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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Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Donna B. McNicol is a retired IT professional who started writing fiction after retirement. Her preferred genre is small town mysteries with a dash of romance, but she has also tackled children's stories, fantasy and smalltown romance. In addition, her short stories have been included in several anthologies. Learn more about Donna and her books at her website.

Klondike, PA Mystery Series

Why are my Klondike books not set in Alaska? That’s a good question and one that frequently comes up. In the late 1990s, my husband and I left our high pay but high stress jobs, sold our home, and hit the road in our motorhome. We went to work as contractors for a company installing part of the internet backbone. Our biggest contract was in middle Pennsylvania, and we fell in love with the state. We started looking at property and bought a small cabin in the north-central part of the state. 


We made some amazing friends during our time there and they encouraged me to write a book set in the area.


Several years went by, my husband passed from cancer, and I eventually remarried. I never forgot that little place in the woods and my friends there. In 2012, I started dabbling with fiction writing. I took a dream I had written down some years earlier and made it the prologue of my first mystery novel in the Klondike Mystery Series, Not a Whisper


Wikipedia: “Klondike is an unincorporated community in Corydon Township in McKean County, Pennsylvania, United States. Klondike is located along Pennsylvania Route 59/Pennsylvania Route 321 east of the Allegheny Reservoir.” 



Set in Klondike, the books in the series are small town, traditional mysteries. I class them as police procedurals. Nothing overly graphic, but there is some language. A dash of romance but it stops at the bedroom door. There is a wide cast of characters, some are in all the books, others come and go.


You can get a free download of the short story prequel, Just a Stranger, for signing up for my newsletter. You can also download a set of interviews with several of the main characters at the same time.


These books hold a special place in my heart, and I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.


Not a Whisper
A Klondike Mystery, Book 1


When a retreat becomes a nightmare...


When Cherie Marshall catches her fiancé and best friend in a compromising position, she cancels her upcoming wedding and jumps at the chance to escape to quiet Klondike, Pennsylvania to care for her elderly aunt. She thought her biggest issue would be adapting to life in the middle of a National Forest, so very different from her upbringing in the deserts of Arizona.


But that was before she met State Trooper Fire Marshall Jamison "Jazz" Maddox at the scene of a mysterious fire. As they both become acquainted with the close-knit Klondike residents, things get complicated as Cherie and Jazz find themselves in the middle of a local crime wave where arson, kidnapping, embezzlement and a decades-old murder are just the tip of the iceberg.


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Sunday, March 28, 2021


Do you remember reading You-Solve-It Mysteries or buying them for your kids? Today we welcome screenwriter and author Skip Press, who wrote some of the original books in the series. Learn how they came about and what the characters’ next iteration might be. He’d love your input. Learn more about Skip and his books at his website. 

Can a Character Live Forever? 

From the title of this article, you may have thought of great fiction characters from history. Maybe a Shakespearean character like King Lear, a play made into a movie many times but also contemporized as A Thousand Acres in 1987, or Sherlock Holmes. How many movies have been made starring the Baker Street detective, even as a youth in Young Sherlock Holmes in 1985? Mark Twain kept Tom Sawyer going with novels like Tom Sawyer, Detective. How often have the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew been adapted to movies or TV? I did a book with Flint Dille, who with his sister owns the Buck Rogers franchise. Recently, there was a new series announced in a Hollywood trade paper about a new Buck series. Hope it happens – I love the character. 


I have a similar situation, and so solicit any and all opinions about it. In 1987, my then agent Larry Sternig suggested I create a series character for the new spy magazine, Espionage. I ended up with a deal and a poster of the first cover with my name on it displayed in the New York City subways. The magazine only lasted a few issues, but my character Alexander Cloud stayed in my mind. An employee of the National Security Agency, he was unique with his psychic abilities that included a knack for finding anyone.


I wrote enough stories with Alex that it impressed a filmmaker I knew, and I was paid to write a screenplay starring Alex, who was half-Hopi and based in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. The worldwide scope of the script – something dictated by the producers – was apparently too wide, and they didn’t get the money to make it. So, the option on the screenplay expired and I got the rights back. 


