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, November 29, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with Annaleise, who happens to be a ghost in author Jessica Dale’s (aka mystery author Kassandra Lamb) The Unintended Consequences Romantic Suspense trilogy. 

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

Well for one thing, I was still alive! And it was a good life. I was happily married, and I had a tight group of good friends. My best friend, going way back to our college days, was and is James Fitzgerald.


We all lived in Washington, DC, but James also owns a house in the Virginia backwoods, which he inherited from his parents. It is, or rather was, the getaway haven for our group of friends.


Until one fateful autumn evening when my husband Charles and I got to the house before James. We’d left DC early so we could be the ones, for a change, to open up the house and get things set up for a relaxing Friday evening.


Only Ms. Dale had other plans. Someone was waiting in the house. I think they had planned to kill James, but we showed up first.


And that’s how I ended up being a ghost residing in James’s house.


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

That I can sense danger now and warn those who are in its path. I can spread out this sort of energy radar, if you will, and there’s like an energy shift in the air when evil is nearby. 


What do you like least about yourself?

That it’s so hard for me to talk. I can move objects, although that takes some effort, too. So I can type out the answers to your questions for this interview.


But mostly I can only communicate through my laughter. Somehow, it’s easy for me to laugh, but to form words out loud, that’s a real strain.


James always said my laughter sounded like wind chimes in a gentle breeze. And that’s how I sound now when I’m just trying to say, “Hey, I’m here,” or if I’m amused by whatever’s going on. 


But if I’m trying to warn people, I imagine a strong wind like in a storm, and then the wind chimes kind of clatter.


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

Well, I think making me dead and then turning me into a ghost was mighty strange.


But there was another thing that happened because of my death. Not really strange but ironic. You see, James and his next-door neighbor, Carrie, they had been dancing around each other for a while. It was obvious to me and all of our friends that they liked each other, but they both had a lot of baggage from the past.


But when this horrible thing happen—Charles’s and my murders—it broke down some of those barriers. James needed Carrie emotionally, and I think that she just couldn’t resist that.


Then later, when her abusive husband tracked her down (that’s why she was in the Virginia backwoods to begin with, to hide from him), James helped her deal with that situation.


Sometimes facing adversity together can become the glue in a relationship, and facing down killers together did that for them. 


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

Well, if I’d had a clue what was coming, I would have definitely argued against being killed.


But with that as given, I’d say the only other time I really objected to what Jessica was doing was when she sicced a stalker/rapist on poor Mary, who’s a friend of mine and James.


I really objected to that idea! Mary’s so sweet and gentle that we all assumed she was fragile. But turns out she’s got more backbone than we gave her credit for. She’s a survivor, like James and Carrie.


What is your greatest fear?

That something will happen to James. I’ve loved him for decades; not the same way I loved Charles, of course. But he was the brother I never had.


I couldn’t stop what happened to Charles, and it’s haunted me ever since (no pun intended). I’ve been terrified that James might end up having a similar fate. But now that he has Carrie, and they are so strong together, I’m not as afraid for him.


What makes you happy?

Seeing James and Carrie together; they’ve been through so much. I mean, I know from my own marriage that love isn’t always easy, but I think they’ll make it for the long haul. I sure hope so.


And now Mary has found someone, or at least it looks promising—that is if it turns out that he’s not the guy who assaulted her and is now stalking her. Every time she thinks it’s not him, something else happens that makes her doubt again.


You don’t know if it was him?

No, I wasn’t there. It happened in DC, and I can only go about a half mile from James’s house. James is trying to help Mary figured it all out.


And I help when I can, when I sense the guy is nearby, but he’s always wearing a ski mask, so no, I can’t tell who it is. I don’t have superpowers, after all.


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

Ha! Maybe I’d give myself superpowers, so I would not just know when danger was near but who was behind it.


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

Hmm, I guess I’d have to say the local sheriff. I mean, I have a lot of respect for him, too. He pretends he’s this good ol’ boy hick sheriff, but he’s actually quite bright.


However, he initially thought James was my killer, which was ridiculous. And then he thought Carrie had committed a horrible crime, when she hadn’t.


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

I guess it would be Carrie. She’s a strong woman, and yet loving. I think if I’d lived, she and I would have become close friends.


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

Well, Jessica Dale is the alter ego of a mystery writer named Kassandra Lamb. She was first conceived when Kassandra woke up one morning and the entire story of my murder and James’s subsequent struggle to clear himself of it was laid out in her head.


And then a few months later, she woke up again with another entire story laid out in her head, this time a steamy romantic thriller. And that was the point when Kassandra knew she needed a pen name for these romantic suspense stories, because they were so different from the mysteries she usually writes.


All of Jessica’s books can be found on a special page on Kassandra’s website


What's next for you?

