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, March 30, 2022


Casting the Movie Version of my Life

By Anastasia Pollack

Several years ago, a producer expressed interest in the eponymous series author Lois Winston writes about me. This producer pitched the idea to the production company where she worked. Everyone was onboard. Lois met with the owner and two producers, and they optioned The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. They then set about hiring a writer to create a treatment to pitch the idea to various networks. This production company had already created many movies and series for a variety of cable networks. I was over the moon!


Lois cautioned me not to get too excited, though. She’d been down this road twice before with Talk Gertie to Me, the humorous women’s fiction that was her first published book. She knew that 99.99% of all books optioned for movies or TV are never made. Still, I couldn’t help but have high hopes. I figured the universe owed me, given all the murder and mayhem Lois subjects me to in each book.

Needless to say, the production company struck out. I knew I was too much of a sassy Jersey Girl for Hallmark mysteries, but I really thought one of the other networks would enjoy getting to know me. But as of now, I won’t be ready for my closeup anytime soon. However, since hope springs eternal, I thought I’d share with you my dream cast.


I think Tina Fey would be an absolutely perfect choice to play me. Lois agrees. And who better to play my BFF food editor Cloris McWerther than Tina’s bestie Amy Pohler (even if Cloris is a Size Two dripping wet.)

As for Zack, Lois has described him as someone whose DNA cavorted in the same primordial pool as Hugh Jackman, Pierce Brosnan, and Antonio Banderas. I’d take any of those hunks, but she’s pushing for Hugh Jackman because the guy can sing and dance. To my knowledge, Zack is neither a singer nor a dancer, and I should know, right? But if you know anything about my author, you know she’d be perfectly happy spending the rest of her life on Broadway—and I don’t mean Broadway, Nashville.


I’m thinking possibly Kelsey Grammer as Anastasia’s half-brother-in-law Ira Pollack and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Tino Martinelli.

The remainder of the cast gets a bit tricky because I’d have to fiddle with the space/time continuum. I’d love to see Mama played by Ellen Burstyn but the Ellen Burstyn of the 1980s.


Unfortunately, two of my other choices are no longer with us. So I’d have to fiddle with the universe even more to make these casting choices work. If you ever watched The Sopranos, you’ll know Nancy Marchand, who played Tony’s mother Livia Soprano, would be a perfect Lucille. And Estelle Getty, Sophia from The Golden Girls, would have been perfect as Harriet Kleinhample.


As for Nick, Alex, Sophie, and Sophie’s dad Shane, I haven’t pinned those down yet. Any suggestions?

P.S.: Ralph has demanded to play himself, claiming Hollywood would have a hard time finding another African Grey parrot with as much knowledge of Shakespeare.

Monday, March 28, 2022


Since March is National Crafts Month, it seemed fitting to turn the blog over today to my author Lois Winston. Keep reading to learn how her craft designing career was born from eavesdropping on a conversation and how that career eventually led to Lois creating me, the eponymous reluctant sleuth of her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. 

Two Roads Diverged & I Took Both

(With apologies to Robert Frost!)

By Lois Winston


When I was in college, I taught myself embroidery and needlepoint. Because I was majoring in graphic design and illustration, I designed my own projects rather than buying kits, which were also too expensive a luxury for someone putting herself through school on scholarships, student loans, and various part-time jobs. I even incorporated needlework into my junior year end-of-term project in my photography class.

Fast-forward a few years and I’m now a new mother and a freelance graphic designer. One day I was in a needlework shop and overheard a conversation between the shop owner and a customer. The customer mentioned having sold some designs to a needlework company located a few miles from where I lived. When I got home, I called the company and set up an appointment to show my designs. A week later I walked out of that initial meeting with an assignment to design a line of counted cross stitch kits. (I went home and quickly taught myself how to do counted cross stitch!)

That assignment led to many more for that company and other kit manufacturers, as well as designing for various craft and needlework magazines, women’s magazines, and book publishers. Over the years I’ve worked as a craft book editor, a design coordinator, and the head designer for several needlework and craft companies. I also traveled the country working trade and consumer shows.

