World War Two, amazingly brave people—when I read Trapeze and realized he’d written “my” book. And that he’d done a far better job of it than I would have.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
The Catch-22 of publishing is that you want your books out there to be read, but once they’re published you can’t change anything about them. And the more you write, the better you are at it. I can’t re-read any of my books, because I want to do them over again.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who don’t travel well. I live in a tourist destination, and many of the people who come here are respectful. Some aren’t; in fact I have to think that some behave in ways they wouldn’t at home. Every summer it makes me crazy. Come and visit, but be nice.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
As many books as possible, an unending supply of Diet Coke (the kind with ginger and lime), and my cat Beckett. That actually sounds pretty much like paradise.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
In college I worked at a chocolate-chip cookie place. It was right across the way from a bar, and drunk people used to stumble over and demand raw cookie dough, or buy and eat too many cookies and then throw up. I don’t think I’ve had a chocolate chip cookie since.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
“Best” is such a difficult term. Staying inside my genre, it’s probably December by Phil Rickman. I’ve re-read it countless times.

Ocean or mountains?
Oh, ocean. I live on Cape Cod.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City. I live in a small town now and while I love it, I need to get infusions of urban life on a regular basis. I spend a lot of time in Boston and Montréal.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Book Five of the Sydney Riley series, The Christmas Corpses, is coming out in November. There will be another book in 2020, but also a young-adult novel I’ve been working on; I’d like to finish that and see if there’s any interest in it.

A Killer Carnival
A Sydney Riley Provincetown Mystery, Book 4

This year’s P’town carnival parade begins with a real bang: a float exploding. No one’s been hurt, but wedding planner (and float decorator) Sydney Riley finds herself once more at the center of a mystery. Was the explosion meant to kill her? Why has her boyfriend’s sister, Boston Police Commissioner Karen Hakim, suddenly shown such an interest in the carnival goings-on? Are there really white supremacists at work on Cape Cod? Is her boyfriend Ali keeping secrets from her? Sydney will need to rely on her usual cast of characters and a few new ones for help in finding out what’s going on… before this killer carnival takes any more victims.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

CHARACTER INTERVIEW--JOLIE TUCKER OF THE CAST IRON SKILLET MYSTERIES

Today we’re joined by Jolie Tucker, Jodi Rath’s amateur sleuth from her Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Learn more about Jodi and her books at her website. 

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Pretty boring, just a small-town girl with a dream of opening a cast iron skillet restaurant. Now, I’m juggling co-owning the restaurant with my zany BFF, Ava, while trying to keep track of my off-beat family, figuring out an unconventional relationship with a detective who I just found out has M.S., oh yeah, and solving murders.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m a hard worker.

What do you like least about yourself?
I tend to put walls up around me to protect myself.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
I’ve been smashed in the head with a rock and had someone try to slam my face into a curb—luckily, she had me survive both circumstances!

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Well, yeah! Wouldn’t you argue with the person who wants to smash your head in with a rock and next thing you know she’s trying to get a character to slam your face in a curb? She’s a bit cray cray!

What is your greatest fear?
That one day the author will succeed with my demise. I have a feeling it won’t be peaceful.

What makes you happy?
My cats, my friends, my business, and dare I say my family.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
My life would be much safer.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Easy—Lydia. Why the writer didn’t kill her off yet is beyond me. No, I take that back! That is going to far. Lydia and I are frenemies from way back. It all has to do with a guy—I know, I know—so cliché, but there you have it.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
My Grandma Opal and my Aunt Fern both drive me batty, but they are two spunky women that know how to let loose and have fun. They don’t seem to let much get to them. I’d settle for either of them.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
First off, she’s a tad deranged with all the murder, and making me fight for my life at times. I mean, give it a rest would ya? But, she does keep life exciting if nothing else! You can find out more at https://www.jodirath.com or sign up for her Mystery A Month newsletter for chances to win prizes every month at http://eepurl.com/dIfXdb

What's next for you?

 It looks like this Thanksgiving is going to be a lively one. Figures, after all I’ve been through this past year, I really need a break. Not this holiday—a teen advocate for the inner-city teens is found with a turkey baster in her ear dead at our community gathering in Turkey Basted to Death, coming November 15, 2019.

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!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

AUGUST IS NATIONAL READ A ROMANCE MONTH

Did you know that August is both Romance Awareness Month and National Read a Romance Month? Apparently neither do many retailers—from big box stores to little mom and pop shops along Main Street. They’re all currently featuring up to 75% off anything summer-related and have already set up displays featuring fall foliage and pumpkins to help sell everything from sweaters to leaf rakes—not to mention all things Halloween.