Fast forward a few years. I was a member of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN. A new friend I met there, Aram Saroyan, told me that a publisher was looking for a series character for their new You-Solve-It Mystery young adult line. All I had to do was write a sample chapter and outline. What to do? I was by that time married and a Mr. Mom, writing at home and watching our son Haley Alexander while his mother worked a 9-to-5 job. I needed this deal. I figured Alexander Cloud must have been an interesting teenager, so I made him one. He was on the basketball team at Albuquerque North High School, and in his spare time he kept getting pulled into solving mysteries with his constant pal and maybe someday girlfriend, blonde-haired spunky, cute computer geek Jilly Adams.


No matter how much he tried to stay out of trouble and not upset his Scottish mother and Hopi computer executive father, Jilly always dragged Alex into solving crimes. 


I got a three-book deal. The first one, A Rave of Snakes, was the lead series title. I used family holiday season trips (her family in West Virginia, mine in Texas) to research the second  novel. For A Web of Ya-Yas, I took us up Highway 666 in New Mexico and wove some things I saw into the story. With the next one, A Shift of Coyotes, I used information from my friend David Ayer, who was fluent in Spanish and managing a maquiladora across the border in El Paso. This was long before he wrote Training Day or made movies. 


The novels did well. In the mid-90s, they were optioned by the production company owned by Ed Gaylord, who at that time owned The Nashville Network (which became TNT). Then, the executive running the company got in a fight with Gaylord, and my planned series never happened. Later, the novels were optioned by Moctesuma Esparza, who made many movies including Selena. He had a deal at Disney, but after he asked me to change Alex to a Mexican-American, the whole thing fell apart. I felt Native Americans were under-represented and Alex should maintain his native charm. 


Now we’re at today. It has occurred to me that Alex and Jilly are all grown-up, may still be friends, and might even be married. They would both be about forty years old. I have a complete story worked out that takes place in San Francisco and has a “natural world” type of title. It’s a better story than any I’ve ever come up with for Alexander Cloud. 


I wonder – should I try to weave in excerpts/memories from the old young adult stories? Should I just write the new novel and maybe touch up the old novels, publish them myself, and sell those as a set? Should I also put the old Alex Cloud NSA agent stories into a book? How about novelizing the screenplay I wrote? 


I own the rights to all of these, so I could do everything. Still, it’s a bit of a puzzle to me, thus I welcome your opinion. It’s my own you-solve-it mystery, and I value your advice! The End, or a New Beginning?


Screenplay to Novel: Real Money from Used Pages

Screenplay to Novel: Real Money from Used Pages is a ten-step guide to turning any screenplay into an excellent novel that you can sell, whether the script sold or not, by the author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwritng, who has had more than fifty books and novels published and with publications and classes has taught half a million writers to be more profitable. 

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Thursday, March 25, 2021


Cozy mystery and nonfiction author 
Sue Viders has a B.F.A. degree and is a teacher and an artist. She began writing for national art magazines to help artists market their works but switched to teaching writers how to better organize and write more effectively. Her most well-known nonfiction book, often called the Bible of building characters, is The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes.

Now approaching the big Nine-0, and having survived numerous bouts with cancer and other interesting medical problems, along with raising five children and assisting her attorney husband in his law practice, Sue Viders says she is proud to present her latest endeavor, which, according to Sue, all began at a lunch. Learn more about Sue and her books at her Amazon author page.


There were four of us, all over the age of 65, enjoying a writing-lunch get-together. We all had several books under our belts and were gathered to bemoan the fact that we all wanted to write something but didnt quite know what.


As we tossed around various ideas of what we might write together we came up with the idea of writing short articles for senior-oriented magazines, and maybe a newspaper or two. We came up with the name, Roads Well Traveled, where we would take turns reflecting on our lifes journey.


After a lot of query letters and networking, a large newspaper loved our idea and my short essay on Mother, you really need a new phone was the first one published. And lo and behold, I got fan letters. I was thrilled. My thoughts were hitting home with the over 65 crowd. So, I reasoned, maybe I should jot down more of my personal thoughts and observations on living.


After much soul searching, I realized I was not alone in my thoughts and how I approached life. And that other people played as much solitaire as I did  so that observation became my essay The World without Solitaire.  


