The Self-Rescue Princess

Becoming your own knight.

SRP Heroine Interview: Aggie Mundeen from Smart, But Dead

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m chatting with Aggie Mundeen about her latest case, and the woman who is helping Aggie tell the world all about her adventures.

  1. SMART BUT DEAD cover frontTell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Pushing forty and appalled at the prospect of descending into middle-age decrepitude, I blasted off to the local university to study the genetics of aging. I’d find youthful hints for readers of my column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” and I’d learn how to stay young myself.

Despite conflicts with my professor, I was fascinated learning about  human genome projects and  DNA. Then I stumbled upon a dead academic. Detective Sam Vanderhoven, San Antonio PD,  reminded me to avoid the investigation. But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, I  was compelled to find the killer. I wound up the prime suspect and was on target to become next campus corpse.

  1. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Nancy G. West, who tells my stories, heard that genes affect aging and wanted to know more about it. That’s what usually gets me into trouble. As a business and English literature major, she didn’t know squat about genetics. Her last science course was college biology. So she had to rely on scientists to explain genetics. Unfortunately, they speak their own language. She had to decipher what they told her and then put it into language she and I could understand.

  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. While working my way up to vice-president in a Chicago bank, like a squirrel counting nuts, I did think I should be enjoying a more exciting existence. When I had an unexpected windfall, I fled from the brutal winters and moved to Texas.

  1. Who would you say is least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

Detective Sam is appalled when I assist in his investigations. But it’s extremely satisfying to solve crimes and restore justice. He believes that, too, and I like being around him. He’ll just have to get used to me.

For Nancy:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Weakness: I prefer writing scenes with Aggie and Sam before I’ve completed the research needed for the plot.

Strength: I love writing dialogue scenes with Aggie and Sam.

Strange isn’t it, how our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness?

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess means to you.

I’d rather die than become a clinging vine. But I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it.

  1. What one bit of advice/wisdom would you like to pass on to young women?

Take time to find out who you are before you go looking for somebody you think will make you complete.

  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

Determination and perseverance wins. Even if the goal changes or moves farther away (or you’re arrested and somebody wants you dead), you’ve won the prize of being able to persevere.

  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Since we’re all multifaceted, our lives have many themes. I guess my song  would be “I Did It My Way”,— with help, compassion and the grace of God.

  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? (another book featuring this heroine)

If Aggie and Sam manage to get out of the mess in Smart, But Dead without killing each other, there will undoubtedly be another situation where  I’ll feel obligated to use my sleuthing skills.

Nancy has offered to giveaway an autographed Advanced Reader Copy to one lucky commenter on this post. Let us know about something you’d like to learn more about, and please leave an email so Nancy can contact the winner. The winner will be drawn August 30.

If you like to learn more about Aggie and Nancy, Aggie reveals more at Talk to Aggie on Nancy’s website:

Twitter: @NancyGWest_


Beginning my Blue Apron Adventure

blue apronTen days ago, I saw an ad on Facebook for Blue Apron, a service delivering fresh ingredients and the recipes for three meals to your home. I’ve been wanting to branch out from the standard meals I’ve been cooking (for what seems like forever), and expand our palate a little more. As we live in a rural area, some ingredients are hard to come by so Blue Apron looked perfect for us. I also liked the fact I could order a 2 person or family plan which your choice of omnivore or vegetarian…or you can mix it up a bit. My son is a picky eater, so I knew he wouldn’t eat the fancy meals but they were perfect for my husband and I. It would be a fun way to have an elegant, date night meal at home.

Another reason I ordered was to see the amount of ingredients needed to cook for two people. I have been cooking for 5 or more for such a long time I’d forgotten how to cook small. Most of the time we had so many leftovers, the same meal was eaten for lunch and dinner a few days in a row, unless it was something that could be frozen and remain edible (note: cucumbers do not freeze well). Also by having so much food available at mealtimes, I was encouraging huge portion sizes.

I hadn’t realized our mind-set until I made the first Blue Apron meal for my husband and myself. As I was preparing it, we both thought the protein (meat) included was rather small for a two-person meal. There was no way we’d be full after dinner, even taking into account the vegetable part of the meal. Much to our surprise, not only were we full but we had some of the vegetables left. We made the second meal yesterday, and again, discovered that the meat portion was exactly what we needed and not on the skimpy side. I’m looking forward to making the spicy meatballs tomorrow, and getting my next shipment in two weeks.

