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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Friday, July 31, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH HARRY BRONSON FROM L.C. HAYDEN'S HARRY BRONSON THRILLER SERIES


Today we sit down for a chat with Harry Bronson from the Harry Bronson Thriller Series by author L. C. Hayden.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
I was a homicide detective in the Dallas Police Department. I loved my job, but not my supervisors. They were too political for my taste. If the bad guy was the President of the U. S., I’d still go after him. The heck with politics. But no, my boss would say, “Leave it alone. Stand down.” I hate that phrase: stand down. So I’d ignore it. I’d get the bad guy, but at the same time, I’d be in deep guacamole.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
The fact that I don’t discriminate. If you’re the bad seed, I’ll go after you with all I’ve got. Folks tell me I’m stubborn in that way. Bein’ stubborn isn’t a good thing, you know? But for me, it’s the best. That’s how I get them all the time. Stubbornness and the use of my brains. Perfect combination.

What do you like least about yourself?
Havin’ to lie to the love of my life, my wife Carol. But sometimes, you know, the job requires those little white lies. I tell her I’m in no danger when in reality, I’m in a hole so deep, I’m not sure I can get out. But she stands by me. She’s the best. And between you and me, I’m pretty sure she knows the truth. I can tell that by the number of gray hairs she carries on that pretty head of hers.
  
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
My author, this L. C. Hayden—she’s always puttin’ me in a pickle. Each book challenges me further and further, and I face some really tough situations. For instance, in my latest adventure called When Memory Fails, I’m tryin’ to help my nephew and his fiancé locate a hidden ledger that will reveal all of the transactions done in the past. People were killed. Money was stolen. Land was confiscated. If this information is revealed, the powerful Lazzarones will be ruined. But the fiancé, you know, she wants to right the wrongs. So I’m helpin’ them locate this ledger. 

The search leads us to a ghost town where we meet The Hermit, the keeper of the ghost town. Then bang! The house I go in to save The Hermit explodes and I’m thrown out. When I land, I hit my head very hard. When I regain consciousness, I find myself in this ghost town. I don’t know how I got there, where I am, or even why. But worse, I don’t remember who I am. Can you imagine how horrible that felt? Not knowin’ who you are—that’s somethin’ I don’t wish on anyone, even my enemies.

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I’m not sure you’d call it arguin’, but we do have a lot of discussions. L. C. is pretty good when it comes to that. She lets me have my way. She knows I’m the trained detective so I know what I’m doin’. In fact, I’d say, often she sits to write and has no idea where she’s goin’. So she says, “I’m listening, Bronson.” And I take her where the story should go.

What is your greatest fear?
I’m always scared that someone will try to harm my family just to get to me. It has happened before, and I’m afraid it can happen again. I’m fiercely protective of my family: that’s my wife and our two married girls and their families.

I’ve got some really good friends who are more like family to me. So I’m very protective of them, too. Anybody crosses that line, man-oh-man, you better watch out!

What makes you happy?
I remember takin’ my little girls to see those Walt Disney movies. You know the ones: CinderellaSleeping Beauty—all those. In the end, they all lived Happily Ever After. It made them giggle.

That’s the way I feel when a case is solved and the bad guys are in jail or permanently disposed of. Everythin’ has been restored to its proper place. You know, Happily Ever After.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
There’s a hole in my heart that will never be healed. In one of my recent adventures, When the Past Haunts You, I reconnect with my long-lost sister. Of course, I never told anyone about her—not even Carol. Then, after all these years, Lorraine reaches out to me. Naturally, I refuse. What she did was unforgiveable. 

She begged for my help, but I was too stubborn to bend. Too late I realized I never stopped lovin’ her. I’ll always be her Big Bro. But by then—well, you’ll just have to read that adventure to get the full story. It pains me too much to even think about it.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
That would have been a super easy question to answer if I was still workin’ for the Dallas police department. The chief there was such a political figure. Didn’t matter if the bad guys got away so long as we didn’t step on any important toes.

But now that I’m retired, that’s a really hard question. I guess you would say the characters who bug me the most are the ones I’m pursuing at the moment. I zoom in on them and won’t let go. No matter what.