I decided writing essays was very soul satisfying and that I would write about all the little things that both bothered or irritated me. A sample of her essay titles include:


Scamming the Scammer

Adverbs  Game Changers, because I was tired of listening to the so-called expert talking heads who never seemed to tell the truth.

Ketchup and Pickles, which is not about food.

Why do we Swear? Which came about when my kids accused meof swearing too much.

The Trouble with Tissues, which wrote itself after watching an old Star Trek episode.

Chutzpah Needs a Partner  My favorite.


And so these newspaper articles gradually morphed into Out-of-the-Box Essays, containing forty-four short thought-provoking and humorous comments on my life and living.


Out of the Box Essays

A Young at Heart Writer Explores the Complexities of Everyday Life


Why do writers write these short essays?


Are my thoughts, ideas or random bits of observation any better than yours?


Will my words change the world somehow? Will they change or somehow inspire you in some way?


Probably not, but I do believe writers write these “pearls of wisdom” and “gems of observation” because we’ve been around the block a few times and want to share what we have learned—so you, the reader will have a few laughs, a few “that’s exactly right” or “that’s exactly what I thought” comments.


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Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with David Taylor from author M. Elle Kelso’s Cyber Cowboys series. 

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

I was probably best described as an over-educated computer nerd/minor adrenaline junkie, which I know is a contradiction if there ever was one. I flew helicopters, rode horses without benefit of anything except a halter and a couple of lead shanks as reins – all while searching for black hat hackers, stalkers, and computer fraud artists in my day job. 


It was when Blake Corbin, Jared Wynn, and I formed our partnership that I found out there were people out there who needed our help who weren’t suffering problems related to computers.


In our first documented case, a dog breeder, Kaycee Morgan, was being stalked by someone who seemed to want her dead. Kaycee ended up married to Blake. 


The second case involved a woman, Annie Bolton, whose dead husband was trying to rob her of everything she owned, not to mention her life. Figure that one out! Annie Bolton ends up married to Jared.


The third case is my book, and yeah, I end up married to the woman of my dreams. It was a bit of a disaster there, for a while, when I lost my head along with the use of my legs. Why C.J. ever put up with me I will never know, but thank God she did. 


Maybe I should warn Will Carter, the star of the fourth documented case, or he’ll find himself hitched to our client, Mercy Brittain, by the time he’s done.


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

That I could finally grow a pair, as the saying goes, and get over the lemon life handed me and quit being a complete jerk to the woman who loved me and stood by me for months after the accident that left me in a wheelchair. She did everything she could to make my life livable, and I took endless swipes at her, then booted her out of my life completely. Only after I got over feeling sorry for myself, thanks to my partners, did I realize that I still wanted and needed her in my life. 


I eventually got my life in order and knew that without her, I was nothing. What she gave me was my love of life and her love. Without her, I had nothing, but she took the chance and gave me back my life. For that I am hers for eternity and owe her everything. I’d guess you’d call that trait perseverance because I finally got my life back to my new normal.


What do you like least about yourself?

My short temper, my ability to block out and ignore others, and to feel sorry for myself. I’m not sure which is the worst. I don’t know where those traits came from because I used to be this giving sort of guy and would help anyone, however when it came to helping myself, I failed miserably.


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

Trying to crash-land my brand new helicopter on the side of an old rock slide site, big rocks everywhere, no place to set down, after a rustler shot me down. I mean, really! My life had just hit the pinnacle, I had everything; a great wife whom I loved, a horse I had a very strange, almost human bond with, an enjoyable job, and that brand new Bell JetRanger. Then she goes and shoots me down, crashes the helo into little bits of wreckage that come back to injure me, and then, as if that isn’t enough, she takes my legs. Who wouldn’t think that was strange? Or maybe evil? Or at least downright unfriendly. I didn’t know she had it in her to be so nasty, but considering the other books she’s written, maybe I should have at least had a small clue.


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

I did once and learned my lesson. I tried to convince her the helo shouldn’t crash, that it was a waste of a perfectly good bird, and that she could have had me find a place to land. The rest of the time, she was pretty good to me, but that? That really hurt. But as you can see, she was right. It had to happen just the way she wrote it. I finally learned my lesson. 


What is your greatest fear?

