Meet Co-Authors of ‘Terror in A Teapot’

Teapot cover in workCo-authors and sisters Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner are releasing their second Silver Sisters Mystery, Terror in a Teapot. The first one was award-winning A Corpse in the Soup.

How does this process of co-writing work? Do you each have separate duties? Do you alternate chapters? What’s the scoop?

PHYLLICE: We live in different states and when we first started writing together, our interaction was done mostly by phone and fax. Now, things are much easier as we email our chapters back and forth. When we are plotting a book, we have a kind of writer’s retreat when we get together and brainstorm plot ideas and such. After a few days we wear each other out and go back to our own desks to work. Trial and error has taught us that we each have specific strengths. Morgan is the “Type A” personality and can’t wait for me to plod along. She is what I call an automatic writer, she sits down and bangs out a draft of the chapter. I am the consummate editor, so even if I’m not in writing mode, when I get that first draft, I just can’t wait to start editing it. I clean it up, move things around and add the humorous bits–although Morgan throws in lots of humor, too. Then I send it back to her for another go-around. Our characters are patterned roughly after ourselves and the stories take place in locales that we know, so I sometimes write the draft chapter if it involves a place I’m more familiar with.

MORGAN: Almost everyone asks us that question. I guess the task of writing with someone thousands of miles away seems daunting MORGAN Bio pic stripes onlyto most people, but like everything else in both of our lives, we figured out how to make it work. Besides the e-mails, we have marathon telephone conversations to both create and edit. Thank goodness for headsets and unlimited long distance telephone plans. Phyllice always refers to me as her A-Type sister…spurring her on. Sometimes I’m a real task master when she would rather draw whimsical cats and dogs than solve complex crime capers, but I always manage to draw her in. Most people think writing teams alternate chapters, and I’m sure many do, but Phyllice described how we do it quite well.

Now for the real scoop: how much arguing goes on and how do you resolve differences of opinion?

PHYLLICE: Although we do have some lively discussions, we never really argue. We decided early on that we had to put our egos aside when it came to editing. If one of us wants to cut something that the other has written, we don’t take it as a personal attack. If one of us feels strongly enough to do battle when an item is cut, she’s automatically the winner.

MORGAN: That’s true. We really didn’t know each other for so many years, now that we’ve reconnected through our writing, I don’t believe either of us could live with “rocking the boat.” Phyllice is pretty mellow and I’m rather hyper, but we manage to strike the balance so we can make final decisions that are best for the book, not for our personal likes or dislikes. Phyllice held out for not having real time action in any of our books, but rather a telling of the story, and I didn’t fight it after she explained why she felt that way.

Tell us about each of your solo writing endeavors.

PHYLLICE BIO PHOTO W CROW SHIRTPHYLLICE: I studied Journalism and Art in college and spent many years as a copywriter and graphic designer. Most of my published writing has been in the form of informational brochures: annual reports, travel brochures, political flyers, newsletters. I did publish two small books, “Touring Juneau” and “The Juneau Centennial Cookbook”. The Silver Sisters mystery series was my first stab at fiction. I spend about half my time as a fine artist and I helped to found “Currents,” a cooperative art gallery in McMinnville, Oregon, where I now live.

MORGAN: I’m an “accidental writer.” I didn’t study writing or journalism. When I was an interior designer, a slick design magazine approached my partner and me about writing an article for them. We did, and I found I loved writing. They asked for more. My partner wasn’t interested, but I was. Many articles for them and other publications about diverse subjects followed during the next several years. When we conceived the Silver sisters and A Corpse in the Soup, it was my first published stab at fiction. There are now three books in the Silver Sisters Mysteries series, with a fourth in work, but I’ve written eleven books in total, have a book, blog and Blog Radio Show all called Writers’ Tricks of the Trade and have written over 600 published articles about the business and craft of writing. Many of them are archived at www.examiner.com. My short stories appear in several anthologies…Chicken Soup for the Shopper’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating People Who Make a Difference, THE MAFIA FUNERAL and Other Short Stories, and several more. TRICKS RADIO BANNER LG

What is the biggest challenge each of you faces as a writer?

PHYLLICE: Time is my biggest adversary. I never have enough of it. I create art, operate a small guesthouse, and put quite a bit of volunteer time into my art gallery. So sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and work on the next chapter. If Morgan wasn’t so good about getting me those drafts, it would never get done. Also, she is our agent, taskmaster, networker and marketer. I am especially challenged in the area of outreach.

