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, December 30, 2020

IS IT COLLECTING OR HOARDING? AUTHOR MICHELE DRIER HAS SOME THOUGHTS

Michele's File System
Michele Drier spent more than twenty years as a reporter and editor at California daily newspapers. She writes two traditional mysteries a paranormal romance series, and a stand-alone medical thriller. Learn more about her and her books at her website 

A Collector…Or A Hoarder?

My daughter keeps threatening to call the show Hoarders about me.

 

I keep telling her it’s not hoarding if they’re books.

 

There is one aspect of my “collecting” though that I have to ‘fess up to as hoarding—the collecting and squirreling away of small, interesting, possibly offbeat facts and pieces of information. 

 

Most of these are on pieces of paper that get stored somewhere in my “office,” a third bedroom. I go through sticky notes, push pins, staples and manila folders to keep my collections somewhat sorted. Until I get rushed and just stick the piece of paper into a cubbyhole.

 

It usually takes me a bit to locate the note I want, but I was able to find the short article about a discovery of 60,000 pieces of medieval stained glass in the attics of Westminster Cathedral. This was the springboard for the plot of my latest book, Tapestry of Tears

 

The fires at Notre Dame and Nantes cathedrals are the catalysts for the third Stained Glass Mystery, Resurrection of the Roses. I only have about 5,000 words, and I’ve bookmarked stories on these.

 

But it’s not just things I’ve read that get stuck away. One of my doctors told me about some anti-Russian literature being dropped over Estonia. I came home and jotted maybe five key words on a sticky note, added it to a short Reuters story I saw about a South Korean sending notes over the border to North Korea by balloon and now it’s a subplot in the eleventh book of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, SNAP: Pandemic Games

 

Probably because I spent years in the newspaper business, I tend to weave current events into my stories. My books have had pedophile priests, Nazi art thieves, the Russian incursion into Crimea, medical research gone awry and international sex trafficking as background. 

 

I learned my filing system while a reporter with the San Jose Mercury News. Those were the days when everything was on paper and I had a big “spike”, a long, sharp metal rod where I stored stuff that I needed to refer to. Everything else was on the “waterfall” filing system—pile up a stack of paper until it fell over on the floor. Things that fell on the floor got tossed.

 

2020 has been such an odd, out-of-sorts year that even my rudimentary echolocation filing system got out of hand. I was the co-chair for Bouchercon 2020, the oldest and largest convention of mystery fans and authors in the world. I spend five years planning for this to take place in October, then in March the world fell apart. Piles of paper with room layouts cross-referenced with panel descriptions, moderators and panelists were useless. Seating charts for the gala Anthony awards dinner didn’t matter. I regrouped and we ended up with more than 800 attendees at a Virtual Bouchercon, two days of interviews and panels that debuted to rave reviews and included a short article in Publisher’s Weekly.

 

But come November 1, I had more piles of paper.

 

It will soon be a new year and a goal I’ve set myself is to coax my granddaughter into helping me sift through the stacks in my office so that I have a chance to get to the closet. Which is stuffed full of Christmas wrapping paper and posters from travels.

 

Somewhere in all of that, I have a poster of a Wayne Thiebaud print made in celebration of the California Arts Council’s Tenth Anniversary…back in the mid-1980s.

 

I’d like to find that.

 

Tapestry of Tears

A Stained Glass Mystery, Book 2

 

History had always been a strong magnet for Rosalind Duke.

 

She took up the medieval craft of making stained glass and was building a solid international reputation, taking on larger and larger commissions. Her idyllic life with her husband, Winston Duke, an art historian at UCLA, was cut short when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.

 

After moving to a small town on the Oregon coast, she’s offered a commission to translate the medieval embroidery, The Bayeux Tapestry, into stained glass for a museum at a small Wisconsin university. Roz jumps at the chance. Not only to try to transfer the Tapestry into a new medium, but to spend time in Southern England and Northern France, tracing the path taken by the invading Normans under William the Conqueror.

 

But the 21st century drags her back when she finds a body crumpled against a wall in an ancient stone church in the small town of Lympne, on the southern coast of England. Has she walked into a contemporary murder?