Fast-forward again, this time a few decades. I’m still designing in the craft industry, but I’ve also caught the writing bug and penned several romances and romantic suspense novels. One day my agent called to tell me she’d spoken to an editor who’s looking for a crafting mystery series. Given my background, my agent thought I’d be the perfect person to write one.


Crafting mysteries? At the time I had no idea there was such a thing. So I set about doing a bit of research. I discovered that most crafting mysteries featured an amateur sleuth who either owned a specialty craft shop or was a crafter of one specific craft, such as candle-making, pottery, knitting, doll-making, etc. I decided to do something a bit different. Tapping into my own background as a crafts editor, I created a sleuth who works as the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. That way I could feature different crafts in each book in the series. Thus was born the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.

I’m currently working on the eleventh full-length book in the series. There are also three connecting novellas. At this point Anastasia and I are pretty much joined at the hip. And it all began thanks to two conversations, one about needlecrafts and one about writing.


Stitch, Bake, Die!

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 10


With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the New Jersey chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.


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


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


Crafting tips included.


Buy Links



Apple Books



Friday, March 25, 2022


We’re happy to have a return visit from author Kris Bock who writes mystery, suspense, and romance, many with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Today Kris discusses the inspiration behind her new humorous Accidental Detective Series. Learn more about Kris and her books at her Website and Blog where you can also find links to her on other social media sites. Sign up for her newsletter to get a ten-page mystery short story set in the world of the Accidental Detective, information on the series, and three fun short stories originally written for children.

In the Accidental Detective Series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty. Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, the first book in the series, debuts April 7th.


When patients are dying at an Alzheimer's unit, a former war correspondent must use her journalism skills to uncover the killer and save her mother. Kate has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world, but can she survive going home? 


What inspired the series?

For my Accidental Detective mysteries, I started with a character who is trying to reinvent her life as she turns fifty. She spent thirty years as a war correspondent, so she’s pretty fearless, but that doesn’t always help her with the challenges of aging. She’s dealing with elderly parents who have health problems, a resentful sister, her own lack of retirement planning, and a body that doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. These challenges provide humor as she narrates her attempts to solve local mysteries and build a new life.


Why did you set the series in the Southwest?

I've been in New Mexico for more than twenty years, three times longer than I've lived anywhere else, so this is home. I live with my husband and our two ferrets in a small town, where I enjoy walking, hiking and archery.


I love New Mexico, but I wanted to set the mystery series in a big city. In Arizona, I could create a fictional city within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. That allows me to use this fictional city government for political issues, and make the mayor an old friend of Kate’s, without stepping on any real toes.


Arizona also provides tons of mystery opportunities. The large senior population attracts scams and abuse. You have the potential for arguments over inheritance (or even murders to get that inheritance sooner). The border with Mexico creates anxiety over immigration and various kinds of trafficking. Plus, you have all the usual potential crimes in any large population. I’ll be able to keep Kate busy for years.


How did your writing journey get you here?

Twenty years ago, I started writing for children, using the name Chris Eboch. I have eight middle grade novels (for ages 9 to 12) published under that name and I’ve been a ghostwriter for some popular children’s mystery series. I also write a lot of educational nonfiction and fiction. 


Around 2008, I was starting to feel restless and wanted a change. I had mostly been reading adult romantic suspense novels, so I started writing those under the name Kris Bock. Desert Gold follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found was inspired by finding the body of a murder victim while hiking in the woods. (Read about the whole experience of finding a dead body here.)


More recently, I started a sweet romance series set in and around a cat café. These cafés are a relatively recent trend, but you can now find several hundred all around the world. Typically, they partner with a shelter, so all the cats you can visit are available for adoption. In each of my Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series books, a couple falls in love and in addition one or more cats find their permanent homes.


So I have over 100 published books now, but that includes fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults. The variety keeps me interested! I have four Accidental Detective novels written and scheduled for publication, and in the meantime, I'm writing a romance series about a ranch family that wins the lottery. It's a lot of fun.


