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, August 31, 2022


C.B. Wilson’s love of writing began after she read her first Nancy Drew book and reworked the ending. Her fascination with dogs and their passionate owners inspired Barkview, California, the dog-friendliest city in America. Learn more about C.B. and her books at her website. 

Every Dog Has Its Day

In a town where designated leash lanes lead to hound playgrounds and every resident owns a BFF (that’s a Best Furry Friend), a talented, dog-loving chef should’ve fit right in. Not so much, it turned out. Who knew even our seaside Mayberry viewed competition as grounds for a dogfight?


My name is Cat Wright, Cat to my friends. Since I’d caused the uproar by creating and producing the cable sensation Fido’s Food Fest, I decided to face the problem head on. What better way to determine Barkview’s best barkery than to host a treat bake-off judged by five of the town’s most impartial tasters on live TV? Did I mention the judges are dogs? Who else can fairly rate canine confections?


I invited the four barkery owners to present their treats. The rules were simple. The entries needed to be prepared in our test kitchen. Each judge would simultaneously receive a sample bowl containing the four treats. The first treat consumed received a point. The most points won. Five dogs tasting four treats. Easy.


I mean, what could go wrong? Dogs love treats. They’d do their part, right? Although competition day dawned perfect, I alternated between lip chewing and coffee guzzling as I sat in the glass phonebooth we fondly called a studio control room. One hand hovered mid-center on the Star Trek-inspired panel, ready to go to commercial, and the other held my go-to caramel cappuccino.


Everything followed script until…the dog tasting segment. Watch out Hollywood, the ensuing slap-stick comedy routine needed no further choreographing. Gem, the German Shepherd with control issues, herded her fellow tasters into a pack. Misha-the- Fashionista Yorkie took issue with Gem’s nose nudge on her blingalicious vest and bumped Fifi the French Poodle, whose beret fell into her bowl, covering her yummies. Refusing to be left out, Fifi nosed her way into the bowl of Renny, the reigning Cavalier King Charles. No one separates Renny from her food, and the dog-eat-dog growl caused Hawn, the can’t-we-all-get-along Golden Retriever, to go into a record-setting flyball retreat, but not before stepping on her bowl’s edge and launching it at Misha!


Never great in a crisis, I just stood there frozen, watching the Yorkie stare at a canineoli, pupscream cone, muttball, and Bayle’s Biscuit, arching for a direct hit. To make matters worse, Chef Bayle, the Bichon Frise star of Fido’s Food Fest who’d been overseeing the chaos from the counter, barked and in a blur of white fluff, sprung toward Misha.


Could this get any worse? I spewed my coffee all over the control panel, which suddenly lit up like a Vegas slot machine. The go-to-commercial switch stuck. Furrballs! America now watched without edit!


My career crashed around me. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t look. Sudden applause made me peek as Chef Bayle saved the day. Or, rather, his treat obsession did. In a single midair gulp, the dog swallowed all four of the treats and managed to avoid Misha.


A four-way tie! Yeah! I joined the clapping. Man, I love live TV.


Although Bayle shared the best barkery designation with his competitors, his favorite treat is Bayle’s Biscuits. He hopes your BFFs love it as much as he does.


Bichoned to Death

A Barkview Mystery, Book 2

What was once a simple rivalry turns into a deadly dog fight. 


The award-winning, dog-loving chef should’ve been a perfect fit in the dog friendliest city in America, but no one is following the script. When murder strikes on the set of her hit cable show, Fido’s Food Fest, executive producer Cat Wright wonders if this is a competition gone wrong or something more?


With her star chef under arrest and her Bichon Frise a target, Cat realizes that far more than gold-ribbon dog treats are at stake.


Can Cat dig up enough evidence to bury the killer before he strikes again? 


Buy Link 

Monday, August 29, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Sydney Lockhart from author Kathleen Kaska’s Sidney Lockhart Mysteries.

