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.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

AN INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF AUTHOR BONNIE EDWARDS'S ROMANCE HEROES

Today we sit down for a chat with Rayder Cole from romance author Bonnie Edwards’s The Brantons series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I moved around the world freely, retrieving stolen art. 

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 
I gain people’s trust easily.

What do you like least about yourself? 
Sometimes I use their trust against them.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? She had me arrested in a sleazy motel.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 
We don’t argue. I let her believe she’s in charge. Like I said, I gain their trust…

What is your greatest fear? 
That I’ll never find another Ellie.

What makes you happy? 
Being with Ellie again. Even for a short while.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why? 
I never would’ve conned Ellie in the first place, and we wouldn’t have wasted the last decade.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why? Shaughnessy, the dirty Interpol agent, because I should’ve stopped him years ago.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 
There’s no one I’d rather be than myself…but my better self. The one who shows up when I’m with Ellie.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 
Author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the rainy coast of British Columbia. She has written novels, novellas, and short stories for various publishers and now publishes her work herself. 
With four ongoing romance series: Tales of Perdition, The Brantons, The Christmas Collection, and Return to Welcome, she rarely spends a day without writing. Learn more about Bonnie and her other books at her website. 
What's next for you? 
I plan on helping Ellie’s art gallery grow and to help bring more criminals to justice with a consulting business. Excuse me, Interpol’s calling…

Rayder’s Appeal
The Brantons, Book 4

What can a reformed con man do when the woman who changed his life needs his help?

Eleanor Macklin has overcome her past and repaired the damage done by her first, and only, love. She has all she’s ever wanted, her family’s art gallery. If she’s not as spontaneous, or giving, or loving as she once was, well… that’s a life lesson she learned the hard way from a master of deceit. And trust is a thing of the past…

Rayder Cole has stumbled on a plot to forge stolen art that could ruin Ellie Macklin’s art gallery. He must get the forgery back before Ellie’s life is in ruins. He’s done enough damage to the only woman he’s ever loved, and now, he’s back to save what Ellie’s worked hard to build.

If Eleanor doesn’t take a chance on Rayder, she’ll lose everything. But trust lost is almost impossible to regain.

While the race is on to find the forger, Rayder’s appeal begins to work its magic again and Eleanor hates that she still finds him sexy. 

Rayder’s determined to reclaim the woman who stole his heart before he even knew he had one…

Friday, September 18, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--AN INTERVIEW WITH REGENCY AUTHOR ELF AHEARN AND HER MEAT MARINADE RECIPE


Today we have a double treat, an interview with Regency romance author Elf (yes, that’s her real name) Ahearn and her marinade recipe. Learn more about Elf and her books at her website where you can find links to her other social media and subscribe to her newsletter.
 

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

I’m a hybrid author by default. My books were published by Crimson Romance, which was sold to Simon & Schuster, which passed on keeping both novels on its backlist… alas. 

 

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I would love to have the skill to make people laugh and cry the way Steinbeck does with that story. The characters are brilliant and the problem of Lenny’s brute strength and inability to control it is the most heartbreaking situation in literature. A class I teach for Romance Writers of America is called Conflict, Action, and Suspense, and I use Of Mice and Men as an example.

 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours? 

For nearly 20 years, I struggled as a New York City actress. Instead, I wish I’d lived in the country and gone straight to writing. Rejection is face to face in the theatre, whereas an author gets to read a no-go weeks after the submission. Believe me, that’s a lot easier to take.

 

New York is an amazing place—Broadway, SoHo, Fifth Avenue, Central Park—it’s got so many things to offer, it takes your breath away, yet every chance I got, I dashed home to the country. If you take a gander at A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, you’ll see it’s a story about a girl, a boy, and a horse. The horse is her best friend; that was me, except I had a pinto pony named Bettikins whereas in my bookthe horse is Manifesto, a dapple grey stallion.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

I was the personal secretary to two sadists who owned a radio station in Connecticut. Example: One of them took an incredibly nasty poop, and then made me search for something nonexistent in the attic where the bathroom fan vented. The same guy didn’t want to know when callers were on hold: “You are to treat me like the governor and make them wait until I’ve finished my other business.”

