Monday, December 22, 2014

Guest Post and Recipe - Helen Smith

I am so delighted to have the Charming Helen Smith with us today! There is also a yummy recipe that you can make for the Holidays!

Welcome Helen, so glad you can be here with us today! It was a pleasure meeting you at Malice and I love reading your books.
Helen Smith

Thanks for inviting me here to talk about my books, Shelley. It was great to meet you at Malice Domestic earlier this year. I know that I’m fortunate making my living writing books. It’s like being paid to daydream, and then, on top of that, I get the opportunity to travel to crime writing conventions like Bouchercon and Malice.
I have a lot of fun writing my Emily Castles mystery series. It’s a traditional mystery series featuring a twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth. The books are set in the present day, but they have an old-fashioned sensibility that will appeal to readers who enjoy books by Dorothy L Sayers or Agatha Christie. There is some slightly surreal humor in it, too, that will appeal to fans of Alexander McCall Smith or M. C. Beaton.
In Real Elves, my Christmas story, Emily and Dr. Muriel have to solve a puzzle involving a lost child in a department store. This is the first time I have written a holiday-themed story. I have had such a great response from readers that I’m planning another Christmas story for next year, too. But I’m not going to worry about that until after the holidays.
It’s only a few days before Christmas. How are you doing? Are all your preparations complete? Pretty much all that’s left for me to do is bake a cheesecake. It’s popular at family parties and it’s an easy recipe, taken from a book called Cheesecakes by Maggie Black, so I thought I would share it with you.
In England, we would call the base for this cheesecake a biscuit base. I buy the hard-baked, shop-bought plain kind like Rich Tea or Plain Digestive and smash them up in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, or put them in the food processor until they turn into crumbs. American friends tell me they would usually use Graham Crackers, so I have listed those in the ingredients. But if you can get hold of Rich Tea or Digestive biscuits, please give them a try.
We don’t use cup measurements for baking, we use ounces (oz) and fluid ounces (fl oz) so I have left those measurements in but converted them to cups.
Maryland Party Cheesecake (serves 10-12)
1/3 cup (3 ½ oz) butter (a stick of butter)
1/3 cup (2 oz) light soft brown sugar
1 ½ cups (8 oz) Graham cracker crumbs from 24 crackers
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 eggs, separated
1 cup (8 fl oz) soured cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup (8 oz) castor sugar
1/3 cup (2 oz) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1lb full-fat soft cheese e.g. Philadelphia cream cheese.
Line the base of a 9 inch loose-based cake tin. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Sieve the soft brown sugar into a bowl then add the crumbs, cinnamon and nutmeg, mix, then work the butter into it. Press the crumb mixture all over the base and about an inch up the sides of the cake tin. Chill the base while making the filling.
Beat the egg yolks until thick, and then beat in the soured cream and the vanilla essence. Mix 2/3 cup (6 oz) of the caster sugar with the flour and salt, and beat in the soft cheese a little at a time. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until fairly stiff, adding the remaining 1/3 cup (2 oz) caster sugar while doing so. Fold the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture. Turn gently into the chilled base in the cake tin and bake at 325F, Gas Mark 3, for one hour. Cool in the turned-off oven with the door ajar. Remove from the tin and chill for at least one hour before serving.
I hope you enjoy it if you decide to follow the recipe.
Happy holidays,
Helen Smith’s blog:
Helen Smith’s website:
Helen Smith on Twitter:
Helen Smith’s books on Amazon:
There is some bonus material, including fantasy casting and locations for my books and interviews with other authors over at Pinterest:
About Helen Smith:
Helen Smith is a British novelist who lives in London. She is the author of two cult novels about a woman who joins an all-female detective agency in London (Alison Wonderland and Being Light) as well as a dystopian novel, The Miracle Inspector, and the Emily Castles Mysteries, which can be read in any order. Her books have reached number one on Amazon in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany. Her work has been optioned by the BBC.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up #50

It was a fun week here:

