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.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Artwork from Depositphotos and Pixabay

My author, Lois Winston, has recently penned the next book in the series she writes about me. 
Sorry, Knot Sorry is the thirteenth book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Thirteen novels and three novellas, and that woman hasn’t let up with the murder and mayhem.

The other day, I asked her to explain why me? Why not pick on someone else for a change? She shrugged and said, “Sorry, not sorry.” Or perhaps she was trying to be funny. Lois has a thing for puns.


She also has a thing for weird, interesting people and often puts them in her books. Look no further than the communist mother-in-law she saddled me with, based on her own communist mother-in-law. Other characters have been inspired by various people she’s either known or observed, but usually they’re a composite of several people molded into one character.


Now that the latest book is finished and up for preorder, Lois is looking ahead to the next book in the series. In one of the previous books, the house across the street from me was torn down and replaced with a McMansion. That plot thread began in A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in the series, and has been mentioned in various other books, most recently in Sorry, Knot Sorry. However, I have yet to meet my new neighbors.


Recently, I’ve noticed Lois is thinking quite a bit about the neighbors who used to live in the actual teardown across from where she lived. Since I know what goes on in her brain, I now know the full story.


Years ago, when Lois and her husband purchased their home in New Jersey, she suspected an elderly, infirmed couple on a limited income lived in the dilapidated house across the street. Much to her surprise, she discovered the owners were a couple in their late thirties or early forties.


She began to refer to them as the Stoop Sitters because they’d camp out on the top step of their landing for hours at a time, either together or individually. Just sitting and smoking and often drinking beer, but never conversing with each other. Often the husband would remove his shirt and lie back on the concrete porch, his massive stomach pointing heavenward. He’d remain that way for hours, apparently napping.


When Mr. Stoop Sitter wasn’t sprawled bare-chested on the landing, he’d spend hours mowing his lawn. Except, the “lawn” was a barren patch of packed dirt and weeds. Yet, he’d constantly walk behind his mower, trimming the nonexistent grass of his extremely small front yard. Back and forth over the same square footage until the mower ran out of gas. The next day, after refilling the mower, the scene would repeat. This went on every day except during rainstorms or winter snows.


Lois assures me she’s no voyeur. She worked from home in an office at the front of her house, her desk positioned in front of the window. It was impossible not to notice the Stoop Sitters.


One day, her concentration was broken by a cat fight. Not a cat fight between two cats, though, but between two women. And it was over a man. Mrs. Stoop Sitter was accusing the other woman of trying to steal her husband.


The scene was right out of a reality TV show, minus the camera crew. Eventually, Mrs. Stoop Sitter hurled one last warning, stormed up the steps and entered her house, slamming the door behind her. The other woman turned around and walked down the street. 


Lois assures me Mr. Stoop Sitter was no one’s idea of a catch, but the scene outside her window proved otherwise. Obviously, there’s someone for everyone.


Eventually, the Stoop Sitters sold their house to a developer who tore it down and built a McMansion on the postage-size plot of land. I have a feeling Lois is mulling over introducing Mr. and Mrs. Stoop Sitter to the world in her next book. Will I wind up investigating their deaths? Or perhaps the death of Mr. Stoop Sitter’s girlfriend? There are lots of ideas churning around in my author’s brain. I guess I’ll have to see what she comes up with this time. All I know for sure is I’ll be involved, whether I like it or not.


Have you ever come across people you think would make great characters in a mystery? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free audiobook download of one of the first nine Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries currently available.


Sorry, Knot Sorry

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 13


Magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack may finally be able to pay off the remaining debt she found herself saddled with when her duplicitous first husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. But as Anastasia has discovered, nothing in her life is ever straightforward. Strings are always attached. Thanks to the success of an unauthorized true crime podcast, a television production company wants to option her life—warts and all—as a reluctant amateur sleuth. 


Is such exposure worth a clean financial slate? Anastasia isn’t sure, but at the same time, rumors are flying about layoffs at the office. Whether she wants national exposure or not, Anastasia may be forced to sign on the dotted line to keep from standing in the unemployment line. But the dead bodies keep coming, and they’re not in the script.


