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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Monday, August 30, 2021


Award-winning author S. Lee Manning is a reformed attorney who now writes full time. Her novels reflect a lifelong interest in espionage and in Russia. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

The Perfect Street

A number of years ago - I'd prefer not to disclose just how many  - my family went on a vacation in a little town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, just north of the Vermont border. It was a pleasant vacation, except that the water in the house we'd rented smelled like rotten eggs and the house had been falsely advertised as being on the lake. It wasn't. But we managed to get ourselves to the lake; we practiced our French, and we had a lot of great meals. 


A bonus: my husband and I found an intriguing street in the town of Beebe Plains, close to where we were staying. One side of the street is in Vermont, and the other side is in Canada. Driving down the street, I could see US flags and Canadian flags waving at each other from yards on either side. Farther down, in neighboring Stanstead, is a library that straddles the two countries. The entrance is in the United States. The parking lot - Canada. Inside the library, a black line marks the border.


I talked with border agents, and then drove slowly from Beebe Plains to Stanstead, noting where the houses stopped and the fields began.


Border agents told me that neighbors couldn't even cross the street to say hello without checking in at the station. If you drive along the street, you're in Canada, but if you pull into a driveway on the Vermont side - unless it's been cleared, you'll get a visit from a US patrol very quickly.


Previously, goods of various sorts were frequently smuggled across the border, usually cheaper American products like jeans, sometimes drugs, but with 9/11 and increased security, smuggling became less frequent. It still happens - it just takes a little more skill not to get caught. 


I write spy thrillers, and I was fascinated - what a perfect location for something nefarious.


Canada is an easy drive from our home in Northern Vermont, where we moved a few years after that vacation. Before the world shut down, my husband and I would visit the Quebec towns near the border every few months. We found small and wonderful restaurants and kind people willing to endure our pathetic attempts at speaking French.


We also revisited the area that I had marked down for a future novel. Eventually, I wrote a description. I just didn't yet have the story to go with it. Of course, the story would have to involve smuggling - but what was being smuggling, who was smuggling it, and why - wasn't clear to me -  yet.


Fast forward: last year, I wrote Nerve Attack, the sequel to my award-winning novel, Trojan Horse. I needed to accomplish several things in this novel. Aside from the usual list of intricate plotting and in-depth characterizations, my protagonist Kolya Petrov, who had resigned at the end of the first novel, had to be enticed back into the spy game. Could I do all the above, and still use that fascinating street in Beebe Plains?


I came up with an idea: What if a smuggler brought something that could kill many innocent people - a poison - into the United States and what if the only person who had the contacts to stop the attack refused to work with anyone but Kolya? I had the perfect person to demand Kolya's return: Dmitri - Kolya's childhood best friend, whom he'd put in prison ten years earlier. 


I had the beginning of the plot and the perfect reason to insert Beebe Plains into Nerve Attack.


It took several drafts and eight months, but everything came together, plot, characters, locations. While Beebe Plains only plays a small role in the novel, it sets the tone - and I finally got to use the description I'd written.


Now that the border is finally open again, I can't wait to go back.


Nerve Attack

A Kolya Petrov Thriller, Book 2


Former U.S. intelligence operative Kolya Petrov, struggling with the physical and psychological aftereffects of kidnapping and torture, is drawn back into the game when Dmitri, his childhood best friend, holds the key to stopping an attack by terrorists armed with a deadly nerve agent. Working with Dmitri, however, is complicated. While their friendship had been forged during their years in an abusive Russian boys' home, the two men's lives took very different paths. Dmitri had headed the North American branch of a Russian gang until Kolya, working undercover, put him in prison. Ten years later, Dmitri's cooperation is essential to finding the smuggler of the nerve agent, and he refuses to work with anyone but Kolya.


Kolya reluctantly agrees to undertake one more mission, but to succeed, he must come to terms with the past. Can he trust Dmitri not to take revenge for the betrayal of their friendship? Can he rely on his own judgment and abilities, despite a leg injury and ongoing PTSD, to survive an elaborate plot that threatens his life and that of his fiancee, as well as the lives of hundreds of innocent people?


