This year Thanksgiving looks different for most of us. My husband works every other year on Thanksgiving, and I usually join him for a special lunch at the retirement community where he works.
There are so many lovely people who live there, and I get to visit with them. One special lady tells me stories of living in France around the time of World War II. She and her mother ran down a street and finally escaped the Nazis riding a bicycle. Later she was on the first ship of war brides to leave Europe and come to the United States.
Some residents share my love of reading. Master garderners live here and have created masterpieces at their homes. Many take vacations around the world. One lady and I share a birthday in common, and she turned one hundred this year and invited me to her birthday celebration.
Other years we visit our family. Many years we hosted Thanksgiving at our home. After eating, we played football outside then other games inside, and then we’d eat again. I don’t know about you, but the second meal always tasted the best because there was less stress.
This year Tim will go to work, and Heinz and I will stay home. Weather permitting, we’ll go for a walk on the beach and visit our families long distance.
I’m so thankful for you my friends and family. Wherever you are, I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
I asked a few of my author friends what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving.
You met my friend Carol Ayer a few weeks ago. Here’s what she said.
I have a lot to be thankful for—family and friends, the sweetest cat in the world, a place to call home, and the opportunity to pursue my love of writing. But this year I am particularly thankful for firefighters. The wildfires in California get worse and worse every year and there doesn’t seem to be any relief forthcoming. As I write this, we are under another Red Flag warning and more fires are expected. This past summer, my mother and I evacuated to Sacramento during one of the huge fires started by dry lightning. As it turned out, the firefighters did a fantastic job of keeping the fire away from the city limits, so we were able to return home the next day. I am in awe of how these brave men and women spend weeks putting out fires that grow to thousands of acres. As a thank you, I am incorporating a fire-related storyline into my next book.
Another good friend is Sherrinda Ketchersid. Here’s what she said. I’m thankful for so many things, but as a writer I find I am most thankful for the friendships I have forged along the journey. Nobody “gets you” like a fellow writer. They have all the same joys, same frustrations, same fears, same everything as you—and let’s face it, all writers face these things on a continual basis. I am particularly thankful for my critique groups, who take my writing to a higher level and teach me what I need to know along the way. They have encouraged me and provided the icing needed after a good “kick-in-the-pants”. They spur me on!
Thanks for stopping by and meeting some of my friends.
I’m thankful for my family, my friends, and you my readers. I’d love to hear something you’re thankful for this year.
I’m so happy to have Sherrinda join us today. She even agreed to answer rapid-fire questions. Here we go.
What’s the title of your new book?
His to Keep
What’s your elevator pitch?
Yikes, I didn’t think of an elevator pitch. Let’s see… A Scottish knight receives a castle as an inheritance, but must marry the woman within—a woman who has sworn to never let a Scot pass through her gates.
Do you prefer college sports or professional sports?
I like watching college sports better. They seem to have more “life” to them for some reason.
With three boys at 6’5”, 6’7”, and 6’4”, I prefer basketball. That’s the sport I know best from sitting in the stands at the hundreds of basketball games through the years.
Return to Me is one of my favorite romcoms. I just love the chemistry and all the secondary characters. Of course, I do love Pride and Prejudice—almost every version of it.
Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Maybe tell why, or not.
This is hard! But I think I would have to go with the gospel of John. I love the gospel of John. I’m not really sure why, but it seems more narrative—and I love story.
Where’s your favorite spot to write? Is this a different spot than before COVID?
I have an art/writing room with a fun lounger there. I wrote most of His to Keep there. But since COVID, I have been sitting on the couch in the living room more. I don’t know … maybe it’s because it seems more open and bright. I need that right now.
Who has inspired your writing?
I got started reading medieval romance when I found Lynn Kurland’s books. She writes clean medieval romance with time travel, and I adore her writing. I kept thinking of story ideas while reading her books and thought I’d give it a try.
Did you have a favorite book as a child?
I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and have read those many times. My grandmother also gave me The Girl of the Limberlost, and it is one of my favorites.
Why do you write historicals?
I like historicals because they are interesting. I love the research, and I love finding unique stories that stir the imagination. I used a piece of history to give my hero, Ian, a way to steal into the castle in His to Keep. It is gross, but brilliant!