Failure. Failure to live life to its fullest. Failure to love like there’s no tomorrow. Failure to be the best I can.


What makes you happy?

Oh, darlin’ that’s an easy one. My wife, my horses, my friends, but especially a black Arabian stallion named Mirage. The bond we have is almost as great as the bond I finally achieved with my wife.


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

Well I think I’d tell my author not to have me crash that helicopter after getting shot, so I wouldn’t act like a complete jerk and lose the love of my life and the ability to walk. That’s rather demeaning, don’t you think?



Because I could never get back the months I lost putting up a fight against everyone in my life who tried to help and used cruelty I didn’t know I had in me to make my wife leave. When I told her to get out, I meant it; until she was gone and I finally realized what I’d done.


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

There are two - one is Mike, the guy who sold me the helicopter that caused all my problems, and the other is Annie Wynn - because there was a woman who’d been beaten down by life but good and she came back time and again with nothing but love and generosity to everyone around her. 


About Mike, I think it’s obvious. The guy cost me my legs and nearly cost me the love of my life. As for Annie, dear, sweet Annie, I mean, who could be that good a person? Really? Turns out, she was.


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

Mirage - I’d love to be able to fly over the ground, with the barest of efforts, feel the wind in my face and know I was one of God’s creatures. 



Come on, darlin’, wouldn’t you like to trade places with a horse? Think of the life. No worries except maybe when the next meal is coming, getting in out of the rain, standing in the sunshine and having people fawn over you. Maybe an hour’s work each day, if that.


But most of all, the freedom of being one of God’s creatures.


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

My author is a Canadian who lives in the same province that hosts the Calgary Stampede, and she assures me she doesn’t live in an igloo or walk the streets with moose and caribou. She told me that she loved the great outdoors, knew the Pacific Northwest fairly well having lived there, on the Canadian side of the border and an island, no less, but hadn’t been lucky enough to live where we live in Wyoming. But, her knowledge of things ranching, farming and veterinary care of horses and dogs comes from a family history as well as incredibly deep research. Check her out at mellekelso.com


In Eagle Down, my book, I’m injured in a helicopter crash while investigating a large scale rustling operation and when I wake from my coma, I don’t remember my wife, C.J. or our recent wedding, and I go ballistic when I finds she’s been at my bedside since the accident and knows I’m permanently paralyzed but doesn’t tell me. I throw her out of my hospital room and my life. I don’t have to rescue C.J.—I need to win her back.


What's next for you?

Trying to help my author find a new title for Will’s story. She had one that worked, I thought, then she changed it, or tried to. Since she probably won’t listen to me on that one, I’ll just be there when Will Carter needs help with his case. 


Her next book in the Cyber Cowboy series is called Mercy Rule and releases March 18th, if she finishes it on time.


Eagle Down
The Cyber Cowboys Series, Book 3


Meet the Cyber Cowboys—a tough bunch of private eyes who know computers and the law inside out and backward. Every time they step out of their computer-P.I. boots—answer a call that doesn’t include black-hat hackers, online hustlers and fraudulent con artists—they meet nothing but trouble. Attempted murder, arson, rustling, and abduction they can handle. Falling in love sends them looking for the ‘help’ button. Computers? Artificial intelligence has nothing to do with it! In every case, these laidback investigators have to get down and dirty to save the women they love.  


In Eagle Down, David Taylor is injured in a helicopter crash while investigating a large scale rustling operation and when he wakes from his coma, doesn’t remember his wife, C.J. or his recent wedding, and goes ballistic when he finds she’s been at his bedside since the accident and knows he’s permanently paralyzed but hasn’t told him. He throws her out of his hospital room and his life. David doesn’t have to rescue C.J.—he needs to win her back.


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Sunday, March 21, 2021


In her previous life Sophy Smythe was a Dutch medical doctor, specialising in chronic pain and burnout. Like her protagonist Charlie Martens, MD, she reinvented herself, and now writes fact-based mystery-thrillers. The Medical Code is her debut novel. Learn more about Sophy and her books at her website. 

