Monday, November 12, 2018

Take Time to Be Thankful

by Katie Bonner, of YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett and Gayle Leeson 

It seems we're all in a hurry after Halloween to jump right into gift-buying. It makes sense--many of us are on a budget or are at a loss on what to buy and need all the time we can get to find that perfect "something" for our friends and family members. And, of course, if you're in the retail business--as we are at Artisans Alley--then you know that the holiday buying season is crucial to that bottom line every year.

Still, we sometimes tend to skate right past Thanksgiving with little more than a cursory glance, and that's a shame. It's such a wonderful time to simply enjoy being together with our loved ones: sharing delicious foods, enjoying sports rivalries, cuddling on the sofa and watching parades and movies, filling our homes with delicious aromas and heartfelt laughter.

So this year, plan to give Thanksgiving the love it deserves...the love you deserve. My boyfriend Andy has provided a yummy recipe to get you started!

Andy’s Cinnamon-Pumpkin Buns

1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 and ¼ teaspoons (1 standard package) instant yeast
2 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Caramel Icing
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
a dash salt
¼ to 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the dough: warm the milk and butter together over the stove or in the microwave. Warm the two together until the butter is just melted. The mixture should be lukewarm (105-115 F degrees). Set aside. Using your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg, and salt together on medium speed. Add the warmed milk/butter and beat until combined, then beat in the egg and yeast. With the mixer running on low speed, add 1 cup of flour. Mix for 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add 1¼ cups more flour and beat for 1 more minute. The dough will be very soft. Place dough into a greased bowl (a bit of olive oil or nonstick spray to grease works). Turn the dough around in the bowl so all sides of it are coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 1.5 hours.
Preheat the oven on to 250°F. Turn the oven off. Place the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.  Gently punch the dough down to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times so it is smooth. If it is too sticky, knead in a little more flour.

Add the filling: Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and spices into a small bowl. Roll the dough out into an 18x10 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter evenly on top. Sprinkle all the filling over the top. Roll it up tightly. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 101-12 pieces, about 1½  inches each. Arrange rolls into a greased 9-inch or 11x7- inch pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise again in a warm, draft-free environment until doubled in size. This takes about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 22-28 minutes, covering with aluminum foil at the 15-minute mark to prevent heavy browning. Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool as you prepare the icing.

Icing: Melt the butter in a saucepan; stir in the brown sugar and milk. Cook and stir over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla, salt, and ¼ cup confectioners' sugar; beat until well blended. Add more sugar, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over the rolls.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thanking Veterans Today

Caro Lamont, pet therapist from Barking with the Stars
Series: Sparkle Abbey's Pampered Pets Mysteries

Happy Veterans Day! I'm so glad we designate a day specifically to remember veterans and thank them for their service to our country. There will be events and ceremonies here in Laguna Beach which is wonderful and fitting, but, if you have the chance, it's also great to take the time to personally thank a veteran.

Recently I had the opportunity to be involved in a fundraiser to help provide service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Such a worthy cause and I learned so much about the issues many of our heroes are dealing with and how effective those service dogs can be in the day to day battles and adjustments.

Barking with the Stars was the perfect event to raise awareness and also raise some cash for the cause. So when things went awry, I knew we had to get things back on track. Fast. Before it all fell apart.

But that was no easy task with temperamental stars and over zealous fans. Then things go from bad to worse when our celebrity headlines is found dead. As you can imagine, I can't help but want to help even if it puts me at odds with our local homicide detective.

Barking with the Stars is the ninth book in Sparkle Abbey's Pampered Pets series. The series features Texas cousins Caro Lamont and Melinda Langston and they alternate the lead role from book to book. Barking with the Stars features pet therapist, Caro, and then, pet boutique owner, Mel, picks up the story in book ten, The Dogfather, which is the latest book in the series.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets—Sparkle (Mary Lee’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). They reside in the Midwest, but if they could write anywhere, you would find them on the beach with their laptops and, depending on the time of day, with either an iced tea or a margarita. Visit them at

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Turkey Day!

By Kate Davidson of Tracy Weber's Downward Dog Mystery series.

Hi all! Kate Davidson here, yoga teacher and occasional sleuth from Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog Mystery series.  Okay, so "occasional sleuth" may be understating it a little.  Five—soon to be six—murder investigations in three years has to be some sort of record for a yogini who is morally opposed to violence.  

I haven't visited with you all in awhile, and November seemed like the perfect time to tell you all how much I appreciate you. After all, November is one of my favorite months here in Seattle.  The gorgeous fall leaves, cooler weather, and the opportunity to spread gratitude all make my heart sing. 

