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, October 30, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH COZY MYSTERY AUTHOR DIANE A. S. STUCKART AKA ALI BRANDON AKA ANNA GERARD


Today we sit down for a chat with NYT bestselling cozy mystery author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries,Diane A.S. Stuckart (writing as Ali Brandon). Diane also writes the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries and the Tarot Cat Mysteries, and as Anna Gerard, she writes the Georgie B & B Mysteries.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

I started writing feature stories for the school paper in high school, but by the time I got to college I realized I wasn’t a reporter…I was a novelist. And so I switched my core major to Novel Writing.

 

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? 

My first book was my college novel project, though it wasn’t published until a good dozen years later, after it was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest. That book was Masquerade, published by Pinnacle Books under the name Alexa Smart.

 

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

I consider myself traditionally published, although I have indie pubbed a few of my vintage romances plus a short story collection. 

 

Where do you write?  

In my home office, ideally, or sometimes the back porch – but while on deadline I’ll also haul out my laptop and work in my car or in an empty conference room at the day job.

 

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?  

I’m the only author I know who doesn’t put together a play list to write. I absolutely cannot write with music in the background; however, while driving I do lots of mental plotting to classical music (I think the classical rhythms somehow reset the brain to a creative state).

 

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular? 

No real-life experiences or people for me, save for a few secondary characters. Most of what I write comes from the ether. Though for fun I sometimes name minor characters after friends or family.

 

Describe your process for naming your character? 

For major characters, I like a short name, as I’ll be typing it constantly; hence, Nina Fleet for my Georgia B&B amateur sleuth (“Rosalinda McGillicuddy” would be a bear to type over and over again!). Mostly, I want names that are a bit different but not distractingly unusual. And one must always watch out for the trap of accidentally starting all the characters’ names with the same first letter (Mandy, Mark, Morris, Mary!)

 

Real settings or fictional towns? 

I’ve done both. My Tarot Cats mysteries are set in West Palm Beach, Florida; however, the Georgia B&B mysteries are set in the fictional small town of Cymbeline, though Cymbeline is based on lots of small towns I’ve known. Both settings have their advantages and disadvantages. 

 

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? 

I suppose none of my characters are technically “quirky”. Actor Harry Westcott from the Georgia B&B Mystery series does have a thing for his rooibos tea, which I personally find rather vile. 

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I’m not really quirky, though I’m a bit OCD about certain things. And if I have a color choice in purchasing an item, I inevitably go for the red or black version (though now I’m lapsing into pink on occasion). 

 

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

The Stephanie Plum series should have been mine! I had the idea for a female bail bond agent years before her books were ever published. Which is a good example of, if you snooze, you lose.

 

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

I would have made some smarter decisions while I was in college, been a bit bolder about life.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

People who think that being strident equals being right. Related, people who, when they have the choice of being kind or winning a point, opt for being a jerk.

 

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 

Beyond the obvious food, shelter, and lifeboat, I need Shakespeare’s works and the Sherlock Holmes collection to read and reread, a ukulele to (badly) play music on, and a cooler of Diet Coke.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Most of my college-era waitressing jobs were pretty sucky, but I made some good friends. 

 

What’s the best book you’ve ever read? 

That answer depends on my place in life. But overall my favorite is Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels…a classically fabulous combination of mystery, romance, and ghost story. 

 

Ocean or mountains? 

Mountains are beautiful, but the ocean is, in turns, hypnotizing and compelling and gorgeous and terrifying. 

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?  

I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock-and-roll. Right now, I live out in the boonies, though sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in an apartment in the middle of a big city. But I don’t think I could be happy there for too long – I’m a Texas girl, and I need my space!

 

What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m waiting on a few new book deals to come through, which hopefully will happen before year-end. In the meantime, my third Georgia B&B Mystery will be out next summer. And I may have a few indie projects come out in the interim.

 

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? 

I love hearing from readers about my books, so always feel free to drop me a line at diane@dianestuckart.com or via either of my websites: www.dianestuckart.com or www.georgiabbmysteries.com.

