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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

GUEST AUTHOR MATT FERRAZ AND HIS SENIOR SLEUTH

Author of all trades, Matt Ferraz has written thrillers, sci-fi, cozy mysteries and a lot of witty e-mails that sadly can't be published. With a degree in journalism and a master’s degree in biography, Matt has works published in English, Italian and Portuguese, and loves trying out new genres. Learn more about Matt and his books at his website. You can also sign up for his new mailing list here.

Today Matt offers us something a bit different—a short story to introduce us to his senior sleuth Grandma Bertha.

Innocent Man's Cake - A Grandma Bertha Short Story

Lydia Hepburn wasn't a morning person by any means, and it took a lot to make her get out of bed early on a Saturday. Stu wasn't a toddler anymore, and knew how to use the toilet on his own, which meant she rarely had a reason to get up before dawn. Plus, her husband Todd was an early bird, and would take care of any issue that required adult presence.

She was especially tired that Saturday, after spending the previous night in front of the TV waiting for the final sentence in the Jack Pyle trial. For months, the whole country had been divided whether that man had actually killed his wife. Now that he was in jail, it was like a long soap opera was over and they could rest.

All Lydia wanted was some more sleep, but the noise in the kitchen was unbearable. Only one person could annoy Lydia so much, and that was Grandma Bertha. What was she doing in the kitchen anyway? It wasn't like her to be cooking at that time of day.

Lydia jumped from the bed, put on her robe and walked downstairs, ready to kick Grandma Bertha back to her shed in the backyard. She stopped by the door and looked at the mess. There was flour everywhere, eggshells on the floor and chantilly on the drapes. Grandma Bertha offered a toothless smile to her daughter-in-law.

Good morning, Lyd!” she said. “Up so early?”

Lydia tried to stay calm. “What are you doing?”

I'm baking a cake!” said Grandma Bertha. “For a friend.”

A friend? Who?”

“Did you seen the news yesterday?” said Grandma Bertha. “About that poor Jack Pyle? He was innocent, and I'm sending him a cake in jail.”

Lydia pulled out a chair. That was too much even for Grandma Bertha's standards. “You're baking a cake for…”

Careful, Lyd!” warned Grandma Bertha. “Don't sit there!”

What? Why not?” Her eyes went down to the seat, and there was a small hacksaw on it. “What is this doing here?”

Grandma Bertha picked the hacksaw from the chair. “There, there, you can sit. This is going into the cake.”

Lydia didn't sit down. “You're baking a cake with a saw in it?”

No, that would be silly!” Grandma Bertha said, with a giggle. “I'm baking the cake and then I'm putting the saw inside it. Otherwise it would taste terrible!”

Why would you do that?”

Grandma Bertha went serious for a second. “It pains me to see an innocent man in jail. I'll send him this cake so he can get out of jail and clear his name.”

Lydia rubbed her eyes. “In what world do you live? Are you aware that…”

Her phrase was interrupted by the voice of her husband, who just came in from the street. “Darling! Have you heard the news?”

Lydia turned to him, her face red with anger. “Do you know what your mother's been doing?”

Just a minute, darling!” said Todd. “I just heard the morning news on the radio. They came out with undisputed evidence that Jack Pyle is innocent! They're releasing him today!”

Lydia stood there, not knowing what to say. She was still mad, but couldn't tell at whom. So she turned her head around and saw that Grandma Bertha's smile was even larger.

Well,” said Grandma Bertha. “Who wants a piece of cake, then?”

The Convenient Cadaver
Grandma Bertha Solving Murders, Book 1

When Grandma Bertha moved to her son’s place, she brought along three dogs, several cases of beer and many, many horror film DVDs. While her daughter-in-law insists on the idea of sending Grandma Bertha to a retirement home, a dead girl appears near the house, shot three times in the back. Many years ago, Grandma Bertha let a murderer escape for not trusting in her own detective abilities. Now, armed with her wit and wisdom, she decides to solve that crime before the police. Could this crazy dog lady be a threat to a cold-blooded killer? And for how long can the family stand that situation?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--RHUBARB SOURDOUGH BREAD PUDDING

Molly MacRae is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. She was also one of the authors who participated in bestselling Bake, Love,Write: 105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing. Today I’m featuring Molly’s Rhubarb Sourdough Bread Pudding from the book. Learn more about Molly and her books at her website.

