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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Saturday, October 30, 2021


The Blackbird Writers and friends are having a Halloween flash sale and giveaway this weekend with 50+ free and discounted books including cozy mysteries, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, crime fiction, and more. Books for all ages. But the sale ends midnight October 31st. Check out all the titles their website.

A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, is one of the books available. If you haven't grabbed your copy yet, after midnight the price goes back up from .99 cents to the regular price of $4.99. Don't miss out on this spooktacular Halloween offer!

Friday, October 29, 2021


Halloween Blackwork Sampler 

With Halloween this Sunday, it’s the perfect time to share a blackwork sampler design that was created for CrossStitch & Needlework in 2015. Blackwork is a form of counted cross stitch worked entirely with black floss. It’s also sometimes known as Spanish blackwork because it was believed to have been introduced to the court of Henry VIII by Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first queen. However, a form of blackwork may have been in England prior to 1500 because Chaucer makes mention of black silk embroidery on a white collar in his Canterbury Tales.


Blackwork is visible in the garments of many portraits painted in the 1500s, but because of the corrosiveness of the thread’s iron-based dyes, there are few well-preserved English examples of clothing from the period. There are, however, surviving examples from non-English pieces because their silks contained less iron in the dye. These days, most blackwork is stitched using cotton embroidery floss, not silk.


If you want to spend your weekend with a Halloween-themed cozy mystery, you still have time to grab your copy of A Stitch to Die For, only .99 cents through Sunday.


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.


Buy Links






Wednesday, October 27, 2021


The iconic Tower Theater of the Fresno Tower District

Lorie Lewis Ham has been writing most of her life. For the past eleven years, she’s been the editor-in-chief and publisher of 
Kings River Life Magazine, and she produces Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast where you can now hear an excerpt of her new book One of Us. Today Lorie joins us to talk about the role food plays in her new series. Learn more about Lorie and her new book on her website mysteryrat.com where you can also find links to other social media. 

Experiencing the Food in One of Us

My new book, One of Us, is the first in a new series featuring Roxi Carlucci, who by the end of the book has become a part time P.I. and podcaster. It is set in one of my favorite places, the historic Tower District in Fresno, California. The Tower District is the cultural hub of the area and is filled with theatre, art galleries, music venues, interesting shops, and a lot of great food! 


Roxi and I both love the food in the Tower District. For Roxi, who has just moved there, it is a new experience—one that I enjoyed being able to share with Roxi and with readers.  And of course, much brainstorming about the murder investigation takes place over food or coffee! The Tower has a very unique feel—like you have just gone back in time. Here is what Roxi had to say about it:


“As we walked to the heart of the Tower and its many shops and restaurants, I felt like I'd gone back in time. I had read in an article that most of the houses had been built between the 1920s and the 1950s. There wasn't a new house in sight—each home had the kind of character only houses built before the 1960s seemed to have. The streets were lined with various kinds of tall trees. Even the sidewalks had a bit of character with its cracks and unevenness here and there.”


With that setting in mind, go with us to my favorite place to eat there, Irene’s CafĂ©, where you can find one of the best turkey burgers anywhere. 


Irene's was on a corner and had tables both inside and out. The bright yellow and medium blue colors were cheerful and welcoming, and there were painted palm trees all over the walls. It probably wouldn't have suited Gordon Ramsey's taste, but to me it was perfect. Heavenly diner smells hit my nose the second we walked through the door. It was a small cozy place—typical diner style with faux brown leather booths and a few tables by the window and around the corner. Like much of the Tower, it was like stepping back in time. 


Roxi also gets the best Chinese take-out in the Tower from Golden Restaurant, which has been featured in Kings River Life. Their orange chicken is amazing, and with every dish, you get enough food for two meals, and who doesn’t love leftover Chinese! Since she and her PI cousin Stephen are so busy investigating the murder in the book, they get a lot of take-out and another popular place is Pacifica Pizza, said to have the best pizza in the Tower, and being Italian, Roxi knows her pizza! They also get their donuts (what investigation can function without them?) from Supreme Donuts.   


There are two coffee shops in the Tower, not counting Starbucks, that Roxi and I both frequent regularly—The Revue, and Hi-Top. The Revue has a more classic coffee shop feel that fits right in with the historical setting of the Tower, while Hi-Top is the modern industrial style that has been popular with coffee shops the last few years. The Revue serves a great mocha latte, and I have enjoyed many an Earl Grey tea at Hi-Top. 