 

They were also yellers, and they yelled at me for everything. Example: One night, long after I’d gone home, the office alarm went off and the police showed up. The owners had visited the office, and one of them blew it entering the alarm code. When I said he’d probably made a mistake, he started screaming, “I never make a mistake! Never!” 

 

Less than six months later, knowing my husband and I were applying for a mortgage, they terminated me. It would have been devastating except they fired employees all the time for the slightest infraction. In fact, by the time I lost my job, they’d racked up the second highest number of unemployment claims in the state—this from a tiny, rinky dink radio station. Ironically, the only employee they hesitated to dismiss was this crazy receptionist who came in early and lit a shelf on fire. Why didn’t they dump her immediately? Because they were scared. You see, they’d weaseled their way onto the board of directors of the local hospital and had the nursing staff cut so the lobby could be decorated with high-end furniture and the president supplied with a $10,000 desk. People in that peaceful Connecticut community hated them so bitterly, their tires were regularly slashed. 

 

They’d spread their personal brand of lousiness so far and wide, they needed a bodyguard to visit New York City. You see, one of them had had a prime position in the fashion industry but lost his job due to lawsuits claiming employee abuse. 

 

There is a happy ending, though: my husband and I got a mortgage on better terms, and I became a journalist—a job I absolutely loved. And here’s the kicker—my newspaper printed the story of how those two bankrupted the radio station and had to sell for less than it was worth. Karma, baby.

 

What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’ve completed two more Regency romances with my signature “Gothic twist.” The moment I find a publisher, I’ll be building the suspense till their release.

 

Elf’s Marinade

I use this marinade on chicken, lamb, and pork. It’s super tasty and easy to make. 

 

Ingredients:

Chicken, lamb, or pork

Lemon juice

Mustard

Minced garlic

4C seasoned breadcrumbs

 

Pour enough lemon juice to cover meat. Add approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup mustard. Add a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic.

 

Allow meat to marinate for 10-20 minutes. I usually turn on the oven and wait for it to reach 350 degrees F (approx. 10 minutes), then remove the meat from the marinade.

 

Coat meat in 4C seasoned breadcrumbs. Place coated meat in a baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until specific meat reaches proper temperature.

 

A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing

The Albright Sisters, Book 1

 

In Lord Hugh Davenport’s opinion, women of the ton perpetually hide behind a mask of deception. That’s hard for Ellie Albright, the daughter of an earl, to swallow—especially since she’s disguised herself as a stable hand to get back the prized stallion her father sold to Hugh to pay a debt. If Hugh learns her true identity, she’ll lose the horse and her family will go bankrupt. Somehow, though, losing Hugh’s affection is beginning to seem even worse…

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--AUTHOR JUDY ALTER'S HAMBURGER STROGANOFF


We’re always happy to welcome back award-winning author Judy Alter. After a long career writing historical fiction about women of the nineteenth century American West for adults and young adults, Judy began writing contemporary cozy mysteries. She now has three series as well her current release, a standalone—which may eventually wind up being the first in a new series. Judy currently lives in a small cottage with a postage-stamp sized kitchen without a stove. So, she wrote a cookbook about it, 
Gourmet on a Hot Plate. Today Judy shares a recipe that plays a part in her latest book. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website.
 

Let’s Hear it for American Food

 

When Henny James tries to add hamburger Stroganoff to the menu her chef/boss Irene Foxglove will cook on the TV show, Madame, a French-ish snob about cooking, is indignant that she would be asked to cook with ground meat, the stuff peasants eat. Stroganoff is traditionally made with beef tenderloin, which is expensive; if you want to cut corners, you can use a cheaper cut and simmer it a long time. Henny points out that hamburger is both quick and inexpensive, which will appeal to American cooks. Besides, it retains all the flavor of the original Russian dish.

