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, June 29, 2021


Author Cheryl Hollon writes the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries and the Paint & Shine Mysteries. She writes full-time after an engineering career designing and installing military flight simulators in England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Living her dream, she combines a love of writing with a passion for creating art. Learn more about Cheryl and her books at her website.

Peeking Out from Under the Covers

What a wild and crazy year for mystery readers and writers. The publishing world is beginning a new swirl of both virtual and in-person events. Conferences are returning to familiar venues but keeping some of the online features as well. Through it all, I’m attending a combination of event types that no one could have predicted even a few months ago. 


Nevertheless, I have the second book in a new series that releases on June 29, 2021. Unfortunately, my supportive, fan-favorite, local independent bookstore will still be closed. I genuinely support the owner’s decision to remain closed until they’re sure of a sustainable business plan. So many of our local St. Petersburg businesses haven’t been able to survive the whiplash changes in direction. 


This book will be out in the world trying to find readers who enjoy a bit of painting, some fabulous southern food, and homebrewed moonshine, accompanied by a puzzling mystery. It seems trivial to be concerned with how my little books reach an audience, but many readers have told me that these books provide a much-needed distraction during challenging times.


I’ve arranged for both virtual and traditional book events for Draw and Order with my local independent bookstores. 


The first is a virtual Zoom event with Tombolo Books on June 29th, at 6:30 pm. The next is a traditional in-person event on July 10th from 1-3 pm at Books @ Park Place, with JD Allen and Tara Lush joining the fun. The last event is a Sunday morning with Mimosas on July 11th from 10 am to Noon at the newest bookstore called Book + Bottle in downtown St. Pete. I hope to see many of you at one or more of them.

Draw and Order

A Paint and Shine Mystery, Book 2


Appalachian artist and local guide Miranda Trent opens a new murder investigation after her Paint & Shine tour group discovers the remains of a missing hiker along an ancient trail.


For her latest excursion, Miranda is thrilled to take a close-knit group of rock climbers, the Risky Business Adventurers, up the challenging Battleship Rock Trail to paint and sample moonshine. But the outing is cut short when they discover a skeleton near the trailhead. Even more startling, the bones belong to Howard Cable, Miranda’s cousin…and a former classmate of the Risky Business group.


The sheriff chalks it up to a hiking accident, but Miranda isn’t convinced that Howard, an experienced woodsman, died within sight of a well-marked trail. So, with the help of Ranger Austin Morgan, Miranda sets out on her own investigation and discovers that the Risky Business group is keeping plenty of secrets. But is one of them hiding the truth about Howard’s death?

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Sunday, June 27, 2021


Today we sit down to chat with Lily Scott from Nancy Gardner’s paranormal cozy, Dream Stalker 

What was life like for you before your author started pulling your strings

I had a daughter, a husband, an herbal medicine business, and a quiet life as a practicing Salem witch. Now my husband is dead, and my daughter is in jail for murder. Nancy Gardner ruined my life!


What is your greatest fear? 

That I’ll have to use my power to walk into other people’s dreams, a power that long-ago ended in disaster.


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

My ability to heal people’s aches and pains with herbs. Clients come from miles around for a consultation to address what ails them. And many of them return to tell me that my tinctures and teas have changed their lives. 


What’s your least favorite trait? 

Indecisiveness often leads me down the wrong path, like not stopping my daughter Sarah from running off with that abusive boyfriend. I was too worried that I’d interfere and make matters worse, as I did when I was twelve, made a bad decision, and broke my Nana’s heart.


What’s the strangest thing your author had you do? 

Break into a stranger’s home. At least I had a friend with burglary experience as back-up.


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

There is one character in the story who dies. I wish he’d lived because I think he was a decent person despite a few bad choices.


Which character in your story bugs you the most? 

My sister, the saintly nun who runs a homeless shelter. She and I have been at odds all our lives. I think she’s jealous because I was born with the firefly-shaped birthmark of a dream-walker, and she wasn’t.