Rhubarb Sourdough Bread Pudding

12 ounces sourdough bread ripped into 1/2”-1” pieces
1-1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoon butter
5 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
4 cups rhubarb*, chopped
1/2 cup raw or brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

*Only use the fleshy red stems. Some rhubarb is sold with the leaves still on. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous.

Spread bread on a cookie sheet and lightly toast. Place in a greased 3 qt. casserole dish.

Melt butter with milk. Pour over bread in casserole.

Mix together eggs, sugar, salt, and zest. Stir in rhubarb and ginger. Stir rhubarb and egg mixture into bread mixture. Top with sugar and pecans.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until set.

Bake, Love, Write:
105 Authors Share Dessert Recipes and Advice on Love and Writing
What do most authors have in common, no matter what genre they write? They love desserts. Sweets sustain them through pending deadlines and take the sting out of crushing rejection letters and nasty reviews. They also often celebrate their successes—selling a book, winning a writing award, making a bestseller list, or receiving a fabulous review—with decadent indulgences. And when authors chat with each other, they often talk about their writing and their lives. Recipes. Writing. Relationships. In this cookbook 105 authors not only share their favorite recipes for fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, candy, and more, they also share the best advice they’ve ever received on love and writing.

A percentage of the profit from Bake, Love, Write is donated to NoKidHungry.org.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR KELLI A. WILKINS

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning romance and horror author who has published more than a hundred short stories, nineteen romance novels, and five nonfiction books. Today, she answers a few fun questions readers often ask her. Learn more about Kelli and her books at her website and blog. 

How would you describe yourself using only five words?
Busy romance and horror author.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Of course! I lounge around on the couch in front of the TV when I should be writing or cleaning or doing something else. I usually devote my Friday nights to being lazy.

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I block out a chunk of time and review my outline. Then I envision the scene I want to write, and I just do it. My first draft is nowhere near perfect—I write it out just to get the scene on paper. When I go back and revise, I add dialog tags, sensory details, and fix up the word choices to make the scene come alive.

If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book(s) would you recommend that they start with and why?
That depends on what genre they like to read. My romances include almost all sub-genres, and the heat levels vary from mildly sensual to scorching-hot.

Historical romance lovers would enjoy The Viking’s Witch. It’s a spicy historical novel set in Celtic Scotland. Or, if they like Westerns, they could read Lies, Love & Redemption. It takes place on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.

Readers of historical/fantasy romance would like either my Royal Desires series (A Most Unusual Princess, A Most Intriguing Temptation, and A Most Unfortunate Prince) or my Naughty Nobles trilogy (Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights).

Contemporary romance readers can fall in love with Vinnie, the hero from A Deceptive Match, while paranormal lovers would like Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.

And readers of gay romance should enjoy A Secret Match, Four Days with Jack (coming in June), or Killer in Wolf’s Clothing. I like to say I have romances for everyone!

Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this?
That’s a fantasy! Most people want to believe that writers sit around contemplating what to write all day, crank out a book in a week, then sit back and collect outrageously huge checks. Yes, sometimes that happens to a few authors, but the rest of us put in lots of hard work. Many non-writers don’t understand that creating a book out of thin air is a time-consuming (and sometimes frustrating) process.

I’ve had well-meaning (I think!) people ask me how come I don’t have a million dollars or why haven’t my books been on the New York Times Bestseller List yet. The reality is that some authors can and do quit their day jobs to write, while others put in forty hours a week doing something else and then carve out time from the rest of the day to write. It’s not always glamorous, but creating characters and writing about them is fun, and that’s why I do it.

If you could be a character in any of your books, who would it be and why?
I’d probably be Odaria from The Viking’s Witch. Odaria is a very strong woman who has magical/psychic powers. It would be interesting to see what I would do with her abilities—although the idea of living in 803 and giving up all modern conveniences isn’t terribly appealing. Odaria also has Rothgar, a hot, sexy Viking warrior as her lover, so spending time with him would be a big plus!