While Roxi doesn’t do much cooking, her cousin Stephen is an excellent cook. Stephen cooks up meatloaf and spaghetti during the times they aren’t too busy. He also treats them to many cups of Peets coffee as they pour over clues. 


A restaurant in the book that was created for the story is Frank’s Place. While there is a Frank’s Place in Fresno, the real one is a music venue downtown. One of the suspects is the chef at Frank’s Place and Stephen and Roxi go there to speak with him. It is one of the more upscale places in their version of the Tower District.


As the series continues, I look forward to sharing more of the wonderful food of the Tower District with my readers and with Roxi, and I hope if you are ever in Fresno you will check it out for yourself!


My new book, One of Us, is available on Amazon, on the Nook at Barnes and Noble, and Kobo


One of Us

A Tower District Mystery, Book 1


At thirty-five, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat, Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, California. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno. 


Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community theatre production, which is also a fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Then someone is murdered during a rehearsal in the locked theatre, and now she and Stephen are hired to find the killer. The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues? Can they stop the killer before they strike again?


Buy Links



Monday, October 25, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Max Grant (with a surprise appearance by Cress Taylor)
 from author Sharon Michalove’s Global Security Unlimited Series.

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

I had already moved from London to Chicago before Sharon got hold of me. After living here for six years, I was comfortable with my job as the Chief Information Security Officer at CyberSec, a division of Global Security Unlimited. I had my routine down. I could do long runs along the lakefront with my mates. Spend my free time racing cars. Never listen to music. Enjoy the food scene in one of the great restaurant cities of the world. I thought I was content. She completely upended my world when I saw Cress on the box.


Hi, I’m Cress Taylor. Sorry to interrupt but all I can say is that when Sharon had Max show up at the book signing for my award-nominated historical romance, talk about upending. I already had someone sending me threatening texts and then this guy from my past makes an appearance…


Max: My interview, Cress.


Cress: Too bad. Readers can get two for the price of one this way.


Max: I do have to say, though, that seeing Cress that way after twenty years was something of a shock.


Whats the one trait you like most about yourself? 

Max: I’m good at keeping secrets. My career in MI6 was all about secrets and I was one of the best. I try never to tell anyone anything important about myself or my past.


Cress: That’s true. He’s an oyster. Me, on the other hand, I don’t trust people easily, especially people who keep secrets. So this has been a constant relationship issue.


What I like about myself is that I’m a great knitter. I specialize in socks.


What do you like least about yourself?

Cress: Actually, keeping secrets is the worst thing about Max. 


Max: I have to agree with Cress. Being good at keeping secrets, while great for my professional career has been a disaster in my personal life. Now that I’m retired from the spy game, I want a relationship for the first time. The woman in question hates secrets, which doesn’t bode well since I find opening up very difficult.


Cress: I can be pretty snarky. In At First Sight my snarkiness gets me into serious trouble.


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

Max: She had me dress in my kilt, wear a knight’s helm, and show up with my father and brothers to sing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers to Cress.


Cress: I thought it was really romantic. Unlike the eclair episode. I am a klutz, but Sharon covered me in custard and chocolate, at a cafe, in downtown Chicago. And pastry-covered me had to get home on the bus.


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

Max: She still hates the fact that I’m a car fanatic. When I told her that, her reaction was, “Noooo. Why would you do that to me? I have no interest in cars. I don’t know anything about them, or racing, and I have zero inclination to write about it.” She doesn’t even own a car anymore. I insisted, and cars are definitely in the book.


Cress: We get along very well, thank you.


What is your greatest fear?

Max: That people will find out about what happened to me in Istanbul in 2003. And that, when they do, they will see me as a murderer.


Cress: That I will get close to someone and then they will leave me in the most hurtful way possible. 


What makes you happy?

Max: Driving and flying. Spending time with my family in Scotland. And trying to make Cress Taylor love me.


Cress: Writing, my cats Dorothy and Thorfinn, listening to music, and Max.


Max: I’m learning to live with the music.


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

Max: When I was an undergraduate at Oxford, an American graduate student knocked me down with her bicycle. I was smitten, but I never pursued her until she reappeared in my life twenty years later in Chicago. If I had followed my inclination at Oxford, maybe we would have had those twenty years together.