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
That would be Carol. She’s wise beyond her years. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it. Me? I have to dig and search. Not Carol. She’s a great wife and mother. 

In fact, and this is just between you and me, she’s the only one who can get the better of me. If I don’t want to do somethin’ that needs to be done, she finds a way for me to do it and makes me think I came up with the idea. One of these days, I’m goin’ to have to reverse that role, but I just don’t know how.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
That would be the award-winning and bestselling L. C. Hayden. We are so close that sometimes I actually think she’s real. Crazy, huh? Besides writing the Harry Bronson Thriller Series, she also writes the Aimee Brent Mystery Series, and the Connie Weaver Thriller Series, and she also writes nonfiction, an inspirational series about miracles and angels, children’s books, and a whole bunch of other books in various genres. She’s got a great website where you see all her books and find her social media links.   

What’s next for you?
Remember how a little while ago you asked me what I’m afraid of? I told you I fear for my friends. That’s where I am now. Mike, my ex-partner who is like a brother to me, is deep in trouble. Looks like he’s gone bad, but this is Mike we’re talkin’ about. That’s just not possible. But all the evidence points to him. I’m not quite sure how to help him. My author is only done about one-third of the adventure and neither she nor I know where it’s goin’ to end. Frankly, I’m worried.

When Memory Fails
A Harry Bronson Thriller

When Sandra Sechrest discovers the terrible secret about her family’s ancestors, she’s determined to right the wrongs. She seeks the help of retired cop Bronson. Along with Bronson’s nephew, they travel to a ghost town in Colorado to unearth the secrets buried there. But Sandra’s family, led by the evil Bobbi Lazzarone, will do anything to guarantee that Sandra fails—anything, including murder.

Suddenly Sandra, Daniel, and Bronson are thrown into a world filled with deception and danger. Bronson swears to protect the young couple at all costs, but when the house he’s at explodes, Bronson is left for dead, and Daniel and Sandra are forced to fend for themselves.

When Bronson regains consciousness, he can’t remember who he is, where he’s at, and why he’s there. Will he regain his memory in time to save Daniel and Sandra? Or has he finally met his match When Memory Fails?

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

AUTHOR C.A. ROWLAND EXPLORES THE GHOSTS OF SAVANNAH IN NEW MYSTERY SERIES

Olde Pink House
Author C.A. Rowland writes historical fiction, science fiction, fantasya and the Haunted City Mystery Series set in Savannah, Georgia. She comes by her interest in ghosts, myths, legends, and the paranormal from having spent hours in cemeteries with her grandmother. Learn more about C.A. and her books at her website. 

A few years ago, I flew to a work conference in Savannah, Georgia. Normally, I would have driven the eight hours since I like to stop along the way when I see something that interests me. I also love to take ghost and historical tours, so I’ll drive to different houses or sites either before or after my work obligations. 

This time, I was pressed for time. And as happens in my life from time to time, the creative world had something else in mind for me. 

Carry-on bag in hand, I deplaned and headed to the taxi stand. There I met the most energetic and engaging woman taxi driver. She reminded me of one of my friends from Texas, and inspiration struck. 

I had wanted to write a mystery series and had considered Savannah or somewhere in Texas. Still, as we drove into the historic district, I realized that my love of the architecture, history, and everything in Savannah would be perfect. And I had my protagonist, Trisha, inspired by my taxi driver. Which was just about the time Trisha’s newly dead Aunt Harriet showed up, not wanting to be left out. 

With Aunt Harriet, I had a doorway into the ghostly secrets of Savannah, which I love. In the first novel, The Meter’s Always Running, we get a small glimpse into this world. In the second novel, which will be out next year, Aunt Harriet shows us the other world existing inside a local restaurant, The Olde Pink House. 

It was originally known as the Habersham House because it was owned by James Habersham, Jr., one of Savannah’s founding family members. The building was constructed with red bricks, which were then completely covered with white plaster. No one knows whether it was the quality of the bricks or the plaster job, but the red bricks bleed through, causing the building to turn pink. After years of trying to cover it, in 1920, the owner painted it pink, and it’s remained its trademark color to date.