MORGAN: Mine is the same as Phyllice’s…time!! It is really hard to fit 28 hours of work into 24 hours. I’m a workaholic, so one of my challenges is knowing when to rest. When to wrap it up for the night.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

PHYLLICE: Our latest book, Terror in a Teapot, is the second in the Silver Sisters Mystery Series. This comical crime caper takes place in Juneau and begins at Goldie Silver’s antique shop. When a shipment of Russian samovars fails to arrive in Alaska, Goldie starts to track it down. The ladies from the Russian Orthodox church have ordered one of the fancy tea urns as a gift for the retiring priest, but before the wayward antiques are located, his young replacement is murdered. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in quiet little Juneau!

After Goldie’s twin, the manipulative Beverly Hills advice columnist, Godiva Olivia DuBois arrives for a visit, the lost crate finally arrives. The samovars sell quickly, and Goldie has only one left when two menacing Russians bumble into her shop claiming that the fancy teapots belong to them and demand their return. She throws them out, but by the next day it seems that the seven beautiful antiques are cursed. Everyone in town who received one of the samovars has been beaten or murdered, and two more customers are likely targets: a lady from Seattle and Godiva’s boyfriend, chef Caesar Romano. Our curvy sleuths, Goldie and Godiva, try to figure out what the thugs are really after. They are hot on their trail as they track the Russians from Alaska to Seattle and Los Angeles. To add to the fun, the twins’ eighty-year-old mother and uncle, Flossie and Sterling Silver, former vaudeville magicians, get into the act!

MORGAN: Our Silver Sisters books can be purchased at most on-line bookstores, or ordered at your favorite local bookstore, available in Kindle, paperback as well as audio books (CD and MP3 download). Our books are also carried by several libraries across the country. The distributor is Ingram.

Thank you, Phyllice and Morgan, for sharing your co-writing secrets. Please tune in again next week for the second half of this interview with with mystery-writing duo.

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November Round Robin: Favorite Food

This month’s Round Robin blog topic is a favorite food or meal—appropriate for Thanksgiving! When you’ve finished reading, please visit the other participants to see their favorites.

My favorite food is hands-down…can you guess?…wait for it!…OK, I’ll tell you. It’s CHOCOLATE! No surprise to those of you who know me, of course. I think chocolate covers all the food groups and possibly should be a food group all by itself!chocolate_06

“Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly.”—Sandra Bullock

If you weren’t already convinced, here are 10 health benefits of chocolate:

  1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk.
  2. Chocolate boosts heart health with anti-inflammatory properties
  3. Chocolate fills you up because it’s rich in fiber
  4. Chocolate fights diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity
  5. Dark chocolate’s flavenoids offer protection from UV damage from the sun
  6. Chocolate can help stop coughing with theobromine
  7. Chocolate boosts your mood
  8. Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties
  9. Chocolate may also increase blood flow to your eyes
  10. Chocolate may make you smarter, feeling more awake and alert Chocolate photo

Eating chocolate is a bit more challenging when you are trying to avoid sugar, like I do (mostly). I have recently discovered Lilly’s Chocolate, sweetened with Stevia, in several flavors at my local health food store. Also Trader Joe’s Simply Lite bars are scrumptious (sweetened with sugar alcohols).

Here’s a recipe, shared by actress Tracy Pollan that I would like to experiment with, substituting Stevia, unsweetened carob chips and coconut, and canned coconut cream sweetened with Stevia for the sweetened condensed milk.

Micaela’s Nirvana Bars

6 tbsp (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
9 full graham cracker sheets, crushed into coarse crumbs
1⁄4 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup white chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, graham cracker crumbs and salt. Stir to mix well. Press crumbs into the bottom of baking pan. Layer on chopped nuts, then semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle coconut evenly on top. Drizzle on condensed milk, covering everything with a thin layer.
  3. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely in pan, then cut into 1 1⁄2-inch bars. Store in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen Bars.

—Excerpted from The Pollan Family Table by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan. Copyright © 2014 by Old Harvest Way, LLC. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Now, grab a piece of chocolate and go visit the following blogs to find out other Round Robin participants’ favorite foods:

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
 

Published in: on November 22, 2014 at 6:32 am  Comments (5)  
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There’s Something About A Cowboy

Shanna-Hatfield-Nov-Blog-Tour

Welcome to Shanna Hatfield’s Cowboys & Christmas Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

bronc rider 2

What is it about a cowboy that inspires giddy thoughts of romance in otherwise sane and sensible women?

