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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Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Holiday Howler Dog Treats
Author C.B. Wilson’s love of writing began after reading her first Nancy Drew book and reworking the ending. Her fascination with dogs and their passionate owners inspired Barkview, California, the dog friendliest city in America. She admits to chocoholic tendencies and laughing out loud at dog comics. Learn more about C.B. and her books at her website.  

Today, I am honored to be featured in Anastasia Pollack’s blog, Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers. Writing a guest blog offers me a wonderful opportunity to remind you all to honor that special pet in your life and help others find their own forever friend.


The Barkview Mysteries series is all about dogs and the people who love them. Set in a small seaside town where designated leash lanes lead to hound playgrounds, every resident has a BFF (Best Furry Friend) except Cat Wright.


Attacked by a dog while researching a story, the investigative reporter is more than a little uncomfortable in Barkview. As far as she can tell, she is the lone cat person in a town populated with over-the-top dog lovers. The Barkview Mysteries series tells the story of Cat’s journey to find the right companion to enhance her life.


Inspiration for this book series came from a chain of events I still find ironic. First, my military father’s fascination with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel opened my eyes to the wonderful world of dogs. Second, my couch-potato mother adopted a Jack Russel Terrier/Chihuahua mix. (You can imagine how that played out.) My call to action came with the realization that there is a perfect dog for everyone. Some folks just needed a little help matching the right canine with their personality and lifestyle.


Each Barkview adventure features a different dog breed. The traits, personality, exercise and grooming needs, in addition to health issues, are highlighted in the story, offering insight into sharing a life with the dog.


Hope you enjoy Bichon Bisquets Barkery’s Holiday Howler Dog Treat Recipe, which was introduced in the December issue of my newsletter, The Bark View, and Bichoned to Death, the second book in the series. (5 bark reader rating)


Bichon Bisquets Barkery’s Holiday Howler Dog Treats

(Created by Brandi Wilson)


1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 cup Apple sauce

1 medium sweet potato 

5 oz. Bacon Bits

2 cups unbleached flour


Preheat oven 350 degrees.


Cook ground beef in saucepan.  Make three cuts in sweet potato. Place on paper towel. Microwave high for 5 minutes or until soft. Cool ground beef and sweet potato.


Mix cooled beef and sweet potato with apple sauce, bacon bits and flour.  Mix well. Roll out and cut into shapes or drop on parchment papered cookie sheet.


Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes or until brown.


Cavaliered to Death

A Barkview Mystery, book 1


Once bit, forever shy. Can she make it through a matted mess of missing dogs to catch a deadly criminal?


A feline loving investigative reporter living in the dog friendliest city in America, what can go wrong during dog show week when the quaint seaside town turns dog-eat-dog? Cat can almost handle dogs, but she finds the delicate balance bitterly disrupted when two opposing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels disappear and the mayor’s wife is murdered.


With her aunt heading the list of suspects due to the town’s cutthroat rivalry, Cat determines she must dig up enough evidence to prove her innocence. But, as the facts stack up against them, she’s plagued with a new problem—the dognapped Cavaliers are found in her aunt’s kennel.


Can Cat walk with the leash lovers long enough to catch a killer and save the dog show?


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Monday, January 17, 2022


King Kalākaua's Crown

Terry Ambrose has written more than a dozen books, several of which have been award finalists. In 2014, his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. His series include the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries, and the License to Lie thriller series. Learn more about Terry and his books at his

Five years ago, we visited ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu. ‘Iolani is the only royal palace in the United States. Once the home of Hawaii’s monarchy, it’s now a museum and teaching center. The story of how this came to be struck a chord within me, and for years I wondered how I could weave the story of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch into a current-day mystery. It wasn’t until I came across a 2011 story from Honolulu Magazine titled Malice in the Palace: The Hawaii Crown Jewel Robbery that I knew I’d found my solution, a true and twisted tale of greed that created the perfect setup for Mystery of the Eight Islands.


It’s January 17, 1893, and trouble is brewing

Foreign businessmen, mostly Americans, are about to overthrow the Hawaiian government to further their business interests. But that’s only the beginning of the story. In the days following their coup d’état, a man named George Ryan and a few trusted friends commit a crime—not just any crime, but the theft of Hawaiʻi’s crown jewels.