Craft tips included.


Buy Links (preorder now. Available June 4th)




Apple Books

Paperback and Hardcover editions available after June 4th

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Author donalee Moulton writes both contemporary (Hung out to Die) and historical mystery (Conflagration.)She is also the author of “Swan Song,” one of twenty-one short stories appearing in the 2023 Award of Excellence-nominated Cold Canadian Crime. Her nonfiction credits include The Thong Principle: Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say and the co-author of Celebrity Court Cases. Learn more about donalee and her books at her website. 

It’s 1734. What’s for Dinner? 


Conflagration! is my second mystery novel – and my first historical mystery. The prospect of writing an historical mystery was both exhilarating and intimidating. 


While authors always have some wiggle room when it comes to reality, the reality of the modern world is one we are familiar with. We’re living it. I had no idea what life in 1734 Montréal was like. Fortunately, the online resources available via Google and books from the local library helped to transport me back in time.


Marie-Joseph Angélique is at the heart of Conflagration! An enslaved Black woman, Angélique is accused of burning down the lower town and forty-six buildings in the process. Court clerk Philippe Archambeau is assigned the daunting task of following the judicial process as it unfolds from incarceration to trial to appeal.


As I delved into life in 1734 and the arson case on the docket, I was thinking about court transcripts and depositions and judgments. I wasn’t thinking about food. That lack of focus didn’t last long. I remember writing one scene where Philippe gets up early in the morning and makes himself a cup of coffee. I remember thinking, “Did they drink coffee in 1734?”


That question led me to explore the food people ate in eighteenth century New France. What was standard fare? A celebratory meal? Where did the food come from? How was it prepared?


Some of these questions (including the coffee one) are answered in Conflagration! as Philippe and his wife Madeleine go about their daily lives. Tea is a common beverage, and at one point, the couple brew a Bohea blend infused with orange peel. Bohea, pronounced bow-hee, is a black tea from China (some say of a low grade) that was so popular at one time the word became synonymous with “tea.” 


Philippe also has lunch with a local jailer, Henri Geôlier. More accurately, he shares his lunch with Geôlier. That lunch is cold: ham or boiled eggs; fruit, often dried; and bread. According to the Canadian Museum of History, bread represented from 60 to 85% of the total daily food intake in New France.


One thing that was not a staple in Montréal as the seventeen hundreds unfolded: posset. This is primarily a British drink, yet it found its way into Conflagration! Philippe is originally from Acadia, where the British-French relationship was less acrimonious, at least until the British began expelling the Acadians in 1755. Posset, for Philippe, is a reminder of how different his Acadie is from Montréal.


The once-popular drink resembled egg nog. Interestingly, the name made its way back into the English lexicon in the 1800s, although by then posset had been transformed into a rich, cold lemony dessert that you can easily find recipes for today.


I’ve come across numerous recipes for the original drink. They invariably have a common foundation but differ in the nuances. Here’s my version.


Posset à la 1734



235 ml (1 cup) light cream
1 cinnamon stick or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
A sprinkle of nutmeg 

3 egg yolks
235 ml (1 cup) sherry or brandy 

30 g (2 tablespoons) sugar

Bring the cream slowly to a simmer. Add the spices. Stir regularly. Gently beat the egg yolks and add slowly to the mixture. Continue stirring to avoid curdling. Pour in the alcohol and add the sugar. Simmer the mixture but avoid bringing it to a boil. 


Pour into cups, sit back, inhale the delicious aroma, and savour the moment.



On a warm spring day in April 1734, a fire raged through the merchants’ quarter in Montréal. When the flames finally died, 46 buildings – including the Hôtel-Dieu convent and hospital – had been destroyed. Within hours, rumors ran rampant that Marie-Joseph Angélique, an enslaved Black woman fighting for her freedom, had started the fire with her white lover. Less than a day later, Angélique sat in prison, her lover nowhere to be found. Though she denied the charges, witnesses claimed Angélique was the arsonist even though no one saw her set the fire.