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Friday, August 27, 2021


Luke Murphy is the international bestselling author of The Calvin Watters Mysteries and The Charlene Taylor Mysteries. Murphy played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. His sports column, “Overtime” (Pontiac Equity), was nominated for the 2007 Best Sports Page in Quebec, and won the award in 2009. He has also worked as a radio journalist (CHIPFM 101.7). He is also a teacher and lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. Learn more about Luke and his books at his website. 

Crime Research

A lot of people ask me about where I get my book ideas from, and to be honest, there isn’t one sole place where I retrieve my ideas. I’m constantly listening, speaking with people, observing behavior, and monitoring stories in the news. The majority of my ideas stem from a story I’ve heard or, even though my books are fiction, something that has happened in real life.


I always knew that I wanted to continue the Calvin Watters series. Calvin has become such a fan favorite character since I published the first book of the series, Dead Man’s Hand, in 2012. People seem to have a soft spot for the Vegas leg breaker turned private investigator. So writing a new Calvin Watters novel was priority number one.


Since I started writing crime novels, I have had many personal chats with my family doctor (he is one of my main resources). We are constantly talking about methods of death, and ways in which people can be murdered, without any proof or evidence left behind (I know, creepy, right?). Sometimes my mind even scares my own wife. LOL!


My doctor happened to mention a rare case he’d heard about surrounding a famous American heiress and socialite from the seventies and eighties—Martha Sharp "Sunny" von Bülow. Her second husband, Claus von Bülow, was convicted in 1982 of attempting to murder her by insulin overdose, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. A second trial found him not guilty, after experts opined that there was no insulin injection and that her symptoms were attributable to over-use of prescription drugs. 


But it got me thinking. 


Once we discussed this case, I started researching the story and it proved to be a very interesting idea. The story was dramatized in the book and movie, Reversal of Fortune. Sunny von Bülow lived almost 28 years in a persistent vegetative state, from December 1980 until her death in a New York City nursing home on December 6, 2008.


This got the wheels turning, and the thinking process kicked in.


I took this idea of insulin injections and ran with it. In my opinion, it was such a remarkable case, that writing about it became a fun fascination. Of course, as a fiction writer, I had the creative freedom to use my imagination and add to the story. But there were endless possibilities here, and I was able to follow through in developing an entertaining book. Or at least, I hope it’s entertaining for readers.


Finders Keepers

A Calvin Watters Mystery, Book 4


To beat the streets…


Calvin Watters spent three hard years on the Vegas streets, working the depths of the red-light district. When a string of escort murders surfaces and the LVMPD has no answers, they realize that there is only one man they can turn to for help.


…you have to know the streets.


Calvin vowed to never return to his former life, but this new case pulls him back in. As he hits the streets, his honed survival skills kick in, and the PI must call upon his past experience to outwit a worthy opponent.


Caught in the crosshairs.


When Calvin killed Derek Baxter, he added fuel to an ever-growing fire inside Baxter’s longtime sniper partner, Jackson North. Now North is out for revenge, but how far will the hitman go to leave his mark on Calvin’s life? 


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Wednesday, August 25, 2021


American Pharoah
Author Sasscer Hill was involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. Her mystery-thrillers portray the world of horse racing, and the skullduggery that big money and gambling so often attract. Learn more about Sasscer and her books at her website. 

In June of 2015, the incredible happened! St. Martin’s Press showed interest in publishing my manuscript, Flamingo Road. But the sales and marketing department worried that it would be difficult to sell a horse racing mystery.


I found out later that my St. Martin’s editor struggled to secure their permission. In the middle of this, the awesome racehorse American Pharoah was on his way to breaking a drought where no horse had won the Triple Crown in twenty-seven-years.


At home, I was on pins and needles waiting for St. Martin’s to decide. On May 16, American Pharoah raced in the final leg of the Triple Crown. When he blasted down the stretch on the lead, I yelled so loud, the dog and cat fled from the TV room. The horse won, and in tears, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to get that deal with St. Martin’s!” The next day American Pharoah’s win appeared on the cover of every newspaper, and on every morning TV show. The day after that St. Martin’s sent me a two-book contract for the Fia McKee series. 


