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.

Holiday Blog Hop Starting December 11th

Holiday Blog Hop

Blog Hop begins December 11th. Click on the graphic above for a schedule and list of giveaways, including a $60 Amazon gift card.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

AUTHOR JAMES M. JACKSON DISCUSSES ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. He splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry. When not writing, he shepherds the 600+ member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime as the current president. Learn more about Jim and his books at his website. 

Preventing Financial Abuse of the Elderly
In Doubtful Relations (Seamus McCree #4), I took a financial crime (or two or three) and dropped them into the crucible of family dynamics when one member goes missing.

My interest in financial crimes includes a penchant for figuring out how to game any financial transaction. Since I’m honest and chicken (I know I wouldn’t do well in prison), I use crime fiction as an outlet to contemplate how to scam people. And family dynamics? As one character said to another, “Here’s a secret, Patrick, all families are dysfunctional.”

The crimes I present are fictional, but they could be real.
Perhaps because I have responsibility for handling my mother’s finances, I have become more sensitized to financial abuse of the elderly. Criminals always follow the money, and today’s retirees as a group have a lot of money. I’m saddened as I continue to see stories about one victim after another. The way we now treat elder abuse is similar to the way we used to treat child abuse: severely underreporting the extent of the crime, blaming victims, allowing institutional practices to remain unchallenged.

Combine money and dysfunctional families and there can be trouble.
Much as child abuse often happens within the family, according to AARP, nearly 60 percent of the Adult Protective Services cases of financial abuse nationwide involved an adult child of the elderly person. (http://www.westernjournalism.com/elder-financial-abuse-near/) Another study sponsored by the Journal of Internal Medicine, found friends and neighbors account for another 17%, and paid home aids 15%.
(http://www.springer.com/gp/about-springer/media/springer-select/older-adults-are-at-risk-of-financial-abuse/30696) In this study, only 10% of the reported cases are perpetrated by strangers.

We don’t know for sure what percentage of total financial abuse is reported. Victims are often unaware. When they do realize they are victims, they are often too embarrassed to report the crime. Sometimes they are afraid to report the crime, fearing physical or psychological abuse from the perpetrator. Those suffering from dementia, depression, or disabilities are most at risk.

Sometimes the abuse is hard to catch, taking the form of “loans” that are never repaid. They cheat both victim and those who should have shared in the estate. Often the crime is simple theft, extracting money from an ATM, writing checks to themselves, buying stuff with the victim’s credit cards, stealing and selling valuables from a home.

Here are six preventative steps you can take:
(1) As early as possible make sure you (and your parents, if alive) have an estate plan in place, including a will (and/or living trust) and health directives. Discuss your wishes with family so everyone knows your expectations if you can’t take care of yourself in the future. This may be an uncomfortable conversation with your loved ones, but bright sunshine on your finances helps makes it harder for the mold of later abuse to take hold.

(2) Be wary when “new best friends” enter the life of a loved one. Any hint of “sharing” finances or the new friend “taking care” of finances should shoot off rockets of concern.

(3) Institute checks and balances. Only a small percentage of lawyers and financial advisors are crooks, but it only takes one when you are involved. Alarm bells should go off if your lawyer recommends a financial advisor or vice versa. Independently verify referrals. Conversely, you may be able to use a lawyer or financial advisor as a resource to help prevent financial fraud. Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

(4) Use technology to help monitor spending. Credit card companies provide transaction alerts, which can provide early indication of a stolen number. If you worry about a relative who is still independent but potentially at risk, you can purchase monitoring services to spot unusual activity. An example is EverSafe. (I mention this only as an example of what can be purchased. I have not used it and have no personal knowledge of how well it performs.)

(5) If one family member is responsible for a parent’s assets, make sure a second person has the ability to review transactions, asset statements, etc. I use DropBox to store statements from my mother’s credit cards, bank, and mutual funds so one of my sisters can look over my shoulder. This protects Mom and should something happen to me, it allows my sister to easily take over.

(6) If anything seems suspicious, ASK QUESTIONS. Knowing people are paying attention may dissuade a potential fraudster from targeting your family. And, if you don’t get answers, don’t ignore the warning. Follow-up and make changes if you are uncomfortable with a situation.