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

Good question. Before she started doing her thing, I’d never encountered a dead body; I’d never been wanted for arrest over the murder of said body; I’d never found myself under the Luther Hotel with a tribe of baby rats crawling up my blouse and pant leg; I’d never been hit over the head and thrown into the San Antonio River; I’d never been tied up and locked in a cellar. Get the picture? But then again, I’d still be stuck with my insipid life, and I never would have met Ralph Dixon.


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

I am willing to stand up for myself and those who have been victims of killers, kidnappers, and other idiots. My grandfather was murdered when he tried to do the right thing. As a result, I hate when people do bad things to others.


What do you like least about yourself?

Just between you and me, sometimes I’m not as confident of my abilities as I put on, and I’m forced to stuff my fears and plow ahead. My author told me that condition is called Imposter Syndrome. I call it survival.


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

Besides pulling baby rats from under my blouse, I once danced with a dead man. I attended a New Year’s Eve ball, and this gorgeous guy and I were swaying on the dance floor. The place was so jammed packed that we could hardly move. That’s why he didn’t immediately fall over when the deadly knife was shoved into his back.


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

She comes up with these insane exploits for me to tackle. My first response is, “Really? You want me to do what?”  But I’ve learned to trust her, and, in turn, she trusts me—most of the time. 


What is your greatest fear? 

Becoming romantically involved.


What makes you happy?

Becoming romantically involved.


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

My mother. I would have my author rewrite Mary Lou Lockhart’s bio. My mom’s high maintenance, high strung, and highly annoying. The consummate drama queen. Picture a meddlesome Joan Crawford, except Mary Lou isn’t an alcoholic. But she is one of the most controlling, wacky women I’ve ever known. I would rather my mother be like Auntie Em, but then I’d have to live in Kansas, and I can’t be that far from saltwater.


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

It’s a toss-up between mom and Cousin Ruth. If I had to choose, I would say the cousin because I spend more time with her. Ruth exudes annoyance. She’s a wealthy, spoiled fashionista; a true blonde, bossy bubbleheaded socialite. She has a knack for showing up uninvited and at the worse times, to assist me with a case. At least that’s her excuse. Her idea of assistance is slugging down a few martinis before heading for Neiman’s to spend the afternoon shopping. She throws a conniption when she breaks a nail or snaps off the heel of her Ferragamos. But I must say that when confronting killers, she does so with the air of elegant aplomb. Put her in a room with a killer, and within five minutes, he’d beg to be turned over to the cops just to get away from her. 


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

Twelve-year-old, going-on-thirty Lydia LaBeau because she is smarter than me. Lydia walked into my life during the case at the Driskill Hotel in Austin. Dixon and I had just opened our new detective agency. We were hired to find out why Leland Montgomery, a future Texas gubernatorial candidate, was going to extremes NOT to get elected. Before the investigation started, Leland was murdered. The cops suspected Lydia’s father, Serge LaBeau. Serge is the owner of the Next to Nothing Live Theatre in Austin. He has no head for business, so Lydia took over at a young age. She indeed runs the show; writes, directs, and produces most of what ends up on stage. Lydia has a costume wardrobe at her disposal and often dresses in disguise when I’m on a case. She has no trouble going anywhere and doing almost anything. While investigating a murder in New Orleans, Lydia dressed up as a fortune teller. Within two days, she was a regular at Pat O'Brien's. Yes, I know she’s twelve, but that didn’t stop her.


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

Kathleen does many weird things, like running marathons and watching birds. Sometimes she does both at the same time, which has led to a few minor mishaps. Lately, she's been hooked on Zumba classes. There’s one thing she does that makes me envious—she hangs out with her three sisters. She could have given me three sisters, but instead she landed me with a brother I don’t like, and Ruth, the crazy cousin.

The best place to locate her is at her website. www.kathleenkaska  Oh, and read her blog, “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town.” It explains a lot. 


What's next for you?

Actually, I can't tell you that. All I can say is that there'll be another dead body, another hotel, and another murder I'll have to solve, of which I will be a suspect. But I can tell you that the story is in the final stages of editing and should be available to the public very, very soon. And I'll give you a hint. The hotel where the murder was committed was frequented by Tennessee Williams. Rumor has it that he wrote Streetcar Named Desire while staying there.