In an era when lawyers are banned from practicing in New France, Angélique is on her own. Philippe Archambeau, a court clerk assigned specifically to document her case, believes Angelique might just be telling the truth. Or not. A reticent servant, a boisterous jailer, and three fire-scorched shingles prove indispensable in his quest to uncover what really happened. 


Angélique’s time is running out as Archambeau searches for answers. Will the determined court clerk discover what really happened the night Montreal burned to the ground before it’s too late?


Buy Links



Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Dianne Ascroft writes the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries, set in rural Canada during the 1980s, as well as The Yankee Years, an historical fiction series set in WWII Northern Ireland. She has a passion for Ireland and Canada, past and present. An ex-pat Canadian, Dianne lives on a small farm in Northern Ireland with her husband and an assortment of strong-willed animals. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Fenwater’s Big Night

Thanks for letting me drop in, Anastasia. I’m Lois Stone and I’m the main character in the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series. The books are set in Fenwater, a fictional small town in rural Ontario, Canada that was founded by immigrants from Scotland during the early 1800s. The residents of our town have a strong connection with its Scottish heritage so the annual Burns Night supper is the biggest event on our calendar.  

I’m a bit conflicted about it, though. I moved to town about six months ago. My friends want me to celebrate my Scottish ancestry since I live in a really Scottish-Canadian town, but I don’t want to acknowledge my Scottish roots. You see, my grandfather was a bit of a scoundrel and my mother refused to talk about him. My Scottish roots come from his side of the family so I don’t want to explore them and upset my mother. I’m also kind of scared of what I might discover. But I can’t seem to get away from my ancestry here in Fenwater. Everyone around me is excited that Burns Night is coming and they want me to delve into my ancestry. 

I might have been able to avoid all the fuss about the Burns supper if I didn’t play the bagpipes. As The Snow Job opens, our pipe band is practising for the supper. I’m actually looking forward to that part as this is the first Burns supper that I’ve played at with this band. I’ve learned all the tunes we’re playing and I’ll even know lots of people at the supper. Though I’m still new in town, it will make me feel like I’m part of the community. 

Oh, excuse me, I’m rambling. Do you even know what a Burns supper is? If you have any Scottish ancestry, you may have attended one. But for those who haven’t, a Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert - or Rabbie as he is more commonly known - Burns. Rabbie Burns was a poet and song lyricist from Scotland. Born on January 25, 1759, he was only 37 when he died in 1796. He is regarded as the most prominent poet to have written in Scots, a UK regional dialect that is recognised as a minority language. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is one of his works.

Burns Night is celebrated annually in Scotland, in Scottish communities worldwide, and especially for those abroad, it has also become a chance to celebrate all things Scottish – sort of like St. Patrick’s Day without the green beer. The first supper was organised by nine of Burns's friends on July 21, 1801, the anniversary of his death. The suppers have become an annual occurrence and are now normally held on January 25th, the poet's birthdate. 

Burns suppers are respectful and fun. There’s a traditional meal which consists of tatties (potatoes), neeps (turnips), and haggis, which was a favourite dish of the poet. What is haggis? Haggis is made from a sheep’s liver, lungs, and heart and mixed with suet and oatmeal. Believe it or not, it really is tasty – sort of like a spicier minced beef. Guests are piped in to the dining room, and a Scottish grace is said. The haggis is then piped in with great ceremony, and before the meal commences, a guest recites Burns’ poem the 'Address to a Haggis', which extols how wonderful haggis is. 

After the meal there are several toasts and speeches, including the ‘Immortal Memory’, a tribute to the poet. At our supper, Dave Stewart, who has an antique stall in our market, is giving ‘The Address to the Lassies’, a humorous thank you to the women who prepared the meal. My friend Marge will ‘Reply to the Laddies’, rebutting any comments Dave might make about women. I’m rather nervous about that as you never know what she’ll come out with. 

Preparations for our supper were going well until one of the Burns Night committee members died in suspicious circumstances the week before the event. I didn’t know him but I was sad to hear of his death. Marge worked with him at the museum, and she asked me to help her find his killer. I’ve promised my partner Bruce that I’d stay out of police matters, but Marge is very persuasive. So, I turned my thoughts from getting ready for the Burns Night supper to helping Marge find the killer. What could possibly go wrong?