I immediately finished writing The Dark Side of Town and sent the manuscript to St. Martin’s. That book was shortlisted for a Claymore Award.


I was thrilled that my lifelong love of horses and my thirty plus years of breeding and training the almost spiritual Thoroughbred racehorse had led me to a publishing contract with one of the “Big Four” publishers, MacMillan who owns St. Martin’s Press.


I wanted to base my third Fia McKee novel at Santa Anita Racecourse where HBO filmed the ill-fated series “Luck.” During HBO’s filming, too many horses died from film crew ignorance and mishandling. The show was canceled. Fia McKee would be hired to protect the horses in a fictional horse racing movie. I have friends in the horseracing industry, and since it’s not what you know, but who you know, in 2016, I flew to Los Angeles and headed North to Santa Anita racetrack. I’d obtained an invitation for lunch and a tour by the track’s Special Operations manager, Pete Siberell. 


Astonishingly, my lunch companion turned out to be the point man who dealt with HBO when they were filming “Luck.” Pete told me everything I needed to know to write my novel, but sadly, the first two books in the Fia McKee series were not selling well and St. Martin’s dropped me like a hot potato. In April of 2018, Flamingo Road won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Award for Best Book in Horse Racing Literature, beating Felix Francis’s Pulse. St. Martin’s Press was unimpressed.


So, I did what authors often do and started a new series. I completed the novel Travels of Quinn, A Quinn O’Neill Mystery, but my agent barely tried to sell it, saying that my poor sales with St. Martin’s made me a nonstarter. I self-published the book, and in July of this year, it was shortlisted for a Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery of 2020.


Unwilling to give up my Santa Anita novel, I turned it into the fifth book in my Nikki Latrelle series, Shooting Star. It debuted in July and has received great reviews including one from The Midwest Book Review.


I do hope mystery readers will take a gamble, give this novel a test ride, and catch a Shooting Star!


Shooting Star

A Nikki Latrelle Mystery, Book 5


When Nikki’s ex-lover Will hires her to protect the horses used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack, she learns evil is alive and well in Hollywood.


Keeping Thoroughbreds safe from a director who doesn’t know a horse from a hamster is tricky. More difficult are the unresolved feelings between her and Will, especially when sexy, young movie star, Jamie Jackson, sets his sights on Nikki.


But when a sniper’s bullet shatters the brain of a cameraman close enough that she can smell his blood, Nikki’s need to protect the film crew overrides everything. Her sleuthing unearths a trail of corruption and when she must lie to Will to protect his life, she’s on her own. Can she identify the evil behind the scenes before she and Will become the next victims?


Shooting Star is the fifth rocket-paced story in the award-winning Nikki Latrelle mystery series. If you like protagonists with heart and courage, unexpected twists, and a thrill ride to the finish, you’ll love Shooting Star.


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Monday, August 23, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with cozy mystery author Georgiana Daniels, who claims "Busy" is her middle name. However, if she does find a nugget of free time, she enjoys knitting, reading, and fumbling around on the piano to the dismay of others. Though previously published in romance and women's fiction, she's dipping an anxious toe into cozy mysteries--because she's decided that murder and mayhem are so much fun! Learn more about Georgiana and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

First, thank you for hosting me today, Lois! I’m so happy to hang out on your blog.


As to when I first realized I wanted to write, the truth is, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to pen fun stories. It was probably the summer before 7th grade when I got serious, and that’s when my grandmother gave me a typewriter. (Showing my age here!) It was so cool, because she let me make a little office for myself where I could work whenever I was at her house, and I’d spend hours in that little room writing stories. 


However, life took a lot of detours when I became an adult, and it wasn’t until our middle daughter was born that I took up the pen again.


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

Good gravy—it took entirely too long! I spent a few years of serious writing before I landed that first contract, then four more years to get the second, and another four or so to get the third. I turtled along for so many years.


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

Now I’m indie, thankfully. Crumbs of Passion is my first indie project, and I’ll never go back to traditional. I love having full creative control, as well as my own production schedule. There’s a steep learning curve, but the cool thing is, there are so many other authors out there willing to help! 