For Bella, of course, it’s all about the squirrels.  
Soon I’ll get to take part in my annual Thanksgiving tradition.  I’m vegetarian, so Michael and I eat a vegan dinner at CafĂ© Flora, which is our favorite local restaurant.  If you want to join us, make your reservations early, as it always sells out! 

The most important part of Turkey Day, however, is honoring turkeys! Every year, Michael and I “adopt” a turkey from Farm Sanctuary.  We're having a terrible time choosing between Gerda, Perdita, Spunky, Ruthie, and Bowie this year.  Won’t you help us out?  

Go to, take a look at the photos, and choose your favorite turkey.   Leave his or her name in the comments below.  The bird that gets the most votes by Monday, November 19, will receive our sponsorship.  One lucky commenter will win a copy of my next adventure, Murder Likes It Hot, when it is released in January.

Thanks and good luck!

Pre-Meditated Murder the 5th Downward Dog Mystery, is available now!

Go on, buy yourself a copy.  You know you want to!  Book 6, Murder Likes it Hot, will be out on January 8, 2019!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Some People's Great Ideas

by Emily Westhill
from the Deputy Donut Mysteries by Ginger Bolton

The young man--he was probably a college kid--came bouncing into our donut and coffee shop, Deputy Donut, like he was in love with the whole world.

He came right up to the counter where I was pouring someone else's coffee and sat on a stool. "Sat" might not be quite the right word. He wriggled so much that he nearly slipped off. Catching me looking at him, he burst out with, "I have this great idea!"

Uh-oh, I thought, great ideas often seemed to involve roping in people who did not necessarily want to be roped in . . .

"You're closed Thanksgiving, right?" he asked. His huge smile showed off very white teeth and a dimple in one cheek.

I thought I knew where this was heading. "Yes, and Christmas and New Year's Day, too.

"I was thinking that since you'll be closed, I could come in and deep-fry a turkey for me and my roommates."

I knew it. "Deep-fry a turkey, here?" I hoped I managed to look as skeptical as I felt.

"Sure, since you won't be using the place that day."

I shook my head decisively. "Our insurance doesn't cover it."

"I'll be careful."

"I know you will," I said, "but deep-frying turkeys have caused lots of fires. Besides, you might get the turkey crispy on the outside, but inside, it will be a nest of salmonella."

"Even if the oil is hot and you leave it in long enough?"

"Yes, and there's another  thing that makes it impossible. Our deep-fryers aren't big enough for a turkey." I stepped aside so he could see Tom lifting a basket of golden donuts out of one of the fryers. "We don't need really deep ones for frying donuts and other small treats."

His shoulders sagged. "Oh. But I told the guys I'd cook the turkey."

"Do you have an oven?"

"Yeah, but I don't know how to cook one in an oven." He probably didn't know how to deep-fry one, either...

"How about a barbecue?"


"You can cook the turkey on that if it's big enough and has a lid and a temperature gauge. You'll also  need a meet thermometer to make sure it's cooked enough. It will be crispy, and tasty with a slightly smoky taste. Look it up online and you'll find the instructions."


He bounced out as eagerly happy as he'd come in, and I was glad. I wasn't sure that anyone could deflate him for very long, but if anyone could, I didn't want it to be me.

 Here are the Deputy Donut Mysteries in order:

3. JEALOUSY-FILLED DONUTS (coming September, 2019)

Visit Ginger:


As Janet Bolin, Ginger wrote the Threadville Mysteries--Murder and Mayhem in a village of crafty shops.

Would you like a copy of SURVIVAL OF THE FRITTERS or GOODBYE CRULLER WORLD (your choice)!  In the comments below, tell us about any (mis-) adventures you've had with frying (doesn't have to be deep frying.) One winner will be chosen by random number.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wine Making Can Be Killer

Hi, Taylor O'Brian here, founder of "Off the Beaten Path" California wine country tours. Fall is wine making time and my friend Tim asked me to bring my group of investors out to his winery to see how sustainable it is and to watch part of the wine making process. All is going well, until Tim stirs up more than grapes in his prize fermentation tank,

Suddenly the investors are a little green and I'm helping Tim try to revive a man who is a little too dead. The man turns out to be the FDA inspector Tim had been seen fighting with and Tim is arrested for murder.

Well, there's no way Tim would hurt a fly. He doesn't like germs and death is messy.

So I set out with my trusty cat Clemmy to figure out who really killed the inspector and why Tim's girlfriend Mandy is hanging out with a self-help guru. Is there a connection?

Not to mention my Aunt Jemma suddenly going off the rails as she tries her hand at a seance. Ghosts, gurus, and murder all mix to make me wish I could go back to my advertising job in San Francisco.

