January 2023 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  I hope 2023 will bring you good health, happiness, and blessings.  Don’t forget to count them too.  😊

I want to start by saying thank you for your support, and all of your kind words.  It means the world to me to know I touched your lives in some way.  I read every comment and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to correspond.

As you are aware, scams are in no short supply, and every single one of us is going to be a target.  You can’t escape the attempts, but you can try to arm yourself the best way you can.  I am telling you this because recently someone was asked to pay an entry fee for one of my contests.  I will say this right now, NO WAY.  NO HOW.  I will never ask you for money.

I know very little about cyber security (don’t tell Myra or Charles), but a cyber security specialist gave me this advice about passwords—don’t moan, this is very easy and the scammer hasn’t been able to run code that includes a lot of letters and numbers.  That’s why you’ll see those funny password suggestions.  Here is what is recommended:

Substitute numbers for letters.  For example:

Mister Pickles  would become M1$t3r P1ckl3$

I = 1
O = 0 (zero)
E = 3
S = $

See how easy that was?  And it’s easy for you to remember because you probably use the same password for everything.  Right?   That too is a no-no.   If you can, spend a little time reviewing your “on-line presence.”  Take a few minutes each day to change your passwords.  You don’t have to do it all at once.

Which brings me on to the next subject.  Not everything has to be done in one day, or all at once.  Take clearing out closets, for example.  You don’t have to do all of them at the same time.  Pick one.  I promise you will feel like you accomplished something.  You will feel so good you’ll be motivated to do it again.  With this crazy world, that is probably the one thing we can control.  Our closets.  LOL.

Book news:  Tick Tock (Sisterhood 34) has just hit the shelves.  Spoiler alert:  It has nothing to do with TIK TOK.  It’s tick-tock, as in a bomb.  And that’s all I am going to tell you about it.

Be well, be safe, be kind.

This months’ contest is:
A bundle of Sisterhood books that includes the first one (Weekend Warriors) and four recent ones including Tick Tock.

January 2023 Recipes

Did somebody say food?

Slow-Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

2 lbs boneless chuck cut into cubes
¼ cup flour
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 Yukon gold potatoes cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 large bay leaf (if you want)
½ cup red wine (if you want)

  • Coat beef with flour and brown in frying pan. I like to mix light olive oil with a dash of extra virgin.  The light olive oil is good for sautéing and the extra virgin gives it body.
  • Once the meat is brown, add it to the slow cooker
  • Brown the garlic, and onion in the beef drippings until light brown.
  • Pour a tsp of the broth into the frying pan and scrape the drippings and add to the slow cooker.
  • Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Set on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours.
  • Serve with biscuits and/or mashed potatoes or if you’re adventurous, you’ll try the Stuffed Arepas (cheese stuffed corn cakes)

This next recipe is from my forthcoming book ON THE LINE (new hardcover in March)

Stuffed Arepas

Makes 6 servings


  • 2 cups precooked corn meal (Marsarepa) (Goya makes it)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon soft butter divided
  • 12 slices mozzarella cheese


  • In a medium bowl mix the Marsarepa, water, salt and butter. Knead with your hands for about 3 minutes moistening your hands with water as you work.
  • Form 6 small balls with the dough. Place each ball between 2 plastic bags or parchment paper and with a flat pot cover flatten to about ⅓ inch. The arepas should be about 5” in diameter.
  • Add the butter to a nonstick pan over medium heat. Place the arepas in the pan, and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until a crust forms or until they are golden brown.
  • Split the arepas using a knife as you would do with an English muffin and stuff with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese.
  • Place the stuffed arepas back on the skillet over medium high heat and cook 2 minutes on each side or until the cheese is melted and serve immediately.

December 2022 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Hello again.  Time is moving faster than Santa’s reindeer going downhill on a ski slope!  Actually I have no idea how fast that is because I have never been on skis.  Nope.  Too fast, too cold.  My kids love it, but I’ll stick to a comfortable chair, sitting by the fireplace drinking some mulled cider.

Tis the season for shopping, planning, and panic attacks.  I was in a store the other day and a woman in line started breathing heavily and started to sweat.  She turned to me and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack!”  Naturally everyone gasped, but before someone dialed for an ambulance, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s ok.  You’re going to be ok.  In fact, I’ll let you get in line ahead of me.”  The woman clutched her chest, looked at me and said, “Really?”  I handed her a cookie I pulled from a bag I was about to pay for.  Like magic, she snapped out of it and pushed her cart in front of mine.  The cashier was so grateful the incident didn’t escalate, she gave me the cookies for free!  One good turn deserves a bag of chips!  Chocolate chips!

