December 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

2020 sure has been one heck of a ride.  As we approach the holidays many of us will add more loops and dips to this rollercoaster of a year.  From trying to figure out where to go, who to visit, and what to buy, the stress can be overwhelming.  You made it this far.  You got through Thanksgiving.  A few more weeks and we’ll be on to a New Year.  I, for one, will be glad to see 2020 fading into the distance of my rear view mirror.  But please continue to keep safety in mind.    Wearing a mask.  No fun.  Being separated from family.  No fun. Well, maybe for some. Everyone has one crazy relative.  Just think, you won’t have to spend it with them this year!  Yes, the holidays can throw you for a loop.  Keep your balance.

As I mentioned in last month’s letter,  if you’re on edge try to downshift your anxiety. If nothing else COVID19 has forced us to re-evaluate our priorities.  Make them count.  Nothing is more important than good health and a good frame of mind.  They go hand in hand.  So if anyone tries to rattle your cage shrug it off if you can.  We’re all trying to make it through this cluster-challenge intact.

For those of you who have been following me, you know I go all out for Christmas decorations.  Check out the photos of my house and all the sparkle, shimmer, glitter, ornaments, foliage, swags and bows. Martha Stewart would have a seizure if she came to my house!

Once again I must mention my cats.  They are little maniacs.  They think I had the house decorated just for them and it’s their own personal amusement park!  They are having lots of fun wrecking the place.

Speaking of fun we have the Hallmark Movie coming on December 13th at 10:00PM Eastern Time.   The new title is Unlocking Christmas starring Taylor Cole and Steve Lund.   Here is a link to see some of the photos of the shoot.

https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/unlocking-christmas

We should have a link to the actual commercial in a few days so stop back to check it out.

So remember my friends, think good thoughts, keep calm, and carry on.  Be safe, be sane, and enjoy this unusual season.   Let’s all bounce forward with a renewed spirit and better days ahead.   Cheers!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a copy of the next Sisterhood Novel, Bitter Pill.

All the best,
Fern

November 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  It’s mind boggling that we are now in the month of November.  Even though this year flew by it seems like an eternity of COVID19.  I hope you and your families are safe and healthy.

Looks like we’re in for an unusual holiday season this year.  As challenging as some of it can be, we need to stay strong and make the best of what we have.   I was happy to see people still got dressed for Halloween and shared photos and videos with each other.  I was also delighted to see that some families created a Halloween Hunt, hiding plastic pumpkins with candy around the house and the yard.  Gotta give kids something to do when they’re hyped up on sugar!

Now we have Thanksgiving to think about.   Another conundrum.  Who to visit or who to invite? Maybe it’s time to pull out the old TV trays, heat up a few TV dinners, and watch your family’s favorite movies.  I know that would take a load off many of you juggling family, work, dinner.  Or have a small group and ask everyone to bring a covered dish.  Less work for everyone.  I remember way back when people would host covered dish dinners.  There were a lot of green beans and Campbell’s mushroom soup casseroles—don’t forget the onions on the top from the Lipton onion soup box!

My advice, give yourself a break.  There’s already enough stress to go around the world a few times.  And Christmas is right around the corner.  Maybe this tumultuous year has taught us to appreciate the simple things.  Family.  Friends.  Loved Ones.  And of course, our fur-babies.  Never in a million years did I think I would be a cat owner, no less a cat lover.  People, I have to tell you, cats are smart, loving, and loyal.  I am enjoying watching them grow, play, and entertain me.

On to all thing’s books.  As many of you know The Brightest Star is out now in hardcover.  Holly and Ivy is in trade paperback, Spirit of the Season in paperback, and Mistletoe Magic will be coming around again next month.   For you Sisterhood fans, Truth and Justice is still sitting on the New York Times Best Seller List!  Woo-hoo!  Don’t forget to tune in to Hallmark on December 13th for their adaptation of A Christmas Homecoming, working title is The Key to Christmas starring Taylor Cole and Steve Lund.

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 a fantastic apple pie recipe courtesy of Patricia Dorph:

 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

Filling:

  • 5 cups , cored ,peeled and thinly sliced 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 ts. 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 o 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

Filling:

  • 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 for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 350 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.

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,
Fern

P.S. This month’s contest is for a signed copy of one of my favorite books!

October 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  It’s hard to imagine we’re in a new season with some of the same old issues.  The situation with schools and virtual learning is a nightmare.  While it’s nice to work from home for some people, having to teach and monitor your children at the same time can be stressful, to say the least.  Sure glad my kids are grown up, and my grandchildren aren’t in school!  I know people are dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress.  Please try to take a few moments each day—and I know they’ll only be moments—but stick your head out the door, breathe some fresh air, take a walk around the block, or lock yourself in the bathroom with a good book.  In other words, give yourself a break.  You know what they say when you fly:  “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”  And that is the truth.  You can’t be any good to anyone if you’re not good to yourself.