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Monday, December 28, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--A NEW PEN NAME AND A NEW KNITTING MYSTERY SERIES FROM AUTHOR MARY ELLEN HUGHES, AKA EMMIE CALDWELL

Emmie Caldwell is the pen name of Mary Ellen Hughes, national bestselling author of the Keepsake Cove Mysteries, the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, the Maggie Olenski Mysteries and now the Craft Fair Knitters Mysteries. Learn more her and her books at her website.  

How a Wicked Yarn Began and Grew

My protagonist of A Wicked Yarn, Lia Geiger, is an expert knitter, as is her long-standing group of friends, the Ninth Street Knitters, whose love of knitting joined them together. Having run out of people to knit for, Lia began running a booth for the group at the Crandalsburg Craft Fair to sell their knits but soon got into more than she bargained for.

 

I created Lia and all the characters in A Wicked Yarn, to tell a mystery story. But I made Lia an excellent knitter as one way for me to also create beautiful knits, but with much more ease and speed, not to mention skill.

 

I learned to knit as a child from my mother, as I’d guess many knitters have. My first attempt at about six, I think, was a scarf, and I do remember it growing wider and wider as it grew longer, which was not my intention. I kept no pictures of that.

 

I got a little better over the years, and when my husband and I were dating and we took up downhill skiing, I decided to knit him a ski sweater. My lack of experience led me choose a beautiful pattern but one that called for a double yarn of worsted and mohair. It took me a while (a subsequent engagement and wedding soaked up a lot of free time – no surprise!) but once I finished, I was delighted to see that it actually fit! Unfortunately, it was quite warm. Quite warm. Perhaps if we were living in Alaska, it might have gotten more use. But Maryland winters led my husband to beg off  wearing it except for a few ice skating sessions, and even then, since the skating rinks were indoors, he suffered.


The sweater has been in a drawer  more than not, since then, and though I did knit a few things for my children over the years, writing gradually took over my creative time.

 

Enter A Wicked Yarn. It’s always important for authors to know what they’re writing about, so when Lia got a commission for an alpaca sweater, I wanted to know all about alpaca yarn. The best way for me was to visit an alpaca farm, one where they bred alpacas, sheared their fleece, and turned it into yarn, all on the premises.

 

What a delight! Alpacas are absolutely wonderful animals – friendly, curious, and fuzzy. At the Painted Sky Alpaca farm in Maryland, they were well cared for and loved. After I spent time with many of the alpacas, the owners walked me through the process of washing and spinning alpaca fleece into yarn, some of which was then dyed, and some left in their natural colors.

 

After my time at Painted Sky, I wrote an alpaca farm into the plot of A Wicked Yarn, because why not? If I enjoyed my visit so much, I think my readers will too!

 

Of course, since it’s a mystery, I also slipped in a murder or two, and plenty of danger. But rest assured, no alpacas are harmed. My knitter? Well, it’d be telling too much to share what happens to her. But the mystery does get knotty, and Lia’s investigation grows a bit tangled for a while. But it all knits up in the end, knitters, craft fairs, alpacas, and all. A Wicked Yarn is, after all, a cozy mystery, perhaps as warm and cozy as an alpaca sweater, which was my goal. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 

A Wicked Yarn:

A Craft Fair Knitters Mystery, Book 1

 

Mother's Day should be a cinch for the good folks of the Crandalsburg Craft Fair, and knitting enthusiast Lia Geiger has a good feeling about this year's yield. But things quickly get knotty when Lia's daughter announces she's quit her job and Lia finds herself tangled up in the murder of her best friend's ex-husband. While Belinda's alibi quickly gets her off the hook, nasty rumors spread throughout Crandalsburg that shroud the entire fair in suspicion.

 

Could the vendors be responsible for the murder of a man hell-bent on unraveling the fair just days before his death? Lia and her crafty group of Ninth Street Knitters must put down their needles to gather clues and save the crafting community they've grown to love

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

audio 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--CHRISTMAS MORNING MIXED BERRY MUFFINS

For an easy Christmas morning breakfast, bake these muffins ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Zap them in the microwave to warm up right before serving.

Christmas Morning Mixed Berry Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

 

Ingredients:

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla 

1/4 tsp. Kosher salt 

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder 

1-1/2 cups frozen mixed berries, defrosted

 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray 12-count muffin tin with baking spray. 