The Snow Job

A Century Cottage Cozy Mystery, Book 3


A Scottish shindig, a pretty pin, a cold corpse. 

When a well-liked and respected townsman is murdered on a snowy street in Fenwater, it’s up to Lois Stone to sift through a multitude of motives to find the killer.


Middle-aged widow Lois is beginning to feel part of the Fenwater community, and as winter sets in, she is getting ready for the town’s biggest Scottish event, the annual Burns Night supper. But when one of the committee members dies in suspicious circumstances, Lois has more to worry about than the fate of this year’s celebration. She tried unsuccessfully to revive the man and her friend Marge worked with him. So, they want to find his killer even though Lois promised her partner Bruce that she would stay out of police matters.


But, what’s the harm in asking a few questions? Such as does someone want to safeguard their inheritance or give their business a boost? Will finding the motive for the murder lead them to the killer or maybe more?

Buy Links



Saturday, April 6, 2024


For a limited time, Stitch, Bake, Die!, the 10th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, those books author Lois Winston writes about me, is on sale at Amazon for only .99 cents! Grab your copy today. Sale ends May, 5th.

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 NJ 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.


Marlene Beckwith, wife of the multi-millionaire pharmaceutical magnate and country club owner, is both the chapter president and conference chairperson. The only thing greater than her ego is her sense of entitlement. She hates to lose at anything and fully expects to win both the needlework and baking competitions.


When Anastasia and Cloris arrive at the conference, they discover cash bribes in their registration packets. The Society members, few of whom are fans of Marlene, stick up for the accused and instead suggest that Marlene orchestrated the bribes to eliminate her stiffest competition. 


The next morning when Marlene is found dead, Anastasia questions whether she really died peacefully in her sleep. After Marlene’s husband immediately has her cremated, Anastasia once again finds herself back in reluctant amateur sleuth mode. 


With the help of Cloris, Marlene’s personal assistant Rhetta, and a laptop someone will stop at nothing to find, Anastasia soon unravels evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and too many possible suspects. And that’s before she stumbles over the body of yet another member of the Stitch and Bake Society. 


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


Crafting tips included.


Wednesday, April 3, 2024


Today we sit down for a chat with Katherine Jean Wilk, the main character in the Katie and Maverick Cozy Mystery series by author Mary Seifert. Learn more about Katie, the series, and her author at Mary’s website. 

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

Before Mary and began collaborating, I’d been trying to get a job. I met the man of my dreams while attending the Royal Holloway in London, earned a degree in Mathematical Cryptanalysis with plans to work in encryption and decryption for the NSA (National Security Agency), but life got in the way. I found out Charles wasn’t who I thought he was. He had a title--Baron. I ran from him, but Charles had better sense and followed me home. We married. Seventeen days later, he was shot and killed, trying to protect me. I gave up those dreams and felt called to teaching high school mathematics instead, a nice safe, boring profession, I thought. Unfortunately, Mary set me up to find a body while walking my dog, and now I feel like a corpse magnet.


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

Because I’m good at deciphering puzzles and riddles, I’ve been able to help solve a few crimes, even when law enforcement would rather I stay out of their hair. But my favorite attribute is my ability to make math more fun than expected for my students. A few of them have even thanked me, so I’ll put that in the win column.


What do you like least about yourself? 

At times I’m too serious. In my mind, everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I’d like to be able to just let it go. (Wouldn’t that make a great song?) I’m not sure that will happen, but I can hope. I think I’ve fallen in love again, and I have to work at not pushing him away. Pete Erickson is the kindest, sweetest, handsomest, smartest … you get what I mean. He keeps dropping wedding hints to Mary, but she hasn’t picked up on them yet.


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

I hate the cold. Then, you ask, why stay in Minnesota? I love the change in seasons and am mesmerized by our trees budding and flowering in the spring, shading through the warm summer, painting the horizon with oranges, yellow, reds, and browns in the fall, and drifting to the ground before cleaning the world canvas with white snow and beginning again. Therefore, the strangest thing Mary has had me do is ICE FISH!


