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.

Friday, October 20, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR STEPHANIE OSBORN

Author Stephanie Osborn writes science fiction/mystery and popular science. Today she sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t think I had an entire book in me. Then I got inspired by an idea I saw in media, back in the 90s, and I started writing some seriously long stories — novella-length stuff — and I realized I DID have entire books in me. It took a while to get my first true novel completed, but after that, the ideas started to flow, and the words to pour out, and now it’s not uncommon for me to turn out a 120,000-word book in a couple of months. It depends partly on the amount of research required for the given book. The more research, the more detailed the book, and the longer it takes to write it. But if I’m writing what I call “a romp,” I can write it pretty quickly.

So I guess I realized I could write a novel — and wanted to — around, oh, 20 years ago.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Ha! That took a while longer. My first novel was published in 2009, so only 8 years ago!

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Hybrid. I started out traditionally published and soaked up all I could learn about the industry. Then, when I started getting ideas for stuff that I couldn’t put out through a traditional publisher (poetry, short stories I’d thought of that weren’t associated with any particular anthology or magazine — not that there are many mags left out there, really, in my genres — novellas, etc.), I started putting up the odd story here and there as an indie author. Now I do a little of both.

Where do you write?
In my den, in the recliner on a laptop. I usually have a lap desk underneath it, because I have bad knees (I’m handicapped) and the hard laptop starts to hurt after a while. Sometimes I have a cat on my feet; sometimes not.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Music is always good — not essential, but good — but it has to be instrumental, and it has to be something that never had lyrics. Otherwise the verbal center of my brain tends to get wrapped around remembering the lyrics and singing along, rather than writing. Something soothing seems to work best. Classical, jazz, or new age are my preferences.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Oh, it varies, depending on the character. I often draw from my own personality in developing a foundation for a given character, even the bad guys. I look for some facet of my personality that is suitable to the character, then start layering on top of that — things I imagine, things I’ve seen in real life, this or that aspect of a friend — until I have a character as fully-fleshed as needed for the given book.

Describe your process for naming your character?
I have two methods, usually based on the given name and the surname. For the given name, I look at the ethnicity of the character, and do a baby-name search based on that ethnicity. I like to try to pick a name whose meaning is symbolic of the character or situation. The surname can work the same way, but for main characters, if they happen to have any of the ethnicities that I have in my own ancestry, I’ll sometimes pluck a surname from my family tree. If the character isn’t any of the ethnicities in me, then I do a surname search for that ethnicity. Again, I like to look at the meaning of the name, and try to pick something appropriate.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Usually real settings, though I sometimes change the names. Then again, some real place names are just hilariously perfect for my purposes.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
I don’t know that I give my characters too-weird quirks. I think if you make them too ‘out there,’ people maybe can’t relate to ‘em as well. I think maybe the most ‘out there’ I’ve gotten, for character identifying properties, is the female protagonist who was kidnapped as a child by an alien criminal, then restructured and genetically modified to enhance her abilities and suit the criminal’s purposes, before being telepathically brainwashed...to assassinate the male protagonist. When the whole thing comes to light, it seriously messes with her head, particularly with regard to self-esteem and self-confidence. I don’t know if that would be considered a “quirk,” though, as much as a natural reaction to what was done to her.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I dunno. Maybe some of the foods I like to eat. Or the way I like to eat ‘em. I tend to put together weird combos of foods.

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
In general, I tend not to think about things like that; I find it tends to lead to discontent with what I have. But given the current states of health of myself and my husband, and knowing what I know now, I think I might have made some modifications to our diet and nutritional supplementation, to try to offset some of the medical conditions. We thought we were eating healthily at the time, but hey.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Right now, it’s the lawn-care people who show up every Wednesday, bright and early, and insist on starting up the lawnmowers, weed eaters, and leaf blowers, ALL right outside my bedroom window...when I tend to write until 3-4am because that’s when it’s quiet and I can concentrate. This often means I’ve only had 3, maybe 4, hours of sleep when they fire up their equipment. We have a HOA in my neighborhood, so those guys are doing everyone’s lawns at once, but I’m smack in the middle of the neighborhood and I have been unable to convince ‘em to start at one end and work across. They simply MUST start in the middle, with my house, and work out from there. Never mind that there’s been a drought and the grass isn’t growing, or that it’s the hottest part of the year and the grass isn’t growing, or whatever — they gotta come mow that grass! Yeah, it annoys me immensely, because I’ve always been prone to insomnia, and having that trait reinforced doesn’t help matters. (And yes, it’s Wednesday as I write this, I’ve had maybe 4 hours’ sleep, and I’m grumpy as [expletive redacted] about it.)

