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, November 29, 2021


After decades of writing for anthologies and magazines, award-winning author J.E. (Jayne) Barnard saw her first novel published at age fifty-five and has now published six novels. Her writing year is split between Calgary with her cat and Vancouver Island with a resident owl. Both creatures ignore her office hours. Learn more about Jayne and her books at her website 

The Sweetest Launch Party for my Saddest Novel

Getting a book published is a huge deal in every new author’s life, and a launch party provides a focus for that excitement. Friends show up, you read an excerpt and answer some questions, sign books and accept congratulations. 


I launched four books in a row like that at my great indie bookstore, Owls Nest Books in Calgary, Canada. We had decorations, snacks, and music to match some element of each book. We sold enough books each time to get onto the local bestseller list. But I was looking to change it up. To surprise the guests while still keeping to the new book’s theme.


Where the Ice Falls takes place from early December through to Orthodox Christmas Eve on January 6th. In it, Lacey and Dee and their two Irish setters, are spending a last Christmas with Dee’s dying mother. Together they decorate Christmas cookies amid their grieving and their murder investigation. Those cookies spread out to friends and soften up suspects.


So, for the launch, I made (gluten-free) Christmas cookies. I didn’t decorate them all, though. Instead, guests gathered around festive holiday tables in the bookstore with tubs of sprinkles and tubes of icing. Everyone decorated cookies while I read that scene to them, then we all talked about favourite Christmases and best friendships.


It was my sweetest launch not only for those sugar cookies, but for the fun shared around those tables filled with icing and sprinkles.


Gluten-free Sugar Cookies for decorating



1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tablespoon water or milk

1 teaspoon vanilla or peppermint extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon or ginger

2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (reserving 2 Tbsp for rolling out with)

1/2 tsp xanthan gum (if your flour blend doesn’t have it)


Cream together butter and sugar, add egg, water/milk, and your chosen extract and blend well.


Mix together dry ingredients and add gradually to wet, blending thoroughly. Dough should be slightly sticky.


Wrap dough with wax paper and chill in fridge at least 1 hour. Keeps well in fridge for a week.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Let dough sit on counter 15 minutes ahead. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and assemble your cookie cutters. 


Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut out 18-24 cookies. As this dough is a bit more fragile than gluten dough, lift cookies carefully to the lined pans so they don’t break apart.


Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for at least 5 minutes (10 is better) before moving to a cooling rack.


When completely cool, decorate as you choose. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (although they may become a bit crumbly in a humid climate.)


Where the Ice Falls 

The Falls Mysteries, Book 2

Found by a psychic who wasn’t looking for him, the dead intern disrupts a ski chalet’s sale and everybody’s Christmas plans. Can ex-Mountie Lacey cope with a murder investigation and the reluctant psychic on top of her best friend’s absence, her roommate’s visiting mother, and her car getting stolen?

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Saturday, November 27, 2021


Murder Meets Mirth--with Prizes!
Join Lois Winston, along with humorous mystery authors Jacqueline Vick and J. Michael Orenduff, on Tuesday November 30th at 5pm PST (6pm MST, 7pm CST, and 8pm EST) for an online discussion of funny mysteries and the launch of A Scaly Tail of Murder, Jacqueline Vick's fifth Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic Mystery. There will be prizes! Special guest moderator will be Kim Taylor Blakemore, author of the bestselling historical thriller After Alice Fell. This event will be held through Crowdcast, not Zoom. Register ahead of time here.

Friday, November 26, 2021


In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs and being partial to eating, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist—which taught her much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter—she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. Learn more about Kassandra and her books at her website.

The Fun and Challenges of Writing Holiday Stories

I’ve always loved reading holiday stories, especially Christmas ones. They put me in the mood for that holiday. And I’ve discovered in recent years that I also love writing them. They’re a lot of fun.


There are, however, a few unique challenges to penning a story set at Halloween or Christmas or any other holiday.


But first, the fun!