Need a new bathing suit? Good luck finding one in your size at this point. Did your gas grill die? Chances are you’ll find snow blowers taking up the floor space where the gas grills stood less than a month ago. We still have forty days of summer before the first day of autumn, but retailers are in a rush to get us thinking about the blizzards to come months from now.

And since we’ve got two and a half months before costumed kids start ringing our doorbells in search of candy treats, why not enjoy the remainder of summer instead of dreading all the white stuff to come? Stretch out on a lounge chair with a good book. Just don’t forget the sunscreen. And speaking of sunscreen, remember the sun doesn’t care about retail market trends. So it might be a good idea to run out and grab an extra bottle before they’re replaced by bags of Halloween candy on store shelves.

Did you know Lois Winston, the author who gets her kicks finding ways to torment me with dead bodies, got her start as a romance author? If you’re looking for a romance to celebrate National Read a Romance Month, check out Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, a romantic suspense loosely based on an actual murder that took place in the Philadelphia suburbs in the 1990’s. It was Lois’s second published novel. The Gainesville Daily Register called it “a romance novel for the smart and sassy crowd” and Booklist called it “a contemporary romance with a whole lot of twists and turns…keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen next.”

Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception

Life has delivered one sucker punch after another to Emma Wadsworth. As a matter of fact, you could say the poor little rich girl is the ultimate poster child for Money Can’t Buy Happiness — even if she is no longer a child.

Billionaire real estate stud Logan Crawford is as famous for his less-than-platinum reputation as he is his business empire. In thirty-eight years he’s never fallen in love, and that’s just fine with him — until he meets Emma.

But Emma’s not buying into Logan’s seductive ways. Well, maybe just a little, but she’s definitely going into the affair with her eyes wide open. She’s no fool. At least not any more. Her deceased husband saw to that. Besides, she knows Logan will catch the first jet out of Philadelphia once he learns her secrets.

Except things don’t go exactly as Emma has predicted, and when Philadelphia’s most beloved citizen become the city’s most notorious criminal, she needs to do a lot more than clear her name if she wants to save her budding romance with the billionaire hunk someone is willing to kill for.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--MYSTERY AND PEACH JAM FROM MYSTERY AUTHOR WENDY HORNSBY

Edgar-Award winning author Wendy Hornsby has been described as “a genteel college professor by day, and by night a purveyor of murder most foul.” After teaching for thirty-eight years, she abandoned all pretense of gentility in order to write full time. Learn more about Wendy and her books at her website. 

In a Jam
Among the greater pleasures of summer, for me, is mucking about in the garden. There is something therapeutic about digging in the dirt, listening to bird song, watching bees at their work, and, of course, seeing again the strange and wonderful process of plants maturing into whatever they were destined to become when I put seed into the soil. And then suddenly everything ripens at the very same time and has to be eaten or distributed or processed immediately.

It seemed natural to me that Maggie MacGowen, the protagonist of my mystery series, would have grown up, as I did, with big backyard gardens and that gardening would somehow find its way into my books, and even become the focus of a story or two.

Several years ago, my husband and I took what we now call the Eat, Drink, and Be Merry research tour of Normandy, France. We learned about making cheese and cider and decided that we loved the area so much that we should retire there. That dream, however, was entirely impractical. So I did the next best thing: I found a reason for Maggie MacGowen to go to Normandy as an excuse for us to visit whenever we could.

In The Paramour’s Daughter Maggie MacGowen goes to the Camembert region of Normandy to meet her birth mother’s family for the first time. Like my husband and I, she learned about making cheese and cider, and from her grandmother learned how to make jam from summer fruit, just as my mother taught me.

By the time the book was published, Maggie, who is far bolder than I am, had acquired a job with French television and moved to Paris, something I still dream of doing, as impractical as it remains. I know that Maggie visits the family farm in Normandy in summer to make jam and cheese so that she will have gifts from the garden to offer friends and hosts throughout the year, as I do.

On my webpage, you can find instructions for making Camembert cheese, but as the recipe begins with milk fresh from the cow’s udder, finding ingredients may be difficult.

Instead, here is the traditional French recipe for peach jam that I make every summer. The recipe calls for only fruit, sugar, and lemon juice, and no purchased pectin. The jam may not be as firm as the other, but it sets up well and as long as you keep the sugar to fruit ratio the same, you can make small batches. Don’t double the recipe, however. Instead, make multiple batches. The process looks complicated, but it gets easier with practice. Just make sure that all your equipment is ready when you begin.

