featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

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Friday, October 15, 2021


Whether fiction or nonfiction, Justin Murphy explores many themes in his work, including probing into the darkness of pure evil and exploring obscure figures often forgotten in entertainment. Today he returns to tell us about his latest unsung hero, Jack Kirby. Learn more about Justin and his books at his Facebook Author Page.  

Like the first release of my Unsung Hero series covering the life and career of forgotten Star Trek writer Gene L. Coon, another installment focuses on Marvel co-creator Jack Kirby. Stan Lee spent decades promoting himself as the face of the comic book publisher, later to be a Disney owned Film and TV juggernaut. Yet Kirby was the workhorse who developed most of these beloved characters, based on Lee’s initial concepts.


His first well known creation on the brink of World War II resulted in a patriotic hero named Captain America. Published by Marvel’s earliest forerunner, Timely Comics. Co-created with Joe Simon, the superhero openly fought Nazis, including the villain Red Skull. It sold one million copies and paved the way for the two creators to have much success writing and drawing comics well into the 1950s.


Kirby drew and developed characters for Marvel and its then more well-known competitor, DC Comics. In fact, some instances of work for the former outlet were retools of titles he worked on at the latter. Such examples would include creating different interpretations of Thor for both publishers. Along with redressing DC’s Challengers of The Unknown as Marvel’s The Fantastic Four.


In fact, he drew and developed a concept for an early version of Spider-Man. Though Stan Lee derided his version as ’’Captain America with cobwebs.’’ It later got turned over to horror and suspense comic artist Steve Ditko, who retooled the character into a teenager with a lean, more human-like bone structure. Kirby wrote characters named ’’Peter Parker’’ and ’’Peter Parr’’ for decades prior to Ditko’s finalization of him as the friendly neighborhood web slinger. Yet felt the latter deserved most of the credit. However, two groups of superheroes cemented his legacy with Marvel. September 1963 saw the release of both to the comic book world.


One formed a team of established superheroes, Thor and Captain America and such characters as Iron Man, The Hulk, and Ant-Man. Considered ’’Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’’, they joined forces to fight many of Marvel’s greatest villains in a manner similar to DC’s Justice League of America, the competitor’s top selling title. The Avengers were designed as Marvel’s way to combat this. Decades later, they formed the nucleus of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and now outshine the competition on all media fronts.


The other group in question were also formulated to compete with DC’s Justice League but in a much different way. Kirby created a new batch of characters with special abilities. None of them were affected by gamma rays or bitten by a radioactive spider; they were born mutants. Led by Professor Charles Xavier, they were a group Stan Lee and Jack Kirby named The X-Men. The artist got involved with creating the original five superheroes, Cyclops, Jean Grey (originally Marvel Girl), The Beast, Archangel, and Iceman. This initial batch didn’t prove as successful as later versions but paved the way for such heroes as Wolverine.


Jack Kirby died in 1994, but his legacy is felt with film and TV adaptations of the above comics.


Jack Kirby

The Unsung Hero of Marvel


Many recognize Stan Lee as the face of Marvel. Yet Jack Kirby is the one who did a lot of the hard work in creating such heroes as Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Ant-Man. While Lee was the public face for what became the multimedia brand, Kirby’s legacy is relegated to the shadows. Much like Bill Finger of Batman and Gene L. Coon of Star Trek, this man doesn’t get enough credit. A man who gave everything to the comic book industry. This book hopes to shed some light on his life and career. 


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Wednesday, October 13, 2021


Guess who!

October being release month for
 Stitch, Bake, Die!, the latest book in the eponymous Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, author Lois Winston is on a month-long virtual book tour. Lois refers to these as the Sit on Your Butt Book Tours because all her interactions with readers take place while…sitting on her butt. Not to mention all the time she sat in front of her computer composing a month’s worth of guest posts for the different blogs that are hosting her. However, she says a virtual tour beat driving hours to bookstores and libraries and hoping someone shows up.  

Lois once did a signing at a bookstore where only two customers entered the store during the two hours she was scheduled to sign. One wanted to buy a newspaper (the bookstore didn’t sell newspapers,) and the other was looking for a gift for a birthday party her kid was attending later that day. Neither of these customers was interested in all those books about me. Talk about hurt feelings!