The building changed hands many times until it was restored by Jim Williams, the owner of the Mercer House. The Mercers and their history played a large role in The Meter’s Always Running, and as with many of my stories, history is an integral part. 

In the basement of the Olde Pink House is a wonderful tavern, where the ghosts of little children are said to play tricks on those who enter the bathrooms – locking the doors so the human guests can’t exit. Mr. Habersham is said to walk the halls, both in the dining rooms upstairs as well as the lower areas. So, if you feel a cold spot or breeze that isn’t the air conditioning, you may have just wandered near a spirit. 

And I’ve been told by Aunt Harriet that Emma Kelly, who you may recall from the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, sometimes tickles the ivories of the piano and sings for the spirits in the basement bar at times. 

It’s one of my favorite places, and I’m not surprised that Aunt Harriet found a way for me to include it in a story. Plus, for those who like trying out new restaurants, the Olde Pink House has a terrific menu of southern classics, including a BLT sandwich with fried green tomatoes and baked bacon with brown sugar. 

Crystal Beer Parlour
But that’s not the only place that provided some inspiration for the first novel. There’s a local restaurant called the Crystal Beer Palace, or The Crystal. It’s known for its juicy burgers, delicious peach cobbler, and a wide selection of unique and limited-release craft beers. It’s a fun place with Savannah memorabilia on the walls and a haunted picture near the payphone. A little girl named Sara haunts the upstairs, while Monroe and Smitty, two long time servers, are said to visit on occasion. Don’t be surprised if they show up in a short story or novel in this series. 

I’ve only begun to explore all the haunted places in Savannah, but hope you’ll stop by one of the many haunted spots if you have a chance to visit the city. Just the atmosphere of these places will give you a real sense of what the city is like both in our world and the otherworldly parts. 

The Meter’s Always Running
A Haunted City Mystery, Book 1

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, taxi driver Trisha Reede knows all the haunts and legends of the city built on the dead. After a long day of ferrying tourists, Trisha ejects a late evening out of line fare. But when he's found murdered, she questions her decision to let him out in such a seedy neighborhood. As the police investigation steers her way, she puts on the gas to solve the crime. As if she didn't already have enough baggage to deal with, newly dead Aunt Harriett shows up, helpful but cryptic, more dreamlike than real, warning of an enraged spirit searching for Trisha.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

A COMMUNIST DOG, A RUSSIAN EMPRESS CAT & A SHAKESPEARE-QUOTING PARROT WALK INTO A MYSTERY


Manifesto AKA Mephisto AKA Devil Dog
Although the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries are technically not pet mysteries, the pets of Casa Pollack play an important role in many of the books. My author, Lois Winston, tells me that a good book needs both an interesting plot and interesting characters. And what makes characters interesting are their goals, motivations, and conflicts. Four-legged and winged characters are no different. Lois has seen to that! 

The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries feature a cast of rather unique characters, including Lucille Pollack, my communist mother-in-law and leader of the thirteen octogenarian Daughters of the October Revolution. Manifesto is the commie’s French bulldog, named for The Communist Manifesto, a political treatise written in 1848 by German philosophers Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. 

Given Lucille’s political leanings, you’d expect her to own a Russian Wolfhound, wouldn’t you? I really don’t know why she chose a French bulldog. We converse only when absolutely necessary. However, I suspect size was the main factor. Russian Wolfhounds are quite large, and prior to moving in with me and my family, Lucille lived in an extremely small apartment.

You know how pets often take on the personalities of their owners? This is definitely the case with Manifesto. As such, my sons and I have given the dog a few nicknames, alternating between Mephisto and Devil Dog. However, given that character growth is an essential part of most novels, Lois has allowed Manifesto to mellow over the course of the series. He’s gone from growling at us to tolerating us to preferring us over his mistress. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Whether this is due to age or objecting to Lucille’s smothering is uncertain, but the boys and I see it as a welcome change in disposition. Now if only Lucille would take her cues from her dog… 
Catherine the Great
Manifesto continues to have one nemesis, though. Catherine the Great is an overweight, pampered white Persian owned by my much-married mother Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe Tuttnauer. 