I’m sure you’re curious about His to Keep. Here’s what you need to know.
Title: His to Keep
Tagline: He’s fighting for his inheritance—she’s marrying her sworn enemy.
Back Cover Copy:
When Ian McGowan attempts to claim Whitfield Castle as his rightful inheritance, he finds himself barred by a tempestuous lass who is entailed to be the bride of the castle’s new owner.
Claire Beaumont, the orphaned ward of Whitfield, has good reason to hate Scots, and she is not about to let a Scot enter her beloved home. But when the handsome knight steals into the castle and proves his claim on the land, she must face her ultimate nightmare—marriage to her sworn enemy—in order to save those she cares about most.
Restoring the failing Whitfield Castle while wooing his defiant intended proves more challenging than Ian anticipated. His struggles reach a crisis when his nemesis arrives at the castle, and he must overcome his past demons to prove his worth. He must fight for what is his to keep—and it could well cost him his heart.
Sherrinda Ketchersid is a lover of stories with happily-ever-after endings. Whether set in the past or present, romance is what she writes and where her dreams reside. She resides in Dallas, Texas with her preacher husband and scruffy dog, Phineas.
I’m excited to spend some time with my friend, Sharee Stover. She writes romantic suspense for Love Inspired. Sharee and I met through ACFW, and we’ve been in the same critique group for years. She’s a beautiful friend both inside and out.
Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in Nebraska with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and a ridiculously spoiled dog. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. She writes Christian romantic suspense combining heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Nebraska Writer’s Guild. Sharee is a triple Daphne du Maurier finalist, winner of the 2017 Wisconsin Fabulous Five Silver Quill Award, and her debut, Secret Past, won Best First Book in the 2019 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. When she isn’t writing, Sharee enjoys reading, crocheting and long walks with her obnoxiously lovable German Shepherd. Visit her at www.shareestover.com.
Discovering buried evidence makes her a target.
At a prehistoric site, forensic anthropologist Taya McGill uncovers a recently buried body days before Christmas—and finds herself in a killer’s sights. Now on the run with undercover ATF agent Keegan Stryker, she must rely on him to guard her as they figure out why someone would kill to keep this murder unsolved. But can they unearth the truth before someone silences them both for good?
Sharee was gracious enough to share an excerpt with us:
Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead. Forensic anthropologist Taya McGill disagreed with Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote. In her experience, the dead were horrible secret keepers. Rather, she’d dub them mysterious pirates hoarding a treasure trove of clues. And as a general rule, far more reliable than most living people she’d encountered.
Taya cherished the incredible honor of speaking for the dearly departed, even when an active crime scene overtook her nonexistent Christmas plans. The excavation freed her from the holiday hustle and bustle she detested more than the insufferable game and parks officer reigning as security over the site.
He’d gone, for now, but if his previous behavior was any indicator, there’d soon be more rounds in futility. Those who misjudged Taya’s petite five-foot, ninety-pound stature for weakness learned the hard way that her stubbornness came packaged like dynamite and equaled her determination.
Dr. Taya McGill would never again succumb to a uniformed bully.
“It’s just you and me, friend. You’re safe to share your secrets,” Taya said, brushing back dirt from the exposed skull. Her coworkers mocked the unconventional method of talking aloud to the victim, but the process worked for her. And since she spent the majority of her time alone, who did it bother, anyway?
Unpredictable weather had hindered the recovery of the human remains, hindering the dig’s progression. The frigid winter temperatures had banked at a high—if that was a relative term—of negative four degrees. The radical increasing wind speeds over the past hour had further complicated things. No overhead streetlamps illuminated the onyx sky. Rolling hills and the occasional farm nestled in an endless snow-covered landscape surrounded over three hundred acres of Ashfall Fossil Beds State Park in the northeastern corner of Royal, Nebraska.
She shivered and tugged the zipper of her down-alternative parka as high as it would go, tucking her nose in the warmth. It was after midnight, but Taya’s ongoing battle with insomnia provided her the excuse to continue working. The victim buried in the shallow grave deserved justice. As did those mourning her.
Taya leaned down and paused with her brush midair. She’d already exposed most of the skeletal form and prepared to collect the remains for transport to her laboratory at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Something red near the thoracic vertebrae peeked through the earth. With a delicate swipe, she uncovered the object. A small deflated latex balloon.