I know I told you that we have to have our Christmas decorations up right after Halloween or the Ornament Police will issue a summons and drop a chunk of black coal on your doorstep.  I’m only half kidding.  My kids arranged to decorate my house this year.  I usually go all out turning my modest home into a magical holiday scene, and this year was no different.  I must have thousands of lights in all colors; some are blinking, others are twinkling.  I even have one of those flood lights that shines an outline of Santa in the tree.  If it weren’t for the palm trees and lack of snow, you would think you were at Santa’s workshop!  It gives me such joy to see and know that a passersby can enjoy the magic of Christmas even for a moment.  Please remember to stop for a moment, too.  It’s good for the soul.

Lots of book news to share.  Santa Cruise has hit the shelves, along with Falling Stars.  At the end of December the mass market edition of Tick Tock will be available.  It’s book 34 in The Sisterhood.  The longevity of this series is astonishing.  Goes to show you women like the satisfaction of seeing justice done.

Because it is Christmas, this month’s contest will be a satchel of Christmas books. Be sure to enter.

I am including a lot of recipes this month because holidays are a wonderful reason to share a meal.

Be well.  Be Safe.  Take care of yourself and have a peaceful, wonderful, magical holiday.

And a sane, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Warmest wishes,

P.S. Now we wait and see how long it will take before my little fur family decides the ornaments are their new toys.

December 2022 Recipes

You may often hear about the Italian tradition of Christmas Eve dinner when they serve seven fishes.  Luckily, I have several friends who are Italian who shared some recipes with me.  I sent these out last year but they bear repeating, and Diane Sarrocco is providing some scrumptious deserts.

Christmas Eve Dinner Italian Style


(2) large eggplants, skinned and sliced ¼ inch thick
(3) cups Italian flavored breadcrumbs
(2) eggs beaten
(1/4) cup milk
(2) cups Parmesan cheese
(4) tablespoons chopped parsley
(2) teaspoons dry oregano
(2) cups Ricotta Cheese
(8 oz.) tomato sauce – Prego or other brand
(2 cups) shredded mozzarella
(1) cup olive oil

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl.
Mix breadcrumbs, and half the Parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano in a different bowl.
Heat olive oil to medium.
Dip eggplant in egg batter and dredge through breadcrumb mixture.
Place eggplant in frying pan and brown on both sides.
Place on paper towels.
Mix/whip ricotta cheese and remaining ingredients (except mozzarella) together.
Let the eggplant cool.
Begin stacking.
1 slice of eggplant, top with 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture—spread on eggplant; add another slice of eggplant; top with a spoon of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of mozzarella.
Repeat until you have 3-4 slices of eggplant per stack.
Once assembled, bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese melts.


1-2 lbs JUMBO shrimp/shelled and deveined (leave tail on or off)
2 Tbs Olive Oil
4 tbs butter
4-5 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup dry white wine or vegetable stock
2 tbs lemon juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
Crushed red pepper if desired

Heat olive oil and ½ of the butter.  Saute’ garlic 2 minutes.
Add shrimp and saute on one side for 2 minutes.
Flip shrimp and pour wine/stock over shrimp, cook 3-4 minutes.
Shrimp should be pink.
Add remaining butter, lemon juice, and toss parsley into shrimp (red pepper).
Remove pan from heat.
Can be served over linguini or rice if desired.


1 Piece of founder per person (using 6 pieces for recipe)
1 cup chopped crab meat (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
(4) lemons for garnish – cut into equal pieces
Zest and juice of (1) lemon
2 cups breadcrumbs Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
4-5 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon oregano

Rinse flounder and pat dry.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat butter and ½ olive oil in sauce pan, add garlic and saute’ for 1-2 minutes.
Add breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, oregano (crabmeat if desired) and saute until blended and if   adding crabmeat until cooked.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of mixture and spread in middle of flounder.  Roll flounder and hold together with toothpick.
Mix lemon zest and lemon juice together and pour over flounder.
Bake 15-20 minutes until fish turns white.
Once removed from oven top fish with any remaining stuffing.
Squeeze lemons over fish.

FRESH APPLE CAKE, courtesy of Deb Yarmula.

