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, February 28, 2022


By Lois Winston 

Although I don’t advocate assaults of any kind, I am a mystery author, and that means I write about assaults—often deadly ones. in Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series, a killer uses my protagonist’s glue gun to kill his victim.


Nearly five months after the release of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun back in 2011, a crime occurred in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I have to wonder if my book was somehow responsible because a man assaulted another man with -- are you ready for this? A GLUE GUN!


Our neighbors to the north thought this was hilarious, sending CBCNews in Canada emails containing such gems as:


“Stick em up!”


“It could have turned into a sticky situation.”


“Of course if this glue gun had been properly registered, then this never would have happened.”


“Obviously a case of male bonding!”


“Scrap-book him, Danno.”


Since first reading of the incident in Newfoundland, I’ve learned of other glue gun related crimes. 


Two and a half months before the Canadian assault, some crafty thieves used a glue gun to rob a series of ATM machines in the San Francisco Bay area.


In 2018 a masked man brandishing a glue gun attempted to hold up a Bubble Tea establishment in Brownsville, Brooklyn.


Last August, a man used a glue gun to rob a credit union in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.


I also came across several assaults using glue guns that are too gruesome to mention here. I just hope none of perpetrators of these crimes were influenced by my book!

Friday, February 25, 2022


By Lois Winston

Ten years ago I received an email that contained a number of quotes about the value of reading. What follows are some of those quotes, along with others I’ve come across. Let’s hear it for reading!

1. You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. -- Paul Sweeney

2. Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. -- Charles William Eliot


3.  What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though. -- J.D. Salinger


4. In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. -- Mortimer J. Adler


5. Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. -- Anna Quindlen


6. You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive. -- James Baldwin


7. The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours -- Alan Bennett


8. Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. -- Margaret Fuller


9. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. -- Chinese Proverb


10. Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all. -- Abraham Lincoln


11. So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall. -- Roald Dahl


12. To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting. -- Edmund Burke


13. A house without books is like a room without windows. -- Heinrich Mann


14. A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. -- Henry David Thoreau


15. To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one. -- Chinese Saying

16. Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books, and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three, and you give me a dangerous enemy mind. -- Anne Rice

17. The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade. -- Anthony Trollope

18. We read to know we are not alone. -- C.S. Lewis

19. No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. -- Confucius

20. The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries. -- Descartes

21. The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. -- Dr. Seuss

22. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested. -- Francis Bacon

23. Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. -- Frederick Douglass

24. Read in order to live. -- Gustave Flaubert

25. A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance. -- Lyndon Baines Johnson

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Maddie Day pens the Country Store Mysteries and Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Agatha Award-winning author Edith Maxwell, she writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and short crime fiction. Learn more about Edith and her books at her website, where you can find links to all her social media, and at the Wicked Authors and Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blogs. Today Maddie/Edith shares with us a refreshing wine spritzer that’s a favorite of one of her sleuths.

In Batter Off Dead, number ten in the Country Store Mysteries, chef and protagonist Robbie Jordan enjoys a blueberry wine spritzer during the July heat. I included the recipe among the others at the back of the book, and I’m delighted to share it with your readers.


That said, we are in the depths of a cold New England winter, and I couldn’t find a trace of fresh mint to use, so I stuck a lime on the glass. 


Robbie’s Blueberry Wine Spritzer

Ingredients (for one drink): 

Fresh blueberries

3 mint leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

4 ounces chilled Pinot Grigio

Lime seltzer


Muddle a dozen blueberries and mint with the sugar at the bottom of a glass. Stir in wine, add ice, and top off with seltzer and a few more blueberries. Enjoy on the deck with a good book!


Readers: What’s your favorite refreshing summer drink? I’d love to send one commenter a signed copy of the new book. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you’re the winner.


Batter Off Dead

A Country Store Mystery, Book 10


In South Lick, Indiana, fine foods and classic cookware can be found at Robbie Jordan’s Pans ’N Pancakes. Unfortunately, her country store also seems to stock up on murder.


