Update on Stabbed in the Tart

Stabbed in the Tart has a release date of October 12, 2021! It is now available for preorder.

Home bakery owner and Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Kayla Jeffries has been hired for the Gourmet and Stay Valentine’s Weekend at the historic Countryside Inn in Los Robles, California. When one of her fellow cooks is murdered during dinner service, she becomes a person of interest–and a possible suspect.

Stabbed in the Tart

I’m excited to announce that the second book in The HSP Mysteries, Stabbed in the Tart, is expected to come out this October.

Kayla’s involved in another murder investigation, and this time she’s a possible suspect.

Andrew Jeffries, Kayla’s father, makes his series debut in this book. He and Kayla have not always gotten along well, so things might get interesting!

I hope to share the cover soon.

Upcoming Events

NOTE: All prizes from the events below have been mailed. A few have been delayed on the way to their destinations but should arrive soon. Thank you for entering!

I was recently hosted by author Jackie Layton on her blog. Jackie writes the A Low Country Dog Walker Mysteries. Look for me as part of Jackie’s Thanksgiving post coming soon. Thank you, Jackie! UPDATE: Post now available

I am going on an Escape with Dollycas blog tour in December (the 3rd through the 16th). I will be offering a prize package during the tour.

Also, I will be participating in 12 Days of Cozies in December. I will be on Twitter at 7 AM (Pacific) Saturday, December 5th. Look for a giveaway on December 11th around 5 AM Pacific.

Lastly, I’m having a Facebook party via A Cozy Experience at 5 PM (Pacific) on Wednesday, December 9th. There will be at least one giveaway.

Hope you can join me!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I am not a very fast writer, nor am I prolific like many of my author friends. Sometimes this bothers me as I feel I am not as successful as my peers. But when I am feeling that way, I remind myself that I am an HSP, constantly processing every little bit of input that comes my way. This is exhausting and causes me to not have a lot of stamina.

Current events in 2020 are challenging (to put it mildly) for us all. Lots of us are not as productive as we would like. My plan of action has been to do the best I can, as always, and not beat myself up too much…something that is easier said than done!

I have been averaging only 1000 words a day. I have two projects going on: the third book in my cozy series, Sourdough Dead, and a psychological thriller. I aim to write 500 words in each work-in-progress a day (Monday through Friday; I usually take the weekend off to recharge my batteries). This has been working fairly well, and every two days, I add another 1000 words to each manuscript.

Yes, it isn’t much, but it’s something. And in the not-too-distant future, I will have two complete first drafts. Then it is on to editing!

Happy writing, friends.

Peppermint Cream Pie

Here’s a simple recipe for peppermint cream pie. Kayla usually makes her own crust and pudding, but will use this recipe in a pinch. The pie is her go-to dessert for the holidays.

Super Simple Peppermint Cream Pie:


Pre-made chocolate cookie pie crust

5.1 oz.  box instant vanilla pudding

Milk to prepare pudding

8 oz. heavy whipping cream

2-3 miniature candy canes, crushed up (you can also use peppermint candies)


Make the vanilla pudding as directed, including a crushed-up miniature candy cane.  (Because I don’t have a food processor, I use a plastic bag and a hammer; this can get messy if the bag breaks).

Pour the pudding mixture into the pie crust and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Whip the cream, again including a crushed-up miniature candy cane.

Spread the cream across the chilled pie.

If desired, add another crushed-up candy cane on top of the pie.



HSPs often have deep connections with animals. I have had the good fortune of sharing my life with three very special cats. My mom and I adopted Dandelion when I was a young teenager. He lived to be 19 years old. I inherited Sammie, a beautiful tortoiseshell, from a neighbor. Sadly, I lost her suddenly in 2018, when she took ill and had to be put to sleep. I was devastated and was unsure if I’d ever be able to have a cat again. But later that year, I adopted Rainn from a shelter. Rainn had just had 7 kittens! It’s unbelievable to me how small and thin she was when I adopted her. She now is a healthy and happy three-year-old, who will turn four in October. She is a very sweet girl who likes to lick my toes and do “rollies” on the hardwood floors. She loves to hang out on what I call the “Princess Tower.”


In my HSP Mysteries series, Kayla owns two all-white cats who are sisters. Kayla, being an HSP, does her best to give them equal attention, food, and love. In the third book, which I am currently writing, I am adding in a few quirks that I’m shamelessly basing on my personal experience with Rainn (like the licking of toes!)


In Peppermint Cream Die, Kayla makes a variety of cakes, cookies, and pies, both for friends and for clients. Although I am not much of a baker, I experimented a bit to try to mimic what Kayla does in the book. You can see my attempts below of a crab cake (pun intended) and an octopus cake. Kayla makes the crab cake for her new boyfriend, restaurateur Jason Banks. The octopus cake is for a children’s birthday party. For Kayla, a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), baking is her go-to when she’s overstimulated. I’m also an HSP, but baking makes me a little too stressed. Fortunately for everyone, I don’t bake for a living!


HSPs are very sensitive to criticism and I am no exception. I received a bit of criticism recently and it ruined my entire day. I think part of the reason that criticism is so difficult for HSPs is that we are super conscientious, always want to do the right thing, and don’t wish to disappoint others (plus, we are probably perfectionists). When someone tells us we have failed in some way, it stings.

I realized that I didn’t cover criticism much in the first two books in my series, so I’ve decided to add a bad review of Kayla’s business to Book 3, Sourdough Dead. It will take a while for Kayla to get over the bad feelings the criticism engenders. I’ll have to figure out a way for her to successfully deal with it. I have yet to discover how to process criticism well in my own life!

By the way, the criticism I’m referring to isn’t “constructive criticism.” I think I can handle that well enough, as can Kayla. The bad review will be very non-specific and will border on nasty. Maybe Kayla will never find out the reason…or maybe she will. I don’t know yet!

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com


I have a confession to make: I hate summer. The temperatures where I live are almost always above 90 and often over 100 for four solid months. And there is so much sunlight! Beginning early in the morning and continuing until the late evening.

I suspect that my HSP trait makes me extra sensitive to the high temperatures and the abundance of light. I do much better in winter. In winter, I love curling up under a stack of blankets and reading a cozy mystery. I can keep the doors and windows closed and avoid the ear-splitting sounds of lawn mowers, dogs barking, and kids screeching. In summer, there is way too much noise, which, along with the temperatures and light, leads quickly to overstimulation.

It’s hardly surprising that I chose a seaside setting for my upcoming cozy mystery series. Oceanville is a fictional town in Central California, where the temperatures are mild year-round. Although…I am currently writing the third book in the series, which is set in the summertime. My protagonist, Kayla, is having to deal with the heat and light, just like I am right now. Fortunately for us both, summer doesn’t last forever. Fall is on the horizon.

Photo by Ithalu Dominguez on Pexels.com