 

But this incident in Saving Grace illustrates a larger theme in the cozy mystery—the return of American food to popularity in a nation that has wildly embraced everything from Japanese to Middle Eastern cuisine. In the Sixties and Seventies, James Beard, himself a French-trained chef, was the spokesman for the American menu, pointing out that it is, like the nation, a melting pot of international cuisines. But Beard died in 1985, and no one major took up that banner. International cuisines—please don’t call them ethnic, which is a bit derogatory—became the fashion. Today, that trend is reversing, thanks to some prominent TV chefs and such enduring publications such as Southern Living.

 

So what is American cuisine? It’s hard to define because it encompasses so many regional cuisines—southern, Cajun, southwestern, Pacific rim, etc.—and incorporates many cooking techniques, from Native American to European (yes, Madame, and French!). If there is one key to American food, it is variety. Among the most popular dishes are cheeseburgers and hot dogs, nachos and barbecue, po’ boy sandwiches and fried chicken, apple pie and s’mores. See a pattern here? They are all accessible dishes, easily duplicated by the home cook, and the ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores. No need to go on a desperate search for gochuchang (a red chili paste) or truffles (a French delicacy). Hamburger Stroganoff fits right in as an American dish.

 

Hamburger Stroganoff

Serves six; may be halved easily; makes good leftovers

2 lbs. ground sirloin

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

2 cups beef stock

1 lb. egg noodles

1 cup sour cream

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

 

Brown ground meat in 2 Tbsp. butter. If necessary, brown in batches. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Remove meat from skillet. Brown onion in remaining 2 Tbsp. When onion is translucent, add mushrooms and sautĂ© until nicely wilted. Add beef stock and bring to slight boil, cooking until sauce thickens. Add meat to mixture and heat. 

 

Cook noodles and drain.

 

Mix sour cream, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir a spoonful of hot beef mixture into the sour cream, and then stir the whole thing back into the meat. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. Mix thoroughly and stir to warm the sour cream. 

 

Serve immediately, either over noodles or separately. 

 


Saving Irene, 
A Culinary Mystery

Irene Foxglove wishes she were a French chef. Henrietta James, her assistant, knows she is nothing more than a small-time TV chef on a local Chicago channel. And yet when Irene is threatened, Henny tries desperately to save her, wishing always that “Madame” would tell her the truth--about her marriage, her spoiled daughter, her days in France, the man who threatens her. Henny’s best friend, the gay guy who lives next door, teases her, encourages her, and shares meals with her, even as she wishes for more. 

 

Murder, kidnapping, and some French gossip complicate this mystery, set in Chicago and redolent with the aroma of fine food.

 

Buy Link 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

ANASTASIA POLLACK CRAFTING MYSTERIES, BOOKS 1-2 BUNDLE ON SALE FOR ONLY .99 CENT!

In anticipation of the release on October 1st of A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 1-2  will be on sale for only .99 cents (regularly $6.99) from now through the end of the month. This 2-book bundled set of ebooks features Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun and Death by Killer Mop Doll, the first two books in the critically acclaimed series.

Come for the mystery. Stay for the laughs!

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun
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. Can she find the killer and clear her name before he strikes again?
Death by Killer Mop Doll
Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.
Crafts projects included.

Buy Links
Kobo 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNA QUINN, MYSTERY AUTHOR LAURA GAIL BLACK'S NEW AMATEUR SLEUTH

Today we sit down for a chat with Jenna Quinn from author Laura Gail Black’s Antique Bookshop Mysteries.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Not so great. I’d had some legal trouble—for which I was acquitted—but it cost me my job, my home, and my fiancĂ©. I was hiding out at a cheap motel, avoiding the press, when my uncle emailed me offering me a place to stay and a job until I got back on my feet. 

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 
My resilience. Despite all that has happened to me, I remain willing to see the good in people, and I remain hopeful about the future.  

What do you like least about yourself? 
Sometimes I am too trusting. Because I remain so willing to see the good in others, at times I miss the signs that someone is up to no good. 