Taya sighed. The find wasn’t unusual. Addicts ingested the balloons as a method of muling illegal drugs. Was that this victim’s story?
Thanks for joining me as I celebrate the release of Bag of Bones. It’s the third book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.
Curious what it’s about? Here’s the blurb:
Does one good turn deserve a murder?
Despite all her good intentions to focus on a healthy lifestyle and leave crime solving to the professionals, Andi Grace Scott has run right smack into another investigation—literally. Who’d have thought caring for stray cats and a healthy morning beach run could lead to murder?
Andi Grace has found another body and a young woman who needs help. Solving this puzzle will come with a cost. This time, catching the killer will require Andi Grace to confront her past relationships and truths about her deceased mother.
I would love for you to join Andi Grace Scott on her third adventure.
Carol, congratulations on Peppermint Cream Die! It’s such a cute title. Tell us a little about your story. The story features Kayla Jeffries, a 35-year-old home bakery owner. She identifies as an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). When her elderly friend is murdered, she overcomes her natural tendency to avoid stress and overstimulation and helps apprehend the killer. Along the way, she meets a handsome restaurateur, adopts two rambunctious cats, and makes a lot of baked goods.
Where is the setting? How did you decide to pick it? The setting is a fictional oceanside community called Seaside Shores in the (also fictional) town of Oceanville, California. The setting is loosely based on the Central California town of Monterey, a place I love to visit as often as I can. I think I chose it as a form of wish fulfillment–I would love to live in Monterey but can’t (it’s very expensive!). My character gets to live somewhere similar and I can live there vicariously.
How long have you been writing? Did you always dream of writing or have you always worked as an author? I’ve been writing since childhood. As soon as I realized that books were written by people and didn’t just magically appear in the world, I wanted to write my own. I started submitting to magazines and publishers when I was 8 (but, alas, didn’t get published until I was an adult). Do you have any pets? (If yes, can you include a picture of them?) I do! I adopted Rainn (see attached picture) from a shelter about two years ago. She will turn 4 soon. She and my last cat, Sammie, inspired a few of the (hopefully humorous!) storylines in my series.
Do you have a favorite beach or vacation spot? Yes, as mentioned above, I love Monterey, California. I’ve also had the good fortune of visiting Maui three times, and what can I say? It’s so beautiful that it doesn’t feel real. Where can readers find you on social media?
I do! Here it is:Super Simple Peppermint Cream Pie: Ingredients:Pre-made chocolate cookie pie crust5.1 oz. box instant vanilla puddingMilk to prepare pudding8 oz. heavy whipping cream2-3 miniature candy canes, crushed up (you can also use peppermint candies)
Directions: Make the vanilla pudding as directed, including a crushed-up miniature candy cane. (Because I don’t have a food processor, I use a plastic bag and a hammer; this can get messy if the bag breaks).Pour the pudding mixture into the pie crust and chill in the refrigerator until set.Whip the cream, again including a crushed-up miniature candy cane.Spread the cream across the chilled pie.If desired, add another crushed-up candy cane on top of the pie.Enjoy!
One last question…What is an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)?Answer: HSPs make up about 20 percent of the population (I am an HSP myself). We deeply process sensory stimuli. We are adversely impacted by things like loud noises, scratchy fabrics, and florescent lighting. We easily get stressed by too much going on, criticism, and performing in front of others. On the plus side, HSPs tend to be creative, conscientious, and compassionate, and we have strong positive reactions to art, music, and nature. Most HSPs are introverted but a certain percentage are extroverts.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Carol!
Peppermint Cream Die can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Target.
Charleston was founded in 1670, and I’ve always been intrigued by the antebellum houses in the Battery districts. It’s not just the houses but the flowers and fencing around the houses. And there are so many hidden gardens. If you’re lucky you may find an open gate where you can take a peek into how the people of downtown Charleston live.
I’m not a South Carolina native, and I’ve never lived in Charleston, so I’m no expert, but I’m going to start sharing more about the Low Country on my blog.
I love living in the Low Country, and it’s one of the reasons I set my cozy mystery series in the fictional town of Heyward Beach in this area. Thanks for allowing me to share a little about my walk in Charleston.