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Food, water, and shelter. I’m pretty practical where things like that are concerned. If I managed to get the essentials taken care of, then I’d consider some things like writing implements, so I could keep writing stories.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
None of them have been horrible. I’ve run into good things and bad things in all of them. But I think the college teaching job at the ultra-conservative school, where I was expected to START CLASS at 7am (when I’m a night owl), and was required to wear skirts in winter despite having a joint condition where the doctors preferred I wear trousers to keep my joints warm and functional, was probably the most uncomfortable for me.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I have to choose just one? Wow. That’s hard. I like so many authors, so many series, so many genres! Fantasy? Science fiction? Mystery? Romance? Popular science? Biography? See what I mean?

Ocean or mountains?
Ocean, because I love to feel, hear, and watch the surf. I do like mountains too, though.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Country girl. Spent all my formative years in rural Tennessee.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Keepin’ on keepin’ on! I do plan to enter the audiobook market sometime in the next year or so.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
In the 8 years I’ve been a published author, I’ve been prolific. I’ve got well over 30 titles out there that I’ve authored, co-authored, or to which I’ve contributed (anthologies of various sorts). I’ve been a finalist or a winner of several literary awards, and I really enjoy writing. I’d love for your readers to check out my books!

Tour de Force, book 4 of the Division One series.

Alpha One is participating in Omega’s very first First Contact diplomatic operation. Unfortunately, it’s going to split up the team—the Cortians, a race from the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, have stringent requirements, and that narrows down the list of “candidate exchange students” to...Echo. ONLY Echo. The Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration’s top Division One Agent, the man being groomed to be the next Director...and Omega’s partner. A plum assignment, for the pick of the crop.
But Omega doesn’t see it that way, though she can't—or won't—explain why. She is determined to stop the mission from going forward. At any cost.
Why is Omega trying to scuttle a diplomatic mission? What is she seeing that more experienced Agents aren’t? Why won’t the others listen? Is something bigger, more menacing, happening to her—to them? Will—CAN—Alpha One survive?

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

#FASHION--A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERGARMENTS BY AUTHOR ROSEMARY MORRIS

British historical romance author Rosemary Morris stops by today to give us a fashion lesson on undergarments. Learn more about Rosemary and her books at her website and blog.

A Brief History of Underclothes
It would be unrealistic to deny that, throughout history, as well as having a practical purpose, feminine undergarments have had an erotic effect. Once, even the glimpse of a stockinged ankle titillated. Modern fashion, which is more practical and comfortable, has removed feminine mystique.

In the past, female underclothing was the focus of sensual curiosity. In the prudish Victorian era, mention of trousers or drawers was considered unseemly. It reminded people that men and women have legs.

In the medieval period women wore smocks or, as the Normans called them, chemises. They were pulled over the head and were either plain or embroidered.

In “The Miller’s Wife” from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, there are the following lines:

“…brooded all before
And eke behind on her colere about
Of cole-blak silke, within and eke without.”

Women also appropriated the term petticoat, little coat, from the word coat used by men in the Middle Ages.

The evolution of underclothes is interesting. After the early Saxon period, tunics concealed men’s breeches, which were subsequently called drawers. Centuries later, men wore knee-length breeches then close-fitting ankle length pantaloons. Next, they wore trousers and, more recently, shorts and jeans beneath which minimal undergarments are worn.

By the Victorian era, women wore a linen chemise and petticoat, sometimes attached to a bodice. In early 19th century England, drawers were considered scandalous until Princess Charlotte, heiress to the throne, wore them. By the 1830’s they were commonplace. Also, the French custom of wearing pantaloons when riding side saddle had become popular. After the Regency era, small waists were admired. Tight lacing was necessary to be fashionable. To achieve it, corset makers used steel, whalebone and buckram, which compressed women’s figures so much that they couldn’t move naturally and suffered from stomach aches and other pain.

Crinolines were superseded by bustles, until, in the late 20th century underwear evolved into the scanty garments worn today, although bras are used to emphasis the bust to enhance the figure.
 
Famous names have been used to describe female underwear. From American Mrs. Bloomer came the term bloomers. Some of many other terms are undies, cami-bocks, cami-knicks, knick-knacks, frillies, bras, slips and thongs, all of which have erotic connotations.

The main purpose of underclothes has been warmth. Men’s shapes have remained similar throughout the centuries, but women’s have been altered by artificial means. These included bustles, corsets, crinolines, farthingales, hoops and stays, all of which gave rise to speculation about what females wore beneath their outer garments. One can imagine a curious bridegroom eagerly anticipating a revelation.