In last month’s letter I mentioned the Hallmark movie A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING  is now in production. The tentative air date is December 13th.  They’re not sure about the movie title because Hallmark already has one with the same name, but we should know soon.  For those of you who are Hallmark fans, Taylor Cole [Ruby Herring Mysteries] will be playing the female lead, Kate Stafford, and Steve Lund [Schitt’s Creek] will be playing Kevin Matthews.   I am all atwitter about this.  It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.

The kitty patrol is doing well.  Ms. Boo is doing well, and her mother, Tessie is getting used to her new digs. I’m still flabbergasted that I own three cats.   I got them an automatic laser toy.  It was getting tedious using the single button bullet type.  It looks like a cat and runs on batteries.  You turn it on and the laser bounces all over the place.  It drives them wild.  All I have to do is push a button, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Halloween is in a few weeks.  I think “Trick or Treat” is going to be tricky for sure.  It’s a shame so many traditions had to be left behind this year.  Everything from graduations, to celebrations, but try not to let it get you down.  We are creative and resourceful people.  If the kids can’t go out let them get dressed in a costume and hide the candy around the house.  Kind of a Halloween Easter Egg hunt without the Easter Eggs!

Since it’s apple harvest time I want to share an extremely easy apple crumble recipe.

Preheat oven 350
Butter an 8×8 baking pan
6 applies peeled, cored, and chopped – slices or squares —up to you
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
Mix together and place in baking pan.

In a separate bowl combine
½ cup cold butter cut up in cubes
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup granola
¼ cup flour
Pinch of salt

Once combined spread on top of apple mixture.  Bake 40-50 minutes.

That’s all I have for now.  I’ve been getting a lot of comments about the contests and how much people are enjoying receiving signed books, so this month’s contest will be an autographed copy of my new Christmas novel, THE BRIGHTEST STAR.

Stay well, stay healthy and stay strong!
All the best,
Fern

September 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  To say this year has been full of surprises would be an understatement.  The only kind of surprises I like are presents, and parties, and even those I’m not too sure about.

As we face another month of uncertainty, I hope I can provide you with some distraction, and entertainment.  This month we celebrate the release of Truth and Justice, a new novel in the Sisterhood Series. Don’t you just wish we could take injustice into our own hands?  Oh, wait.  I think we cover some of that in the series!  And if any of you have read books in that series you will know what I am talking about.  I said this last month.  Sometimes the system fails us.  Now you have a new opportunity to live vicariously through my characters as they take down some unsavory people.  I am tickled pink to announce it is on The New York Times Best Seller List.

My new fur-baby, Ms. Boo is getting on just fine.  Harvey, my dog thinks she belongs to him.  Winnie, the cat wishes Ms. Boo would disappear. Now Winnie has another cat to tangle with, Momma cat.   Ms. Boo’s mother was rescued and you can take one guess where she’s living now. Yes, my house.  As of now we’re calling her Tessie. Looks like Winnie is going to have to get used to two interlopers.  Funny what different personalities our pets have.  I always considered myself as a “dog person.”  Now I’m becoming pet bilingual.

The summer was steamy and my vegetable garden gave up on me.  Even though it’s early September we still have some hot weather ahead, especially if you’re in the South.  I don’t know about you, but when the temperature is about to burst the thermometer, I don’t feel too much like cooking. But there is one thing that I can’t resist and it’s easy to make.  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
Provolone
Cheddar
*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
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.

So here we are in September and Halloween decorations are up.  I actually saw boxes of holiday ornaments being offloaded at a big box store.  As much as I would like to put this challenging year behind me, I don’t want to rush it either.  I guess it’s a good distraction.  I know everyone needs a few.

Speaking of distractions, there will be a couple of my favorite Christmas novels and novellas coming out in October, The Brightest Star is a new novel, and the Spirit of the Season will be out again in November, followed by Mistletoe Magic.  We’ll have some fun with holiday contests, and recipes, and decorations.

Now for some really big news:  A Christmas Homecoming from A Season to Celebrate will be a Hallmark Movie this Christmas!  I am thrilled to pieces!  This has always been a dream of mine. So hang on to your dreams.  Sometimes they really come true!  Stay tuned for more details!

This month’s contest is for an autographed copy of my new Christmas novel, THE BRIGHTEST STAR.

Stay well, healthy, and strong!