What’s next for you? 

My author is busily cooking up more trouble for me that involves a niece I never knew I had, and a threat to the larger Salem community that must be headed off before it’s too late. She’s a mean one, that author of mine.


Tell us something about your author. 

She has been working on Dream Stalker for over ten years. Sometimes I wish she had quit instead of ruining my quiet life. Other times I find my new life exciting. 


Where can readers find her website and blog? 

Learn more about Nancy and her books at her website and her blog.


Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

I’d like to share a recipe for Chamomile and Lavender Shortbread. Together these two herbs are natural sedatives and anti-inflammatories. If you try your hand at baking them, I think you’ll love the delectable odor that fills the kitchen. I topped the pictured cookies with dried, blue butterfly sweet-pea flowers that come with health benefits of their own. Enjoy! 

Dream Stalker

Can you uncover evil in another’s dreams? You can if you were born with the birthmark of a dream-walker. Lily Scott, a modern Salem witch, was born with this mark like the line of maternal ancestors that came before her. But Lily’s first adolescent attempt at dream-walking ended in disaster.


Now, decades later, her world explodes. Her husband is dead. Her daughter faces prison for the murder of a local witch. Her estranged sister, a Roman Catholic nun, struggles to protect the band of aging homeless women in her care. Lily must decide: tap into her power to search for a killer or let her fear of the Dream Stalker hold her back? 


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Thursday, June 24, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Lynn Slaughter, author of adult contemporary romantic mystery. Learn more about Lynn and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

Throughout my adult life, I continued to love and read young adult fiction. But I didn’t think I had the fiction gene! While I was still dancing, I moonlighted as a freelancer and wrote magazine articles. Initially, I wrote mainly about dance, but then I switched to specializing in writing about the joys and challenges of parenting adolescents for regional parenting magazines. When age and injury led to my retirement from dance, I got an idea for a young adult novel about an aspiring dancer with romantic and family troubles. Honestly, I think it started out as a therapy project for me. I was grieving the loss of dance in my life and writing about a dancer felt like a way to connect to the world I’d loved for so long. Once I started writing what became While I Danced, I was hooked and ended up returning to school in my sixties to earn my MFA in Popular Writing from Seton Hill University. 


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

I worked on my first novel, While I Danced, on and off for a decade before it was published.


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

Traditionally published


Where do you write? 

Mainly in my home office. I also love writing on trains.


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

I love the American Songbook as well as classical music. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Sarah Vaughan, one of my all-time favorite vocalists.


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

I think there are pieces of me and others I’ve known or worked with in my characters, but I’ve never written a character who’s a twin of anyone from real life. The closest novel to reflecting my own experience is undoubtedly my first in which Cass, the protagonist, is an aspiring dancer. Like me, her strengths are her musicality and expressiveness. But she also struggles with learning movement sequences quickly. Also like me, she has a father who doesn’t approve of her pursuing a career in dance and doesn’t want to talk about her absent mother. Cass’s father, however, has very different reasons for his behavior.


A theme that runs through my work is the need to create an “intentional family” when your family of origin does not support who you are and who you dream of becoming. That’s undoubtedly a reflection of having counseled so many teens who’ve struggled with family issues.


Describe your process for naming your character: 

I have a book of baby names which not only gives their origins, but what they mean. I love pouring through it and choosing names that seem to fit my characters. I also sometimes use parts of names of people from my childhood. I’ve used favorite teachers’ names, neighbors’ last names, etc.


Real settings or fictional towns? 

I’ve done both. Leisha’s Song is set at a fictional boarding school in a fictional New England town within driving distance of Boston.


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

In Leisha’s Song, Cody, a cellist (with a tendency to walk around with bed hair), will do just about anything to break down Leisha’s resolve not to date him—including dressing up as a country singer and playing one of Kenny Chesney’s love songs on the cello for her.


What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I love the holidays and start playing Christmas music by the end of August!