The hardest step is the first, talking about the issue. Please don’t delay.

Doubtful Relations
A Seamus McCree Novel

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappeared while traveling, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.

Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, Doubtful Relations takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR TRACY TAPPAN AND AMERICAN FLAG CAKE

Tracy Tappan is the bestselling, award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning such diverse sub-genres as paranormal, military romantic suspense, and medieval historical. During nearly twenty-five years spent as a naval aviator’s wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community. Learn more about Tracy and her books at her website.

I clearly remember the chilling phone call—it was the nightmare phone call all military wives dread: someone had died in the squadron.

“There’s been a fatal helicopter crash.”

Those words made me instantly cold. I remember my knees going weak, and the only reason I didn’t end up on the floor was because my own husband was telling me the news, so he was obviously okay. But someone else wasn’t.

“Who?”

“Walt Hogan died, and Mark Eoff is in critical condition.” 
Mark “Clutch” Eoff, USN, Retired, crash survivor
Mark! I didn’t know Walt too well, but Mark and his wife, Tricia, lived just down the street from me and my husband. They were good friends—good people. And now Mark was in critical condition. I’ve never been an easy crier, but I cried then.

Over the next few days, I tried to see Tricia—to tell her how much I was thinking of her—but she was understandably spending a lot of time at the hospital. I finally managed to visit her on one of her breaks home. We talked, cried, reminisced, hugged…and here is the awesome side of being a military wife: the sisterhood of support and commiseration we always create for each other. During the days of her husband’s miraculous recovery, Tricia never lacked for love and help. I think her fridge was always full with all of the meals we were constantly bringing her!

And, yes, Mark did survive! Walt Hogan’s death was a cruel loss to the world, and Mark’s would have been, too. He’s a 6’3” teddy bear of a fellow, good-natured, with a dry wit, and I’ve never heard an unkind word come out of his mouth. He is just the sort of generous soul who would openly share the memories of his crash with me—undoubtedly the worst experience of his life—so that I could make one of the more heart-wrenching scenes in my military romantic suspense, Allied Operations, as real as possible. Mark’s actual story, told in his own words, is included in the epilogue of the book.

Like Mark’s story, Allied Operations has a happy ending, with the hero and heroine both working through their emotional pasts to find a way to connect with each other…but after first surviving a horrific helicopter crash together! The story gives readers an unique, behind-the-scenes look at the triumphs and tragedies of the military life, and I’m hoping that it’s an especially immersive experience. I, like most readers, love to lose myself in a great story.

In honor of the men and women who serve our country, let’s go patriotic with today’s recipe!

American Flag Cake
(It’s less complicated than it looks!)

Chef Notes: This is a simple white cake with a patriotic surprise inside. First thing's first, you need five 9-inch cakes: two white, two red, and one blue. You can use the recipe here, or any favorite white cake recipe that you have. After making a large amount of cake, the rest is pie (or at least easy as pie).

Please note that the recipe makes one 9-inch cake, so to make the flag cake you'll need to make it 5 times. A standard KitchenAid mixer comfortably handles 1 batch of batter.
(Original source: Food52)

For the cake:
8 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt to combine. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Follow with 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients are added, scrape well to ensure the batter is smooth.

For the white cakes: do nothing! The batter can be baked as is. For the red cakes: add about 25 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale). For the blue cake: add about 20 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble the cake, you'll need the frosting (recipe below). Cut the white and red cakes into even layers, between 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Now you should have 6 layers. Use a 5-inch circle cookie cutter (or trace around a 5-inch plate) to cut one of the white layers and one of the red layers into a smaller circle.

Use the 5-inch cutter to remove the center of the thicker blue cake. This cake will remain in one thick layer.
To build the cake, start with a large red layer and spread a thin coating of buttercream on top. Top with a white layer, and spread buttercream thinly on top. (The recipe is below.) Repeat with another red and another white layer -- four layers total.