You will need (3) large mixing bowls, Bundt pan, shallow baking pan
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples – cored and peeled
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325.  Coat 10 inch Bundt pan with non-stick spray and lightly floured.
Spread walnuts in a separate pan and toast for about 7 minutes until golden.  Cool completely.
In large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl combine walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon and 3 cups of the cut apples.
In third bowl beat sugar, oil, and eggs with electric mixer on medium until well blended.
Turn mixer to slow speed and gradually add the flour mixture from bowl 1. Scrape bowl occasionally with spatula.  Beat one minute longer or until well combined.
Fold in apple mixture from bowl 2.
Once all ingredients are folded together spoon batter into Bundt pan. Add remaining apples to top and gently press into mixture.
Bake 1 ½ hours or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on rack.  Serve with a big helping of ice cream.


1 Cup butter softened
½ Cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ Cups flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ Cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix well butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
Mix in flour, salt, and walnuts until holds together.
Roll into 1” balls.
Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Dough should be set, but not brown.
While still warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool. Then roll again in powdered sugar (or gently shake in bag).
Makes 4 dozen.


1 lb butter
3 1/3 C sugar
10 eggs
4 C flour
½ tsp salt
1 T vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly. Add sifted flour and dry ingredients. Add flavorings. Beat 15 minutes. Bake in greased tube pan. Bake 300 degrees for 2 hours or 325 degrees 1 ½ hours.


3 oz. cream cheese softened
½ Cup butter or margarine softened
1 Cup flour

Blend together cream cheese and butter.
Stir in flour.
Chill 1 hour.
Shape into 2 dozen 1” balls. Place in 1 ¾” muffin pans. Press dough against bottom and sides.

For filling beat together just till smooth:
1 egg
¾ Cup brown sugar
1 T softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

Divide 1/3 Cup coarsely broken pecans among “tarts”. Add egg mixture. Top with 1/3 Cup coarsely broken pecans.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25 min or until filling is set.
Cool completely and then remove from pans.

November 2022 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  It’s mind boggling that we are now in the month of November.  They say our universe is expanding as in THE universe, and galaxies are moving faster.  Well I can’t move any faster even if you lit a fire under me!  Ha.  All jokes aside, time does seem to have accelerated.  Perhaps we will be moving faster into a nicer, kinder, gentler world.  Yeah, I can hope!  And that’s what prayers are for.

Thanksgiving plans also seem to be moving at breakneck speed, and before you know it Christmas will be at our door.  It’s exhausting thinking about it, so I won’t—for now.  Although where I live, if you don’t have your holiday decorations up the day after Halloween, they’ll send the ornament police after you!

Back to Thanksgiving.  It used to be a time when families would gather and show their gratitude for their blessings.  Today it’s football, faces stuck to cell phones, video games, and getting ready for Black Friday.  Again, exhausting.  Let’s not forget the stress of inviting annoying relatives.  The upside of having a big family dinner is that you can avoid the pesky ones.  But if you have a small family and you drink, start early.  If you don’t drink, reconsider your invitation list.  Or, pretend you’re going away for the weekend.  Pull the curtains shut and keep most of the lights off.  Maybe leave a newspaper in front of your door to look authentic.

Now let’s talk about Black Friday.  I understand there are lots of bargains, but it seems as if there are sales every other weekend.  Truth be told, you couldn’t get me near a store even if they were giving away a free giant television.  (I’d send my grandson.  He’s young.  He can manage.)  Seriously, I am really grateful for internet browsing, and of course all the shopping networks.  Click here, click there.  Done.

Looking ahead, my advice is give yourself a break.  Boundaries, my friends.    I’ve adopted a new saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  There’s already enough stress to go around the world a few times.  You really don’t have to do anything but be kind.  A simple smile at the person working at the cash register can go a long way.  Appreciation for each other can change someone’s day.

On to all things books.  As many of you know Falling Stars is out now in hardcover.  Santa Cruise a fun, holiday story of four friends and their escapades on a singles cruise is now available in paperback.  Secrets, Book Two of the Lost and Found Series is on the New York Times Best-Seller List!  Woo-hoo!  If you haven’t read the first book, Hidden, don’t despair, there’s plenty of back story, although Hidden sets up the series and the quirky, artsy characters.  Tick Tock, Book 34 in The Sisterhood is coming in December.  Those women are still at it, getting justice when the system fails.  I wish they were real.  That’s why I started the series in the first place!