Dec. 15th- Murder at the Book Group by Maggie King
Dec. 16th- Interview with Sherry Harris
Dec. 17th- Author Spotlight- Sherry Harris
Dec. 18th- First in a New Series Meow if it's Murder by T.C. LoTempio
Dec.19th- The Undertaking of Tess by Lesley Kagen
Dec.20th- Book Trivia hosted by Joyce Lavene

Books I've read:

All the President's Menus by Julie Hyzy
Snow Way Out by Christine Husom

Coming this week:

Dec.22nd- Guest Post- Helen Smith
Dec.23rd- Coming Soon
Dec.24th- Author Spotlight- T.C. LoTempio
Dec. 25th- First in a New Series- Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Reinhart
Dec.26th- Friday 56
Dec.27th- Book Trivia- Isabella Alan.

Hope to see you here!! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Book Trivia- Joyce Lavene

Happy Saturday to you! I am so thrilled that Joyce Lavene is here! She is an amazing friend and today she is our trivia host! The prize is a  $20 Amazon gift card for the first person who gets all these right, whether you are the first to get the answers right about the book covers. Pay close attention to each question as there is a prize for each one? The $20 dollar is for the one who gets them all right. Leave your answers here with an email. (must leave email to be included)

Good Luck!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Undertaking of Tess by Lesley Kagen

The Resurrection of Tess and The Undertaking of Tess by Lesley Kagen!! These two books make for great reading! You will be caught up in them from the first page! Have you read them?Would love to hear from you!!

Product Details

Book Description

 December 9, 2014
After she's diagnosed with breast cancer, forty-nine-year old Tess sets forth on a mission to complete her TO-DO List before, what she's sure is, her impending death. She needs to make peace with her estranged sister, Birdie, scatter her mother's long-kept ashes, rescue her daughter, Haddie, from the grip of an eating disorder, guide her teenage son, Henry, through a bumpy adolescence, and reignite the spark in her almost thirty-year marriage to her husband, Will.

Tess is aided on her quest by narrator, Grace, who lends the story its most brilliant elements: subtle magical realism and deep psychological complexity. Is Grace an imaginary friend, guardian angel, or a part of Tess that knows better than she? The Resurrection of Tess Blessing is by turns poignant, gritty, spiritually uplifting, and hilarious as hell.

Lesley Kagen has created an unforgettable, redemptive story about a middle-aged woman with the odds stacked against her, who discovers that in the end, love really does conquer all.

Product Details

Book Description

 July 24, 2014
"Her Life Ain’t Ever Gonna be the Same"

During the summer of 1959, ten-year-old Theresa "Tessie" Finley has her work cut out for her. Not only is she attempting to come to grips with the devastating loss and guilt she feels after she witnessed her father's drowning, her kid sister, Birdie, refuses to believe that their beloved Daddy is really gone. Tessie needs to make sure that she does before their Mom gets wind of how much "weirder" her sister’s getting. Stronger, and more down to Earth than ethereal Birdie, she's always watched over her sister, so it's only natural for her to come up with a plan that she jots down on one of her never-ending TO-DO lists. If Tessie can't achieve her goals, she's desperately worried that the beautiful, but self-occupied Louise, might send emotionally fragile Birdie to the County insane asylum.

Her Daddy always told her, "A Finley never throws in the towel," so more than anything Tess wants to make him proud, but despite her resourcefulness and grit, she's smart enough to know that the odds are stacked against her and her time is running out.

Heartbreaking, funny, nostalgic, and spiritually uplifting, you’ll cheer the Finley sisters on from the first page to the last of this charming novella that sets the stage for the upcoming novel, The Resurrection of Tess Blessing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

First in a New Series- Meow if it is Murder by T.C. LoTempio

Happy Thursday! It is time for First in a New Series~ Meow if it's Murder by T.C. LoTempio was released on December 2, 2014 and it is a great Debut book!

Book Description

 December 2, 2014
First in a new series!

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them… 

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives. 

Here is the Link to purchase it:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Author Spotlight- Sherry Harris

Happy Wednesday to you! Today's spotlight is Sherry Harris. Sherry has a new book out called Tagged for Death and it is a great read! 

Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend's yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Tagged for Death, first in the series, will be out in December 2014.

Tagged for Death (A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery)

The Longest Yard Sale: A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery

You can pre-order this one now:

Thank you Sherry for bringing this series to the readers, I'm sure they will love it too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Interview with Sherry Harris - Giveaway

I am so thrilled to have Sherry Harris with us today. She has a brand new book out called Tagged for Death! Do you love finding that perfect item at a sale? This is the book you will want to read oh and did I mention there is a murder too..

One lucky person will win a copy of Tagged for Death! leave a comment and email.

Welcome Sherry, so glad to have you here.

Sherry Harris

Shelley, thank you so much for asking me to be on your wonderful blog!

Tell us about yourself. I'm an Iowa girl who married a guy in the Air Force and moved around the country. I loved reading the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew books as a kid. But what made me want to be a writer was the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Betsy wrote in an apple tree when she was young and fought to be published when she grew up. I wanted to be Betsy. They are wonderful books full of warm characters.

What was the inspiration for Tagged for Death? My editor (before he was my editor) in New York City actually had the idea to do a series with a yard sale theme. The chance to write a proposal for the series landed in my lap because Barbara Ross knew I loved yard sales. I combined my time living in Massachusetts, my life as an Air Force wife, and my love of yard sales for the series.

Tagged for Death (A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery)

How did Sarah Winston come about? That is an excellent question, Shelley! I don't really know. I've written and rewritten another series that hasn't sold. When Barbara introduced me to agent John Talbot, he said he needed the proposal for the series as quickly as possible. The characters, synopsis, and first three chapters just poured out of me in four days. I'm still astonished by it and wish it would happen again!

Can you give us a sneak peek on what you are working on next? The Longest Yard Sale comes out June 30, 2015. The town manager hires Sarah to run New England's largest yard sale. It's the biggest event in Ellington, Massachusetts since the Revolutionary War and hopefully without the bloodshed. Sarah is mad as heck when someone uses the event to commit a crime and frame her best friend.

  The Longest Yard Sale: A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery

Aside from writing great books what are your hobbies? Do you have one that is your most favorite? I love going to yard sales, flea markets, and antique stores and trying to negotiate a lower price. It's like a game to me. And I love to read and go to movies. I think I love all three equally.

What are the first five books in your reading pile? Supreme Justice by Max Allan Collins, Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette, Truth Be Told by Hank Phillipi Ryan, The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews, Razing the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Who is your favorite author? Just one? There are so many wonderful authors to choose from. I love Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyneseries.

What three things do you want your readers to know about you? The opening for Tagged for Death and what comes of it came from a conversation I overheard in an airport about five years ago.

We lived in Bedford, Massachusetts and I fell in love with the history of the area. Our house was minutes from where Paul Revere was captured on his midnight ride from Boston. That site is now part of the Minute Man National Park -- everyone should go! Some people think the area is haunted by the soldiers who died on April 19, 1775. Some of the action in Tagged takes place along that trail.

I loved being an Air Force wife (even all the moves) and miss it now that my husband has retired.

You are going to throw a Holiday party and can invite five authors living or dead who would they be, what would the holiday be and what would be on the menu? Oh, this is fun and so hard to choose just five authors but here goes. I'd invite Craig Johnson, Sue Grafton, Phyllis Whitney, Julia Spencer Fleming, and Shakespeare. I'd have the party on the Fourth of July. The menu would include lobster, burgers, potato salad, cole slaw, and Wavy Lay's potato chips. We'd have key lime pie for desert and end the evening with a spectacular fireworks show.

I think this was the hardest question for me to answer. It's fun to have a book by an author you know and can have them there in person or via Skype. I've read so many great books this year that it's hard to choose. So I'll pick a book I read some time ago but has always impressed me. It's Jackdaws by Ken Follett -- I don't know him but it is a fabulous book set during World War II and about women who parachuted in to France to help the Resistance.

Bio: Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Tagged for Death, first in the series, released on December 2, 2014.
Blog:  Website:

Thanks again! Let me know if there is anything else you need!

Sherry Harris