Top this white layer with the thick blue layer (center removed). Spread a thin amount of frosting on the 5-inch red layer, and top it with the 5-inch white layer. Now push and pat the 5-inch layers inside the hole of the blue layer. Now the cake has been assembled!
Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, using a small offset spatula to make it swirly. All that’s left to do is eat it!

For the frosting:
4 sticks softened unsalted butter
8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cream gradually, mixing until a smooth, creamy texture.

Allied Operations
Book 2 in the Wings of Gold series

Compelled to join an operation by an admiral with a personal agenda, Lieutenant Kyle “Mikey” Hammond finds himself thrust into the harsh desert terrain of northern Pakistan. Four American engineers have been kidnapped, and Kyle is tasked to work with Samantha, a civilian authority on Pakistan, whose expertise in terrorist negotiations is the hostages’ only hope. However, this is just one part of Kyle’s assignment. He’s also operating off a set of top-secret orders that could ruin his military career.

From the outset, Samantha’s negotiations with the terrorists walk the sharp edge between life and death. But she is an expert at such shrewd tactics…tactics that soon begin to mirror her personal dealings with the enigmatic Navy lieutenant. Determined to unearth the true Kyle, Samantha engages in a cat-and-mouse game with him that ends up peeling away some of her own carefully concealed layers. Once both their masks are lowered, love blossoms between them. But when the daring hostage rescue finally gets underway, a horrifying accident nearly shatters everything they’ve worked to attain. Their survival will hinge on the strength of their love…and if the man she’s certain can save the day will become the hero he’s convinced he’s not.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

#CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--COUNTED CROSS STITCH COFFEE GRINDER


If you're like me, and can't function without that first cup of coffee in the morning, you're probably grateful that you don't first have to hand crank your beans. Still, you might want to harken back to the olden days with this cross stitch design, perfect for a refrigerator magnet. and as a reminder of how appreciative we are for our modern conveniences.

Design measures 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" when stitched on 14-ct. fabric or 1" x 1" when stitched on 18-ct. fabric.


Cross stitch with two strands of floss. Backstitch with one strand black.

Friday, August 26, 2016

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHORS MIN EDWARDS AND L.W. ELLIS

Today we’re joined by co-authors Min Edwards and L.W. Ellis. Min Edwards is the pen name of Pam Headrick, archaeologist and owner of A Thirsty Mind Book Design. Pam is also the author of romance and romantic suspense novels. In her archaeological career, she specialized in North American paleoindian archaeology, historic archaeology, and archaeological illustration, producing more than 1000 images for published site reports and books from the Southwest, Latin and South America. Learn more about her and her books at her website and her Min Edwards blog and Nurture the Mind blog.

L.W. (Linda) Ellis is a writer down to her soul. Whether it's writing up the results of an archeological investigation or letting her creative juices flow freely, she enjoys telling a good story. Of course, after having spent 25 years as an archeologist working for two different Universities and various Cultural Resource Management firms, she has lots of adventures to draw on. You can find out more about her at the Nurture the Mind blog.

Co-Authoring a Series—The Beginning

Hi! I’m Min Edwards and thanks, Lois, for hosting my co-author, L.W. (Linda) Ellis and me on your blog today. We’re new to writing collaborations, but because we’re both professional archaeologists as well as writers, we think that our diverse interests and fields of expertise will be perfect for co-authoring our new archaeological adventure series: TARE: Talon Archaeological Research and Exploration.

The first book in the series will be The Ruby Eye, and the setting of the story is an island on the shores of Lingayen Gulf in northern Luzon, the Philippines. I lived in a small city north of Manilla for several years, and the country isn’t often chosen as a setting for novels ,which is such a shame as it’s beautiful and the people are warm and helpful. So we hope this book will spur on some interest in learning more about the islands.

The process of co-authoring this series at the outset has probably been more confusing than it should be, but we’re still trying to mesh our voices and our styles. To illustrate this we asked ourselves a few questions, which we’ve answered individually.