Descriptions of settings

Descriptions become a lot more fun to write when you can dress them up with sparkly Christmas lights or spooky Halloween decor or red hearts for Valentine’s Day.


The first holiday novella I wrote was for my Kate Huntington mysteries. It’s set in St. Augustine, Florida, where Kate’s parents live. 


In real life, St. Augustine goes way overboard when it comes to Christmas. The town, its businesses and residents put up millions of tiny white lights to create a wonderland. Every palm tree and light post is swathed in garlands, lights, and ribbons. And even during the day, the decorations are spectacular, like the gazebo in the town plaza.


The descriptions of those decorations help readers be right there with Kate and her family as they prepare for the holidays and solve a mystery while they’re at it.


And as the plot is unfolding in The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair (in my second cozy series), the town’s riding stable is gradually transformed into a haunted house, with witches and giant spiders hanging from the rafters and a room full of creepy dolls. 


A little lighter

The holidays themselves tend to lighten things up. And in my holiday stories, which are all novellas, the stories are shorter, so I have to keep things a bit simpler. 


Little or no subplots, for example. But that’s okay, because the holiday itself becomes a subplot—the preparations for it, the anticipation, how the characters feel about that particular holiday.


The challenges

Lightness and fun aren’t all that intriguing after a while, though. Even in holiday stories, there needs to be tension, conflict, and dark moments to make for an interesting read. And especially in mysteries, there needs to be something, well, mysterious.


How to create those darker elements without making the story depressing? One way I found was to make the mystery about something other than murder. In An Unsaintly Season in St. Augustine, it’s a missing person, a friend of Kate’s parents.


In my Christmas novella for my second series, about a young woman who trains service dogs for veterans, I made the murder an old one. The protagonist’s quirky neighbors in Mayfair, Florida decide to build an ice-skating rink (told you they were quirky) to attract winter tourists. And during the excavation, a thirty-year-old skeleton is uncovered.


The themes

The themes in holiday stories, obviously, should be related to that holiday. That is both fun and challenging. For my novella, My Funny Mayfair Valentine, the mystery revolves around a budding romance (or two).


The themes of my Christmas stories are related to family. In A Mayfair Christmas Carol, as Marcia and her police detective boyfriend try to solve the old murder, the back story of the town’s founding family is revealed and we learn, along with Marcia, why the muumuu-wearing octogenarian matriarch is a Scrooge.


Bringing it home

The endings should also be related to the holiday in some way. In The Legend of Sleepy Mayfair, I re-enacted—sort of—the ride of the Headless Horseman.


And in A Mayfair Christmas Carol, Marcia and her boyfriend literally bring someone home to their family on Christmas Eve.


I love writing holiday stories so much that I’m kind of sad right now—because I’m running out of holidays. I have one more novella planned for the dog trainer series, titled Auld Lang Mayfair. (In case you haven’t guessed, it’s set around New Year’s Day.)


And I’m starting a new series, of police procedurals, partly so I can write more holiday stories for that series! 


A Mayfair Christmas Carol

A Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mystery, Book 4)


When Mayfair, Florida’s newly minted Chamber of Commerce goes off the rails and decides to build an ice skating rink for a Christmas extravaganza, a decades-old skeleton is uncovered and its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Service dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Can she and her Black Lab, Buddy, keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family?


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ebook (limited time .99 cents)


Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Jeannette de Beauvoir is a bestselling author of mysteries and historical fiction—and work that interweaves the two. Learn more about Jeannette and her books at her website

Some Yo, Ho, Ho Winter Holidays

It’s a strange holiday season out on the tip of Cape Cod. While the small town of Provincetown is bustling with visitors and celebrating its annual “Holly Folly” festival, wedding planner Sydney Riley is worried. Part of Black Sam Bellamy’s treasure has washed ashore, and far too many people are more interested in pirate gold than they are in either the festivities… or an unsolved murder from the past that’s reaching long tentacles into the present.