Most people are alienated by the impossible poses of yoga, the perfect styling, and the myth that you have to be flexible to do yoga. Enter Charlie Martens, the YouTube yoga instructor who's become a lifeline for stiff, anxious people locked in their cramped apartments, their crowded living rooms, and their sunless basement flats. She's the founder of Yoga With Charlie, a YouTube channel. Over five million subscribers follow her every video in Dutch and English. Her routines are designed to make yoga accessible and appealing to as many people as possible. 


Her homepage reads like a pharmacy shelf. Whatever ails you, Charlie has a remedy for that: yoga for self-love (literally hugging yourself), yoga for runners, yoga for when you're angry (a lot of breathing exercises and child’s pose to calm down) and happy birthday yoga (my favourite). Find your most cynical friend and ask them about Charlie; it's likely that they're a secret fan. 


Despite this, Charlie isn't your typical fitness influencer. Her videos are shot in her Antwerp living room. Each video starts with a clip of Charlie inviting you to make time for yourself while gentle lounge music plays. She doesn't edit out her falls or stumbles. And she is laughing a lot. Especially when something goes wrong. Her appeal is that Charlie makes people feel good, not bad.


Tell me how you created ‘Yoga With Charlie’.

After writing my first book Love Your Life!, readers asked me to upload videos with practical exercises on how they could love their life, despite all the misery they were going through. Yoga did so much for me; it helped me to stay in contact with myself. You know, it’s all about love, breathing, and acceptance of yourself. And what you experience on the mat, you experience off the mat as well.


You are not a regular doctor, are you?

Hahaha, actually I am. I specialised in gastroenterology but left the hospital to work for a platform for independent research, Cochrane. During my hospital days, I was frustrated that patients were sent home with pills that would not have been necessary if they just took control of their lives. You know, eat well, exercise, sleep well. Love yourself and make the most of your life. So I decided to write a series of books and started Yoga With Charlie, just to show them how.


How has your life changed in the last few weeks? What's changed for you since the start of quarantine?

Normally I love to travel, to hike and see the world. That’s where I get my inspiration. Now, alas, it’s not possible. But better times will come. 


Charlie, how did you manage to win over a nation of miserable and sarcastic Brits, who hate everything, especially anything positive?

Brits have a special humour you find nowhere else in the world. Where else in the world can you find someone saying, ‘It’s a bit windy, isn’t it?’, while a raging hurricane is outside? I love it. I studied medicine at King’s College in London, and I learned to appreciate the Londoners. I might have taken up their humour, too.


Charlie Martens is also the New York Times and Amazon bestselling author of Love your Life! Exercise!, Love What You Eat, and Grow Your Own Medicine.


The New York Times said that your books are refreshing and a breakthrough, as your advice is easy to maintain and down to earth. It is not common for a doctor to give so much attention to prevention. Can you tell us, Charlie, why you have written those books?

Excellent question. When I worked at the hospital as a gastroenterologist, I was appalled by how many medicines my patients took. They started with one, and that had side effects. Thus, they took medicine number two to counter the side effects. After a while they had another complaint for which they received a prescription, and the story goes on, because, you guessed it, that also had side effects. They’d enter my office with a plastic bag full of legit medicines. For me, it was a challenge to minimise the medicines needed. But also to teach my patients how they could live long and stay fit. 


The Medical Code

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in Antwerp, Belgium, Doctor Charlotte Martens receives an urgent late-night call from her friend who is a member of the European Medicines Agency. The next day Charlotte learns that her friend was violently murdered and that she herself is now the prime suspect. Because the police find a baffling code beside the murder victim, Charlotte enlists the help of an investigative journalist. She and the journalist discover that her murdered friend was about to expose a conspiracy of fraud and corruption within the pharma industry involving the government, certain reputable doctors, and even the European Medicines Agency.


With both the police and the murderer closing in on them, Charlotte and the journalist must stay alive long enough to find the hard evidence necessary to bring down a faceless pharma company that will clearly stop at nothing to protect their secret network.


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Thursday, March 18, 2021


Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library. She’s the author of ten novels including the five books and four stories of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Finding Clues and Lost Items in Unusual Places

Have you ever had the experience of finding something you’d been missing when you were looking for something else? It happens to me often. I can search for something high and low without any luck, but it usually turns up by accident when I least expect it or am hunting for a different lost item. My anniversary ring was missing for nearly a year when I found it in a drawer under some clothes I was looking through for something to wear. It took me a shorter time to find my library badge lanyard that I’d placed in a bag in my closet, but I also found it by accident when I was looking in there. 