Why did we decide to Co-Author a book?
Linda: Min and I have known each other for many years and we worked together as archeologists albeit with slightly different yet complimentary skill sets. When we both hung up our trowels, so to speak, and started writing several years ago we became critique partners. Because we both like the same genres, we often find ourselves discussing books we’ve read and what we liked, didn’t like, or what would have made them better. We have a rapport that makes our interactions easy and productive. Because I also do developmental editing, Min initially sent me the first draft of The Ruby Eye to review. It’s a great story and I think our different strengths as archeologists will make it an even better one.
Min: Linda has a better eye for description than I do. If left to my own devices my novels would be 70,000+ words of just dialogue. She’s saved me from that while serving as my critique partner for all five of my previous novels. When I wrote the first draft of The Ruby Eye, I realized that what the story needed was Linda’s input, her research skills, her knowledge of current archaeological techniques, her wonderful use of language. We’re only a few chapters into our final polished draft right now, but I know without a doubt that my decision to co-author with Linda on this project was the right one.

What method are we using to co-author our books?
Linda: Since Min had already completed the first draft, I’ve been recasting the story from a romantic suspense to an archeological adventure story. I revise then send the chapters back to Min for her to review and/or add details. This way we play to each other’s strengths.

Min: Probably the wrong method, but this is our first joint venture. We are working very carefully on the process for our next book in the series. I think sending Linda an already completed first draft was overlaying the process of co-authoring with needless confusion. For the next book, we’ll first be laboring over a very detailed book ‘bible’ before we ever begin writing. That way we’ll both know all the characters intimately, the settings, the plot line. I think this will ease our confusion tremendously.

What do we each like about the co-authoring process?
Linda: It’s a challenge, but I think our books will be better for the collaboration because we both have unique perspectives that when combined, will enhance each story.

Min: I agree with Linda. But for myself, writing with Linda on this first effort has been very rewarding. I love the back and forth conversations over plot and characterizations we have almost every weekend. I’m grateful that the phone company no longer charges long-distance fees because Linda and I now live more than 2,500 miles apart!

What’s coming next in our series: TARE: Talon Archaeological Research and Exploration?
Linda: We’ll be publishing a novella, Talon: Unmasked, that will set the stage for later TARE adventures. But, that’s the beauty of archeology... there are so many fascinating topics to choose from so we’ll see which one leaps to the forefront.

Min: Right now we’re finishing up the ‘bible’ for that novella. It will tell the story of Marc Talon, the billionaire CEO of Talon Global, formed by his ancestor in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. It is a prequel to The Ruby Eye, and will act as the introduction of the major characters and relationships you’ll see as the series progresses.

Are we each working on our own novels as well as co-authoring?
Linda: Yes, I’ve written a two book series that is currently being reviewed by a publisher. The first book in the series is historical fiction, of course, and the second book takes place 150 years later when their descendants’ meet. I’m also working on a Contemporary Romantic Suspense that’s been languishing a bit since I started working on The Ruby Eye.
Min: Yes for me, too. I’m finishing up Precious Stone, Book 4 in my High Tide Suspense series. It’s in final rewrites after spending some time with Linda while she looked for holes in the plot line. So far, in the last few years I’ve indie-published five novels. While Linda looked over Book 4, I’ve been finishing the ‘bible’ and doing research on an historical novella (or maybe a complete novel, only time will tell) which begins in Russia during the Romanov Jubilee year of 1913. It’s the prequel to Precious Stone, so I guess it will be book 4.5 in the series.

The entire process of co-authoring has been eye-opening to say the least. We’ve had to compromise a lot. We’ve had to agree on the personalities of each character in the book and carry those throughout. We’ve realized that a crucial step in co-authoring is that ‘book bible.’ Without it, we’d be lost, and it’s the first thing we’ll do from now on before tackling another story in this series. We’re also contacting specialists in the field of marine archaeology to vet our final manuscript so we don’t stumble over details. And we’ve warned our editor that a collaboration is coming. I hope she’s prepared!

All in all, I think the most important accomplishment in our collaboration is that we’ve remained friends throughout.

Our co-authored novel, The Ruby Eye isn’t published yet, but we wanted to include our cover from artist Brian Wootan and a short blurb.

The Ruby Eye
A woman robbed of her life’s work: A man searching for his family’s legacy.

Bryn Carmichael is finally right where she wants to be. At the top of her archaeological career and with her dream project in the palm of her hands... until one aggravating Englishman throws his hat and his money in the ring.