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

I absolutely loved the children’s book, Wonder, by RJ Pallacio. August, a ten-year-old boy with a facial deformity, longs to be a regular kid accepted by his peers. This book touched me so deeply, and the character’s voice is unforgettable.


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

I married my first husband right out of college to please my father. My first husband was a wonderful man, but we were not a good match. Needless to say, the marriage didn’t last. On the other hand, had I not married him, I never would have had my firstborn son, who has brought such joy and meaning to my life.


 What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Intolerant, unkind people.


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

My husband, enough food and drink to survive, and a boatload of books.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

I once worked in a bookstore where the manager repeatedly lectured me on proper vacuuming techniques and wouldn’t allow me to read, even if there were no customers.


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

See above- Wonder!


Ocean or mountains? 



City girl or country girl? 

City girl


What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m thrilled that my fourth YA novel, Deadly Setup, will come out from Fire and Ice in 2022.


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

I’m a hopeless romantic! Also, I love paying it forward and supporting other writers.


Leisha’s Song

Leisha has always been the ultimate pleaser. She never intended to fall in love with classical singing, become an amateur detective, or get involved with Cody Harrington. But now she finds herself on a direct collision course with her African American grandfather, the only parent she’s ever known. But a more immediate danger looms as she draws closer to uncovering the truth about her mentor’s disappearance, putting her life in grave danger.


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Wednesday, June 23, 2021


A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreaks & Half-truths, and Moonlight & Misadventure, which she also edited. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website

Moonlight & Misadventure: First Lines

There’s a famous line in the movie Jerry McGuire: “You had me at hello.” Opening lines are every bit as important in novels, and especially so with short fiction, where the author doesn’t have the luxury of allowing the reader to explore the story over several chapters. In the case of Moonlight & Misadventure: 20 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, I received 93 submissions representing 26 U.S. states, 4 Canadian provinces, as well as the U.K., the Netherlands, India, Austria, and New Zealand. Culling that down to what I considered the best 20 went far beyond the opening sentence...but a good one really helped. Here they are, in order of appearance:


‘Crown Jewel’— Joseph S. Walker

Given a choice, Keenan Beech wouldn’t have committed his first felony on the night of a full moon.


‘The Ballad of the Jerrell Twins’ — Clark Boyd

The second and final time the Jerrell twins met was at their father’s funeral.


‘Tammy Loves Derek’ — Bethany Maines

Tammy Lee Swanley climbed out of the dumpster and walked the three blocks through the salty slush of chemicals, dirt, and snow until she got to the corner across the street from the strip mall that housed Lombard’s Jewelry.


‘Moonset’ — Jeanne DuBois

Three train routes ran from Camden to Atlantic City in July, 1921.


‘Reunions’ — John Floyd

Larry Taylor woke up somewhere over the Oklahoma panhandle, dreaming of a woman’s voice.


‘A Currency of Wishes’ — Kate Fellowes

Josh O’Leary shook his head.


‘Cereus Thinking’ — Tracy Falenwolfe

It started with a Barbie doll.


‘Just Like Peg Entwistle’ — Robert Weibezahl 

Girl Leaps to Death from Sign—Los Angeles Times headline, September 19, 1932


‘Scavenger Hunt’ — Michael A. Clark

I killed the outboard motor as we approached the dark lagoon, moonlight shining over our ebbing wake.


‘My Night with The Duke of Edinburgh’ — Susan Daly

I shifted my body for the third time.


‘Dead on the Beach’ — KM Rockwood

Oliver was my big brother. He wasn’t supposed to die like that.


‘Madeline in the Moonlight’ — Susan Jane Wright

Something hit the floor and shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.


‘Not a Cruel Man’ — Buzz Dixon

Feeling good after he finished, he set the bloody sledgehammer down headfirst on the white shag carpet.


‘12 Miles to Taylorsville’ — C.W. Blackwell

The clatter of liquor bottles.