Cress: I would have paid attention to Max at Oxford. Instead, I got involved with someone else, and it was a disaster.


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

Max: Cress’ father, Aaron Taylor, bugs me the most. He abandoned her to her grandparents when she was eight. Now that she’s a successful author, he keeps turning up, trying to get money from her. If this was a murder mystery, he’d be my choice for the victim.


Cress: Other than Max? It would have to be Sam, my best friend Micki’s significant other. She’s an exuberant, hot-shot lawyer, but somehow, she doesn’t see through this poseur. Besides the fact that he pretends to be a down home country American primitive painter, he takes advantage of Micki. Not a nice guy.


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

Max: Not sure I’d trade with anyone. For all its problems, my life is pretty good. Maybe I’ll just pick up some of my friend JL’s French-Canadian curse words. Especially if Cress keeps dragging me to hockey games.


Cress: I’d love to be a little more carefree, live life out loud like Micki. On the other hand, I have Max and she has Sam…


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

Sharon lives in Roger Parks, on the far north side of Chicago with two cats, Sybil and Nico, who are the models for Cress’ cats, Dorothy and Thorfinn. A glutton for education, she has four degrees including a PhD in the History of Education. Her dissertation was on upper class women’s education in late medieval and early modern England and she has published various things about fifteenth-century European history and the history of education.


Widowed in 2013, she moved back to her hometown from the university town she had called home for forty years and decided to give writing a novel another try, something she had failed at several times over the years.


She loves hockey, reading, cooking, writing, and various less elevated activities like eating Portuguese custard tarts and sampling gins and single malts. After spending most of her life in a medium-sized university town she moved back to Chicago in 2017 so she could go to more Blackhawks games and spend quality time at Eataly. She has accomplished a lifetime goal by publishing her first novel this year. 


Max: What is hilarious to this Briton is her other lifetime goal, to be English, which she told me was a childhood dream but is likely to remain unfulfilled. 


Her website is sharonmichalove.com and readers can subscribe to her blog and newsletter there.


What's next for you?

Max: Cress and I will continue our story in At the Crossroads in 2022, where the events that happened in Istanbul in 2003 will come back to haunt me.


Cress: I love to travel, so spending time in London, Scotland, Paris, Istanbul, and Venice with Max, his family, our friends, and maybe a few enemies, may be the adventure of a lifetime.


At First Sight 

Global Security Unlimited, Book 1


At twenty-five, American graduate student Cressida Taylor lost control of her borrowed bicycle. She barreled into a tall, gorgeous undergraduate, Max Grant, on a busy Oxford street. Her skirt caught in the chain, Cress flew over the handlebars and landed on top of him. Assured that only his dignity was injured, she scurried away.


Twenty years later Cress has moved on from the embarrassment of her Oxford encounter. Now a successful author, she‘s been nominated for a prestigious writing award. Her career is threatened when a rival accuses her of plagiarism. When Max turns up at a book signing and wants to renew their acquaintance, she isn’t sure whether to fall into his arms or run like hell.


As a MI6 operative, Max believed his career made lasting relationships impossible. Now working for a global security company, he must let go of his past beliefs if he wants a future with Cress. As their relationship deepens, Max feels driven to protect Cress as the persecution escalates to physical danger. They must learn to work together if they want to stop her tormentor and find their happy ending.


Buy Links



Friday, October 22, 2021


Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains and emerged from the University of Arizona with a degree and a tan. Following two years with Volunteers in Service to America, a series of coincidences and chance encounters led her to TV news and 25 years as a researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Her substitute teaching experiences and her sometimes rocky relationship with dogs led to the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series and the creation of the canine character called Cheese Puff. Other than writing, her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking. Learn more about Carolyn and her books at her website.

Taking a Literary Leap and Writing What I Don’t Know

For many years I took the advice “write what you know” to heart. I set mysteries in the Catskill Mountains where I grew up, and on the Oregon Coast where I often vacationed. During my 20 years as a high school substitute teacher, I wrote a 13-book humorous mystery series featuring a younger, smarter, thinner, and more catastrophe-prone version of myself.


But last year, as winter closed in and the lockdown continued, I considered writing about what I didn’t know. The choices were almost limitless. I don’t know how to pilot a jet or perform brain surgery. I don’t know about life in Haiti or Honduras or Hungary. I don’t know much about physics or pastry or pottery. I know next to nothing about alchemy or actuarial tables or advanced algebra.