Well, Jessica says the trilogy is finished, but we’ll see. She also says she’s not planning on writing any romantic suspense in the near future. She’s said that before, however.


There was supposed to be a second book in a duet with Bartered Innocence (currently a stand-alone thriller). I was looking over Jessica’s shoulder while she was writing the book, and I really loved it. So I hope she gets inspired someday soon to write that second story.


In the meantime, Kassandra has started a new police procedural mystery series called the C.o.P. on the Scene Mysteries. I love that series too, especially the main character, a female Chief of Police who likes to be hands-on at crime scenes. I guess I’m just a sucker for strong female characters!  


Hey, thanks so much for having me on your blog to do this interview. It feels so good to have a “voice” again, other than just wind chimes!



An Unintended Consequences Romantic Suspense, Book 3

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. ~ DivorcĂ©e Mary Hanson’s first date in years culminates with a toe-curling kiss that fills her with hope...until the middle of the night when a masked rapist, smelling of her date’s aftershave, breaks into her apartment. Frantic, she flees to the home of friends in the Virginia woods, not realizing she’s putting them in harm’s way—for her stalker is intent on possessing her, no matter what it takes. And even her best friend’s ghost may not be able to stop him...

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with cozy mystery author Jackie Layton. Learn more about Jackie and her books at her website, where you’ll also find links to her other social media. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?

I’ve dreamed of writing most of my life. A couple of times, I began writing, but when my youngest son was in high school, I decided it was time to try, or I’d always regret it.


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

At my first conference, a speaker said it takes the average person ten years to get published, and that’s what happened for me. 


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

I’m traditionally published.


Where do you write? 

I mostly write in my home office. When our house was being built, my husband asked if the builder could make the porch an office, and that’s where I write. My husband always thinks of special ways to support my writing.


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

I like music in the background. When it comes to writing, I usually listen to blues or instrumental music. I even created a playlist for NaNoWriMo.


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

I draw bits and pieces from real life, but I do a lot of research for my stories.


Describe your process for naming your character?

I try to come up with interesting names and I often study what they mean. For instance, Kate means pure. Sloan is of Irish origin and means warrior. Kate is a professional organizer, and she likes things nice, orderly, and clean. But Kate will stand up for her family and loved ones, no matter what it takes. She learns to become a warrior for the sake of her brother, Paul Wright, in Clutter Free.


Real settings or fictional towns? 

I love fictional towns loosely based on some of my favorite places. I enjoy planning my settings. 


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

Kate keeps her purse neat and organized with pouches. One pouch is for makeup, one is for receipts, and one is for pens and paper. 


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

Because of allergies, I always take Kleenex and Tic Tacs with me. If you ever need a tissue, feel free to ask me. 


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

The Firm by John Grisham. It was one of the first twisty crime thriller I ever read. I felt the panic Mitch McDeere felt. I write cozies, but I hope they make readers feel.


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

I wish I had begun writing earlier in my life. 


What’s your biggest pet peeve?  

I have worked with the public most of my life, and some people start the conversation by complaining about something ‘you’ did, and you had no part of the incident. So, you can’t throw someone else under the bus, and you don’t want the situation to escalate, and you quickly need to find a solution. Most people are nice, but getting attacked like that is my pet peeve. And it doesn’t just have to happen to me. If I see it happen to someone at another store, it also upsets me. 


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

A floppy hat, my favorite pillow, and my Bible.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held? 

Without naming names, I had a boss lie to me about a serious issue. When I discovered there were a lot of lies, I quit. 


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

I thought about this question a lot and chose A Garden in Paris by Stephanie Grace Whitson. It’s one of the books I’ve packed and moved with me at least three times. When you downsize, you have to make some hard decisions. This book touched my heart, and I’ve read it multiple times. It’s about hope, love, and living. 


Ocean or mountains? 



City girl/guy or country girl/guy? 

City girl.


What’s on the horizon for you? 

In 2024, the sixth book of A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series will release. Also, the second book in A Texas Flower Farmer Cozy Mystery series and the second book in An Organized Crime Cozy Mystery series will release. 


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

It’s never too late to start writing. If that’s your dream, give it a try. 


Clutter Free 

An Organized Crime Cozy Mystery, Book 1


Returning to Fox Island where she grew up, Kate Sloan begins her career as a professional organizer. When a woman accuses Kate’s police chief brother of having an affair, Kate’s priority shifts from organizing to proving her brother’s innocence. Kate visits the woman, hoping for a confession. The woman won’t admit she lied, and to make the situation worse, the accuser is found dead the next day by Kate and her business partner.