My author has two ARC's she's willing to give away. Leave a comment below and tell us if you like wine or if you think it's all just sour grapes for a chance to win. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I'm dreaming of yet another party!

by J.J. Tanner from the Dinner Club Mysteries
            by Linda Wiken

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of Christmas parties we're planning this year at my work. I'm an event planner so that's what I do and I'm so glad that a lot of our clients know the drill and contacted us early so we could get started. Of course, we had to take out time and have some Halloween fun. I got to do an event for the children of a low income community, held in a local community center. That one was thanks to the care and concern of the local community association.

But now, I've tucked away all thoughts of ghosts and goblins and am back to reindeer and elves. I've always wanted to plan and outdoor party complete with sleigh rides and roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Okay, I'm motivated by songs! But of course, that's weather-dependent and although we usually have a white Christmas, there are no guarantees.

I have a last-minute client and I'll admit I've used my favorite ideas so I'm asking, what do  you love the most about a big Christmas event. Think office or family reunion or another big gathering.

I'd love some suggestions!


  Book #3, MARINATING IN MURDER is available at your favorite bookseller or online!

 Book #2 in the Dinner Club Mysteries 

The first book in the Dinner Club Mystery series is available at the bookstore of your choice, and on-line; also as an e-book.

Writing as Erika Chase:

Look for A KILLER READ,  (#2 on the Barnes and Noble Mystery Bestseller List and an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Mystery),  READ AND BURIED, COVER STORY, BOOK FAIR AND FOUL, and LAW AND AUTHOR on-line or at your favorite bookstore.


Visit Erika at 
Love to hear from you on my Facebook author page
on Twitter  @erika_chase. 

Visit Linda at
at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken 


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Name Game + Giveaway!

by Madison Night
from the Madison Night Mystery Series
Hi! Madison Night here. In addition to being a mid-century modern interior decorator and a sometimes amateur sleuth, I'm an unofficial expert on all things Doris Day. I was born on her birthday (April 3), and have made a careful study of her movies to refine my decorating eye. In addition to that, I've taken an interest in her whole life and she's become something of a role model for me. And I find it very comforting that so many of the people I encounter in my life remind me of people connected to hers. 
Take these people for example: 
Captain Tex Allen of the Lakewood Police Department: His last name is "Allen," just like Rock Hudson's character in Pillow Talk! And "Tex" reminds me of "Rex Stetson," the alter-ego of Rock's character in the same movie. If Captain Allen has an alter ego, I'm not sure I'd want to know!
Hudson James: Here's a secret I've never told anybody. When I first had to hire a handyman to help me out with Mad for Mod, my decorating company, I placed an ad and a lot of people answered. I chose Hudson because I thought his name was a sign. And I guess, in a way, it was!
It's no secret that I named my puppy after Rock Hudson. But he's so cute I can't help but call him Rocky. I think it's funny that both Tex and Hudson call him Rock, as if adding the "-y" on the end of his name is somehow less manly. 
Connie Duncan is a client turned employee turned friend. And isn’t it coincidental that Doris Day’s costumer turned assistant was named Connie?

Brad Turlington: the man I once thought of as the love of my life. Did you know that the author who writes about my adventures, Diane Vallere, used to work in fashion and once worked with a personal stylist named Brad who owned Doris Day’s former house? It’s true!

Delbert Manning: the security officer in LOVER COME HACK’s name bears a very close similarity to “Delbert Mann,” the director of Lover Come Back. Delightful!

Jane Strong: my recent best friend who turned out to—well, I better let you read about her in LOVER COME HACK. But did you know Doris Day played 12 characters with names that started with the letter J? Two named Jane: Calamity Jane and It Happened to Jane. (It sure did happen to Jane! At least it did in my most recent mystery.)

Thelma Johnson: the owner of the house that I inherited through some unusual channels reminds me of Thelma Ritter, the maid in both Pillow Talk and Move Over Darling.

Detective Henning: One of the writers of Lover Come Back was named Paul Henning!

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. 

You know, sometimes when I sit back and relax and think of all of these wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) people who enter my life, with names that remind me of Doris Day and the movies she made, I can’t help think my life is close to perfect—except for the murder investigations. I could probably do without them!
LOVER COME HACK: new Madison Night Mystery! 

After a falling out with a friend flips interior decorator Madison Night’s world inside out, she’s determined to revamp her life. Jane Strong, fellow mid-century modern enthusiast, encourages Madison’s entry in an upcoming design competition, but their rift makes collaboration no longer an option.

When Jane is found dead, Madison tops the suspect list. And when anonymous computer hackings interfere with both the investigation and the competition, Jane’s murder no longer seems random. With a mess of a love life, an angry client, and a looming deadline on her contest entry, Madison turns to an unlikely ally to decode a motive before a crash becomes imminent.

Find it here!

Did you read this far? Then you have a chance to win an ebook of PILLOW STALK by clicking here! PILLOW STALK GIVEAWAY