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Malicious: A Morris Brick Thriller #3 by Jacob Stone

To Morris Brick: I’m just beginning—R. G. Berg, Serial Killer Extraordinaire.

That’s the taunting note left pinned to the grisly remains of a well-known Hollywood actress. In MALICIOUS, the third thriller in the series, former LAPD detective and famed serial killer hunter, Morris Brick, is drawn into chasing the SPM killer (you’ll have to read the book to find out what SPM stands for—but trust me, the killer is not at all happy about this name. In fact, he’s deeply insulted by it!)

Morris and the rest of his team will learn that the SPM killer has constructed an elaborate Rube Goldberg death machine, and that this victim is only the first domino in the machine to fall. If the rest of the dominos are allowed to fall hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles will die.

Since the concept of the Rube Goldberg machine inspired  me to write MALIOUS, let me provide a little background about it. Reuben (Rube) Goldberg (1883-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist known for his zany contraption machines; such as an ingenious automatic mouth-wiper for soup eaters. In this cartoon, the action of a man lifting a soup spoon to his mouth causes a cracker to be thrown into the air, which then causes a parrot to jump off its pedestal to snatch this airborne cracker, which causes a further sequence of events, all leading to a napkin swinging down and wiping the man’s mouth. Anyone who has ever played the old game Mouse Trap or has watched a Wallace & Gromit cartoon has seen a Rube Goldberg Machine in action! You can find videos of more of these machines on YouTube. Here’s one that would’ve made Rube Goldberg proud! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBOqfLVCDv8

One of the things I enjoy about writing Morris Brick thrillers is that while there’s a certain familiarity with each of them—they all have tough-as-nails Morris Brick and the same supporting cast, including his clownish, loveable, and loyal bull terrier, Parker, his smart and supportive wife, Natalie, his beautiful and steely-eyed daughter, Rachel, and the odd assortment of employees at Morris Brick Investigations (MBI)—they’re still very different from each other. In the first in the series, DERANGED, the book upends the reader’s expectation halfway through, completely altering what the reader thought was true. In the second, CRAZED, an interloper crashes the party and changes everything for both the killer and Morris. In writing MALICIOUS, I needed to construct a plot that was every bit as intricate as the Rube Goldberg death machine the SPM killer has so carefully built. In the fourth book, CRUEL (Sept. 2018), Morris must solve a 34 year-old mystery, followed by a 17 year-old mystery, and only then can he can track down the killer. And the fifth, UNLEASHED (March 2019), is a twisted psychological thriller. In all these books the killers have very different motivations, and Morris and his team face unique challenges in each of them. Continue reading “Malicious: A Morris Brick Thriller #3 by Jacob Stone”

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Passing on a legacy of green-thumbs by Kate Dyer-Seeley

When I was growing up my grandparents owned a half an acre in the city where my grandfather spent nearly every waking hour cultivating his urban farm. This was long before the slow food movement or farm-to-table dinners that have become so popular in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the country. I remember spending many summer afternoons running through rows and rows of corn and stopping to pick cherry tomatoes straight from the vine. Strawberry season came in June which meant hand-churned strawberry ice cream and the sweetest, juiciest berries that would stain my lips pink.

My grandfather always smelled like the earth. He encouraged me (along with my siblings and cousins) to dig in the dirt and get my hands muddy. Family gatherings at my grandparents’ house involved everyone pitching in to yield the latest crop. From cucumbers the size of my head to deep red raspberries everything that he touched grew in abundance. As a kid, I was convinced that my grandfather had a special gift—a true green thumb.

Continue reading “Passing on a legacy of green-thumbs by Kate Dyer-Seeley”

Author Post by Amy Lillard

Why set an Amish book in Mississippi? The answer really isn’t because I can. (Well, it could be, but this would be a very short post! lol) The real reason is the differences in communities, and I’m not just talking about the weather variation between Pennsylvania and Mississippi.

To a lot of people, Amish is Amish is Amish. Most everyone who doesn’t live close to an Amish community thinks that all the Amish are the same. The beauty is that they are not. And these differences allow for a variety of stories to be told.

My new Amish romance series is set in the community of Randolph just outside of Pontotoc, Mississippi. It’s the only community in what is considered the Deep South and is a little over an hour from where I was born and raised. There are two other Amish settlements in Tennessee and of course the Beachy Amish in Sarasota. (No, their name has nothing to do with the actual beach. It’s just a fun coincidence.)

Though both the Amish in Lancaster County and in Mississippi are considered to be Old Order, the Mississippi Amish are much more conservative. They are called Swartzentruber Amish.

The dress is plain, but not boring. In Pennsylvania, the women wear a solid colored dress with a full black apron over the top for every day. In Mississippi, we saw purple dresses with green aprons, burgundy dresses with navy blue aprons, and a variety of other mixed colors that I have never seen before in an Amish community. Continue reading “Author Post by Amy Lillard”

Tina’s Hummus by Tina Kashian

I love food. I enjoy all types of cuisine—especially ethnic. You can say it’s in my blood. My Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years and my mother was a talented cook. I grew up rolling silverware as a child, then working as a waitress and hostess as a teenager. My tips helped pay for my prom gown. Our kitchen at home was filled with the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab. As I grew older, I discovered and enjoyed other cuisine—Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and, of course, a great burger!