And when she literally trips over a body, she knows it’s time to do something about the situation.


Cape Cod is home to the only authenticated pirate wreck, the Whydah, which sank off Provincetown in a storm in 1717. The irony is that the pirate fleet shouldn’t have been anywhere near shore—it was transporting its loot from the Caribbean to safe haven in Canada—but the handsome Sam couldn’t resist a stopover to see his lady love, Maria Hallett, and paid for it with his life. I spent a lot of time researching pirates in general, and Bellamy and the Whydah in particular, as I created a fictional addition to his fleet, a ship I called the Mignonette, which a character in the story plans to locate and possibly plunder. 


One thing I learned is the origin of the term buccaneer, often applied to pirates. The French word boucanrefers to smoked meat slowly cured on a grate over an open fire. Hunters in the Caribbean cooked, cured, and sold this meat to pirate-ship captains, and these hunters and cooks became known as boucaniers or “barbecuers.” Once they realized the wealth of those buying their meats, however, they gave up on the cooking and started to attack their customers’ ships instead… essentially becoming pirates themselves. (I can’t help you attract pirates, but here are some tips for trying out a primitive barbecue such as boucaniers might have used!)


Another interesting sidelight is the surprisingly democratic nature of piracy. Everyone on board got to vote on decisions, and everyone shared equally in the plunder. Pirate ships welcomed crew of all races and even, occasionally, a woman. And Bellamy, in particular, never took a life during his career: the image of “bloodthirsty pirates” is simply inaccurate. It was very much a matter of redistribution of wealth.


In the meantime, back at our story, Provincetown’s beloved holiday traditions carry on despite the excitement over pirate gold: the lighting of the festive lobster-pot tree celebrating the commercial fishing fleet, the official lighting of the Pilgrim Monument, Souper Saturday to benefit the soup kitchen, and finally Holly Folly week itself, filled with concerts, a trolley tour, shopping bargains, and—um—Santas in Speedos. (Sydney has something to say about the latter curious custom, but it raises money for charities, so…)


A Fatal Folly is a combination of murder, merriment, and pirate treasure that’s sure to delight  readers looking for a slightly different take on the holidays!


A Fatal Folly

A Provincetown Mystery, Book 5


Winter is arriving in Provincetown, and Sydney has her hands full with events at the inn, friends in town, and the dreaded arrival of her parents for part of the holidays. Her boyfriend Ali isn’t there to be part of it; he’s been sent undercover to work in California. But while the town’s beloved events unfold—the Lighting of the Monument and the lobster pot tree, Holly Folly with its exuberant festivities—another excitement grips P’town as an enigmatic Englishman arrives, poised to raise the Mignonette, part of Black Sam Bellamy’s fleet of pirate ships that sank off the Cape Cod coast. But first he raises a more recent tragedy, a fishing-boat that disappeared five years ago, a cold case for law enforcement as the captain was found on land with a bullet in his head. His isn’t the only body complicating the holidays: Sydney literally trips over Pete, one of the assistant harbormasters, who’s been murdered and dumped on MacMillan Pier. How are all these events connected? Sydney will have to work hard to find out, before these become her last-ever holidays.


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Monday, November 22, 2021


Judy Alter is the author of three previous series—the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, Blue Plate Café Mysteries, and Oak Grove Mysteries. Irene in Danger is the second in her new Irene in Chicago Culinary Mysteries, Learn more about Judy and her books at her website. judyalter.com 

A wedding in jeopardy and Salade Niçoise 


Irene Foxglove is back in Chicago, Henny and Patrick are getting married in a week, there’s cocaine floating around, and someone wants to kill the diva chef. Once again, Irene brings murder and mayhem to those around her.


Henny spent a year as gofer for “Madame,” helped solve her husband’s murder and save her kidnapped daughter before Irene scooted off to the safety of France. Patrick thinks it charming of Irene to return for their wedding, but Henny believes, deep in her soul, that Irene will ruin the biggest day of her life, upstage the wedding couple, and perhaps force them to postpone the whole thing. Little does she know how right her instincts are.