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

I wouldn’t say we argue, but we definitely have some heated discussions. Some of the characters I meet have a vicious streak and I have no tolerance for them. She also clearly colors within the lines. She’s a firstborn and tries to follow all the rules. I bend them whenever I can.


What is your greatest fear?

My dad has nearly recovered from his traumatic brain injury but I’m sure he was shot and Charles died, because of me. I haven’t figured out why and no one has yet discovered the shooter, but I’m afraid anyone I get close to might become a target. I’m careful, but I’ve noticed my guard has been slipping as I get more comfortable in my surroundings. I need to remind myself to stay alert but not hide away from life. 


What makes you happy? 

First and foremost, being written into stories with my friends and family makes me smile. I have Dad, a great landlady, a reliable best friend, an adorable, loving, hardworking, intelligent, handsome boyfriend, and Maverick, the best dog ever, who has put himself in harm’s way for me more times than I care to count. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him.


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

If I could have rewritten the Katie and Maverick Cozies without Charles dying, I would be happy, but then my story wouldn’t exist.


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

ZaZa Lavigne began as a student at the Royal Holloway six months earlier than me and, unbeknown to me, fell deeply in love with Charles before I arrived. She never said anything, and he never knew. We lost touch and I didn’t hear from her for years, but a teaching position opened up at my school, and she applied. I don’t know why she gave up a job in security in Paris to come here, but she was hired and now is a thorn in my side, reminding me if he hadn’t married me, Charles might still be alive.


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

If I couldn’t be me, I’d trade places with my crazy landlady who knows how to shake up life. She dances for exercise (winning competitions with her fabulous partner) and can cook like a chef at a Michelin Star restaurant. She’s a true artist with her head in the clouds and her feet planted firmly on the ground. She can pick up any craft with a snap of her fingers. She knows how to knit and tried to teach me but I’m still fumbling with the cast-on stitch. She lends me wonderful items to make even my wardrobe passable and I don’t know what we’d do without her. Everyone in town knows who she is, and most love her. 


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

Mary loves making trouble for me. When she’s not writing, she’s making incredible memories with family and friends, walking her dog, whose only speed is faster, carefully deleting reference to murder from her web-browser, and pretending to cook. You can find her nibbling chocolate and sipping wine, both of which sometimes occur WHILE writing and reading. Find more about her at maryseifertauthor.com.


What's next for you? 

The chronicle of my latest adventure, Creeps, Cache & Corpses, a spring break fiasco, is now available. But end-of-the-year activities are culminating at school, and I’ve discovered I have a younger half-sister, Ellen, which means my mother didn’t die as I’d thought; she’d left and started a new family. I’m trying to reconcile my definition of family with my new reality. In addition, my landlady, Ida Clemashevski, confesses to bouts of melancholia and forgetfulness, and we’ve witnessed her unexpected mood swings. I worry the symptoms are a prelude to dementia. Ellen hasn’t seen our long-lost mother in almost a decade, and I found out she’s begun a search for her, but her drive is blinding her good judgement, so Mary and I are trying to work out the next story.


Creeps, Cache & Corpses

A Katie & Maverick Cozy Mystery, Book 7

When Katie’s spring break plans for a romantic getaway with Pete fall apart, she skips the chance to go skiing with her dad and the sister she’s very recently met. Instead, she and Maverick and a group of friends travel to attend the memorial service for a student’s mother, but it is spring break so there will also be salon treatments, shopping, and sightseeing. But, from the moment they arrive, tension fills the air, as Edith Farthington, the oddball innkeeper, and her nephew appear to be harboring secrets and a few unwanted visitors.

The group is in town less than 24 hours when, during a geocache outing, Katie and her students discover a dead body concealed in a remote area of an area park. Unfortunately, the victim just happens to be one of the few people in town they’ve already met, and Katie’s group is getting the side-eye from the local cops.

The suspects are numerous, the motives tricky, but there’s a shock for Katie and those close to her when the sheriff leaps ahead to arrest one of their own. How can Katie find enough evidence to convince him otherwise, especially when she’s been warned to leave it to the professionals—many times?

Buy Links