Murder at the Menger

A Sydney Lockhart Mystery, Book 5


It’s 1953, and detective Sydney Lockhart finds herself solving another murder. The victim is a slick bookie named Johnny Pine, who had his dirty fingers in pies from Texas to Florida. Sydney tracks Pine to the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, where she discovers he’s been murdered in the room next to hers. And as usual, Sydney is a suspect. With her partner, Ralph Dixon, handling the case from Austin; or so she believes, Sydney is working alone in unfamiliar territory. 


To make matters worse, Sydney’s car is stolen, and she elicits the help of an Irish cab driver named Taco and a bouncer named Rip. Soon she’s on the trail of Nora Jasper, a harlot jazz singer, and Pine’s girlfriend. 


Corpses start to pile up, a string of illicit deeds surface, and Sydney’s home life goes south. But the investigation takes a bizarre turn when Sydney is whacked over the head and thrown into the river. She surfaces with a faulty memory, uncertain of whom she can trust. Her only choice is to find the killer before the killer finds her or before she gets arrested. 


Buy Links




Friday, August 26, 2022


Today we sit down for a chat with Georgia Weber from romance author Jacquolyn McMurray’s Sheltered for Love. 

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

I was happily married. My husband and I took early retirement to live in our dream home in Hawai‘i. I spent most days volunteering at the local animal shelter. Before Jacquolyn killed off my husband, my life was predictable and full, and I was content.


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

I think of myself as a caring person. I’m especially concerned about the welfare of animals since they rely on humans to protect them. 


What do you like least about yourself? 

I’m overly emotional and cry easily. 


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you? She defined my occupation as a retired emergency room nurse and then made me freeze when my husband collapsed. Talk about losing your confidence!


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

I wanted to have more children in the story, but Jacquolyn said it wouldn’t add any value. She, of course, won that battle.


What is your greatest fear? 

Ever since my husband died on my watch, I’m afraid I can’t be trusted to care for someone.


What makes you happy?  

Having pets to keep me company, seeing my grown daughter, spending time with my best friend, and being with Romel (even though our budding relationship scares me).


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

I would maybe spend more time developing the dogs’ personalities. I feel like the birds, Bert and Trudy, stole the limelight.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why? Harriet, my best friend’s mother, is always making snide comments about me. I shouldn’t let her bother me, but she does.


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

Romel. He exudes confidence and is clear what he wants.

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

Jacquolyn McMurray is published in both contemporary and historical romance and enjoys teaching writing classes and mentoring new writers. She and her husband live on a macadamia nut farm on the island of Hawai'i where they feed a chowder of cats and a flock of hodgepodge chickens. When she's not doing writerly things, Jacquolyn loves spending time with family and friends, sewing, and watching reruns of Monk. Learn more about her and her books and sign up for her newsletter at her website. 


What's next for you? 

I’ll be settling into the new me and continuing my work at the animal shelter.


Sheltered from Love (available September 20th)

Paradise, pies, and possibilities. Will Georgia give love a second chance?


Her husband died on her watch. It should never have happened. As a registered nurse, Georgia knew what needed to be done. Will she relive her failure for the rest of her life and deprive herself of the life she deserves? 


Georgia lives in her dream home in Hawai‘i, but she’s lonely. And as much as she’d love to have a couple of pets, and maybe even a male companion, she can’t be responsible for another living thing. Not after she froze when her husband collapsed.


She fills her lonely days volunteering at the animal shelter and roams around her empty house at night. Until the day a pie-baking house painter talks her into one supper, and then another. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


Inside the Garden Writing Studio
Today we sit down for a chat with J. Woollcott, author of mysteries and police procedurals. Learn more about her at her website.  

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

I’ve always enjoyed writing but with working and raising a family, I could never really concentrate on that. I read instead. 