Mama is the former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution and claims to trace her lineage back to Russian nobility on her mother’s side. Until recently, whenever she was between husbands, she’d move in with us. Whenever this occurs, due to the size of my home, Mama and Lucille are forced to share a bedroom. The two women get along as well as you’d expect a capitalist and communist to get along. Just like their pets, they fight like cats and dogs.

Ralph
The Casa Pollack menagerie is rounded out by Ralph, an African Grey Parrot with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare. I inherited Ralph from my great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle, a college professor and Shakespearean scholar who brought Ralph to all her lectures. Ralph doesn’t just quote the standard famous lines from the Bard of Avon, though. No “alas poor Yorick” or “friends, Romans, countrymen” for this bird. He has an uncanny knack for squawking situation-appropriate lines from any play or sonnet.

Because he’s potty-trained, Ralph has free rein of the house, much to the annoyance of both my mother and my mother-in-law. Manifesto and Catherine the Great don’t think very highly of him, either, but Ralph could care less. He looks down his beak at any species that can’t converse in English. And much to my amusement, Ralph has developed a “bromance” with my boyfriend, photojournalist (and possible spy) Zachary Barnes.

If you like your murders with a large dose of humor and a dash of fur and feathers, drop by for a visit sometime.

Friday, July 24, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BETH BARANY

Today we sit down for a chat with author Beth Barany. Beth writes science fiction mystery, young adult adventure fantasy, and paranormal romance. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I was aware I wanted to write novels at eighteen years old, but I had no idea how to do it. 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I was forty-two years old when I published my first novel, though I had been published as a journalist since the age of twenty-two. 

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am mostly an indie published novelist, with a few traditionally published deals. So I guess you could call me a hybrid author. 

Where do you write?
I most often write first drafts at cafes. I mostly do my editing at home -- either in my office, at the kitchen table, on the couch, or on the patio.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I love listening to pop music when I write my first drafts. I often listen to baroque music when I edit. Lately though, when I edit my science fiction mystery series, I'm listening to a huge playlist of Star Trek soundtracks, from the TV shows and movies over the last fifty years. 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I think all fiction stems from the author's life in one way or another, but because I write science fiction and fantasy, it's harder to spot. I think my relationships show up in my fiction, but it's hard to point to a specific event or person that inspires my fiction. My interest in science and fairy tales and folklore show up in my fiction, for sure. 

Describe your process for naming your character?
Sometimes character names come to me out of the blue and I stick with them. Sometimes what I choose gets some pushback from my critique partners, so then I reach out into the ether and find another name. I often do research on name origins and create family trees for my characters. 

Real settings or fictional towns?
Many of my fantastical settings are a mashup of different places. For my science fiction, since my settings are space stations, I'm using real science and speculation about what they could look like and how they work. In my paranormal romance I use real locations that I have visited or lived in. 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
My character, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, the main character of that series, can read bird sign. 

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Depends on who you talk to! I have so many.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
I've never thought of that. I honestly can't think of one. Everybody's books are so unique and stem from who they are. 

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Maybe being a bird? That could be fun. I always daydreamed about that. As for something on a more realistic level, I would have liked to have been born into a family that traveled around the world a lot. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I don't like black pepper in my food.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Lots of paper, writing utensils, and a companion. 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Shelving books in the library was pretty hard, until I learned to love it. 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Do I have to pick? If I have to pick, it's Once A Hero by Elizabeth Moon. 

Ocean or mountains?
Ocean 

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

What’s on the horizon for you?
I have three more books in the Janey McCallister Mystery series to release over the next 12 months. After that I might write more books in that series or go back to a new series within the Henrietta The Dragon Slayer universe. I also have some paranormal romantic suspense in the works that expand upon the five I’ve already published.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Thanks so much for having me on your blog! 

Into the Black
A Janey McCallister Sci-Fi Mystery, Book 1

She wanted to make her mark. How hard could it be?
In 2130, at Bijoux de L’Étoile, a high-end casino orbiting Earth, you can get anything you desire.