 

In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs and sugar at high speed until thick and light in color, approximately 5 min.

 

Using low speed, add in yogurt or sour cream, oil, and vanilla, mixing only until ingredients are combined.

 

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt to combine. With mixer on low, add flour mixture into batter 1/3 at a time, mixing only until flour is incorporate. (Overmixing produces dense muffins.)

 

Cut any larger berries to the size of the blueberries or raspberries. Gently fold berries into the batter.

 

Divide batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups. Bake in the center of the oven until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

AUTHOR AMY SHOJAI WRITES THRILLERS WITH BITE

Amy Shojai, CABC is the award-winning author of 35+ nonfiction pet care and behavior books, and the September & Shadow thrillers. She lives in North Texas with Bravo-Dawg, Karma-Kat, Shadow-Pup, and the enduring memory of Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty. Learn more about Amy and her books at her website

The Birth of Thrillers With Bite!

Thank you for allowing me to share my fiction journey and my latest thriller, Hit and Run. I’d always wanted to write fiction, but my first successes focused on dog and cat nonfiction books, as I am a certified animal behavior consultant and former veterinary technician. 

 

When publishing changed (it does that every so often!), and my then-agent couldn’t sell my next nonfiction title, all my deadlines disappeared. Suddenly, I had time to experiment. So, I wrote the book I’d always wanted to read—with pet-centric stories that included strong dog and cat characters intrinsic to the plots. 

 

I call my thrillers “Thrillers With Bite!” because they all include heroic pets and their human partners. The books also include dog and cat viewpoint chapters—but they do not talk. These are not fantasy or cozy mysteries but rather are informed by my expertise in veterinary medicine and animal behavior. 

 

Although pet characters often may be at risk, I don’t kill my animal heroes in the stories. No, it’s only the people who become victims, and usually the bad guys get what’s coming to them. I also get to highlight the best of our cats and dogs in the stories by including hero pets from readers in the story after they win the Name That Dog and Name That Cat contest held for each book.

 

My main character, animal behaviorist and trainer September, partners with her PTSD service dog Shadow and her trained Maine Coon cat Macy. All the stories in the series thus far have been set in North Texas, but in Hit and Run September, Shadow, and Macy travel to South Bend, Indiana to uncover a conspiracy that has festered for decades. 

 

In the first book, Lost and Found, September trained Shadow as a service dog for her autistic nephew. I had no idea how to write in an autistic child’s viewpoint, and instead showed the story through the dog’s viewpoint in several chapters. 

 

I absolutely LOVED writing in dog viewpoint—not as a “talking” dog (aka human in a fur coat) but as a canine hero with his own story problem and character arc. Shadow perceives his world through scent, sound, and more, and acts and reacts as a normal dog would. Turns out, my readers love Shadow’s viewpoint chapters, too. They asked for “what happens next?” and the series was born.

 

In subsequent books, Shadow becomes September’s PTSD support/service dog. He’s also trained to track and find missing pets. Macy-cat, not to be outdone, copies him and acquires pet tracking skills (yes, there ARE real-life pet-finding felines). In the series, some of the amazing, true pet skills may surprise you.

 

I put my protagonist through the wringer in each story. Previous books naturally lead to the next logical “what happens next” step: In Lost and Found, September hides from her past; her stalker finds her in Hide and Seek; then the child victims from the first book become heroes in Show and TellFight or Flight, the fourth book, reveals what happened to Shadow while lost for two weeks in the previous book. It also introduces new characters and relationships, which led to a surprise AHA! inspiration for the plot of Hit and Run.

 

Through all the books September has a strained relationship with her mother. In a short scene at the end of Fight or Flight, she discovers her mother has a secret estranged sister and a hidden mysterious past. I didn’t plan that—the characters just blurted it out in dialogue as I wrote the scene. Then I had to figure out why the secret and how September would react. The answer was to confront her own past to uncover a decades-old mystery that (of course!) threatens her happiness and lives of those she loves. 

 

Readers love Shadow’s viewpoint chapters so much, they inspired me to expand that to cats. So in Hit and Run, there are some fun cat-centric heroic antics, and Macy also has a few chapters that show his part of the story through a cat’s purr-ceptions. 