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

I started to write my first book just when I left work. It’s hard when you start this journey alone. I didn’t know much about the process and basically tried to copy the style of books I read. Then I took a class on formatting a novel, basic information and it was an eye-opener. Indents, Times New Roman, all that. Very helpful. I joined Crime Writers of Canada, then managed to get a great mentor in Canadian writer Cathy Astolfo, and she helped me with lots of advice. I finished that book and with her encouragement entered it in the Arthur Ellis Awards. I made the long-list for unpublished manuscripts. I was thrilled, and it gave me the will to carry on. That process took about three years. It would take about four more years and a different novel before I got my contract.


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

Traditionally published.


Where do you write?

Oh, good question. My husband built me a lovely little studio in the back garden and I work there sometimes. But I seem to gravitate back to our house and sit in the living room (make a bit of a mess I’m afraid). Perhaps I miss the chat, the company.


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

No music or chat. I do like silence, I know – I should stay in my garden studio … I know.


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

Not plots and the like because I’m always writing about murders and crimes. (Although I do come from Belfast). I have a problem with names, and I do reach back in time to my friends and relatives for those. I tend to make up characters and honestly, I do not know where they come from. They sometimes arrive fully formed in my head with their frizzy dyed blond hair and badly applied red lipstick. No clue.


Describe your process for naming your character?

Once the character is in my head, I try a few names out. The name has to fit the person, and I always try to make sure I don’t use similar names. That’s a real pitfall. I see the character and think, is she a Sheila? A Gwen or a Gwendoline? 


Real settings or fictional towns?

Mostly real, but I’ve been know to make stuff up.


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

I have a few odd ducks, but one in my second book, Sheila Howells I really enjoy. She’s very quirky, a Chief Superintendent, she’s loud, irreverent, drinks Negronis, swears like a trooper, tells off-colour jokes, and has a degree in Clinical Psychology. (She’s the one with the dyed blond hair and red lipstick).


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I think I have lots, but I do like my coffee strong, in a nice cup – not a big mug.


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

That’s a very difficult question. There are so many. I loved Denise Mina’s Garnet Hill. And there’s Kate Atkinson, anything at all. (Okay, Big Sky). Just one more, Plum Island by Nelson DeMille. Mina because her writing is just so raw and funny and the stories so original. Kate Atkinson is just one of the few writers who can discuss appalling crimes and yet add humour to the book. Its not all gloom and doom. Same with DeMille in Plum Island. It’s genuinely funny. I love his protagonist, John Corey, a detective from New York on medical leave.


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

I wish I’d had the nerve – and the money, to leave work earlier in my career and write. 


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Loud, inconsiderate people


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

Coffee, books, and a computer.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

Summer job at a canning factory in the middle of nowhere in England.


Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?

Right, this is very difficult. Do I have to choose between Virgil Flowers, Lucas Davenport, Harry Palmer, Jackson Lamb, Jackson Brodie, John Corey, Dalgliesh, and Vera? Okay – if I have to choose … Jackson Brodie.


Ocean or mountains?



City girl/guy or country girl/guy?



What’s on the horizon for you?

As far as my writing goes, number two in the DS McBride Series is with a developmental editor. And I’m working on two other manuscripts, a WW2 mystery, and a standalone crime novel about a damaged police Inspector who retires to an island off the coast of Northern Ireland and finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery.


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

Just that I’m so happy to have found this writing community, other writers, and readers. Such a wonderful welcoming group to be part of.


A Nice Place to Die

A Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride Mystery, Book 1


The body of a young woman is found by a river outside Belfast, and Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride makes a heart-wrenching discovery at the scene, a discovery he chooses to hide even though it could cost him the investigation – and his career.


The victim was a loner but well-liked. Why would someone want to harm her? And is her murder connected to a rapist who’s stalking the local pubs? As Ryan untangles a web of deception and lies, his suspects die one by one, leading him to a dangerous family secret and a murderer who will stop at nothing to keep it.


And still, he harbors his secret ...


Coming August 30th from Level Best Books.

Add A NICE PLACE TO DIE  to your TBR list.

Pre-order and buy links coming soon!

Please check https://www.jwoollcott.com for updates.