Today, people bathe frequently. Their clothes are dry-cleaned or washed. This means few underclothes are necessary to keep outerwear clean. It was not so, for example, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when splendid clothes made in costly fabrics needed protection from unwashed bodies.
 
Towards the end of the 18th century, the Macaronis stressed the importance of personal cleanliness. In the first part of 19th century John Wesley preached ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’. Beau Brummel, the famous Regency dandy, agreed, also advocated cleanliness. In Queen Victoria’s reign, men and women changed their underwear frequently. To move on in time, between the 1st and 2nd World Wars fewer underclothes were worn. Which brings me to the present day. Mini-skirts, shorts, sleeveless tops with shoestring straps, bikinis and extremes of fashion leave little to the imagination.

In the past, deliberate revelations of underwear, such as the edge of a chemise or the hem of a petticoat, suggested female disrobing was erotic. At other times, the bodice looked like a corset. This implied a woman had dressed immodestly. For at least six centuries, women wore corsets to emphasise the bust and slim the waist. Laced too tightly they compromised health.

Men’s shirts may also be regarded as underwear. They divided the working classes from upper classes. In Henry VIII’s reign, shirts were revealed by slashing the jerkin; in the 18th century the top of the waistcoat was unbuttoned to reveal part of the shirt. Spotless white shirts, frilled or plain, divided the social classes.

Linen, the oldest material used for underwear; cotton, regarded as inferior to linen; wool and flannelette have been used for undergarments. Only well to-do people could afford silk until the last part of the Victorian era. More recently artificial fabrics, such as nylon are popular and can be washed and dried as often as we bathe. We no longer stink as our ancestors did.

Far Beyond Rubies
Set in 1706 during Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, Far Beyond Rubies begins when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Spirited Juliana is determined to prove the allegation is false, and that she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.

On his way to deliver a letter to William, Gervaise Seymour sees Juliana for the first time on the grounds of her family estate. The sight of her draws him back to India. When “her form changed to one he knew intimately – but not in this lifetime,” Gervaise knows he would do everything in his power to protect her.

Although Juliana and Gervaise are attracted to each other, they have not been formally introduced and assume they will never meet again. However, when Juliana flees from home, and is on her way to London, she encounters quixotic Gervaise at an inn. Circumstances force Juliana to accept his kind help. After Juliana’s life becomes irrevocably tangled with his, she discovers all is not as it seems. Yet, she cannot believe ill of him for, despite his exotic background, he behaves with scrupulous propriety while trying to help her find evidence to prove she and her sister are legitimate.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS--GUEST AUTHOR MARILYN MEREDITH

Frustration!
Nearing forty published books, frequent guest mystery author Marilyn Meredith is the epitome of perseverance. Learn why today as she tells us about her frustrating publishing journey. Learn more about Marilyn and her books at her website and blog.

FRUSTRATIONS

My whole publishing career has been fraught with frustrations.

After nearly thirty rejections, my first book was published by a major publisher way back in 1982. I thought I had it made. Surely my second book would be accepted by the same publisher. Nope, the editor who loved that first book moved on; her replacement wasn’t interested.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure of the order of the next events unfolded, but I’ll just list them.

That second book was picked up by a publisher who turned out a beautiful book—the problem was that the publisher decided he could make more money by gambling away what should have been his authors’ royalties, and he landed in jail.

Way back in the early part of my career and before the Internet, I had a book accepted by a publisher, but he wanted it camera-ready. My computer wasn’t up to that, so a friend who owned a computer shop let me use one of his computers between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. when he opened. I slaved over that book and finally sent it in. I didn’t hear for ages, so called, and this is what his wife said, “Oh, my dear, my husband passed away, and I’ve no plans to continue his publishing business.”

I found the publisher for my Rocky Bluff P.D. series in the Writer’s Digest Market Place—signed the contract and found out that he was only going to publish e-books. This was long before anyone had a clue what an e-book was and if someone could figure out how to buy it, it had to be read on a computer. That didn’t work.

Then I found another publisher for the first two books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep track of nor pay royalties. I took back my rights and went with a highly recommended publisher, who did the next two books, and then decided she didn’t want to be a publisher anymore.

Yes, I did find another publisher for that series and everything went well for many more books before disaster struck. The publisher had a series of strokes, and all operations ceased. (She was a good friend, and it’s been hard on many levels.) I am still dealing with the aftermath, though have found another publisher for the series.

With my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, the first four books were published as mass-market paperbacks—and this publisher, another good friend, passed away. The series was picked up by another great publisher, but several family tragedies made her close the publishing house. Now the series is being published by Mundania Press, and I’m happy.

