Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Josie Callahan from Cinco de Murder


cinco de murder coverWelcome to The Self-Rescue Princess, Josie, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

It’s Cinco de Mayo in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping! Senora Marisol Martinez, my feisty abuela, the staff at Milagro–our family restaurant–and even my spunky Chihuahua Lenny are prepping for the best fiesta yet. Not to mention, we’re polishing our folklórico dances for Saturday’s big Cinco de Mayo parade.

This year my uncle, Eddie Martinez, is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off. But his hopes of impressing the town council will soon go up in smoke when a cantankerous contestant is found dead in his tent. And when my beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, Lenny, Detective Quint Lightfoot, and I must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life–before another cook kicks the bucket.

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

Funny you should ask because I’m always asking myself the very same thing! Truth is, ever since I was laid off from my job at the Austin Gazette, I’ve been trying to prove myself as a reporter. We only have one newspaper in our county, The Broken Boot Bugle. When I arrived back home after being laid off and abandoned at the altar by my fiasco of a fiancé, I just knew the Bugle’s editor would be glad to offer me a job. Boy was I wrong. I’ve had to prove myself as a crime reporter at every turn. And honestly, I feel it’s my civic and professional duty to investigate a murder on my turf. Of course, that’s a sticking point between me and the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Nah. I pictured myself living in Austin in a trendy apartment in Travis Heights, working at the Gazette, and settling down with a handsome musician.

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

You’ve heard of the old boy network, right? If I had to guess, I’d say the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department invented it. And the least pleased about my detective work would be Sheriff Mack Wallace, who’s as smooth as sweet tea until you wriggle your way into his investigation.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Hm. I’m not too big on self-analysis; but I’ll give her a shot. I’m curious, stubborn, and big-hearted when it comes to digging my family and friends out of trouble. My weaknesses…and this is embarrassing…Tex-Mex, margaritas, and trying to dig my family and friends out of trouble!

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

That’s easy. Don’t hate yourself when your two-timing fiancé dumps you for a new life in Australia. His loss! Do be thankful for your family, even if they do smother you a bit and chomp at your Wranglers for you to find a better job. And don’t give up on your career dreams even if your editor thinks you’re better suited to working in classifieds and obituaries.

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

Take pride in who you are: your family, your talents, and the challenges you’ve overcome and those you have left to conquer. And go easy on criticizing your looks. As they say somewhere in the good book, God doesn’t make mistakes. Finally, I’d end with this: There’s only one life and one of you. Grab the reins and enjoy the ride!

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

Challenges knock you down, pick you up, wear you out, and make you strong; but if you embrace the challenges of life, one day you’ll look in the mirror and recognize yourself as not only a get-her-done and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of woman, but a beautiful creation with a unique purpose on this earth.

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

“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Enough said!

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

Even though I’ve developed an uncanny knack for solving crimes, I still don’t know what’s coming around the corner. If you enjoy a margarita of murder with a sweet, humorous sugar rim, check out my other investigations like Here Today, Gone Tamale—my first outing as a small-town sleuth, and The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole—my second attempt at righting injustice in small town Texas.


Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Charity Penn from Playing with Bonbon Fire


PLAYING WITH BONBON FIRE BANNER 640Thank you so much for joining us today, Charity Penn. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

bonbonfirecoverPlease just call me Penn. I live in the small town of Camellia Beach, located a few miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. I own the Chocolate Box and I’m an active member of the small town’s business community. All summer I’ve been working hard with Camellia Beach’s president of the business associate, Bubba Crowley, on putting together the town’s first beach music festival. Things start to fall apart when someone threatens the headliner of the festival, the deliriously popular Bixby Lewis. Not long after that another singer, who is dressed in Bixby’s signature outfit, is found dead.

With help from my meddling half-sister (I truly do love her!) and a new flavor of chocolate sweets to ignite the senses, I follow the shifting tide of evidence to keep all of the band members at the festival and everyone else in my quirky seaside town safe.