Kate has an eye for seeing what’s out of place, and she knows how to fix problems. Can she utilize her organizational skills to toss red herrings and focus on legitimate clues? Emma’s business is at risk as well as her brother’s career. The clock is ticking, and this could be the deadliest deadline of Kate’s life. She must discover the truth behind the victim’s vicious lies, but most of all, she needs to solve the murder before she becomes the next victim.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Sometimes not long after the initial introduction and pleasantries of meeting someone new, you discover the two of you have much in common. You quickly become fast friends. It happens often among authors, but wouldn’t they be surprised to learn that’s also the case when their characters meet each other? It certainly was for me and Samantha Newman. 

Samantha is the amateur sleuth protagonist in the Samantha Newman MysteriesLike me, the reluctant amateur sleuth of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, she often finds herself reluctantly dealing with dead bodies (Neither of us is a cop, coroner, or mortician. So dead bodies shouldn’t be part of our normal lives!) In addition, we both often lock horns with law enforcement because they rarely value our sleuthing skills. We also both have men in our lives who may possibly be involved with clandestine government operations. Talk about coincidences!


Anyway, while Lois Winston, my author, and Gay Yellen, Sam’s author, were at a recent writers’ conference, Sam and I met up for coffee and conversation where we spent much of our time grousing about those two writers who have turned our lives upside-down. 


So, Sam, any theories on why Lois and Gay yanked us out of our quiet lives and dropkicked us into a fictional world of constant murder and mayhem?


Samantha: I wish I knew, Anastasia. There I was, working my way up the ladder at a global corporation, when Gay took over and made the story about corporate greed and murder. The people at the top were arrested, the company cratered, and my life spiraled down from there. Lost my job, my house, and my reputation. Only bright spot was meeting Carter Chapman.


Anastasia: She’s done this to you in three books so far, right? How much longer do you think she’ll continue to drop dead bodies in your path? Lois is up to twelve already in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, and once she returns from this conference, she’ll start pecking away at number thirteen.


Sam: Twelve? Yikes! She’s really run you ragged. Solving murders is exhausting, especially when the police think I’m a suspect, too. I know Gay is thinking about putting me through the wringer in two more books. The next one’s supposed to be at a winery. 


Anastasia: See if you can talk her out of it. Wineries are nothing but trouble. Zack and I recently returned from vacationing at one. Some vacation! Not only did we encounter more dead bodies in A Crafty Collage of Crime, but this time we nearly became victims ourselves.


Sam: Been there. Frankly, I’d rather go to the beach. Right now, I’ve landed in a better place than I’ve been in years, and I want to keep the good vibes coming.


Anastasia: Same here. My life is finally on the road back to normal after the fallout I dealt with after my first husband’s death. If only the dead bodies would stop finding me. And there’s also my pain in the patootie communist mother-in-law. At least you’re not stuck with someone like Lucille living with you. On second thought, I guess I still have a way to go before I see normal again.


Sam: Maybe we could revolt somehow. Go on strike, like the actors and writers did in Hollywood.


Anastasia: My commie mother-in-law would be in protest heaven if it weren’t for the fact that she’s become a reality TV junkie. I don’t think she cares about either the writers or the actors.


Sam: Actually, I tried protesting once. While Gay was writing The Body Next Door, I could see what was coming and tried to stop her. She had me in the elevator of the high-rise apartment I was borrowing, and I refused to leave. Just stayed in there for two weeks until she figured out how to get me out. It was a little claustrophobic, but I was proud of myself.


Anastasia: But what if they ignore us? They could always write new books with new characters. Then we’d be...


Sam: We’d disappear!


They are silent for a moment.


Anastasia: Zack and I would...


Sam: Plus, I really like my new job. And Carter. I suppose I could get used to being an amateur sleuth, if that’s my destiny.


Anastasia: Maybe this is like the devil you know? We really have no control over our own destinies, do we? I guess we’ll just have to grin and bear it and hope for the best. (And did I just use four cliches in two sentences? Yikes! I guess it’s a good thing I’m the amateur sleuth and Lois is the author. She’d never write four cliches in two sentences.)


Anyway, it was great grousing with you. We should stay in touch. Amateur sleuths need to keep together.


Sam: You bet!

Today only, click here for a free Kindle download of The Body Business.

The Samantha Newman Mysteries

All Samantha Newman wants is a good job, a place to call her own, and a chance at love. But in her rollercoaster life, things don’t come easy. Just when success seems possible, a dead body show up and Samantha's in the hot seat. If she didn’t have a sense of humor, she’d really go crazy. In the Samantha Newman Mysteries—The Body BusinessThe Body Next Door, and The Body in the Newsyou’ll laugh and maybe shed a tear as she wades through minefields in search of the life she wants to live.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023


D.S. Lang started making up stories to entertain herself as an only child, and she’s still making them up. Her historical mysteries are set in small-town Ohio after the Great War. They feature amateur women sleuths determined to catch the bad guys and gals. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

In The Murdered Matron, the second book in my Doro Banyon Historical Cozy Mystery series, Doro helps plan her hometown’s annual Christmas celebration. A big part of the discussion revolves around refreshments. 