In Batter Off Dead, Robbie and her new husband Abe O’Neill are enjoying a summer evening in the park with fellow townsfolk excited for some Friday night fireworks. In attendance are senior residents from Jupiter Springs Assisted Living including Roy Bird, father to South Lick’s very own Police Lieutenant Buck Bird. Despite his blindness, Roy is a member of his group home’s knitting circle, spending quality time with some lovely ladies.


But when the lightshow ends, one of the knitters who sat with Roy is found dead, a puncture wound in her neck. The poor woman’s death echoes that of Buck’s mother and Roy’s wife—an unsolved homicide. To help find the killer, Robbie’s going to have to untangle the knotty relationships deep in the victim’s past . . .


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Monday, February 21, 2022



Just for laughs and in honor of Presidents' Day, our special guests today are Abraham Lincat and George Washingcat.

Friday, February 18, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with cozy mystery author Jackie Layton. Learn more about Jackie and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

I always dreamed of writing, but it didn’t seem possible or practical. When my youngest son was about to graduate from high school, it occurred to me if I didn’t try writing, I’d regret it. 


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

It took about ten years. That probably seems like a long time, but at the beginning of my journey, I was working full time and had family commitments. It took a lot of juggling, and my family was supportive, and at last the dream came true.


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

I’m traditionally published. 


Where do you write? 

A few years ago, we moved to South Carolina. We converted a porch to an office for me. Like I said earlier, my husband has always been supportive of my dreams. 


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

I have a playlist with Michael Buble, Brett Eldredge, Craig Morgan, The Fifth Dimension, John Legend, Trisha Yearwood, Reba, Stevie Wonder, Thomas Rhett, and many more. 


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

The setting, Heyward Beach, is a combination of my favorite beaches. In Caught and Collared, the victim is a podcaster. I couple years ago, I began listening to crime podcasts and I began to wonder…what if? 


Describe your process for naming your character? 

I look up names that are age appropriate, and I try to choose names that are popular in the region. In South Carolina, it’s popular to be called by your first and middle name. My main character is Andi Grace, and her sister is Lacey Jane.


Real settings or fictional towns? 



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

Marc Williams was raised in foster care. The best family he had was an older couple. Marc’s in his early thirties, but some of his expressions sound like a much older man. 


What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

I became a sports fan when I had sons. Now that we’re empty nesters, I still watch ballgames on TV and cheer and clap. I attended the University of Georgia, so in football season I ALWAYS cheer for the Georgia Bulldogs. I was raised in Kentucky, and my husband and oldest son graduated from the University of Kentucky, so I cheer for the Kentucky Wildcats during basketball season.


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

Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan is a fabulous story with twists and turns. 


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

I wish I’d been brave enough sooner and tried my hand at writing.


What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Poor customer service.


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

I assume there’s no wifi. I’d want my Bible, my journal, and I guess I’d need a pen. 


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

One summer I was a candy striper and worked in the hospital’s physical therapy department. Burn patients had treatment in whirlpool baths. Afterward, I had to clean the tubs and all the dead skin was on it. 


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

As a child I read The Best-Loved Doll. It was the first love story I ever read. I begged my mother to check it out of the library every chance we had. She finally found and bought a copy for me.


Ocean or mountains? 

Ocean! I live five minutes from the nearest beach.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

City girl.


What’s on the horizon for you? 

I’m contracted to write two more books in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series. I also have contracts for a series set in Texas and one set in Georgia. 


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

I try to bravely face challenges, and I want the heroines in my stories to be brave and kind. As a pharmacist, I connect with people in my community. One of the best things about writing is connecting with readers all over the world. 


Thanks for having me on your blog today. It’s been fun connecting with you and your readers. 


Caught and Collared

A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery, Book 4


When a scavenger hunt turns up a dead body, dog walker Andi Grace Scott will have to make a dogged effort to collar the culprit . . .