Monday, August 22, 2022


I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
— Douglas Adams

A word after a word after a word is power. — Margaret Atwood


The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. — Albert Camus


Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. — Anton Chekhov


Tears are words that need to be written. — Paulo Coelho


I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. — Anne Frank


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. — Benjamin Franklin


Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window. — William Faulkner


Half my life is an act of revision. — John Irving


If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. — Stephen King


What's your favorite quote about writing?

Friday, August 19, 2022


The Muses, Boomer and Lilly

Today we sit down for a chat with Susan Santangelo, author of the cozy Baby Boomer Mysteries. Learn more about Susan and her books at her website

When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

I wrote feature stories professionally for newspapers and magazines most of my adult life. I loved reading cozy mysteries, and I noodled around writing one for several years but never started one. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was a real wake up call. So about fourteen years ago, I started writing my first mystery. 


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

Four years. 


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

I’m a hybrid author. 


Where do you write?

I have a home office, which I share with my muses/dogs, Boomer and Lilly. I like to bounce story ideas off them. They have excellent instincts. 


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

No music. But doggy snoring is fine. No barking, though.


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

Because my books are written in the first person, all my readers think Carol Andrews is me and my husband Joe is Carol’s husband, Jim. The books aren’t about our lives, though. It’s just a coincidence that the first book in the series is titled Retirement Can Be Murder, when Jim decides to retire and his wife doesn’t want him home driving her crazy, and I began writing the book just as my own husband was retiring! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.       


Describe your process for naming your character.

My series is the Baby Boomer mysteries, so I choose character names that are appropriate to that age group. “Carol” was one of the most popular first names when I was in school. Carol’s best friends are Nancy, Claire and Mary Alice. All those names were popular back in the fifties and sixties.


Real settings or fictional towns?

The books are set in the fictional town of Fairport, CT, a combination of two real towns in Connecticut, Fairfield and Westport. The antique house where Carol and Jim live in the series is based on the Fairfield house that my family and I lived and loved in for many years.


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

Carol talks to her dogs, Lucy and Ethel, ALL THE TIME. 


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I’ve been known to chat with Boomer and Lilly. Not as often as Carol talks to Lucy and Ethel, though.   


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

Anything by Janet Evanovich. Her Stephanie Plum series is set in Trenton, NJ, where we used to live.


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

I wish I’d started writing mysteries when I was younger.  


What’s your biggest pet peeve?



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

Dogs, a cell phone and a charger.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

I had a part-time job in the gift wrap department of a major retailer. I was a total failure.


Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?

I’d love to be Miss Marple. She proved that nobody should ever underestimate a senior citizen!  


Ocean or mountains?



City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

The country, but close to a city.


What’s on the horizon for you?

I’m writing book 11 in the series, Masquerades Can Be Murder, which has a ghost in it. 


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

I hope people enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.


Mistletoe Can Be Murder

A Baby Boomer Mystery, Book 10


Carol Andrews is planning her grandson CJ’s first Christmas down to the last detail. What she didn’t plan on is a furnace fiasco, the unexpected appearance of CJ’s Other Grandmother, Margo, and her new boyfriend, a family feud, a stolen credit card, and murder. When Margo’s boyfriend becomes the police’s chief suspect, Carol is forced to add crime-solving to her holiday to-do list before Santa can come down the chimney.


Buy Links



Wednesday, August 17, 2022


Angela Greenman is an internationally recognized communications professional. She has been an expert and lecturer with the International Atomic Energy Agency for over a decade, a spokesperson for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a press officer for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the City’s civil rights department. She has traveled the world (21 countries and counting) and now her imagination is devising plots for future novels that will feature more of the exciting places she has been. Learn more about Angela and her books at her website. 


In my thriller, The Child Riddler, recently orphaned nine-year-old Leah, is the only one who knows the riddle holding the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first-ever “invisibility” nanoweapon, a cloaking spider bot. Elite operative Zoe (a female James Bond) is sent to abduct Leah and coax the code from her, but soon finds herself racing to save the child from terrorists who also want the code.


