Friday, October 19, 2018

A Favorite Fall Treat - One Bowl Pumpkin Bread

by Shari Randall
Yes, I need to work on my food styling.

The joys of fall are many - the blaze of crimson and orange leaves and the satisfying crunch of walking through them on a country lane. Apple picking and corn mazes. The cooler weather, making it a perfect time to wear cozy, soft woolen sweaters.
But pumpkin spice everything? Blech.
There's only one pumpkin flavored fall treat I do love: pumpkin bread.
I've seen many recipes but this version is one I've stuck with for years - the holiday spice aroma and one bowl easy clean up make it a winner. Whip up some up and let me know what you think. You can make two loaves from this recipe or a few more than two dozen generously sized muffins. Bon appetit!

2 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. oil
2/3 c. cold water
1 lb. can pumpkin

Mix all ingredients together with electric mixer.  Grease 2 loaf pans (do not flour). Bake at 350 for one hour.  If you do muffins, they'll take 18-22 minutes. Check doneness with a tester inserted into the middle. Enjoy!

Shari is the author of Against the Claw, the latest in the Lobster Shack Mystery series. Check out her Facebook Author Page for giveaways, appearances, and more.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ode to a Library

Ode to a Library

By Cathy Perkins

When was the last time you visited your local library? 

Libraries have been around for a long, long time. The earliest libraries date back to 2600 BC. Yes, that’s Before we started counting time forward a couple of thousand years ago in the Western World. While we’ve ditched hundreds of ideas and customs as passé, in the digital age libraries are still in style. More than in style, they’ve adapted to the rise of ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, there are several great ways you can access my books from your local public library without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading chair. How great is that?!

My books are available to libraries via Overdrive, a leading digital distribution platform. Overdrive supplies the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 38,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. (Here's the OverDrive link for So About the Mone

Other upcoming services include Bibliotheca, an up-and-coming library-oriented option for acquiring digital content. Your library can request an author’s book through this program as an alternative—or in addition to—OverDrive. 

These digital access programs mean anyone with a library card can remotely check out an ebook or audiobook if your library owns a copy of the book. After a reader borrows a particular title (say, my Holly Price novel So About the Money), it automatically goes to their reading device through OverDrive. Since “my” libraries are forty-five minutes and two hours away by Interstate, browsing through my phone is a lot easier than driving to the physical building! Instead, the requested book shows up on my e-reader in moments.

If you’re new to OverDrive you can sign up HERE. Signing up is a quick process and allows you to customize your experience by choosing your preferred genres. You can even opt-in to receive book recommendations. You need a library card to access books using OverDrive. I have two library cards (yes, more is better 😉 ) and both libraries appear in my OverDrive account.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, here are several ways that you can take advantage of this terrific library resource.

OverDrive recommends the Libby app for public library users. I admit, I eyed the app skeptically at first. Why mess with what’s working beautifully for me? Libby is a free app that streamlines the virtual borrowing process and lets you get those books from the library straight to your device. Best of all, Libby is compatible with Android, iOS, or Windows 10, and is one of the easiest ways to access library books on your devices.  

The original OverDrive app may be a better option for you if your library isn’t public, if you are using an older device, or you want to read on your computer (Windows or Mac). This app also has some great features to personalize your reading experience, such as adjustable font size (which I love for reading in bed at night without reading glasses), highlighting favorite passages, and a bookmark function.


Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it? Now before you start borrowing my entire Holly Price Mystery Series, here are a few things about how requesting ebooks from the library system works:

1.    The authors’ and publishers’ responsibility is to make books available to the libraries. We have no control over whether your library will stock my books, unfortunately. Wish we did!
2.    If your local library doesn’t stock my books, sometimes simply asking your librarian to get them for you will be enough. Librarians are resourceful people! Once requested, the library can request a book for purchase or loan through Overdrive or Bibliotheca.
3.    You need a library card to use your library, whether you are reading ebooks or listening to audiobooks on your devices, or physically checking out “tree books” from the library. Ask your local library about their card policies. (For example, one of my library cards is free. I pay an annual fee to use a larger regional library since I live outside their city limits.)
4.    While OverDrive is available at most public libraries, there are still some libraries that are not connected to the program. You can check to see if OverDrive is available at your library HERE.

Wrapping up

Libraries are a great way to keep on top of your TBR pile without breaking the bank. At my libraries, I hunt for new to me authors or download favorite authors when the publisher prices the ebook at $14.99 (yikes!) 
Digital loans are eco-friendly. No trees harmed in their production. 😉
And an additional benefit? No late fees! (Yay!) Not through reading/listening to the book at the end of the loan period? Simply request it again.
So grab your library card and find out how easy it is to enjoy a slew of library books (including all of mine!) from the comfort of your sofa. 

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She's hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Killer Nashville Claymore Award.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Before the Wishlist. The Beatles! and Tales of Yesteryear

By Kay Kendall

Ah, the ease of the online wish list. I battled against the concept for years. But I finally succumbed.  What I GAINED: several hours of my precious time. What I LOST: the joy of watching loved ones delighted by their surprise gifts. If you are a boomer (as I am), then you recall when gift-giving before the wish list hit the scene. You tried to surprise the gift recipient—to surprise and delight. My joy of gift giving and wrapping came from my maternal grandmother who reveled in every aspect of gifting. 

In my boomer youth, I watched her decorate packages imaginatively. She could have hired on for Neiman Marcus—a store back in the day that did elegant and fanciful wrapping. (Their efforts today are a sad, pale imitation, fie!) What my grandmother could not do—not to save her very soul—was to keep her gifts a secret. She got so excited that she just had to give you hints--hints so major you could easily figure out what your gifts would turn out to be. I took such pleasure in her enjoyment that I didn’t mind.