Something Shady at Sunshine Haven

The Accidental Detective, Book 1


She’s pursued the most dangerous news stories around the world. But can she survive going home?


Injured in a bombing, war correspondent Kate Tessler returns to her hometown in Arizona to recover. For the first time in her life, she’s starting to feel her age of nearly fifty despite living like a teenager again: staying in her childhood bedroom with only a cat for company, trying to understand why her sister resents her so much, and running into people who still refer to her as Kitty. The hardest part? Seeing her once-sharp and witty mother stuck in an Alzheimer’s unit.


When an old friend asks her to investigate suspicious deaths at the nursing home, Kate limps into action. Is a self-appointed “Angel of Mercy” killing patients to end their suffering? Are family members hastening their inheritance? Is an employee extorting money and removing the witnesses? Kate uses her journalism skills to track clues, but the puzzle pieces simply won’t fit.


If Kate can’t uncover the truth quickly, her mother could be next on the killer’s list.


Buy Links



Wednesday, March 23, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with debut traditional mystery author and award nominee Judy L. Murray. A Philadelphia real estate broker and restoration addict, Judy has worked with enough delusional sellers, jittery buyers, testy contractors, and diva agents to fill her head with back-office insight and truth versus gossip that she has used to her advantage in her writing. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

Since I edited my high school newspaper a gazillion years ago. When I graduated in newspaper journalism, I became a newspaper reporter. Practicality and a meager, correct that – empty checkbook - pointed me toward real estate sales. As a Philadelphia real estate broker, I was also a restoration addict. I’ve shoveled many a pile of plaster out of old houses.


I started this mystery about ten years ago, then set it aside. Three years ago, I started writing every single night, well after midnight. I decided time was of the essence, as we say in real estate. I wrote and rewrote. When I signed a contract for a three-book series, I left real estate. Some days I mentally hyperventilate over the next scene I’m writing, but nevertheless, I’m grateful to be here.


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

Traditionally published.


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

I like silence. although I enjoy hearing murmuring voices at my local library. Overhearing others discovering books makes me happy. It always has. 


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

As a broker, I know real estate is a world most people find interesting. It is also often misunderstood. Real estate is not HGTV. Houses aren’t built in a day. Buyers and sellers are understandably emotional. Helen’s career gets her involved with people in a very personal way. It’s a great segue to a mystery.


The Chesapeake Bay gives me lots of interesting locations and people with different backgrounds. I have twins like Helen. My husband, who is very much alive, complains he was already dead before my first chapter. It’s a joke among my friends and family. We live on a cliff that looks onto the bay.


Describe your process for naming your character?

Helen is named after my mother. She always believed in my writing ability. I wish I could share these moments with her. Helen’s daughter is named Lizzie after Elizabeth Bennett, and her son Shawn is an Irish version of my son John.


Real settings or fictional towns?

Fictional town at the very top of the Chesapeake based on a real waterfront town. 


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

Helen consults her self-made Detection Club of famous sleuths to catch the killer.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I talk out loud to myself. But then, I strike up conversations with strangers too.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Women portrayed as helpless or stupid. Everyone gets themselves in difficult situations. Running through the woods in high heels shouldn’t be one of them.


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

A pen and paper set. Orange vodka and comfortable shoes. 


What’s on the horizon for you?

My second in the series, Killer in the Kitchen, will be released in September. Very excited about that. In Killer in the Kitchen, Helen’s daughter, Lizzie, a popular home shopping network host, invites her to meet a celebrity chef about to sell his mansion.

Murder in the Master

A Chesapeake Bay Mystery, Book 1 


A Chesapeake village rocked by murder. A family empire resented. A friend accused.


It isn’t the first-time real estate agent Helen Morrisey has found someone naked in bed while showing a house. But this one is different. One glance at the bluish cast around his lips and the vacant, staring eyes, and Helen knows developer Al Capelli is never going to sign another sales agreement. 


His death is big news for a small Chesapeake water town where a family empire is built around secrets and their brash money style is resented by locals. Within days, his lover, her old friend, begs Helen to find the killer before she’s arrested for murder. Helen quickly realizes that solving a murder mystery in real life is a lot more dangerous than reading one. She decides to create her own Detection Club of expert sleuths—Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, Nora Charles, Agatha Raisin, and, yes, Nancy Drew to help unearth the truth.