Now, I like to think I’m a fairly bright person. But I’m in my seventies, and brain cells seem to be departing from the interior of my skull at an alarming rate. Could I learn enough about a fresh topic or skill to write in a credible manner? Or would I be called out by readers who know far more than I do?


For the record, as a reader I often feel a guilty thrill of pleasure when I spot a protagonist displaying ignorance about a subject I grasp. But, as a writer, I cringe when I receive an email from a reader who caught me with my smarty-pants down.


To avoid that shame and embarrassment, I decided to pick a topic that would allow me to fictionalize for 400 pages without doing more than a lick of research. The topic I hit on was ghosts. The book I wrote is The Three Shades of Justice: Never Give Up the Ghost. It centers around three elderly women killed in a car crash who return as ghosts to help their friend Emma Preston oust the shady assistant administrator of their senior residence.


But first they have to learn how to develop their powers so they can get more than a few feet from Emma. It’s a steep learning curve and they’re easily distracted by the disposition of their worldly goods, the selection of their urns, the dog and cat now in Emma’s care, their desire to don outfits other than the ones they died in, and Emma’s growing friendship with Spencer Rutledge.


Although glad her friends are still with her, Emma is not so delighted when they read her thoughts and invade her privacy. She’s even less pleased when they bicker, quibble, butt in on conversations, badger her to eat their favorite foods, and persuade her to take in an orphaned parrot.


Writing this book let me play a months-long game of What If? and speculate wildly about ghosts, their potential powers, and whether the personalities they had in life would carry over to their afterlives. I asked myself who they might haunt, who might be able to see them, and whether their time as ghosts might be limited. And then I made up the answers.


But, although knowledge and accuracy weren’t issues when it came to ghosts, there were other things I wanted to get right. So I pointed and clicked my way to sites with information about meringue, night-vision goggles, funeral urns, what parrots eat, and the full names of four former First Ladies.


In the process I learned a lot. Will I remember it next week? Doubtful. Like I said earlier, too many brain cells are, well, giving up the ghost.

The Three Shades of Justice: Never Give Up the Ghost

Emma Preston’s best friends are dead.


But not departed.


Killed in a car crash, they return to their senior residence to take care of unfinished business—getting the goods on the malicious assistant administrator. Sadye Connor has been stealing supplies and skimming accounts; now she’s upping her crime game.


Stubborn and opinionated in life, Eddie, Ida, and Loren are no different in their afterlives. Instead of honing their haunting skills, they bicker about strategy, blow off training, belittle teamwork, and badger Emma about the quality of their urns and the care and feeding of their entitled pets. Worse yet, they read her thoughts, butt in on conversations, and allow her no privacy to pursue a budding romance.


Can Emma wrangle the wraiths in the direction of detection in time? Do the Three Shades of Justice have a ghost of a chance of stopping Shady Sadye? Or will the ectoplasm hit the fan?


Buy Link 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


Palate Cleansers

By Lois Winston


As much as I enjoy tossing dead bodies at the feet of Anastasia Pollack, my reluctant amateur sleuth, there are times when I need to step away from murder and mayhem. Because so many of my plots are inspired by real-life crimes and events, I not only write about murder and mayhem, I read about murder and mayhem—a lot! For that reason, every so often I find I need a literary palate cleanser.


I also do a lot of catch-up reading whenever I finish writing a book. I’m not someone who can jump right into the next project as soon as I finish one. As much as I love getting Anastasia in trouble, there are times when I need a break from her as well. I’m sure she also appreciates a break from me and all those dead bodies.


So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-mystery reads of the last few months and what I thought of them.


Imagine Summer by Shelley Noble

Some beach reads are pure fluff. Not Shelley Noble’s books. Although set in beach locales, this author writes thought-provoking women’s fiction. In Imagine Summer she tackles deep-seated sibling rivalries taken to extremes and shows how they impact us throughout our lives, even when we think we’ve moved on. We’ve all known an Amy, and I dare say, many of us have suffered from the experience. Noble’s skill with words and her ability to create realistic characters allows us to understand the complexities of human nature, making for a compelling read.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I was immediately drawn into this book and couldn't stop reading. The characters are either real people or fictional versions of real people who were involved in the secret work of codebreaking at Bletchley Park in England during WWII. Parts of this book will make you cheer while other parts will make you cry and still others will make you seethe with anger, but isn't that what a good book should do?