When Alicia’s young daughter Carol finds a ring during an Easter Egg Hunt at the Cobble Inn in KittyKai’s Easter Mystery, my new short story featuring the Cobble Cove characters from my cozy mystery series, Detective Ramsay recognizes it as belonging to a missing woman. It isn’t long before the lady’s body is found buried on the construction site where workers had dug for the inn’s new bathroom. While Gretchen’s husband is relieved to finally know what happened to his wife, he’s devastated that she’s dead. But is he putting on an act? Gilly has heard him fighting with his wife. The arguments involve Gretchen’s brother, a rich man who supposedly stole her inheritance from her. 


Sneaky and KittyKai once again get involved in solving this mystery by following their ladies, Alicia and Gilly, to a doctor’s office where Gretchen had worked briefly as a receptionist. Sneaky ends up finding a clue by accident in the doctor’s drawer. But KittyKai is the one who saves the day and rightly so, because she’s the inn cat and the inn is where Gretchen Miller’s body was found.


While most people don’t find clues in their backyards that lead to dead bodies, according to Cision PR Newswire, the average American spends 2.5 days a year looking for lost items and the most common ones that are missing are: TV remotes (45%), phones (33%), car & keys (28%), glasses (27%), shoes (24%) and wallets/purses (20%). 


Rachel Hartman on the SpareFoot blog offers suggestions for finding lost items such as keeping those things you use daily in a regular spot, searching for misplaced objects in the most cluttered areas of your home, and using Smartphone apps that help locate missing items. Her post, “Where Did I Put That? 7 Tips for Finding Lost Items in Your Home” can be read in full here: https://www.sparefoot.com/self-storage/blog/14773-where-did-i-put-that-6-tips-for-finding-lost-items-in-your-home/


If someone is lucky, their lost item may turn up or be found by somebody and returned. There are people who swear by St. Christopher medals or psychics. In most cases, if you don’t find a lost object within a few days, you probably won’t recover it. However, there are always exceptions. I never thought I’d find my ring after almost a year, but after twenty years, I’m still looking for a special letter an author wrote to me. It disappeared somewhere between my move from my parents’ house to the one I share with my husband and daughter. That author, now deceased, was a great inspiration to me, and I know that letter would be treasured by me even more today as I continue on my publishing journey. I hope to find it one day, and maybe I will when I least expect it. I doubt it will lead me to a body but maybe the plot for another mystery.


KittyKai’s Easter Mystery
A Cobble Cove Stories, Book 4


During an Easter egg hunt at the Cobble Inn, a ring is found on the grounds by Alicia’s daughter, Carol. When the sheriff has it examined, he discovers it belonged to him and Gilly’s neighbor, Gretchen Miller, who disappeared the month before. An investigation leads to the discovery of Mrs. Miller’s body buried on the site of the inn’s new construction.

As Alicia and Gilly set out to solve this new mystery despite their husbands’ discouragement, Sneaky and KittyKai, the library and inn cats, secretly lend them a paw.


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Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Award-winning author Maris Soule started her career writing romances before switching to mysteries. Learn more about her at her website/blog.

I didn’t plan on writing a series when I published The Crows back in 2007, but once it was out, a librarian asked when the next P.J. Benson Mystery would be published. Why not? I thought. I liked P.J. and I’d left her in a relationship with Sheriff’s Deputy Wade Kingsley that could be explored. And thus came As the Crow Flies, followed by Eat Crow and Die, and then a short story, "Eye of the Crow". At that point, I’d put P.J. through all sorts of drama: people shooting at her, trying to poison her, throwing her down a flight of stairs and robbing her. Also, she was constantly dealing with her schizophrenic mother and worrying that she might have inherited the disease. Poor P.J. It was time to stop getting her involved in murders; however, I’d also left her pregnant. I really did need to write one more book.


