Summer is my absolute favorite time of year. And although there are lawns to mow, gardens to weed, and extra laundry to wash, just about everyone has a shady spot to sit with a glass of lemonade and read. For me, it’s my screened-in porch where I read, work, or simply watch the deer coming and going as the sun sets. When I know friends will be dropping by, I brew a batch of iced tea, mix up some lemonade and bake this luscious treat. Bake two and freeze one, so you’ll be ready when neighbors arrive unannounced. Just remember to take it easy…after all, it’s summer! Mary Ellis
Fresh Lemon Sheet Cake
1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick)
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients alternate with 1 cup milk. Next add in the juice of ½ lemon and about 2 tsp lemon zest. (Optional: a few drops of lemon food coloring) Fold in 2 well beaten eggs last.
Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees – your oven temp may vary)
For approximately 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Hint: This cake is great with lemon sherbet for a cool summertime treat or you can frost with a lemon butter frosting…
LEMON BUTTER FROSTING:
Cream 3 tbsp room temperature butter
Blend in 2 egg yolks
Stir in 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind (zest)
2 tbsp lemon juice
Now, go find a shady spot, along with a good book to read!
HAPPY SUMMER! Summer is for relaxing on the beach or next to the pool. Picnics, long car rides on your way to a great vacation. What can you do during those times? Why, read of course! The Suspense Sisters will give you a great group of books, including some awesome audio books. You can win Patricia Bradley’s books, JUSTICE DELAYED and JUSTICE BURIED in audio! E.E. Kennedy is giving away an audio copy of her wonderful mystery, IRREGARDLESS OF MURDER! You’ll also win all three of Nancy Mehl’s Defenders of Justice series in audio. As you sit by the beach, you can listen to FATAL FROST, DARK DECEPTION, and BLIND BETRAYAL! For those of you who like print books, there will be plenty of those too! ALSO FOR YOUR SUMMER ENJOYMENT YOU CAN WIN:
$100.00 Amazon gift card for additional books! (Or whatever you want!)
A great Suspense Sisters tote bag!
An awesome towel for the beach or the pool! And a personal CD player!
For your chance to win, enter below! (All images are representative of the prizes given. Actual prizes might be a little different. U.S. entries only, please.) a Rafflecopter giveaway
Today, help me welcome a brand, new cozy author, Vivien Chien, with book one of the Noodle Shop Mysteries, Death by Dumpling.
Here’s a little bit about Death by Dumpling: The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that helping wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband. Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.
ME: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
VC: I am a lover of words, a gal who likes to laugh and be silly, a huge fan of doughnuts, and too long-winded to answer this question properly in just one sentence.
ME: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?
VC: In my spare time, if I’m not at the bookstore buying all the books I can fit in my arms, I’m playing video games. I love any game that has an intricate storyline and a good amount of action. I’m no stranger to third-person shooters or a good RPG (role-playing game). I’ve found them to be one of the most effective ways to decompress from writing and/or regular daily life. I’ve also recently found myself wildly enthralled with decorative planning. (If you have no idea what that is, have fun spiraling down that rabbit hole.) Becoming a published author definitely requires you to become organized and anyone that knows me can tell you that is most certainly not me. Decorative planning gives me a way to keep my life together and have some fun while doing it.
ME: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
VC: Any time anyone asks me this question, I struggle with the answer because I have so many that I consider my “favorite.” But here are my top three that often compete for first place:
1. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaretby Judy Blume – This book was such an influential piece of work to me growing up. It stuck with me and I still reference it today.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryby Roald Dahl – I LOVED this book and wished so many times that Willy Wonka was a real person.
3. Claudia and Mean Janine(The Babysitters Club) by Ann M. Martin – This was the first time as a child that I read a book featuring an Asian-American character and I remember thinking I’d struck gold when I found it.
ME: What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?
VC: The first book I ever wrote was modeled after Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I started constructing it when I was in my teens and I had no idea what I was doing. I kept attempting to finish it, but I still had much to learn about the writing process. Later, I attempted to write a chick-lit book that fell insanely flat and I pitched it without so much as a second thought. When I discovered my love for mystery, I knew I’d found my true path. There was no turning back at that point.
(However, that original vampire story still exists in a binder and has transformed many times. It’s now a paranormal mystery and I hope one day it will grace a bookstore shelf somewhere.)
ME: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
VC: The tough criticism I’ve received so far was from someone who said the humor in my first book felt both flat and forced. I think I took this comment to heart more than any others because I pride myself on the ability to relay my snarky humor through my writing. But like any criticism, you take it and use it to your advantage in the hopes it will make your writing better in the future.
On the flip side, the best compliment I’ve received was from a few Asian-American women who thanked me for writing the Noodle Shop series and creating an ethnic character they could relate to in the mystery genre. There are only a few us who have stories featuring Asian-American characters and I had no idea how little the number actually was. I’m proud to be one of the people to contribute to the demographic. My main goal when beginningDeath by Dumpling was to write an enjoyable story with likable characters. I had no idea that Lana Lee would be someone people were searching for. That makes this series all the more special to me.
ME: Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?
VC: If I ever got the chance, I would love to write a historical. I have such an interest in two periods of history: 1920s America and any period of China’s Imperial dynasty timeline, with a specific interest in the Tang dynasty. Random, I know, but I find both of these times extremely fascinating and would love to explore them further through writing.
ME: If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?
VC: Even though I’ve been writing for several years, this is the start of my career. If I could go back, I would have started sooner. I spent a lot of time doubting my ability to write a readable book or the plausibility of becoming a published author. Putting yourself (and your creativity) out there for everyone to see is one of the hardest things to do.