Setting out for a day of fun on her town’s first-ever scavenger hunt, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is dismayed to find an unattended dog wandering the streets—but that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she finds a dead man floating in the swimming pool of the dog’s owner. What’s more, she’d seen the very same man having a very public altercation with his wife just the night before. Despite being warned off the case by the local sheriff, Andi Grace can’t help nosing around to find out who’s behind the foul deed.


It turns out the victim was a well-known radio personality who focused on cold-case investigations and was rumored to be breaking a huge story on his next show. As Andi Grace digs deeper to learn who may have wanted him dead, she’s faced with a suspect list that includes a cold-hearted widow who stands to inherit a bundle, a local country star with family demons to hide, and any number of unknown criminals who may have been the focus of the victim’s big reveal. Whether the motive was love gone bad, a career under duress, or a killer’s deadly secret, Andi Grace knows she’ll have to act fast before she becomes the next cold case herself .


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Wednesday, February 16, 2022


Today we welcome Darlene Fredette to the blog. Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found hanging out with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Learn more about Darlene and her books at her website and blog. 

An Artist at Heart

I’ve always been a crafter, from painting free-hand and ceramics, to needlepoint and cross stitch, diamond art beading, and pencil sketches. While I pencil sketch a picture once a week for my daughter and have a diamond art beading project started but not finished, I haven’t done other crafts in a long while.


During visits to see my aunt, who lives in a small town nestled on the Atlantic Ocean, we take walks along the beach to find sea glass. I wanted to design a sea glass project from all the little treasures I’ve found. I checked online for inspiration and came across an artist who works with sea glass. In one of her projects, she incorporated acrylic paint. I’ve always loved painting and the pouring technique piqued my interested, which led to following several painting artists.


I decided to haul out my paints and give painting a try. My first couple of paintings weren’t too bad, but I knew I could do better. I hadn’t painted in years, so I was a little rusty. I received plenty of painting supplies for Christmas and all I needed was an idea. My husband requested a painting design with The Rollings Stones tongue. I was thrilled with the result, as was my husband who requested another design.


Since then, I’ve done several more paintings, and I’m getting better with each one. There are many different elements to use instead of a paint brush, and I’ve already tried balloons, chains, and bubble wrap. My Daisy Balloon Burst is one of my favourites. Today, I finished another painting using red, pink, and white for the background and I painted a deep red heart on top. This painting will go on our front door for the next two weeks.


I have many designs I want to try, such as a themed series of fire and water, and earth and outer space, as well as a skull with a spooky background. The painting project ideas I have are endless!


I am happy to have rediscovered my love of painting, and while I may not consider myself an artist, I have been told by many that the title is appropriate.


If you want to check out more of my paintings and pencil drawings visit my website or blog.


Finding Home Again

A Redford Falls Novel, Book 5

A missing dog, a potential poisoning, and a suspicious death. Will Jordan and Logan find their happy-ever-after before another mysterious accident occurs?


Caretaker of a historical home, Jordan McKenzie, promised to keep a secret, but doing so gets harder by the minute, especially when an innocent kiss misses its intended target. Entangled in a web of mysterious mishaps, she discovers a surprising family connection. Is putting her trust in her boss' handsome nephew a risk worth taking?


Chef Logan Crane returns to Redford Falls hoping to claim an inheritance to open a restaurant, but he side-lines his plan after meeting Jordan. When past secrets intermingle with a present attraction, will Logan open his heart to the possibility of a future in Redford Falls…and with Jordan?


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Monday, February 14, 2022


Not only is it Valentine’s Day today, but it’s my author’s birthday month. To celebrate, Lois Winston has put the ebook bundle of the first two books in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries on sale for only .99 cents. Can you believe it? You can’t even buy a cup of coffee for that anymore. I’m not sure if there’s anything left you can buy for .99 cents except a postage stamp. And who knows how long that will last?