George Ryan was only eighteen when he ran away from his hometown in Indiana. Ryan’s real name was Preston Horner. Few knew him by that name, however, because he used multiple aliases until he died. Ryan was no stranger to the streets, having held odd jobs between his stints at a penitentiary in Oregon and a prison on O’ahu.


Ryan’s notoriety began after he was arrested in Honolulu for carrying a concealed weapon and ordered to leave the islands. Rather than doing that, Ryan stayed on O’ahu. As a foreigner, Ryan was supportive of the coup that removed Queen Liliuokalani from power and joined the reorganized Hawaii Guard. One weekend, while stationed at ‘Iolani Palace, Ryan and a few accomplices went to the basement, found the crown of King Kalākaua, pried all of the gems from the crown, and stole them. 


The thieves used an elaborate network of opium dealers and hack drivers (equivalent of today’s taxi drivers) to fence the gems. The detective assigned to the case, William Larsen, spent months following leads and eventually arrested most of the participants. But here’s where things get twisted—most of the thieves were never tried for their roles.


Even Ryan’s charges were reduced to second-degree larceny. A jury found him guilty after deliberating for eight minutes. Rather than handing down a stiff sentence, the judge sentenced him to only three years in prison and a fine of $5,000. While in prison, Ryan received a letter from his sister thanking him for the six-carat diamond he sent her. With the cooperation of the Indiana police, the diamond was recovered, and promptly disappeared after it was returned to Hawaii. 


Sadly, most of the stolen gems are lost forever. Today, it would cost millions to restore the crown to its original condition. In a final twist of fate, George Ryan did eventually see justice. After he joined the American Army, he was stationed in the Philippines, where he was discovered digging up buried treasure by locals. Their justice was not so lenient. Ryan’s body was found floating on a raft down a river. He’d been tied to the raft and his hands had been cut off. 


The theft of Hawaii’s Crown Jewels provided me with a starting point for Mystery of the Eight Islands. The missing element was a fictional necklace I inserted into the real robbery. The necklace became the glue that brought the story together, tying current-day events with the real events of the 1890s that in many ways seem stranger than fiction.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and look forward to hearing what you think about it.


Mystery of the Eight Islands

A Trouble in Paradise Mystery, Book 11


Apartment manager and amateur sleuth McKenna wants a break from solving murders. Too bad his best friend, wannabe PI Chance Logan, doesn’t feel the same. Chance has found a case he thinks McKenna’s going to love—the death of prominent attorney Julian Carr, and the theft of a 125-year-old necklace that’s worth a quarter of a million dollars. Before long, McKenna’s feeling pressured from all sides—find the necklace, solve the murder. Sure. Why not just add save the world?


McKenna’s sure something fishy is going on when he and Chance meet with Julian’s granddaughter about the case. She’s created her own murder board with five suspects. The list includes an unstable, art-collecting veterinarian, a convicted felon, a disbarred attorney, a suspected art thief, and Julian’s new business partner. 

As the investigation ramps up, McKenna and Chance see their leads drying out faster than laundry in the tropical sun. The really bad news is they’re not sure they can even find the Eight Islands or solve the murder. For once, McKenna’s worried they just might fail. 


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Friday, January 14, 2022


Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press. Originally from Georgia, she lives in Washington State with her husband and a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher. Devil By the Tail is her first historical novel. Learn more about Jeanne and her books at her website. 

My grandfather was named Gettysburg. That bit of family history has given me a lifelong interest in the Civil War. But it’s the period immediately following the war that most fascinates me – a time when female reformers, suffragettes, and rebellious housewives began to struggle in earnest against the social straitjacket that confined them to their homes.


In the mid-19th Century, married women lived under the law of coverture. They had no separate identity apart from their husband and no legal rights. To be married was to be one person—the man. He controlled every aspect of their lives and the cult of True Womanhood – piety, purity, and submissiveness – kept the wife a virtual prisoner.


Nice women didn’t work outside the home. There were nurses and domestic servants, of course. But according to the Illinois Supreme Court, “The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female gender unfits it for most occupations.” Judged by that standard, the protagonist of my new mystery is the antithesis of the feminine ideal. Widowed and left in the lurch when her husband died without leaving a will, Quinn Sinclair joins forces with an ex-Confederate POW named Garnick to form their own detective agency.


The pair couldn’t have found a more crime infested place or time to hang out their shingle than Chicago in 1867. The city was a boomtown following the war. Immigrants from Ireland and Europe swarmed into the city along with thousands of battle-hardened veterans to work in the stockyards, lumber mills, and factories. Gambling dens and brothels sprang up to relieve these unsettled men of their wages. Drunkenness and prostitution proliferated, and violence was rampant.