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

My half-sister had arranged for Bixby Lewis to perform at Camellia Beach’s tiny beach music festival as a favor to me. (I later found out that she was trying to hook the two of us up. She can be such a meddler.) When the threats against his life started, I naturally felt responsible for his safety. And the police seemed to be asking all the wrong questions, so I decided to ask a few questions of my own.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Gracious, no. I have a background in advertising. I led a sheltered life growing up. Plus, I’ve been super busy with learning how to run the Chocolate Box, the chocolate shop I’d recently inherited. I don’t have time to be doing the job the local police should be doing. But sometimes even the most skilled detectives misread the clues. I can’t stand by and let someone get away with murder.

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

Detective Frank Gibbons with the Charleston County Police Department, an older man I love and respect, wishes I would leave the sleuthing to the professionals. He’s pretty darn vocal about it too. He has even threatened me with jail time—in a kindly, fatherly way. Like I’ve said, I do love him. I love him more than I love my own father. And I understand his concerns. But the detective doesn’t live in Camellia Beach. He doesn’t understand its unique quirks like I do. Although he doesn’t realize it, he truly needs me.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Although I never imagined I’d ever be an amateur sleuth, I see now in hindsight that it was inevitable. I’ve been lied to and tricked my entire life. Because my family is rich and politically powerful back in Chicago, there have always been people in my life who have tried to get close to me with one goal in mind: to get access to my family and/or their money. Joke is on them, though. I’m the black sheep of my family. My grandmother has never included me in family photographs or invited me to Christmas parties.

My past experiences have caused me to develop deep sense of distrust of…pretty much everyone. My trust issues and tendency to constantly be on the lookout for hidden agendas has turned into some of my best strengths when it comes to ferreting out criminals. I know to look beyond that friendly smile. I know to suspect even the seemingly kindest of souls.

On the flipside, my distrustfulness is also my biggest weakness. I keep everyone at arm’s reach. But I’m working on it. It’s difficult, but I’m working on letting a few people get close. I need to. I can’t run the Chocolate Box alone. I desperately need all the help I can get.

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

Strong women don’t ever give up. Don’t know how to do something? Learn how. Failed at a task? Try again. Try something different. Feeling left out? Create an event of your own. It’s your life and only you can decide what to do with it. I’m a big fan of Dr. Seuss’s book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go and the lessons it contains.

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

Be strong enough to ask for help when you need it. Life doesn’t have to be a lonely experience.

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

I learned that there are nice people in the world, people who genuinely want to help others. That was a shocker.

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

It’d be the theme song to the show, the Greatest American Hero. Do you remember that song? “Believe or Not.” The song talks about how just accepting who you are, you can find freedom and happiness. That’s what I’ve found here in Camellia Beach. I’m in paradise because I’ve finally learned to love myself, foibles and all.

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

I never plan on dabbling in the sleuthing business. It’s something that seems to come to me. I see a wrong that no one sees fit to right. What am I going to do? Sit on my hands and let the wrong person go to jail? No. I’ve suffered enough injustice in my life to want to save others from experiencing the same trouble, whether they deserve my help or not.

And that’s exactly what I did recently. I join my best pal, Althea Bays and the rest of the turtle watch team to witness a new generation of baby sea turtles hatch and make their way into the wide ocean.

Before the babies arrive, gunshots ring out in the night. Cassidy Jones, the local Casanova, is found dead in the sand with his lover Jody Dalton—the same woman who has vowed to destroy the Chocolate Box—holding the murder weapon in her hand. It’s an obvious crime of passion, or so everyone believes. But when Jody’s young son pleads with me to bring his mother back to him, I can’t say no. Instead, I dive headfirst into a chocolate swirl of truth and lies, and must pick through an assortment of likely (and sometimes unsavory) suspects before it’s too late for me and for those I love in the third rich installment of the Southern Chocolate Shop mysteries, In Cold Chocolate (Sept 11, 2018.)





Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Lucy Berberian from Hummus and Homicide

hummus and homicide banner 640Welcome to The Self-Rescue Princess, Lucy, please tell our audience a little about what is currently going on in your life:

Hummus and Homicide - Final CoverHi! I’m Lucy Berberian, a recovering Philadelphia lawyer. After my job threw me a curveball, I returned home to my family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, at the Jersey Shore. I missed the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of my family’s Mediterranean food. But I never thought murder was on the menu…

Things are slow during the off-season, and I end up waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. My parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see our calico cat again, and to catch up with my old BFF, Katie Watson, who’s married to a cop now.

Things are looking good. Until, well, they go south and fast. My former high school rival turns out to be the new town health inspector.  After tallying up bogus violations at the restaurant, we have a monumental spat. But when she shows up to eat at Kebab Kitchen, I’m the unlucky gal who has to wait on her. A crazy day turns deadly when she eats at the hummus bar, then drops dead in the parking lot.

The problem is I’m suspect number one. I served my bitter rival her last meal. Was it food poisoning or murder?

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

Well, I didn’t really have a choice. After my rival eats hummus at Kebab Kitchen and falls down dead in the parking lot, we’re all in big trouble. Not only is the future of the restaurant at stake, by my family’s livelihood, my parents’ pride—and most frightening of all—my own freedom.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Never! I was a patent attorney, not an investigator. I can patent a detective’s handcuffs, but not use them.

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

My parents may have originally wanted me to clear Kebab Kitchen of suspicion, but they wouldn’t have wanted me to go so far as to put myself in danger. Sleuthing can be risky business!

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m pretty organized. I like to make lists and cross off items. As for weaknesses, I can’t cook worth a damn. Everyone in my family can cook, and my mother is a talented chef. She’s trying to teach me, and it’s testing my patience as well as hers. We’ll see how it goes…

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

A confident woman is someone who is happy with themselves, intellectually and physically. As women, we need to embrace ourselves more often.

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

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Value your friends. Treat others with respect. Love your God-given self.

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

I learned to rely on my friends a bit more. I couldn’t have solved a crime without my best friend, Katie Watson. I also learned to have patience during cooking lessons with my mother, a real feat.

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

I don’t plan on it, but I have a bad habit of stumbling upon dead bodies. My next sleuthing foray happens when Kebab Kitchen is catering a socialite’s wedding (Stabbed in the Baklava) and during a summer beach festival (One Feta in the Grave). It’s all just an average day at the Jersey shore.

Thank you!



Tina Kashian is an attorney and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit her website at to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!


You can also connect with Tina at:






A Kebab Kitchen Mystery

When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu…

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school…and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect…

Recipes Included!

“A delectable read.”

–Bestselling Author Shelley Freydont


Books · mystery

SRP Heroine Guest: Nora Alexander from Murder of a Good Man

murder of a good man

murder of a good man coverHi there.  My name is Nora Alexander coming to you from Piney Woods Texas. I came here to deliver a letter and am staying at the lovely Piney Woods Bed and Breakfast.  Piney Woods is in East Texas near the Louisiana border. When oil went bust in Texas, this town had to find a new way to survive. There is still evidence of a more thriving economy, like that run-down hotel on Main Street. Someone could really do something with that place.

What’s that you say? What’s wrong with the post office?

Not a thing, but there are some things you just have to do yourself. My mother just passed away and now I have this letter. Even though she was too sick to tell me, I think getting this letter delivered had to be one of her final wishes.  The recipient of the letter is Mr. Adam Brockwell. In our entire time together, I never heard her mention this man’s name.  Did she owe him money? Is he a relative? An old boyfriend? Whoever he was, he was important enough to be on her mind in her final days.

I haven’t delivered the letter yet, but here’s the thing. When I drove into to town today, there was a billboard that said Adam Brockwell for Piney Woods Pioneer. I’m guessing this is some sort of local honor that they bestow on a helpful citizen. He sounds like he must be a good man. Once more, I’m leaning toward the old boyfriend theory. What do you think?