French Method for Peach Jam
7 cups sliced peaches
3 cups sugar
Juice of one large lemon
1/4 tsp unsalted butter

If you’ve never canned before, you can find directions for preparing jars online. You need 2 big pots—one deep enough to cover upright jars completely with water and an 8 qt. heavy bottom pot for cooking jam.

1. Peel, pit, and slice peaches.

2. In a heavy-bottom pot, combine all ingredients. Let sit for 1-2 hours for juice to develop, then bring to a full boil while you mash the fruit with a stick blender or potato masher. Boil for 25-30 minutes, stirring constantly. Drop a teaspoonful onto chilled plate. Mixture should gel. If not, cook 5 more minutes.

3. When ready, skim off foam with metal spoon.

4. Ladle jam into sterilized jars to 1/4” of top. Clean jar rims, put on lids and rings, and place into pot hot water to cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Remove jars from water. The nipple on every lid should pop. Any that don’t, refrigerate.

A Bouquet of Rue
Filmmaker Maggie MacGowen moves to France ready to settle into a new job with a French television network and a new life with diplomat Jean-Paul Bernard. Maggie soon discovers that under the peaceful veneer of the leafy Paris suburb where she now lives, there are deep and troubling fissures. At first she is an object of curiosity, the woman taking the place of Jean-Paul’s beloved, deceased wife. But as she is drawn into the search for a girl named Ophelia, and tries to stop the persecution of a Muslim immigrant boy, she is viewed by the town an interloper, the outsider. As Maggie tells an interviewer, sometimes an outsider can hold up a mirror that reveals what we have become blind to. But are her new neighbors willing to look into that mirror? She will learn that the human spirit has tremendous resilience—until it snaps.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--HANDCRAFTED NEW ORLEANS VOODOO GOD TO OVERCOME REJECTION

Rejection is something with which most authors are quite familiar. Even very famous writers—everyone from Voltaire to Stephen King received their share of “thanks but no thanks” letters from editors. So it’s no surprise that Lois Winston, she who writes about me, collected a thick stack of rejection letters before selling her first novel.

There’s some speculation that the tide finally turned in Lois’s favor after her agent bought her a handcrafted Voodoo doll in New Orleans. This was not just any souvenir Voodoo doll, though. This was a Voodoo God to Overcome Rejection. The instructions stated:

Your doll is a medium to focus on a problem or desire. You can personalize with hair, small photo, or any small personal item. Tuck them into doll. To make a ceremony, every morning and every evening light a candle or incense stick. Stick pin in doll—heart for good, stomach for bad. Say aloud three times your desire or intention. Concentrate on your objective for three minutes. Repeat for nine days.

Lois refuses to say whether or not she performed this ceremony, but she did eventually sell her first book and has gone on to publish many more, including eight books and three novellas about me. Recently she received a proof copy of the trade paperback of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide, the eighth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, shown above with the Voodoo God to Overcome Rejection.

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (Pre-order ebook now; print available 10/1)
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.

In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?

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Friday, August 9, 2019

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--A CHAT WITH GUEST AUTHOR KAYELLE ALLEN

Today we sit down for a chat with author Kayelle Allen who writes in multiple genres, including science fiction, romance, fantasy, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. Her science fiction is filled with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role-playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran who claims she’s been married so long she's tenured. Learn more about Kayelle and her books at her website and her blog.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
When I was three. Seriously. I can't really remember a time when I didn't want to tell stories. I was born with a hyperactive inner child who loves tall tales.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Once I decided to go for it, not long. I'd always figured I'd write once my kids got older. But then one day I turned 50 and I hadn't done it. World-built and created backgrounds, but never finished a story. I decided to buckle down, study how to get published and go for it. My first book came out when I was 53.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I have been a hybrid but currently, I'm 100% indie.