Chicago had become synonymous with political corruption during the Republican Convention of 1860. Newspapers predicted that Lincoln would be “Chicagoed” by his conniving opponents and cheated out of the nomination. On the seamier side of town, to be “Chicagoed” meant simply to be beaten to a pulp. In addition to a reputation for corruption, the city was notorious as a mecca of vice. Its most colorful bawdyhouse madam, “Gentle” Annie Stafford, carried a horsewhip to keep order among her clientele while quoting the love poems of Lord Byron. 


Chicago attracted an intriguing mix of transgressive females in 1867. Mary Todd Lincoln, another victim of a husband who died without a will, tried to make a home in the city, but she needed money. Desperate and deeply in debt, she arranged to auction off the gowns she’d worn as first lady but ended up causing a scandal. 


Victoria Woodhull, who believed in the right of women to marry, divorce, and bear children without social or government interference, traveled to Chicago in 1867 to obtain a divorce. It’s not clear whether she got one or whether she committed bigamy with her next lover, but a few years later she ran for president against Ulysses Grant on a platform of equal rights and short skirts. And Kate Warne, who answered an ad placed in the Chicago Tribune by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, became the first female detective and, probably, the boss’s mistress.


I’d never thought about writing a historical novel, but the more I learned about that “toddlin’ town” in that tumultuous year, the more possibilities I envisioned for a story. It would feature a woman audacious enough to defy convention by her choice of profession and a man unconventional enough to cheer her on. This heroine would venture into the criminal underbelly of the city without being coarsened or compromised and she would maintain her privacy and respectability by using an alias professionally.


My previous novels have included an element of mythology and not even in that department did Chicago disappoint. In January 1867 the famous Italian tragedienne, Adelaide Ristori, performed in a production of Medea at Crosby’s Opera House. In the play as in the myth, Medea takes fiery revenge on her faithless husband by murdering her rival. That gave me my plot. A client of my detectives’ new agency is accused of a similar crime and the scandalmongering, sensationalist press of the era has a field day reporting the crime. With Quinn leading the investigation and Garnick assuming the role of front man to lend “male credibility” to the enterprise, the detectives take readers on a tour of the rough-and-tumble city as it existed before the Great Fire.


Devil by the Tail

A Garnick & Paschal Mystery


What’s a 20-something Union war widow to do in 1867? Start up her own detective agency with a former Reb POW, of course!


Quinn Sinclair, who uses the name Mrs. Paschal professionally, and her wryly observant partner Garnick get two cases on the same day  - one to help a man prove he didn't kill his wife, another to help a lawyer find reasonable doubt that his client killed her ex-lover's new bride. As the detectives dig deeper, they unearth facts that tie the cases together in disturbing ways.


This tantalizing tale of 19th Century Chicago comes complete with corrupt politicians, yellow-press reporters, gambling parlors, and colorful bawdyhouse madams. At every turn in the investigation, Quinn discovers more suspects and more secret motives for murder.


Not least among her worries, someone seems intent on murdering her.


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Wednesday, January 12, 2022


Julie Bates lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and several pets. She enjoys reading, doing crafts, and experimenting with ingredients in her kitchen, which is one reason the huskies follow her wherever she goes. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website

Women’s Work

The 18th century offered few career opportunities for women. In an age where women were expected to marry and care for children and the home, finding meaningful work presented a challenge. Yet many women found ways to support themselves and their children despite the restrictions of the time.


Faith Clarke, the protagonist of Cry of the Innocent, the first in a series of historical mysteries set during the American Revolution, keeps a tavern in a busy city.  Like many of her contemporaries, she started out working alongside her husband and then continued after his death. She embodies the can-do spirit of many women who find a way to succeed against overwhelming circumstances.


Faith evolved from a simple question I had after my first trip to Colonial Williamsburg. After touring the town and listening to stories about founding fathers and craftsmen, I wondered, “What about the women?”


That idea stayed with me through ten years of ups and downs before I decided to follow my heart and write the stories that peppered my dreams. Faith evolved into a woman of independence and vulnerability who has learned to survive great loss. She’s not a diehard patriot, she’s a single parent trying to raise her child in trying times. She gets drawn into crime solving when a murder occurs too close to ignore.


