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.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

MYSTERY AUTHOR GRACE TOPPING ON STAGING HOMES AND STAGING MURDERS

A Staged Kitchen
Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Learn more about Grace and her books at her website. 

Home Staging for Now and Later
When I decided to write a cozy mystery, I learned that I needed to give my main character a business or interest, or what writers refer to as a hook. For example, having the main character own a bakery, walk dogs, run a bed and breakfast, be a librarian—things that would be a key element of the story.

Other writers advised me to select a hook that I would enjoy, since I could possible spend years writing about it. I also needed to select a hook that I knew something about or could learn enough about it to write with some knowledge.

My experience at work had been with computer systems related to banking, but that would make for a pretty boring hook. And I didn’t have any hobbies. So I wondered what I could use as a hook that would interest me enough to write about it book after book and that readers might find interesting.

By the time I came home from work and finished with dinner and dishes, all I wanted to do was sit in a chair and turn on HGTV and mindlessly watch home stagers turn ugly duckling homes into swans that would sell fast and for more money. I loved those programs and eventually started helping friends stage their homes. I actually had a knack for it. Either that or I had watched so many staging shows that I was able to do what I saw the designers do. 

That would be my hook. I would have my main character be a home stager, start her own business, and solve the murders she came across.

Home staging is a new concept to many people. When my first book, Staging is Murder, came out, I was asked a lot of questions about home staging. What does a home stager do versus an interior decorator? (Takes the personality out of a home décor so potential buyers could imagine themselves living there.) Why would I want to use a home stager when I put my house up for sale? (To make your home appeal to more buyers and sell faster.) What type of things can I do myself to stage my home? (Declutter, upgrade, minimize, and give every room a fresh coat of paint, etc.) 

To answer questions like this, I drew on the knowledge I gained from watching home staging programs, reading books about home staging, following home staging Facebook groups, and gathering information from the Staging Studio Society, a home staging training and certifying organization. I got so involved in it that when I read about something new, I would start stressing about how I would do that, and had to remind myself that I didn’t have to—I only had to write about it. To explain it more, I added home staging tips to the beginning of each chapter. 

People spend years getting their homes exactly the way they want them, only to be told to change it to appeal to potential buyers, which is very hard for homeowners. Step one for homeowners when they decide to sell their homes is to stop thinking like a homeowner and start thinking like a home seller. For example, a homeowner may love their plaid carpeting, but they need to ask themselves if it would appeal to buyers? A perspective buyer might see it and wonder how much the cost of replacing it would add to the total cost of the house?

People often upgrade their homes to appeal to buyers and regret they didn’t do it sooner.

So even if you aren’t planning to sell your home any time soon, start staging your home now—so you can enjoy the changes.

What changes could you make to your home now so you could enjoy them? 

Staging Wars
A Laura Bishop Mystery, Book 2

Laura Bishop’s new home staging business is growing in popularity, though not with her nemesis. Laura has long suspected established interior designer Monica Heller of sabotaging her fledgling company—and having an affair with her late husband. 

When the ultra-chic Monica is caught at the scene of a murder, Laura is plenty happy to imagine her languishing in a prison cell with bedsheets far from her normal 600-thread Egyptian cotton. But her delight is short-lived.

When Laura’s friends land on the police radar, Laura must overcome her dislike of Monica to help solve the crime. Not an easy task since Laura and Monica have been at war since second grade.

Buy Links

Monday, April 27, 2020

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE AUTHOR MICHELLE GREY'S NEW SERIES

Michelle Grey is an avid lover of books and people. She writes contemporary romantic suspense and loves to take her characters to the brink of disaster before they arrive alive and in love on the other side. Michelle is also an ovarian cancer survivor who encourages women to listen to their bodies and be aware of the subtle symptoms of this quiet killer. Learn more about Michelle and her books at her website.           

Hey! I’m Michelle Grey, writer of contemporary romantic mystery/suspense. Thanks for letting me visit today. I hope everyone is well and that your time at home in recent weeks has allowed you the opportunity to slow down and catch up on your never-ending TBR pile. That’s been my goal as well!

If I’m a new-to-you author, I have published three books in the Long Shot Series, one novella, and a short nonfiction story about my experience with ovarian cancer.