Newly-hired as an investigator, Janey McCallister wants to solve her first big case—the theft of a priceless gem.

When her case of theft escalates to murder and points to the seedy underbelly of world affairs, Janey has to rely on her new team and trust the mysterious insurance investigator, Orlando Valdez—before a killer escapes into the black.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--AUTHOR MICHELE DRIER'S STAINED GLASS MYSTERIES & VANISHING CHARACTERS

Michele Drier is a fifth generation Californian who’s worked in journalism as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers and won awards for her investigative series. Her fifteen books include the Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries; The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, a series of paranormal romances; and The Stained Glass Murders. Learn more about Michele and her books at her website.

Whatever Happened To…?
You’re reading the third book in a mystery series by your new favorite author.

Suddenly, you realize that Anne, a strong woman you admired in the last book isn’t anywhere to be seen (or read)?

What happened?

Did the author kill her off when you weren’t paying attention? Did she move? Did the location of the story move?

Why does the cast of characters change in series? Not the major ones, of course. Who could imagine an Elizabeth George story without Linley and Barbara? On the other hand, George did kill off Linley’s wife Helen after several books with increasing romantic tension between them. Life is unpredictable.

And that’s why some characters appear and disappear.

Think about life. We’re all constantly growing and changing, not in our basic nature but in small ways. We master a new skill, maybe learning how to use technology, and lose other skills.

Over the Fourth of July, my daughter and her two daughters came for a barbecue and a swim. When my daughter went to a seldom-used cupboard to look for a plate, she pulled out a phone book, that workhorse of communication in the past. Neither granddaughter knew what it was!

What do we as readers feel when our characters don’t change but keep using the same tools, the same ideas, the same habits? You don’t want to read the same plot over and over, nor do you want to read only characters who are stuck in a time- or friend-warp.

Just as people change, developing new friends, taking on new jobs, finding new relationships, our protagonists need to change to stay compelling and interesting. One way writers handle this is to leave some characters behind. In my first Stained Glass Murder, Stain on the Soul, my protag, Roz Duke, found a sidekick, a town busybody named Patsy.

As a character, Patsy helped define the setting, was a foil for Roz’ sleuthing ,and a small comic relief to ease tensions.

I’m currently working on the next two books in the series and Patsy has no role. Partly because the next two books aren’t set in the small town where Roz and Patsy live, partly because Roz, who’d been recently widowed in the first book, is learning her own strengths.

There are bit-players, those townspeople who populate the story and we see in anything from a small speaking part to a cameo. These are the warp and weft that give texture to our protagonist and her life; the dry cleaner, the grocer, the letter carrier, or the bartender, and they may not move on to other books in the series. 

A writer can’t simply omit a previous character who’s had some impact on the protag though, there must be an explanation of where that character (human or animal) went. In Stain on the Soul, Roz has a dog, a rescue Greyhound named Tut who helps save her. In the second book, Roz is on a sabbatical in England. Early in the book, my critique partners demanded to know where Tut was so Tut is off-screen, but we hear about him from the person who’s taking care of him via Roz’ phone calls home.

It’s a fine line knowing which characters need to stay and which must get left behind. The author needs to weigh each character and know what he or she brings to the plot, to the growth of the protagonist, to the tension of the story.

We’ve grown accustomed to characters behaving in a certain way, understanding certain beliefs and there are times and plots where these characters just can’t adapt or won’t fit.

A good friend, and excellent writer, has reached that spot with one of her secondary but important characters. The character is in a position to supervise the protagonist and is also a close friend. While trying to help the protagonist overcome her alcohol problem, the supervisor herself loses her job. This is a double whammy and the author is debating dropping the character or veering off on a new plotline and definition of the friendship.

Characters disappear in any number of ways—murder, move, marriage—but a good writer understands why the character is no longer around and makes sure the reader has an explanation. 

A “Wait! Whatever happened to…” will leave readers feeling cheated. When an author begins a series, she/he must track all the characters and decide who will stick around for the long haul and who is going to get jettisoned and why.

