Sew Deadly – Issue #141

Posted on Sep 07 2016

Marcy’s Musings

Lace HeartHave you ever wanted to make your own lace? Here is a fascinating tutorial from Textile Dreams examining one of the lesser-known subjects in the embroidering arts. Needlepoint lace uses embroidery stitches on a fabric or paper pattern, and then once the lace is complete, you remove it from the pattern. The end result is a beautiful and delicate piece of lace made entirely by embroidery. It is a unique challenge that is very rewarding and interesting, and the end product can be used in many other decorating projects.

Needlepoint lace uses embroidery stitches on a fabric or paper pattern, and then once the lace is complete, you remove it from the pattern. The end result is a beautiful and delicate piece of lace made entirely by embroidery. It is a unique challenge that is very rewarding and interesting, and the end product can be used in many other decorating projects.

Sew Deadly – Issue #140

Posted on Aug 24 2016

Marcy’s Musings

Who has time to learn to embroider? You do! This fantastic collection of tutorials from Sublime Stitching provides pretty much everything that ascottie person needs to know when they are first getting involved in this hobby. It starts with simple explanations about the different tools before moving on to all of the basic stitches that can be combined to embroider beautiful motifs. The tips for designing and embroidering your own images are particularly useful. This is definitely a great resource for both beginners and experienced embroiderers.

Sew Deadly – Issue #139

Posted on Aug 10 2016

Marcy’s Musings

PrintHave you always wanted to learn how to do counted cross-stitch? Cross-stitching refers to a type of embroidering that focuses on making images from tiny cross-shaped stitches. This in-depth article by Alicia Paulson explains how to cross-stitch without using the basic pre-printed fabrics common in beginners sets. It is very helpful because it examines the different types of fabrics, thread counts, and embroidery flosses needed for any cross stitching fabric. The cross-stitch tutorial shows people interested in needlework how to look at a chart and count the correct number of stitches to follow the pattern.

Killer Cakes – Issue 122

Posted on Nov 16 2015


Hi, there! Can you believe Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner? If you’re still looking for some recipes to try, here’s a delicious cake from Amy Brantley, author of Cold Weather Favorites: Delicious Recipes to Get You Through Winter. The book is only 99 cents! I’m off to get mine now. 🙂

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake Recipe

Makes 10 inch round cake


½ cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup white sugar

18 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter, cubed

6 eggs

1 cup strawberry jam


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and grease a 10 inch round cake pan.
  2. Heat the water, salt, and sugar over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.
  3. Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler and transfer to a stand mixer.
  4. Beat one piece of butter into the chocolate at a time until all the butter is incorporated.
  5. Beat in the sugar mixture and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and then transfer to a larger pan.
  7. Place the pan in the oven and fill the larger pan halfway with boiling water, careful not to the get water into the cake batter.
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes. The center of the cake will still be wet. Do not over bake.
  9. Chill the cake overnight.
  10. Dip the cake pan into hot water for 10 seconds before inverted the cake onto a plate.
  11. Carefully spread the cake with strawberry jam and return to the refrigerator.


Chocolate Ganache Drizzle:

8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate

¾ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Chop the chocolate and add to a heat-proof glass bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and butter just until boiling and pour over the chocolate.
  3. Allow the chocolate and cream to sit for a few minutes.
  4. Gently stir the chocolate and cream together, careful not to incorporate air, until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.
  5. Allow to cool slightly and then drizzle on the cake.


Chocolate Covered Strawberries:

1 bag of milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of shortening

1 pound of strawberries, washed

  1. Melt the chocolate chops and shortening in a double boiler.
  2. Dip the strawberries and place on wax paper.
  3. Chill until the chocolate hardens.
  4. Decorate the cake with the strawberries, placing the berries along the edge, saving the prettiest berry for the center.


You can also use raspberries or cherries. Just substitute the jam and fresh strawberries for your desired fruit.

Killer Cakes – Issue #117

Posted on Aug 10 2015


killer-wedding-cake-web-copyI’d like to invite everyone to join the Killer Wedding Cake Escape with Dollycas Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour! Lots of fun and giveaways.

Today’s stop: Back Porchervations – Review and book giveaway!

Killer Cakes – Issue 97

Posted on Sep 08 2014


Once again, I found a recipe that I simply must share with you! Talk about a simple, elegant dessert! All you have to do is use refrigerated sugar cookie dough, pie filling (various flavors), and a cinnamon crumble topping.