Normally, this 2-book bundle sells for $6.99, but it won’t be on sale for long, only until February 21
st. So don’t miss out. If you haven’t read these bestselling books yet, you won’t believe the trouble Lois has in store for me. She’s been at it for years now. Here a dead body, there a dead body. Every time I turn around, there’s a dead body! Who knew authors could be so sadistic? And to think, she used to write romances. Why couldn’t she write me into one of those? 

Anyway, Kirkus Reviews said I was, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” And both Publishers Weekly and Booklist gave Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun starred reviews, and Death by Killer Mop Doll was a Mystery Guild Alternate Selection.


So don’t wait. Time is ticking…

Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Books 1-2


Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun

When Anastasia Pollack's husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. She's left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful, cane-wielding Communist mother-in-law. Not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband's secret gambling addiction, and the loan shark who's demanding fifty thousand dollars.

Anastasia's job as crafts editor for a magazine proves no respite when she discovers a dead body glued to her office chair. The victim, fashion editor Marlys Vandenburg, collected enemies and ex-lovers like Jimmy Choos on her ruthless climb to editor-in-chief. But when evidence surfaces of an illicit affair between Marlys and Anastasia's husband, Anastasia becomes the number one suspect. Can she find the killer and clear her name before he strikes again?

Death by Killer Mop Doll

Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.

Crafts projects included.


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Apple iBooks  

Friday, February 11, 2022


By Lois Winston

I recently read The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, an historical novel woven around the eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926. I’ve always been fascinating by this event which has kept both professional and amateur sleuths guessing for years. 

At approximately 9:45pm Friday, December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie kissed her sleeping daughter, then drove off alone in her car. The car was later found abandoned with no sign of Christie. Some believed she’d drowned in a pond near the site where her car was found. Others thought the disappearance was a publicity stunt. Some clues pointed in the direction of murder, accusing her unfaithful husband Archie Christie. 


Christie was eventually found eleven days later staying at a spa hotel under an assumed name. Speculation ran the gamut of a head injury from a car accident or that she had orchestrated the entire episode to thwart her husband’s plans to spend the weekend with his mistress. In 2006 Andrew Norman, a doctor and Christie biographer, suggested that Christie had been in a fugue state brought about by trauma or depression.


Now here’s the amazing coincidence:


Nearly seven months earlier on May 18, 1926, another celebrity, Aimee Semple McPherson, went for a swim on a California beach and disappeared. McPherson was a Pentecostal evangelist, famous for using modern technology to spread her religious message worldwide.

McPherson was first assumed drowned. Her mother preached the sermon she was supposed to deliver the evening of her disappearance and told congregants, “Sister is with Jesus.” Upton Sinclair wrote a poem to commemorate the tragedy. Parishioners held round-the-clock seaside vigils. Her disappearance sparked a media frenzy.


A month after Aimee disappeared, her mother received a ransom note demanding a half million dollars and was told if she didn’t pay, Aimee would be sold into white slavery. Thinking the note was a hoax, she threw it out. Shortly after, Aimee stumbled out of the desert into a Mexican town. She claimed she’d been kidnapped, drugged, and tortured. She’d managed to escape her captors and walk half a day through the desert.


However, her story was full of holes. There was speculation she had run off with Kenneth Ormiston, her married lover. Witnesses claimed to have seen them in Carmel, California during the time Aimee was supposedly being held in Mexico. Some suggest she’d gone off to have an abortion or plastic surgery or had orchestrated the disappearance as a publicity stunt.


Christie and McPherson were born weeks apart in 1890. Their disappearances occurred months apart. Did Aimee’s disappearance influence Agatha Christie? Aimee Semple McPherson died in 1944. Agatha Christie died in 1976. Neither mystery was ever solved.

One of the hardest mysteries to write is the locked-room mystery. Dame Agatha was a master of that format. For years I wrestled with whether I could pull off a locked-room mystery. I finally decided to try writing one. A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, was released in 2020 and is set on…wait for it…a cruise ship. I was so happy with the results that when it came time to write the next book in the series, I again decided on a locked-room format. Stitch, Bake, Die! came out this past October and takes place at a conference during a snow storm. 