Buy Links



Monday, March 21, 2022


Martha Crites is a mental health counselor from Seattle, Washington and the author of two mystery novel, set in the moody Pacific Northwest. Both feature mental health evaluator Grace Vaccaro. Learn more about Martha and her books at her website.

Pancakes Heal All Wounds

At the beginning of Danger to Others, Grace Vaccaro is struggling with the death of her mother and the aftermath of a dangerous evaluation. Grace’s daughter steps up, believing that food, especially pancakes (and bacon) can heal all wounds. Throughout the story, feeding people pancakes becomes an inside joke to signify care for others. 


Ironically, I have never liked pancakes—until retirement and Washington State’s pandemic lockdown happened for me at the same time. I was glad to be working on my second mystery, but after a couple hours in the chair, I needed a change. I found an opportunity to volunteer from home by jumping on the sourdough baking bandwagon that became so popular. My husband and I donated professional quality bread (yes, it took a lot of practice and yes, a diet followed) to Seattle’s food banks. Check out the nonprofit, Community Loaves, that has organized 865 volunteers and donated 57,000 loaves of sourdough.


The thing about sourdough is that you need to feed it regularly and that only uses a bit of your starter. People who don’t like to waste soon have a large jar of what they call discard and begin searching for ways to use it. Like pancakes. Sourdough pancakes were a revelation to me. They are tangy and light. They just might heal all wounds. Here’s a recipe I’ve been working on.


Sourdough Pancakes 

This recipe uses a lot of sourdough discard which is a good thing for me. The baking soda neutralizes acid, so the pancakes have a nice tang without being sour. I like to serve them with a spoon of plain yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup and some chopped nuts. Go ahead and use butter if that’s your preference. 



2-1/2 cups starter

2 eggs

1-1/2 T olive oil

3/4 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt


Wisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add the sourdough starter and dry ingredients. Stir well. 


Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. High heat makes the center mushy. Wipe with a lightly oiled paper towel before each batch. Measure 1/4-cup of batter into pan, as many as will fit. Watch for the tops to show bubbles and lose their shine, flip, then enjoy. Make a big batch because they freeze well. 

Danger to Others

In a late Pacific Northwest autumn, a young woman says she killed her therapist. Psychiatric evaluator Grace Vaccaro suspects it’s delusion until the woman escapes from a psychiatric unit. The search to bring her back forces Grace to face her personal demons, including mental illness in her own family. Grace’s search leads to the Seattle music scene, an abandoned mental hospital in the North Cascades and a group of cloistered nuns on a remote island. Watch for pancakes as you read.


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Friday, March 18, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Lily Dreyfus from mystery author Darlene Dziomba’s Lily Dreyfus Mystery Series.

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

I led a quiet life sharing a home with my two dogs, Boone and Crockett. Being in my 40s, I’d settled into a routine and was quite content.


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

I’m a champion of the underdog. Working with shelter animals, I see some of the ugliness that humans inflict on animals. I see my job as an Adoption Coordinator to help animals find homes where their unconditional love will be appreciated every day.


What do you like least about yourself?

I’m uncomfortable talking about myself. It makes social situations awkward. 


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

My friend Mickey and I found a dead body along a hiking trail. That might not seem so strange, but it was a first for both of us. 


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

No, but we’re early in our relationship. I’m sure Darlene has ideas that I’m not going to agree with.


What is your greatest fear?

That there will be an expansion of kill shelters in the United States. The one at which I work is a no-kill shelter. We’ll house an animal until their natural life has come to its end, although I never stop trying to find a home for every animal that enters our kennels.


What makes you happy?

Sitting on the couch with a dog on either side of me.


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

I would have more time with Pete Russo. He was an amazing, interesting man and we had a lot in common. I honestly thought Pete was my soul mate. Of course, without his death, there wouldn’t be Clues From The Canines.


