SRP Heroine Interview: Lyssa Pennington from Stuck

 

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stuck book cover1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Fritz Van Derzee got himself in trouble when he told the world he planned to clear his name of an old embezzlement scheme at Tompkins College, where I’m an economics professor. Fritz’s daughter, Emma, was one of my students last year, and she pleaded with me to help her dad but, let’s face it, whoever actually embezzled the millions from the college was not going to sit back and let Fritz track them down. I had no desire to get involved, and I thought Fritz was crazy for putting himself at risk like that.

Then my husband, Kyle, started wondering if he could recreate the old accounting system and figure out how the millions went missing and who was responsible. I desperately tried to talk him out of it, but it was no use. When he gets on the scent of a computer puzzle, there’s no stopping him.

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

How could I not get involved once Fritz was murdered and Emma was named the prime suspect? I knew Fritz was not an embezzler, and I knew Emma loved her dad. So Kyle and I joined forces to find the killer and the money.

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

Never! When I met Kyle a few years ago, all I wanted was to marry him, have a career of my own, and have babies with him. To be honest, that’s still what I want. But both of us believe in justice and fairness, and I work at a college that’s got a history of dirty dealings. Our college president is also Kyle’s good friend, Justin Cushman, and he’s committed to rooting out all the bad guys and making the college an honorable institution of higher learning. Kyle and I both support that ambition.

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

The bad guys, for sure. Together, Kyle and I have exposed a drug dealer on campus, solved an old disappearance that turned out to be murder, and now we’re working hard to recover ten million dollars and identify embezzler and Fritz’s murderer. Actually, there’s one more person who’s unhappy about our extracurricular activities, and that’s State Trooper Hank Moran. Hank appreciates our help, and it’s pretty clear he wouldn’t have solved the cases without it, but he’s worried we’re going to mess up his investigation or, worse, get ourselves killed on his watch.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m brainy and funny. I’m a good actress, so I might look cool under pressure but, trust me, I get panic attacks with no warning.

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

I love that phrase! To me, it means doing the right thing even when you’re scared. It means using your brain and anything you can put your hands on to defend yourself when you’re life’s on the line. And it means putting yourself at risk to save the life of someone you care about.

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

Think for yourself, but act in concert with others who have similar goals. Hard problems are rarely solved by one person alone.

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

Oh my gosh, you’ll think I’m crazy. In Stuck, I finally make my debut as Kyle’s corporate wife. I was terrified to do it, so I enlisted a friend to put together the wardrobe for my first gig (in Iceland, if you can believe it). However, I forgot to schedule a haircut and manicure before my flight to Reykjavik. I showed up looking like a shaggy dog. The client’s wife took pity on me and volunteered her stylist to make me over. Seriously, you can go a long way on the strength of your personality, but don’t forget to dress and look the part.

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

This is a real oldie, and you may not even know it. Aretha Franklin sang it, “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” I was always saying little prayers for my sister, Manda, and me. We had a tough childhood and we were apart all through college and after for a few years. And I still do it, say little prayers all the time, for Kyle and for myself and the people we love.

 

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A Scrapping Moment from Masked to Death

masked-to-death-cover-frontSince May is National Scrapbooking Month, I’m sharing a small scrapbooking moment from Masked to Death.

Excerpt:

Ronnie’s confession shook me. I felt off-kilter. A scrapbooking class was being held on deck six, so I headed there, needing to clear my mind while I figured out what to do. Scrapbooking calmed me and centered my spirit. I knew this trip would rev up some anxiety, so I bought a travel planner. It was more portable than a scrapbook, yet the same techniques were used for decorating it. Instead of pictures, words were the main focal point. I had brought colored pencils and an array of travel stickers for decorating the pages.

I spotted a crew member pushing a cart loaded down with cruise-themed scrapbooking supplies and followed. Other women and a few men joined our parade to the lounge area in the back of the ship.

“Find a spot while I set up.” The young woman began sorting through the packages of products and stacking them by theme onto a table.

I spotted Garrison sitting at a table in the back, flipping through a book. When I sat down, he closed the leather book about the size of an 8×8 album. The cover was embossed. I tried reading the script font, but he covered the writing with his forearm.

“Here to scrapbook or just looking for some peace and quiet to read?” I asked.

“I’ve wanted to learn some new techniques and now was the perfect time.”

“You and Bob didn’t have anything special planned for this morning?”

“Odessa stopped by this morning to tell Bob the captain wanted to meet with him.”

“About what?”

“I’d rather not know, so I kissed Bob goodbye and told him I’d be here. I’m sure it has something to do with John. I wonder where Ronnie is. She had said she’d meet me here.”

“When did you talk to her?” I doodled in my travel journal.

“At breakfast. Why?”

“Curious,” I said. “No other reason. She might have lost track of time or something unexpected came up.” The captain had issued a gag order. Ronnie said to stay quiet. And here I was blabbing—or almost blabbing, which was just as bad. “This probably isn’t the wedding you dreamed of.”