If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for lunch, who would it be and what would you eat?
I’d have lunch with Stephen King (his schedule permitting, of course). Most people probably don’t know that in addition to my romances, I also write horror fiction. I read Stephen King’s short stories at a very young age, and his writing style and distinct voice have always stuck with me. I think his book On Writing is a must-read for anyone who writes or wants to write. And lunch? We’d go someplace low-key and casual (like a retro diner that has its fair share of unique characters) and be so busy talking about all sorts of stuff (writing, the horror genre, Dwight Yoakam, and Lucas Davenport!) that we’d forget to eat!

Tell us about your latest release(s).
This spring, I released my Naughty Nobles trilogy of erotic historical/fantasy romances. Although the books are related, each stands alone as an individual read. In January, I released Loving a Wild Stranger, a historical/pioneer romance set in the Michigan Territory in the early 1800s. Lies, Love & Redemption, my historical/Western was published last September.

What’s next on the horizon for you?
Currently, I’m revising a new historical romance (as yet untitled) and I’m re-editing three of my contemporary romances previously published with Amber Quill Press. After that, I have ideas for a few other romances (another historical, a paranormal, and a gay contemporary).

Where can readers get in touch with you or find you on the web?
I love getting feedback and comments about my books. I enjoy learning which characters and scenes readers love best. Readers can find links to all my social media hangouts and a sign-up link for my newsletter at my website. www.KelliWilkins.com

Lies, Love & Redemption

Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.

Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.

As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?

Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store but find their efforts are thwarted—and their lives endangered—by the locals.

Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth? Cassie has everything invested in the store—can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

#HEALTHY LIVING--DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com 
5 Tips for Minimizing the Effects of Chronic Pain
by Jackie Waters

It seems like there are as many ways to treat chronic pain as there are types of chronic pain. In reality, a combination of pharmacological, dietary, physical, and mindfulness modifications is likely the best solution for most people. Of course, it helps to have some basic tips on where to start.

Get up and get moving
If your body hurts, getting up and making your body work might seem counterproductive. If you’re scared of exercise because you think your chronic pain will be too limiting, it’s important to know that any little bit helps.

“If you’re in pain, you might think that exercise would only make the discomfort worse. However, there’s substantial research showing movement — done safely and carefully, of course — can actually improve the situation. That’s because exercise is a known endorphin trigger, so getting moving sends those feel-good chemicals throughout the body and lowers pain. Exercise also seems to reduce certain substances in the body called cytokines that promote inflammation, according to a 2012 study that examined the effects of physical activity on nerve pain,” says The Huffington Post.

Start slowly. Try swimming or bike riding - both are low-impact exercises that shouldn’t exacerbate chronic joint pain. Take a walk around the block with your dog. Even 20 minutes of exercise can have a positive impact on your overall health.

Try drinking water (and only water)
The benefits of staying hydrated are well documented, so we won’t go into them here, but the benefits of drinking water extend to what you’re not drinking when you drink water. If you replace your sodas, coffee, and wine with water, you’re reducing your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. All three of those substances can make chronic pain worse.

Know your limits and don’t be afraid to say no
Much of dealing with chronic pain is knowing how to remove yourself from situations where it can be exacerbated. It’s important to listen to your body. If a certain activity or exercise is causing you too much pain, stop and rework it. Don’t push through pain just because you think you can. Know your limits.

Learn how to recognize drug abuse
Many people turn to prescription medication to help them cope with their chronic pain. When advised by a doctor, this can be a safe and effective method for minimizing pain, but with drugs comes the risk of drug abuse and dependency. It’s important that you know the warning signs and are able to recognize any of them in your own behavior. Of course, spotting drug abuse in yourself can be tricky but if you are prepared, you’ll be better equipped to know when to seek help if the time comes.

Some signs include: confusion and lack of coordination, lowered blood pressure, dry mouth, weakness, dizziness, and sleepiness. You may also experience sleep deprivation or “nodding”, slow, slurred speech, or constant flu-like symptoms. DrugRehab.org notes that extreme and sudden changes in mood and personality should also send up red flags.

If you recognize these signs in yourself or if others note them in you, it could be time to seek professional help to wean you off the medications in question.