Thomas Bedford Chambers, Lord Sutton, aka Ford Sutton, itinerant diver and all around good fellow walks into Bryn’s dive camp setting her bullshit meter on high alert and shooting her dreams down in flames. Can he win control of the project without completely alienating her? Can his family’s legacy finally come home?

Stone Cold
Cold Tide Suspense, Book 1

Diana Jennings is hiding in the tiny village of Stone Bay, Maine. A year ago she was Robin O’Shea, supermodel, wife, soon to be mother. But it all went bad one afternoon in her apartment in New York City. Her husband, in a rage, tried to kill her and succeeded in killing her unborn child. Now she’s recovering from the trauma, but has learned that what her husband did to her and her baby just wasn’t enough for him. He’s behind bars but has persuaded his uncle, the biggest mob boss on the east coast, to hunt her down and kill her. Helped by her lawyer and a New York cop, she’s taken on a new identity and gone to a place no one would expect to find her... the edge of America. The last point before Ireland. She hopes it’s far enough.

Sam Gardiner is a structural engineer working all over the world, building geothermal facilities in out-of-the-way places, constructing bridges, cleaning up after storms. FEMA has him on speed-dial. But he made a mistake. He killed a man who was abusing a woman... the headman’s son... in a village in the mountains of Afghanistan. The men in the village wanted their revenge, but he was saved at the last minute by American forces and a wad of cash. Now he’s back in Stone Bay vowing to never leave again when he runs into, literally, a woman on the run, Diana Jennings. She’s been hurt, he can see it in her eyes, and he has to make her whole again. But Diana’s not really on board with that.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

#RETRO-FASHION WITH GUEST AUTHOR CATHERINE CHANT

Award-winning author Catherine Chant writes rock ‘n’ roll romantic fiction and stories with paranormal twists for young adults. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

One of the fun things about writing a time travel romance novel set in 1973 is researching the clothing. Most of the outfits used in Nothing Stays the Same are things I remembered from my childhood, since I grew up in the ‘70s, but I also did some online research to find some questionable outfits that represented the times, and then dressed my characters in them.

I created a Pinterest board as I went. (If you can't see the Pinterest board—you may need a Pinterest account--I have placed links to some of the images in the article below).

Bell Bottoms
A definite fashion staple of the ‘70s. This style of jeans started in the 19th century with sailors, but became popular for everyday wear in the 1960s. Kids were still wearing them in 1979 when I was in high school. They're probably something that will never go completely out of fashion, though they may never be as wide as what David Bowie was wearing in this photo from 1973. 

My main character, Leah, in Nothing Stays the Same is a jeans and sneakers type of gal, so she of course went for the blue jeans whenever possible, and didn’t mind the wide leg.

Gauchos and Culottes
One fashion piece from the early '70s that features in my book has made a recent comeback. Gauchos! You can buy them new at places like Macy's.

Anyone else ever wear these? Or culottes or skorts? They were all very big in the early-to-mid ‘70s, and my school wardrobe had quite a few. I remember the gauchos less fondly than the culottes, though. Culottes looked a lot like a skirt (as seen here), which wasn't bad, but gauchos always felt like high-water pants to me.

I cringe now just thinking about them. Not attractive at all, so of course I decided to torture one of my characters and make her wear them. Leah's older sister, Callie, the heroine from Wishing You Were Here, gets stuck in gauchos in her first scene back in time--hideously bright orange ones, just like I had to wear to school. {evil grin}

Earth and Other Shoes
Earth shoes are classic icons of the '70s, so of course they make an appearance in the book. Anyone remember them? Introduced in 1970, they were quite popular when I was in school, but I never wanted a pair. Ever. They were plug-ugly, if you ask me, but unisex, so both men and women could wear them.

In the book, Leah shares my opinion on the Earth shoes, but sadly she's forced to wear them most of the time. Supposedly the heel design made them good for your back, but that still wasn't enough to make me want them.

No, my coveted footwear in the early '70s was a pair of white go-go boots. My best friend had a pair and I wanted them so badly, but my mother got me black ones instead. Sigh. I still wore them, but I really wanted the white. In one scene in the book, Leah gets to live my dream and wear a pair of white go-go boots to a party.