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

Mickey, she is constantly nagging me to date more. She orchestrates these setups and “accidental meetings”. She’s as subtle as a tornado.


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

Eileen. She is level-headed and pragmatic. She doesn’t rush to any judgment but weighs out every alternative. She also runs marathons so is in the most amazing shape.


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

Darlene is a natural storyteller. She has travelled to many fascinating places and always comes home with the most amusing anecdotes. Pre COVID she actively volunteered at the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees, NJ. She’s looking forward to the day that she can resume her volunteer activities. For now, she precariously gets the animal shelter experience through me and my job. You can find out more about Darlene at her website, where you’ll also find her other social media sites.


What's next for you? 

I’ll be on a date at an outdoor concert when a drive-by shooter ruins the evening. It will seem like a random act of violence, but I’m not fooled that easily.


Clues From the Canines

A Lily Dreyfus Mystery, Book 1

Lily Dreyfuss is stunned by the news that her physically fit, former Marine boyfriend is dead. When the police rule the death as suspicious, she resolves to sniff out the killer. Lily gathers her pack, both human and canine, to point the police to the perpetrator. She must maintain her professional demeanor at the animal shelter in which she works while determining if one of the people attempting to adopt the victim’s dog is after a family fortune. Lily finds out the lengths one killer will go to silence her suspicions.


Buy Link 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with paranormal suspense and mystical realism author Cynthia Carver. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

In high school I fancied myself a poet, and I am not. In the military I journaled and tried to write poetry. Then my best friend challenged me to write a story and continued asking, what if? With the inspiration he gave me, I hand wrote my first romance story in a hard back journal. During the creation of that untitled work, the realization of being an author took hold and three and a half decades later, I published my first novel, Small Bit of Justice.


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

My first short story was published eight years after the dream took hold. I was paid a whole ten dollars for it.


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

I am an indie published author. 


Where do you write? 

My favorite place is outside under the awning. In the winter I have a majestic view of the southwest desert and the mountains in the close distance. Second choice is at the dining room table if it is too windy outside.


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

Silence is golden. On the rare occasion I want music, it is to enhance the scene. Like the jail cell scene in Small Bit of Justice, I have the heroine, Tracy, meeting her first love from high school. “Here We Go Again” by Whitesnake was played a bit loud that day.


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

Quite a bit. My main character, Tracy Richards, is an online psychic and a single mom of two girls. She is similar to me as I was an online psychic since the late 80’s and retired in 2017. I have four daughters and was married to my high school sweetheart.


The plot is from my imagination, and I wrote the outcome the way I would want a missing person’s case to be.


My second series is The Séance Series. It is written the way a non-charlatan session is conducted.


When you visit me at an in-person event, stop by the table and draw a miniature tarot card for a micro mini reading. 


Describe your process for naming your character? 

The original story line, she was an only child whose father named her after his favorite detective, Dick Tracy. It was a pun that failed miserably. 


Real settings or fictional towns? 

Brule is a fictional town.  During my travels I fell in love with a small town and the description is based on that town. I returned to visit the town after I had finished the story and it was so different, with all the trees cut and their stumps ground out. Brule became totally fictional at that time.


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

Tracy listens to the advice her intuitive daughters offer her. Most mothers, including myself, would second guess their daughters’ advice whether intuitive or not.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?  

I think things through while panning for gold.


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

That is a toss-up. The Miss Fortune series written by Jana DeLeon or Longmire by Craig Johnson. Ms. DeLeon keeps me laughing the entire time I am reading, even when it is the third or fourth time, I have read the series. Her characters could be members of my family. Mr. Johnson has the western sheriff, crime, fictitious towns and counties, native tribes and a bar that has elements I would love to incorporate with his finesse into my stories.


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

I probably should have been a journalist in the military instead of a jet mechanic.


What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

A blaring television.


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

Kindle with solar charger, my furry 4-legged critters, and coffee. 


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Backpressman at a cotton gin.


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

The Monster at the End of this Book. My four girls wore out so many copies. When they had children, that was the first book purchased for their children. It is a Sesame Street Golden Book. 


Ocean or mountains? 

