The Self-Rescue Princess

killer finds  large banner640Thank you so much for stopping by the Self-Rescue Princess today. I’m so glad you’re able to visit while I chat with CC Muller from Killer Finds.

Killer_Finds frontPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I will start out by introducing myself for those of you who don’t know me. My name is CC Muller, and I am an antique hunter. I, along with my best friend Anne Hillstrom, appear in the Antique Hunters Mystery series written by Vicki Vass. Our most recent book, Killer Finds, details our adventures after Anne loses all her money and is forced to sell her beloved possessions.  It becomes further complicated by the dead body sitting on the seat next to her on the flight home from our buying trip to Paris.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

From the beginning, Anne and I never meant to be characters in a murder mystery series. We only wanted to share our love of antiquing and our knowledge of history with you, our dear readers. Things don’t always work out the way you think they will. Instead we encountered trouble. You can read about our adventures in the first book in the series, Murder by the Spoonful.

Along the way, Anne and I pride ourselves with giving you, our dear readers, tips you can use for your own antique hunting and perhaps if the circumstances arise how to solve a murder mystery.

What are your strengths?

Before Anne and I start out on any trip, we do our research. As an investigative journalist, I rely on the Internet and my extensive wealth of knowledge. We research various locations and its surrounding area so we can maximize our time on our antique hunts. Anne’s background as a research chemist has proven particularly useful both in identifying antiques and killers.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share?

Make a plan. Anne loves to make lists upon lists of stores she would like to visit wherever we are traveling. And, she never forgets to bring her tools. These are very important to help authenticate a find such as a Roseville vase. Anne always carries a pen flashlight and magnifying glass. She also brings a measuring tape so she can measure the space required to take home a large item or authenticate the correct height of antiques such as Stieff bears or Hummels. But the greatest tool Anne carries is her eye for quality antiques. Her house is full of beautiful finds. Well, to be fair more than full as her obsession with shopping carries her away as does her love for food. As her best friend, I feel it is my responsibility to keep both in check.

How can we keep up with your and Anne’s adventures?

In our blog called the Spoon Sisters, a title anointed on us by the Chicago Tribune after solving the estate sale murders in Murder by the Spoonful, we share many tips on antique hunting and recipes from my kitchen and from around the country as we hunt down antiques and pick up clues.

With summer upon us, here is a simple recipe for a refreshing and elegant Shrimp and Watermelon salad.

Ingredients for salad

1 chunk romaine, shredded

1 lb peeled and deveined cooked shrimp

½ watermelon cut into cubes

½ cup feta sprinkles

1 ounce glazed pecans

Mix all ingredients together

Ingredients for Lemon dressing

Juice of one lemon and some zest

1 tbs. sugar to taste

1 tbs. vinegar.

Mix all together well and then pour over the salad. Serve and enjoy. Should make four servings.

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m having a guest blogger introduce you to the art of  in Trompe l’oeil.

by Sybil Johnson

The next book in my Aurora Anderson Mystery Series, A PALETTE FOR MURDER, features a trompe l’oeil (pronounced “Tromp Loy”) class. That means “trick the eye” or “fool the eye”. It’s any painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.  Those clouds on ceilings in Vegas casinos and faux finishes such as marble and bricks fall into this category. To get a feel for what else can be done, here are some masterful 3-D illusions using chalk on pavement by various artists: ://www.boredphttpanda.com/5-most-talented-3d-sidewalk-chalk-artists/

Go ahead, check them out. I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Amazing, right? My favorite is Ice Age.

While working on PALETTE, I was reminded that I’d bought a pattern book and wood for a much simpler project, a cherry pie on a stool, years ago. Yep, years ago. I decided now was the time to work on this project. I thought I’d take you along on my journey into trompe l’oeil.

Here’s what I started with, a pattern/instruction book by Peggy Decker and an unpainted wood side table:

JohnsonImage1

I started by staining the wood. The instructions said to use Minwax Polyshades, Gloss Finish, in Pecan. It’s a polyurethane varnish with the stain in the product. I’d never used the product or even stained anything before, so I approached it with some trepidation. I pulled on my big girl pants and worked away. It took me all of 30 minutes to screw it up. Okay, it was a little longer than that, but not by much.

When the table dried, the top was a mess, not smooth at all. I thought I’d read the instructions carefully, but turns out I didn’t really. Luckily, wood is fairly forgiving so I stripped the top using Citristrip, sanded it a bit and I was good to go again. This time, I made sure I read and reread the instructions.