I also mention the classic white Keds sneakers in the book. Every girl I knew growing up had at least one pair and we’d use white shoe polish to keep them pristine if the washing machine didn’t. Callie chooses to wear Keds whenever she can. After the gauchos incident, she tries to go for a simple, understated look whenever possible.

Men's Fashions
Although I admit I tortured my characters with vintage fashion, I could have done a lot worse. :-) I tried to stay away from the truly embarrassing styles that men endured in the ‘70s, such as the plethora of ugly knit vests and ponchos that were around, but the male characters in Nothing Stays the Same couldn't escape the classic corduroy trousers, the loud polyester shirts or the blue and white striped "Winner" sneakers from Sears. I had a pair of those puppies myself and wore them until they fell apart. They were unisex, like Earth Shoes. The ‘70s seemed big on equal opportunities for groovy footwear.

Men's swimsuits were particularly "interesting" in the '70s, as well. I stayed away from hand-knit briefs in the book, but they did exist and did not look comfortable at all! Instead, I opted for the tight, shorty-short style you see here for one scene where the characters attend a beach party.

So What's Your Pleasure?
If you found yourself stuck back in 1973, what do you think you would wear? What would you avoid? Are there any vintage '70s fashions you wish would make a come back?

I think I still have a yearning for those white go-go boots, but the gauchos at Macy's are starting to grow on me. I might have to go take another look. :-)

Nothing Stays the Same, the Soul Mates series
One Choice Changes Everything…

Soccer star Leah Reinard has been crushing on Brennan Basford for ages. When they end up at the same summer job, she thinks the fates have finally aligned in her favor. That is, until Brennan suddenly disappears. One day he’s there, the next day, he’s gone. And no one but Leah remembers he ever existed.

Brennan’s wish to change the course of his dead father’s life has dropped him back in 1973, on the set of his father’s successful teen sitcom, and into the midst of its disintegrating made-for-TV band, The Beat Detectors.

Brennan’s determined to redirect the course of his father’s young life and create the happy ending the man deserved, but even the smallest change to the past is wreaking havoc with the present.

Can Leah find Brennan in time to stop him from ruining both their futures?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS--GUEST AUTHOR JUDY PENZ SHELUK

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic is her latest release and the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series. Learn more about Judy and her books at her website/blog. 

Fore the Love of Golf

This blog series is titled Favorites, Failures & Frustrations, and to be honest, golf can fall into any one of those categories. Just ask Jordan Spieth about his experience at the 2016 Masters Tournament. But for this post, I’m going to concentrate on why golf is one of my favorite ways to spend time.

Now before you get the wrong idea, I’m by no means a great golfer. I seldom play 18 (lack of free time being the main factor). My typical 9-hole score runs anywhere from low 50s to high 50s, with the occasional peek into the high 40s and low 60s. In other words, the only thing consistent about my game is that I’m inconsistent.

None of that matters. Here’s why:

You can wear clothes you’d never otherwise wear. I actually have a black golf skirt with a pink paisley design that I team up with a pink top and matching visor. I have another blue and white paisley skirt. I can’t begin to imagine wearing paisley anywhere else. Or plaid shorts!

You can walk on lush green grass, surrounded by mini-beaches (also known as sand traps and ponds), and even get a bit of arm exercise while you’re at it.

If you belong to a league (I actually belong to two 9-hole ladies leagues), you can meet other golfers from all walks of life. I once golfed with a woman who was getting married for the second time at the age of 87! Naturally, the ceremony was at the golf course.

It’s a great way to network. When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m an author of mystery novels. Yes, I get people who say they don’t read, or they don’t read mysteries, or they have an idea for a book/always wanted to write a book. But golf has also opened up several book club opportunities for me, and quite a few paperback sales.

Golf keeps life in perspective. To quote Bobby Jones, the founder of Augusta National and co-founder of The Masters: “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots—but you have to play the ball where it lies.”