Like many of her contemporaries, Faith engages in the dawn to dusk work involved in running an inn, aided by her son and her assistants, Olivia and Titus York. She finds time to solve crimes in between trips to the market, rising before down to help with serving breakfast, and trying to care for travelers who spend the night in the inn.  Along the way she engages with people such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and British troops.


Food figures into these stories from the porridges and corn cakes that comprised a typical breakfast to the huge midday meals made up of stews, hams, turtle, deer, and whatever vegetables were grown in the garden.  America introduced may foods to the world, among them chocolate, potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, maize, peanuts, and red and green peppers. Although some of these took years to come into common use. Americans also invented barbecue. 


Faith relies on her cook Olivia to do the bulk of the cooking, which allows her more time for snooping and running the tavern.  Since these stories occur long before the days of Walmart, Iinstacart or electricity, meal preparation is a process from going to the market, to ingredients, to cooking meals over an open fire.  Women rose between 4 and 5am to begin preparations for the morning meal, which was served around 8am for guests.  Dinner, the large meal of the day, was served around 2pm.  Supper usually consisted of what was left from dinner, which could be eaten as late as 8pm. Since there was no refrigeration in colonial times, the whole process was started anew every day.


Faith is a widow, which gives her more freedom than an unmarried woman would have during this time. She is also a businesswoman, which means she collect bills and makes choices from what is served to what additional services are offered. She works hard every day, whether it is tending her guests, going to market, brewing short beer and cider for her tavern, or solving a crime that impacts those she holds dear.


Since food factors into my stories, I’m including a recipe for ginger cookies.  Gingerbread, ginger cookies and ginger snaps are treats that have been around for a long time, some sources say since Ancient Greece. I don’t know about that, but gingerbread was a favored treat from the Colonial time period. Since colonial cooking methods are pretty strange to modern cooks, this is a recipe made for modern cooking methods.

Look for A Taste of Betrayal, the second Faith Clark Mystery, coming in late May.


Colonial Gingerbread Cookies 

(makes about 2 dozen)



2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup all-vegetable shortening

1/4 cup butter

1-1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses


Mix flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Set aside.


Cream together 1 cup sugar, shortening, butter, egg, and molasses.


Gradually add dry ingredients to wet mixture and combine.


Scoop out dough by rounded tablespoons and roll into a ball.  (If dough is too sticky to handle, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to allow butter to harden and it will be less sticky.)


Place remaining sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll balls of dough into sugar.


Place onto a cookie sheet and flatten, spacing a couple inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Cry of the Innocent

A Faith Clark Mystery, Book 1 

(Note: Julie is giving away 10 e-copies of Cry of the Innocent to the first 10 readers who email her. All she asks in return is that you post a review at your favorite review site after you read the book.)


April 1774 – Within the colonial capital of Virginia, Faith Clarke awakes in the middle of the night to discover a man savagely murdered in her tavern. Phineas Bullard was no stranger. Faith’s late husband had borrowed heavily from the man and left Faith to struggle to pay the debt.


With unrest growing in the American Colonies, the British are eager for a quick resolution at the end of a noose, regardless of guilt. Under suspicion for the crime, she must use every resource at her disposal to prove her innocence and protect those she loves. Her allies are Olivia and Titus, slaves left to her by her late husband’s family, individuals she must find a way to free, even as she finds they also have motives for murder.


Faith seeks to uncover the dead man’s secrets even as they draw close to home. Determined to find the truth, she continues headlong into a web of secrets that hides Tories, Patriots, and killers, not stopping even though she fears no one will hear the cry of the innocent.


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Monday, January 10, 2022


The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries

My author Lois Winston recently relocated from New Jersey to Tennessee to be closer to family. Lois was born and bred in the Garden State and except for a stint in Philadelphia and its suburbs, has lived in New Jersey her entire life. Until now.

When Lois created me, she created another Jersey Girl, maybe because she never had a daughter of her own, only sons. And although Lois had the temerity to make me a reluctant amateur sleuth instead of one of the heroines in her romance novels, for which I’ve never forgiven her, I’m glad she chose New Jersey for the setting of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries


When you grow up in New Jersey, you develop Jersey ‘tude. You have to in order to deal with all the insensitive comments from the rest of the country. We’re the butt of many a late-night comedian’s joke—even those who happen to live here. I have no idea why. I’ve been to most of the other forty-nine states in the U.S., and in my opinion, many of them fall far short of New Jersey. 