 

Peachy Scream

A Georgia B&B Mysteries, Book 2

 

Innkeeper Nina Fleet finds that hosting an amateur acting troupe can be murder when the star performer for the town’s annual Shakespeare festival is found lifeless in her garden. Nina is the only one who is sure his death wasn’t accidental…that is, except for the troupe’s director and Nina’s sometimes-nemesis, Harry Westcott. With the show having to go on, the pair join uneasy forces to uncover a killer before it’s curtains for another member of the troupe.

 

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

AUTHOR REGGI ALLDER BRINGS TOGETHER CALIFORNIA WINE GROWING, HARVEST MOONS, AND SUSPENSE


Reggi Allder 
writes suspense and contemporary romance novels, including the Her Country Heart Sierra Creek Series and the Dangerous Series. Her characters cope with life as each fight to discover a hidden strength and work toward a lifelong goal. Learn more about Reggi and her books at her website. 

Fall is a wonderful time of year. Here on the west coast, the large harvest moon lights the night and though the weather is still warm, with the cooler nights, the leaves have begun to change to glorious autumn colors.

 

As a writer of suspense, I sometimes see the night as a place of mystery and danger. But the amazing glow of a full moon can light nefarious activities usually hidden by darkness. So, the harvest moon might help track the villain or aide the hero/ heroine in a search for a mysterious stalker. And though it is almost Halloween, the real scary moments come from true to life characters who appear normal but plan to execute a diabolical crime for simple reasons such as greed, revenge, or jealousy.

 

In my romantic suspense novels, I have used vacation locations in California as counterpoints to danger, including Lake Tahoe and Carmel By the Sea, Lake Arrowhead. For my current romantic suspense, Dangerous Denial, I needed to find a retreat for my main character after she survives a traumatic experience. The heroine is an organic gardener who dreams of owning her own vineyard. So, Sonoma County was the ticket.

 

Though hard truths gnaw at her, the heroine is doing her best to forget the past and concentrate on her future. However, even if she denies being in danger, the full moon shows the reader she is being observed. Meanwhile, Sonoma Country offers an opportunity to contrast the beauty of the vineyards and the charming Pacific coast villages that dot the area, with the lurking danger pursuing her.

 

I enjoyed doing a bit of historic research while looking into the wine industry. Father Junipero Serra was the first to introduce wine grapes to California when he planted the vines, brought from Mexico, in 1769. Though many more people may have heard of Napa Valley wines, the vineyards of Sonoma Country were planted first. The Spanish Franciscan fathers laid the foundation for the wine industry in 1832 when Padre Jose Altimera planted several thousand grapevines at their northernmost mission, San Francisco Solano in Sonoma. Later, the grapevines were introduced to the Napa Valley.

 

At harvest time, the picking of grapes in Sonoma County is done in the late summer and autumn. The heat of the day often rises above one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Night harvesting started in in the early1970s because the grape sugar levels were more stable in the lower evening temperatures. Some vineyards may still harvest using hand tools, including knives and/or shears, manual or electric. 

 

After the grapes are cut, they are placed in containers and taken to the winery. Afterward, the wine is often stored in wooden barrels in wine caves built into the hills of the area. No matter the outside temperature, inside the caves the air varies only about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, between 58 degrees and 63 degrees throughout the year.

 

A question I wanted answered: Do some of the wineries make sparkling wine and champagne? Yes.

 

If you would like to visit Sonoma, many places are still open: https://www.sonomacounty.com/coronavirusn

 

Wine cave tours:

https://www.sonomacounty.com/articles/guide-visiting-wine-caves-sonoma-wine-country

 

If you like the author Jack London, Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf, visit the State Historic Park:

https://jacklondonpark.com/

 

Dangerous Denial

The Dangerous Series, Book 2

 

What would you do if you witnessed a murder and no one believed you?

 

Executive assistant Skye Turner thinks most people are good until her beloved boss is murdered. The police call his death a suicide. What is the truth? She needs help to uncover the circumstances leading to his death.

 

United States black ops member Jon Lancaster is restless while he recovers from injuries received during his last assignment. Pretty and diverting, Skye is probably mistaken about her boss’s death. Still, he decides to assist her in deciphering the events of the day the man died and also dig though the clues left for her.