‘Chicken Coops and Bread Pudding’ — K.L. Abrahamson

Old Man Harper’s undulating fields were fallow with the fall’s last cut of hay, but around the edges the grass stood tall and brittle like the hair around an old man’s ears.


‘The Promotion’ — Billy Houston

Peter Hayes felt a swell of pride when he finished going through the last customer in the database—Mr. Anthony Yates, who signed up for his security system in 1983.


‘The Library Clue’ — Sharon Hart Addy

For hours, snow flew, fell, billowed, and blinded, covering everything with a distorting layer of white.


‘Ill Met By Moonlight, Proud Miss Dolmas’ — Elizabeth Elwood

In my forty years as an English and drama teacher, I have never had a problem with keeping high school principals in their place, but in that blissful unaware-of-what-was-to-come-September before the pandemic took over the world, one appeared who tested my patience to the limit.


‘The Moon God of Broadmoor’ — M.H. Callway

The life of a public health inspector is not easy.


‘Strawberry Moon’ — Judy Penz Sheluk

The U.S. border guard looked at me with barely concealed contempt.


So, there you have it. Twenty opening lines. Twenty different approaches. Do you have a favorite?


Moonlight & Misadventures: 20 Stories of Mystery and Suspense

A Superior Shores Anthology, Book 3


Whether it’s vintage Hollywood, the Florida everglades, the Atlantic City boardwalk, or a farmhouse in Western Canada, the twenty authors represented in this collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “moonlight and misadventure” in their own inimitable style where only one thing is assured: Waxing, waning, gibbous, or full, the moon is always there, illuminating things better left in the dark.


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Sunday, June 20, 2021


Rocky Bluff Beach

F.M. Meredith
 is the author more than forty published novels; Not As We Knew It is the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. As Marilyn Meredith, she writes the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest, End of the TrailShe taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for ten years, was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. For more than twenty years she lived in a beach town much like Rocky Bluff. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog

Compelled to Write Something, Knowing it Won’t Be Popular


That was the situation I found myself in when I wanted to write my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. Because this series is set in more-or-less real time, I felt I needed to add something about the Corona virus. I’d read a lot from other writers that they would not be including what was going on, and from readers that they didn’t want to read a book with the virus in it.


So what was I to do? I wrote the book I felt I had to write. After all, my characters live in the real world—the world I’ve created for them. How could I ignore something all of us are experiencing in one way or another?


The Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series is as much about the families of the police officers as it is about any crimes they must solve. And to be perfectly honest, I had fun figuring out what each person might be facing as well as their opinions about the virus. After all, in my own family many diverse opinions were being expressed.


To find out how police departments were handing the mask situation, I talked to a grandson who is a police officer. And as for civilians in the story, I had plenty of experience of my own.


Something else that was going on during the time I was writing the book was the not-always-so-peaceful demonstrators who invaded towns. And yes, I thought this could make for an exciting plot twist, and once again I consulted my police officer grandson.


For anyone who might think the story is political, believe me, it’s not. What I’ve tried to do, as I’ve done in all the books in the series, is show what life is like for those in law enforcement and their families. To make this latest one real, I didn’t see how I could ignore what is going on in the world today, and what the characters might be experiencing.


Besides what I’ve shared already, the plot of Not As We Knew It has a lot more going on, including a missing woman and a deadly house fire. And for those of you who’ve never read a Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, the setting is a small beach town between Ventura and Santa Barbara. 


Fortunately, it has received good reviews.


I’ve come to know these characters so well since I’ve written so many books about them, they seem real to me. I hope that my readers feel the same.


Not As We Knew It

A Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery, Book 16


The challenges come one after another for the Rocky Bluff P.D. to handle, from a missing woman to a house fire.


Detective Doug Milligan is faced with new and unusual problems to solve, some on the job and others related to his family.


Gordon Butler isn’t too happy with the fact his wife was chosen to train the latest new hire.


With the department short-handed, Chief Chandra Butler must make some brave decisions in order to protect the town of Rocky Bluff.  Her romance with the mayor, which had been put on hold, is refreshed when she seeks his help.