Mountains, but I do have to have a brook nearby.


What’s on the horizon for you? 

This year, the five prequel novellas addressing Tracy Richards’ upbringing will be released through Kindle Unlimited called, Shamaness in Silhouette.


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

The second in the stand-alone series happens while Tracy is on vacation at her sister’s home when a serial crime spree erupts. There are fun antics, family antics, and danger around every corner.


Small Bit of Justice

Meet Tracy Richards. Mom. Internet Psychic. Local Crime Solver. Working with the Brule, Ohio Police Department, Tracy moonlights as their consultant and solves crimes with the help of her spirit guides.


None of which are that interesting.

- Find a missing Corgi

- Catch porch pirates

- Locate wandering peacocks

- Discover misplaced items


And all the thanks she gets is being called a witch.


There was a reason Tracy found her way to Brule, and all these years of escaping her past are for naught as it comes rushing back. After seventeen years, her childhood sweetheart, and baby daddy, comes waltzing back in with a case—find his missing niece.


It turns out her daughters have a cousin who’s been kidnapped, and it’s up to Tracy to find her before she disappears for good. With the help of her witchy neighbor Lehana, Tracy sets out on a chase guided only by her intuition and ghosts.


Danger lurks at every pit stop as the clock ticks, and the precious window becomes narrower. This isn’t the first time Tracy has followed visions of someone in danger, but last time, the only thing they recovered was a body. Now driven to save the girl, Tracy knows this is her chance to redeem herself, but when flashes of more girls come to her, Tracy realizes this might not be as simple as a snatch-and-grab.


Can Tracy beat the clock, or is she actually chasing ghosts?

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Monday, March 14, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Nick Hoffman from author Lev Raphael’s Nick Hoffman Mysteries.

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

I was happy teaching my classes at the State University of Murder (SUM) and minding my own business before he decided to involve me in murders. Why me? I'm a native New Yorker who was never even mugged and suddenly I began stumbling over corpses. I may have been a fan of crime novels, but I never expected to be caught up in any.


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

I'm a Taurus and I'm stubborn. That kept me working on my bibliography of Edith Wharton for five long years and it's also helped me do criminal investigations I never thought would become habitual. I guess research is research.


What do you like least about yourself?

I can be impatient, which also sometimes makes me quip happy and I'll offer a jibe to the wrong person at the wrong time—like a campus police detective at SUM. These guys don't have a sense of humor. They despise us faculty to begin with, almost as much as they disrespect students, so mouthing off to them does not go over well.


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

I'm not a gun person but he sent me off to a gun shop in Burning Down the House when someone close to me was threatened. And the shop wasn't remotely what I expected, though, because the owner was a former nurse and it felt like a boutique. The owner even made me tea!


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

His favorite Humphrey Bogart movie is The Maltese Falcon and mine is Casablanca


What is your greatest fear?

I thought it was fear of dying, but I survived a mass shooting on campus in Assault With a Deadly Lie, so I feel weirdly freer than before.


What makes you happy?

I'm glad my author tells the story of my adventures in crime solving so that each book can stand alone. People can read them in sequence if they like, but it's not essential. Oh, and cooking—the kitchen is my favorite room! Pasta is my favorite comfort food and I just made Spaghetti Carbonara the other night. 


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

I wish I hadn't been stalked and almost killed, but I think it's made me more reflective as well as easing my fear of death: I'm thinking of writing a memoir. 


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

Dean Bullerschmidt is the typical contemptuous, overbearing, and overpaid administrator who bullies everyone around him from behind a way-too-expensive desk. He thinks he's a king and everyone in the College of Arts and Letters is a churl.


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

Juno Droomgoole, the professor of Canadian Studies, is foul-mouthed and over-the-top in every way and I admire her brass. And her fashion sense. I was going to say she gets away with murder, but that's probably not the best way to put it. . .


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

Lev Raphael has published more than me: 27 books, one of which has sold 300,000 copies and been translated into over a dozen languages. I'm proud to say I take up a lot of space at his website in the section on mysteries. He loves teaching as much as I do, and he left academia to mentor, coach, and edit writers at writewithoutborders.com.