 

Can Skye and Jon control their growing desire for each other? Are they ready for the lurking danger waiting for them?

 

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Monday, October 26, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--MYSTERY AUTHOR KATE FELLOWES "BREWS" UP A MYSTERY AND A COUPLE OF RECIPES


Kate Fellowes has published six mysteries, 
most recently A Menacing Brew. Her short stories have appeared in many publications, from Woman's World to Crimestalker Casebook. Working in a public library, every day is a busman's holiday for her. Learn more about Kate and her books at her blog.

Many thanks for allowing me to drop by Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers today. I’m excited to share a few recipes inspired by my new novel, A Menacing Brew, in which, as you might guess, beer plays a significant part. 

 

Growing up in Milwaukee, an area with quite a claim to fame where beer is concerned, I have fond memories of the stuff. Not because I drank it, other than a sip or two, but because of the other ways it plays a part in my memories. 

 

My father seemed to spend every summer weekend either doing yardwork—trimming the hedges, mowing the lawn—under the hot sun, or in the garage working on his current sports car restoration project. Sometimes, he’d ask me to bring him a cold beer. While I always wanted to be helpful, I could never get the hang of tapping a beer the right way, to get that bit of fluffy white foam on the top. I’d carry poor Dad a cold glass of beer that already looked flat and wear my apology on my face. He’d smile and thank me and tell me again about tilting the glass just so, but I think we both knew bartender was not a career choice for me. 

 

In the basement rec room, we had a few really cool beer lamps, acquired from a friend of Dad’s who worked at a brewery. There was a Hamm’s rectangle with a waterfall scene where the water actually appeared to flow over the rocks. And another hanging lamp (I forget what brand that was for) bounced rainbows of light around the bottom in a hypnotic fashion. Add to that the Miller High Life glass I carried carefully up the basement steps to Dad on the matching aluminum tray and I guess I can figure out where I ever got the idea to write about a brewery!

 

In A Menacing Brew, there’s a brewery tour, a catchy commercial jingle, time well spent in a beer garden—and a mystery. Yum!

 

When I was asked to include a few recipes with my post, I knew a moment’s pause. While I love to eat and have a brother who is a chef, cooking has never been my strong suit. Chef Rob teases me about being a “digital food” gourmet, referring to my frozen meal cuisine. Naturally, I’ve enlisted his help today. 

 

Since the weather has turned chilly, we’ve decided to make beer chili and pair it with a nice beer bread. The beer in the chili is a dark one. The bread features a light one, so there’s something for every taste. Because my amateur sleuths, Barbara and Amy, are vegetarians, so are these recipes. 

 

My thanks to the recipes’ authors: Liz Thomson, https://iheartvegetables.com/vegan-beer-bread and The Minimalist Baker, https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-beer-chili

 

Vegan Beer Chili

(from the Minimalist Baker)

 

A satisfying vegan chili with hearty flavor from dark Mexican beer and both black and kidney beans.

 

Author: Minimalist Baker

 

Prep time: 10 min.

Cook time: 40 min.

 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion (chopped)

1/2 green pepper (diced)

4 cloves garlic (minced)

Salt and black pepper

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp hot sauce, (optional)

12-oz. bottle dark Mexican beer 

28-oz. can diced tomatoes

15.5-oz. can kidney beans (slightly drained)

15.5-oz. can black beans (slightly drained)

Hot sauce, crackers and cornbread (optional, for serving)

 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened - about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chili powder and hot sauce, stir and cook for another minute. Add the beer and cook until reduced by half - about 6 to 8 minutes.

 

Add the tomatoes (with their juices), beans (slightly drained), and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer while breaking up the tomatoes slightly with a spoon. Cook until thickened - about 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Serve with hot sauce, crackers and cornbread, or whatever toppings you prefer. Vegan cheese is a nice addition.

 

Vegan Beer Bread

(from Liz Thomson)

 

 Prep Time: 5 min.

 Cook Time: 55 min.

 

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsps baking powder

2 tsps salt

1/4 cup sugar

12 oz. light beer (see note)

2 T Earth Balance buttery spread 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

 

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Pour in the beer. Stir until just combined but do not over mix. (It’s ok if there are lumps of flour.)