Out-of-staters think we’re nothing but strip malls. To them I say, come visit Westfield or Haddonfield or Princeton or Summit or Chatham…I could go on and on. We have dozens and dozens of quaint towns, many of which have been used as settings in movies and TV shows. And no matter where you live in New Jersey, within a relatively short time you can be in the mountains or down the shore. (Yes, we call it down the shore. Other people go to the beach or the seaside but not those of us from the Garden State.) Plus, if you live in the northern half of the state, as I do, you’re a short train or car ride from Manhattan. Theaters and museums galore!


New Jersey has culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to the famous and the infamous. We probably have more authors per capita living in New Jersey than any other state. 


We even legally own the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since they usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey. 


However, because we’ve had to put up with so much negative press and razzing for so long, those of us from New Jersey have had to develop a tough hide. We’re also known for our sense of humor, which runs more toward snark than Minnesota Nice. 


I’ve had to channel my inner Jersey Strong to cope with what Lois has dumped on me—kidnappings, Mafia loan sharks, a communist mother-in-law, and more dead bodies than I can count at this point. I cope with it all by channeling my Jersey ‘tude and sense of humor. 


But right now, I’m getting a bit nervous about whether Lois will allow me to continue living in New Jersey or if she’ll force me to move to Middle Tennessee. She tells me you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the girl. That sounds ominous. I’m hoping she’s only toying with me. But if she isn’t, I just may go on strike and give her a whopping case of Writer’s Block. We fictional characters do have some tricks up our sleeves.

Friday, January 7, 2022


Today we feature something a bit different from our usual author guest posts. Author Janet Lane Walters joins us to talk about the different types of series novels. Janet has been published for 50+ years with time out to work as a nurse to help put her children through college. She is an eclectic writer with works in mystery, romance (both sweet and spicy), adult and children’s fantasy, and poetry. She’s also, along with her writing partner Jane Toombs, an award-winning nonfiction author.  Learn more about Janet and her books here.

Do you enjoy reading series books? I enjoy both reading and writing series. Lately, I’ve been reading series books in various genres. I’ve also written series books in mystery, romance, and fantasy.


Series come in many varieties. There are series that follow one character from book to book. I’m currently reading one now, Anne Perry‘s Monk mystery series. But there are also series in other genres. C.J Cherryh‘s Foreigner Series features science fiction stories with more than twenty books following the adventures and growth of a single man. My own Mrs. Miller’s Mysteries series, beginning with Murder and Mint Tea, follows this format. When I began writing the first book, I didn’t expect it to turn into a series, but members of my critique group liked Katherine, my sleuth, and encouraged me write a series about her.


There are series that focus on a group of people. Often, they live in the same town or have the same profession. There are several great series that feature doctors and one where a group of people live together. Jennifer Probst’s Searching For Series features people in the same family.


I have several series of this type, including my Opposites In Love Series and Moon Child Series. These are connected through astrology. In one series the hero and heroine live in the same town, work at the same hospital and are astrological opposites. The Opposites in Love Series was planned, and although the first three books were written close together, the last three came later because I wanted the books to be different from each other, even though they featured the same professions,


The third type of series I call Worlds. One might think this would only apply to historical, science fiction, and fantasy books. Not necessarily. There are contemporary stories that deal with worlds unfamiliar to us. Mike Geraghty‘s Cosantoir (Protectors) MC Series is one such contemporary set of books as is Mary Jo Putney’s Rogues Redeemed and Fallen Angels Regency Series. Another historical series is Jo Beverley’s Malloren Series, which takes place before the Regency period. 


Vijaya Schartz has several series in science fiction that are tied to a world view. Her Bizantium Series is one. In fantasy Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern are fascinating. 


I am at present awaiting the release of the fourth Moon Rising series – Incal. The first Book was written as a stand alone. Several years later, I was halfway through Healwoman when I realized I had meandered into the world depicted in Moon Summoned. I returned to reading Moon Summoned for the culture and other items to fill in the details of this world. In the past two years I completed Nilos and Incal, which were recently released.


Series are fun to read and to write. 



Moon Rising, Book 3


Return to the world where Midra and Midran rule. The god and goddess have two faces. Midra is Mistrees on the Moon and also Mistress of the Dark. Midran is Lord of light and Lord of shadows. Rons ago, the Three and Three rose, Seer, Warrior, Healer defeated the Lord of Shadows, though remnants of his worshipers remain. As generations pass in the four nomes of the land only a few remain to honor the Mistress. Once again the followers of Midran prevail, leaving trouble to roil beneath the surface. Prophecies abound and many point to change. Will the Three and Three come again?