Sometimes one just has to say good-bye.

Stain on the Soul
A Stained Glass Mystery, Book 

Who murdered Winston Duke? Why? His widow, Rosalind (Roz) had no answers but to put her life back together, the internationally known stained glass artist moved to a small town on the Oregon coast. Here, where she knew no one, she planned to use the beach, scoured by wind and water, to cleanse her soul and rebuild her creativity. That is, until one morning when her peace was smashed by the lights and sirens of emergency vehicles, and the sight of her neighbor’s bloody body being taken away. Meeting others from the town, Roz is pulled into a mystery of who the neighbor was and finds a circle of friends far removed the Los Angeles of her life with Winston.

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Monday, July 20, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON CRAFTS SOME MYSTERY BUNDLES

Recently Lois Winston, she who writes about me, finished the latest book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series where yours truly is a widowed magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth. In A Sew Deadly Cruise Lois once again derives great pleasure in having me trip over dead bodies and find my life in jeopardy. What else is new, right? A Sew Deadly Cruise will be available in October, but you can catch a sneak peek by reading the first chapter here

When Lois finishes a book, she sets it aside for about a week before beginning the editing process. She was kicking back and relaxing last week when I reminded her of an item that had been languishing on her to-do list for more than five years.

Back in March of 2015, Lois created an ebook bundle of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun and Death by Killer Mop Doll, the first two books in the series she writes about me. Her intention was to continue bundling previous books as she wrote new ones, giving readers a chance to save a few dollars if they bought a 2-book set instead of purchasing the books individually. Fast-forward to 2020, and there are now eight books in the series with the ninth due out in a few months. 

So where are those other bundles? Other than bundling the three novellas she wrote about me, she’s done zilch with the other full-length novels. Like any good protagonist, I decided to needle her into action. (Note the pun! Needle. Get it?)

Whether Lois felt guilty about never getting around to creating the other bundles or just wanted to get me off her back, the result was the same. She set to work on cover designs for the three additional bundles, updated the cover of the first bundle, and refreshed the interiors of all eight books in the series.

Now if I could only have her write a book where I win the lottery and stop tripping over dead bodies…Unfortunately, she tells me that won’t be happening anytime soon—if ever. The woman definitely has a huge sadistic streak.

You can click on the links below to read about each set and first chapter excerpts, plus find Buy Links for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks.





Friday, July 17, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH MYSTERY AUTHOR C.T. COLLIER'S AMATEUR SLEUTH LYSSA PENNINGTON

Today we wit down for a chat with Lyssa Pennington from author C.T. Collier’s The Penningtons Investigate Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
When C.T. Collier came into my life, Kyle and I were splitting up, and I desperately missed my sister Manda Cushman. Moving from London to a little town called Tompkins Falls in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York looked like the perfect solution. Manda lived there with her hunky husband, and the lakes were absolutely gorgeous. So I accepted the job at Tompkins College and quickly discovered it has possibly the highest murder rate of any college in America. In fact, at the start of Kyle’s and my newest mystery, Vamoosed, my faculty friend, handsome bad-boy professor Rand Cunningham, is shot and left for dead. And it looks like I’m next on the shooter’s list.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I can find the bright side in any situation and make you laugh when you’re at your lowest.

What do you like least about yourself?
Panic attacks. 

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
It has to be the scene with the ghost. I’m serious. I had a soul-wrenching conversation with the ghost of the fabulously wealthy and beautiful grandmother of my sister’s hubby, Bridey Tompkins Cushman. Bridey really set me straight about myself and my taste in men, and at the end of our little chat, she showed me the emerald ring that would become my engagement ring. Of course, she didn’t tell me which man would propose with that ring. 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Oh, good grief, I get so annoyed with Collier about when Kyle and I can start our family. She’s forever throwing up obstacles.

What is your greatest fear? 
That Kyle and I will never have the six kids we want!

What makes you happy? 
Every unexpected and beautiful thing, most especially children’s laughter.

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I’m tempted to say I’d never have gotten on that plane from London to Tompkins Falls, but really, all that has happened since has made me stronger. Maybe even better.