Where do you write?
I have an office at home. I shut the door and work undisturbed. It's awesome.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
The playlist depends on the book. Currently, I'm listening to music by Audiomachine, Epic North, Thomas Bergersen, Really Slow Music (actual name of group!), and an orchestral group that calls themselves Two Steps from Hell (they are heavenly). You could call it "movie trailer" music. Epic, sweeping, magnificent. I've also written books to the tune of Audioslave, Marilyn Manson, and Nirvana. Like I said. Depends on the book.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
None. Also, the world is flat. *wink*

Describe your process for naming your character.
Generally, the main characters come to me out of the ether. Once I know the name, I know the character. Recently, I needed a minor walk-on part. I looked at my current character list so I wouldn't pick a name that began with the same letters as the ones already in use. Then I went to a name generator online and tried a few before I found one that gave me the basic type I wanted. It can be organic or manufactured. Mainly, it depends on what I need. But I can't just pull up a list and go, okay, it'll be Jane this time. It has to mean something to me. I write sci-fi, so generally, the names are a little different. In the book I'm talking about today, the main characters are Senthys (who goes by Senth), Khyffen (nicknamed Khyff and pronounced like kif), and Luc. There's usually one common name in there somewhere.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Sci-fi lends itself to fictional, but the sites are based in reality. I write in a manner that evokes the senses. Like this line from A Stolen Heart, the book I'm writing now, which is in the Antonello Brothers series:

Outside, the day had dawned gray and crisp with no hint of a breeze. The snow threatening for days hadn't materialized, but frost crunched underfoot. The morning smelled wintry and clean, freshly washed, with an undercurrent of decaying leaves. Not unpleasant.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
I'm going with my immortal king, Pietas, on this one. He lied to his father once as a child. His father terrified Pietas, and the thought of what his father would do to him if he found out filled Pietas with dread, which was far worse than his punishment would have been. After that, he refused to lie about anything. Once he was an adult and not ruled by his father, he continued that tradition. "You lie if you fear the consequences. I fear nothing." It's a line he's spoken in several books.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I can't let a typo stay there and keep writing. I have to fix it. I've tried, but all I can think about is that typo. If I don't notice it, that's one thing, but once I see it, I must fix it. I'm OCD about that.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. It's my all time favorite book. Okay, or Teot's War by Heather Gladney. Those two are neck and neck in my estimation. One is historical fiction about the life of Alexander the Great, and the other is Sci-fi Fantasy. The beauty of the language in each and the compelling stories make them perfect.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Saying something unkind to one of my children. The moment it was out of my mouth, I regretted it, but it was too late. There is no undo on life.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When people don't do what they say they will do and leave you hanging. I hate when I do that and try hard never to let it happen. It's really just so uncool.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Food, shelter, and a way off the island.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I worked retail one Christmas, stocking shelves in a variety store. I never want to hear “Holly Jolly Christmas” ever again. I heard it 40 times a day for weeks.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I think I answered that above, but I'll say it again. Toss up between The Persian Boy by Mary Renault or Teot's War by Heather Gladney.

Ocean or mountains?
Mountains. I'm water-phobic. You will never catch me on a cruise. Ever.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I live in the country but like small towns. I'm 40 miles from Atlanta GA. I like being in a smaller town near one big enough to have everything. Atlanta has the world's busiest airport and some of the finest hospitals and entertainment venues. It also has the worst traffic anywhere. In the country, it's quiet, and there's no traffic. It also smells better!

What’s on the horizon for you?
I'm concentrating on producing books. I don't write as fast as other authors, but my work is quality. This year, I'm focusing on releasing books and getting them out faster. I have plenty of stories to write, so it's a matter of focus and attention.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Anyone who visits my website will see images of Pietas everywhere. He's either central to or influential in nearly every story I write. I was fortunate enough to discover Nik Nitsvetov, a Russian cosplayer who's a dead ringer for Pietas. I was able to coordinate a cosplay event with him where he portrayed my hero.

This summer, Nik is doing it again and I am hoping that like before, he'll do it live on Instagram. Readers can make a reservation for the Pietas cosplay by entering their emails on this site  -- it will only be used to let them know when Nik posts sneak peeks of the uniform and sci-fi weapons he's hand-making for the event, and then the final date for the live event. I have a special board on Pinterest where I share all sorts of research and goodies about Pietas also. 

I hope readers who are interested in more will follow me on any of the social media where I'm active. You can find the links on my website.

Bro
An Antonello Brothers Prequel

The tech Senth is about to claim will make him invisible. Finally, the young halfbreed thief will be out of sight, shielded from the taunts humans fire at him. But when that tech reveals he has a human half-brother who's bound by a cruel slaver, Senth must find a way to save his brother from abuse and win his freedom -- even though Senth is a slave himself.

There's just one problem. The new Thieves' Guild tech might make him invisible, but it can't shield him from the truth...

Thursday, August 8, 2019

WHEN YOUR AUTHOR CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT

Thanks to Lois Winston, my author, I’ll be digging my way out of debt well into my eighties. Vacations are a thing of the past for me. Although a while back Lois did surprise me with a brief excursion to Barcelona, Spain, but then, sadist that she is, ruined it by having me kidnapped within hours of my arrival.