All the best,
Fern Michaels

August 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you find a distraction from the turmoil by reading a novel. It seems as if this crisis is not ending any time soon, so we must look to our family, friends, pets, and God for support. Even when you are bone tired, try to keep the faith. We’ll come out of this eventually, and hopefully better people.

I hope you can find some inspiration in those words. Let’s get on to the fun stuff!

Last month I introduced you to a new family member, Ms. Boo, my club-footed three- legged feline. You read that right. She has only three legs and one is a club. She has turned out to be a total joy for me. I must confess, until the past couple of years I never considered myself a “cat person.” I always had dogs, several at any given time. But a few years ago a skinny, orange tabby started showing up on my porch. She looked so hungry I couldn’t help but put some food out for her. She’s now a permanent member of the family. Then last month one of my daughters rescued a gimpy kitten and brought her to me. I have to admit, I am totally in love with her. She is sweet and has no idea she is different from any other cat. She jumps, runs, and finds anything she can bat around and makes it her toy. It gives me such pleasure watching her. One thing I discovered about cats is that they are very smart. Sometimes I think they’re smarter than the rest of us! After all, who does the cleaning, shopping, and feeding? We do! And I’m happy to do it to! I often wonder who rescued whom.

The weather hasn’t changed much since my last note even though it seems to get hotter with each day. Some of my vegetables didn’t make it through all this heat but the tomatoes are hanging in there. Literally.

So here we are in the “Dog Days” of summer. I always thought they were called that because the dogs would look for shade and pant their way through the month. But that’s not correct. The term actually started over a thousand years ago when the Greeks discovered Sirius known as The Dog Star. Sirius appears in the night sky in August, hence “Dog Days.” Who knew? The Greeks I suppose.

I would include some recipes this month but it’s just too hot to think about cooking so here are two refreshing summer drinks:

Southern Sweet Tea:
1 gallon pitcher for serving
(12) bags of Black Tea
4 cups of water
1 cup granulated sugar
Fresh Mint
Boil the water and place the teabags in the pot. Turn off the stove and let bags steep for 5 minutes.
Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
Pour steeped tea into the pitcher and add 3 quarts of water to mixture.
Chill in refrigerator until cold.
Add mint and voila.

Watermelon Iced Tea:
Prepare tea mixture as above.
Scoop out the pink flesh of a small watermelon. (I buy it already cubed!)
Place watermelon in a blender and liquify it. You should get about 4 cups.
Mix equal parts watermelon juice with tea mixture – let stand for 15 minutes.
Add Fresh Mint to serve.
If you want to get fancy, save some of the watermelon and cut into cubes and use them in the glass when you serve it.

This month Simon & Schuster will be reissuing one of my favorite back list titles, Trading Places, and at the end of the month a new Sisterhood book, Truth and Justice will be published.

I hope you can enjoy the rest of the summer. I know there is a lot of anxiety about schools, work, the economy, and the virus. But as I mentioned earlier. Keep the faith. We will get through this.

All the best,
Fern Michaels
P.S. This month’s contest is for (3) signed paperbacks. My choice! I’ll be sure to pick some of my favorites for you.

July 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting my website.  I don’t know about you but I wonder if my feet will never see a pedicure again!  But seriously, the COVID19 pandemic has weighed heavily on all of us, and in so many ways.  I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.

I am very happy to announce I have a new edition to my fur-family.  She’s a 2 month old kitten named Miss Boo.  She was found abandoned under a car and has a club-foot.  She is adorable and sweet, and I am very glad to have her here where she is safe and loved.

It’s blazing hot here in South Carolina.  My vegetable garden is growing nicely and I am looking forward to fresh produce I can pick outside my door.  Wearing a mask to go grocery shopping isn’t any fun.

Speaking of fun, I imagine everyone is going to be creative celebrating Fourth of July this year.  I know a lot of people have taken up baking since they’ve been quarantined, so I wanted to share a couple of summer dessert recipes and would like you to share some of yours.  And if you do try one of mine, I’d love to hear from you.   Full disclosure, I use pre-made refrigerated dough. If someone wants to send me a recipe for the crust please do.  Believe it or not, I haven’t been able to master that part of the pie making process yet.

Here is an easy Apple Rollup Recipe

Preheat oven to 375
I like to use parchment on the cookie sheet.  Easy clean-up.

  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, cut into 8 (1/2-inch) slices
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted SAVE 1/2
  • 1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls (unroll them and divide them up on sheet)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or mix your own with pinches of allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon)

Mix the apples with half the melted butter, sugar, and spice.

Place one apple slice on each crescent and roll them up.  Brush remaining butter on tops.  Place in oven bake for 10-12 minutes and you’ve got a fun finger-food dessert.  Please make sure you let them cool for five minutes.