My newest release, A Chance Worth Taking, is the first novel in my Worth It Series. The story is set in the picturesque San Juan Mountain town of Ouray, Colorado. On a trip there a few years ago with my husband and son, we visited a preserved ghost town. The place was so quiet and so serene, a place where nothing bad could ever happen. Of course, my mind naturally went down the path of playing out what would happen if someone came across a dead body there, so far removed from town.

And, this book was born.

If you read the first chapter excerpt from Amazon or my website, you’ll find that’s exactly where the story starts. My heroine, Hadley Bruce, is as career focused and security conscious as they come. She has never been on a vacation and had no plans to take one, but trouble at work and her cousin Sophie’s persuasion lead her straight to Ouray.

From the moment she finds the young man’s body on the mountainside, her life is turned upside down. Not only is she a potential murder suspect, she falls for a gorgeous man and his adorable dog – two more complications that weren’t part of her master plan for at least a few more years.

But for love to win, both Hadley and Noah will have to overcome the specters of their past and learn to trust each other through betrayal and heartache.

This story was such a joy to write. I truly love these characters and the struggles they go through to get to the other side of their personal mountains. It was also fun to write Sophie, Hadley’s cousin. She was a great foil to Hadley’s more serious side, and she was instrumental in persuading Hadley to take a chance on life and love. You’ll get to know Sophie more in book two, A Love Worth Saving, coming out later this year.

A Chance Worth Taking
The Worth It Series, Book 1

Straight-laced accountant Hadley Bruce has her life mapped out in meticulous detail. Everything is humming along according to plan until her boss unexpectedly forces her to take a sabbatical. Then her carefree cousin Sophie browbeats her into a trip to the San Juan Mountains. Oh, then there’s the dead body.

Private Investigator Noah Dalton is hired to find out who’s trying to frame his client – wealthy businessman and gubernatorial candidate Miguel Herrera. Noah heads under cover to the quaint town of Ouray Colorado where he meets Hadley, his first suspect.

What neither of them expected was their instant, powerful attraction.

As the killer’s web surrounds Noah and Hadley, they must work together to unearth the town’s secrets and keep the killer from striking again. Fate brings them together, but Noah’s own secrets may ultimately tear them apart.

Buy Links

Friday, April 24, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR B. DAVID SPICER'S GRIFTER KISSY LISBON

Today we sit down for a chat with Kissy Lisbon from author B. David Spicer’s Bullet Holes Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Well, right before I got yanked out of Fiction Town, I was playing poker with the Bennet sisters and that boring as dirt Darcy guy. The sisters were holding their own, but Darcy never seemed to catch on to how the game was played, and would suddenly blurt ‘Go Fish’ on somebody else’s turn and bray like a donkey. Calling him a halfwit would be a compliment, or at least that’s how he’d take it. It’s a really good thing he’s overloaded with greenbacks and gold, because he doesn’t have anything else going for him. Nothing else at all.

Poker night aside, life in Fiction Town is always a waiting game, you know? Is today the day I get to do something, or is it just another spin across the dance floor of drudgery? Patience comes in pint-glasses in Fiction Town, you gotta choke it down and hope that your number comes up before you make it to your funeral, or have enough of Darcy’s money to open your own bank.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I can usually find the opportunity in any situation. Say some mug is tickling your ribs with a .38 because you took a pile of his cash in a scam. Some folks would just button-up and take the bullet, but not me. See, I’d realize that the galoot with the gun let himself be taken in by my scam because he was desperate for money. He had a little, he wanted more, and he made a bad choice by giving fistfuls of it to me. Now, he’d lost his stake once, but nothing’s really changed with his situation. He’s still desperate, he’s still able to make bad choices, and he’s still able to hand over fistfuls, albeit smaller ones, of cash. 

Talk fast, light up a cigarette, and tell him what a boob he’s being. Act like you’re in control, laugh at the guy, accuse him of being impatient, but hey, if he wants to pull out of the deal now and lose a fortune, well that’s up to him. Sure, you can give him the money he invested with you, but if he pulls out now, just before the big payoff, he’ll only get what he put in, not a nickel more. You gotta make him believe that he’d be an idiot to back out of the deal, but you’re more than willing to wave at him in the breadline as you drive by in your Rolls-Royce. He started the encounter by wanting to kill me; by the end of it I’ll have the rest of his cash, and maybe even his .38. When you’re running a con, everything is an opportunity, and the most successful grifters can see the silver lining down the barrel of a gun.