Zoe is single and childless, so she is perplexed as to how to bond with the bright, frightened child. Knowing Leah likes riddles, Zoe memorizes some and through their riddle exchange is able to get the child to talk to her. But then Leah shuts down and Zoe must find something else they can share and discuss. 


Detail-oriented Leah likes things organized and neat. Zoe realizes these personality traits are perfect for origami, the Japanese paper-folding art. Zoe is skilled at this craft and suggests they make a star in honor of the child’s deceased mother. They go on to make a flapping bird for Leah’s father, and a dragon. I don’t want to tell you more for fear of spoiling the story for you. But I can share that origami plays a role in revealing the code and keeping the weapon out of terrorists’ hands—thus saving the world!


Origami also helped heal some of the heartache that poor Leah was suffering. The star and flapping bird, real objects she could keep with her and look at before falling asleep, became Leah’s link to her dead parents. It was as if her parents were beside her, tucking her in. It’s not surprising that a child would find something so personal in this craft: children and origami are linked in its history. 


About 1880, Japan started teaching origami in kindergartens and elementary schools and the craft grew in popularity. Paper folding had been used in various cultures for different purposes, but the Japanese made it an art. The word origami—from the Japanese words oru (to fold) and kami (paper)—came to describe the paper-folding craft. 


Although I’m impressed by those who have mastered this art, and while I gave it an important role in the story, I have never done origami! As an author I normally try the activities that my characters do so I can better describe their subtleties and make the scenes more vivid and real, but I didn’t do this with origami. I knew about the craft as my brother did quite a bit of origami when we were growing up. I was in awe of his patience, his precision, and his creations, but for some reason I never tried to learn it. I’m detail-oriented and precise with words, but I know myself too well. I can’t draw a straight line, literally—I can’t cut straight with scissors, or hang pictures that aren’t crooked. Origami and I were not made for each other. But I admire the delicate, exquisite forms that result from this art. 


I can’t explain how my mind pulled up that childhood memory of my brother’s origami, but I am grateful that it did. Art—in whatever shape or form—unites and heals. And the world needs this so much. Even though The Child Riddler is an action-packed thriller, I’m happy that the muse guided me to write heartfelt scenes of a grief-stricken child finding solace through this art. Sometimes what is meaningful is something small and fragile, designed to be held gently in your hands—like a paper bird.


The Child Riddler

Despite the angry scars she carries from her childhood training, Zoe Lorel has reached a good place in her life. She has her dream job as an elite operative in an international spy agency and she’s found her one true love. Her world is mostly perfect—until she is sent to abduct a nine-year-old girl.


The girl is the only one who knows the riddle that holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nanoweapon, a cloaking spider bot. But Zoe’s agency isn’t the only one after the child. And when enemies reveal the invisibility weapon’s existence to underground arms dealers, every government and terrorist organization in the world want to find that little girl.


Zoe races to save not only the child she has grown to care about, but also herself. The agency prescribed pills—the ones that transform her into the icy killer she must become to survive—are beginning to threaten her engagement to the one person who brings her happiness. Can she protect the young girl and still protect the one thing she cares more about than anything else?


Buy Links




Monday, August 15, 2022


Jane Tesh is the author of two mystery series. The Madeline Maclin Mysteries feature former beauty queen Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her reformed con man husband Jerry Fairweather. The Grace Street Mystery Series features struggling PI David Randall, his psychic friend Camden, and an array of tenants who move in and out of Cam’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Ghost Light is her first standalone mystery. Learn more about Jane and her books at her website.

Starting Over – Again!

I had been with Poisoned Pen Press since 2004. When the company was bought by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks did not want to continue either of my two series even though I had many more books to go. As you can imagine, this was a blow, but I was still a Poisoned Pen author, and they would accept a standalone. So I had to start over.


This was more of a challenge than I thought. I had been writing the Madeline Maclin Mysteries and the Grace Street Mystery Series since 1995 and loved all those characters. To start over with a new cast was daunting. What would I write about? Where could I set this story? What was something I knew about that I could have fun with?