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? Difficult, yes. Stressful, yes. But strange? I can’t think of anything I’d classify as “strange” at this time. 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I did originally. She was creating situations and a character that didn’t fit with who I am. Once, I even refused to talk to her for several months, because she wouldn’t pay attention to me when I tried to tell her that her ideas didn’t fit. However, once she finally listened to me, we got along much better, and I’m happy with my story as she has recounted it.

What is your greatest fear? 
Being accused of a crime I did not commit. After spending three months in jail before I was acquitted, prior to coming to Hokes Folly, I am terrified of it ever happening again.

What makes you happy? 
Feeling like I have a place to belong. I have been amazed at the open trust and friendship extended by my neighbor, Rita Wallace, Police Detective Keith Logan, and my employee, Mason Craig, who have stood by me, with me, and for me through the ordeal of my uncle’s murder and the subsequent events leading to the true identity of his killer.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why? 
I would love to have reconnected with my uncle when he was still alive, rebuilding the relationship when it was possible. Instead, I was always too busy to come visit…until it was too late. 

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why? Detective Frank Sutter. He’s arrogant, stubborn, and determined to pin a crime on me that I didn’t commit. He refuses to listen to reason and refuses to look at evidence I uncovered, with the help of new friends, which might point to the real killer.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 
Rita Wallace. She seems to really have her stuff together. She has a career she loves, she has an amazing workplace, and she knows who she is in life and where she wants to be.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 
She can be found at her website where you can also find links to her other social media. 

What's next for you? 
I’m deeply entrenched in another murder at this point. A man was murdered right after the grand re-opening event at my bookstore! I feel responsible, and Detective Frank Sutter again refuses to listen to logic, so I need to find out what really happened. 

For Whom the Book Tolls
An Antique Bookshop Mystery, Book 1

Trouble follows Jenna Quinn wherever she goes. Fleeing some unsavory doings in her hometown of Charlotte, Jenna accepts her uncle’s gracious invitation to stay with him in small-town Hokes Folly, NC. In exchange, she’ll help him out in his antiquarian bookstore. But soon after she arrives, Jenna finds her uncle’s body crumpled at the base of the staircase between his apartment and the bookstore. 

Before the tragedy even sinks in, Jenna learns she’s inherited almost everything her uncle owned: the store and apartment as well as his not-so-meager savings and the payout from a life insurance policy…which adds up to more than a million dollars. This is all news to Jenna—bad news, once the police get word of her windfall. An ill wind, indeed, as a second murder cements Jenna’s status as the prime suspect in both deaths.

Jenna can hit the road again, taking her chances that she can elude trouble along the way. Or she can stick it out in Hokes Folly, take over the bookstore, and try to sleuth out her uncle’s killer. On the one hand, she’s made some wonderful new friends, and she feels she can thrive in the genial small-town environment. On the other hand, trouble knows her address—and so does the killer, who is determined to write the final page of Jenna’s story.

Buy Links

Monday, September 7, 2020

Friday, September 4, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--MYSTERY AUTHOR JODI RATH OFFERS UP A SLICE OF DEEP DISH PIZZA WITH MURDER

Moving toward her third decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Nonfiction in Fiction
“Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.” ― Thomas M. Cirignano,

Writing a culinary cozy series has been a ton of fun. While I love using humor within the series, I also enjoy adding realistic themes into the overall arc of the series just as much.

The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series is a combination of many factual pieces of my life, starting with the title of the series. My grandma (who has contributed many of Grandma Opal’s wacky qualities) will be ninety years old this October. A few years ago, she gave me her seventy-year-old cast-iron skillet which she got as a wedding gift. She only ever made my grandfather’s favorite dessert, pineapple upside-down cake, in it all those years. The skillet and its sweet story inspired the title for the series, as well as book one, Pineapple Upside Down Murder, in honor of her and my deceased grandfather.