Okay. My writer is bugging me to tell you to be sure to enter the giveaway for this book. You can enter below for your chance at an ecopy of Murder of a Good Man or a $20 Amazon Gift Card.


Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery

SRP Heroine Interview: Piper Prescott from Ginger Snapped

GINGER SNAPPED large banner new 640

GINGER SNAPPED (2)It’s a new year, and The Self-Rescue Princess has even more fabulous heroines for you to meet. Our first for 2018 is Piper Prescott. Welcome, Piper.

Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.

Over the past year, my relationship with the often infuriating Chief of Police, Wyatt McBride, has mellowed into a friendship of sorts.  I’m still distracted by the darn dimple of his that makes an appearance now and again when he smiles a certain way, but I’m always secretly pleased when he pops into Spice It Up!.  Goes to show my female hormones haven’t stopped functioning yet.  Being the owner of a little spice shop here in Brandywine Creek, Georgia, keeps me on my toes.  My daughter Lindsey is a high school senior now, and she keeps me pretty busy, too, with college admission forms and things like senior prom.  In a weak moment, I even volunteered to be on the prom committee.  As though my life wasn’t full enough already, a local Realtor showed up dead recently in McBride’s fishing hole and now the whole town is regarding him as a person of interest.  How’s that for turning the tables on my favorite lawman?

What made you take on such a risky endeavor?

I don’t know what was riskier, opening my own business following a divorce or trying to solve a murder.  I only know when folks started suspecting Wyatt I couldn’t simply sit idle.  I may have had my run-ins with the man but I knew deep-down  he wasn’t a killer.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No way!  Brandywine Creek is no bigger than a flyspeck on a map and is post card pretty.  Sure every city has crime, but here it consists of mostly petty stuff.  Murder happens elsewhere, not in Brandywine Creek. I’m a shop owner not some fancy detective.  I’m naturally curious, like to ask a lot of questions (even the unpopular ones) and Spice It Up! has become a place where women like to gather—and gossip.  Few things I love better than fitting together the pieces of a good puzzle.

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

Just about everyone I know casts aspersions on my avocation, but if I had to pick three people here goes:  Chief of Police, Wyatt McBride tops my list.  McBride’s given me more lectures than I can count on the pitfalls of playing amateur sleuth.  They all boils down to him telling me that I should mind my own business and leave the crime solving to the pros. He’s been especially testy since getting shot during a showdown I had with a former hitman. Next on my list would be my ex-husband, C.J. Prescott.  He thinks I’ve completely lost my marbles and doesn’t mince words.  Coming in third would be my daughter, Lindsey Nicole.  After some of my escapades, she had the nerve to tell me that I’m the troublemaker in the family and in need of a curfew.  Imagine!

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Stubbornness can be both a curse and a blessing.  I persist in finding answers to vexing questions when another might take a step back and let things go.  It’s also lead me into some pretty dicey situations.  I tend to act impulsively on occasion and become a risk taker, often to my detriment.


Books · Holiday · Reviews

SPR Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part V): A Christmas Mourning, Miss Kane’s Christmas, and Montana’s Secret Santa

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

This last week or so has been busy with holiday preparations between crafting gifts and our annual ornament exchange party we had on Saturday. I’m trying to catch up on my reading and reviewing. For this week, I have three wonderful short stories that will get you in the Christmas mood, and are perfect to read when your time is short.

achristmasmourningA Christmas Mourning by Laura Bradford

This is an unusual Christmas in that the story actually takes place during the summer but is about an event that happened at Christmas time twenty-six years ago. I thought a Christmas themed story that wasn’t  taking during the holiday season was a nice twist. Jakkob lost a treasured item of his mother’s when he was a child and carries that disappointment even as an adult. It was a tangible link to her past and he fills as if he took it away from her. Claire is heartbroken for Jakkob and decides to search for the missing treasure to return it to Jakkob in hopes it will heal him and the rift between his family.