Lois has given bookstore and library talks where dozens of people came to hear her speak and others where one a few people showed up. Since I’m the main topic of these talks, I take a limited audience personally.


According to Lois, there are many benefits of a virtual book tour, especially a blog tour, which is not done in real time like Zooming. On a virtual tour readers pop in to say hello and comment whenever it’s convenient for them. Do they click on the link to buy a book afterwards? Hard to say. But according to Lois, that’s a lot less stressful than sitting at a table with a pile of unsold books in front of you and a smile pasted on your face. And a virtual tour can be done while wearing her Disney jammies and fuzzy slippers. 


The virtual tour is also a lot more fun than trying to engage shoppers at a bookstore. I swear, these people must think that they’ll get sucked in by the “author ray” and be forced to buy a book! People go out of their way to avoid making eye contact. Some booksellers encourage authors to walk around the store and engage shoppers in conversation, but according to Lois, half the time people act as if she’s a stalker for merely smiling and offering a friendly hello and a bookmark.


Lois, like many authors, is shy by nature. Putting herself “out there” has never been easy for her. So it takes a lot for her to step out of her writer’s cave and psych herself up for these events. Over the years, she’s become better at faking an extrovert personality, but it’s still hard for her.


Except when she can go incognito.


Years ago, Lois had a friend who made mascot costumes for sports franchises and various companies. Once, at a design conference, she needed someone to dress up in one of the costumes for a talk she was giving. Since she and Lois were rooming together, guess who got elected? That’s right, my shy author. And she had a blast! No one knew she was under that red kitty costume.

It turned out to be a totally liberating experience for an introvert. And that’s what a virtual book tour is for Lois. Maybe next time she’s asked to do a signing or an in-person talk, she’ll dress up as a giant red kitty.


Lois is giving away five e-copies of Stitch, Bake, Die! during the Great Escapes portion of her virtual book tour which began on Oct. 4th and runs through Oct. 17. Enter the Rafflecopter at each stop on the tour for a chance to win. You can find the complete tour schedule here.

Monday, October 11, 2021


A Spooky Treat!

We’ve officially entered that time of year when one festive occasion rolls right into the next: Halloween to Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa to New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day. To kick off this special time of year, Lois Winston, she who delights in causing murder and mayhem in my life, has a special Halloween treat for our readers. The ebook edition of A Stitch To Die For, the fifth book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, is on sale throughout October for only .99 cents. 

Given that Lois takes such pleasure in dropping dead bodies into my life on a fairly regular basis, can you imagine how much worse things might get for me around Halloween?


I’ve heard it said that authors are told to write what they know. Well, I have it on good authority that Lois had a few harrowing experiences during Halloweens of her youth, including being pelted with raw eggs. As a result, she’s not a huge fan of the holiday. So, of course, she’s transferred those feelings to yours truly. If you want to know what trouble she creates for me as the goblins and ghosts gear up to roam the streets, read A Stitch to Die For


As with all the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Cozies, crafts are included. A Stitch to Die For includes knitting and crochet patterns for baby blankets.


A Stitch to Die For

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5


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


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Friday, October 8, 2021


Today we’re happy to have sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal romance author Melisse Aires stopping by to tell us about the newest Pets in Space anthology, which raises money for Hero-Dogs.org. Learn more about Melisse and her books at her blog and website.

A Pet Lover Writes Sci-fi Romance

I am excited to be part of the Pets in Space 6 anthology. All the sci-fi romance stories in this anthology involve a pet, and we donate to a worthy charity, Hero-Dogs.org.


I am owned by a small, fuzzy dog and two tortoiseshell cats. I have lived with pets my whole life and can’t imagine not having a pet!


Since Pets in Space 6 is a sci-fi romance anthology, I let my imagination go wild while creating “Stranded on Grzbt.” I ended up with Velvet, a tiny lab-created cyber mouse with an elephant-like trunk. She is called Nanosnoot.