Madame wants to cater the wedding. Henny has contracted with the head chef at the Palmer House Hotel for the small wedding dinner she wants. Desperate to distract Irene, she suggests a bridesmaids’ luncheon with Salade Niçoise, overlooking the fact that there are to be no bridesmaids. She’ll worry about that later.


Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise is a composed salad built around tuna—in France, undoubtedly fresh tuna, but a high-quality, canned variety is perfectly acceptable. Henny likes to do it with canned albacore in olive oil. 


Olives, green or ripe, are traditional, but Henny omits them because olives are on the short list of things she just doesn’t eat, along with bell peppers. If you like them, you may want to add strips, preferably of red peppers. Anchovies are a truly French contribution to the salad, and if you like them, they add a wonderful zing. Julia Child added an anchovy filet, twisted, on each hard-boiled egg quarter and scattered capers and chopped parsley on the finished salad. 


The thing about this main-dish salad is you can create it to your taste. Choose the vegetables you prefer, but with an eye to color and appearance. Suggestions include tiny baby potatoes (peeled, boiled, and cut in quarters, if necessary), haricot vert (those tiny French green beans), thinly sliced small red onion or green onions, parboiled baby carrots, artichoke hearts quartered, cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs. Sometimes Henny adds tender, young asparagus spears if in season. She believes in simplicity—too many vegetables spoil the presentation.


Pour a little dressing over the potatoes when they are warm—they’ll absorb it better. Each vegetable and the tuna should be seasoned with a little dressing before becoming part of the arrangement. Lay out the vegetables and tuna in an attractive pattern, either on a platter or individual plates, on a bed of lettuce. Some cooks group ingredients; others prefer a more casual arrangement. Pour any remaining dressing over. If you need another batch of dressing, make it. You don’t want soup, but you don’t want a dry salad.


Vinaigrette is the traditional dressing for Salade Niçoise. Here’s the one Henny frequently uses (enough for two individual salads):


1/4 c. olive oil

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper


And for the wedding dinner? Passed hors d’oeuvres, pear and Brie salad, Lobster Thermidor, and chocolate mousse cake.


Irene in Danger

An Irene in Chicago Culinary Mystery, Book 2


Irene Foxglove is back in Chicago, Henny and Patrick are getting married in a week, there’s cocaine floating around, and someone wants to kill the diva chef. With one week until her wedding, Henny James is convinced Irene’s arrival from France will ruin the biggest day of her life. One week to save Irene from the trouble she brings with her and save the wedding. 


Recipes included.


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Friday, November 19, 2021


We Need a Little Christmas…Right This Very Minute…

Yes, Christmas. And yes, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. However, today I’m channeling my inner Auntie Mame. If you don’t get the reference, click below to listen to Angela Lansbury singing the song from the musical Mame.


With everything going on in the world, who doesn’t need a little Christmas right this very minute? I know I do. The other day I stopped at a large home décor store in-between errands for the sole purpose of soaking up some Christmas vibes by wandering around their various holiday displays for a few minutes. Ornaments. Wreaths. Nutcrackers. Reindeer. It all taps into my inner child, puts a smile on my face, and makes me think of…




Yes, thanks to my author, I will now forever associate the holidays with dead bodies. That’s because Lois Winston wrote me into not one, but two holiday murder mysteries. Honestly, she couldn’t even cut me some slack at Christmas time?


The answer, of course, is no, she couldn’t. She told me it’s because cozy mystery readers love holiday-themed mysteries. So, if you’re one of them, you’re in luck because both of those books featuring me dealing with holiday homicides are bundled together and now on sale for a limited time for only .99 cents. It’s Lois’s gift to her readers.


As far as I know, she hasn’t yet written me into a New Year’s Eve murder, so maybe I can look forward to toasting in 2022 minus any dead bodies. And with any luck, maybe 2022 will be a huge improvement over 2021.


Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 7-8


Drop Dead Ornaments

Anastasia Pollack's son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they'll sell at the town's annual Holiday Crafts Fair.


At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie's father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie's father is arrested for her murder.


Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She's also not convinced of Shane's innocence. Besides, she's promised younger son Nick she'll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?


Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he's crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.


In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira's attacker dead in Santa's sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man's murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she'll keep her nose out of police business. What's a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?


Christmas craft projects included in both books.


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Apple Books 


Wednesday, November 17, 2021


Gina Danna spent hours devouring historical romances, always dreaming of writing one of her own. After years of writing historical academic papers to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, and then for museum programs and exhibits, she found time to write her own historical romance and is now a bestselling author of historical romances. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Christmas, Love & Oops!


Christmas – Time for families, get-togethers, friends and lovers – the joy of the season!


As an author, to write a yuletide novel, we must start long before the season is even considered. And for a historical love story, one must consider how it was celebrated during that time. Before Queen Victoria set Christmas trees the rage, the time was a religious celebration and without all the commercial hype of today.


This story was also a ‘vacation’ for me. My latest series, Hearts Touched by Fire, is a Civil War historical fiction with romance storyline, full of research and research and study with long, involved novels the result. To Catch A Lady is Book 1 of a Regency romance novella series, and while needing research for it, it was also a nice mental break from the horrors of war. It is a story with a happy-ever-after, of love found, lost and recovered. The dream we all have and fun to write!


Originally, it was part of an erotic-style Christmas box set that is no longer available. But I realized it is not erotic. There are hot scenes involved, but nothing that truly went with its original title of A Merry Wicked Christmas. So this is a ‘re-launch’ as To Catch A Lady. This novella ties in with two other novellas in the new series of Lords & Ladies & Love – Regency love stories. This one and To Kiss A Lady are Christmas love stories. 


So come and meet Phineas and Marina and his pet fox as they discover that their romance during a Yuletide house party is a true gift, despite her being promised to an elder lord. Phineas refusal to allow himself to marry may make him lose his new love. His realization came late and now he’s racing against time. Can he catch her heart before she’s gone for good? To Catch A Lady – can love win?


To Catch A Lady

Lords & Ladies & Love, Book 1


London, 1815. 


Phineas vowed to never marry after his last engagement ended sourly. Hosting a winter party filled with ladies will not sway him. 


Lady Marina meets her host and dreams of a future. Snowed in alone with him, sparks fly, ruining her, only to die when he won’t marry her.


Phineas finds Marina gone and with her, his heart. With the odds stacked against him, can Phineas turn fate into a never-ending love story?


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Monday, November 15, 2021


Melissa Yi is an emergency physician with an active practice and an award-winning writing career. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

What if you were kidnapped for Christmas?

Dr. Hope Sze, resident doctor on call, runs through the obstetric ward amid tinsel and fake candy canes. One minute, she's arguing with the senior resident over who gets to deliver the next baby. The next minute, a killer presses a gun to Hope's temple.


Stockholm Syndrome had two major inspirations. First of all, I'm an ER doctor, and after an incident with a prisoner who escaped police custody, where I could have been injured or killed, I started researching hostage takings at hospitals.


The first hit was the crisis at the Budyonnovsk hospital in Russia, where Chechen rebels took 1500 or more people hostage.


The second hit was the hostage taking at the Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Utah. A man entered the hospital with a revolver, a shotgun, and dynamite, intent on killing the gynecologist who had performed a tubal ligation on the man's wife. Unable to find the doctor, the man focused on another roomful of hostages: a woman giving birth, her family, and two nurses.


Boom. That was my second real-life inspiration. I knew that when Hope stepped on the OB ward, she'd get swept into nightmare scenario #2 at her hospital in Montreal, Canada. But how could I possibly write her out again, let alone the woman in labor, a newborn baby, or any other innocent people?