So, following the topic of all things books, this month’s contest will feature a copy of each book that I just mentioned including the soon to be released Tick Tock!

That’s all I have for now.  Remember, be good to each other and good to yourself.

Stay well, stay healthy and stay strong!

All the best,

November 2022 Recipes

Now on to another favorite topic, food.  For those of you who are baking—and from what I hear it’s a lot of you—here is that fantastic apple pie recipe courtesy of Patricia Dorph—in case you missed it last year.

 Apple Pie

Pastry for two 9-inch pastry pans:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cups butter
  • 2-3 Tbs. cold water
  • Sift flour and salt together
  • Add butter and cut it through with pastry blender until mixture is in pieces, pea size
  • Add cold water a few drops at time until moistened enough to hold together in a ball
  • Wrap in plastic and chill in frig. for 15-30 mins
  • Take more than half for the under crust and roll out and fit into 9” pie pan


  • 5 cups, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced apples. Granny Green and Mackintosh
  • Mix together and add to apples
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • Place into pie pan
  • Roll out top dough for crust and place on top
  • Make 4 slashes in top crust

Bake 450 degrees for 15 mins.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 35 mins.  Remove when golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Enjoy.

If you’re craving the traditional pumpkin pie, this is courtesy of Heidi Dugan.

Pumpkin Pie

Pastry for two 9-inch pastry pans:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cups butter
  • 2-3 Tbs. cold water
  • Sift flour and salt together
  • Add butter and cut it through with pastry blender until mixture is in pieces, pea size
  • Add cold water a few drops at time until moistened enough to hold together in a ball
  • Wrap in plastic and chill in frig. for 15-30 mins.
  • Take more than half for the under crust and roll out and fit into 9” pie pan


  • 2 Large eggs, beaten
  • ¾ Cup brown sugar (may also use white sugar)
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ Teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ Teaspoon clove
  • 15 Oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • In a medium bowl combine ingredients in order listed above
  • Pour the mixture into unbaked piecrust. Bake in pre heat oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes
  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees bake for 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean
  • Cool 2 hrs. and serve or refrigerate

Both are absolutely delicious and I want to thank Heidi and Patty for sharing their family recipes with us.  If you’d like to share one of yours, please go to my Facebook page.

October 2022 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  I want to start by saying my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Ian.  We got hammered in South Carolina.  I spent 2 hours sitting in the shower due to 80mph sustained winds.  The storms are getting fiercer, and there is nothing we can do about them except be prepared as best we can.  Makes me want to build a bunker, but it would probably get flooded!  I always worry about a power outage because you don’t know how long it will last.  I have a generator,  but that won’t keep the wind from blowing off the roof.  Yep.  Scary stuff.

The kitty squad is up to their usual tricks like turning on the TV in the middle of the night.  I have to remember to hide the remote, except I forget where I put it.  Need to leave a post-it, but I’m sure Mz. Boo will figure out a way to hide that too!   And then there’s her ability to turn on the faucet.  I swear they have a meeting as soon as I go to bed to decide what havoc they’re going to wreak.  But I have to admit they always make me laugh.  I suppose I’m an enabler.

There’s lots of book news to spread holiday cheer:

FALLING STARS – Hardcover On Sale Now

SPIRIT OF THE SEASON – On Sale Now with new packaging

SANTA CRUISE – Paperback on Sale Oct 25.  I must be psychic because I wrote this 2 years ago and there is a new “REAL” LOVE BOAT show airing this month, too!

People are starting their holiday shopping now because stores have too much inventory from the supply chain backlog.  So be careful out there.  The craziness is about to begin!  It seems like we’ve been living in the spin cycle of the washing machine for a couple of years.  Please try to be patient and kind as you traverse the holiday mania.

This month’s contest is a collection of books including FALLING STARS.

Be well, be safe, be kind, and try to have some fun.   Trick or Treat!

All the best, Fern

October 2022 Recipes

Let’s no forget Halloween!  Below is a fun treat that I just l-o-v-e, love!

Peanut Butter Treats

1 small jar Jiff peanut butter, 1 can of Duncan Heinz cake frosting (vanilla or chocolate)

Microwave peanut butter 90 seconds.  Microwave frosting 60 seconds.  Mix and pour in baking pan lightly greased and refrigerate until solid.  Cut and EAT when set.  OMG, I ate half the pan.