Mini sweet potato pie with sugar cookie crust recipe idea

Rather than explain it all here, I’m going to provide the link to Mini Fall Dessert Pies so you can see the step-by-step tutorial and try it for yourself!


Excerpt from The Portable Writers’ Workshop

Posted on Jul 09 2014

PWCHi, everybody! Marcy here. I couldn’t let Daphne Martin outdo me by giving up one blog post for Gayle Trent’s new writing book, THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP. After all, Gayle (as Amanda Lee, in my case) writes about our adventures, so we have to help her out where we can.

So today, I present you with an excerpt from THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP:



One way to get to know your characters is via a character sketch. I’ll use characters from both Anything For A Buck and Photo Finish [two of my earlier works] to demonstrate.


Roxanne Weatherly from Anything For A Buck

First, let’s look at the name. I needed a name that would fit a sophisticated young woman but also one that could be given a male derivative since she will be posing as a boy at the construction site. I chose Roxanne–“Rocky” to the guys at the site. “Weatherly” has a certain “old money” sound to it that fit her and her situation too.


Next comes the physical description. Roxanne has to have a boyish figure in order to pull off the charade at the construction site. She’s fair, has shoulder-length ash blonde hair and green eyes.


Then I needed to establish some character traits that would make Roxanne who she is and/or who she will become by the end of the story. She’s a spunky, loving mother who is a tad paranoid.  Her greed brought her to the point she is today (when the story begins), and she’s determined not to make any more mistakes—especially where her daughter is concerned.


 Jay Andropoulis from Photo Finish


Jay is a secondary character. I gave him the first name “Jay” because 1) it’s not complicated, 2) I wanted to Americanize him a bit, and 3) since he’s filthy rich, I wanted to create a little “initial recognition.” (J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, etc.) 


Since Jay is Greek, I listened to Greek language tapes in order to get a feel for the cadence of the language. I also gleaned some words Jay could use to give credibility to the nationality of his character. For example, he calls the heroine “oraia” throughout the book. “Oraia” means “beautiful.”


As a secondary character, Jay didn’t need an extensive character sketch. I did have fun with him, though, and made him gorgeous and accomplished in business as well as the arts (classical piano) so he could be a good foil for the two major male characters who are “regular guys.”


Julia Weatherly from Anything For A Buck


Julia is Roxanne’s two-year-old daughter. If you aren’t around children very much, I suggest you tread carefully here. This is one area where writing what you know is crucial. If a child is vital to your plot but you’re still treading on unfamiliar ground, have a friend or critique partner who has children read the first draft of your manuscript for accuracy concerning the child’s speech and actions.


In physical appearance, Julia is a lot like a miniature version of her mother. In temperament, she rides that emotional roller coaster that comes with being a two-year-old. In one scene (where Roxanne is picking Julia up from day care), I describe Julia like this: “She [Roxanne] opened her arms wide and braced herself as a thirty-pound bullet in a pink romper crashed against her chest.”  I took this incident directly from experience.


The Portable Writers’ Workshop

Posted on Jun 30 2014

PWCHi, there! Daphne Martin kindly agreed to give up her KILLER CAKES spot to me today, so I could promote THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP.

I was speaking at a creative writing contest ceremony this past weekend, and I mentioned that I would be publishing THE PORTABLE WRITERS’ WORKSHOP this week. One attendee asked, “What’s a portable writer?” I explained that it’s the workshop that is portable…although, I suppose we’re all portable writers in that we write wherever we go.

This portable writers’ workshop is designed to give you all the information you’d receive at a regular writers’ workshop without the hassle, inconvenience, and expense. Part one of the workshop is directed at novel writers. I’ve written eight (and counting!) novels in Obsidian’s embroidery mystery series under the pseudonym Amanda Lee. I’ve written four novels in the cake decorating mystery series—two for Bell Bridge Books and two for Simon & Schuster. I’ve written a few standalone novels, and I even had my own publishing company for a few years. While operating the publishing company, I managed to get my mystery imprint’s line featured in Woman’s Day magazine in October of 2005 for a giveaway.

Part two is designed for freelance writers. There is a great need for content and a variety of places that hire freelance writers. You might think that a slow economy would make it difficult to find freelance work. In fact, the opposite is true. Some companies downsize and eliminate full-time employees and then hire freelance or independent contractors to work on a project-by-project basis.