What do you like least about yourself?
What, are you a shrink or something? From my point of view I’m a real prize, the jackpot everyone hopes to win at the casino. A top notch, premium gal that’ll make all your most vivid dreams come true. Okay, so anyone who knows me would laugh if they heard me say that. They’d also tell you that I tend to keep people at arm’s length, close enough that I can pick your pocket, but not close enough for a smooch. They’d say I don’t let people in. They’re obviously just being crybabies. Let me buy you a shot, and we’ll forget all about this silly question of yours.

You’re still sitting there, looking at me like I’m supposed to say more. Have I had bad things happen in my life? Sure, but who hasn’t? I just don’t want to wallow in it, and I sure won’t let you wallow in it either. I’ll tell you what, pile up some sawbucks on the bar, and I’ll spin you a tale or two, how’s that sound? Yes, about me. Of course they’ll be true stories. You keep handing over the folding green and I’ll keep telling you the truth. The truth is always for sale.”

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
So, there I was, walking up to a hospital to visit my friend Norman, who’s a first-rate nincompoop and got himself gut-shot. Then there are these big bozos, part of Hitler’s fan club, you know the type, who’ve scheduled me for a visit with the coroner. Then I’m running, getting shot at, the usual sort of afternoon I get, nothing too exciting. Then I’m stealing a big delivery truck! I don’t know how to drive a machine that big, so gears are grinding, cars are skidding to a stop all around me. The fan club is chasing me in a black sedan, popping off love letters in lead, hoping to install portholes in my hull. I’m tearing my way through Cincinnati in this metal monstrosity, drawing lots of attention from every direction. 

Eventually the law joins the chase in a couple of black-and-whites. The fan club starts installing holes in the cop-cars, and eventually give up on me. The cops follow the sedan, and finally I’m all on my own. Just when I’m congratulating myself for missing my date with Saint Peter, I realize I can’t stop the truck! I run out of road, and the next thing I know, I’m taking an impromptu bath in the Ohio River. Not my proudest moment, but then again, you didn’t ask about my proudest moment. I need another shot of rye. Join me? Ah, good. 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Any character that doesn’t argue with their author at some point probably isn’t worth the ink it took to haul them out of Fiction Town. So, my guy sometimes tries to tell me what to do, but I ain’t having it. He tries to tie up all the loose ends and put a little bow on my life. Do I look like the kind of girl that wears bows? Life is messy, my life is messier than most, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. To keep the upper hand, I only tell him little bits about myself, that way he can’t get that damned bow around me. Ask him, if you can ever get him to come out of his house, what my middle name is. He doesn’t know, because I haven’t told him. Not that he doesn’t ask, but I just huff cigarette smoke up his nose and shake my head. I’m in charge of our little partnership, and he’d better not forget it.

What is your greatest fear?
This one is hard. I once lost someone I cared about very much. It tore my soul out of my body, and I’ve never seen it since. It’s hard to get too close to someone when you know they could be taken away from you in a sawed-off second. There are some hurts you can get over with only a scar left behind, then there are those events that break you all the way through. You don’t always recover from those injuries, and moving forward isn’t always the same thing as living.

What makes you happy?
A pocket full of money, a good steak dinner, and a fresh pack of smokes. Throw in a bottle of rye and I’m as content as a sinner in Gomorrah.”

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
In one chapter I pitch a literal fit, gibbering like a lunatic on the floor to convince a particular ‘gentleman’ that I’ve snapped and need to be taken to a hospital. This little scene was designed to point out the ‘gentleman’s’ absolute contempt for women. He doesn’t believe women are intelligent, nor have enough backbone to stand up to him, so he dismisses them as being below his level of attention. Okay, great. The guy is a chauvinist pig, I’m not denying it. I just wish this little fact could have been established without putting me through the humiliating charade on the carpet. 