Velvet has a large part in my story as she helps Mimi and Kyre, my young couple, rescue themselves and their companions from a nefarious kidnapper’s spaceship. As I was writing, a pack of cat-aliens popped up! Luckily, they can communicate by telepathy and consider tiny Velvet a member of their pack. While Velvet works wonders on the spaceship’s computer system, the cats (referred to as Murder cats by the Earth women) provider scouting and ‘muscle.’ 


Pets provide joy and assistance in my story. And it is just one of the great stories in Pets in Space 6.


In addition to writing, I like to crochet. I found this wonderful cat square pattern, perfect for people like me with bins of leftover yarn. Hmmm, I could do space backgrounds!


I contacted the creator, Pony Mctate, about sharing, and she was very gracious. Here are links to the pattern:



PDF: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/many-cats-square


Pets in Space 6

A limited-edition anthology featuring 11 original, never-before-released stories from some of today's bestselling Science Fiction Romance, and Fantasy authors, Pets in Space 6 continues their vital support of Hero-Dogs.org, the non-profit charity that improves quality of life for veterans of the U.S. military and first-responders with disabilities.


Pets in Space® authors have donated more than $15,300 in the past five years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans and first responders. 10% of all pre-orders and the first month’s royalties of Pets in Space 6 will again go to Hero-Dogs.org.


Authors include:


Behr's Rebel by S.E. Smith

Marastin Dow Book 2

With the help of her two innovative pets, a human woman rescues an alien General and becomes part of the revolution he is leading.


Star Cruise: Time Loop by Veronica Scott

Sectors Romance series

Reliving the same terrible day, Raelyn and her pet are in a race to save the interstellar cruise ship.


The Cyborg with no Name by Honey Phillips

Can a rogue robotic horse and a misfit mechanical dog protect a wounded cyborg and a lonely scientist from a vicious new enemy?


Escape from Nova Nine by Carol Van Natta

A Central Galactic Concordance Novella

In a dangerous asteroid mine, space griffins may be the key to escape for a pirate clanswoman with vital secrets and a wanted fugitive with enemies hot on his tail.


Trade Secrets by Cassandra Chandler

The Department of Homeworld Security series

She wanted to find aliens—and discovered much more than she bargained for!


See How They Run by JC Hay

TriSystems: Smugglers

In microgravity, even the heaviest heart can fly.


Suri’s Sure Thing by S.J. Pajonas

Kimura Sisters Series

Suri and her dog, Finn, are an inseparable pair, and they both suspect her ex-boyfriend is up to no good in this best-friends-to-lovers romance.


The Thunder Egg by Greta van der Rol

Can a freighter captain and an academic outwit their pursuers and get a little alien foundling back where she belongs?


Worlds of Fire: Metamorphosis by Deborah A. Bailey

An alchemy apprentice doesn't think much of her gargoyle shifter mentor – and his pet – until she finds he's just the person to help her when a transmutation spell goes wrong.


Stranded on GRZBT by Melisse Aires

Can a resourceful human trust the alien determined to help her and her companions?


Escaping Korth by Kyndra Hatch

Before The Fall series

An alien interrogator recognizes the human prisoner as his fated mate, leading to danger for both of them.


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Wednesday, October 6, 2021


When you have Misophonia
Today we sit down for a chat with suspense and paranormal author Alicia Dean. She wrote her first romance at age ten (featuring a hero who looked just like Elvis Presley), and she still has the tattered, pencil-written copy. Learn more about her and her books at her website 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

When I was a child. I wrote my first romance at age 10.


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

My first novel was published in 2007, so 36 years. 😊


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



Where do you write? 

Usually in my living room recliner, but I love to get away and write in other locations when I can, preferably a secluded cabin in the woods…as long as there are no serial killers in the vicinity.


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

I like either silence, or rain sounds. Not music.


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

Only bits and pieces. I try not to put too much of myself into characters, but I know that most authors, whether they intend to or not, usually do. The plots are not drawn from real life at all.


Describe your process for naming your character? 

Most of the time, I look up baby names and see which names seem to fit my character. Sometimes, I like to give my characters a name that has meaning, even if it’s just meaningful to me. 


Real settings or fictional towns? 