In The Mystery of Mrs. Christie author Marie Benedict posits an interesting theory about Christie’s disappearance. Is it anywhere near the truth of what really happened? We’ll never know. Dame Agatha refused to speak of the episode for the remainder of her life and made not a single mention of those eleven days in her autobiography.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie





Wednesday, February 9, 2022


In February 2013, a group of cozy mystery authors got together to form Booklover’s Bench as a way of supporting each other with cross-promotion. Over time, membership changed as both writing lives and personal lives changed, but the group is still going strong. Today, it consists of authors Terry AmbroseNancy J. CohenDebra H. GoldsteinCheryl HollonDiane A.S. StuckartMaggie Toussaint, and Lois Winston. 

The Booklover’s Bench “Let’s Talk” features a blog every Thursday by one of our authors. The fourth Monday of each month features either “Authors on the Bench” or “Characters on the Bench,” where we all respond to one question.


We promote each other through our blogs, websites, newsletters, contests, and social media posts. Our goal is to increase the readership of all our members. We do this by offering interesting content, contests, and book giveaways.


Each month we hold a Rafflecopter book giveaway where the winner can choose one of seven books offered that month. However, every February in celebration of the anniversary of our founding, the lucky winner receives all seven books offered for the month. 


Want a chance to win? Click on over to Booklover’s Bench to enter between now and February 18th and while you’re there, check out the beautiful new redesign of the website.

Monday, February 7, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with YA and adult mystery author M. E. Roche. Learn more about her and her books at her website.  

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

Like many authors, I thought about writing long before I actually set pen to paper. When I began to take it seriously, it was probably close to eight years before I was published. With my first two novels, I worked with a subsidy publisher. I eventually re-published those two and my last two with Amazon, where I’ll be publishing the upcoming ones.


Where do you write?

I write at a desktop in my study, preferably in the early morning.


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

I write in silence.


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

My favorite books have always been mysteries, starting with Nancy Drew. It was only much later that I came upon those student nurse mysteries popular in the 1950’s and up—Cherry Ames and Sue Barton to name two. Not finding anything written for young readers after those series and knowing that nursing had certainly changed (being an RN myself), I first set out to do an update. My first three young adult novels introduced my principal character, Nora Brady—a student nurse—to a nurse’s role in a nursing home, a hospital, and then a pediatric hospital in another country. As Nora worked with law enforcement to solve crimes in her past, she then moved into that profession herself, which is where my latest adult novel begins. 


Real settings or fictional towns?

While I’ve made my characters and locations fictious, they are primarily based in the small coastal towns of northern California, and undoubtedly bear some resemblance to some people I may have met at some point in time. 


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I’m not sure if I’d call it a quirk, but I definitely tend to leap before I think at times, which is what I oftentimes see my character Nora doing!


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

If I could have written any book, it would be Anne Morrow Lindberg’s Gift from the Sea. It’s one of my favorites and one that I have given many times as a gift with its message of women needing to take care of themselves. I love her use of different shells to depict the stages in a woman’s life, and like her, I love being by the water.


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

I don’t wish for any. I think most of us try to do the best we can at all times; sometimes we do better than other times, but regrets are a waste of energy.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

My first job out of high school was as a nurses’ aide (although I don’t remember ever seeing a nurse) caring for patients in the basement of a nursing home. I’m ashamed to say I only lasted three days. 


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

Too many to count. I love the old fairy tales, The Little Prince, Stephen King’s On Writing, William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, and most recently, Robert Dugoni’s The World Played Chess.


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

I would want water, cheese, and books.


Ocean or mountains?

I will always choose the ocean over the mountains.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

 I am definitely a city girl, although I have managed to live in the country when needing to do so. At one point in time, I moved from the center of Boston to a rural area in western Massachusetts, where it took me weeks to get used to the quiet—no arguing outside my window or sirens careening by at all hours!


What’s on the horizon for you?