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Tuesday, June 15, 2021


Today we offer up a different sort of interview for our readers. RahRah, the Siamese cat, is being interviewed by Sarah Blair, his owner and the protagonist of author Debra H. Goldstein’s Sarah Blair Mysteries. 

Sarah: RahRah, periodically, I think you’ve already lived some of the proverbial cat’s nine lives. What was your life like before you moved in with me?


RahRah: The first thing I remember was being plucked from Hurricane Katrina’s swirling waters by Mother Blair, your ex-husband’s late mother. As you know from when we came to live in the carriage house behind where you and the rat then lived, she was a saint. Until she died, my life was wonderful – she pampered me and let me run the show. After her death, I was afraid your ex would send me to a shelter, but he convinced you to let me live in your efficiency apartment.


Sarah: That wasn’t a hard sell. I loved you and Mother Blair. And now, thanks to her, and to you, we both live in the carriage house. Tell me, what’s the one trait you like most about yourself?


RahRah: I like that I’m a confident leader. Both you and Fluffy, the rescue dog you added to our home, usually do exactly what I want. Tell me, Sarah, what one trait do you like least about yourself?


Sarah: Having married at eighteen and been divorced by twenty-eight, when the rat fell in love with that bimbo, Jane, I lost my sense of confidence or direction. Unlike my twin sister, Emily, who always knew she wanted to be a chef, I was scared right after my divorce. I’ve been working hard to be more confident and not to second guess myself, and definitely have seen growth in myself.


RahRah: I have, too., but I’m still not going to let you have full control of the house.


Sarah (gives RahRah a hug): I wouldn’t want it any other way. You’ve been my best sounding board and comfort. I can’t imagine my life without you.


RahRah: Or Fluffy, either?


Sarah (laughing but not denying the truth): Don’t worry – you’ll always be number one. Besides, you adore having Fluffy worship you. Tell me, of everyone we know, who bugs you the most?


RahRah: The same person as you: Jane Clark. She’s our greatest nemesis, always thinking of ways to complicate our lives. From trying to steal me away from you to opening a restaurant right across the street from Emily’s, she’s more than a mere nuisance.


Sarah: I can’t disagree with you. Who bugs you the least? Me?


RahRah: No, your mother, Maybelle. She may think she’s allergic to me, but she’s a hoot. If you thought she was something to contend with in Two Bites Too Many, wait until next year’s Five Belles Too Many.


Sarah: I’ll look forward to it. In the meantime, we’re just about out of time for our interview. Much as I hate to admit you’re only a creation from Debra H. Goldstein’s mind, after four books, you feel very real to me.


RahRah: That’s because I am. By the way, people can learn more about our author and her books at her website.


Four Cuts Too Many

A Sarah Blair Mystery, Book 4


Sarah Blair gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in her friend’s culinary school serves up a main corpse in Wheaton, Alabama . . .

Between working as a law firm receptionist, reluctantly pitching in as co-owner of her twin sister’s restaurant, and caretaking for her regal Siamese RahRah and rescue dog Fluffy, Sarah has no time to enjoy life’s finer things. Divorced and sort-of dating, she’s considering going back to school. But as a somewhat competent sleuth, Sarah’s more suited for criminal justice than learning how many ways she can burn a meal.

Although she wouldn’t mind learning some knife skills from her sous chef, Grace Winston. An adjunct instructor who teaches cutlery expertise in cooking college, Grace is considering accepting an executive chef’s position offered by Jane Clark, Sarah’s business rival—and her late ex-husband’s lover. But Grace’s future lands in hot water when the school’s director is found dead with one of her knives in his back. To clear her friend’s name, there’s no time to mince words. Sarah must sharpen her own skills at uncovering an elusive killer . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!


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Sunday, June 13, 2021


Lesley A. Diehl relies on her country roots and her training as a psychologist to concoct stories designed to make people laugh in the face of murder. “A good chuckle,” says Lesley,” keeps us emotionally well-oiled long into our old age.” She is the author of several cozy mystery series and numerous short stories. Learn more about her and her books and stories at her website.  