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

A well-researched, heart-wrenching novel about the blue-skinned people of Kentucky during the 1930's with lessons that will resonate in today's world.

Noah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne

The author takes the story of Noah's Ark, mixes it with modern-day knowledge from archeological digs and scientific evidence, and spins a tale of what might really have occurred. With excellent writing and characters that are both realistic and engaging, the novel is told through the eyes of a brave young girl whose differences make her question everyone and everything. This is a story readers won't soon forget.

Do you only read a certain genre, or do you like reading across multiple genres? And what have you read lately that has stood out for you?

Monday, October 18, 2021


We often interview authors and their characters at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. My author, Lois Winston, has done many author interviews over the course of her writing career. Most of the time she’s asked run-of-the-mill questions about her life as a writer, her writing process, where she get her plot ideas, the best writing advice she's ever received, etc. But every so often she gets some rather odd questions. Today we thought we’d share some of them, along with her answers.

Is Elvis really dead?
Of course not! Who do you think trains and manages all those Elvis impersonators in Vegas -- for a hefty fee? He figured out how to have the best of both worlds. He’s richer now than he ever was, and he gets to sit back and munch on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches while others do all the work.

What is your favorite cheese?
 Tough question. I’m a big cheese freak. Extra-sharp cheddar or buffalo mozzarella, depending on the circumstances. Then there’s cream cheese. Gotta have cream cheese to go with my bagels!


What color would you make the sky if it weren't going to be blue anymore?
I wouldn’t choose one color. I’d make it rainbow-hued.


Do you sleep with a glue gun under the pillow for protection – is it licensed? 

LW: Doesn’t everyone? No license required for glue guns, at least not yet. 


Please state your name, aliases, and regional dialect.

LW: Name: Lois Winston; Alias: Telemarketers think I’m a guy named Louis;

Regional dialect: Bridge and Tunnel (It’s a Jersey thing!)


Are you more likely to be spotlighted on the TV show Hoarders or Fashion Police?

LW: Good grief! I’ve never watched either. I’m certainly not a hoarder; I can’t stand clutter. Since I work out of my home, you’re not likely to see me wearing anything that would be considered the height of fashion. I suppose the Fashion Police might have a thing or two to say about my everyday wardrobe.


If you had a swear jar, would it be full?

LW: I’m a Jersey girl. What do you think?


How would the love of your life describe you?

LW: As usually right, but he’d admit it reluctantly.


How old do you think is the right age for a first romantic kiss?  How old were you when you had your first romantic kiss?

LW: I had my first romantic kiss when I was not quite sixteen. I wasn't impressed. I don't think I was ready for it. I don't think my hormones had kicked in enough at that point. Or maybe the guy was just a lousy kisser. We didn’t go out again after that. As for the right age? I'm glad I gave birth to sons, because if I'd had daughters, my answer would probably be not until they turned thirty.


One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

LW: I’m allergic to lilacs and eucalyptus. All he or she would have to do is lock me in a room filled with both.


If there’s a spider in the corner of the room, do you a) panic, b) have to drop everything until it is removed, or c) hope it’s planning on eating the more annoying bugs that get in?

LW: Creepy crawly things creep me out. I’d definitely drop everything to trap and dispose of that little bugger. (And I definitely hope he fell into the Little Bugger category and not the Big Hairy Bugger category!)


Fire rages in your house. Everyone is safe, but you. You decide to smash through the window, shielding your face with a book. What is the book?

LW: Fahrenheit 451 (sorry, couldn’t resist!)


Who’d win in a fight between Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster? If, you know, you were writing that scene.

LW: Personally, I don’t care who would win. I have no “stake” in this fight.


You must introduce a plot-twist. Evil twin or luggage mix-up?

LW: Evil twin who mixes up the luggage. 


You are at sea in a lifeboat, with the barest chance of surviving the raging storm. There’s one opportunity to save a character, drifting by this scene. Do you save the idealistic hero or the tragic villain?

LW: Neither. I’d save the plucky heroine.

If you're a reader, what's the one question you'd love your favorite author to answer? If you're an author reading this, what's one of the oddest questions you've ever been asked?

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. 


Buy Links



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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