I hope you enjoy reading Stockholm Syndrome as much as I enjoyed writing it. Here’s a recipe to keep your stomach from growling as you turn the pages!


Dr. Hope Sze’s Quick and Dirty Pain au Chocolat



1 good quality baguette

an ample amount of excellent chocolate (whatever and however much that means to you.)


Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Layer the chocolate inside the bread and put it back together, so that it’s a chocolate submarine sandwich. Wrap the baguette well, put it in your backpack, and either go hiking or, if you’re me, hunt down some murderers. The heat from your body melts the chocolate into the bread, and voilà!


Please note that I first heard this recipe on CBC Radio, but I can’t remember which cookbook it’s from. I apologize to the authors.


Also, once I brought the bread and chocolate to a potluck, and we baked it in the oven instead of running around with backpacks, and the women wouldn’t eat it. Too scared of carbs and chocolate. But I ate it, because life is short, killers make it even shorter, and dark chocolate contains flavonoids.


Bon appétit.


Stockholm Syndrome

A Hope Sze Medical Mystery, Book 4


A killer infiltrates the obstetrics ward of a Montreal hospital, taking one pregnant woman and one resident doctor hostage at gunpoint. Dr. Hope Sze struggles to deliver her patient’s baby with blood on the floor and death in the air. And when Dr. Tucker tries to rescue their tiny crew, only to end up hostage material alongside them, Hope’s heart just might break, even before the kidnapper drills a bullet through her skull.


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Friday, November 12, 2021


Award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen writes cozy mysteries, paranormal and fantasy romance, and sci-fi romance. In addition, she’s authored a cookbook tied to her mystery series and a how-to book on writing cozy mysteries. Her Bad Hair Day Mysteries, featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail, currently includes seventeen titles. Learn more about Nancy and her books at her website and blog.

The Case of the Cheesy Hash Browns

Food has always been an essential element in a mystery. Friends meet over coffee or chat about suspects while at lunch. When preparing a meal at home, the sleuth might muse over which suspect is more likely to be the killer. Her occupation might also involve food if she’s a caterer, bakery owner, café proprietor, or cupcake maven. Every food encounter is an opportunity to deepen the story and give the characters added depth.


Everyone has a creative talent, and in my hairstylist sleuth’s case, she likes to cook, same as me. I don’t have the patience or ability for handicrafts or doing puzzles or creating works of art, but I like to experiment in the kitchen. So does my sleuth Marla Vail. However, she has little time to spend over the stove these days. She has a baby, owns a hair salon, and is married to a police detective. Her life is full enough without adding meal preparation amid her crime solving exploits. 


In my latest release, Styled for Murder, Marla whips up breakfast for her in-laws before they leave on an excursion. Both of these hash brown recipes are easy to put together once you have the ingredients on hand. The cheesy casserole is a lovely accompaniment to a quiche or other egg dish for brunch. You could also pair it with a breakfast meat of choice and some sliced tomatoes. As for the potato zucchini mash, that’s a meal in itself. Both of these dishes reheat well as leftovers.


Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole



15 oz. can cream of celery soup

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

30 oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes

2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine soup, sour cream, flour, and garlic powder. Stir in potatoes and cheddar cheese. Pour into a greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and paprika on top. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.


Potato Zucchini Mash 



30 oz. package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

10 oz. package matchstick carrots

3 large zucchini, peeled and shredded

5 eggs

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup fresh chopped onions

2 Tbsp. chopped garlic

3 Tbsp. egg substitute


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs. Add mayonnaise and onions. Stir egg mixture into potatoes. Add chopped garlic and egg substitute. Blend until moist. Transfer into greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until edges are browned. Serves 6 to 8.


Note: These recipes appear in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook © 2019 by Nancy J. Cohen


Styled for Murder

A Bad Hair Day Mystery, Book 17


When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects, but Marla is more concerned about her stepfather’s connection to the victim. Can she flush out the clues and nail the killer before he strikes again? Recipes Included!