When I thought of where to set Hummus and Homicide, the first book in my Kebab Kitchen Mystery series, I knew it had to be at a family restaurant. The dynamics of the workers—temperamental chefs, busy busboys, and gossipy waitstaff can be quite entertaining. One of our head cooks married the head waitress. Food and romance—what could be better?

My Kebab Kitchen Mystery series also takes place at the Jersey shore. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents vacationed at there. We now have two young girls, and we still take them to the Jersey shore every summer. As I wrote the books, I pictured my fictitious small town of Ocean Crest at the Jersey shore. The name is a combination of Ocean City and Wildwood Crest—two of my favorite New Jersey shore towns. As I wrote the scenes, I heard the seagulls squawking and pictured them circling above the beach. I felt the lapping of the ocean waves and the sand between my toes, and imagined the brilliant Ferris wheel on the boardwalk pier. I pictured myself in Ocean Crest—minus the murders, of course!

I also had great fun coming up with titles for the series with my editor: Hummus and Homicide (February 2018), Stabbed in the Baklava (August 2018), and One Feta in the Grave (February 2019). All the titles reflect the light and funny feel of the cozy mysteries.

Here’s the cover of Hummus and Homicide. I just love it and it shows the grapevine, the hummus and shish kebab on the table, the skull and crossbones on the check, and even the family calico cat.

I also enjoy cooking, and I want to share my own award-winning recipe for hummus. I make it weekly at home for the kids and the husband. It can be served as a dip with wedges of pita bread or vegetables, and goes well with broiled or grilled meat. It can also be used as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches. Continue reading “Tina’s Hummus by Tina Kashian”

Ruthless by Lisa Jackson

For as long as I can remember, my family owned property around Molalla, Oregon part of my mother’s family homestead.

As children we cousins played for hours in the woods of old growth timber and deer trails on the forested hillside of my grandparents’ farm.  It was a magical place, made all the more so by my grandfather’s tales of growing up in the late 1800’s.  He was rumored to be the only living person who knew where the grave of Chief Henry, the last chief of a local Native American tribe, was located.

Grandpa had been questioned for most of his life about the grave site not just for local interest but because grave robbers believed there was great wealth buried with the chief.  Grandpa scoffed at the speculation and kept the secret, taking it to his grave, but as a child, running through the forest, I wondered where the chief was buried.  On the property was a small overgrown family cemetery, but I didn’t think the chief would find his final resting place with the original homesteaders.  Nor did I think he would be buried near the stately but crumbling old house the settlers had built a hundred years earlier.  However, I was convinced if my cousins and I dug up the pile of moss-covered stones at the base of one of the trails, we would uncover a moldering skeleton dressed in rotting deerskin and hiding immeasurable treasures.

We cousins wondered about the stones placed in the elongated shape of a coffin, but we didn’t dig them up.  To my knowledge one ever found the grave. Continue reading “Ruthless by Lisa Jackson”

Scone Making by J.C. Eaton

We’re not even sure if this remotely passes for a hobby, but the one thing we do together other than write cozy mysteries is search for the perfect scone recipe and try it out. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, take it from us, it’s not. It’s the kind of activity that can try the patience of even the most level-headed, easy going person.

It usually begins with Jim scouring through old cookbooks to find scone recipes that were popular back when George Washington crossed the Delaware. Inevitably, he discovers something but the measurements are so “off” that it would take a team of mathematicians to figure it out. And if that’s not bad enough, there’s the ingredient dilemma to deal with. Good luck finding hemp or turbinado sugar. Or better yet, freshly churned butter.

Still, we manage to persevere. Barely. The process involves removing our cats from the kitchen but we rarely succeed. Combining the ingredients is the easy part but getting the dough to the right consistency is really an art. No too moist, not too dry. Not too heavy. Not too light. So, we just get frustrated and leave it as is.

We’ve tried all sorts of “add-ons” including chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, cranberries and dried apricots. Some recipes call for olives but we shudder.

Well, I’ve had my say. Now Jim will take you through one of his recipes. I hope it’s not the one with the raw sugar. Good luck!  Ann Continue reading “Scone Making by J.C. Eaton”

Cover Reveal!

“Won’t you come to bed, my lord?”

In a vulnerable moment, Alethea Forsythe allows herself to be seduced by a married peer. Now she is with child—and without recourse. Her reputation will soon be in tatters and she will be forced to wed a stranger—unless she takes matters into her own hands.

When Jack Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Manning, is summoned from the House of Pleasure on a matter of importance, he hardly expects to receive a marriage proposal. He’s long been aware of Alethea’s infatuation with him, but at twenty-three, taking on an expectant bride is not in his plans. Yet the desperation in the lady’s lovely eyes overrides his misgivings.