 

Cut the margarine/butter on top of the batter. Bake 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.


A Menacing Brew
A Kirkwood Clues Mystery
 
With the summer off, Amy is at loose ends. Since her husband is busy with work and her son is at college, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her mom, Barbara, on a trip to visit an old college chum, Carl, who became a journalist. Amy knows their long drive will be filled with too many of her mom’s stories about her personal Summer of Love, but she never expects they’ll find Carl dead in his basement practically the minute they arrive. Things go from bad to worse when Barbara becomes the prime suspect in the crime, since she’ll inherit the dead man’s estate.
 
To clear Barbara’s name, she and Amy delve into Carl’s most recent assignment and discover a link to Kirkwood’s biggest employer, family-owned Stutger Brewery. More than one skeleton lurks in the Stutger closet. But are these old secrets still worth killing over? Or was Carl’s death motivated by an incident with more recent roots?
 
One thing’s for sure—Barbara and Amy are making few friends among locals with all their questions. As the brewery’s centennial celebration fast approaches, it’s time for Barbara and Amy to bring things to a head and unmask killers, past and present.
 
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Friday, October 23, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AUTHOR S. LEE MANNING INTERVIEWS INTELLIGENCE OFFICER KOLYA PETROV


Today we have something a little different. Recovering attorney turned author, S. Lee Manning sits down to interview Kolya Petrov the protagonist of her debut thriller, 
Trojan Horse. Learn more about the author and her book at her website.
 

S. Lee: Hi, S. Lee Manning here interviewing Kolya Petrov, the protagonist of my espionage novel, Trojan Horse. So, Kolya, would you like to introduce yourself?

 

Kolya (rolls eyes): Not particularly. And you already mentioned my name.

 

S. Lee: You agreed to do this, don’t be a jerk. 

 

Kolya: I was drunk when I agreed. But okay, sorry, I will endeavor not to be a jerk.

 

S. Lee: That would be appreciated. So how did you become a spy?

 

Kolya: I’m an intelligence operative, not a spy. A spy is someone inside a country or organization who gives information to the other side. I’m the person who obtains the information. If you’re going to write espionage novels, you should know the difference. But, to your question: I obtained a law degree, practiced law for six months, and found it unbearably tedious. Meanwhile, my childhood best friend was heading up a crime syndicate in Brooklyn, terrorizing people from my old neighborhood, and killing people who I knew and liked. I offered my services to the FBI, and after closing down the syndicate, I was recruited by the Executive Covert Agency.

 

S. Lee: And do you enjoy your job?

 

Kolya: I did until everything you did to me in this book.

 

S. Lee (shifting uncomfortably): So, can we talk about Alex?

 

Kolya: No.

 

S. Lee: I thought you agreed not to be a jerk.

 

Kolya: I agreed to let you interview me, about me. I did not agree to you interviewing me about Alex.

 

S. Lee: She’s a strong woman. You don’t think she can take care of herself?

 

Kolya: Of course, she can. She can also talk about herself if she wishes. Please feel free to ask her any questions you want.

 

S. Lee: Next blog, maybe. Right now, I’m interviewing you, and I am interested in your feelings for her.

 

Kolya (crosses his arms): Yob tvoyu mat.  

 

S. Lee: I know what that means in Russian, and it’s very rude.

 

Kolya: No ruder than your intruding into my private life.  My feelings for Alex and my relationship with Alex are out of bounds.

 

S. Lee (irritated tone): Okay, fine. Switching topics, did you celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this year?

 

Kolya: I had some challah with honey. Not bad. But that was the extent of it. 

 

S. Lee: Your experiences in Trojan Horse didn’t make you more interested in exploring Judaism?

 

Kolya: Do you think that experiencing violent anti-Semitism would make me believe in something I didn’t believe in before?

 

S. Lee: It’s been known to happen.

 

Kolya: Not with me. I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, but I was agnostic before Trojan Horse, and I’m agnostic now. Being Jewish doesn’t just mean practicing the religion. It’s complicated.