I’d have written that scene as a battle of the wits, my mental rapier against his dull meat cleaver. I could have bested him in such a way that he was forced to publicly concede victory to someone whom he believes is inferior to him in every way. It’d have been a much better scene my way, or at least I think so.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Norman, without a doubt. He’s not a bad guy really, he’d do anything for me, but he’d whine about it for an hour first. He’s a simple man, with simple goals. He wants a warm bed, a full belly, and a devoted wife. Unfortunately, he’s set his sights on me for that last bit, but there’s no hope for him on that account. He and I have been business partners for a few years now, running cons for small stakes, barely scraping by, and somehow that was enough for him. He didn’t want to work for anything better, either because he’s completely brainless, or just doesn’t realize that guys like him can ever have anything more than the scraps from other people’s tables. I hope that someday he realizes that he could do better for himself and tries a little harder to get somewhere in life. Until then, he’s occasionally useful, so I’ll probably keep him around for a while. 

After they pulled that bullet out of his guts he decided I owe him one. Maybe I do, but that doesn’t mean I’ll say ‘I do.’

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
By the end of my book, I’m the only character I’d ever want to be, which is convenient because I’m already me. Besides, I’m already a whole bunch of people in the book, a con artist has the luxury of being anybody they can make you believe they are.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find his website/blog?
I’ll tell you something about my author, he’s a hermit. Even his friends say so. He goes to his day job, comes home and sleeps until it’s time to go back to his day job. That’s why it takes him so long to get any writing done. I think there’s something seriously wrong with the guy. He doesn’t have a website or a blog, but he does have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/spicerwriter/. Just don’t expect too many updates. Look, I’ll try to get him more engaged with the outside world, but I’m not a miracle worker.

What's next for you?
Well, that’s a good question. Assuming I can keep my author awake and at the keyboard, I hope to star in another book really soon, eventually I hope to force him to write a whole series of books. ‘The Bullet Holes’ series has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? Until then, I’ll be back in Fiction Town teaching the Bennet sisters how to play Hold’em, and trying to teach Darcy that there are card games besides Go Fish. Dammit, where did I put that bottle of whiskey?

Big Shots and Bullet Holes
The Bullet Holes Series, Book 1

Cincinnati, 1942.

The secret to being a grifter is changing up the con so the rubes don’t realize they’re being taken. 

Kissy Lisbon’s spent years honing her skills as a con-woman, but as the war in Europe drags on, things get tough in the Queen City. Her new scheme: hiring herself out as a private eye. Her first client has a missing daughter, the missing daughter has a German boyfriend, and the German boyfriend has friends in all the wrong places. Following a lead sends Kissy careening headlong into a whirlwind of stolen money, American Nazis, and bleeding corpses. When an old flame from Kizzy's past shows up wearing a shiny new detective’s badge, she’s less than thrilled, but together they scour the city for answers. As the bodies start to pile up around her, Kissy is in a race to save the missing girl, her country, and her very life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

ROMANCE AUTHOR LYZ KELLEY CREATES A FICTIONAL TOWN FOR HER CHARACTERS

Elkridge Spreadsheet
Lyz Kelley describes herself as a total disaster in the kitchen, a compulsive neat freak, a tea snob, and someone who adores writing about and falling in love with everyday heroes. A healing love is at the heart of all her books. Learn more about Lyz and her books at her website. 

Readers often ask me where I get my story ideas or how I create my fictional worlds.  

I’ll let you in on a secret…

I stole many of the features of my small fictional town from my childhood and places I visited around Colorado. Elkridge is pieced together with all the Colorado elements I love. 

I started with the main street in Estes Park. It's a charming town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Then I continued by adding my favorite family-owned restaurant from Idaho Springs. When walking in the door of this café, the first thing you smell is the buttery cinnamon rolls and freshly brewed coffee. Yum. The local pub I added from Evergreen. It has a lively crowd most nights of the week, karaoke on Tuesdays, and local bands on Saturdays. If you want to find anyone from the mayor to the beauty shop stylist, go there. From Denver, I combined a special little flower store and the art gallery next door that exists just on the fringe of the city. Next, I added a post office, schools, parks and government buildings. The streets I named in alphabetical order after trees: Ash, Birch, Cherry, and so on. 

I kept on adding all the features a picturesque mountain town needs in an Excel spreadsheet to make sure if my character turned left, they were heading in the correct direction. 