Alethea would not have believed it possible for a man to be too chivalrous. But though her new husband is perfectly amicable in public, he insists they maintain separate quarters. Desperate to possess his heart and prove herself a wife in every way, she boldly reaches out to Jack. And as their unexpected connection between silken sheets is tested by jealousy and misfortune, Jack must decide where honor ends…and true passion begins . . .

 

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An Around The World Dining Experience by Alli Sinclair

Food is often the centerpiece of significant moments in life—first dates, weddings, religious celebrations, reunions … the list is endless. And as someone who loves to try new dishes from around the world, it’s only natural that food plays a role in my stories. In each of my books, the heroine is visiting a new-to-her country for the first time and as part of the cultural experience (and being wooed by a very handsome foreign man!), my heroine gets to try local dishes.

As nice as it would be to travel around the world and taste an array of dishes, sometimes taking a journey in your kitchen can be just as much fun. If you’re planning a romantic dinner for your loved one, you might like to take them on an “Around the World Dining Experience”, complete with a Food Passport that you can stamp when each course is served. Who knows, this might become a new tradition!

Below are some of my favorite recipes that relate to the books in my Wandering Skies series. Hopefully this will get you inspired!

 

 

Gazpacho (Spain – Under the Spanish Stars)

Gazpacho is one of Spain’s most famous recipes and it originated in Andalucia. This soup is delicious when served with crusty bread just out of the oven, as well as a side of olives, cheese, artichokes, and avocado. It’s one of those recipes where you can add your own flair and make it totally yours.

You will need:

Olive oil
2 lbs of tomatoes
4 slices of stale bread
1 green pepper (or capsicum, depending on your nationality)
1 red pepper (as above)
1 yellow pepper (as above)
2+ garlic cloves (depending on how much you love garlic!)
1 tsp superfine sugar Continue reading “An Around The World Dining Experience by Alli Sinclair”

Making traditions – Mom’s Bunny Cake by Lynn Cahoon

WHO MOVED MY GOAT CHEESE which releases March 6th is the first of the FARM-TO -FORK mysteries set in River Vista, Idaho. Now, before you go and google the town, I’ll tell you right now, it’s a mishmash of a lot of different places around the area where I grew up.

The memories are all there, but the roads Angie drives to get to River Vista to her new restaurant, The County Seat, may be called something else.

As she drives, she goes right past the little farm house where I was born. My mom was the glue that held everything, and everyone together. She lost the love of her life a year after I was born. And she went from farm wife, to widow at thirty-five.

She eventually remarried and we moved to a farm house just a few miles away from the place I was born. And she became a farm wife again.

we had at the big wooden table that was often too small to hold all of the relatives who came for Sunday dinner.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn (we’d frozen that summer), and always dessert.

One year, my mom found this recipe in one of her magazines. It was on Mom’s Easter table ever since. And now, that she’s gone, my sisters have taken up the baking of Mom’s Bunny Cake.

I got my love of food from my mother. In the FARM TO FORK books, Angie finds that same love of food passed down from her Nona. Angie’s recipes at the County Seat are definitely fancier than my own creations or to be honest, my mom’s. But we have one thing in common. We share a love for the food.

This recipe is none of that. You can make the cake from a recipe, it’s up to you. Boxed mix works just find. It’s a fun memory that I wanted to share with you.

Mom’s Bunny Cake.

1 box of yellow cake mix. (I like chocolate, but then you have to use chocolate frosting.)

Prepare to the package directions and bake in round pans.

Once it’s done and cooled out of the pan, put it on an aluminum foil covered piece of cardboard. This is your design pad. (Yes, we’re going fancy here.)

One of the rounds will be his face. Place that near the bottom third of your design pad. Take the other round and cut a bow out of the middle by cutting ears off the top and bottom using a half circle. Place the bow and the ears on your design pad.

Now comes the fun part. We’re going to cover it with white frosting from a can. Make sure you cover all the joints and edges so the cake doesn’t show.

Once the bunny has frosting, sprinkle coconut for bunny fur. You can take about ½ cup of coconut and dye it pink with food coloring.

Cut black licorice for the eyelashes, mouth, and whiskers. You’ll need jelly beans for the eyes, nose, and bow.

Lynn

 

Angie Turner hopes her new farm-to-table restaurant can be a fresh start in her old hometown in rural Idaho. But when a goat dairy farmer is murdered, Angie must turn the tables on a bleating black sheep . . .

With three weeks until opening night for their restaurant, the County Seat, Angie and her best friend and business partner Felicia are scrambling to line up local vendors—from the farmer’s market to the goat dairy farm of Old Man Moss. Fortunately, the cantankerous Moss takes a shine to Angie, as does his kid goat Precious. So when Angie hears the bloodcurdling news of foul play at the dairy farm, she jumps in to mind the man’s livestock and help solve the murder. One thing’s for sure, there’s no whey Angie’s going to let some killer get her goat . . .

Praise for Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap Mysteries

“Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” —Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

“Lynn Cahoon has created an absorbing, good fun mystery in Mission to Murder.” —Fresh Fiction

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