Character Development in a Cozy Series: I gave her a gun, but she can’t shoot.

Here’s what I know about Eve Appel Egret’s character: She is the same spunky, in-your-face protagonist we met in the first of the Eve Apple Mysteries. Transplants from the Northeast and referred to as “Yankee gals” by the community, Eve and her friend Madeleine had opened a high fashion secondhand store in rural Florida when, on opening day, Eve found a dead body on their dressing room floor. 


From that point (A Secondhand Murder) until the most recent episode of the series (Murder in the Family) Eve has snooped her way through illegal game hunters, members of the Russian mob, drug and human traffickers and just plain bad guys in the swamps of Florida. Along the way she’s eaten her skinny weight in barbeque ribs and cole slaw, drunk a lot of sweet tea and a bit of scotch and found the love of her life. And then in the middle of her exploits she became a private detective, a choice I never saw coming, but now see as the right thing for me to have done as the creator of this series.


Protagonists in my other series have been snoopy gals, but never as snoopy or as filled with bravado as Eve. So why morph her into a private eve? Because, simply put, she deserved it. Her favorite weapon against bad guys (and gals) was her stiletto heels, but how long could Eve use her mouth (also a lethal weapon) and footwear to fight off mobsters and killers, not to mention a few alligators along the way?


Eve’s mobster friend Nappi Napolitani (is he really a Family man or simply a family man?) has been impressed for years with Eve’s sharp mind and her ability to put together disparate clues to track down criminals. She’s depended upon him and her police detective friend Frida Martinez as back-up for her sometimes impulsive schemes to take out killers, perhaps counting on them to produce the firepower to overwhelm armed opponents. Lately Eve’s enemies have gone from evil guys trying to escape the law to evil guys wanting to take down the law. And her. And her family. And that makes Eve mad, really mad.


In addition, for a cozy writer like me, I have grown impatient with amateur sleuths who through the series, always run across dead bodies. How many corpses can one woman stumble over in her line of work as a consignment shop owner? I needed others in the community to encounter dead bodies and for Eve to intervene, as when she took her Yankee environmental stance against mud bog racing (for those unfamiliar with it, it tears up natural habitat and breeding grounds for many native species) or in Old Bones Never Die in which Eve challenges a land developer. Most of Eve’s cases don’t need her to find the bodies. The deaths have emerged from events in the community.


Because I kept throwing more and more dangers her way, I decided Eve needed more than a pair of stilettos and a smart mouth to get her out of jams. So, I apprenticed her (with the permission of her loving husband Sammie, her grandmother and other family members, somewhat reluctantly her best friend Madeleine, and half-heartedly police detective Frida Martinez) to the town’s only private detective, Crusty McNabb. 


Due to retire soon, Crusty agreed to take on Eve, thinking he could assign her to sit surveillance on insurance fraud cases and keep her out of serious detective work, but he soon found Eve’s brilliance in solving cases an asset. And if her friends and family thought detective work would keep her out of trouble, they were, predictably, wrong. Eve still had her snoopy nature and her crime-solving nature, but she was missing one thing in her detective work: she needed a gun. A dangerous proposition for one as impetuous as our Eve. And, besides, Eve couldn’t hit a broad side of one of Florida’s famous mountains (translation, garbage dump hills).


“Open your eyes when you pull the trigger,” Crusty told her, but Eve couldn’t bring herself to shoot without closing her eyes.


So, I armed her, gave her detective training, and sent her to the shooting range, but I fear Eve is still the same gal she was when she moved to rural Florida. She has grown, of course, the kind of development a reader expects in a cozy heroine. No better at wielding lethal weapons, Eve now is mother to several children, which has taught her patience. She’s become a bit less in-your-face when confronting the people in her newly adopted rural Florida home, and she sometimes calls for help instead of going off like the Lone Ranger when she chases down criminals. 