Once I had the place in my mind, I created Maggie, the cafe owner, and Jake, who runs the bar, and Mara, the blind flower shop owner. Mara is the heroine in the first book of this award-winning series. 

Of course, I’m following the same process for my Silver Fox, over forty series set in beautiful coastal California. (Look for the new series this fall.). 

The feel of these stories is different because the culture and setting and themes are different, but all of my books are filled with hope, happiness, and everyday heroes. 

The Elkridge Series are available as individual books or in two box set that include bonus material as well as through Kindle Unlimited. 

Elkridge Series 1

BlindedMara’s lost everything: her parents, her sister, her sight. Now, someone’s stalking her.
She can feel him taunting her. He must be the one who killed the sheriff. She’s afraid, but who can she trust? Joey. He’s stable as a rock and too good looking to ignore. But she must guard her heart. He’s only here for his brother’s funeral. The mayor is saying the sheriff’s death was an accident. Thankfully, her old high school crush has returned from the big city back to her small town. Will Joey, the high-profile detective, believe a poacher shot his brother or can she convince him there’s more to it? She must convince him the mayor is lying. Her life depends on it.

AbandonedHe’s a smokin’ hot, hard-body Marine. The type Ashley’s sworn to avoid.
Wartime heroes put service to country before family, and she wants to avoid setting herself up for another heartbreak. Besides, she’s got bigger problems to worry about. Her mom’s dead and she has less than thirty-days to figure out her life. She’s homeless, penniless, and a woman who hasn’t had sex in years. She’ll figure things out and just needs time. Time she doesn't have. Unfortunately, the Marine, the one person she want to go away, wants to help.

OrphanedJenna’s on a mission to find her missing sister. 
She’s all the family Jenna has left. Unfortunately, she’s falling for the guy who last saw her sister. Caitlyn is still alive.  If she were here, she’d scold Jenna for allowing Grant into her life.  Yet, she need to stay close to him. Her  instincts tell her Grant holds the clues to her sister’s disappearance. Besides, the rich lawyer is fascinating and beguiling. It’s not his fault he was born into the wrong family. She’s doing her best to avoid his persistent advances and easygoing charms. He’s making me forget why she moved to this small town. She needs a reminder: Grant’s the enemy.

RescuedKyle swore never speak to the hot-headed, uber sexy guy again. Even if he was her first.
But she can’t refuse her brother anything. She promised to check on Thad even though he left town without a word. Ten years she’s waited for him to tell me why he just disappeared. He owes her an explanation. Heck, he owes her period. Maybe, he’ll train a couple of the dogs in her kennel so she can pay the rent.   Then again, if he ever finds out her secret, He’ll never speak to her again. Maybe that can of worms needs to remain sealed.

Plus Two Bonus Books: Spurned and Exposed 

Monday, April 20, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--PHOTO COASTERS WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR JAYNE ORMEROD

Jayne Ormerod is the author of more than a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories. After nineteen moves in conjunction with her husband’s military career, they, along with their two mutts, have settled in a cottage near the Chesapeake Bay. The influence of coastal living can be seen in many of her humorous cozy mysteries. Learn more about Jayne and her published works at her website and the Mutt Mysteries website.  

Greetings fellow crafters! My name is Pilar Pruitt, and I am the amateur sleuth in “Pawsitively Scandalous,” one of four cozy novellas in To Fetch a Scoundrel, Four Fun “Tails” of Scandal and Murder. I am a party planner by trade, which means I often need unique party favors for special occasions. Thank goodness my mom passed along her creative gene! 

These photo coasters are a fun project for any kind of stuck-indoors day (and we’ve all had more than our share of those lately…) I’ve used them for Christmas gifts (stacked, and tied up in a pretty ribbon) or at weddings showcasing photos of the bride and groom for attendees to take home. I recently used them at a Puppy Shower I threw for one of my clients. Each attendee went home with a stack of coasters decoupaged with adorable mutts. Who doesn’t love that? 

You ready to share the memories? Ok, then…On your mark, get set, CRAFT!

Materials:
~ 4x4 stone tiles (available at any home improvement store in various neutral shades from cream to taupe.)