 

S. Lee: You don’t have a Jewish name, and you don’t look Jewish.

 

Kolya: What does that even mean? You do know that there is no such thing as looking Jewish. There are blond Jews like me. There are brown Jews. There are Black Jews. The name Petrov comes from my grandfather on my father’s side, who wasn’t Jewish, but my other grandparents were. Can we change the topic?

 

S. Lee: Sure. So, what are your future plans?

 

Kolya (cool stare): I was going to ask you that myself. I personally would like to work up some new jazz standards on the piano and catch up on reading. But I have a bad feeling that you’re going to have me hanging off a cliff somewhere in the book that’s scheduled to be published next July.

 

S. Lee (smiles tentatively): There’re no cliffs.

 

Kolya: I was speaking figuratively. But I’m ending the interview now so I have time to enjoy my life before you try to kill me again.

 

S. Lee: Okay, thank you for sitting down with me. Oh, for God’s sake, you could wait until I finish before walking off.  Anyway, this was S. Lee Manning speaking with Kolya Petrov.

 

Trojan Horse

A Kolya Petrov Thriller

 

American operative Kolya Petrov is tracking Mihai Cuza, a descendant of Vlad the Impaler. Kolya suspects him of planning meltdowns of nuclear power plants around the world, but every time Kolya gets close, a member of his team dies in agony. Margaret, the head of Kolya’s agency, seizes upon a devious plan to place a Trojan horse on Cuza’s computer. But for the plan to succeed, she must betray one of her own agents. She chooses Kolya, a Russian-Jewish immigrant with no family, for the honor. Kolya is initially unaware that he’s been set up for kidnapping and torture. Realizing the truth, he must choose between stopping a plot that could kill thousands and protecting his own life and the life of the woman he loves. 

 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

COZY MYSTERY AUTHOR DEBBIE DE LOUISE TALKS ABOUT ADDING NEW CHARACTERS TO A SERIES

Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library and the author of cozy and traditional mysteries. Her latest release, No Gravestone Unturned, is the fifth book of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. Learn more about Debbie and her books at her website.

Why Authors Add New Characters to Their Series and Change the Ones You Know

 

If you read cozy mysteries and follow a series, you’ll notice that new characters are often added, and the main characters change in sometimes subtle and occasionally major ways. Characters are added for a variety of reasons:


1. As victims, suspects, or perpetrators of a crime.

2. As romantic interests to one of the other characters.

3. To aid the detective or amateur sleuth in the investigation of the crime.

 

There are several ways that new characters can be introduced:

1. They can visit the town on vacation or for another reason.

2. They can move into the town.

3. They can already have lived in the town but not been featured in any of the previous books or known to all the characters in the series.

 

In my new release, No Grave Unturned, the fifth book of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series, I’ve added human characters and also a cat character. The humans are the cousins of John McKinney, the husband of Alicia, the main character. They and their spouses come to Cobble Cove to attend the funeral of their mother, John’s aunt. 

 

Another character added to the story is Ruth Carver, the mother of Edith and Rose. While Ruth’s daughters have been regular characters in the series, she hasn’t been featured in previous books. 

 

There are a few other new characters who, while also residents of Cobble Cove, have yet to play a part in a story. These include Nathaniel Burroughs, the caretaker and his son Noah, and Warren Strand, the town’s banker. There are also characters from the past who are shown in flashback chapters – Kurt McKinney, John’s grandfather; Lydia McKinney, Kurt’s wife; Warren Strand, Sr., Warren’s father; and Rosalie Carver, Edith and Rose’s grandmother. 

 

The new cat character is Salem, a black cat who belongs to Suzanne, one of the cousins who brings him with her from Florida. 

 

The reason for the additions of these new characters is because they play parts in the mystery of who killed the caretaker’s son on Halloween in the Cobble Cove cemetery. They also fulfill the roles mentioned above for why new characters are added to a series. 

 

As far as how regular characters change from book to book in a series, just like people in real life, they age and gain new knowledge from their experiences. Alicia is a very different woman than when she was introduced in A Stone’s Throw, the first book of the series. She arrived in Cobble Cove, her husband’s childhood hometown, as a grieving widow, searching for answers to the strange hit-and-run accident that killed him. Now, five years later in the 5th book of the series, Alicia is director of the Cobble Cove Library, married to John McKinney, and the mother of twins. She also co-writes a mystery series with her husband and has been investigating murders in the town.