Part three is a collection of articles I’ve written as features or blog posts, and I thought you might find them helpful. I wish you all the best in your own writing and hope I can help you achieve greater success! 

We have a winner!

Posted on Jun 04 2014

The winner of the $25 Etsy gift card (see details in Marcy Singer’s latest newsletter) is DEAN YOUNG! The random number generator picked lucky number seven, and Dean, that’s you! 🙂 Please send your email address to me at, and I’ll get your gift card to you ASAP!



Say hello to Vivacious Vivian!

Posted on Apr 12 2010

Hi, there, Vivian! Thank you for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself:

Vivian:  I was born to Raymond and Dolly Gilbert, traveled around the world with my military father, and discovered I like staying in one spot. After meeting and marrying Robert Zabel, though, I followed him around for over 30 years before we settled in Edmond, Oklahoma. Through my family, life experiences, and vivid imagination, I found enough material to write poetry, short stories, articles, and novels.

Gayle: Please tell our readers about your “Crazy-Woman Dance”!

Vivian: I was pregnant with my last child, and we were attending my daughter’s (the oldest child) kindergarten Christmas program. I took my dress from the plastic bag from the cleaners, and my coat from its bag. What I didn’t know was somehow, someway, a mouse was inside the dress. When I got out of the car for the program, the mouse started running around and around my middle. I did a crazy-woman dance with all my daughter’s friends and families watching. My middle child, older son, announced to the world, “Momma’s doing a crazy-woman dance.”

Gayle: I’m afraid I might’ve turned that into the naked, screaming crazy woman dance! I believe you handled that situation much better than I would have. 🙂 What have you done besides writing, Vivian?

Vivian: I’ve already been a wife, mother, motel receptionist, office manager, bookkeeper,  and teacher for twenty-seven years. I’m now an author and publisher. I think I’ll just worry about extending my life long enough to finish all I need to do. *laugh*

Gayle: You make me tired by just reading your accomplishments. Tell us about your path to becoming a writer.


I started writing poetry when in the third grade, but I had always entertained my siblings and friends with my stories. I remember telling a friend when we were in the seventh grade the plot for a book I was going to write. She laughed, but that plot lives in one of my novels.  I don’t know when I realized I am a “real” writer, because writing has always been a central part of my life.

Gayle: As a mystery author myself, I’m intrigued with your book Midnight Hours. Tell our readers a bit about it please.

Vivian:  Police detective Martin Rogers is recovering from a shooting, working hard to regain the use of his legs. To fill in the long hours of inactivity, Rogers spends time in an internet chat room, playing cards with a regular group of surfers. That is until the witching hour, when he and the mysterious woman known only as Midnight connect via cyberspace and disappear into their own virtual world. Martin finds himself becoming more and more intrigued and enamoured by the elusive woman, who seems to find him strangely attractive despite his disability. When Midnight refuses to reveal any personal details about herself, despite Martin being openly honest with her, he begins to suspect that the woman he is falling for may not be all that she seems.

Martin confides his concerns to two of his fellow detectives, and soon he and his colleagues are joined by Assistant District Attorney Lisa Harris as a web of previous suspicious deaths of disabled victims emerges, all of whom appear to have been in contact with the mysterious Midnight.

A task force is set up to investigate the murders, and soon Martin, Lisa, and the team are involved in a case so complex, and so baffling, that they begin to feel as though they are chasing a shadow, a clever and resourceful criminal who they describe as being “like fog that disappears in bright light.”

Gayle: Sounds terrific! In fact, reviewer Brian L. Porter says, “Vivian Zabel has crafted a beautifully and hauntingly compelling crime drama that leads the reader down one blind alleyway after another as Martin Rogers attempts to unravel the mystery. The tension is wonderfully wracked up as the storyline builds towards its shattering conclusion. Without doubt, this is one for the crime fiction aficionados, a book that cries out to be read, and one which I found very hard to put down once I’d begun. The characters are believable, the underlying romance that builds between Martin and the beautiful Lisa is tenderly and realistically handled, and the fear that things could go disastrously wrong for the heroes of this tale, right up to the end, is so palpable one can almost reach out and touch it.”

Please visit Vivian online where you can learn more about her and buy her fabulous books.