In the fourth (and final) book in the series, P.J. is nine-months pregnant. It’s been a long time since I was pregnant, but I don’t think any mother forgets those last few days of a pregnancy when you can no longer see your feet and sleep is a foreign word. I started Something to Crow About knowing I wanted P.J. to have the baby by the end of the book, but I wasn’t sure how to work a mystery into the story. And then I saw my neighbor’s daughter walk by one afternoon, looking like she’d swallowed a watermelon. I stopped her and asked how far along she was and how she was doing, and I discovered not only was she pregnant, she was a midwife.


After talking to her, I began to formulate an idea that would involve a midwife and classes the woman would have for first-time mothers. It’s before and during one of these classes that P.J. once again gets involved in the need to solve a murder. Oh, and one of the fun things I love about writing is learning new things, so I asked my neighbor’s daughter what a midwife did and what equipment one needed, and she invited me over and showed me the bag she brings when attending a birthing. (And yes, I worked some of that into the book.)


Something to Crow About took me a while to write. Last summer my neighbor’s daughter walked by, a darling little girl balanced on her hip. Next time I see her, I’m going to give her a copy of the book she “helped” me write.


Something to Crow About

Nine-months pregnant, what P.J. wants most is to deliver a healthy baby girl. But when she overhears a former coworker friend say her life is in danger, and an hour later that friend is dead, P.J. feels she must convince the police the hit-and-run wasn’t simply an accident. However, simply relating what she overheard puts her own life and the life of her unborn child in danger. She must discover what her friend took before the next “accident” is hers.


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Sunday, March 14, 2021


Judy Hogan is both an author and a publisher. Her archives are in Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Women’s History and Culture Collection. She enjoys reading, writing, and teaching and works on environmental issues in Moncure, NC, where she lives. Learn more about her at her website and blog.

A few years ago I was having some numbness episodes in my left hand and arm. They lasted less than five minutes, but I was advised to go to the Emergency Department to check it out. The main doctor I saw was a resident, who was usually overworked and exhausted. Her supervising doctor was a tyrant, as I learned. My own doctor always listened to me, so I wasn’t of the school that medical doctors, even at the highest level, were always right. 


This big doctor said he’d found the problem, and threatened me when I refused the medicine.


This left me feeling how wrong it was for a medical doctor to tyrannize like that. Hence this book. 


Sickness Unto Death is a phrase from Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher. It meant Despair to him. The only medical code I know about for the medical profession is “Do No Harm.”


Most of the novel takes place in a teaching hospital in rural North Carolina on the Stroke Ward.


Healthy Brownies



1/3 cup soy flour

1 tsp. salt

12 T. (or less) cocoa

2/3 cup whole wheat or whole rye flour

4 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Sift together flours, salt, and cocoa. 


In a bowl beat the eggs and oil together. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add

the vanilla. Then mix in the dry ingredients in two parts. Add nuts, 


Bake in a 12” x 16” greased baking pan or two 8” x 8” pans 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares. 


Sickness Unto Death

A Penny Weaver Mystery, Book 15


When Penny Weaver goes to the hospital because of some left arm numbness, her roommate is a very sick woman with pneumonia, diabetes and congestive heart failure. The doctors are worried Tenisha will have a stroke. Penny patiently submits to all the tests the doctors run and is told not to walk without a nurse being called, though the bathroom is only 3 steps from her bed. Tenisha is an unruly patient. She takes out her oxygen IV and yells for the nurse to give her something stronger than Tylenol. Both women have a bad night, and at 6 a.m. the next morning Tenisha falls out of her bed and dies.


When Penny’s husband Kenneth visits, he is sure that Tenisha’s death is suspicious. That brings in the detectives from the Shagbark Sheriff’s Department. Their investigation is thorough, but the cause of death is still not clear. Penny also is interviewed, but no solution is found. Penny is quite distressed at her own diagnosis and the prescription for her to take an anti-epileptic drug. She refuses, but the chief neurologist threatens that he will tell the DMV to take away her driving license if she doesn’t take the drug.


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Thursday, March 11, 2021


Toddlers and young children don’t always want to take naps, even though, as every daycare center and nursery school knows, they need these rest periods in the afternoon. Without them, they often become cranky “little monsters” later in the day. If your little ones or grandchildren are resisting rest periods, try enticing them with a special fuzzy no-sew blankie that requires absolutely no skill other than using scissors and tying knots.