 

Sneaky, the Siamese library cat, was also introduced in the first book. At that time, he was depicted as a normal cat who helped Alicia find clues by ordinary methods such as scratching at a box where secret letters were hidden. In the 4th book of the series, Love on the Rocks, Sneaky is joined by Kittykai, a calico kitten. Both cats, while pointing to clues, are shown as regular felines. Following that book, there are two short eBooks, Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery, and Sneaky’s Summer Mystery that feature them and allow readers to “see” their thoughts. This change in their characters continues in No Grave Unturned, where Salem is introduced. 

 

New characters and changes in regular characters add depth and interest to a series. After all, variety is the spice of fictional as well as real life.

 

No Gravestone Unturned

A Cobble Cove Mystery, Book 5


It’s October in Cobble Cove, and Alicia is busy preparing for the library’s Halloween party when she learns that John’s aunt from Florida has died and that John’s cousins and their spouses are coming to town to bury their mother. The day after the funeral, the caretaker’s son is found dead by John’s grandfather’s gravestone, from a blow on the head. The only witness seems to be Sneaky the library cat, who, having left the library, turned up at Alicia’s door with blood and dirt on him. 

 

As Alicia, Gilly, and Sheriff Ramsay investigate, a generation of family secrets is uncovered. Are one of the guests staying at the inn a killer? Will the humans solve the crime, and can Sneaky, Kittykai, and Salem, the inn’s guest cat, team up to help?


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Monday, October 19, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--SUSPENSE AUTHOR DONNELL ANN BELL SOLVES THE COVID HALLOWEEN DILEMMA


Donnell Ann Bell gave up her nonwriting fiction career in newspapers and magazines because she was obsessed with the idea she could write a mystery or thriller. An award-winning author, including the 2020 Colorado Book Award for her latest release 
Black PearlA Cold Case Suspense, Donnell’s other books include Buried AgendasBetrayedDeadly Recall and The Past Came Hunting, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers. Currently, she’s writing book two of her cold case series . Learn more about her and her books at her website


I’m always honored to make a guest appearance on Lois Winston’s blog, and at the same time intimidated. She’s crafty; I’m not. She does let me expound on the things I’m good at, such as storytelling and my super-paranoia about babysitting grandchildren. 


Speaking of grandchildren, and this may be a first. I have a craft suggestion for all of you stuck at home with small children during COVID-19. Since Halloween is approaching, and it’s not a safe/smart idea to gather in crowds, or approach anyone’s home at this time, why not create a Do It Yourself Halloween? 


Think it’s messy? Too much work? I suppose that’s up to you. But not necessarily. Especially if you get your children or grandchildren in on the act. I even have a video of the Haunted House my granddaughter created as an example, and she’s four!


I was so impressed and thought with Halloween approaching, why not celebrate at home with a fun event like this?

 

Ideally, next year, we’ll be Trick or Treating with neighbors and friends. Right now, we need a whole lot of improvisation to get through this. 

 

On an entirely separate note, I know what I’ll be doing this Halloween. Working on Book 2 of my Cold Case series, and it just so happens that book one, Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense, is on special on all digital outlets October 16 through the 31st for .99. That’s quite a discount, and I hope if you like suspense, you’ll check it out.

 

In the meantime, consider my Haunted House suggestion for Halloween. Make it a family affair. Stay safe, and happy reading. 

 

Black Pearl

A Cold Case Suspense, Book 1

 

A cold case heats up when a 9-1-1 call puts police at a Denver murder scene pointing investigators to the abduction of a Colorado teenager fourteen years before. The connection? A calling card—a single black pearl—is found on the newest victim. Is the murder a copycat? Or has a twisted serial killer, thought dead or in prison, returned to kill again?

 

The hunt for a multi-state killer is on and brings together an unexpected team: a Denver Major Crimes police lieutenant; an FBI special agent who investigated the previous murders, a rookie FBI agent with a specialty in psychology; and the only living victim of the Black Pearl Killer is now a cop.