Looking back, despite all that happened, I’m glad I never gave up.

A Cold Death

Deputy Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy of the mountain community of Bear Creek and its nearby surroundings in the Southern Sierra.

A horrific snow storm traps Tempe and her husband in the lodge of a summer camp along with the caretakers and seven most unpleasant people--one becomes a murder victim.

And to complicate matters, the ghost of a former camper makes contact with Tempe.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--APRICOT PISTACHIO MUFFINS

In the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, Anastasia rarely has time for breakfast before she leaves the house for work each morning. Luckily, her BFF, food editor Cloris McWerther, has her back, providing sugar and carb-laden confections on a regular basis.

In Scrapbook of Murder, the latest book in the series, Cloris and her husband are confronted with a mystery that could result in their financial ruin. We all deal with stress in different ways. Anastasia has been known to roll up the windows in her car and scream. Cloris resorts to marathon all-night stress baking. Here’s one of her confections.

Apricot Pistachio Muffins

Yield: 1 dozen muffins

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pistachio pieces (unsalted)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice apricots and place in warm water to rehydrate for half an hour.

Grease muffin tins or use cupcake papers.

Place liquid ingredients and egg in blender and mix together at low speed. Fold in apricots and pistachios. 

In a separate bowl sift together dry ingredients. 

Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until evenly blended. 

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

Bake approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing muffins from pan.

Scrapbook of Murder
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

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Nook 

Monday, October 16, 2017

SLEUTHING WOMEN ON TOUR

The authors of Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas are embarking on a Great Escapes blog tour over the next two weeks. Join us at these sites for a chance to win one of several copies of Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas we’ll be giving away through a Rafflecopter drawing. Enter the drawing at each site to increase your chances of winning!

October 16 – Celticlady'sReviews – Spotlight 

October 17 – Teresa Trent AuthorBlog – Character Interview from author Vinnie Hansen 

October 18 – Laura'sInterests – review and character guest post from author Rita Lakin 


October 20 – Escape WithDollycas Into A Good Book – Author interview with Jonnie Jacobs 

October 21 - Lisa Ks BookReviews – review and author interview with Allison Brennan 

October 22 – Queen of All She Reads – Spotlight

October 23 – Nadaness InMotion – Character guest post from author Mary Kennedy 

October 24 – Island Confidential – Character interview from author Heather Haven 

October 25 – Readeropolis – Interview with author Camille Minichino

October 26 – Readsalot – Spotlight

October 26 – Valerie's Musings – Interview with author Judy Alter  

October 27 – BackPorchervations – Review 

October 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review 

October 29A HollandReads – Character guest post from author Lois Winston 

October 29 –The Book's theThing – Guest post from author Lois Winston 

October 30 – Socrates'Book Reviews – Spotlight 

October 31 – Jane Reads – Review and guest post from author Maggie Toussaint  


Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by eleven critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series—a total of nearly 700 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.

Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin—Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe.

Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston—Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes? 

No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint—Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?

What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs—Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating.
The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice.

Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven— When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?

Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen—Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one.

A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy—When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime?
The Color of Fear, A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter—Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family…and on Keisha.

Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin—Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment iat a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them? 

Friday, October 13, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR JULIE MULHERN

Mystery author Julie Mulhern stops by for an interview today. Learn more about her and her books at her website

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was eleven, which was a long time ago.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I was very lucky. I got serious about writing in the summer of 2012. By serious, I mean I took the time to learn the craft of writing and story structure. In 2013, I signed with an agent. In 2014, I sold my first book.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published.

Where do you write?
I write at my kitchen table in the morning before my family wakes up.

Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence is golden. The only sounds I hear when I write are the dog snoring, the birds outside, and the hum of the coffee maker.

How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Occasionally, a scene in the Country Club Murders will be inspired from something that happened in real life (the mouse in the apple fritters in Clouds in my Coffee is an example) but I make up the murders and the plots. As for characters, someone wiser than I once said that writers create heroes or heroines they’d like to be. I think that’s true about Ellison and me.

Describe your process for naming your character?
My heroine Ellison Russell got her name because she needed to sound like she belonged at a country club and because I’ve always loved the name Ellison.

Real settings or fictional towns?
My books are set in Kansas City. Many of the places Ellison visits are real. Her country club is an amalgamation of three or four clubs in the area.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Ellison finds bodies like other people find pennies in parking lots. Often. It’s a problem for her.

What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Me? Quirky?

Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Trying a new colorist without a solid recommendation. My hair had spots. I looked like a leopard (a blonde leopard). Lesson learned – never cheat on your stylist.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Drivers who turn on their left-turn signal AFTER the light has turned green.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Coffee, books, and wine.

What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Bank teller.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Is this where I go all literary and say something impressive like War and Peace or Madame Bovary? They’re undoubtedly ART and I’ve read them both.  But, to me, the purpose of books is to entertain. I want to laugh and smile, maybe wipe a tear. When I read the last page, I want to feel uplifted. The books I re-read? Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Prince of Tides.

Ocean or mountains?
Mountains

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City girl. There are large bugs in the country. And snakes. I hate snakes. Lord, do I hate snakes.

What’s on the horizon for you?
Right now I’m writing a short story and working on the next Country Club Murder. Book seven (still noodling on the title) will be out next summer.

Cold as Ice
Ellison Russell’s life resembles a rollercoaster ride. And rollercoasters make her ill. Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn’t trust, and she’s taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening. Worse, the bank which represents Grace’s inheritance from her father may be in trouble.

When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can’t afford cold feet. She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don’t need men to rescue them.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS WITH AUTHOR CATHERINE MEDE

Author Catherine Mede, right before her fall
Speculative fiction romance author Catherine Mede, is a mother, writer, gardener, proofreader, crafter, whip maker, yoga practiser, walker, cycler, lover of life and self. Today she joins us to speak about Failure. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Failure
I love getting out and exploring, and in 2014, my girlfriend Deborah and I decided to explore the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. The track wove through cool native forests, beside quiet gurgling streams and along golden beaches. Three days of listening to birds calling and encouraging us on as we trekked from Totaranui down to Marahau with overnights at Awaroa Hut, Bark Bay and Anchorage. Deborah, knowing I’m a writer, commented as we looked down over Awaroa how beautiful it was, and would inspire a story. As we tramped, I worked it out in my head and by the time we got to the Bark Bay hut, I had a fully formed story in my head – Running Away.

On our last day, because of a shortcut (and a fast incoming tide), we made it to Anchorage fairly quickly, so we explored along the peninsula. It was a beautiful spot, and signs told us about Maori (indigenous New Zealanders) occupation of the area. We decided to do what most people had done, and explore a little further, beyond the fence out to Pitt Head. We clambered down a goat track, along a small narrow strip of land and scrambled up a clay bank, through some dense undergrowth, and came out on top of this hill to a beautiful view of the bay. 

The sun sparkled off the sea. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for the time of year we were tramping (May, Fall in New Zealand). We sat and admired the view, enjoying the peace and tranquility the spot provided. We took some photographs and then headed back. 

As we got to the clay bank, I lost my footing and slid. It’s a rather steep bank and there were no toeholds to stop. I flung my arms out sideways and managed to grab hold of a branch with my right hand and halt my fall. My girlfriend clambered down behind me and we inspected me for damage. A nasty cut on my left arm looked a little suspicious, so we covered it with a piece of tissue and clambered back out to the initial track. We sat on the bench and looked again at my cut. It was about an inch long, and the skin had been pushed up underneath the cut. It was horrific to look at, so when we got back to our cabin, my girlfriend dressed it and I took painkillers. 

Both my girlfriend and the DOC ranger wanted me to take the boat out, but I had a point to prove. I took painkillers for the remaining 12 hours we were there, and as we were tramping out, we got my Mum to ring the Doctor and make an appointment. 

It required four stitches, and I was told off for not coming out immediately, but I knew I wasn’t going to die from a small cut.

As it turned out, there was a piece of tree still in the wound, which worked it way up to the surface 3 months later. But that is another gory story.

If I had stuck to the track, I wouldn’t have this scar on my arm, but I didn’t. And now I have a permanent reminder of an adventure of a lifetime.

Running Away
Sometimes the world has a way of making you stop.

Larissa Green has had a rough run. She ditched her boyfriend, quit her job, and lost her flat all in 24-hour period. She does what she does best. Larissa turns on her heels to escape her life by doing something totally out of character – going for a tramp.

Harley Orion is an English action movie star, in a toxic relationship. When his girlfriend accuses him of a serious offence, Harley freaks out and runs away to New Zealand until the storm blows over. Anonymity is assured when you stay at an isolated Lodge in the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park.

A fateful morning pushes the two together, and they can’t deny the chemistry between them, but both are cautious. Harley has been stung by women, Larissa used by men. However they can’t stop what happens between them.

Until the true nature of Harley’s visit to New Zealand is revealed, destroying Larissa’s hope of ending up with her dream man.

But life has a way of making things happen, that you least expect.

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