I don’t want to give too many details and give the story away. This story had so much Christmas spirit and heart even though it takes place in the summer. The search for the missing Christmas heirloom was the center of the story and also connected to the relationships of the characters. The ending was pure Christmas love that could love one a little teary. This is one of my favorite reads this year.

misskane'schristmasMiss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson

Three days before Christmas, Carol, Santa’s daughter, is being sent on a mission to change the mind of Ben who is planning on ruining Christmas for all children–by having his next writing project about how Santa is a lie published. Carol is certain she can sway Ben from not only ruining the Christmases of millions of children in the future, but the current one for his children. Her immediate goal is to ensure that Ben’s two children have a Merry Christmas even though their dad is doing everything he can to avoid it by eliminating anything Christmas related from their house…no decorations, Christmas cookies, music.

But what happens when a crazy for Christmas woman and a Christmas avoider start to have tender feelings for each other? Who will win out in the battle of how to celebrate or not celebrate the holiday season? And what will happen when Ben finds out Carol’s love for Christmas and Santa isn’t because she’s a little crazy, but the daughter of Santa? This was a sweet Christmas story (a little fast paced at times) that shows how children’s joy at the season can give an adult a different perspective on the holidays. Not to mention how people’s hearts can be a little more open to love–and Christmas magic.

montana secret santaMontana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen

Krista finds herself in quite the quandary when her partner, on doctor’s advice, needs to take it easy during the holiday. One of the ways for her partner to lose some of her stress is to hand it over to Krista–being a member of the Montana Secret Santa program. While Krista believes in the program, she’s not that interested in being on the board and being responsible for other’s Christmas as she isn’t quite that fond of the holiday herself–thanks to her dysfunctional family. But, she agrees in order to help out her friend and business partner…and it doesn’t hurt that a hunky newcomer is also joining the board.

Jonah returned to his hometown after selling his company to relax and figure out what he wanted to do next with his life. He finds himself not only roped into dog sitting for his parents, but also taking over as the president for the Secret Santa, a task he’s not too interested in until he discovers the sexy woman his dog charges nearly trampled was also on the committee. Maybe helping out the non-profit wasn’t such a terrible idea after all. He did have plenty of time on his hands.

I really enjoyed Montana Secret Santa. Naturally, it contained both a holiday theme and setting as it’s set during a very cold Christmas season in Montana. I loved that the story revolved around a group who has set out to make Christmas better for members in the town. The romance between Krista and Jonah blossomed from their volunteering with the non-profit and in the process getting to know each other. There was some Christmas angst at times, a little over the top reactions from Krista, but the to-dos on the list during the holiday season (added onto the normal everyday tasks) can make anyone lose it. Especially when the added stress of complicated family relationships. I can definitely see this as  Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. This is one of the list of one of my favorite holiday reads for this year.

Books · mystery · Reviews

Review: The Discombobulated Decipherers by Julie Seedorf

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Thank you for stopping by The Self-Rescue Princess today. Today, I’m doing a holiday review of the Discombobulated Decipherers. The reviews I write are a little different as I like to focus on the heroines, or as the case is during the holiday season, I comment about the holiday spirit in the story.

discombulatedThe Discombobulated Decipherers is a fun, quirky story with plenty of holiday charm. The main element of the story is the mystery, who killed Ernest the elf, but it always maintains its lighthearted feel, perfect for readers who prefer to read less angst during this time of the year. The reader can follow along with the characters as they try to uncover the puzzle of who killed Ernest and also if an item they keep stumbling upon has anything to do with the murder, or with the history of the town. (I don’t want to inadvertently give a spoiler so am not mentioning the item.) The holiday season is important to the story so it really lends to the atmosphere of the book. The mystery and the holiday aspect of the story blended together perfectly, and I don’t think either would’ve worked without the other which is something I really enjoyed about the book.