But she still remains the Eve who is fiercely loyal to friends, old or newly acquired, an attitude she expects others to exhibit. Woe to the person who violates that code of ethics. And, of course, she still wears her stiletto heels and her gelled, punked hair. Eve still doesn’t quite fit into the swamps of rural Florida. We don’t expect her to. And she still can’t shoot.


Murder in the Family

An Eve Appel Mystery, Book 8


The past comes back seeking vengeance. To save her family and friends, Novice PI Eve Appel, pregnant with her second child, must outwit the bad guys in a final act of desperation, risking her life and that of the man she's asked to help her, her mob boss friend, Nappi.


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Thursday, June 10, 2021


Lori Roberts Herbst spent much of her life writing, editing, and psychoanalyzing. Through thirty years of teaching journalism, advising newspaper and yearbook staffs, instructing budding photographers, and counseling teenagers, she still managed to hang on to a modicum of sanity. Then she abandoned all hope and began writing mysteries. Learn more about Lori and her books at her website.

Before becoming a cozy mystery author, I spent twenty-plus years teaching high school journalism. Hanging out in the photo lab with budding photographers occupied a big part of each day back then. I remember those hours fondly—so much so that a darkroom serves as a primary setting in my new release, Double Exposure, Book 2 in the Callie Cassidy Mystery series.


It is my opinion that as we age, the “nostalgia” lobe in our brain expands, so I realize I might be viewing those long-past darkroom days through rose-colored glasses (or crimson-colored safelights). Still, I recall that smelly, sticky, shadowy photo lab with affection. It was there I bestowed upon hundreds of teenagers the joy of watching images they had created come to life in a tray of developing fluid—a heady, almost spiritual event that lingers with most of us photographer-types forever. The experience is akin to giving birth—but without the contractions.


What a unique place a darkroom is. For a new photographer, it is a place to unearth your creative passions. No matter how many people are crammed inside, you encounter a warm sense of isolation and intimacy, as if you’re in a bunker, protected from the whirling chaos outside. The red glow softens the world’s hard edges. The odor of chemicals permeates every surface—including, after a time, you yourself—but you come to think of it as a pleasant aroma, much like your grandmother’s favorite perfume.


Even the terminology associated with a darkroom hints at comfort and enlightenment. You “enlarge” images. You “develop” pictures. You work beneath the gleam of “safelights.” You turn negatives into positives.


For a photographer who is also a control freak (and experience tells me that’s most of us), the darkroom furnishes the ultimate high. You determine every aspect of your finished product, from the photo’s size to the cropping to the tones. It’s a powerful marriage of art and craft, similar to writing a book.


We’ve all gone digital these days, and while I realize there are many advantages to that, the “old fogey” lobe in my brain (housed next to the nostalgia lobe) laments the darkroom’s decline. When I started writing the Callie Cassidy Mystery series, I saw a chance to remedy that, at least on a fictional scale. From her birth in my imagination, Callie was predestined to have a darkroom of her own, a spot where she could create and heal and grow. 


And ultimately (spoiler alert), a place where she discovers a body. 


Obviously, right? Because along with all its other features, a darkroom is a place where mystery lurks.


Double Exposure

A Callie Cassidy Mystery, Book 2


It’s summertime in Rock Creek Village, Colorado, where the blooming wildflowers and colorful sunsets make life feel picture perfect. But inside Sundance Studio, a murder has developed…


Former big-city photojournalist Callie Cassidy is finally feeling at home again in the mountainside village where she grew up. She’s bought her own townhouse, made friends, and rebooted a romantic relationship with her long-ago boyfriend. She even entered her lovable golden retriever and cantankerous tabby cat into the upcoming Fireweed Festival pet pageant. Best of all, her new photography business is poised on the precipice of success. So when a group of journalists from her old newspaper come to town for a retreat, she can’t wait to show off the gallery. The happy hour she throws goes off without a hitch—at least, that’s what Callie believes.