Beyond that, I spent over two decades teaching high school English. While I obviously love reading and writing, I also enjoyed teaching my students more about everyday struggles and helping them learn to deal with traumatic experiences. As a child and a young adult, I dealt with my share of trauma—so, being able to work with teens going through similar situations felt like a calling. In that way, Jolie, the protagonist in my series, resembles me and some of my previous students.

One of the causes near and dear to my heart are people that struggle with MS. My best friend has suffered with MS for close to a decade. Jolie’s love interest in the series has MS. I donate a percentage of my profits from the series to help battle MS.

Working with so many teens who felt that no one understood or accepted them spurred me to get involved with interventions, and I’ve had the privilege of working with TrueColors United, also donating a percentage of my profits to the Cyndi Lauper organization, which helps LGBTQ+ and homeless teens. 

All of these issues, as well as gentrification and urban sprawl, pop up in the ongoing story of the series. At first, these tensions pit small town villagers against urbanites, but gradually, all involved realize that a dark, sinister force is working against all of them and using them. They will have to work to find common ground and band together to fight these criminals and some politicians to save their city and their village.

As you can see, real-life issues are part of the series. I hope all readers are connecting with some universal themes as well as learning more about diversity and different cultures, and finding that in the end, we are all more alike than not.

Deep Dish Pizza Disaster is the fifth book in The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Buckle up– there is a new life coming to the village of Leavensport this Labor Day weekend!

Cast Iron Skillet Deep Dish Pizza
Taken and adjusted slightly from https://minimalistbaker.com/simple-deep-dish-pizza/

Ingredients:
1/2 batch pizza dough recipe (or store-bought)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup mixed veggies of choice (cherry tomatoes, eggplant, onion, green pepper, mushroom)
Olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese 
Italian seasonings (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)

Prepare pizza dough and sauce if using homemade.

If roasting veggies, preheat oven to broil, toss veggies in olive oil on a baking sheet, and broil for 4-6 minutes on the top rack (low/medium broil), tossing once for even cooking. (If using a parchment-lined baking sheet, roast veggies at 450 degrees F as the broiling function is unsafe with parchment paper.) Remove veggies from oven and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Coat a cast-iron skillet or round baking dish with olive oil and run a garlic clove around for seasoning. Plop your dough down into the pan and push it up around the sides about 1 to 1-1/2” inches (see photo). Let dough rest for a few minutes while preparing the rest of your toppings.

Sprinkle in 1/2 of mozzarella cheese. Add veggies, then sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese, Italian seasonings and grated parmesan cheese.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese and sauce are bubbly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Deep Dish Pizza Disaster
Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 5

Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where death takes a delicious turn!

“NO! He’s not the father. You're all wrong! The father is . . .”

Everyone at the festival stood with their mouths hanging open as Lydia, who went into labor on Labor Day, revealed the identity of the baby’s father.

Autumn is beautiful in Leavensport, Ohio, with the colorful leaves and that crisp bit of coolness that dissipates the humid air that blankets the village each summer—but there is a dark cloud when a merchant from Tri-City is killed at the Leavensport Fall Festival.

Suburbanites clash with villagers, an MS flare-up puts Detective Meiser in a wheelchair, two couples announce their engagement, and someone is poisoned! This Labor Day weekend will do more than honor the laborers of Leavensport and Tri-City—it will pit them against one another to find a killer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JACKIE LAYTON'S DOG WALKER SLEUTH ANDIE GRACE SCOTT

Today we sit down for a chat with Andie Grace Scott from Jackie Layton’s A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings? 
I walked dogs and spent time with my family and friends.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 
I don’t back down from a challenge.

What do you like least about yourself? 
I talk too much, and once I get going it’s sometimes hard to stop.

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? Can you believe she made me inherit a plantation? I’m a beach girl. I had to go through old, dirty barns and sheds to track down clues. 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 
Once Jackie tried to lead me toward the wrong suspect. I had to convince her a different person was the killer.

What is your greatest fear? 
I’ve faced so much death in my life, my biggest fear has been fully committing to a romantic relationship. But I’m in love with a local man now, and I’m trying to be brave and not give in to this fear. 