Where do you write?

The question for me is, where don’t I write? Ha! My mobile office is a running joke, but the truth is, I do a lot of my creative work on the road. Since we still have two kids at home, I spend a ton of time zooming here, there, and everywhere for every activity under the sun. Never underestimate the power of a pen and notebook, when all else fails.


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

Silence, silence, silence…and yet…I rarely have that luxury. Man, I need a door on my office! Recently, I invested in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. We’ll see how that goes.


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

Since murder is the name of the game now, I really hope there’s nothing drawn from real life. LOL! That said, I suppose there’s always an element of reality, especially in my characters. However, the real-life bits are mostly cobbled together to make Franken-characters. 


One element that’s real in the KC Crumb Mysteries is the gang of older women. The same grandmother that gave me a space to work also had a posse of gals, and whenever I’d spend time with Grams, I was also with the gang.


Describe your process for naming your character?

Fun question! Sometimes the names just come to me, like KC Crumb. But last week when I was visiting my sister and her family, I asked my nephews who they absolutely couldn’t stand, and I took elements of those names and came up with the victim in my next book.


Real settings or fictional towns?

Always fictional, simply for the fact that I know I couldn’t nail down details to get a real town right. That said, I often find inspiration from real places. When developing the town of Beaver Bluff for the KC Crumb Mysteries, I spent a lot of time looking at Oregon coastal towns and hammered some of those details together.


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

Amateur sleuth KC Crumb is relocating from L.A. to her small hometown, where everyone wears plaid and loads and loads of flannel. Meanwhile, KC is rocking summer dresses and heels all the time…and she happens to wield a heel quite well when she has to save herself.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

Tough question! My youngest politely informed me that I’m embarrassingly normal. However, my sister pointed out that I happen to say wildly inappropriate things pretty often, simply because I’m completely ignorant about current slang. Oops!


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

Pride and Prejudice, for no other reason than I’d love to have had Colin Firth play the lead in my enduring novel. It could still happen, though. Right?


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

That’s easy—I would not have switched genres eight thousand times. Seriously, I’ve written everything! Now that I’ve gone indie, I’m going to stick to what I do best, which is light humor. Even if no one else gets my weirdo sense of humor, I have fun cracking myself up.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who drive slowly where they’re not supposed to. It’s like dude, this isn’t your lane.


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

A trunk full of books, notebooks, and office supplies (with which I have a long-standing love affair), sunglasses, and a bottomless supply of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

The worst was the first. I was the salad bar attendant at a chain restaurant, and every time I’d get all the bowls filled up to look nice and pretty, they’d get decimated. It was kind of defeating. 


But guess what? I have the coolest job on the planet now! I’m a part-time librarian, and after I graduate with my library and information science degree in December, I hope to eventually work full time. I get to geek out on books and technology all day long. Who could ask for anything more?


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

So many to choose from! Funny thing is, the most memorable books I’ve read aren’t even in my favorite genre, which is cozy mystery. Some of my favorites tend toward darker moods and settings. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova is one of my faves, and one of the only novels I’ve read more than once. And the other one is The Secret History, by Donna Tartt.


Ocean or mountains?

Ocean, hands down. The deep salty smell and the sound of the waves rolling in makes my heart go pitter-pat. That said, I’ve lived the majority of my life in the mountains and those are pretty cool too.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

Oof, tough question. We basically live in the country, but I just got back from visiting the big city and absolutely loved all the amenities. Did you know there are whole stores devoted to paper? I was blown away.


What’s on the horizon for you?

So. Many. Things. 


I’ll be releasing the second book in the KC Crumb Mysteries, which is called Crumb and Punishment, in the next month or so. And now I’m working on A Crummy Way to Die, which will come out early next spring.


Meanwhile, it’s my last year of homeschooling, so we’re working on all the really fun (insert sarcastic grunt) subjects like physics and calculus. Also, I’m down to my last semester for my master’s degree. There’s never a shortage of projects around these parts!


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

I’m super excited about all things reading and literacy, because life is just better with books! I’d love to hang out with your readers wherever they hang on social media. You can find all my social media links on my website


I also hope you’ll take a look at Crumbs of Passion. I’ve had a blast writing about KC and the gang. You never know what they’ll do next!