 

I write thrillers because I get to control the outcome where good triumphs over evil, and hope lives for a brighter future. I hope one or more of my stories will entertain readers and maybe help them appreciate even more the pets they love. 

 

Hit and Run

A September Day and Shadow Thriller, Book 5


A Message from the grave. An assassin on her tail. Sniffing out the truth could get them all killed.


September Day is ready for a new start with her detective boyfriend. Believing she’s finally put her husband’s death behind her, her life upends when his mother sends her a safety deposit box key that could unlock the truth. But before she can examine the cryptic contents, she’s brutally attacked, the files are stolen, and her former in-law is murdered.

 

Determined to uncover the harrowing facts, September and her dog Shadow battle to stay one step ahead of the merciless killer. But when they stumble upon shady business at a cattery, she must expose the mastermind before she too ends up in the ground.

 

Will Macy-Cat sniff out the key to unmask a decades-old horror? Can September and Shadow confront the past and live to tell the tale?


Watch the trailer here

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Friday, December 18, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AUTHOR JODI RATH'S LATEST IRON SKILLET MYSTERY

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers, educational writing, marketing consultant work with authors, and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her eight cats. Learn more about Jodi and her books at her website.   

Seasons Greetings! I started prepping for the holidays back in July of 2020 by playing carols loudly in our home, streaming holiday reruns, and setting up a small tree in the corner of my office. I love the holidays, but this was to get myself in the mindset to write a holiday book for my series. While I’ve always enjoyed the research part of any of the writing that I do, this book was special in that I got to go back in time to learn about the origins of the tiny village where I reside, the Underground Railroad, and delve into many sites, articles, and books on different cultures and religions that hold celebrations and events in December.

 

It was interesting to see the role Ohio played in the Underground Railroad, especially along the Great Lakes leading to Canada. In my research, what I was most inspired by was that other people didn’t work to save the enslaved people, they saved themselves. This idea wasn’t emphasized in history class in school. The bravery, determination, faith, and resolve that I read about left me with the utmost respect. I learned so much from reading books like Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt and Under the Quilt of Night, both written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by the brilliant James E. Ransome. Yes, I am aware these are kids’ books, but stories with illustrations always draw me in. I read them in combination with books like A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir by Jason Diakite and it helps me connect with the material more than my high school history book that was taught to me by white men. 

 

While I don’t fancy myself to be much of a history buff, I do love those cold case shows and books that involve a dated murder to solve. There’s something about getting justice for those that never received it that appeals to me. What I found most interesting about writing a cold case story was how all of my characters remembered the past so differently while being positive their version of the truth was the correct one. Talk about things we can all relate to! 

 

Yuletide Cast of the Iron Skillet takes Jolie and Ava on their first cold case adventure when they stumble upon tunnels dug below the village of Leavensport, a buried skeleton, a bag of teeth, plus an unexpected villain redeems himself and the double-wedding everyone was waiting for gets turned upside down!

 

Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!

 

Yuletide Cast of the Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Skillet Mystery, Book 5.5

 

Holiday folly—LITERALLY! Alongside a murder comes another new little addition to the human race in Leavensport, Ohio. Not to mention a broken-off engagement, a double wedding, and buried bones in the village chapel cellar. The Martinez family is back in town to observe Nochebuena with Ava as the Tucker family gears up for their Christmas feast. Leavensport community center is abuzz with preparations for the village multi-cultural shindig until the discovery of an old unresolved crime casts a dark shadow over the town. Will Jolie and Ava solve their first cold case in time to save the holiday celebrations—and will they both survive it?

 

Buy Link 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER AND ROMANCE AUTHOR D.M. BARR


Today we sit down for an interview with psychological thriller and romance author D.M. Barr. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

About forty years ago when I attended a summer writer’s conference for nonfiction but wandered into a fiction writing class by mistake. It took me another thirty years or so to get up the guts to do it.

 

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

I worked on my first novel, Expired Listings, for about ten years on and off before it was published in 2016.

 

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

Hybrid. One novel self-published (despite five contracts from small presses), and three novels traditionally published with small presses.

 

Where do you write?

Usually on my family room couch but I can write wherever I need to.