And with the cold weather approaching, here is one of my favorite one-pot recipes

Short Ribs – Crock Pot Recipe – You can make two different dinners from this

  • 2 lbs. short ribs
  • 1 lb. mushrooms – washed and sliced
  • 1 large leek (or onion) sliced thin
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine (don’t worry the alcohol will evaporate)
  • 8 oz. broth (bone is the best but you can use chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp. ground savory
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh ground pepper – to your taste

Brown the short ribs in the olive oil.  Don’t overcook. Remove and set aside.
Brown the leeks and garlic in the same pan.
Pour the wine and broth into the crock pot and add savory, oregano, thyme, salt & pepper.  Stir together.
Add ribs and top with the mushrooms.
Cook 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

The meat will literally fall off the bone, that you can discard.
First meal is the beef.  Serve with mashed potatoes.

Second meal (which is the best part for me)

Pappardelle pasta.  Those are the long flat ones that are about a ¼ inch thick.  They usually come in spirals. Depending on how many people you are feeding you can decide how much pasta to make.  Cook pasta according to your liking.
Heat leftover mushroom sauce and serve over pasta.
Garnish with fresh basil, grated parmesan, or pecorino cheese.
If you’re like me and you want to give it a kick, sprinkle crushed red pepper.

Buon appetito!

September 2022 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Hello again and thanks for visiting.  Even though it’s early September we still have some hot weather ahead, especially if you’re in the South.  The summer was so hot I didn’t even bother to attempt a vegetable garden.  According to some friends of mine who live in the Garden State of New Jersey, the only thing that made it through the heat was the corn.  Nothing like a good, buttery corn on the cob.  I don’t know about you, but when the temperature is about to burst the thermometer, I don’t feel too much like cooking so I will share some easy recipes besides digging into a carton of ice cream!

Kids are going back to school, and I am sure there are mothers and fathers out there doing cartwheels!  The past two years have been a big challenge for most families, between figuring out how to work from home, and school your kids.  Talk about a juggling act.  Maybe this will be the beginning of things getting back to normal once and for all.

The cats are still running my life and I am very happy about it, and so is Harvey.  He thinks they belong to him.  If you don’t have a pet you don’t know what you’re missing.  I’m serious.  There have been dozens of studies from accredited health organizations stating that interacting with an animal has shown to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone.  That helps to lower your blood pressure.  They also found animals help lower anxiety levels.  Of course, they provide companionship and help to structure your day.  You ain’t kidding.  My fur family bosses me around all day long.

On to book news.  Secrets, book two in the Lost and Found Series just hit the shelves and is already a USA TODAY Best Seller.  So thank you to all my fans who bought it and read it.  I was very pleased to see how many people are enjoying the escapades of the characters.  The third novel Liar! will be out next year.

This month’s contest is for an assortment of six of some of my favorites including Hidden (book  one in the Lost and Found series), and Secrets.

Stay well, healthy, and strong!

All the best,
Fern Michaels

September 2022 Recipes

Grilled cheese sandwiches.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  BTW, did you know you can substitute mayonnaise (the real stuff) instead of butter?  I recently discovered that many diners use it in place of butter.

Grilled Swiss Cheese, Bacon & Tomato – I like it on Rye Bread
Make sure the bacon is cooked first.
*Slather up two slices of bread with either butter or mayo.  Place slathered side down on medium heat in frying pan.
Place 2-3 slices of swiss cheese on each slice of bread.  When cheese starts to melt, top with bacon and a slice of tomato.  Let melt for another minute.  Carefully flip one of the slices over and place on top of the other – cheese meets cheese.   Yummy.

If you want a little tang:
Sourdough bread
*Same routine as above substituting cheeses

Even more tang:
Your choice of bread
Monterey Jack
Jalapeno peppers – as much heat as you can stand
*Same routine as above substituting cheese and adding peppers

For something fresh and easy try a Caprisi salad or sandwich.
Get fresh mozzarella, I mean fresh, not the stuff hermetically sealed.  If you can.
Fresh beefsteak tomato – there should still be a few around.
Fresh Basil.
Make ¼ inch slices of the cheese and tomatoes.
Lay them out like a fan alternating cheese, tomato, basil leaves.
You can make a sandwich out of this, or serve it with bread on the side.
Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar.  It looks refreshing and tastes delicious.
Note:  never refrigerate fresh mozzarella.  It makes it hard.  You can keep it in a cool place for up to a week. Cheese never lasts that long in my house.