It could be the way they make a pair of jeans look just right. If you haven’t ogled a pair of fine-fitting Wranglers at a rodeo, please take yourself to the nearest medical facility to make sure you’ve got a pulse.

It could be the dusty boots on their feet. The dirtier, the better. We want a hard-working, real man, after all. Not one who just dresses like a cowboy on the weekends.

It could be that Stetson on his head. There’s something about a man sweeping off his hat in a gesture of polite recognition that makes our knees wobbly and our thoughts scattered. Also, there is something entirely endearing about a man with a hat-ring in his hair.

It could be the little swagger in his walk. Most of the cowboys I know don’t work to put it there. It’s a byproduct of injuries, too many hours in the saddle, and walking in those dusty boots.

It could be the manners they exhibit, no matter how rough and tough they might be. You show me a raised-in-the-country cowboy and I’ll show you a man who respects women and elders, says “yes, ma’am,” and holds doors open. I don’t care how independent and strong of a woman you are, when a good-looking cowboy tips his hat and holds a door open for you, it makes you want to swoon.

For me, it’s such fun to write about cowboys and the women determined to resist their considerable charms.

In The-Christmas-CowboyThe Christmas Cowboy and Wrestlin’ Christmas, the first two books in the Rodeo Romance series, neither heroine wanted to fall for a cowboy. In fact, they fought quite a valiant battle – but as they say, sometimes resistance is futile.

Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.

Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.

Kindle | Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple | AudibleWrestlin'-Christmas-Cover

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here: http://amzn.com/B00OGOO994

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!

Prize BasketEnter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Childhood Memories, Adult Discoveries

I remember the house–a big two-story white clapboard, with a large wrap-around porch, and the stairway inside that my parents had to block so I wouldn’t try to climb up with my stubby two-year-old legs and fall back down. I remember the scent of tea, the warmth of the coal-burning stove in the corner of the living room, the hardwood floor covered with a bright rug and horse blanket throws on the sofa. Granparents house Ingomar

This is the ranch–known then as “the McCollum Place”–my grandparents moved to in the early 1940s after years of moving around, following the grass for their horses. This was the place they lived the longest, “retiring” in the early 1960s. This was my first home that my parents shared with Grandma and Grandpa for about three years after my mother emigrated from Germany, striking out on a journey of unknowns to the promise of a new and better life.

I hadn’t been back since I was a teenager, but when I visited Montana recently I drove to Ingomar, the “town” nearby. Ingomar is one of those places that you have to WANT to go to–you’re not going to happen upon it while traveling the regular Montana routes. Once the sheep shearing and shipping capitol of Montana in the early 1900s, it then boasted 46 businesses including three banks, railroad station, two elevators, two general stores, two hotels, two lumber yards, plus rooming houses, saloons, cafes, a drugstore, blacksmith shop, claims office, doctor, dentist and maternity home. Now the population is 14 and the main business is the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Cafe.Jersey Lilly

I had a vague recollection of the direction of the ranch from Ingomar, but I asked for directions, and I’m glad I did. Boots, the proprietor of the Jersey Lilly, glanced out the window at my car. “Good, you have all-wheel drive,” he said. I gulped. He explained they’d had some rain recently and the low-lying spots might still be muddy. Since my car was new to me, I dug out the owner’s manual to make sure I knew how to put it in four-wheel mode, just in case.

We (my sister-in-law, Marylou, & I ) followed Boots’ hand-drawn map: turn right after the cattle guard, keep going past the stock tank and you’ll have to open and close the gate… for eight miles over the rough one-track road. Fortunately, no mud remained, and I didn’t have to test out my vehicle and my memory of Montana mud-driving.

We found the house, which is still inhabited by Lance & Connie Moreland, very nice, hospitable people who are leasing the ranch. I had to smile at my memory of this “big” house. It’s two-story, all right, but it’s not large. How cramped the quarters must have seemed to my mother! The porch was not wrap-around as I had recalled, but still was a good-sized one on the front. I remember a photo of mini me at the rail with a chicken egg next to several large hailstones.  The staircase is still there, and the hardwood floors. The Morelands told me that unfortunately the owner doesn’t want to spend any money to fix up the house, so it is a bit on the dilapidated side.

But I’m glad it’s still lived-in and not falling down. Heidi with egg & hail

Published in: on November 7, 2014 at 6:19 am  Comments (1)  
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