Thank you for hosting me today, Lois. It’s been fun!


Crumbs of Passion

A KC Crumb Mystery, Book 1

What do you get when you cross a jilted ex, a dead body, and a killer canine named Pooh Bear?

When social media manager KC Crumb is fired from her bougie job in L.A., she returns home to Beaver Bluff, Oregon only to discover a dead body in her new rental. Unfortunately, the body belongs to her philandering ex-boyfriend—a man she publicly threatened before she left town 15 years ago. Now all eyes are on KC, including those of hunky officer Antonio Hamson.


With the help of her new best friend, who happens to be a jiu-jitsu expert/librarian, and a gaggle of gung-ho ladies from her aunt’s bakery, KC and Pooh Bear set out to track down the real killer. Half the town is under suspicion, including a shady car salesman and a preening personal trainer, causing the clues to mount faster than the followers on her newly single social media profiles. And when her life is mysteriously threatened, KC has to sniff out the murderer…before the handsome officer hauls her in for homicide.


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Saturday, August 21, 2021



Lois Winston, the author who always delights in placing me in situations where I find myself dealing with murder and mayhem has done it again. While everyone else spent the pandemic learning how to make artisanal sourdough bread, she was hard at work on the next book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series--the 10th! This time she's got me dealing with dead bodies at a conference where I'm teaching needlework workshops and judging a needlework competition.


Stitch, Bake, Die! will be available Oct. 4th, but you can pre-order your copy now. 


Stitch, Bake, Die!

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10


With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.


Marlene Beckwith, wife of the multi-millionaire pharmaceutical magnate and country club owner, is both the chapter president and conference chairperson. The only thing greater than her ego is her sense of entitlement. She hates to lose at anything and fully expects to win both the needlework and baking competitions.


When Anastasia and Cloris arrive at the conference, they discover cash bribes in their registration packets. The Society members, few of whom are fans of Marlene, stick up for the accused and instead suggest that Marlene orchestrated the bribes to eliminate her stiffest competition. 


The next morning when Marlene is found dead, Anastasia questions whether she really died peacefully in her sleep. After Marlene’s husband immediately has her cremated, Anastasia once again finds herself back in reluctant amateur sleuth mode. 


With the help of Cloris, Marlene’s personal assistant Rhetta, and a laptop someone will stop at nothing to find, Anastasia soon unravels evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and too many possible suspects. And that’s before she stumbles over the body of yet another member of the Stitch and Bake Society. 


Can Anastasia piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?


Crafting tips included.


Pre-order now. Available 10/04/21




Apple Books 

Friday, August 20, 2021


Marilyn Meredith is the author of more than forty published books including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, and writing as F. M. Meredith, the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Learn more about her and her books at her website and blog.

Including Food in my Mysteries

One thing that always bugs me when I’m reading a book is when the characters eat and nothing is said about what they ate, especially if they are eating in a restaurant. Lately, I did read a really good mystery where the heroine always ate the same thing. It worked because it was an important part of the story.


I enjoy reading about good food almost as much as I like eating really delicious meals either at home or in a restaurant. One thing I’ve learned is some of the best eating can be found in a small, locally owned place, often ethnic of some sort. 


And it follows, that I also enjoy writing about food. 


In my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, The Trash Harem, Tempe and her husband travel to the city of Temecula to help a friend, Jonathan Reynolds, who is the only suspect in a murder case. The friend and his wife host Tempe and Hutch while they are there. The wife, Samantha, is a great cook and of course I felt compelled to write about the meals she served, and there a lot.


Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if I was hungry when I sat down at the computer to write this tale. 


When Tempe and Hutch arrive at the Reynolds’ home, their first meal is lunch which consisted of a salad of crisp greens, chilled asparagus spears, tomatoes, green onions, black olives, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and artichoke hearts, served with sliced sourdough bread and olive oil and vinegar for dipping. (Old Town Temecula, a shop is famous for their various olive oils and vinegars.)