Both. I prefer fictional since I can mold it to fit my needs and I don’t have to worry about accuracy. 


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

Well, this isn’t really a quirk, but the protagonist in my current work in progress has a condition called ‘Misophonia’ which translates to ‘hatred of sound’ wherein certain sounds, mostly eating sounds like crunching and smacking, trigger an uncontrollable reaction—part of which is rage and disgust and the desire to flee. 


What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I actually have Misophonia. I’ve suffered from it all my life and didn’t know it was an actual condition with a name until a few years back. I always thought I was just picky and neurotic.


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

Probably Gone with the Wind. It’s my favorite novel which, of course, was made into a fabulous movie and both have been loved by generations. The characters and the plot were gripping.


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

I would have seriously pursued writing much sooner and stuck with it.


What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

See above. 😊 Crunching, smacking, and other sounds like people brushing their teeth, jiggling keys, pen clicking, rocking in a chair (yes, it’s weird, but those things drive me nuts…)


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

Books, coffee, Elvis music. (Would I have power? :D)


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

I was once a Telemarketer. I hated it…it didn’t last long at all. Not only do I hate talking on the phone, period, I also hated encroaching on people’s time and having to be so aggressive in trying to get them to buy the product. I also had a supervisor breathing down my neck and admonishing me for not being forceful enough. Miserable!


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

Gone with the Wind. Although, since it’s also the book I mentioned that I wish I’d written, I’ll add a few other standouts, like the Bosch series by Michael Connelly and Mystic River by Dennis Lehane.


Ocean or mountains? 

Mountains. (Although, if it’s an ocean where it’s cold, I’d pick ocean 😊)


City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

City, all the way!


What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m working on a police procedural that I hope to finish soon. And I have three series for which I need to write sequels. I’m also working on a Friday the 13th story to be released on Friday, May 13, which is part of a project I’m doing with 12 other authors…get it, 13 total? 😊


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

Liberty Awakened is one of many of my books I’m re-releasing through The Wild Rose Press. They are getting all new covers, and I absolutely love the new looks. I’m also an editor at Wild Rose, and I love being published with them.


Thank you so much for having me as your guest!


Liberty Awakened

Isle of Fangs Series, Book 1

Liberty Delacort doesn't believe in Vampires. Then she meets the father she never knew, just before his death, and learns she's the last of the Van Helsing bloodline.

Eli, a 300 year old Vampire, doesn't believe Liberty has what it takes to stand between the humans and the Evil Ones on Sang Croc Island, and orders her back to the mainland.

Ryan, a friend of Liberty's late-father, disagrees and insists that Eli provide the promised training.

Now the Full Moon has come and Liberty must stand in the gap. But unbeknownst to her--she's fallen for the wrong vampire.


Buy Link 

Monday, October 4, 2021


Today is the official release day for Stitch, Bake, Die!, the tenth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. It also marks the start of the Great Escapes blogging tour for the book. Over the next two weeks, author Lois Winston and I, her reluctant amateur sleuth, will visit various blogs and discuss all the murder and mayhem Lois throws my way. I’ve given up begging her to write a plot where I inherit a fortune or win the lottery so I can escape to another genre where dead bodies don’t constantly appear at the feet of unsuspecting heroines, but she just laughs and asks, “What fun would that be?” Personally, I think it would be great fun, but she’s never listened to me. 

This time around Lois has me tangling with cutthroat retired women executives, Big Pharma, and a doctor who must have had his fingers crossed behind his back with he took his Hippocratic Oath. I’d say I need a vacation, but the last time Lois gave me one of those, she also dropped in a few dead bodies.


Anyway, I hope you’ll join us for our tour around the World Wide Web for a chance to win one of five copies of Stitch, Bake, Die! Lois is giving away. All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter at each of the stops on the tour. The more stops you visit and enter, the greater your chance of winning. 😁


Great Escapes Tour Schedule

October 4 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT 

October 4 – I Read What You Write - REVIEW, GUEST POST 

October 5 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT 

October 5 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 

October 6 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

October 7 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

October 7 – Novels Alive  GUEST POST 

October 8 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT 

October 9 – Brianne's Book Reviews – REVIEW 

October 10 – Jane Reads  CHARACTER GUEST POST 

October 11 – My Journey Back  CHARACTER GUEST POST 

October 12 – Christy's Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW


October 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW 

October 14 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW 

October 14 – Hearts & Scribbles - SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 15 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

October 15 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

October 16 – Celticlady's Reviews - SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

October 17 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  

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 New Jersey chapter of the Stitch and Back 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.