Then one of the reporters turns up dead—in Callie’s darkroom. Callie is certain she locked the place tight, especially in light of the recent vandalism. The murder thrusts the village’s shop owners into a tizzy. How can this be happening…again? They want the crime solved pronto—before the Chamber of Commerce cancels the festival and deprives them of a big chunk of seasonal income. Detective Raul Sanchez is on the case, but that doesn’t mean Callie won’t do a little snooping of her own. Meanwhile, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her…Will Callie be able to expose the true killer—before time runs out?


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Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Sully (Sullivan) Barlow from author Josie Malone’s Baker City: Hearts & Haunts Series. 

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

My best friend since childhood and I were in graduate school studying to be secondary school teachers. We’d joined the Army Reserve for the education benefits and found ourselves embroiled in America’s longest war. I came home alive from our third combat tour. She didn’t.


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

I’m a survivor.


What do you like least about yourself? 

I’m a survivor.


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

I have plans and none of them include the guy I slept with to forget the devastation of losing Raven, my best friend in Afghanistan. A career soldier, Tate Murphy has three more years until he’s eligible for retirement. Then we discovered our night together resulted in something unexpected. I’m pregnant. A moment of magic becomes a commitment, but is it one either of us want to keep?


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

Tate Murphy, an Army Master Sergeant who thinks he’s in charge of the world and of me. I’m glad he wants to “daddy up”, but I’m not ready for a guy who constantly lectures me about “embracing the suck” and that I don’t have to give up my best friend even if Raven isn’t what could be considered “real” any longer. Then again, what is “real”?


What is your greatest fear? 

Living every day, oh and my family who blame me for coming back alive when Raven didn’t.


What makes you happy? 

Coffee and snickerdoodle cookies, especially the way Raven’s grandma makes them. Now, it’s decaf raspberry tea because coffee makes me hurl.


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

I’d have Raven survive and come home with me this time. She married my older stepbrother and the two of us always planned to raise our kids together, but now we can’t. I miss my bestie.


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

Tate Murphy. He lives to boss me around and tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m a grown woman. The last thing I need is an arrogant know-it-all trying to run my world. Granted, he’s super sexy, smart, and compassionate and rocks my world, but sometimes that bugs me even more.


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

My mother-in-law, Bronwyn Murphy. She’s wonderful, intelligent, compassionate, kind and treated me like a daughter from the time we met. She’s everything my own mother isn’t, and when she discovered Tate and I are having a baby, she announced her plans to spoil our child rotten and totally got into being a grandma. Again, something my mother didn’t. 


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

Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington State. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses, she finds in many cases, she's taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her master’s in teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve - all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website to learn about her books.


What's next for you?

Telling Tate to back off and let me breathe. I’ll wash my own car, a classic ’68 Mustang that Raven and I restored. Fixing up our new house, training my rescue puppies, preparing for our baby’s arrival, and jumping his bones to keep him from smirking at me like no other guy ever was a dad. I told you that he rocks my world.


Family Skeletons

A Baker City: Hearts & Haunts Novel, Book 3


Sergeant First Class Sullivan Barlow has plans for her future and none of them include the guy she slept with in a night of weakness. Intending to forget the devastation of losing her best friend in Afghanistan, Sully woke the next morning still alone. Her only solace -- she hadn’t told the man her real name. 


A career soldier, Tate Murphy has three more years in the Army until he’s eligible for retirement. Seven weeks ago, he met a woman in a hotel bar and spent the night with her. He hasn’t been able to get her out of his mind and can’t believe his luck when he finds her again.


Then they discover their first night together resulted in something they never expected. She’s pregnant, and Tate immediately proposes. Pregnant, struggling with survivor guilt, the last thing Sully needs is to learn her best friend may have died, but hasn’t left yet. 


Tate says, ‘sometimes courage is an act of survival’. Sully fears trust is a casualty of war. Will she and Tate ever find it again either by themselves or with the help of those who have passed on before? 


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