Lois, on the other hand, has taken several vacations in the years since she created me. On a recent trip to Nashville, she and her family spent the day at the Nashville Zoo. One thing you should know about my author: unlike me, she can’t take the heat. Only for her, it’s literal heat. The heat she gets me into is more metaphoric in nature.
Anyway, Lois always says she’d rather be cold than hot because when you’re cold, you can always add another layer of clothing or pile an extra quilt onto the bed. When you’re hot, there’s just so much you can strip off before you’re arrested for indecent exposure.

Getting back to that trip to the zoo, it’s summertime in Nashville, and that means it’s sizzling hot—the type of day my author would never have left the comfort of her air-conditioned home had she been home. Even the animals didn’t feel like moving, as you can tell from these pictures.

Personally, I was quite happy that Lois was out in the hot sun all day. That meant she wasn’t sitting at her computer dreaming up some new ways to create murder and mayhem in my life. And for me, that’s a vacation!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

ROMANCE AUTHOR KATHY L. WHEELER PROVES SHE DOES HAVE A GREEN THUMB

Kathy L. Wheeler writes contemporary and historical romance. She loves the NFL, NBA, musical theater, travel, reading, and … karaoke! She moved from tornado alley to the Pacific Northwest and is enthralled with the weather there. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

My husband and I were at my cousin's house the other day for an impromptu cookout. It was so much fun. However, in the course of the kitchen conversation, he blurted out, "Kathy has a black thumb."

I looked at him a little dumbfounded and said, “What? What the hell is a black thumb?”

“It means you can’t grow anything.”

Now, I take umbrage with that statement. For years, before our move to the northwest, he was always trying to get me to garden. Garden! I admit, I was clueless when it came to gardening. My mother said that when I was little, I would come in the house crying because I had dirt on my hands. I hated it. I still kind of hate it, truth be known.

Still. Really? A black thumb?

When we decided on our move to western Washington and bought our house, our dog Angel, our cat Carly, and I drove up a month before my husband was able to join us. My aunt and my late dad’s wife came over one afternoon for “high” tea (I was really creative, if I say so myself! Cucumber and egg salad sandwiches, notwithstanding) brought me a housewarming gift—a rose bush. I looked at them and said, “Um. I don’t know how to do this.”

“Just put it on the back porch and let it acclimate to the weather. Then plant it in the ground,” they said (almost simultaneously).

Yeah, right.

I put it on the back porch for several days. Then my husband called to say he would arrive in a couple of days. I grabbed the bush, drove to Tacoma, and found an Ace Hardware. I took in my bush and showed it to the employee and said, “I don’t know what to do.”

I ended up buying a small shovel, rose plant food, Miracle Grow, etc. etc.

I wanted that damn bush in the ground before he got there. Otherwise, it would be things like: Do you know what you are doing? Why are you planting it there? You need more dirt…Blah blah blah.

In any event, I planted my little rose bush.

See the photo above? I ask you: Who has a black thumb?

Mail Order Bride: The Counterfeit
The Mail Order Bride Series, Book 1

After a disastrous first marriage, Will Jeffers hasn’t the stomach for another emotionally entailed union. All he needs is a wife to cook, nurse his mother, and look after the homestead. But good women are few and far between in Colorado mining country. A mail order bride is the perfect solution.

Amelia Johannasen is running for her life. Her mother, the town saloon madam, has decided it’s time her daughter joined the family business, shattering Amy’s dreams of marrying for love. Imagine her surprise when she is mistaken for Will Jeffers mail order bride.

She has a head for numbers and a talent for spinning tall-tales but no notion of how to cook or nurse a manipulative old woman. Can she reach the heart of a man once burned so badly, he’s sworn off love?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--SUPER-EZ PEACH COBBLER

Last month mystery author Diane A.S. Stuckart shared her recipe for Clobbered Peach CobblerBecause it’s the height of peach season and fresh peaches are in abundance, today we’re showcasing another peach cobbler recipe. This one is Cloris’s super-easy version of cobbler.

Super-EZ Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
2 cups sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
4 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 T. lemon juice
ground cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place stick of butter in 9” x 13” Pyrex baking dish. Microwave butter to melt.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, combining just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter. Do not stir together.

In a saucepan combine peaches, lemon juice and remaining sugar. Heat to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter. Do not stir together.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 375 degrees F 40-45 minutes until golden brown.