And a huge shout-out to Blue Apron for making it so easy to skip a delivery. In the delivery schedule, the next five weeks of meals are listed and I can choose which ones I’d like and the ones I prefer to skip. It’s so convenient to look at the menus and schedule the next couple of weeks at once rather than having to remember to check every week. I’m really looking forward to week when shrimp and grits is one of our recipes.


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SRP Heroine Interview: Marian Frances Selby from Brilliant Disguise

brilliant disguiseI’d like to thank Marian Selby for stopping by the Self-Rescue Princess.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? I was married to my high school sweetheart, Lee, for 19 years. When he died 11 years ago, I swore there would never be another man in my life. I mean, he was the love of my life. Then, Detective Charlie McClung stepped into my life, investigating the mysterious death of my next door neighbor and friend, Diane. Now, I’m struggling with my feeling for him and at the same time trying to figure-out who killed Diane.
  2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor? Diane was like the little sister I never had. And when the chief of police closed the case as a suicide, I knew I had to get involved.
  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime? No. I never imagined anything sinister happening in my life.
  1. Who would you say is the least pleased about your sleuthing? Detective Charlie McClung. He knows this situation is a tangled web of deceit, corruption, and complicated shadows and doesn’t want me getting hurt.
  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses? I think my strengths, besides being a good cook, are being observant and discerning. My weakness, I sometimes forget to watch my back.
  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you. It means I can survive without having to depend on anyone else but smart enough to get help when I need it, surrounding myself with wise and trusted friends who will always be there for me. Does that make sense?
  1. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women? It’s great to be self-reliant but never forget you are a woman and act like a lady. Call me old-fashion.
  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life? It’s good to have a real man in my life. Not just any man but a dependable gentleman.
  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be? In My Life by The Beatles
  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? Let’s just say, I’m always available, willing, and able.

If you’d like to get to know Marian better, you can find her story at:


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SRP Heroine Interview: Ivy Meadows from The Sound of Murder

sound of murderWelcome to the Self- Rescue Princess, Ivy, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

Though I’ve been pursuing my acting and P.I. careers, it’s been a little crazy since my apartment caught on fire (did you know that firefighters won’t let you back in your apartment to get your clothes? Not even your undies?) But things are looking up: I met the nicest fireman, got a great housesitting gig, and landed my first P.I. case, a suicide in the retirement community where I’m housesitting. My acting career is really taking off, too. A big New York producer is coming to Arizona to see me in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret (singing nuns AND Berlin burlesque).

Now if I could just get over my little fear of singing in public. And stop worrying about my cast mate, Marge, who seems awfully forgetful lately. And fix my car, which seems to be catching on fire even more than usual. And ditch the posse member who’s following me. Then I have just one more thing to do–figure out why all of this seems to be connected to that one simple suicide case…

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No. But when my friend and fellow actor, Simon Black died of an apparent alcohol overdose during a production of Macbeth, I knew something wicked this way came. After all, Simon had turned his life around. I knew he wasn’t drinking any more, no matter the evidence. My Uncle Bob—a P.I., my part-time employer, and the nicest guy in the world—agreed to investigate. But after someone poisoned my uncle’s Big Gulp, it was up to me to find the killer (you can read about the case in a book called Macdeath).

During that adventure, I discovered a taste for detecting. And though I’m still mostly on admin duty at Uncle Bob’s P.I. firm, I’m really excited to work my first case. I know I’m going to be a great detective. After all, it’s in the genes.

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

I love that term—a self-rescue princess. I was always annoyed at those fairytale characters who waited for something to happen to them. “Go out and make it happen!” I wanted to shout. I made my life’s dream come true. When I decided to make theater my profession, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled (my parents aren’t thrilled with me in general, but that’s another story). There was no money and no support. But I made my way. Sure, I’m still driving old cars and eating lots of beans, but I am an actress!

What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Channel one of my heroes, Helen Keller, who said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Be daring.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews/Maria may skip and swing her guitar case, but she’s singing to give herself confidence before a big adventure. That’s me—a little scared of leaping into the breach, but confident that things will somehow turn out all right (you can see why my #2 theme song is “Cockeyed Optimist”)

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Funny you should ask. My uncle just got a call from Get Lit!, a book-themed cruise line (they’re the ones who had the husky incident on the S.S. Jack London). Seems there’s a theft ring onboard the ships, and they’d like the pair of us to go undercover on their Charles Dickens-themed boat. My uncle will pose as a wealthy guest, while I’ll work as an actress, playing Nancy in Get Lit’s version of Oliver Twist. It’ll be like a paid vacation with my favorite person in the world, plus a lead role, AND a $10,000 bonus if we crack the case. And we’re just talking about theft, so the job shouldn’t be dangerous…right?