 

For Special Agent Brian DiPietro, the case is an opportunity to find answers. For Officer Allison Shannon, the case will force her to face down the town that blamed her for surviving when another did not. And for both DiPietro and Shannon, it’s a chance to find closure to questions that have tormented them both for years.

 

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Friday, October 16, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--WHAT MY AUTHOR AND I HAVE BEEN READING LATELY

This is a first. In the 10-1/2 years since the inception of this blog, we’ve had two guests in a row need to reschedule, Thursday’s guest due to a move and today’s guest because her publisher pushed back her release date. She’s rescheduled for late next month. That means once again, you’re stuck with yours truly today. “Stuck” being the operative word here.  

We’re all stuck lately, aren’t we? You humans are stuck dealing with a vicious pandemic. Those of us who only live on the page are stuck with having our lives manipulated by our authors. In my case, that means Lois Winston is constantly forcing me to confront murder and mayhem. Of course, what all of you are going through is much worse. No matter what Lois dumps on me, I know I’ll survive. After all, without me, there is no Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series.

 

Right now, Lois is taking a break from writing as she promotes the recent release of A Sew Deadly Cruise, my latest adventure. This means I don’t have to worry about what she’s planning to do to me next—at least not for a few weeks. I’m sure by next month she’ll come up with a new way to torture me, and the cycle will begin all over again. Such is the life of a reluctant amateur sleuth.

 

While Lois is giving me a rest, she’s been catching up on her TBR pile, which nowadays resides in her Kindle, lessening the risk of a huge stack of books toppling over and causing bodily harm to her delicate tootsies. I’ve been reading over her shoulder, and I have to tell you, we’ve both been enjoying some really good reads lately. Given that it’s Book Club Friday, I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

 

First up is Lucky’s Beach by Shelley Noble. Noble writes books set at various beach locations up and down the east coast, but her books are far from fluff. She tackles real-life issues in her stories, making them not only enjoyable reads but thought-provoking as well. Lucky’s Beach is no exception.  

 

Liese Sherwood-Fabre writes The Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes. The series explores the life of thirteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes as he develops his skills while investigating his first murders. There are two books in the series so far, The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife and The Adventure of the Murdered Gypsy.  

 

Finally, Fishing for Trouble, the second book in Elizabeth Logan’s Alaska Diner Mystery Series, won’t be out until the end of November, but it’s available for pre-order now. Lois was lucky enough to read this book pre-publication and thoroughly enjoyed it. Elizabeth Logan is the newest pen name of author Camille Minichino, who has been a frequent guest on this blog and will make a return visit next month.  

 

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy what little peace I have left before Lois once again starts pulling my strings.

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--A VISIT WITH AUTHOR MARIS SOULE'S FORMER ASSASSIN

Award-winning author Maris Soule has had thirty books published, ranging from romance to mystery/thriller. Today Mary Harrington, the protagonist of A Killer Past tells us something about the predicament Maris wrote her into when she wondered what a woman trained as an assassin in her twenties would be like in her seventies. Learn more about Maris and her books at her website.  

Hello, my name is Mary Harrington. I’m seventy-four and some people say I look like Helen Mirren. I was seventeen and working the streets of San Francisco when I was invited to join ADEC. You probably haven’t heard of that organization. Congress funds it but has no idea of its true purpose. Nevertheless, everyone’s happy when a healthy drug kingpin, terrorist, or despot suddenly dies of a heart attack or in a freak accident. The training I went through before being sent out on assignments was grueling, and some of those assignments were scary, but I felt I was helping rid the world of evil. That was until I turned thirty and was given an assignment that ended badly. After that, I wanted out. But you don’t leave ADEC, at least not alive.

 

I arrived in the small town of Rivershore, Michigan as Mary Smith, opened a bookstore, and avoided having my picture taken. I made up a story about my parents being killed in a car accident, leaving me financially secure, that I’d traveled through Europe in my twenties and now wanted the simple life. I won’t say it was love at first sight when I met Harry Harrington, the town dentist, but we were married for forty years before cancer took him. Sweet Harry never knew about my past, nor does our son, Robert, his wife, Clare, or my eighteen-year-old granddaughter, Shannon. I’m facing a problem with the three of them. Robert worries about my safety and thinks I should move into a retirement home; Clare is into ancestry and wants to trace my family tree; and Shannon says, because I speak French fluently, I should go with her to Paris. I’m afraid if I did, I’d be recognized and either arrested or killed.