Neighbors who might also be murder suspects are invited to dinner to meet Tempe and Hutch. Samantha has prepared Beef Burgundy to eat over rice, Chicken Alfredo with noodles, and crème brûlée for dessert.


One evening the two couples dine at a small restaurant in Old Town and enjoy clam chowder abd fish and chips, while Tempe chooses lobster tacos.


The Reynolds and their guests are invited to dinner at a winery restaurant by the son of the murder victim who orders the most expensive item on the menu a Bouillabaisse. The others enjoy Beef Bourguignon and Coq Au Vin.


The final get-together with all the suspects is a fancy luncheon that begins with a veggie tray and tomato bisque, followed by interesting sandwiches made with unusual breads, a variety of fillings such as thinly sliced chicken with cheddar cheese, avocado and bean sprouts, cucumbers and cream cheese, pimiento cheese and chives, and sliced boiled eggs with avocado. A cheese board, nuts, cookies and fresh blackberries and whipped cream are served while Tempe brings everyone up to date on her investigation, Agatha Christie style.


And of course, there were always beverages at these meals, sometimes freshly made lemonade, different fancy iced teas, and various wines.


I think I may be hungry when I’m writing, and going over all the food that I included in the book has made me hungry now,


My editor said she wouldn’t eat a lot of the food I wrote about. I’m just the opposite; I like to try anything edible. What about you? Do you like to read about food in the books you read? 

The Trash Harem

A Tempe Crabtree Mystery, Book 19


Deputy Tempe Crabtree has retired from her job in Bear Creek when friends, who once lived in Bear Creek and attended Pastor Hutch’s church, ask her to visit them in Temecula. The husband, Jonathan, is a suspect in what might be a murder case. The retirement community includes many interesting characters, any of whom might have had a better motive than Jonathan. There is also a connection to Erle Stanley Gardner as well as the Pechanga Old Oak. What is a trash harem? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with author DonnaRae Menard who writes in a broad spectrum of genres, including cozy mystery, suspense, police procedural thriller, fantasy, and children’s books. Learn more about her and her books at her website.   

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

I realized I wanted to write in the seventh grade when I was writing non-flattering reviews of classmates. I've been writing ever since.


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

It took me eight years once I got serious.


On April 28, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous carcinoma During treatment, my doctor kept asking me what I wanted to do and had never done. What was I going to do when I got better? Recovery was slow, but once I got going, I chased every rainbow going to book signings and lectures, and I took classes. Then I met Harriette Sackler and Bruce Robert Coffin. One believed I could do it, the other said he'd meet me again when I did. I couldn't wait.


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

I'm a hybrid, though I recently pulled the procedurals to re-work them.


Where do you write?

I have a designated space in the spare bedroom, but I'll write anywhere words find me.


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

I like sixties music or traditional Christmas Carols while I'm writing, until I get to the red line, then I lock myself away.


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

For the cozies I draw a lot from real life, 50-50 from my own. The procedurals and fantasy are my brain just out there. I have to admit, I have some weird dreams.


Describe your process for naming your character?

A character is a fishing expedition--too weird, too tame, just right.


Real settings or fictional towns?

I pick a town; I go looking for a street map. I don't have a problem adjusting terrain for what I need. In the fantasy, it was like a game, I built as I went.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I can be driven, not seeing housework, living on Cheerios and ramen, then one day it's OMG, I gotta clean this place up and eat a real meal.


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

My characters have a tendency to be focused and unable to let go until they find an answer. Oh, and in an upcoming book, my protagonist works for a funeral home.


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

If I could have written any book, it would have to be The Viking’s Woman. I read it when I was in my twenties. It was a cross of everything I love--foreign places, exotic women, daring men, and adventure.


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

I'd go back to when my children were young. I was the breadwinner and missed so much. I envy my youngest daughter her relationship with her children.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People who don't use turn signals.


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

Ooh, on a desert island I'd like a deck of cards; a long, sharp knife; and a long-legged dog.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

The worst job I ever had was with Jo-Page Attractions. I didn't know I'd be cleaning out the candy apple machine and the latrines.


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

The Legend of the Seventh Virgin by Victoria Holt


Ocean or mountains?