Skeletons in the Attic,
Book One in the Marketville Mysteries

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she dfidn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--GUEST AUTHOR C. HOPE CLARK

Blue Crabs
C. Hope Clark has written six novels in two series, with her latest being Echoes of Edisto, the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries. Mystery continues to excite her as both reader and writer, and she hopes to continue as both for years to come. Hope is also founder of FundsforWriters, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers. Learn more about Hope and her books at her website.             

Crab, Shrimp, and a New Edisto Beach Mystery

My mind lives at a particular beach, and my body goes there several times a year – Edisto Beach, at the tip of Edisto Island, an hour south of Charleston, South Carolina. Having grown up within a half hour of the beach, it’s in my blood. When I lay eyes on a massive, five-hundred-year-old oak in all its dangling Spanish moss swaying in humidity-laden breezes. . . when I cross a bridge from the mainland to the island and take in the aroma of pluff mud . . . when white egrets and great blue herons coast on warm sea air with nary an effort . . . then I am where my soul needs to be.
Edisto Beach
Edisto Beach is like no other Carolina beach. It’s secluded, almost jungle-like, lacking the neon, franchises, and motels of other beaches that prefer the more commercial flavor. It’s where people cross the McKinley Washington Bridge over the Dawhoo River and leave their worries on the mainland behind them. All of which made for the perfect setting to take my broken character, an ex-big-city detective, freshly widowed with no desire to return to law enforcement. And of course I make crime follow her, or have her the only person able to see it, because, after all, crime doesn’t happen on Edisto. No, ma’am. No, sir.

Echoes of Edisto is book three in a series that coastal South Carolina has come to love, and I almost let Callie Jean Morgan settle in this time and decide she’s found her calling . . . but of course I have to rock those doubts. But that story’s for another time.

When Callie isn’t dealing with the unusual threats that come with island living, she is like everyone else, enjoying the seafood so easily available. And with the easy availability of seafood comes unique and handed-down ways to fix it.

But some folks aren’t into the richer sauces, the fried, or the casserole compilations. Instead they prefer the simple, which is Callie’s preference. Crab and shrimp, mainly, and here are two ways that locals eat these favorites. I’d say they eat these quick-fix dishes because of time constraints, but that’s rarely the issue. Instead, the simplest way to eat seafood is the healthiest and the best tasting, and require nothing special. Plus, you can close your eyes when you taste these recipes, and feel like your feet are in the sand.

Citrus Shrimp

(Measurements below are per person in your party)
1 pound of raw shrimp
2 Tbsp butter
Garlic to taste (don’t feel you have to go lightly here)
Salt to taste (but don’t overdo the salt)
Pepper to taste (optional)
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced

Turn on your oven broiler. Put shrimp on a sheet pan and dot with butter. Sprinkle seasonings. Cover shrimp with orange and lemon slices. Broil until shrimp are pink, stirring often.

Now, let’s go to the crab. You can substitute the type of crab used, but blue crabs are common on the Carolina coast. They are pretty but they aren’t big, so feel free to eat several. As with all seafood, great with beer!

Steamed Blue Crab

Can of beer
Same amount of water
Same amount of vinegar (apple cider preferred)
Old Bay seasoning to taste
One to two dozen blue crabs (live, please. Just look the other way when you put them in the pot.)

Put three liquids into a stock pot. Place rack into the pot. Put one layer of crab, layer of seasoning, and repeat. Steam 15 minutes or until the crabs turn deep red.

NOTE: Don’t have Old Bay Seafood Seasoning? Use the following ground spices in amounts that you prefer: bay leaf, dry mustard, pepper, ginger, paprika, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, and some crushed red pepper flakes.

Echoes of Edisto
Murder came in with the tide . . .

Edisto Island is a paradise where people escape from the mainstream world. Yet for newly sworn-in Edisto Police Chief Callie Jean Morgan, the trouble has just begun . . .

When a rookie officer drowns in a freak crash in the marsh, Callie's instincts tell her it wasn't an accident. As suspects and clues mount, Callie's outlandish mother complicates the investigation, and Callie's longtime friendship with Officer Mike Seabrook takes a turn toward something new—but is shadowed by the unsolved mystery of his wife's death. Everyone's past rises to the surface, entangling with death that cuts to the bone.

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