Accept your pain
This one is a bit more philosophical, but it’s just as important. Denying that you’re in pain and trying to cover it up or convince yourself it isn’t real can be disastrous for those suffering from prolonged pain. If you accept your pain, you can then begin to find what works for you in terms of minimizing it. Without this crucial first step, you’ll never be able to fully focus on what triggers your pain and what works best to reduce it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

THE PINK VICTORIAN BY AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON

Shortly after moving into our current home nearly twenty years ago, my husband and I took a walk around our neighborhood. We came across an old Victorian house, built in 1871, that was undergoing a massive renovation. It appeared the house had sustained major fire damage.

I’ve always loved Victorian architecture. So over the course of the next few months, I watched as the house transformed from a dilapidated mess to a magnificent homage to the period from which it came. The owners obviously spared no expense as they brought that house back to life.

For years I admired that house from the outside. A few years ago the owners hosted a holiday fundraiser for one of the local private schools, and I was lucky enough to see the inside of the carriage house they had restored into a three-car garage and loft. (That carriage house is larger than my entire home!) However, I never had a chance to see the inside of the pink Victorian until recently.

The house is now for sale; pictures are posted online, along with a description. There are eight bedrooms and three bathrooms in this 5,000 square foot home. The house not only has mahogany floors throughout, the wrap-around porches are also mahogany. (Remember I said they spared no expense in the renovation?) There’s a butler’s pantry, leaded glass windows, a marble(!) driveway, an in-ground heated pool, even a Koi pond. The iron fence that surrounds the grounds was originally from the Burry Biscuit Factory and was restored for the property. Along with all this, there are countless modern amenities, including heated floors!

Authors often get their inspiration from people, places, and events in their own lives. That pink Victorian, coupled with a relative’s struggles to get pregnant and a scandal involving a Virginia in vitro specialist, became my inspiration for Finding Hope, originally published under my Emma Carlyle pen name.

Finding Hope, which was a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, is one of those books that doesn’t fit neatly into a specific genre category. It’s one part romance, one part women’s fiction, and one part mystery.

Finding Hope
Hope Morgan was always the good girl, doing what her conservative parents expected: she gave up her dream of going to college, became a secretary right out of high school, and married the boy next door. When Hope is suddenly widowed, she finds the courage to pursue her own dreams. Twelve years later, after working full-time and going to school at night, she obtains her degree and is offered a position at a prestigious architectural firm.

That’s when her long-exiled libido decides to resurface, and Hope finds herself falling head-over-heels for Ben Schaffer, her married boss. What Hope doesn’t realize is that Ben’s marriage is less than ideal. Within days of Hope starting her new job, Ben’s wife walks out on him and their three-year-old triplets–the same day the nanny lands in the hospital. When Ben can’t find a last-minute replacement, Hope agrees to step in as a temporary nanny–not the best decision she’s ever made, given her raging hormones.

Ben is fighting a battle with his own hormones, but an office romance is the last thing he needs or wants. However, he and Hope are no match for three very determined three-year-olds on a mission to find a happy ending.

Buy Links
Nook 
Kobo 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR JUDY ALTER

Judy Alter is the author of the Blue Plate Café Mysteries, the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, and the Oak Grove Mysteries. Her fiction and nonfiction about women of the American West has won numerous awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Western Writers of America.

Judy’s love of cooking led her to write a memoir/cookbook, Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, complete with family pictures and recipes.


Now retired, she was for years the director of a small academic press. She is the mother of four and the grandmother of seven and lives—and cooks—in a cottage in Fort Worth, Texas with her Bordoodle, Sophie. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website and blog

Following Mom in the Kitchen—or Gram in the Café

Like Kate, café owner at the center of The Blue Plate Mysteries, I learned to cook as a young child by following my mom in the kitchen. She let me make a mess of her kitchen because she knew that was how I’d learn. She let me follow recipes on my own, with the result I once added nine tsp. of baking soda to a cake. I had followed the recipe carefully but wasn’t smart enough to recognize an impossible typo. Mom taught me to entertain, to clean up the kitchen as I went (a sanity-saving lesson), and to love being in the kitchen, cooking, experimenting with tastes and textures.