“The event meant more to Odessa than us, so we caved on pretty much everything. Our only sticking point was no alcohol at the event out of respect and love for Ted, and yet she had the champagne flowing freely, and now we also have John Roget to contend with. I’m not looking forward to him and Odessa coming face to face.”

“He’s stayed away so far.”

“That’s true. Maybe he only came to spend time with Claire and not to stop the wedding. John is a hard one to figure out.”

“He isn’t the only one.”

Garrison’s eyebrows rose. “Do tell.”

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Release Day: Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime

TourBanner_Happy Homicides correctIt’s here! A few months ago, I received an email asking if I’d like to contribute a story to Happy Homicide 5: The Purr-fect Crime fand I was so honored. I was a little sad as the deadline for Altered to Death left me little time to work on a story so I was going to have to decline. Happily, the wonderful editors offered to extend the deadline and I was able to have a short story, The Peculiar Habits of Mister Darcy , included in the anthology. All of the stories in the anthology feature cats and crimes.

The blog tour is from May 8-19. We can be found at the following stops:

May 8: Readeroplis and Rogue’s Angels

May 9: Fabulous and Brunette

May 10: Sharing Links and Wisdom

May 11: Queen of All She Reads and EskieMama Reads

May 12: A Writer’s Life…Caroline Clemmons and Long and Short ReviewsLong and Short Reviews

May 15: Danita Minnis Blog

May 16: Musings From an Addicted Reader

May 17: It’s All About the RomanceIt’s All About the Romance and Hearts and Scribbles

May 18: This and That Book Blog

May 19: The Reading Addict

 

Preparing for a Crop: Page Kits

May is National Scrapbooking Month, so I thought I’d share my process of putting together page kits before a crop retreat. Usually, I’d just pick a project to work on and pack up all pictures, embellishments, and paper that would work for it. I also bring a nice selection of colored cardstock, and a huge amount of white and black as those are my go to colors for matting or the base of a layout.

In April, I attended a crop where we had a limited amount of space for supplies so I decided to put together page kits. I completed so many pages that it will now be my go-to method for cropping away from home. I also liked the fact it cut back on the trips I had to make to and from the car, and setting up, as I brought fewer items.

I placed all of  my Disney paper and embellishments, any scrapbooking bling that would work for the album onto my cropping table and started matching them to my pictures. I wanted to make a second page for a previous layout, so I took out that layout to make sure the papers I chose complemented it. Since there were more pictures than space on the 12×12 pattern paper, I used a Flip Flap to gain extra picture space.

 

I placed all my Disney paper and embellishments onto my scrapbooking table Next, I pulled out different types of embellishments and scraps of pattern and laid them on the page until I found a combination I liked.

If I really liked the structure of a page, I snapped a photo on my cell before I packaged it up in a 2 gallon Ziplock bag. Since I didn’t want to interrupt my kit making, I wrote down any titles or embellishments I wanted to make on a sticky note and put it on the kit. Completed packet

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick of Till Dirt Do Us Part

till dirt do us part large banner640TDDUP.COVER1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Not everything stays buried. I have a notorious brown thumb but that didn’t stop me from getting volunteered for a gardening contest sponsored by the Pecan Bayou Gazette. All I’m going to say is I found myself digging up more than weeds. I was ridiculed by those thorny garden club ladies, and now my heart is just breaking, for a newly single mom whose world has just collapsed.  The Happy Hinter, that’s me, your friendly neighborhood helpful hints columnist is back! So take some time to revisit the cozy little town Pecan Bayou, Texas. Grab a glass of sweet tea before you turn the dirt in the garden and sit a spell with all your favorite characters who dole out heartfelt caring and compassion with a side of humor.

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor? Come on, gardening isn’t all that risky.

Well, unless you count giant man-eating caterpillars and that ugly rash, you seem to be getting. Really, though I wanted to solve Wade Atwood’s murder for his dear wife. She was just like me. One day married with a child and the next day a single mom. I had been there and wanted to let her know we moms stick together.

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

No, not even when I was little and my dad was on the police force. I did see myself fighting ugly yellow build up on white collars though. Does that count?

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

Probably my husband, Leo. He is a handsome meteorologist who likes to be able predict storms on the horizons. I, on the other hand, tend to walk right into bad weather.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I have a great eye for detail. I also make my living finding solutions for people in my helpful hints column. I have so many weaknesses! I’m not good at baking, gardening, and I have decided raising teenagers takes nerves of steel.

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

I give advice for a living and rely on help from others from time to time, but there comes a time when I know the only way to get things done is to do it myself. I think women have a reserve supply of get-er-done that can get them out of anything no matter how dire.

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

Be honest with yourself and don’t give up on your dreams. Those ideas may have to be reshaped here and there and that’s okay. Get up every morning with something to look forward to, whether that’s a job, time with your family, a hobby, or a hot fudge sundae!

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

You never know what’s really going with your friendly neighborhood delivery guy.

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

The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You. Living in a small town, there is no such thing as anonymity.

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

I have already had adventures in the first six books of Pecan Bayou. I’ve found bodies in a haunted hospital, in a library, by a cowboy fountain, and have been chased by a killer through a hurricane, while in labor with daughter. Maybe things will settle down now for a while… then again….