Traditional Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:
For the filling:

  • 5 peaches, peeled, cored and sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the batter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Instructions:
Mix sliced peaches, sugar and salt to a saucepan and stir to combine.
Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice butter into pieces place in 9×13 baking dish.
Put the pan in the oven while it is preheating until the butter melts, then remove pan from oven.
In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in the milk until combined.
Pour the mixture over the melted butter and smooth it into an even layer.
Spoon peach mixture over the batter. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 38-40 minutes.  Best if served warm—with ice cream!

Summer is going to be tricky for a lot of families. I hope you can enjoy the summer however you spend it.  Three cheers for the Red, White, and Blue.

All the best,
Fern Michaels
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a signed edition of one of my books.

June 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

It’s finally starting to feel like summer and it reminds me of some of my favorite things.

I love frogs, the color, the silly way they look, just fun to look at.  I have an indoor ceramic collection spaced everywhere.  They make me smile.  Outside I have nine huge frog planters that have plants and flowers in them.  Every single person who comes here comments on them.  And you know, what, I never got one wart.

I also collect Emmett Kelly clowns.  I’m not sure how many I have.  Somewhere around fifty is my best guess.  I keep them in a china closet.  I have two that are downright UGLY.  Some are silly and buffoonish if you know what I mean.  Then there are the serious sad ones.  The reason I like them so much is because they are two people.  They wear two faces like most of us do.  The private one and the one not so private.  What you see is not what you always get.  Also, NO ONE touches them but me.  I clean them myself.  Some of them are way over 100 years old.  I treasure each and every one and each one has some sort of story behind it just like the frogs but that’s for another time.

Speaking of summer, people ask me what are some of my favorite books for summer reading?  Honestly, I never did a whole lot of summer reading for some reason.  I prefer to read in the winter for hours at a time curled in a chair with a fire going and hot chocolate with a ton of mini marshmallows in it.  When I was a kid my favorite thing in the summer, though, was to read Nancy Drew.  Right now I have two books I look forward to reading.  Damascus Countdown by Joel Rosenberg and The Runner by Christopher Reich.  I’ve also been known to pick one of my own, usually one of the older ones and read it to see if I can remember the details or what was going on in my life when I wrote it.  Nine times out of ten I can’t remember.

Happy Summer, everyone.

P.S.  Just to put some spice in my life with these crazy times we’re living in I decided to do something wild and wicked for the summer.  I planted organic carrots and radishes and a few other things.   Ok, maybe not so wild but the radishes should be spicy.  I’ll let you know how they are if the squirrels don’t get to them before me. Please share photos of your gardens with me.  We’ll pick a winner at random so you can enter as many times as you like and I will send you a signed copy of Fearless.

 

May 2020 Monthly Letter

Dear Reader,

This month there is a lot to talk about and I hope I can create a little diversion from these challenging times.  They call it the “Merry Month of May,” so let’s try to find something to be merry about.

First, I am happy to announce the paperback release of DEEP HARBOR.  As I mentioned in last month’s introduction, I am a news junkie.  At the time I first started writing the novel there was a lot of talk about the “Dark Web” which I still don’t completely understand, but I know it exists.  Throw in a big dash about insider trading among our elected officials.  Our heroine, grapples with the suicide of her boss, and believes her life is being threatened.  After several close calls she is swept into Witness Protection.  The loss of her family members to boating related accidents makes it even more difficult for her to accept her relocation—a fishing and sailing community in Maine.  Wrestling with trying to find her purpose in life, she must navigate a course through her doubt and fears. I was delighted to get this wonderful quote about the book.  There are so many layers to this story; as each is peeled back and reveled to the reader, it’s the heart, soul, and resilience of CJ, a strong female character, that endears Deep Harbor to us.”—Delilah, Radio Host And Bestselling Author

Second, and very, very  important, is the celebration of Mother’s Day.  While this year will be challenging for many I would like to offer an idea for those Mom’s who have been sheltered at home with their kids—a Mother-Daughter Tea Party!  I’d like you to send me photos of your tea party to enter to win a basket of baked goods. And if any of the boys are aspiring chefs we’ll let them participate too!

Here is a traditional tea-party menu:
Classic afternoon finger sandwiches:
Egg salad
Cucumber & cream cheese
Smoked salmon & cream cheese
Roast Beef
Chicken Salad
Make the sandwiches out of white bread.
Cut the crust off the bread and cut the sandwiches in half at an angle.
Scones, Tea, and Voila!

Third, and also especially important:  May is National Pet Adoption Month.  Please think about our  furry friends and help give one a furr-ever home. Send us a photo of you and your new family member and enter to win a box of goodies for your new pal.

Thanks for visiting. Hope you come on by again soon.