Kate followed her beloved Gram in the café kitchen from her early years.  Gram cooked the down-home food just right for a café in a small East Texas town—chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, fried catfish, meatloaf, lots of grits, lots of greens, meringue pies. Kate learned early to fix those things. But she also learned the “tricks” of cooking—put chunks of peeled potato in a dish that’s too salty, add sugar not salt to water when you boil corn, add a bit of vinegar to boiling water for hard-boiled eggs, add a pinch of sugar to “finish” tomato-based dishes like spaghetti sauce, rinse a pan with cold water before putting food in it, always start boiling potatoes in cold water.

When Kate finished high school and headed for Dallas and the life of a legal assistant and single girl, she took her love of cooking with her. She moved from down-home to gourmet, growing her own herbs in a pot garden and achieving success with such complicated dishes as Coquille St. Jacques and Steak Diane. When Gram’s sudden death (or was it murder?) calls her back to the town of her childhood and to the café, Kate revives the basic dishes Gram taught her. She can make sticky buns, and meatloaf with the best of them. At her twin sister’s urging, she even teaches cooking classes to the local ladies—Beef Wellington, chicken piccata, chicken enchiladas, quail (all those hunters in town), and shepherd’s pie. But she doesn’t serve those things at the café—she sticks to the recipes she learned from Gram.

A typical special on the chalkboard at the Blue Plate Café may feature meatloaf, Reva’s asparagus, and Louella’s rice. (Note the family connection of many recipes—says something about the café).

Gram’s Meatloaf
1-1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine (Kate substitutes chopped celery)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
18 saltine crackers, crushed
16 oz. tomato sauce

Mix well and put into loaf pan. Optional: top with an additional 8 oz. of tomato sauce.

Bake at 350° for one hour. Check and possibly cook for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Reva’s asparagus

2 cup asparagus (Gram used canned, but you may use one bunch of fresh, trimmed and lightly steamed.)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice
Buttered breadcrumbs

Arrange asparagus in a single layer in a small rectangular baking dish. Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, and lemon juice and pour over asparagus. Top with breadcrumbs and bake until topping is brown and dish is heated through.

Louella’s rice

1 cup Minute Rice
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 can cream of celery soup
4 oz. can chopped chilies

Mix and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

All Blue Plate Café Mysteries include a selection of recipes.

Murder at the Blue Plate Café
Small towns are supposed to be idyllic and peaceful, but when Kate Chambers returns to her hometown of Wheeler, Texas, she soon learns it is not the comfortable place it was when she grew up. First there’s Gram’s sudden death, which leaves her suspicious, and then the death of her married sister’s lover. Kate runs Gram’s restaurant, the Blue Plate Café, but she must defend her sister against a murder charge, solve the murders to keep her business open, and figure out where the café’s profits are going. Even Kate begins to wonder about the twin sister she has a love-hate relationship with. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s guidance is really off the wall.

Monday, May 22, 2017

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--MAKE A MOP DOLL

Can dolls kill? If you’re an aficionado of horror books and movies, you’ll probably say they can. But dolls are inanimate objects without minds of their own. Humans kill, but in Death By Killer Mop Doll, the dolls I’ve created for a new television show become a killer’s props. Pity my poor mop dolls. They took quite a beating before I figured out whodunit. If you’d like to make a mop doll of your own, they’re quite easy and require no special crafting skills. Anyone who can use a pair of scissors, some tacky glue, and a glue gun, can make a mop doll. Here’s how:

Basic Mop Doll Directions

Materials:
24 oz. mop head (available in the cleaning section of most hardware stores, discount centers, and supermarkets), 4” Dylite® (smooth craft foam) ball, 5” x 5” natural muslin, wooden craft stick, 3/16” black half-round beads, rubber bands, tacky glue, glue gun (optional), blush or pink powdered chalk, 1/4 yd. 3/8” wide ribbon, 1/2 yd. cotton or cotton blend fabric, 1-1/4 yd. 1-1/2” gathered lace, desired lace or ribbon embellishments for neck edge, needle and thread, 8” straw doll’s hat.