Stunning pictures (could be precious pets, cute kids, extraordinary events, or lovely landscapes…basically anything you want to put on a coaster). Have them professionally printed on photo paper. (Ink-jet printed photos will not work for this project.) Keep in mind the photos will need to be cropped to fit on the coasters, so plan accordingly. You may want a 4x6 print, or if there is a lot of background that can be cropped out, go with a 5x7 size.

Small piece of cardboard cut in a 4”x4” square

Pen/pencil for marking cutting lines

Paper cutting tool--could be scissors (flat or decorative cut), traditional guillotine cutter (watch your fingers!), utility knife (used with a metal-edged ruler), or trendy Trimmer (a must have for any serious crafter.)

Modge Podge

2” paintbrush, either bristle or foam

Clear spray-on glaze

46” of 1/2” pliable rope for the back

Super Glue

A can of your favorite beverage (full or empty)

Directions:
Place cardboard over the image you want to go on your coaster. Trace cutting lines.

Cut the photo inside the cutting lines to avoid leaving marks on the finished project.

Apply a thin coat of Modge Podge to the tile face. Press the photo onto the tile. Make sure it’s centered. Push out air bubbles. (Very similar process to hanging wallpaper, if you are old enough to know that kind of agony.)

Seal the photo by applying a thin coat of Modge Podge on top. Be sure to wipe any drips off the edges.

Balance the finished coaster atop the beverage can to allow it to dry. If you are making multiple coasters at one time, you may need to consume multiple beverages. (That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!) If you are making more coasters than the number of empty cans you have, there are other options for setting your tiles to dry. Anything less than 4” square and 6” high. Wait 20 minutes.

Repeat Modge Podge/Wait steps. Repeat again and again, if you desire a thicker, more protective finish, up to 5 coats total. Allow to dry for 24 hours.

Spray with clear glaze, one with a hard, heat-resistant finish. Allow to dry per manufacturer’s guidelines.

Now for the back. Using Super Glue (or any strong adhesive that dries clear), start in the center and apply the rope in a tight circular pattern. Press rope firmly to ensure it sticks. Make sure the end is glued tightly. I am the first to admit, this method can be time consuming. I’ve seen other crafters use adhesive spray and apply a piece of 3-1/2” x3-1/2” cork. You can also use felt pads or furniture pads pressed to the four corners. To ensure proper adhesion, be sure to place a heavy object on top while they dry.

Fun. Fancy. Functional. What more could you ask for in a craft project? Time to stock up on Modge Podge and get to work!

To Fetch a Scoundrel
Mutt Mysteries, Book 2

The mystery-solving mutts are back! To Fetch a Scoundrel, the second in the Mutt Mysteries collection, features four tail-wagging novellas. Each story puts pups’ noses to the ground, as scandals are unleashed and killers are collared. Once you’ve finished reading these tall “tails,” you’ll no longer wonder “Who let the dogs out?” You’ll just be glad somebody did! Stories include:

“The Fast and the Furriest” by Heather Weidner
Isn’t there enough action under the lights at the Amelia Race Track without the drama of a love triangle? An altercation leads to murder, and owner Cassidy Green and her Rottweiler Oliver have to uncover clues and find the killer before the bad publicity destroys her business.

“Pawsitively Scandalous” by Jayne Ormerod
What’s with the crime wave in the Grant’s Garden neighborhood? First a respectable member is arrested for crimes unknown, and then another neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances. Pilar Pruitt and her black lab/mix Natti are on the case, and the secrets they uncover are paws-itively scandalous!

“Ruff Goodbye” by Rosemary Shomaker
Does everyone bar owner Len Hayes knows have a secret? Yes, and secrets unravel after a funeral home visitation for Len’s late friend Curt. Miniature poodle Cloud signals danger. A certain black Lab may safeguard the truth. Will canine intervention ensure no one pays the ultimate price?

“A Doggone Scandal” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey, owner of the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers, is back on the case when she receives a mysterious note in her pet supply order. Convinced the sender’s motive is scandalous, Catt packs up her SUV and heads to the Outer Banks with her sister Em, family friend Jonathan Ray, and pups Cagney and Lacey to solve the mystery.