When I think of holiday treats, cookies come to mind—especially a family favorite sugar cookie. I do not know the origin of the recipe, but I recently found it handwritten in one of my mom’s old cookbooks. My mouth immediately watered! I have not made this cookie in many years, so I asked a friend who is a superb baker to help me figure how much flour is needed. The recipe, as you will see, calls for “enough to pat cookies out.” My friend has a similar old recipe, and she said about three cups should do the trick. 


In the novel, Doro and her best friend bake a batch to share with the town lawmen, who rave about the sweet treat. If you make them, I hope the cookies are just as popular with your family, friends, and neighbors!


Family Favorite Soft Sugar Cookies


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

3 cups white all-purpose flour


Cream together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Add the buttermilk, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg.


Add enough flour to spoon cookies into your hand and pat out. This is tricky! Have 

3 cups of white all-purpose flour ready.


Bake @375-400 degrees for 10 minutes, watching carefully.

The Murdered Matron

A Roaring Twenties Cozy Historical, Book 2


As the fall semester ends, Doro’s hands are full as a professor, librarian, and volunteer. She looks forward to planning and celebrating her hometown’s annual Christmas festivities, but her enthusiasm is tested when the chairwoman’s dictatorial ways create dissension among the committee members. Dissension soon turns to malice, and threats fly among the matron and several others. When she is found dead, unsettling questions arise—and so do longstanding grudges. Who caused the woman’s fatal fall from a ladder? After the chairwoman’s handyman disappears, anxiety escalates among townsfolk. Doro and her best friend, Aggie, along with two local lawmen, work together to investigate. Can they catch the killer in time to save the holiday celebration? Or will others fall victim to the perpetrator?


Pre-order (available 12/2/23)

Wednesday, November 1, 2023


Today we sit down for a chat with cozy mystery and kid lit author Marilyn Levinson aka Allison Brook. Learn more about her and her books at her website and at the Writers Who Kill blog on the third Thursday of every month.


When did you realize you wanted to write novels? 

When I was in elementary school.


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

A few years.


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

Traditionally published.


Where do you write? 

In my office.


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

Silence is golden.


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

None of my plots and characters are drawn from real life, though my settings are often based on real places.


Describe your process for naming your character?

I run a few names through my mind when I introduce a character. If none suit, I look up names in a book of names and try those out. Of course, I try not to have too many starting with the same letter.


Real settings or fictional towns?

My main setting is a fictional town, though I place it among real towns.


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

I don't know if communicating with a ghost is considered quirky, but Carrie Singleton, my sleuth in my Haunted Library series, can see and talk to the ghost of Evelyn Havers when no one else but her little cousin can.


What’s your quirkiest quirk?

I pile too much onto my "to do" list and end up writing late in the afternoon.


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

No book comes to mind. 


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

I wish my writing career would have taken off earlier in my life, though I'm not sure what I would have done differently to have made that happen.


What’s your biggest pet peeve? 

Receiving several requests for money every day from charities because charities I gave to sold my name to other charities. All those trees cut down. All that garbage.


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

Books to read, something to write on, a few outfits to change into.


What was the worst job you’ve ever held?

Working in the back section of a bank.


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

Robin Hood. He's a romantic figure who leads a group of men, has Maid Marion as his love interest, and can't be caught by the Sheriff of Nottingham.


Ocean or mountains? 

I like both—at a distance.


City girl/guy or country girl/guy?

I'm a suburban girl.


What’s on the horizon for you?

A new series after my next Haunted Library mystery comes out next fall.


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

I'm still writing children's books, too. The second in my Rufus series and my YA horror, The Devil’s Pawn, will be out in 2024. I'll soon be starting a new cozy mystery series, too.


Overdue or Die

A Haunted Library Mystery, Book 7


Carrie Singleton has more than her fair share on her plate: her job at the Clover Ridge Library, preparing for her wedding to Dylan Avery, and hoping that the local art gallery doesn’t steal away one of her part-time employees. Her fiancĂ© Dylan accompanies her to the beautiful home of Victor Zalinka—art collector and successful businessman—to select paintings for an art show at the library. While Carrie muses that Victor's home would be the perfect wedding venue, Dylan spots a forgery among the paintings in Victor's collection.


Then Martha Mallory is found murdered in her art gallery. With the assistance of Evelyn, the library ghost; the resident cat, Smoky Joe; and the office manager of Dylan’s private investigation company, Carrie comes up with a suspect list long enough to rival the size of an encyclopedia. During her investigation, Carrie stumbles across a terrible truth: Martha’s murder was part of something far bigger and more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. And it all leads back to the art gallery.


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