City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

Country girl


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

I’m an eclectic individual; I learned all sorts of crafts because I wanted to, traveled around the US using my thumb, and have had many jobs. My writing is like that, sometimes my head is exploding with what I want to do. I'm sure many writers feel the same way. I can only hope when someone says they are believed in, each writer will savor the moment. 


Murder in the Meadow

An It’s Never Too Late Mystery, Book 1


After 10 years gone, Katelyn Took returns home in 1974 to find the grandmother who raised her has been killed in the farm meadow. Gram’s will leaves Katelyn ownership of the now dilapidated farm but includes a stipulation regarding seventeen cats. Then there's the confused old woman still living in the farmhouse. Katelyn doesn't want to stay, but the longer she does, the more drawn into finding Gram's killer she becomes.


The anger she felt towards Gram fades, replaced by grief and loss. Katelyn takes a temporary job working beside Grandpa's friend. She develops a romantic interest in the Deputy Sheriff, and just when she decides it doesn't matter because she's leaving town, a stalker makes her a target. The need to run is constantly challenged by the anger at having what’s hers yanked away. Is she going to stay? Continue her new romance? What about old friends who are new again and rallying around her? What price is she willing to pay to be a big city girl?


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Monday, August 16, 2021


The manager and his author
K.P. Gresham describes herself as a professional character assassin. She’s the award-winning author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery Series as well as several stand-alone novels. Today we eavesdrop on an interview between her and her rather unusual manager. Learn more about K.P. and her books at her website.  

Tipper: This is great! I get to ask you some questions that I’ve always wondered about.


KP: Go for it.


Tipper: What were you thinking when you put that sexual tension between Angie and Matt? I mean, that is a forbidden love—a pastor and a bar owner in a small town—in my opinion.


KP: I wanted to show my readers that Matt is not only a man of God, he is a man. And that pastors are men.


Tipper: Strong feelings there. What’s that all about?


KP: My father was a Lutheran Pastor. Sometimes folks looked at him as God. My father was a steelworker before he came a pastor. Matt was an undercover cop on the Miami docks before going to Wartburg Seminary. Pastors are real people. Unfortunately, some of them forget that.


Tipper: So why a series set in small-town Texas? You’ve lived in Texas for thirty-six years, but in Houston and Austin. They’re not small towns.


KP: I lived in a small town in Illinois for five years when I was growing up. And I loved it. I knew who made the best butterscotch pie, the name of the soda jerk at Woolworth’s, the kind old couple who lived by the river and put corncobs in their stone fence to feed the squirrels. I wanted to bring that familiarity, that coziness, to my stories. But I also wanted to say a few things about concerns which have given me pause. So my characters are deep, with secrets and joys and points of view.


Tipper: Have you written other books about Matt Hayden?


KP: Yes, there are three published books in the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery Series. This one, Murder in the Second Pew and Murder on the Third Try. Book 4, Four Reasons to Die, is coming out the first week of October. Woohoo!


Tipper: So why are you promoting The Preacher’s First Murder now?


KP: I always like introducing Matt and the Wilks town folks to new readers, and The Preacher’s First Murder is a great way to do that. As the town meets him and he meets the town, the readers meet them. It’s a great way to jump into the special world of Wilks, Texas and Pastor Matt Hayden’s new life.


Tipper: But you’re not stopping at four books. I know, ‘cuz I’m beginning the research for the fifth installment. Seriously. Why would the body of a man who committed suicide be found in a downtown road project?


KP: Why indeed. (Said with a wink!)


The Preacher’s First Murder

A Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery, Book 1


When Matt Hayden, the new preacher for Grace Lutheran Church shows up in the small town of Wilks, Texas, he creates quite a stir. Folks just don't know what to make of him. He is fresh out seminary, but his eyes seem...wizened. 


The sheriff considers Matt a little on the naive side, but a nice addition to the few professionals in town. And not too preachy for a preacher.


The Altar Guild matrons at Grace Lutheran think of him as simply another pastor they can push around.


And Angie O'Day, the beautiful redhead who owns the bar across from the church, considers him dangerous.


Only one of them is right.