If you’d like to read Ivy’s adventure, you can pre-order The Sound of Murder at these places (release date is Oct 6, 2015):


Barnes & Noble:



And if you’d like to read Ivy’s previous adventure, you can get Macdeath at the following places:


Barnes & Noble



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What’s Next aka the Battling Plots

Midnight drearyWhen I finished writing Framed to Death, the first thing I did…okay the second after celebrating typing The End…was start working on the outline for book five in the Scrap This series. I always enjoy the first week after completing a book as I’m contemplating the different twists that could occur in Faith’s life. What will happen in her personal life? How about her professional life? How about her role/standing in the community with her role as the go-to-girl when someone has been wrongly accused? How does Faith, or someone in Eden, have ties to victim in the book? Will Faith’s sleuthing cause friction and heartaches in her relationships? These are usually the first questions I ask before I start working on the motivation for the crime, and the suspects in the story. I have to know what’s going on with Faith’s life, and in her community, first and from that point brainstorm a few ideas on what the catalyst for the crime.

I have tried plotting a book by deciding on how the murder would happen and where (plus, I always have two strong suspects but I don’t know which one it will be until the end of book), but the story didn’t really come together It felt too clinical, as I was relating everything to the murder and it took away the personal feel that I love about traditional/cozy mysteries. For me, I needed an underlying theme to focus on for the book to have the necessary ‘heart’ to connect Faith, and the reader, to the story.

It’s always a fabulous day when I have all the answers to my questions and can start outlining the book. I had found just the perfect idea for the book and started working on the outline, happy with how the plot and subplot were interconnecting. There was a bump or two I still needed to smooth out, but I knew I’d work it out once I started writing the actual book. My wonderful editor returned Framed to Death so I put the new book aside and began work on Framed (I must say I love…capital LOVE…editing time).

As I drove to the grocery store on Friday, a scene popped into my head for the new book. Usually that is wonderful, but this time the scene had nothing to do with the book I planned to write. This was a new idea. A different setting. Different key secondary characters. Different theme. Different motive. Different future, and hope, for Faith. And today on my way home from the auto repair place, I ‘saw’ the murder with two different scenarios on the when and how it could happen in the story. What is an author to do? And, also had to admit to myself that the new idea worked so much better with the working title.

Dare I start on this new path rather than stick with the old? I have a plan. It’s a good plan. But, this new one excites me with the future it holds for Faith, the simple…yet complexity…of the motivation of the killer, and most importantly the opportunity to show a truth I believe in strongly. Can I be brave enough to write this new idea? I put a little bit of me into every book, I believe every writer does, but I’ve always made sure what I included wasn’t too personal and didn’t give away too much of me.

Maybe it’s time I did?

Maybe, it’s time I did.

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Autograph Books for Disney Trip

2015-06-05 10.35.08For our trip to Disney World (we’re doing 3 character meals), I made autograph books for the little ones. I usually buy them at the parks, but I wanted them to have one that was a little unique. I chose some chipboard covers that were similar in size to the autograph books sold at Disney. I had originally planned on using a larger size but figured they’d be bulky to carry, and maybe the characters had a harder time holding square shaped books as the ones I’ve seen were always rectangle.

After I settled on the size, I went to planning the design. I saw a lot of examples that I loved on Pinterest and pinned a few. I loved the designs where multiple colors and patterns of paper were used to decorate the front. I gave it a try at this and for some reason couldn’t get my papers…even though they were from the same line…to coordinate in the Disney style I wanted. I was starting to get frustrated then thought I’d use my collection of Disney washi tape.2015-06-05 11.24.33 I love Disney. I love washi tape. Why not used the beloved tape on the covers of the books? I love washi tape so much I even gave the product a starring roll in my novel Designed to Death.

The first book I made was going to be for a little boy and have his favorite character, Sully, on the front. I chose to use different tapes for the strips with the Disney word tape in the middle and at both ends. I wanted to make sure the inside of the back and front of the covers were decorated so added a die cut Boo and Mike to those pages. 2015-06-05 10.40.05The step that took the longest was cutting out the autograph pages as I wanted them to match the shape of the book.