The answer to that was community theater. I’d been in community theater productions for over forty years, so I had a lot of experience to drawn upon. Talk about drama. It is definitely in the theater, especially amateur theater with long-standing feuds and clashing egos. Not only that, there are a boatload of theater superstitions to play with. Now I just needed some characters.


When I’m writing, as soon as I have the right name, I have a character. This happens all the time, and I can’t explain it. I name them, and there they are. So I came up with the name Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard. Teddy stepped right up and began to tell me her story. Her neighbor’s cat accidentally burned down her apartment building. She missed her latest job interview, a job she really didn’t want. Her dear grandmother who raised her was going into a retirement facility, and her scheming cousin had taken grandmother’s house. She didn’t have a job or a place to live.


So I thought of the name of her best friend and actor, Will Selms. When Will arrived, he had the perfect solution. Paula Norwood, stage manager at the local community theater, had recently fallen down the costume loft stairs and died from her injuries. The show desperately needed a stage manager. Teddy could have the job and live in the cottage behind the theater. Problem solved.


Only Teddy didn’t know the first thing about being a stage manager. But with Will’s help, she learned all the terms and the superstitions. And of course, every theater is haunted, and before long, Teddy made the acquaintance of George, the theater ghost. George saw Paula fall and tells Teddy it was not an accident. She decided to solve the mystery. George says he will help, but he has his own agenda.


Something very unexpected happened during the writing of this book. Teddy and Will started to have a typical love scene when Teddy said to me, “I don’t really want this.” To my surprise, I didn’t want it, either. That’s when I realized I had never wanted it. And then, like Teddy, I found a word for this feeling. Asexual. This opened a whole new part of Teddy’s character and gave me a chance to work through what had puzzled me about relationships practically my whole life. Like any other sexual orientation, there is a vast spectrum of feelings. In Teddy’s case, she is still romantically attracted to Will and fears revealing her secret might ruin their relationship.


A ghost light is the one light left on in the theater at night. Superstition says it keeps the harmful ghosts away and lets the friendly spirits come onto the stage to act once again. When I turned on the ghost light for this book, I turned on the light for Teddy and for me. Yes, I was starting over, but it was a brand-new act and a chance to discover more about myself and my characters. 


Ghost Light

Theodosia "Teddy" Ballard knows nothing about community theater, but when the stage manager for “Little Shop of Horrors” takes a tragic header down the costume-loft stairs, she agrees to fill in for the sake of her actor friend, Will. Teddy takes the superstitions and swelled heads of The Stage in stride—till she meets George Clancy Everhart, the theater ghost, who informs her that the previous stage manager was murdered and demands that she find the killer. Both investigation and rehearsals are complicated when she makes a surprising discovery about her relationship with Will—and learns that George has his own dramatic agenda.

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Saturday, August 13, 2022


If you’re in or around Middle Tennessee next Thursday through Sunday and love mystery, suspense, and thrillers, you’re not going to want to miss Killer Nashville at the Embassy Suites South Nashville in Franklin, TN, minutes from downtown Nashville. This annual writing conference for both published and unpublished writers offers several events that are free and open to the general public, including book signings by dozens of authors.  

Lois Winston, she who writes about me, will be one of those participating authors. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, Lois is up for two awards for Stitch, Bake, Die!, the tenth Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, one for a Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery and also the Readers’ Choice Award. (Have you voted yet? Click here to do so.

Lois will be on two panels, “Description: Too Much or Not Enough” on Friday at 1:50pm and “Destination Murder: Incorporating Setting” on Saturday at 9:00am. She’ll be signing books at various times on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Click here for a complete list of authors and times. She’ll also be one of the authors helping unpublished writers polish their pitches at Ready. Set. Pitch at 5:00pm on Thursday.


If you’re an aspiring author, there’s still time to register to attend, either the full conference or individual days. If you’re an avid reader and fan of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense, stop by to meet Lois and other others at the book signings. They’d love to see you.

Friday, August 12, 2022


Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned mystery writer. She’s written twenty-eight novels in five different series under her own name and several pen names. She’s also written short stories and articles and is on the faculty of Golden Gate U. in San Francisco. Learn more about Camille and her books at her website and blog. blog.