 

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

Silence, always.

 

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

Some of the characters are drawn from real life but if I told you who, I’d be up to my eyeballs in lawsuits. So let’s just say they’re all fictional. 😊 Seriously though, Expired Listings is about a real estate broker (which is what I was at the time), Slashing Mona Lisa deals with weight issues (I’ve yoyoed all my life), and Saving Grace is an allegory for women over forty who don’t feel like they’re being heard. That would be me 😊.

 

Describe your process for naming your character?

For some characters, I Google what names were popular at the time they were born. But usually, the names just come to me.

 

Real settings or fictional towns?

A combination. Rock Canyon is based on Rockland County, Glen Valley is a made-up NJ town but the towns around it are real.

 

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

They tend to spout sayings from their grandparents or parents who are from other cultures.

 

What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I pun. I’m told this is very annoying. And yet, I persist.

 

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

The Bible. It’s done quite well. 😊 Seriously though? I wish I’d written The Hating Game.

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

I wish I’d had the guts to write fiction when I was younger.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Bigotry and hypocrisy.

 

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

Cell service, internet service, and a private, fully gassed-up jet with pilot.

 

What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

I wasted eight months at a travel company that didn’t listen to my suggestions, though they’d hired me as management, and then laid me off when their misguided policies didn’t yield the sales results they expected. Plus, they looked down on women in general. 

 

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

Impossible to answer with just one book. Loved Atlas ShruggedThe FountainheadThe Grapes of Wrath,Lonesome Dove…it’s just an endless list and it keeps changing, the more I read.

 

Ocean or mountains? 

Ocean.

 

City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

City girl who loves to escape to the country.

 

What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m pitching a rom-con that deals with overcoming the regrets of the past. And researching a nonfiction travel book I’ve wanted to write for the past fifteen years.

 

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

I’ve admired authors all of my life. To be one of them is the greatest honor I could ever imagine. The other day someone in Sao Paolo sent me a note on Facebook, telling me she couldn’t wait to read Saving Grace. The idea that I could write a book on my family room couch that could entertain someone in Brazil I’ll likely never meet is amazing.

 

Saving Grace: A Psychological Thriller

Grace Pierrepoint Rendell, the only child of an ailing billionaire, has been treated for paranoia since childhood. When she secretly quits her meds, she begins to suspect that once her father passes, her husband will murder her for her inheritance. Realizing that no one will believe the ravings of a supposed psychotic, she devises a creative way to save herself—she will write herself out of danger, authoring a novel with the heroine in exactly the same circumstances, thus subtly exposing her husband's scheme to the world. She hires acclaimed author Lynn Andrews to help edit her literary insurance policy, but when Lynn is murdered, Grace is discovered standing over the bloody remains. The clock is ticking: can she write and publish her manuscript before she is strapped into a straitjacket, accused of homicide, or lowered six feet under?

 

With a cast of secondary characters whose challenges mirror Grace's own, Saving Grace is, at its core, an allegory for the struggle of the marginalized to be heard and live life on their own terms.

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Monday, December 14, 2020

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--PANDEMIC, POLITICS & HOLIDAY {{{STRESS}}}, OH MY!

Is there anyone out there who isn’t totally {{{stressed}}} right now? 2020 has been one planet-wide bummer of a year. Luckily, I’m a fictional character, and although I’m rarely happy with the way my author, Lois Winston, has turned my world upside-down and inside-out, I have to admit, right now I’m totally thankful she hasn’t also dumped a pandemic into my world. Murder and mayhem are bad enough.

Shortly after the pandemic hit, Lois decided she wouldn’t be addressing Covid-19 in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, the one named for me. For one thing, the books she writes about me don’t take place in real time. My series began years ago. Lois sold the first three books in 2009. Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, debuted in 2011. A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth book and my latest adventure, came out this past October. However, in my world only a little more than a year has passed between the first and latest book. So Lois has a perfectly good excuse for not including a pandemic in my life.

 

I’d like to think it’s because she feels guilty about all the turmoil she’s already created in my world, but I know it has more to do with her than me. Lois lives eighteen miles from Ground Zero. Nineteen years later, she still has nightmares about that day. She’s never watched a show or read a book about 9/11 and never will.