When Angie's mother is found dead, the dirty secrets of the small town begin to surface. Then a second murder occurs, and Angie becomes the accused. After all, the dead man is the one who caused her mother's death.


Matt is forced to put on an old hat--his cop's hat—to discover the buried secrets of Wilks, Texas, in order to save Angie.


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Friday, August 13, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Malcolm Talbot from author L.A. Sartor’s The Kahuna Group Series, along with commentary from heroine Jade Laurent.

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

Well, I thought I was exactly in the right place in my life. A bit weary perhaps, but certain of my path, loving being a PI and having a great partner to help. We knew we had to make some changes, but we’d been waffling, procrastinating. Then comes along L.A. and poof, life changed far more rapidly and dramatically than I thought possible. Never thought that would fall in love. 


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

My ability to see all sides of a problem. 


  • Interviewer Note: Jade Laurent, the heroine of Brushed By Betrayal, is waving her hand, I think she wants to say something. “Malcolm, I agree. You can be incredibly stubborn, but you can change your mind. A great trait.”


What do you like least about yourself?

My inability to trust, it seems to always get in the way of relationships. But good for a PI.


  • Interviewer Note: Jade? “Malcolm, you trust, you just need to have your trust earned.” 


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

Search for the woman I love in a freaking snowstorm with a ticking clock. Bizarre and terrifying.


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

I didn’t have any issues at first, then I got a bit testy. I wanted to make love to Jade about halfway through the book, and L.A. wouldn’t let me. In fact, not at all, though our blood boiled a few times Right, my love?


  • Interviewer note: Jade is smiling here.“Yep. Malcolm is right. My hot blood kept me awake a few times, but even more, L.A. made me change. Granted I’m a better character now, but wow, it was a struggle at first from the character in her 1990s’ award-winning manuscript Betrayal of the Trust into our new bestseller Brushed By Betrayal.” 


What is your greatest fear?

Falling in love. Losing that love and becoming my dad. 


What makes you happy?

Being in love. Yep, I know that sounds odd considering my prior answer, but you have to know my history. Being with Jade completes me. When we’re hanging with my partner Greg and his fiancée, Megan, who happens to be Jade’s best friend, we have a blast. 


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

I think the story happened exactly as it should. Sure, I’d change the ending so it was “nicer,” and not such a close call. But it had to happen that way, or you’d have felt cheated. I would rewrite a bit of my history. I’d have paid a lot more attention to my brothers.


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

Evan, I would have enjoyed getting to know him. He must have been an awesome person for Jade to have loved him so deeply.


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

At first, I wanted to be Aksel. He’s internationally cool and urbane, but realized I was exactly who Jade needed.


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

Well, L.A.’s told stories since she was young, like around the age of four, and her mom wrote them down. She had a bad teacher who stopped her writing completely, but much later she started again and thank goodness for that. After all, she’s an award-winning, bestselling author. She’s on the right track, and I hear she’s starting a new cozy mystery series. So go find her at www.lasartor.com and there you’ll find her mailing list (do sign up), her blog, and all her books.


What’s next for you?

I know there will be another case coming up, but first, a long-postponed trip to Hawaii for all of us to get to know Gus Tanaka better. You know, he’s the founder of the Kahuna Group. Famous surfer turned incredible detective. You should read Dare To Believe and get to know him, along with Cate, Malcolm and daughter Haley. Gus was incredible in that story.


Brushed by Betrayal

The Kahuna Group, Book 2


Jade Laurent, art expert and owner of the prestigious Laurent Art Brokers in Boulder, Colorado, is mourning the one-year anniversary of her father’s death when a close associate is killed and that chilling message for Jade is found by his body.

Private Investigator Malcolm Talbot is coming off his latest grueling case when he receives a request that he cannot refuse. To discover who’s put Jade’s life in jeopardy. The problem is that Jade refuses to stand by idly and let him do his job.


The last thing Malcolm needs is an amateur getting in the way and maybe getting dead. The last thing Jade needs is a professional who can’t find an ounce of compassion for her need to be involved.


While matching wits with a killer who is always one step ahead, dark secrets are revealed, putting everything Jade has believed in at risk.


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