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Hands down my college president, Justin Cushman. He makes me totally crazy with his special assignments “for the good of the college” and enticements “for the good of your career, Lyssa.”

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
That is a double-edged sword, because I greatly admire my AA sponsor, Gianessa. I’d love to have her serenity and power of gentle persuasion, but the rest of her life? Never! She’s married to Justin Cushman.

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Like me, C. T. Collier was a tech savvy professor, but lately she spends her time writing The Penningtons Investigate. You can find teasers about all our adventures at her blog. And, of course, she lives in the Finger Lakes.

What's next for you?
Now that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it!

Vamoosed
The Penningtons Investigate Series, Book 4

Professor Rand Cunningham is shot and left for dead on the Penningtons’ front lawn, and Lyssa Pennington could be next. Who’s behind the drive-by hit?

The husband of one of Rand’s conquests? 
The lawyer-brother of the student whose sexy video went viral on the Internet? 
The father of the actress passed over for a part in the movie of Rand’s bestseller? 

While Rand fights for his life, Detective Shaughnessy hunts for the badass truck seen speeding away from the scene. 

Lyssa and Kyle follow a lead to Norway, where villains, trolls, and other bombshells will change their lives forever.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--MYSTERY AUTHOR MARIAN ALLEN SERVES UP BUMBLEBEE STEW AND A NEW SERIES

Marian Allen writes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, humor, horror, mainstream, and anything else she can wrestle into fixed form. She blogs daily at Marian Allen, Author Lady ():Learn more about Marian and her books at her blog where she has daily topics: Monday with nail art, Tuesday on food, One-Liner Wednesday, Thursday Doors, Fridays For Future, and Sunday Snapshot. Her cats take turns blogging for her on Caturday … er … Saturday.

Bar Sinister is the first of a projected series called the Spadena Street Mysteries. Spadena Street is a two-block Storybook Style neighborhood with a past as corporate housing for privileged employees of a now-defunct factory. Some of its mysteries are connected to that past, some are connected to the characters of the people who lived there or live there now. Some are connected only by the networks of the current residents. Some just are.

Juss has a hobby: She collects people. Or, as her foster mother and lapsed hippie, Doris, puts it, “She’s a people junkie.” It’s Juss’s nostalgia for community involvement that leads her to her profession, and it’s the same nostalgia that fuels her impulse to stick her nose into other people’s business. At the same time, the bitter memory of “tourists” from outside the commune coming around to rubberneck and judge makes her resistant to her neighbors’ attempts at friendliness. It takes a neighbor coming to her for help (sub-plot!) to open Juss to the perfectly collectible people right on her own block.

That neighbor, Chickapoo Tomaneck, brings Juss and Doris a chocolate lava cake, although that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today. Doris is a firm believer in the medicinal value of dark chocolate and wine, but she preferred me to share something more nutritious. She also wanted me to tell you that Bumblebee Stew is great with shrimp in it. Or chicken. Or pork belly.

This recipe wasn’t in the book, but Juss and Doris love to garden and cook. They would have made this from scratch, not out of nasty old cans. Nasty old cans is what I use.

Bumblebee Stew

Ingredients:
olive oil
chili powder
cumin
onion powder
garlic powder
salt
flour
can black beans, undrained
can corn, undrained
can chopped tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
cilantro
semi-sweet chocolate

Heat the oil and toast the spices. Stir in the flour, adding more oil, if necessary. Add the vegetables, cilantro, and chocolate and heat until thickened. 

Serve over rice.

Bar Sinister
A Spadena Street Mystery, Book 1

Juss -- Injustice H. Chocolate (named and raised by hippies) -- questions the usefulness of her Life Coach work and hires a secretary to prove its importance. Prim and efficient Kerry Dashingly can hardly wait to tell his wife that his latest secretary temp job is in a miniature castle in a neighborhood of Disneyesque architecture. Kerry hasn't even begun when he gets a call from his hapless cousin, Abby: A man she openly hated is dead, and the police found unspecified evidence in the back of her car. Juss immediate attaches herself to the problem, determined to help, even if it kills her.

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