Buy Links

Friday, April 17, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--EASY NO-SEW FACE MASKS


The CDC recently recommended that we should all be wearing face masks when we leave the house, even if we’re social distancing at least six feet. The problem, though, is that like toilet paper, it’s next to impossible to find face masks. Many people are making their own. But not everyone knows how to sew or owns a sewing machine. Even if you have a sewing machine, you may not have the necessary fabric and notions. It's not like you can run out to your local fabric store right now. 

So I did a little Google Sleuthing and came across a video that shows how you can make no-sew face masks from either a pillowcase or coffee filters. And you can do so in about five minutes!

Talk about a craft that’s not only super simple but one that will help keep you healthy! You can find the Youtube video by clicking here.

Stay safe and healthy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--HEATHER WEIDNER SHARES TREATS FOR YOUR FAVORITE CANINE

Mystery author Heather Weidner has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She writes the Delanie Fitzgerald series, and her short stories have appeaedr in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. Learn more about Heather and her books at her website/blog  and at the Mutt Mysteries website. Today Heather’s sleuth Cassidy Green, owner of the Amelia speedway in “The Fast in the Furriest” from To Fetch a Scoundrel, is here to share a recipe for the treats she makes for her Rottweiler Oliver.

Oliver’s Favorite Dog Treats

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1/3 cup oats (quick or rolled)
2–3 strips cooked bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, milk, and egg with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the flour and baking powder. Make sure it is mixed thoroughly. Add the oats and bacon. 

Roll out the mix onto a floured surface and cut into shapes using cookie cutters or a knife. Arrange on the baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until very lightly. Remove from the oven and flip the treats to bake the other side for 10-12 more minutes.

Allow to cool completely before serving to your pup. Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

To Fetch a Scoundrel
Mutt Mysteries, Book 2

The mystery-solving mutts are back! To Fetch a Scoundrel, the second in the Mutt Mysteries collection, features four tail-wagging novellas. Each story puts pups’ noses to the ground, as scandals are unleashed and killers are collared. Once you’ve finished reading these tall “tails,” you’ll no longer wonder “Who let the dogs out?” You’ll just be glad somebody did! Stories include:

“The Fast and the Furriest” by Heather Weidner
Isn’t there enough action under the lights at the Amelia Race Track without the drama of a love triangle? An altercation leads to murder, and owner Cassidy Green and her Rottweiler Oliver have to uncover clues and find the killer before the bad publicity destroys her business.

“Pawsitively Scandalous” by Jayne Ormerod
What’s with the crime wave in the Grant’s Garden neighborhood? First a respectable member is arrested for crimes unknown, and then another neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances. Pilar Pruitt and her black lab/mix Natti are on the case, and the secrets they uncover are paws-itively scandalous!

“Ruff Goodbye” by Rosemary Shomaker
Does everyone bar owner Len Hayes knows have a secret? Yes, and secrets unravel after a funeral home visitation for Len’s late friend Curt. Miniature poodle Cloud signals danger. A certain black Lab may safeguard the truth. Will canine intervention ensure no one pays the ultimate price?

“A Doggone Scandal” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey, owner of the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers, is back on the case when she receives a mysterious note in her pet supply order. Convinced the sender’s motive is scandalous, Catt packs up her SUV and heads to the Outer Banks with her sister Em, family friend Jonathan Ray, and pups Cagney and Lacey to solve the mystery.

Buy Links

Monday, April 13, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--KEEPING KIDS BUSY WHILE STUCK AT HOME

Life has certainly thrown us a curveball. Most of the country is stuck at home, and we have no idea how long our isolation will last. We know it’s for the greater good, but if you have children, you’re probably at your wit’s end right about now and giving in to way too much screen time.

As for me, I’ve had to pause Anastasia’s latest adventure midway through writing it to help care for grandchildren while their parents work from home. Luckily, I have a LOT of crafts supplies. We’ve spent one afternoon making bead bracelets and necklaces and another playing with pompoms. Sure, you can glue pompoms together to make pompom animals, but there’s nothing like a pompom fight!


We’ve also gone old-school with things like bubbles.



Recently Beth Schmelzer sent me some links that I wanted to share with all my readers to help you cope with the restrictions of Covid-19, especially if you have children. For those of you with grandchildren, you might want to pass this post along to your children. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. Beth says she finds inspirations in these sites. I hope you’ll find them helpful.