I traced the cover on a heavy weight cardstock, folded it in half, then cut the pages out. Each book has 20 pages…enough pages for 40 signatures if each character uses a separate page. I used rings to hold the pages together because it would be easy to add more pages if needed. The pages looked a little2015-06-05 10.35.34 plain (and I couldn’t erase all the pencil marks off), so I inked the edges.


For the two girl books, I decided to go with alternating the tape designs and using the Disney word tape as the starting point by putting it in the middle of the book. For these books, I used Elsa and Anna as the cover character and then a word phrase and Olaf on the ‘inside’ back cover.2015-06-05 10.36.15 2015-06-05 10.40.10


Earlier I mentioned making the pages took the longest amount of time with this project and that’s because I have a box of die cuts. I find using the Cameo and Cricut relaxing so the days where I want to craft but not make scrapbook pages (and I’ll even do this at retreats), I cut out characters and phrases and put them in my box for later.2015-06-05 11.25.44 Sometimes, I’ll use them on pages or another project, and there have even been a few times I’ve let the little ones play with the ‘paper people’. Like me, they love Disney so prefer the Disney characters over the other ones in the box. It’s probably why my box is mainly filled with Disney themed die cuts…and the fact that last few times we’ve taken large family vacations they’ve been Disney related.

I can’t wait to get to Disney and our first character meal and give the little ones they’re autograph books. I kind of wish I made one for me.

2015-06-04 15.24.072015-06-05 10.38.51


Planning is Part of the Fun

2015-06-01 15.52.26In a little less than a week, we’ll be on our way to Disney World. Okay, Orlando actually as we’re not staying at a resort hotel and won’t be at Disney each day but to me we’re going to Disney. For me, it is one of the happiest places on Earth and where I find I can let go of all worries and anxieties and just be in the moment. This time will be even more magical as we’re bringing the little people…aka the Princess and Pirate Boy…aka the grandones…aka the grandchildren…with us. Now, my children never picked up the Disney fever and love from their mother, but my oldest daughter’s little ones sure have. I have got the 2-year-old saying “Going to Disney World” and the 5-year-old is beside herself with anticipation. We giggle about our trip and the plans every time she comes over. I don’t know who’s more excited about the Princess breakfast and meeting Anna and Elsa. Actually, I do. I am more excited about watching my Princess meet the Princesses she loves more than anything else. The anticipation and excitement are so great, I find it a hard time concentration when I find my mind wandering to those events and envisioning the smile on her face. Oh my…is it time yet?

Every vacation we go on, I like to learn about the area and plan out a few things we can do. Fortunately with Disney, there are tons of books, videos, and other sources available for me to get into the Disney and vacation mood. And sometimes a little bit too much because I have to ‘bargain/bribe’ myself into how much work I have to do before I click over to a Disney site or see if we can change the time on the FP+ experience or even switch the experience. My son decided he’d rather trade his Fastpass option from the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid to Space Mountain, and from Meet the Disney Pals to go on Mission:SPACE along with his dad. Go figure.

I’m really looking forward to this trip that will be a mix of family time and also our group branching out at times to go and experience their favorite parts of the Disney World parks. The Passporter’s Disney World guide is my favorite (if I have to pick one) and I also really like the Hidden Magic of Walt Disney. The Hidden Magic gives tips of things to see and explore when you’re not in the mood for rides or just want to know some of the special ‘treats’ Disney built-in to the park which gives it the magical Disney touch.

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How Does the Garden Grow

This year, I’m determined to try new adventures and not let worrying consume me or stop me from trying something new. I was a tax preparer this tax season, and found out I really enjoyed it.  In continuing with this mission, I started a garden this year. I have the help of my husband, and my good friend Janie. She’s an avid gardener and was willing to help me out. Fortunately, my husband and I have a huge yard (even for WV) so our first task was narrowing down where on the seven acres to put it. A few acres were easily to eliminate as it was either woods or where our flowers were planted. We chose a flat spot near our house hoping that, along with our fencing material, keeps the deer and rabbits out of the garden.

2015-05-10 14.44.26

Let’s hope it works!

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Our freshly tilled garden spot.

It has been such a long time since I had a garden. The first garden I tended came with the house we bought, so I never started one from scratch. I’m so glad I had the advice and encouragement of my friend or I wouldn’t have got any further than planning to put one in. We spent all day Friday finishing up the garden. First a trip to a farm to choose our plants, then coming back, doing a little more tilling, remove some more rocks, planning out our planting strategy, then planting all of our plants. We might have over done it this year…toward the end of our planting session we were running out of room and weren’t sure we’d get everything in.