 

And that’s how she feels about the pandemic. 

 

As I write this, I’m certain there are countless suspense, thriller, and Dystopian writers already hard at work on Covid-themed novels. However, Lois writes humorous cozy mysteries. Yes, they include murder and mayhem, but not in a way that keeps readers up at night or gives them nightmares. Even though the situations she writes me into are often inspired by actual events, the series is an escape from the real world, not a reminder of it. In other words, come for the mystery; stay for the laughs.

 

So whether you’re stressed by the pandemic, politics, the upcoming holidays, or all three, take a break, grab a cup of hot cocoa, put your feet up, and visit with me for a spell. I promise you a bit of Christmas cheer, plenty of laughs, and of course, a murder or two…or three or four…or…Hey, they are murder mysteries!

 

Drop Dead Ornaments

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7

 

Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.

 

At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.

 

Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?

 

Buy Links Currently on sale for .99 cents!


 

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 8

 

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

 

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

 

Buy Links


Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 7-8

Buy Links


Friday, December 11, 2020

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BETH BARANY'S FUTURISTIC SLEUTH JANEY McCALLISTER

Today we sit down for a chat with Janey McCallister from author Beth Barany’s Janey MCallister Mystery Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

I was a Lieutenant in the Sol Unified Planets Space Wing based out of Las Cruces, NM and traveling around as military police at various space stations. I was doing okay with my life, until my mom got sick and I realized I needed a much higher paying job. Why not work on an exclusive hotel casino in high earth orbit? They pay great and Mom gets her expensive medical care.

 

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?

I like to solve puzzles, the more complex the better.

 

What do you like least about yourself?

I can be stubborn and also have blinders on and forget relationships if they are outside of my work sphere. 

 

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?

I don't know if it is strange per se but she wants me to dress up in all this fancy clothing; granted it is for the job. 

 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?

No, I think we get along pretty well. Although sometimes I don't tell her everything. She gets upset about that. 

 

What is your greatest fear?

Failing the trust to do a good job that my colleagues have put in me. 

 

What makes you happy?

The company of good friends, a job well done, seeing my mother smile, and especially her homemade cherry pie. 

 

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

I would like to know who my father is. But mom says we're all better off not knowing. It does simplify things. 

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Partly Orlando Valdez, he is too sexy for his own good. 

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?

Sometimes I daydream about working with the chef in her kitchen when all I would have to do is make delicious meals as quickly and beautifully as possible. When the only problems I’d have to solve would be what recipes to suggest, based on the limited ingredients we have at hand.

 

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

Beth’s series featuring me is perfect for fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas books and KilljoysVagrant QueenCastle, and CSI. It contains a slow-burn romance, enhanced humans, cool high-tech gadgets, a futuristic vision of the Earth, and a tough kick-ass heroine with secrets

 

Learn more about Beth and her books and find excerpts and goodies at her website.

 

What's next for you?

More cases coming soon in Gone Green, Book 3 in the series, on preorder now. 

 

Lured by Light

A Janey McCallister Mystery, Book 2

 

At Bijoux de L’Étoile, the high-end casino orbiting Earth, anything can happen.


It’s a quiet day for L’Étoile lead investigator, Janey McCallister, until a young woman runs screaming through the blackjack tables. She looks like a victim of abuse, but when her boyfriend turns up dead the next day, she becomes the prime suspect


Determined to investigate every angle, Janey searches for clues and uncovers a world of high-priced escorts and human trafficking—a world just like the one that took the life of her best friend long ago. 


When Orlando Valdez, inspector for Sol Unified Planets, shows up with a new suspect, Janey isn’t sure she can trust the mercurial man who stopped returning her phone calls. But as the threats escalate and she unravels a deeper conspiracy, Janey and her team will need all the help they can get. If they fail, it could be the end of everyone on L’Étoile.

 

Buy Links

paperback 

ebook 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--AN INTERVIEW AND RECIPE FROM MYSTERY AUTHOR ILEANA MUÑOZ RENFROE'S AMATEUR SLEUTH


Today we sit down for a chat with Rosa de los Reyes from author Ileana 
Muñoz Renfroe’s Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mysteries.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings? 