 (NOTE: All gluing can be done with either tacky glue or a glue gun except for attaching the muslin to the Dylite® ball and gluing the dress. These steps must be done with tacky glue.)

1. Cut a 4-3/4” diameter circle from muslin for the face. Snip 1/4” cuts around the perimeter of the muslin circle. Using tacky glue, glue the muslin to the front of the Dylite® ball, smoothing out any wrinkles.

2. Poke a hole in the bottom of the Dylite® ball directly under the muslin face. Glue the craft stick into the ball, allowing approximately 3-1/2” of the stick to extend.
3. Spread the mop apart on a table. Randomly pull 26 strands from the mop. Set strands aside. 
4. With the bottom of the doll head adjacent to the top of the mop, glue the craft stick centered over the mop tape. 
5. Glue several strands of mop closest to the head down over the craft stick and mop tape to conceal them. Flip the doll over and repeat the previous step to conceal the mop tape on the reverse side. Wrap one of the mop strands you set aside around the doll’s neck, gluing in place.
6.. At both the left and right sides of the doll, take the top 18 mop strands. Trim 3” from length, saving trimmed pieces to use for hair. Braid strands for arms, securing each wrist with a rubber band. Glue ribbon around wrists to cover rubber bands.
7. Tie the body together under the arms with one mop strand to form a waist. Trim ends even with bottom of mop.

8. Cut remaining mop strands into 3” lengths. Run a line of glue around the edge of the muslin for hairline. Fold strands in half, gluing folded edge to the muslin. Run a second line of glue in front of the hairline. Glue a second row of folded strands in front of the first row. Place the doll face down. Working in even horizontal rows from the base of the neck to the top of the head, continue gluing hair in place.

9. Glue beads in place for eyes.

10. Use blush or chalk to color cheeks.

11. To make the dress, press under short edges of fabric 1/2” twice and glue in place.  Glue gathered lace to right side of front bottom edge of fabric.

12. Press under remaining long edge of fabric. Run a gathering stitch along this edge. Gather fabric and tie under arms at center back of doll.

13. Glue lace and/or ribbon embellishment under neck.

14. Glue hat to doll’s head.

Death By Killer Mop Doll
Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR NIKE N. CHILLEMI

Author Nike N. Chillemi writes detective stories with a clandestine twist, murder mysteries, and young adult romantic suspense. Today she sits down for an interview. Learn more about Nike and her books at her website. 

When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
About six years ago, after a run of reading one Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and Lee Child novel after another, I thought, writing this stuff could be fun. Of the three authors, my voice most resembles that of Robert Crais, only because my contemporary stories have a lot of wry humor, not to mention, quirky characters.

How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
One and a half years.

Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
My first four historical murder mystery novels (of the post WWII era) were published by Desert Breeze both in ebook and paperback. They're now out of print and the rights have reverted back to me. I plan to republish. After writing those, I went indie publishing under my own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press.

Where do you write?
At home, in my guest room/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?
Not much is drawn from my own life. I'm constantly making up scenarios…some pretty good, some awful. I write ideas down on any scrap of paper available and later I enter them into a computer file. I do interject into a story a bit from my life, or something I have observed where it will work.

Real settings or fictional towns?
Always a fictional town. Years ago, I read a murder mystery set in NYC in which the heroine hopped onto a city bus on Fifth Avenue and went uptown. Well, Fifth Avenue is one-way, downtown. So, it's impossible the bus could've gone uptown. That ruined the story for me and I've never forgotten it.

What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Ronnie, the heroine in my Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy has a hair temper and a quirky sense of humor.

If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Last Detective by Robert Crais. It has the best Vietnam War flash-back  I've ever read. I could not have written it.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Whiny, helpless heroines, unless they're really funny.

You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? 
My Bible, Pierce Brosnan, and a fully equipped RV camper.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Ocean or mountains?
Mostly ocean, but mountains are good, too.

City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Either. I live in the best of both, Jacksonville. It has downtown and within its borders, pure country where the oak trees are heavy with Spanish moss.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I want to finish the YA romantic suspense I'm working on, That Special One. Then there's another detective trilogy with a clandestine spin in the works.

Harmful Intent
Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels' family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he's not so sure at first, he's on the meddling New York PI's side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.