 

My major problem now is the night before Halloween, on my way home from Shannon’s birthday party, my car stopped running just two blocks from my house. Being so close, I hated to call anyone for help when I could easily walk home, but there were two young men seated on the steps of a vacant house watching me. Gang members. I decided I’d let them take my purse without making a fuss, but darn it all, when one of them grabbed my arm and went after my house keys, I forgot myself and reverted to my earlier training. At least I didn’t kill them, but I guess gang members don’t like being put in the hospital by an old woman. They think they have to teach me a lesson.

 

And darn that Rivershore police inspector, Jack Rossini. He won’t accept that it wasn’t me who put the boys down. He says he’s worried about my safety, and now he’s checking into my past. I like the man, he’s fun to verbally spar with, but he doesn’t realize what he’s doing is putting both his life and mine in danger. It really isn’t safe to dig into A Killer Past.

 

A Killer Past

When two gang members choose Mary Harrington as their target, the quiet widow has a secret to share of her own.

 

Most people in the town of Rivershore, Michigan view Mary Harrington as a quiet widow whose only oddity is that she spends a lot of time at the gym. Her son thinks it’s time for her to move into a retirement home. Two gang members think she’ll be an easy target. No one in Rivershore knows what Mary did in her younger years—really did—but the two gang members discover they’ve underestimated their victim . . . and Mary fears reverting to old habits may have jeopardized her future.

 

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A HALLOWEEN THAT'S MORE TRICK THAN TREAT

Replica of the Addams Family House

Sometimes a scheduled blog guest has to bow out due to any number of reasons. Such was the case today. Our scheduled guest is in the middle of a move and found she just couldn’t juggle one more responsibility right now. It happens, and hopefully, she’ll be able to reschedule at a future date. 

Meanwhile, since we often like to promote recycling, reusing, and repurposing here at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, and because Halloween is only a little more than two weeks away, I thought I’d repurpose and update a few older posts with a Halloween spin and an older book with a Halloween adventure. 

 

The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series is set in Westfield, an actual New Jersey town. My author, Lois Winston, chose a real town, rather than making up a fictitious one, because she’d learned that many readers enjoy being able to make a connection between the settings in books and places they know.

 

If you’ve never been to New Jersey, you might have an extremely negative and erroneous image of The Garden State, associating it more with bumper-to-bumper traffic, industrial waste, crime-ridden cities, and obnoxious reality TV stars. Yes, unfortunately we do have our share of those. However, we also have beautiful rolling hills, mountains, beaches and the most spectacular skyline in the world right outside our windows (for those of us lucky enough to live on the western side of the Hudson River.)

 

We also have some very lovely, historical small towns that date back to pre-Colonial times. Many have appeared in TV shows and movies over the years. One such town is Westfield, which was supposed to go all out for its 300th anniversary this year, but…well, Covid-19 had other ideas, and we’ve had to adapt.

 

Westfield was also the home of Charles Addams, creator of the Addams Family cartoons, which appeared in The New Yorker and were the basis for the television show of the 1960s and the subsequent movies and Broadway musical. Two years ago, Westfield created Addamsfest to celebrate our famous resident.

 

Addams was inspired to create his iconic cartoons by the Westfield Victorian home of his childhood. Unfortunately, the house burned down many years ago. In honor of Addamsfest, the town erected a replica of the house on a small patch of land in the middle of the lake in the center of town.

 

Addamsfest is still being held this year as part of our anniversary celebration but in a toned down, socially distanced, mask-wearing way, given our new normal. 

 

By the way, few years ago Westfield was named the 30th safest place to live in the United States. Luckily, such surveys don’t include murders that are the product of my author’s imagination, like the ones that take place in A Stitch to Die For


A Stitch to Die For

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5

 

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

 

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