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Lacy Marie Crocker from Cat Got Your Cash

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Welcome to the Self-Rescue Princess. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

CatGotCashCoverLacy Marie Crocker’s whimsical pet couture has gained a following in New Orleans’s cozy Garden District, and word of mouth has traveled all the way to her favorite fashion designer, Annie Lane. Lacy’s thrilled when Annie schedules a private session at her home to discuss a companion line for her evening wear, but when Lacy arrives for the appointment, she enters the kitchen to two mewling Siamese cats–and one very dead Annie.

Lacy takes the kittens home to care for them until they can be properly claimed by Annie’s family or friends, but after a busy day of work, she returns home to find them missing. And when Lacy learns the cats are set to inherit Annie’s fortune, she begins to wonder if the killer was after the kittens all along. Now Lacy will stop at nothing to save the Siamese and find justice for Annie–if the killer doesn’t sink his claws into her first.

Luckily, Lacy has the help of handsome NOLA PD homicide detective Jack Oliver to help her catch the cat-napper before its too late inCat Got Your Cash, the endearing second Kitty Couture mystery from Julie Chase.

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

A lot of things, really. For one, Annie was my hero. I’ve aspired to be like her for years, and I can’t stand that someone did this to her. Annie deserves justice, so I’m seeing to it that she gets exactly that. Also, I’m in a bit of a pinch because I found her body and my prints were on the murder weapon. *chews lip*. My mother is fit to kill me for turning up at another murder scene. As if I had any control over that. The best thing for everyone, I think, is that I get to the bottom of this quickly. Hopefully, quietly. And in one piece.

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

Oh. Easy. Detective Jack Oliver. He’s completely miffed. In total brooding overdrive about this. Then again, I guess that’s kind of his shtick.

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

Chase your dreams. No one’s going to do that for you. Oh, and adopt an animal. You’ll never regret it.

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

I never plan to dabble. It just sort of happens. I mean, I have plenty to do without getting abducted, stalked and shot at, but sometimes I can’t help it. Like, for instance, if my dad was accused of murder (Cat Got Your Secrets, September 2017), I would do everything I could to clear his name.

Year of Crafting Edition 1: Week 1-10

This year, I vowed to complete one craft (or one stage for longer projects) a week. I love to craft and on January 1st I realized I hadn’t spent much time crafting during 2016. I was going to change that for this year and my goal is to finish up some crafting projects (Disney vacation album), try some new crafts (painting, Deco Mesh wreath making, and use the fabric I bought for projects but have been scared I’d mess up and waste the money I spent so I’m letting all my lovely fabric and patterns just hang out in my storage unit. No more! I realized it’s no more of a waste to not use the fabric and patterns as it is to make a mistake sewing the item (cute patterns for purses I really want to sew). The only way to get better at sewing is to sew.

Here are the projects I have completed so far:

CP 1 and 2 Megan's winter setWeek 1-2: A matching scarf and messy bun hat for my younger daughter. The messy bun hat I used a pattern, and the scarf I made using the double crochet stitch.

CP Week 3 Messy bun hat BrittanyWeek 3: A messy bun hat for my oldest. She saw a picture I posted of her sister’s hat on Facebook and wanted one. I used the same pattern as the one for her sister but this time I used the front and back post stitch for the brim.

CP Week 6 My ScarfWeek 4-6: I’ve been crocheting a little over a year and I hadn’t made myself anything yet. I crocheted blankets, mermaid tail blanket, scarfs, a cozy for a Beta fish tank, but nothing for me. I wanted to use a Caron Cake and on the sleeve of one of the Cakes was a pattern for this scarf. The completed scarf is 70 inches long so I broke it down into steps as I wouldn’t be able to complete it in one week. I love the fringe!

CP Week 7 Alex ScarfWeek 7: When I was crocheting my scarf, my favorite little guy saw it and asked if I’d make him a blue and green one. Of course! I used a scarf knitting loom, and stepped way out of my comfort zone by creating my pattern. I love how it turned out.

CP Week 8 Spring Deco WreathWeek 8: Deco Wreath. I’ve always wanted to make a Deco Mesh wreath and as this 2017 is my year of crafting I decided to give it a try. It also helped that the day I was at AC Moore the supplies for the wreaths were 50% 0ff. I like how the spring wreath turned out and I have supplies to make a Frozen inspired wreath.

CP Week 9 Mardi Gras Cricut CozyWeek 9: I’m donating a basket filled with goodies for a prize at the crop I’m attending and I sewed a Cricut dust cover to add to it. I went with a Mardi Gras theme as it matches the cover of my book Masked to Death as it’s also included in the basket. I’ve sewed some Cricut/Cameo dust covers before but this was the first time I sewed on an embellishment–sequined ribbon.

CP week 10Week 10: This week was a very crafty week for me. I attended a three-day scrapbook retreat so I completed some layouts, and the night before the crop I took a painting class with my oldest. We had a wonderful time and I’m hoping we can make time to go to another one. I dubbed my masterpiece Tinkerbell in Paris.