Our plants include: habanero peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, thai chill peppers, banana peppers, green and yellow peppers, brussel sprouts, asparagus, lettuce, red and yellow onions, eggplants, mix of herbs, and a variety of tomatoes. It’s a very eclectic garden.

I’m going to take notes so I’ll know next year what plants did well in our rocky soil and with an amateur garden tending it. I find myself checking multiple times a day to see if our garden has grown. I can’t wait to pick the first veggies from it.
2015-05-15 15.57.02 2015-05-15 15.57.12

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SRP Review: Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

deadly assetsDeadly Assets is the second book in the Allison Campbell Mystery Book series. Even in the first book (Killer Image), I saw Allison Campbell has a self-rescuing princess. While her past affected her deeply, she never allowed it to control her and found a way to use her pain and insecurities as a way to not only better her own life but also others. I loved how Allison learnt from her past and was willing to acknowledge the mistakes she made that contributed to the issues she had.

In the second book, Allison’s first foray into amateur sleuthing made a big impact on her life and that of her close friends. Allison was considerate of their  concern for her, especially when she finds herself having to solve the disappearance of two of her clients, and at the same time asserts her independence. I loved how Allison was able to do that without alienating anyone and taking their feelings into consideration. It’s a hard balance for a woman to stand on their own without pushing everyone away…and also not putting themselves in unnecessary danger. Allison knows when to turn to others for help and I find that an important (and sometimes) overlooked trait for a self-rescuing princess. I know at times I believe the only way to be ‘truly’ self-sufficient is to do something totally on one’s own but shutting one’s self away from others can be a lot easier than allowing people into your inner circle.

I really admire the character of Allison Campbell because I see being able to reach out when necessary, and still maintain the strength to stand on her own when she knows it’s in her best interest. Allison doesn’t take unnecessary risks, yet has no problem facing danger when it will help her clients and friends. I can’t wait to see what happens in Allison’s life in book three (Dying Brand).

NOTE: Currently, the ebook version of Deadly Assets is on sale for 99 cents. I don’t know how long the sale will last. Please pick up a copy if you’re interested in getting to know Allison Campbell better. The first book in the series is Killer Image, and the third just came out on Tuesday, Dying Brand.

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Disney Cruise Layouts

One of the first crafting projects I finished in 2015 was our Disney Cruise album. I had been working on the scrapbook(s) since the beginning of 2013. It took quite a few cropping sessions at home, and even more at some weekend scrapbooking retreats to complete the albums. And yes the ‘s’ and the end of scrapbooks was the biggest reason it took so long. Our one week Disney cruise resulted in hundreds of pictures and 3 full albums. 2015-03-08 19.31.17

I knew I needed two albums for all the layouts but was shocked when the scrapbook turned into a trilogy. I sorted the pictures into three separate sections: cruise activities, character and portrait pics, and then Castaway
Cay day.

cruise 2012 cartooniss

Animator’s Palate…draw your own cartoon character.

I wanted to add in our memorabilia throughout the scrapbooks and designed some pages taking that into account. On the We’re Cartoonists page, I added in the dinner rotation tickets that we’re given on the first day. On another page, I added a Fish Extender gift as a frame for the excursion tickets. (FE gifts are like Secret Santa gifts that a group of cruisers drop off at the cabins by placing in totes/bag/FE extenders that are hung on the fishes by the cabin doors. Cruisers sign up through FB or websites dedicated to Disney traveling.)

cruise 2012 costa excursion ticket cruise 2012 costa maya

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the character pictures. Now, not everyone in the family found standing in line for the pictures was as fun as I did, so one night I decided to go ahead and get character pictures taken with just me. At first I felt a little weird without having anyone else in the family, but I got over my reservations and had fun. I figured there was no reason I shouldn’t take part in one of the events I enjoyed most…who knew when I’d get another chance. cruise 2012 toy story

The last day of the cruise was spent on Castaway Cay. One of favorite layouts was from pictures taken by a lovely woman on the same parasailing excursion as my teens. Only those parasailing were allowed on the boat so I was happy someone took photos for us with our underwater camera. cruise 2012 up For the Up layouts, I used embellishments (paper and dimensional sticker) to help create movement on the page.

Here are a couple of some of my other favorite layouts. For Animator’s Palate, I used some photo pockets to create additional space to display more pictures. (yes, we took a lot of food pictures)

cruise 2012 animator palate
cruise 2012 ap

cruise 2012 megan port

cruise 2012 mcc pg 1cruise 2012 mcc pg 2

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