The next step was applying the pattern using graphite and basecoating with DecoArt White acrylic paint. I was a little worried about the acrylic painting adhering to the Polyshades, but it worked out okay. In between coats of white, I used a bit of paper torn from a brown paper bag to “sand”. Yep, a good old paper bag from the grocery store. It’s rough enough to smooth the paint a bit, but not so rough that it takes the paint off.

Here it is after this step:

JohnsonImage2

Next came a coating of light gray followed by the stripes on the cloth, painted in FolkArt Rose Chiffon. Liner work is not my favorite thing to do. I’ve seen brushes at conventions that have two brushes on one handle, that produce two parallel lines. I don’t have one of those, but I decided it wouldn’t be hard to make my own. I taped together two 10/0 liner brushes and voila! I have my own double brush.

JohnsonImage3

This is where I am so far on the project.

JohnsonImage4

Doesn’t look terribly exciting yet, I know. Projects never do at the beginning. Next time I’ll be working on the pie at the center of the design. Stay tuned.

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press.

CALAMITY CAFE  large banner640Today, I’m chatting with Amy Flowers. How are you today? Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

The Calamity Cafe (1)I’m so excited to be opening up my own café! Right now, we’re undertaking some major renovations—we being me, my cousin Jackie, one of our favorite regulars, and my lifelong friend Roger and his construction crew. When we get done, the Down South Café is going to be beautiful!

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

Well, I’d been dreaming of opening my own café for a long time. When my nana died last year, she left me enough money to make my dream come true. After culinary school, I came back home to Winter Garden because Nana was sick and I wanted to be close in case she needed me. I went to work at Lou’s Joint (the café I bought and am renovating), but that woman was a horrible bully. I was eager to get myself and my cousin out of that place as soon as possible.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never. In fact, I don’t suppose I’d have ever even considered it had I not gone in the café that evening and found Lou Lou Holman—my former boss—slumped over her desk. I didn’t realize it at first, but she was dead. Now, of course, I’m a suspect in her murder, so I have to find out who really did it or I—and my new café—are toast!

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

I don’t imagine my mother is very thrilled about it. And, come to think of it, Deputy Ryan Hall—who’s very easy on the eyes, by the way—doesn’t seem to like my poking my nose in where he doesn’t think it belongs either. But how else am I going to find out who killed Lou Lou? Deputy Hall says to let the police do their jobs, but where’s the harm in my helping out? Besides, criminals get defensive around police officers. They’re more likely to open up around us “normal” people.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m a hard worker, an excellent chef, a devoted friend/family member, and I’m dedicated to the café patrons. I’d say my biggest weakness is that I have a tendency to take in strays. I’m not sure I’d call that a weakness, though. Jackie thinks I’m a pushover. But I only have the one dog…and the cat—who technically belongs to Mom and wasn’t a stray.

Here’s the thing: the morning after Lou Lou was killed, the café was closed while the police investigated the crime scene. Well, poor Homer Pickens comes in every morning at ten o’clock to get his sausage biscuit; so when the café was closed, he came to my house and asked me to fix it for him. Then Dilly Boyd heard the news and she came to the house to ask if I’d make lunch. So I made lunch for her and a few of her friends. But that’s not being a pushover, right? That was learning firsthand what it would be like to cook for a group of patrons—not friends or family. And it was giving a few older people their daily social interaction. They need that.

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

It means you can do whatever you put your mind to. Set your goals, write them down, revisit them on a regular basis, and make them happen.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. You can—and will—achieve your dreams.

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

I’m stronger than I realized I was.

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

“Walking on Sunshine”

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

I wasn’t planning on it, but I have a bad feeling that something bad is going to happen to Mr. Lincoln. He’s the Chamber of Commerce president, and he stirs up trouble everywhere he goes. (Stay tuned for book two—SILENCE OF THE JAMS!)

 

ECLAIR AND PRESENT DANGER    large banner640I’m excited today to have Winnie Johnson joining us at the Self-Rescue Princess.

ECLAIR AND PRSENT DANGERWinnie, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

For as far back as I can remember, all I’ve ever wanted to do was bake.  The process of mixing ingredients together to make something delicious was pretty amazing all on its own. But when your creation got a moan of delight out of someone? That was the best. So you could say it was the realization of a lifelong dream when I opened my own bakery, Delectable Delights.

