MSP Author Spotlight: Karen Robbins (Excerpt!)

MSP Author Spotlight!

For the next few months, Tuesdays on my blog will feature one of my fellow Martin Sisters Publishing authors. There are a bunch of us, and we all write in various genres, so enjoy the fun stuff included in these posts and maybe even check out the MSP website.

In A Pickle: The Annie Pickel Series, Book One by Karen Robbins

In A Pickle Cover front coverBlurb:

Annie Pickels, a 65 year old widowed pickle entrepreneur is in real trouble. One of her city farmers is growing marijuana on his rented plot of land. Annie, thinking it is marjoram, uses it as a secret ingredient in her pickles.

Insisting Tommy is a nice young man, Annie discovers his beloved Mary Jane is not the name of his girlfriend after Annie is arrested for cultivation and sale of marijuana. But Annie knows God always takes care of her. On a cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2, Annie meets the man who might solve her impending legal dilemma, Arnie.

Elma, Annie’s best friend, knows that Arnie is just what Annie needs in her life. But is he?

Annie’s niece thinks Arnie is out to fleece her aunt. Is she right? Or is Arnie the one who can get Annie out of the pickle she’s in?

Find it in all formats HERE

Book Trailer:

Excerpt from Chapter One:

I’m not ordinarily a violent person, though I beat up the newspaper deliveryman once. I whacked him with the newspaper from the end of the driveway to my kitchen door. It didn’t hurt the paper none since he’d rolled it up and tucked it into one of his skinny orange plastic bags.

“You can take the time to bag it, but you can’t take the time to put it into the special box the newspaper people made me install?” I yelled as I swatted him. It gets my dandruff up when I have to bend down and pick up a newspaper that ought to be in its proper place.

He wasn’t hurt any because he really wasn’t there. I have a good imagination. I conjured up a picture of a cowardly deliveryman, arms flailing to protect himself, yelling, “Have mercy! Have mercy!”

Yes, I could see him in my mind running for his car or truck or whatever he drives, a trail of orange bags blowing in the wind behind him. He’s lucky he wasn’t really there when I went to retrieve the paper that morning. I just might have given him a few whacks, or at least a piece of my mind.

The gray misty November morning didn’t help my mood any. A cold chill hung in the air as the weather wavered between giving us more of an Ohio Indian summer and hitting us with an early arctic blast.

“No excuse,” I mumbled as I fumed over the paper I had to pick up from the ground. There wasn’t even any snow yet to keep him from getting his car near the box. “Just no excuse.”

Sometimes I wonder if people think they can take advantage of me because of my white hair. Yes, it’s white, not gray. It used to be chestnut until I stopped dying it on my 55th birthday and went au naturale. That was ten years ago and I haven’t been sorry. Not only have I saved lots of money on dye jobs, but I’ve gotten plenty of compliments on it.

“Annie Pickels,” people say, “your hair is as white as a fresh snow fall in December.” Still, lots of people see a white or gray head, and they think it’s a sign of senility. Let me tell you, I’m far from being senile. You can’t be senile and run a business.

I pickle pickles and sell them to local restaurants and diners near the farm where I live. I have my own recipe, and my pickles have quite a reputation in the area. The money the pickles make isn’t important. My Russell, rest his soul, provided well for me before his untimely death.

I also make a little money renting out plots of land on what’s left of my acreage to the city folk who want to come and play in the dirt and pretend to be farmers. Some of them are successful at it and some aren’t.

That November morning, the morning I imagined I beat up the deliveryman, the heavy leafy smell of autumn mixed with the pungent odor of rotting vegetables. Some folks hadn’t harvested everything before the first frost and what lay in the fields was returning to the soil. It was a good smell though. It reminded me of Russell.

I don’t mean to say Russell smelled earthy. No. I mean it reminded me that Russell would have been out turning over those fields and making them ready for the next spring planting. He knew how to farm. He’d gone to Ohio State University to learn all about it. These city folk—they just played at being farmers.

My nose dripped like a leaky faucet by the time I got back inside the house. I gave it a swipe with a tissue from my pocket, and then exchanged my muddy outdoor boots for my warm cozy slippers. I left my boots to dry on the landing that sits between the three steps up to the kitchen and the ones that go down into the basement. The basement is where I keep all my canning supplies and inventory. It’s cool down there and the cucumbers keep well until I can get them all pickled.

Last year, my brother built me some shelves in the basement for storing jars. Trouble is, my business has outgrown those shelves, so I have to pile up the empties alongside those that are full and it can get a little precarious. I recycle the empties. I sterilize them and refill them, putting on new lids to seal in the freshness after I fill them with cucumbers and brine and seasoning.

Once I got my slippers on, I thought about trudging down those steps to gather some empties and the rest of the cucumbers, and get started on finishing up the year’s crop. It seemed like there was no end to pickling. Either I planted too many cucumbers or the Lord blessed too much.

I didn’t feel up to pickling just then or my usual two mile walk. I had a cold coming on, and my bones ached. My robe comforted me with its softness and warmth. I wasn’t about to give that up for regular clothes yet. I hung my jacket on the hook and took the picked-up-off-the-ground newspaper into the kitchen.

Now, I usually don’t imbibe, but my daddy did teach me how to make a good medicinal hot toddy. My symptoms called for something that would warm the joints and chase the sniffles, so I fished under the sink for the bottle of whiskey that someone had given me ages ago. Does whiskey ever go bad? I sniffed. Whew! The smell went clear up my nostrils and hit something inside my head. I guessed it was still good.

I drained the little that was left of the caramel colored liquid into a saucepan and added lemon, honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and water, then left it to simmer on the stove. The spicy aroma floated through the kitchen. I filled my mug and blew on it to cool it a bit. Just a few minutes with the morning news show, I thought, and I’ll get to work. I sat in the big easy chair, propped my feet on the ottoman in front of the TV, and took a few sips. The sweetened whiskey burned a bit as it went down, but its warmth began to spread with a tingle from the top of my head right down to my toes. My eyelids grew heavy.

Suddenly my body jerked me awake. What time was it? I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck begin to rise. I shivered. Something wasn’t right. My ears tuned in to listen for the familiar sounds of the house. Then,

CRASH! I heard glass shatter against the basement floor, as if someone had run into my stash of empty pickle jars.


As a full time mom, a teacher, a businesswoman, a paralegal student, a travel addict, and diver, Karen Robbins has had a wealth of experiences that contribute to her story ideas and speaking topics. In 1987, she sold her first written piece for publication in Standard, a Sunday School take-home paper. Since then she has published numerous articles and essays in a variety of publications including several regional and national magazines and written columns for a local newspaper and an online women’s magazine. Karen has been a contributing author to many compilation books including the Chicken Soup For The Soul series. She coauthored A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts. Other novels include Divide The Child and Murder Among The Orchids, Death Among The Deckchairs. Her most recent novel, In A Pickle, is dedicated to her mother who not only loved to do home canning but often got her words mixed up and asked for marijuana when she meant marjoram.
Blog: Writer’s Wanderings


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