ME: What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
VC: This kind of falls in line with my answer to the question above. Believe in yourself, keep pushing. At times you may not feel like you’re good enough, but keep moving forward until you get where you want to be. I was told many times that this was not an achievable dream, but trust me when I say that is a false statement.
Here’s a little about the author: Vivien Chien first started writing simple stories about adventures with her classmates when she was in elementary school. As she grew up, her love of books and the written word increased, leading to the attempt of her first novel at age 16. After many struggled beginnings and several different genres, she found her passion in the mystery world. When she’s not writing, she can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. She has a soft spot for doughnuts, a healthy love for coffee, and an extreme need to participate in random acts of crafting. She currently lives in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the next book in her Noodle Shop series and writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier.
Write what you know…is a quote usually attributed to Mark Twain. Twain might have been a great American novelist, but his advice better suits authors of the 19th century. What are authors supposed to do in the 21stcentury when expected to produce two or three novels a year? As books become shorter and faster-paced, some writers are releasing books faster than that. If as a full-time professional writer you only write about subjects you’re familiar or experienced with, won’t you run out of story fodder? On a personal level, how many stories about a schoolteacher, living on the edge of Amish country, who loves gardening, animals and American history will readers tolerate? Perhaps more practical advice for this day and age would be: Write about what fascinates you, or perhaps the person you hope to one day become.
I have reached an age when retirement isn’t a distant pipedream. As much as I love Ohio, winters have grown intolerable. My husband and I are determined to live three or four months of the year in the warmer and sunnier South. Recently we’ve combined our quest for inexpensive spots to “snowbird” with my mystery series. The setting for my first story was easy…New Orleans, a city we visited while family lived in the area and many times since. After several stays in Cajun country I was playing the washboard with spoons and cooking gumbo from a roux. My second mystery allowed me to indulge my love of the blues while researching Memphis and the Mississippi delta where rice and cotton fields stretch to the horizon. Next I prowled the streets of Natchez, a charming town overlooking the mighty Mississippi, where the police captain turned out to be the nicest person I’ve ever interviewed. Then we went to beautiful, age-old Savannah for my last book in that series. Recently, (as in three days ago) we returned from our fourth trip to Charleston, South Carolina, the setting for the first of my Marked for Retribution Mysteries. What a delightful town! I’ll be sharing details as the release date for Hiding in Plain Sight draws near. (August 1st)
As we investigate places to live during the winter, I’m also discovering new spots for dead bodies to wash ashore or characters to go missing. If you’re looking for new story ideas, why not consider places you’ve always wanted to visit? Start with research at your local library and on the internet. Then create the characters of your dreams. Maybe you can give them the talents you always longed to have. Your enthusiasm will turn your story into a page-turner readers can’t put down. And just think…when you visit the area to tweak the details, your trip becomes a tax deductible expense. Sounds like a win-win situation, no?
On Tuesday, Suspense Sister Dana Mentink will share What’s Hot
in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery.
On Wednesday Suspense Sister Mary Ellis is talking about “Lessons Learned From Walks on the Beach.” She’ll be giving away a copy of her new book, SUNSET IN OLD SAVANNAH!
Friday, author DiAnn Mills shares her thoughts about Pinterest in
an article titled “The Power of Pinterest.” She’s also giving away a copy of her new book, DEEP EXTRACTION!
A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.
A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional―the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.
Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer―and to each other―the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.
That’s what’s happening this week on the Suspense Sisters. Don’t miss a single day. Sign up through email so you’ll get updates in the exciting world of inspirational suspense and mystery!
This week senior reviewer Marji Laine reviews TARGETED FOR MURDER by Elizabeth Goddard. Marji says: “As much as the suspense and romance kept me turning the pages, theaction in this book propelled me to keep reading. From the second page, the intensity grew with on life-threatening event after another. The attacks came on without allowing the characters or me to stop and rest, breathe. I found myself flipping the pages instead of turning them. Turning them just wasn’t fast enough!”
It’s another great week on the Suspense Sisters! ANNOUNCEMENT!
We’re excited to announce that two of our sisters have been honored with award nominations! Mary Ellis and Elizabeth Godard are both finalists for the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense!
This is quite a distinction, and we’re so proud of them! Congratulations, Sisters!
This week we’re reviewing SINS OF THE PAST, a collection ofromantic suspense novellas by award winning authors Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason. Here’s a brief description of each novella to whet your appetite!
Secrets and Lies. Danger That Will Never Go Away. Join Three Beloved Masters of Romantic Suspense for Novellas Where the Past Will Not Stay Buried.
Dee Henderson – “Missing”
A Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing from her retirement community. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two soon launch into a race against the clock when they realize something dark may lie at the heart of the disappearance.
Dani Pettrey – “Shadowed”
Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young Alaskan fisherman nets the body of a Russian open water swimming competitor. Another swimmer, who’d been the dead woman’s roommate years ago, is pulled into the search for answers as it grows more and more clear that something sinister is at play.
Lynette Eason – “Blackout”
A young woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong finds herself at risk years later when the real culprit is up for parole. The loot taken that night has never been found and he believes she knows where it’s hidden–only her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety?
On Tuesday, Dana Mentink will share What’s Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery!
On Wednesday we’ll hear from Dana again. She’ll be sharing her summer reading survey. She’ll also be giving away two of her newest releases, SEASIDE SECRETS and SIT, STAY, LOVE!
Friday, Suspense Sister Ellen Kennedy will be interviewing another top notch author in the mystery/ suspense genre. Watch us to find out who it will be! That’s what’s happening this week on the Suspense Sisters! Don’t miss a single day. Sign up through email so you’ll get updates in the exciting world of inspirational suspense and mystery!