In Nilos, Healwomen have become only midwives. Their hodara lies in ruins on the bank of the Nilos River in the city of Memphos. Only a few women come for training and remain in the city. Others serve in the highlands and on the desert. The Eldest, she who rules the midwives, sets upon a scheme fo bring the Three to life and to rule the nome.


What will happen when the Eldest sets her plan into action? Will there be just three women or will they find their opposites becoming the fabled Three and Three? Who will rule the changes to come?


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Wednesday, January 5, 2022


Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
Dr. Millicent Eidson is a public health instructor previously with state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more about Millie and her microbial mystery stories of zoonoses (diseases from animals) at her website.  

“Monuments” is an award-winning ten-minute play set in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the hot summer protests of 2020. The iconic city is also home base for new medical detective Dr. Maya Maguire in the MayaVerse, an alphabetical mystery series. A twenty-five-year-old veterinarian hired by the CDC for a prestigious two-year public health training program, Maya is over her head as she investigates disease outbreaks while attempting a personal life for the first time.


In the debut novel, Bacillus anthracis bacteria infect Texas livestock but are new to Arizona with the collapse of a teenage Hopi sheepherder. Maya’s fieldwork takes her to spectacular remote locations of Keams Canyon and wildlife refuges along the Mexican border. More anthrax infections and deaths emerge from a Christmas-themed petting zoo, a Native American Pow Wow, and the largest livestock show in Arizona. 


Maya’s chapters interchange with the mysterious diary of a young boy who fancies a veterinary career while he becomes indoctrinated into hatred of anyone different. As timelines collide, passions bloom in the ancient ruins of Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Canyon. Warm friendships are intensified in Santa Fe’s plaza and Canyon Road with the farolitos and Las Posadas of Christmas. Maya rejoices in her work placement immersed in the Southwestern landscapes and traditions of her Arizona childhood.


Physical challenges from horseback riding and rough jeep trails exacerbate panic and pain from metal pins inserted after a childhood accident. Maya is supported in her journey as a “fish out of water” Chinese American in the Southwest by her loving but intrusive adoptive family. She’s buoyed by furry cuddles with her grandma’s Persian cat and her veterinary colleague’s Labrador retriever. Her mental health challenges are counteracted by Broadway musicals, especially Hamilton. How fortunate that the intriguing physician working for the Indian Health Service resembles Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical’s creator and star.


Anthracis: A Microbial Mystery launches Maya’s worldwide travels as a statistics nerd maturing into medical detective leadership with life-changing personal connections. Along with suspense and medical thriller aspects, each novel provides its readers a rewarding HFN—happy for now—conclusion with a hint of foreshadowing to the next disease threat.


As the veterinarian author of the MayaVerse, I share with readers the excitement and fascinating science of invisible microbes, a specialty during my epidemiology career. Expanding the medical detective world to veterinary public health provides enriching new fictional challenges, characters, and settings. One Health is the concept that humans, animals, and the environment are intricately tied together, and changes like weirding weather impact us all.


Like my character, I lived most of my life in the Southwest. My (and Maya’s) favorite Northern New Mexico cuisine includes blue corn green chile chicken enchiladas with sour cream. Regular corn wrappings will not do. They must be blue corn, grown that color and not dyed. The blue corn provides a rich nutty flavor. Ideally the chiles should be from Hatch, New Mexico, where fall roasting gives off fumes so strong your eyes will burn. Many consider green chiles to be the most flavorful, although you can also order “Christmas” at any time of the year, which is a mix of red and green chiles. To make your own blue corn enchiladas with red chile sauce, see https://www.sfshed.com/pages/video-recipes


The MayaVerse is an innovative mashup of Tess Gerritsen and Tony Hillerman with cozy mystery elements interrupted by bouts of terror. Please join Maya and me on her journey, including the free MayaVerse prequels and side stories available on my website. Those joining the Reader list will receive “Monuments” as a free ebook.


Anthracis: A Microbial Mystery

MayaVerse, Book 1


The spectacular southwestern desert is alive with Bacillus anthracis spores, and the summer is the hottest on record. As a new veterinary epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Maya Maguire confronts the largest, most complex anthrax outbreak in U.S. history.