Five Series, Five Women

By Camille Minichino


The scene: a diner in Alaska, fairly crowded. Five women in a red vinyl booth are chatting over a lunch of fried clams and a special coleslaw made by one of them, Charlotte “Charlie” Cooke, the diner’s owner.


Three of the women have flown all the way from Massachusetts: Gloria Lamerino, retired physicist; Sophie Knowles, college math teacher; and Cassie Miller, postmistress in a small town in the Berkshires. The fifth, Gerry Porter, retired English teacher and miniaturist, had a shorter trip, from the San Francisco Bay Area.


"We'd probably never be friends if it weren't for Camille," Gerry says. "Although I know her as Margaret Grace." 


"Remember when she was Ada Madison?" Sophie asks. “I was so happy when she let me tell the world about Ada Lovelace, the world’s first programmer, and all the great female mathematicians throughout history.”


“By the way, her name is Jean Flowers,” Cassie says, in her blue USPS uniform since she’s just come from work. “I told her I didn’t want to leave Boston for a small town, but she put me in one anyway, and now I’m pretty happy in North Ashcot.”


“I know her as Elizabeth Logan,” Charlie says. “And she put me in the smallest, coldest, least populated, and most isolated part of the country. I’d trade places with any one of you, though I have to pretend to love Alaska.” Charlie shuddered to make her point, though her Bear Claw Diner was very comfortable this August day. As if to support her argument, just then a moose wandered right up to the diner window.


“Obviously, she loves me best,” says Gloria. “That’s why she named me after her real dear cousin and set the stories in her real hometown, Revere, Massachusetts, and wrote under her real name, Camille Minichino.” 


“But remember, her most embarrassing moments occurred in those books,” Sophie says. “She had you go to a Starbuck’s and there was no Starbuck’s in Revere.”


“That’s when she decided to make up a town,” Gerry says. “And, lucky me, she made me a crafter. I’m just glad she gave me a granddaughter to help.”


“I loved when she did research,” Cassie says. “So many fun facts about the post office came up, like when children would be sent by mail in the early 20th century.”


“You mean they’d put a stamp on a kid and send her through the mail?” Charlie asks, signaling her kitchen staff to bring another batch of cookies.


Everyone laughs, but Cassie is serious. “Yes! There are documents to prove it, like a 2-year-old boy who was sent from Oklahoma to Kansas for 18 cents.”


“Only one thing bugs me,” Gloria says. “And that’s when Camille insisted on bringing back Peter, a boyfriend of mine from thirty years ago. No one could annoy me like Peter Mastrone, and he still does, living a fantasy world that I moved back to Revere to be with him!”


“You know, there are many murder investigations in our lives,” Sophie says, “but I never get depressed over it. Do any of you?”


They all shake their heads.


“I think it’s because Camille/Jean/Elizabeth always manages to put a little humor in the books.”


The women begin to share jokes.


"What does the little mermaid wear? An algae bra," comes from Sophie.


"Does a radioactive cat have 18 half-lives?" from Gloria.


"Miniaturists work as little as possible," Gerry says.


“The problem with telling jokes about the post office,” Cassie says, “is that it will be days before people get it.”


“A detective asks a suspect in Alaska: where were you during the night of November 14th to February 12th?”


The friends can barely contain their laughter. 


At the next table two older women scan their menus, eavesdropping on Gloria, Gerry, Sophie, Cassie, and Charlie, who continue to joke and laugh like schoolgirls.


One of the women addresses the waiter. She points to the fivesome. "I'll have what they're having."  


Low Down Dirty Vote

A Crime Fiction Anthology, Volume 2


This charity anthology includes 22 stories of crime and suspense by 22 authors, many award-winning. 100% of the the proceeds will be donated to Democracy Docket, an organization that is successfully fighting against voter suppression in the United States.


In “Vote Early,” author Camille Minichino spins the yarn of a two-month-old baby who takes action to get out the vote. Yes, elements of sci-fi as well as crime fiction!


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