First, make a special trip to the fabric store with the child. Allow him or her to choose a favorite from the myriad patterns of no-pill fleece available. Most fabric stores carry a wide variety of prints with everything from cartoon characters, cars, trains, unicorns, rainbows, and more. Since you’ll need two pieces of fabric, you can make the blanket reversible if the child can’t choose between two patterns. Or you can suggest a print for one side and a coordinating solid, stripe, plaid, or polka-dot for the other side, as in the photo.


Note: fabric lengths are for a toddler-size blanket. If an older brother or sister also wants a blanket, you’ll need 2-yds. of fleece for each side, and depending on the age, they can probably cut and tie their own blankets.


No-Sew Fleece Blanket



1-1/2 yds. 58-60” wide no-pill fleece (or 3-yds. If using the same print for front and back)

1-1/2 yds. 58-60” wide no-pill fleece in second pattern or coordinating color or pattern

Fabric shears or pinking shears



Place the fleece on a flat surface. If you don’t have a table large enough, use the floor, but make sure it’s clean! With long, smooth cuts, carefully trim the selvage from both sides of each piece of fabric. If using one pattern for both sides of the blanket, cut the fabric in half for two 1-1/2 yds. lengths.


With wrong sides together, line up the two pieces of fabric. If the pieces are slightly different in size, trim them even.


With the two pieces of fabric still together, cut a 6” square through both layers on each of the four corners.


Place the yardstick across the fabric, 6” from the edge. Using the yardstick as a guide and cutting through both layers of fabric, cut 1” wide strips of fabric, 6” long across each of the four sides of the blanket. Move the yardstick along the fabric as needed to maintain the 1” width of the strips.


Leave the blanket on the flat surface with all fringe lined up. Beginning at one corner, cross the end of each double strip over itself, forming a loop. Knot the strips together by bringing the ends through the loop and sliding the knot up to the edge of the blanket. Continue knotting, working your way around all four sides of the blanket.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Detective Will Peterson from romantic suspense author Afton Locke’s Deadlocked by Dawn.

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

I had an easy job in the Key Largo PD investigating commercial crime. Until a murder happened at a nearby resort, and the department was shorthanded.


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

I have a great gut, and I’m not talking about food. My instincts about killers are usually spot-on. If only I’d listen to them more.


What do you like least about yourself?

Waiting too long to think things over instead of making a split decision.


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

The author will kill me if I give away any plot spoilers, so I’ll be vague. In the moment of truth, Delia took away the very option I planned to use. And I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out Plan B.


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

Yep. She always tells it like it is, even if it makes me look bad. She says readers don’t want to read about a perfect hero, but does she have to make me look so flawed?


What is your greatest fear?

Wimping out and looking like a failure.


What makes you happy?

Being trusted. Doing well at my job. Catching killers.


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

My past job. I screwed up, and it cost me dearly. I can never get back what I lost.


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

The heroine. My attraction to her gets in the way of my logical thinking. She also makes me want to protect her. There goes my easy job in paradise.


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

The villain. Ruthless, crafty, and full of guts.


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

Afton Locke is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes outside the box. Her trips always inspire her, sometimes years after they’re over. She lives with her husband, usually surrounded by animals, both wild and domestic. When she’s not writing, Afton enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and watching retro T.V. You can learn more about her and her books at her website. http://www.aftonlocke.com


What's next for you?

I plan to be Key Largo’s best homicide investigator. Not only fearless but compassionate. Delia will make sure of that…


Deadlocked by Dawn

Paradise in the Florida Keys…

After 2020, Delia Sloane struggles to keep Rainbow Falls Resort afloat while grieving the loss of her father and husband. She refuses to let her Key Largo slice of paradise—a haven for non-mainstream couples—die. But when a serial killer begins attacking her guests—leaving a single dreadlock on each victim—everything spins out of control, including what’s left of her family.


Hides a killer…

After her brother’s experience with police brutality, the last place she wants to turn to for help is law enforcement. Scarred mentally by a deadly force incident, Detective Will Peterson has avoided homicide cases. But only he has the skills to drill into the elusive killer’s twisted mind.


And it just got personal…

When a hurricane strikes, exposing the horrible truth behind Delia’s losses and threatening everything she holds dear, trusting Will may be her only hope. Are they up to the challenge?


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