What makes you happy? 
Family, dogs, coffee and chocolate.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why? 
I wouldn’t have so many people die, but then I’d be a boring dog walker. 

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why? Regina really bugs me. She used to date my mentor, Peter Roth, and she’s from Charleston. She’s so uppity, and I just can’t connect with her. Maybe I should try harder. 

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 
Juliet is my best friend, but if I had to choose, Hannah Cummings would be the answer. She’s running for State Representative in order to make a difference in our world. Two of her major goals are to stop human trafficking in South Carolina and to help our youth have a bright future.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 
Find Jackie's website and blog here.

Jackie Layton is an author and pharmacist. She spent most of her life in Kentucky, but she lives on the coast of South Carolina now. Some days she can even hear the waves from her home. Jackie is married to the love of her life, and he’s her biggest encourager. She loves her family and vacation days are used to visit family in Kentucky and Texas. 

What's next for you? 
I’m going to have one more mystery to solve and it’ll involve cats! There will be a few life-changing surprises for me and my family in the third book. I hope readers will like the choices I make in Bag of Bones.

Dog-Gone Dead
A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery, Book 2

Who’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to get mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

Buy Links

Monday, August 31, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--CHICKEN FOR A QUEEN WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR AND SHERLOCKIAN SCHOLAR LIESE SHERWOOD-FABRE

The author's Texas take on Coronation Chicken
In recent years, awarding-winning author Liese Sherwood-Fabre has turned to a childhood passion in the tales of Sherlock Holmes by penning her own version of his origin story. A recognized Sherlockian scholar, her essays on Sherlock and Victorian England are published across the globe and have appeared in the Baker Street Journal, the premiere publication of the Baker Street Irregulars. Learn more about Liese and her books at her website. 

Scone Palace
A Recipe Meant for a Queen
A few years ago, my sister, some friends, and I toured Scotland for a week. One site we visited was Scone Palace (pronounced “scoon” and not related to the breakfast pastry). The palace was where Scottish kings were crowned. The grounds include a small chapel and stone bench where the king sat to be crowned (there’s a whole story related to that stone which you can check out here, if interested).

The Stone of Destiny

There is also a coffee shop (where you can buy scones), and that is where I was introduced to coronation chicken. Another woman in our party got it, and after one taste, I fell in love with it!

Originally created for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet in 1953, Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume created a recipe of cold chicken with curry and dressing, most likely inspired by jubilee chicken prepared for George V’s silver jubilee in 1935. Theirs was more of a salad and lighter than what I had—which was more of a sandwich filling.

Here’s a recipe for the latter I have tweaked from one found on the Internet from Leslie Blythe’s blog (being from Texas, I prefer a spicy mix) and prepared for any number of gatherings—always to rave reviews.

Simply prepare the sauce, blend it with the salad ingredients, and enjoy alone on a bed of rice, greens, or in a sandwich. I often will shred or chop up any leftover chicken as the base—or you can poach or bake the breasts as needed.

Blend together for the sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I prefer salad dressing like Miracle Whip to add a bit of sweet)
1 tablespoon curry powder (I prefer Madras because its spicier)
2 tablespoons mango chutney (again, the spicier the better)
1 tablespoon vinegar (any variety)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice 
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix with:
3 cups of diced chicken
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup currants or raisins or chopped dried apricots

Garnish with:
Chopped cashews
Watercress

The Adventure of the Murdered Gypsy
The Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes, Book 2

What’s a holiday without surprises? It’s Christmas 1867 at Underbyrne, the Holmes family estate. The house is filled with family, relatives, and three unexpected arrivals—all ready to celebrate the holidays. That is, until another uninvited guest appears: dead in the stables. Is someone in the household a murderer? Sherlock must discover the dead man's identity before another unwelcomed body materializes. 