Maybe telling Santa what you wanted for Christmas grew into the concept of wish lists. Yet today's wish list has more power. Woe to you if you give someone under-forty a present not on his or her wish list. I fought against wish lists until a dear friend said she gave up trying to surprise her offspring with delightful gifts. Finally she switched to the dreaded wish list or gave gift cards. Otherwise her grandchildren and children were chagrined. That’s how I discovered my offspring was participating in a societal shift. A generational difference, clear and simple. And so . . . I threw in the towel. But I remember a different time. I recall a December when I was a graduating high school senior. I wanted Beatle albums and 45s. When asked what I wanted for Christmas, “Beatles please” was my instant answer. My ONLY answer.

Meantime my mother and grandmother were in the kitchen making cranberry loaves, fudge, and mounds of cookies...all the while talking about the Christmases of their youths. My mother said she’d been pleased with mandarin oranges and pecans in the toe of her Christmas stocking, back in the 1930s. My grandmother recalled helping her mother go into the farmyard in Ohio and select a goose for neck twisting, in the first decade of the twentieth century--the holiday meal to be! I loved their quaint tales of the good old days. (Probably these stories helped grow my lust for history.)

When the morning of December twenty-fifth dawned. I went into the living room with my parents (I, an only child, admittedly a tiny bit or more spoiled). I had expected to call this my very own Beatles Christmas. But no. Arrayed beside the brightly lit tree was a set of three luggage pieces.

“You’re going off to college next year,” Delight shone in Mother’s eyes. “We knew you needed nice suitcases.” I tried to murmur sincere thanks while eyeing other presents. Where were the telltale signs of even one 33-long-play album? But John, Paul, George, and Ringo were nowhere to be found. All was not lost however. My paternal grandparents sent a check that I promptly cashed and turned into two longed-for Beatles albums. But, oh, I still recall the rush of emotion, the dramatic upheaval.

Things are so different now in the high season of gift giving. Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. That’s the way the song goes, Joni Mitchell’s beloved “Both Sides Now.”

So then, what’s your opinion of the wish list phenomenon? What do you remember about gift giving and receiving in the “good old days?” What’s the routine at your house? I’d sure love to know.


Meet the author

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville. Visit Kay at her website <>or on Facebook <>


Monday, October 15, 2018

Where Will Those Ruby Slippers Lead Us?

by Paula Gail Benson


Toni L.P. Kelner and Dr. Stephen P. Kelner, Jr.
I’ve read books about and spent time in a number of writing classes where story structure and character motivations were explained by using examples from The Wizard of Oz. One example would be Debra Dixon’s excellent text, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

This past weekend, at a terrific workshop about The Psychology of Writing, organized by the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime, with Debra H. Goldstein as event coordinator, I heard another analogy to Oz’s characters presented by Dr. Stephen P. Kelner, Jr., husband of author Toni L. P. Kelner (the Laura Fleming and Where Are They Now? series and numerous short stories), who also writes as Leigh Perry (the Family Skeleton series).

First, I have to express my admiration for Toni allowing her husband to analyze her reasons for writing before an audience. I thought it was incredibly brave. When I mentioned it to her, she brushed it off, saying she was used to it. Still, the honesty with which she and Stephen approached the subject made it truly informative for the listeners.

Second, I think Stephen’s evaluations and theories, explained in greater detail in his book, Motivate Your Writing!: Using Motivational Psychology to Energize Your Writing Life, are very insightful. They certainly helped me to better understand my own writing motivations and characters.

Stephen suggested that there are three basic motivators:

(1) achievement,

(2) affiliation, and

(3) influence.

He said these motivators described the goals of the characters we see in The Wizard of Oz and in the Harry Potter series.

The achiever wants to accomplish a great deal. This person will do all he or she can to increase production. Like the Scarecrow and Hermione, they are depended upon for intellect and direction. What sometimes makes them less effective is their aim for perfection or their need to micro-manage.

The affiliator is interested in establishing and building relationships. Like the Tin Man and Ron, they want to be liked. Sometimes, they can be too anxious about gaining friends or hurting feelings.

The influencer wants to leave a legacy. This person asks, “Who will remember me?” Like the Lion and Harry, influencers may be competitive. They may push others aside in order to be noticed and get ahead.

Photo from
Interestingly, in his studies, Stephen found that although achievement is part of writers’ goals, for most, including Toni, the primary motivator is to influence, to be remembered. When influence is the focus, a writer needs to find a way to measure what has been accomplished. Otherwise, the writer may get lost in being part of a writing community rather than actually producing work. After all, it’s wonderful to go to conferences and discuss craft with others, but that takes time away from producing stories.

Photo from the Harry Potter movies
For Toni, the answer became setting a manageable number of weekly words. She began by aiming for 600 words a day, writing 4 days, for a total of 2,400 per week and approximately 65,000 words per year (at that time the size of most mystery novels). Once she was able to reach and maintain that goal, she increased it to 800 words per day.

Both Toni and Stephen cautioned against selecting a ridiculously high goal, which would just set a person up for failure. Also, realize that life does not always proceed at an even pace. There may be times when, due to other obligations, a writing goal cannot be accomplished. Be forgiving, but get back on track and, Toni encouraged, always do your best to meet deadlines.

The workshop was a terrific success and I commend everyone who was involved with it.

I’m looking forward to reading Stephen’s Motivate Your Writing! and Toni’s latest as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Paints a Picture. (Her next, The Skeleton Makes a Friend, is available for pre-order and will be released November 6, 2018). For more about the workshop, please check out my post tomorrow on the Writers Who Kill blog.

Meanwhile, keep on following that Yellow Brick Road!