The sweet little old ladies Anastasia is expecting to meet are definitely old, and some of them are little, but all are anything but sweet. She’s stepped into a vipers’ den that starts with bribery and ends with murder. When an ice storm forces Anastasia and Cloris to spend the night at the Chateau, Anastasia discovers evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and a bevy of suspects.


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


Crafting tips included.


Buy Links





Apple Books 

Friday, October 1, 2021


Judy Alter writes both award-winning historical fiction and nonfiction about the nineteenth-century American West as well as contemporary cozy mysteries. Her forthcoming western title is the nonfiction The Most Land, the Best Cattle: The Waggoners of Texas, a popular study of the Waggoner 3D and the Waggoner family. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website. 

Dining at the Waggoner 3D

For most of the twentieth century, the Waggoner 3D was the largest ranch under one fence in this country. Covering over 500,000 acres in six counties, it sprawls across much of North Texas. Founded in the 1850s by Daniel Waggoner, the ranch has been known not only for its size but for its cattle, Thoroughbred horses, and the vast oil reserves under its land. 


Daniel Waggoner was among the first of men known as cattle barons who owned vast stretches of land and held great power over life in their region. Five generations of Waggoner descendants have lived on the land over 167 years, mixing ranching and racing with international fame, marriages, divorces, and lawsuits. The history is nothing if not colorful.


Like other large ranches in Texas and the Southwest, the Waggoner was known for hospitality. What may have begun with gatherings around the chuck wagon, featuring son-of-a-bitch stew and calf fries, evolved into elegant meals at the table. By the late twentieth century when Electra Waggoner Biggs was entertaining in her Santa Rosa home on the 3D, stew had been replaced with Hungarian goulash.


Mrs. Biggs was best known as a sculptor, her signature piece being a life-size statue of entertainer Will Rogers on his horse, Soapsuds. The original piece stands in front of Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Coliseum. Electra, the second Waggoner with that name, loved celebrities, and when she left New York for ranch life, she entertained lavishly.


According to the late Sarah Morgan, author of Dining with the Cattle Barons, Mrs. Biggs planned her menus carefully and always had her staff cook the meal once as practice before serving guests. One of her favorite dishes was the Hungarian goulash, which required cubing eight pounds of beef, dusting with flour, and browning. But, then, she had a staff to do it. Much more accessible is her recipe for chilled tomato soup. She called it “Crunchy Soup.”


When I made the soup recently, I adapted it to two servings instead of the twelve in the original recipe and added some green onions for color and taste. Mrs. Biggs used canned soup, but today’s cooks may want to substitute boxed tomato soup. If using prepared cream of tomato soup, omit the milk. Here’s what I did:


Chilled Tomato Soup

1 can Campbell’s® tomato soup 

Milk of equal amount (refill the soup can)

2 Tbsp. minced celery

2 Tbsp. green onions, minced

1/2 tsp. soy sauce.

Juice of one lime


Mix all ingredients except lime juice and chill. Just before serving add fresh juice of a medium lime. Serve very cold. Top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.


The Most Land, the Best Cattle

The Waggoners of Texas

In the 19th century, Daniel Waggoner and his son, W.T. (Tom), put together an empire in North Texas that became the largest ranch under one fence in the nation. The 520,000-plus acres or 800 square miles covers six counties and sits on a large oil field in North Texas. Over the years, the estate also owned five banks, three cottonseed oil mills, and a coal company. While the Waggoner men built the empire, their wives and daughters enjoyed the fruits of their labor. This dynasty’s love of the land was rivaled only by their love of money and celebrity. This colorful history of one of Texas’s most influential ranching families demonstrates that it took strength and determination to survive in the ranching world…and the society it spawned.

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