What's next for you?

I've been wondering about following my author's path and leaving the academic world which is crazier than outsiders can imagine. Short term, given my new job and how stressful it is, I need a very long vacation with some great books to read while I'm gone. What can you recommend?


Department of Death

A Nick Hoffman Mystery, Book 10


In Department of Death, English professor Nick Hoffman has been unexpectedly installed by his dean as chairman of the English department, a position he never wanted. He can't seem to make anyone happy and can't get a handle on his new responsibilities as an administrator. Then a troubled student seeking his help is murdered and Nick becomes a prime suspect. Hounded by campus police, the local press and social media, Nick wonders if this could finally be the end of his career—and how he can manage to stay out of prison.


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Friday, March 11, 2022


Today we sit down for an interview with mystery author Carol Preflatish. Learn more about Carol and her books at her website where you can also find links to her social media.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

I started writing in 2000 as a challenge to myself to write a novel for the millennium. I finished it, and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to continue.


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

I was first published in 2010, but it wasn’t the first, or even the second book I wrote that was published.  


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

I’m a hybrid author. The first two publishing houses I was with closed. I obtained the rights to those books, and then self-published them. However, now I’m traditionally published with Seventh Star Press.


Where do you write? 

I write at home, usually at my desk, but I do like to take paper and pencil and sit on my couch to write also. Once spring and summer weather get here, I hope to get out to some parks to do some writing.


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

I do need sound to write. It’s usually the television on in the background.


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

Nothing is drawn from my own life, but if I see a news story that interests me, I usually tuck it away for reference. 


Describe your process for naming your character?

I like to use uncommon names. I actually keep a list of names in a notebook. When I hear one I like, I’ll jot it down to use in a book. If I get really stuck, I’ll use an online name generator.


Real settings or fictional towns?

It’s a little of both. For the fictional town of Mystic, Massachusetts, I use the real town of Salem, Mass. as a model. 


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

I’m not sure any of my characters have any quirks. There is one character I have that was a rich kid that went to high school with Nathan and now fancies himself as a private investigator in town. He’s always trying to insert himself into Nathan’s investigations and sometimes shows up at the worst times.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

For my writing, I like to make sure I have a glass of iced tea and M&M’s when I’m at my desk writing. I know, that’s not too quirky. 


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

That would be the nonfiction book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s my favorite book to read. I love the outdoors and her adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail is amazing, and so motivational. As for fiction, any book by Lisa Gardner. She’s my favorite author, and her books are so good.


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

I wish I had started writing when I was younger. I was in my forties when I started. I wish I had started ten years earlier.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

I hate it when people at the supermarket leave their carts in the middle of aisle. 


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

Not including food and water, I’d have to have a notebook, pencils, and a few books.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

You know, I’ve been very lucky to have really enjoyed every job I’ve had. I started working in social services not long after college, held various jobs in that field, and retired from it several years ago.


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

As I mentioned earlier, I love Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s the one book that I’ve read several times.


Ocean or mountains?

I’ve always said mountains because that’s where my late husband and I always went, but now I think I’m ready for a vacation at the ocean.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

I grew up in the country but moved to the city a few years ago. I love the convenience of things in the city but miss the peacefulness of the country.


What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m working on my next book in the Nathan Perry Mystery Series. It will sort of be a modern-day retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


Witch Hunt

A Nathan Perry Mystery, Book 3


Is it 1692 all over again? When a millionaire's daughter is found hanging from a tree in the Mystic, Massachusetts cemetery, witchcraft is suspected. Police detective Nathan Perry is assigned the case and works closely with an attractive female private investigator hired by the father to find who murdered his daughter.


Mystic is known for its history of witchcraft in the area. It's what brings tourists to town, and when another murder occurs, there is rising pressure on Nathan to solve the case quickly.


Nathan's investigation pulls him into an unfamiliar world rife with covens, magic, and lore to find the killer. A small town gripped in fear is depending on him to prevail.


Witch Hunt is a stand-alone novel that is part of the Nathan Perry Mystery Series


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