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Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries. A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned fourteen novels, including three standalone Gothic mysteries. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook, and travel. Learn more about Amy and her books at her website.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. When I was little, it was the excitement of Santa Claus and presents and school vacation. Now that I’m, erm, of a certain age, the reasons are different. My kids are grown and the fun of looking for Santa’s reindeer in the sky on Christmas Eve before bed just isn’t the same (that doesn’t stop us, though). For a long time now, it’s been a combination of lots of things that makes Christmas a magical time for me.


First, it’s the music. From lofty hymns to secular ditties, I start listening to Christmas music once the Thanksgiving dishes are done and I don’t listen to anything else until the new year begins. In case you’re wondering, I can’t choose a favorite.


Second, it’s the décor. I love understated, but it’s hard not to use a heavy hand with Christmas stuff. I love it all: fairy lights, garland, Christmas trees, ornaments, wreaths, nativity scenes, snowmen, and tomtes (Nordic gnomes). Did I forget anything? Add it to the list.


Third, it’s the food. There’s a whole list of foods that I only make at Christmastime, and Party Mix tops that list. My recipe is made with 2 pounds of butter and comes from my grandmother. Christmas Crack is another one, as well as Russian Teacakes, Linzer Tarts, and Millionaire Shortbread, to name a few.


Fourth, it’s the movies. My favorite movies are The Bishop’s WifeHoliday Inn, and White Christmas. With the exceptions of Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey and The Little Drummer Boy, I will watch literally anything animated or in claymation.


And finally, it’s the gifts—giving them, not getting them. I love to make things for loved ones, whether it’s bourbon-soaked cherries or a counted cross-stitch piece or something I’ve quilled.


My love of Christmas spawned my mystery series, too. The Juniper Junction Holiday Cozy Mystery Series started with The Worst Noel, a Christmas mystery, which I dedicated to my late grandmother because of her deep love for all things Christmas.


So by now you’re probably wondering where the crafts come in. Several years ago I made a decision to be more price- and eco-conscious about the gift wrap and tags I use on gifts. As a result, I started wrapping most of my gifts in recyclable kraft paper and decorating packages with sprigs of holly, ribbons, cedar twigs, artificial snow, and my own (pitiful) drawings. I started making my own tags, too, with kraft paper stock, inkpads, my own fingerprints, pens, buttons, and little bits of bling, as seen in the photo at the top of this post.


What about you? Do you make gifts? Do you make tags or have a unique and earth-friendly way of wrapping gifts? What kinds of crafty things do you do around holiday time?


One final note: I am keenly aware that the holidays are a hard time for a lot of people. Loneliness is one of the big reasons, and I try to reach out to people who might be struggling with loneliness during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year’s. It’s easy to call someone, text them, meet them somewhere for coffee, or invite them for a meal. I take goodies to friends who have lost loved ones and/or who are just not looking forward to the holidays. It’s really nice to just meet a friend to go for a walk and chat, too.


So remember your friends and loved ones who might not be looking forward to the holidays this year, and give them grace as well as an ear to listen.


All my best to you and your family this holiday season.

The Worst Noel

A Juniper Junction Holiday Cozy Mystery, Book 1


The holiday season should be a time for peace and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.


On the busiest shopping day of the year, Lilly opens her jewelry shop only to discover that it's been burglarized. And then … she trips over the body. Talk about a Black Friday.


When a second victim turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. The clock is ticking as Lilly tries to unwrap the mystery of the real killer’s identity.


Can she figure out who killed the victims before she’s arrested—or becomes a victim herself?


And as if dealing with all this isn't hard enough, Lilly’s deadbeat ex-husband resurfaces, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her two teenagers are acting just like … teenagers.


Find out whether her family's Christmas will be merry or scary in this cozy, small-town mystery perfect for fans of Kathi Daley and Jacqueline Frost.


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