I have two future Nora Brady mysteries in the works, and I’d like to try another stand-alone. I also have a hybrid historical/mystery releasing this month and a paranormal mystery this summer.


The South Spit Murders

A Nora Brady Mystery


It's the early morning hours on a rainy night, when the sound of gunshots is reported by a trawler crossing the bar from the bay into the ocean. Nora Brady, a detective with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department, is called to the south spit—that remote strip of land separating the Pacific Ocean from Williams Bay. Three murder victims, with no apparent connection, have been discovered near a lone campsite.


The subsequent investigation by Nora and her partner, Sam Duffy, provide a number of possible suspects, but each one seems to lack sufficient motive. Their investigation involves the full spectrum of local life—from the seedier areas of town to those in the most affluent, in which the recently deceased Terence Markam appears to have been a major force. Hostility, greed, jealousy or the desire to protect a loved one seems to drive each of the suspects to act. The outcome of those actions leaves one to wonder if everything has ended as it should.  


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Friday, February 4, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with police procedural authors HJ Forman and Alexia Forman.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

HJ had this idea for at least ten years before he finally put words to paper. It was during the latter part of his full-time academic career that he found time to start. Alexia, an essayist, was talked into joining HJ recently. 


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

As it was self-published, it was not very long after HJ finished a final version of his first book. 


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



Where do you write? 

HJ writes in his home office and Alexia writes at the kitchen table. HJ wrote his first novel while traveling by Amtrak between LA and Merced.


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

Depends on HJ’s mood. If there is noise, he drowns it out with Bach or Mozart.  Alexia needs quiet.


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

Except for our dog Muffy, none of the characters are real. Although it is very rare for someone in academia to commit murder, the plot is based on an actual problem in academia, unfair reviews.


Describe your process for naming your character?  

The name of the masculine main character, S.T. Jude, was based on the Catholic saint for performing impossible feats. HJ thought it would be fun to have a fiery red haired female main character, like the cartoon character Brenda Starr and named her Cindy Firestone.  As the biomedical research community is very diverse, some ethnic names were used. 


Real settings or fictional towns?  

Some are real and some are not.  


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

The male main character is a coffee addict.


What’s your quirkiest quirk? 

Alexia gets up very early (about 5 am,) to work while HJ stays up until midnight.


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

Alexia would have liked to have been born into a different family, one that was not ruled by an abusive father. HJ would rather not talk about it.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?  

People with Dunning Kruger Syndrome. That’s where someone without expertise in science argues that their opinion is as accurate as the facts presented by an expert. 


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

A satellite phone, water and chocolate. 


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Alexia – babysitter, did it once and retired. HJ – delivering newspapers, particularly in snow.


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

Alexia: Encyclopaedia Britannica.  HJ: The Winds of War by Herman Wouk.


Ocean or mountains?  

Both of us prefer ocean.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?  

Both of us are city people.


What’s on the horizon for you?  

Travel again, please St. Jude. More writing.


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

HJ Forman was born and raised in New York City. In the latter part of a long and successful career as an award-winning academic biomedical scientist, he began writing mysteries. He is willing to admit that a small percentage of the inhabitants of academia are unworthy of admiration. He’s also finding retirement to be a myth since he’s busier than ever and barely fits in time to watch football games.


Alexia Forman, a proud Philadelphian, went from painting pictures with oils to painting them with words. In her long history as an academic librarian, she also discovered how academia mirrors the rest of society.


Learn more about the Formans and their book at their website.

Toxic Vengeance

Bodies of respected, highly educated men and women are dropping in different parts of the country. Why are all the victims poisoned even when they die by different means? It takes fiery redhead police detective Cindy Firestone from a Washington, D.C. suburb to spot a connection. She brings the case to the attention of FBI Special Agent Steve Jude, who recognizes her intelligence and enjoys her packaging. Together, they investigate the many suspects and learn about the world of academic science, which most outsiders assume to be sedate. How wrong is that!


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