Penguin Random House sponsors the readbrightly.com site where you can find books and activities for different age groups. They sometimes include giveaways. There are also videos where books are read aloud.

WhatDoWeDoAllDay? is a blog by a mom of two boys. The site includes books, crafts, games, and other activities to keep children of all ages and interest levels "unplugged."

The Imagination Soup website is organized by age, grade and topic, listing books, games and toys. The theme of the blog is Raising Kids Who Love To Read.  

For those times when you don’t mind your kids having a bit of screen time, check out these free kids’ movies being offered by Amazon. And Audible is allowing kids to listen to a selection of audio books for free

If you know of any other sites with fun things to do while we’re all stuck at home, please share by posting a comment.

Finally, a little musical interlude…if like me, you’ve always loved “Sweet Caroline,” check out this new Covid-19 version by Neil Diamond. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

CELEBRATE NATIONAL PET DAY WITH AUTHOR TERESA INGE & MUTT MYSTERIES

Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and novellas. Today, she juggles assisting two busy executives and is the president of the Sisters in Crime, Mystery by the Sea chapter. Teresa is the author of the Virginia is for Mysteries Series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Mutt Mysteries SeriesLearn more about her and her books at her website/blog 

National Pet Day
With National Pet Day approaching on April 11, now is a great time to recognize and show appreciation for the happiness pets have brought to our lives by pampering them! Since pampering our pets has become an essential part of being a great pet parent, when we return unconditional love back to our pets, we create a happy and loving family for them. Check out the various ways below to take care of and pamper your pets.

Pampering 101

Give your pet a treat
Just like humans, animals love treats. One reason is because they taste different, but it also shows our affection and gratitude to them. But don’t over-do-it since it will no longer seem special and pets could gain weight.

Show some love
Get down on the floor and give them a belly rub. Or sit on the couch or outside patio to give them a good brushing. Pets love our attention and interaction more than we realize.

Buy or make a special gift for pets
Because gifts are fun to receive, pets love getting them from their family. Giving toys to our pets can help build skills, fight boredom, and prevent destructive behavior. They also keep good company for our pets while we’re away.

Walk the dog
Benefits of walking a dog will give your pet mental stimulation, exercise, training, elimination, socialization, and bonding for you both.

Nutrition
Since nutrition is the foundation of health and fuel for our pet’s maintenance and energy, giving them proper nutrients will build bones, joints, and muscles and help with the aging process for a longer life.

To Fetch a Scoundrel
Mutt Mysteries, Book 2

The mystery-solving mutts are back! To Fetch a Scoundrel, the second in the Mutt Mysteries collection, features four tail-wagging novellas. Each story puts pups’ noses to the ground, as scandals are unleashed and killers are collared. Once you’ve finished reading these tall “tails,” you’ll no longer wonder “Who let the dogs out?” You’ll just be glad somebody did! Stories include:

“The Fast and the Furriest” by Heather Weidner
Isn’t there enough action under the lights at the Amelia Race Track without the drama of a love triangle? An altercation leads to murder, and owner Cassidy Green and her Rottweiler Oliver have to uncover clues and find the killer before the bad publicity destroys her business.

“Pawsitively Scandalous” by Jayne Ormerod
What’s with the crime wave in the Grant’s Garden neighborhood? First a respectable member is arrested for crimes unknown, and then another neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances. Pilar Pruitt and her black lab/mix Natti are on the case, and the secrets they uncover are paws-itively scandalous!

“Ruff Goodbye” by Rosemary Shomaker
Does everyone bar owner Len Hayes knows have a secret? Yes, and secrets unravel after a funeral home visitation for Len’s late friend Curt. Miniature poodle Cloud signals danger. A certain black Lab may safeguard the truth. Will canine intervention ensure no one pays the ultimate price?

“A Doggone Scandal” by Teresa Inge
Catt Ramsey, owner of the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers, is back on the case when she receives a mysterious note in her pet supply order. Convinced the sender’s motive is scandalous, Catt packs up her SUV and heads to the Outer Banks with her sister Em, family friend Jonathan Ray, and pups Cagney and Lacey to solve the mystery.

Buy Links