Things were going great until Nick Batkas, my bakery’s landlord raised the rent so high there was no way I could stay in business.

That is until I got word that my dear sweet neighbor, Gertrude Redenbacher named me in her will.

Yes, I admit I was imagining an envelope of cash—just enough to keep my dream alive.

But Gertie didn’t leave me money.

Instead, she left me her cat, Lovey (who loves everyone but me), and the vintage ambulance her late husband was restoring prior to his own death.

So yeah, good bye lifelong dream.

As you can imagine, I was rather down in the dumps when I left the bakery that last day, but I had to keep my emotions at bay until I made good on a promise to another late friend. You see, once a week, I make and deliver a peach pie to Bart Wagner, my neighbor across the street. He’s been having a tough time lately on account of losing his wife of nearly fifty years.

So I made the pie.

And walked it across the street and into Bart’s house.

I hated going into his house like that, but when he didn’t answer, and the door was unlocked, I went inside. You know, just to make sure he was okay.

That’s when I found him on the floor—dead, suffocated with one of his own pillows.

I have to do something, don’t I? About my bakery and Bart.

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

Bart and his wife, Ethel were my neighbors and my friends. Losing Ethel was hard. She was like a second grandmother to me. I promised her I’d look after Bart with a peach pie every week. And I was doing that. Just like I promised. But seeing him like that? Murdered in his own home? It made me mad (after I screamed, of course).

I live on a street of elderly people—elderly people I adore. And to see them afraid for their life because a murderer is on the loose, isn’t okay with me.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Um, no. I’m a baker, not a fighter.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Hmmm…

I would say my strength and my convictions go hand in hand. I know what I like and I don’t change that for anyone. I’m loyal to a fault (as evidenced by the cat who is now living with me) and I’m respectful of the fact that I need to bake. It makes me whole.

As far as my weaknesses, my confidence (in terms of dating) isn’t too high. I think I’m just content with the company my elderly neighbors and my best friend, Renee provide. Or maybe that’s just a cop out…

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

For me, being a self-rescue princess means not needing a man to complete me. It means listening to my gut. And it means believing in myself and my abilities.

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

Right now? I’d have to say that old song, Roll With It Baby by Steve Winwood. Because right now that’s exactly what I need to do in regards to my career, my life, and this promise I made to my friends that I will find Bart’s killer.

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

I wish I could say I get to hang up that hat, but I don’t.

Because next March (in Silence of the Flans), a student at the local college is going to be poisoned. And, seeing as how it’s one of my desserts she’ll be eating when she keels over, I kind of sort of need to get to the bottom of things if there’s any hope of keeping my Emergency Dessert Squad on the road…

 

Framed to Death CoverIt’s here…release day for Framed to Death. I hate picking a favorite (and I probably say this with every book) but I have to say this cover and the story is one of my favorites. It wasn’t the easiest one to write, to be honest it gave me huge fits at times, but it holds a special place in my heart. My character grew a lot from the ending of Embellished to Framed. I loved writing this journey for her and having her take on an issue causing havoc in her community.

I’ll be making some guest appearances around the world wide web, and I’ll also be at Malice Domestic this weekend. Please stop by and say hi at my stops to enter into a giveaway.

Here’s my schedule:

April 25 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

April 26 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

April 27T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

April 28The Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

April 29Tea and A Book – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

April 303 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too ! – SPOTLIGHT

May 1Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

May 2LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 2Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

May 3Musings and Ramblings – GUEST POST

May 4A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

And now a little introduction about Framed to Death:

Eden has turned into a hotspot of crime, and Faith finds herself smack dab in the middle of the flare-up. When a favor for a friend links Faith to the synthetic marijuana problem invading her town, no good deed goes unpunished becomes the title of her life. The town accuses the police of favoritism toward her, putting a strain between Faith and Ted, and a new officer is determined to prove Faith’s guilt.

When the criminal is outed, Faith’s relief is short-lived. A fire takes out the store—along with the suspected dealer—and she’s now number one on an officer’s suspect list. Faith sets out to prove her own innocence, and her digging sparks the truth to life. Instead of the truth setting the town free, Faith finds out it might destroy Eden, the friends she holds dear, and smother out her own life.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

 

pushed to the limit large banner640The Self-Rescue Princess is thrilled to have Emma Cassidy stopping by to chat with us today. Thanks for coming, Emma. I’ll go ahead and get started with my questions as I know you’re quite a busy woman.