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Friday, August 28, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--HISTORICAL AUTHOR, CRAFTER, AND PROCRASTINATION SPECIALIST JEANNIE LIN

Silk Parachute Cord Knotted Bracelet
USA Today bestselling author Jeannie Lin writes groundbreaking historical romances set in imperial China as well as an Opium War steampunk series, the Gunpowder Chronicles. The Hidden Moon, a historical romance and murder mystery set in the pleasure district of the Tang Dynasty imperial capital will be available September 1, 2020 in digital and September 8, 2020 in print. Learn more about Jeannie and her books at her website

I’m not just a procrastinator. I’m a procrastination specialist. My procrastination efforts are an artform. 

Normally this comes with a lot of schedules and to-do lists to try to keep myself on track. And guilt. Oh, the guilt – why can’t I stay focused?!

But over the last months as I was writing The Hidden Moon, I tried something different. I tried to be a little kinder to myself.  

I realized that labeling myself as a procrastinator – as I did above there -- or saying that I’m too easily distracted….these are all negative judgment. It’s me telling myself that I need to be different. What I was doing was not good enough, not productive enough. 

I spent the last four years thinking I needed to cut things out of my schedule that were distractors. That I needed to focus and be more efficient. It led to me wanting to write, but not really writing. Yet still feeling guilty for it. 

It led to burnout at work. 

It led to a very sad me. 

Whenever I start writing a new book, I post a paper with a quote on the wall above my desk to give myself a little encouragement. 

My current quote is: “I hate writing. I love having written” along with a cute little stick drawing of the “Instant Gratification Monkey” from Tim Urban’s talk on Why Procrastinators Procrastinate.

There’s a reason for that monkey in my head. He’s not there to fight me…he’s there to tell me that all those “distractions”: googling trivial research, YouTubing craft tutorials, making cool swag that’s not really going to sell any more books …that was all more important to me than I realized. 

So I put up the sign, not only to remind myself to get to work, but to remember to let the monkey play. Which led to one late night when in the middle of writing, I wondered….hmm, what’s something my hero could make by hand that he ends up giving to the heroine? Which led to a YouTube journey on how to tie decorative knots. An hour and many videos later, I was ordering red paracord off the internet. 

Okay, Monkey, I said, you’ve had some time to play. We have some pretty red cord coming. Now I’m going to write, and I promise, I PROMISE when this draft is done, you’ll get to try it out. 

As a result, I developed a recurring motif in The Hidden Moon, created a neat little piece of swag to mail to readers, and had a fun craft project to reward myself with that I could do with my little girl once the draft was done. (see above)

My procrastination monkey is not there to hold me back. He’s there to tell me to remember the things that bring me joy. And that these inputs, this brain candy that I love, is there for a reason. They’re not needless distractions to be locked away. They are the fuel for my productivity and refill the well in little sips to keep me going. 

Confession: The silk bracelet wasn’t the only wandering I did with this last book, by far. Let me present to you the combination lock box I created out of cardboard and glue. I thought it would be fun to put together a mystery in a box adventure with games and puzzles for my readers since The Hidden Moon has a murder mystery! 

Combo box made out of cardboard with three cardboard dials.
Down, Monkey. Down. 

It was a lot of fun though. And a good six hours covered in glue.

What’s the brain candy that gives you joy and keeps you going? 

The Hidden Moon
A well-bred lady and lowly street hustler team up in a historical murder mystery set during China's glittering Tang Dynasty. Part of the best-selling Lotus Palace series.

Impetuous and well-educated, young Lady Bai has always been the forgotten daughter between two favored sons. However, when Wei-wei’s older brother is tasked with investigating a high-profile assassination, he turns to his clever younger sister for assistance.

Gao is a street-wise scoundrel with a checkered past and a shady reputation. He knows better than to set his sights on the high-born Lady Bai, but when she asks for his help, he can’t refuse. 

As the unlikely pair chases down a conspiracy that reaches from the gutters of the capital to the imperial palace, Wei-wei is intent on seeing justice done, while Gao is determined to solve the mystery just for her – even if the attraction between them can never be more than a moment’s longing.