Infections in persons of color and immigration activists resonate with Maya’s search, as a Chinese American adoptee, for a place in her American home. Younger than her fellow trainees and battling panic disorder from a horrific childhood accident, she struggles to solve an epidemic mystery in a physician-dominated public health world. From her home base in New Mexico, CDC sends her to join a federal team in Arizona, including provocative physician Dr. Manolo Miranda and tightlipped veterinarian Dr. Dave Schwartz.


The epidemic is linked to climate change—that’s the party line. But Homeland Security agents and the FBI are suspicious. Dave’s an anthrax expert and spores match his home Texas Triangle of Death.


An invisible enemy, team secrets, and romantic missteps may derail Maya’s confidence. If she can’t find the source, thousands could perish from anthrax-laced heroin and tainted milk. Anthracis takes us to the front lines with scientists betting their lives and relationships on the investigation outcome.


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Monday, January 3, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Judith Anderson, Chief of Police from author Kassandra Lamb’s The C.o.P. on the Scene Mysteries.

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

I had a good life in Maryland, as the head of a homicide unit in the Baltimore County Police Department. Granted I was frustrated with the bureaucracy, and some recent events had made me, let's say, a bit discontent.


But then Kassandra took advantage of that discontent and maneuvered me into chucking everything and moving to Florida. Granted, the chief of police position in the small city she invented was very enticing. I didn't quite realize what I was getting myself into, though.


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

My self-reliance. I can take care of myself in just about every situation.  


What do you like least about yourself? 

Um, I guess sometimes I'm a little too independent. I have trouble letting people in.


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

That's easy. I'm not even two weeks on the job down in Florida, and she sics a serial killer on me. 


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

I haven't before, but I was just a secondary character in her other series about Kate Huntington, the psychologist I've consulted with on some cases. Now that Kassandra is focusing on me, I need to pay closer attention to what she's up to. So I can object when she's about to land me in a mess.


What is your greatest fear? 

Boy, you ask tough questions. I suppose my greatest fear is having to admit that I can't handle something.


What makes you happy?

Okay, that one's easy. Locking up bad players gives me great satisfaction.


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

Well, Kassandra hasn't filled in all the details yet, but she's given me this rather dark back story, with a wife-battering father and an unstable, suicidal mother.


Ha, I guess that's why I'm so cussedly independent. But if I was doing the writing, I'd give myself a more pleasant childhood. *shrugs* Of course, then I might not be me. Not sure how I'd feel about that.


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

The mayor of the city of Starling. He and the City Council Chair hired me. Councilman Hayes is a sweetheart, but Mr. Mayor, not so much. He's always screaming about "optics." Politicians are definitely not my favorite people.


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

I can't imagine trading places with any of them. I like being the boss. But I wouldn't mind trading personalities with one of my detectives. He's very easy-going. I wish I could roll with things as easily as he does.


Well, maybe I'd be willing to trade places with Sheriff Sam...Sam Pierson. He's the sheriff of the rural county just north of Starling. Most of the time, his job is a lot calmer than mine. He's been, um... *cheeks flushing* ...a good ally.


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

She's a Maryland native, as well, who has moved south for the warmer climate. Now she has half her characters doing the same thing. I guess she likes Florida.


But online she hangs out at her website and she blogs on her small indie press's website


What's next for you?

I'd liked to get a bit more settled into this new job and city before another big case comes along. But something tells me that Kassandra isn't going to give me much of a break. She said she wanted to write police procedurals partly so she didn't have to make up reasons why an amateur sleuth keeps getting involved in murder.


And Starling is just southwest of Jacksonville---a big city with all the usual big-city problems. Those problems tend to spill over onto my city at times. I've heard rumors that there's a sex-trafficking ring operating in the area, and I have a bad feeling they're going to bring trouble our way.


Lethal Assumptions

A C.o.P. on the Scene Mystery, Book 1 


Judith Anderson’s no-nonsense attitude and confidence served her well in her climb to homicide lieutenant in the Baltimore County PD, but that confidence is shaken when she finds herself one step behind a serial killer—just eight days into her new job as Chief of Police in a small Florida city.


With a leak in her department, she doesn’t know whom to trust. If she makes the wrong assumption, the wrong decision, it may be her last. In a race to save lives, she’ll draw on every talent and instinct that made her a star in Baltimore. But will that be enough this time?


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