PUSHED TO THE LIMITPlease tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Hi, great to be here! I’m an event planner, and I’ve recently had to move back to my home town and start from scratch after my career went down the tubes in New York (through no fault of mine). In this business word of mouth is everything, so I wasn’t too happy when Faye Seymour, the town’s reigning gossip queen, spread some nasty rumors about me that resulted in me losing a valuable client. I wasn’t her only victim. Faye enjoyed digging up secrets, spreading malicious gossip, and making people’s lives miserable. But then someone finally snapped and pushed the old woman down the stairs. I happened to stumble upon her, and she accused me of trying to kill her before passing out! Fortunately, when she came around, she didn’t remember what she’d said. But now I have to find out who the real culprit is before she regains her ‘memory’ and starts accusing me again. Only problem is, Faye has made a lot of enemies.

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

I don’t want to be falsely accused. Plus, I’m convinced someone tried to kill Faye, and as much as she exasperates me, I wouldn’t like her to be bumped off.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, never in my wildest dreams! It’s ironic that I lived in New York for years and never had a problem with crime, yet now that I’m back in my sleepy hometown I’m seeing potential murderers everywhere!

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

That would have to be Owen Fletcher, my high school boyfriend. Once upon a time we were inseparable, but we each had very different visions of our future, so we broke up just before graduation. Now, I’m back, and I have to confess I’ve entertained the odd daydream about getting back together with Owen, but so far he hasn’t given me any signs of encouragement. Owen is a deputy with the sheriff’s department, and he hates my amateur sleuthing with a passion. He thinks I’m too reckless for my own good, but I don’t agree.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I think my strengths are resilience and self-reliance. Losing a business and a boyfriend at the same time has taught me how to recover from setbacks.

My weaknesses? Sometimes I can’t say no to people, like Faye, for example. Even though she lost me an important client and treats me with little respect, I’ve agreed to look after her pet parrot while she’s in hospital.

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

It means knowing that I am responsible for myself, and that no one owes me anything. It also means I recognize when something is too big for me to handle and that I’m not too proud to ask for help.

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

I’d like to quote Eleanor Roosevelt: No one came make you feel inferior without your consent.

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

I’m lucky to have my family and friends around me.

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

Let It Be, by the Beatles.

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

Well, funny you should ask that! I don’t plan to dabble, but it seems like I’ve found myself embroiled in another murder mystery. I can’t give too much away because I’m still assembling the suspects, but hopefully all will be revealed soon.

 

dirty deedsStopping in to visit us today is Cameron James who you can get to know in Dirty Deeds. Welcome, Cameron, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Answer: Being a justice dealer is becoming a bit unnerving, as all of my targets call me Avenging Angel. How do they all call me by that name and not know each other? It’s weird.

At the same time, Devin, my best friend, is keeping secrets and I have a bad feeling whatever he isn’t telling me is something I would kill anyone else over. How am I supposed to deal with that?

There’s a bartender named Cole who looks more like a cop than a bartender. He’s one of my targets, yet I don’t think he did what he’s accused of doing. All I can do is watch him and wait, meanwhile I’m returning the client’s money. It’s the least I can do since I’m not willing to kill an innocent man.

If all of that weren’t enough, my mentor is a bit twitchy lately. Granted, I’m not exactly what Onyx had hoped for when he decided to train me — he teaches vengeance and I prefer dealing justice. My unconventional morals could be interpreted as a slap in his face, which could mean a fight to the death if he feels I’m refusing his teachings in any way.

The stress level is high around here, but as long as I keep my eyes open I should be okay.

What made you want your story to be told?

Answer: The way I deal with justice may be illegal, but I have my own moral code and I care for those who need protection. I’m working toward redemption not just for me but for the innocents of my city. They deserve it. I deserve it.

In your life, what has empowered you?

Answer: Fighting skills and weapons at my side make me feel safe and empowered to handle any situation I come across. The only time I feel helpless is when Onyx is around because he is master of my skills and far exceeds my abilities. All the same, he won’t be around forever and once I can break free of him I’ll be my own master.

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

Answer: It means that I don’t have to put up with any stupid things a man decides for me. I’m my own person and I don’t have to wait for anyone to complete me or help me with anything. I don’t need rescuing — I do the rescuing around here.

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

Aspire to rescue yourself over and over again. Never put yourself in a situation where you can’t pull yourself up and out. Give yourself the tools to learn and grow without needing a man beside you.

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

Answer: Dirty Deeds, by AC/DC

 

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