Well, let me tell you it was much safer than it is now. Before I would travel all the time with my spirit guide Raul, spend time creating new couture fashion designs, and occasionally helping my abuela Nana read tarot cards to visitors who came to Colten Island. 

 

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself? 

That I can read minds. Although, sometimes it can get a little messy.

 

What do you like least about yourself? 

That I can’t help sticking my nose where danger lurks.

 

What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? That as a psychic, I did not see myself getting in the middle of an international heist. 

 

Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about? 

Taking so long to figure out how to tell my Cuban family that I was offered a year long internship at The House of Mather, the most prestigious couture fashion house in Paris.

 

What is your greatest fear? 

Something happening to my family. Cubans are a very close-knit family and ours is no exception.

 

What makes you happy?

Hanging out at La Misteriosa Café with Nana my abuela and Las Cubanitas, and of course Raul. He will be very offended if I don’t mention him.

 

If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

Honestly that author what’s her name Ileana or something has done a pretty good job with the story. She starts off strong, I think, and leaves you laughing at the end and wanting to jump right into the next book.

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Of course, Pierre. He is conniving, sneaky, and an overall sleazy no-good man. The fact that he is married to the model that is killed and involved in some shady deals says a lot about the person.

 

Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why? 

My abuela Nana. She is talented, funny, can do a mean tarot card reading, is psychic and shh, no one knows, but she can also read minds.

 

Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog? 

Well let’s see, my understanding is that my author Ileana Muñoz Renfroe, has lots of stories floating around in her head. This year while visiting her daughter in Paris, they were placed on full lockdown for three months. So, she decided it was time to get serious and finish A Fashionable Fate. Her first novel – A Fashionable Fate: Rosa The Cuban Psychic Mysteries is available December 18, 2020. 

 

She has two grown children. The eldest lives abroad and the youngest in the New England area. She loves to travel, enjoys a good single malt scotch, loves to read and salsa dancing. For now, she is staying in the states until the borders open again.

 

You can find my author at her website https://www.imrenfroe.com where you’ll also find links to her on social media and her blog.

 

What's next for you? 

My author has published a cookbook, Rosa The Cuban Psychic Homemade Cuban Recipe Cookbook. Some of the recipes are listed in the novel; others have been passed down from generation to generation. The cookbook has some recipes in English and some in Spanish.

 

The premise for the novel was also used in a music video. Ileana started book 2 and is also working on a new series about Candeedo Brewdinkle, a cantankerous old man who … well my author says I talk too much, so I guess I will stop here.

 

Mami’s Picadillo Family Recipe – Provided by Roberto Celeiro

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground round beef

1 large onion

1 large green pepper

6 garlic cloves

15 olives

15 capers

2 small boxes of raisins

1 tsp bijol

1 tbsp cumin

1/4 tsp pimiento

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup of vine seco - dry cooking wine

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce Note: Once you have poured out the tomato sauce, use the same can and fill to the top with water.

2 (1.41 ounce) packages sazón seasoning 

 

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir thinly chopped/minced garlic, onion, and green bell pepper in the hot oil until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

 

Crumble ground beef into the skillet; cook and stir until browned completely, 7 to 10 minutes.

 

Add the tomato sauce, water, and cooking wine. If it still needs more liquid use the same can of tomato sauce and fill it halfway with water.

 

Stir olives, raisins, capers, sazón seasoning, and cumin into the ground beef mixture.

 

Cover the skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until the mixture is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove from stove top.

 

Serving suggestions: white rice, black beans, and plantains.

 

A Fashionable Fate

A Rosa the Cuban Psychic Mystery, Book 1

 

For the past three years, Rosa de los Reyes, owner of Rosa's Boutique, has organized the fashion show gala on Colten Island. This year, things are getting a little heated and quite deadly. 

 

Rosa not only needs to use her psychic abilities but also needs to tap into the gossip at La Misteriosa, the Cuban Café owned by her Nana (abuela), to figure out who killed one of the models before the event has even started. To make matters worse, another dead body turns up, and in the middle of all this is an international smuggling operation that is underway. 

 

The closer Rosa and her spirit guide, Raul, get to finding the truth, the stickier the situation gets as they race against time to stop the killer from striking again and stopping the crooks from getting away.

 

Buy Link