Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm a wedding crasher!

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Last weekend, Maggie and I attended the Novelists Inc. writers conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida.  OMG -- every time I go, my head wants to explode because I've learned soooooo much. I take copious notes, and even do some work at the conference.

For instance, I knew I wanted to get my new book, With Baited Breath, up for preorder, but I was afraid.  Don't ask me why? Maybe because the last time I tried this it was a tremendous failure. Listening to some very successful authors talk about it, I was spurred to try it again.  And now it's available for preorder for Kindle, Kindle Worldwide, iBooks, Kobo, and Nook. It'll be published on January 6th.

I wrote my newsletter (longhand), which went out yesterday.  (Missed it?  You can find it here.  Want to sign up for the next one, click here.)  Everything was energizing and exhausting at the same time.

I even finished one short story while on my working vacation, and began another.  The finished one is a Halloween story you might want to check it out since today is Halloween.  It's called Spooked! and it features my series character, Jeff Resnick.   Click any of the links for a description.  Kindle, KindleWorldwide, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords.

On Friday afternoon, the hotel began setting up for a wedding in the courtyard.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  All the doors to the rooms overlook the courtyard. About 6 pm, the DJ started cranking up and it was LOUD. Mr. L and I went out to see what was going on, just as the bridal party was being introduced.  This wasn't like most weddings I've been to.  Next up was bridal couple dancing to John Legend's All of me, and EVERYBODY was singing along.  Not just in the wedding, but those of us on the balcony. Then we watched the Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dances.  Dad and daughter were sweet, but mom and son started out with a slow dance, and then the music changed three times and you would have though you were watching Dancing with the Stars, they did a risque routine that had everyone laughing.

Through out the evening we popped out of our room to join the festivities.  People were dancing and singing on the balcony and having a lot of fun.  Below us were three ladies dancing their hearts out.  Mr. L and I even danced a few of the slow numbers.  It was wonderful, and so much fun to watch the bride throw the bouquet and then the garter catch.  We missing the cutting of the very small cake, but it was surrounded by VERY TALL pink cupcakes and my mouth was watering, wishing I could have one.  The people dancing often looked up and waved to us.  At 10 pm the party ended (well, for those of us on the balcony--they moved it to another part of the resort and we heard music playing for another two hours).

When I returned home, I read on the author loop that some people were upset that the resort hosted a wedding in the courtyard.  What party poopers!  They could have enjoyed themselves as much as those of us on the balcony did... We had almost as much fun as those at the wedding and we didn't have to get dressed up, either!

Have you ever crashed a wedding?

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Submitted furfully by Mary Jane Maffini aka Victoria Abbott

With only one more day left in Universal Cat Month and I thought I could sneak in a bit about dogs: in this case my dachshunds who are very catlike in their behavior. They cuddle. They like to lie on the sun. They take over the bed.  The usual.  Depending on what's going on, they might want you to think they were cats. 

If it wasn’t Halloween tomorrow, I could wait for this but we’ve been to a dachshund costume party. If you can’t post about this week, what can you do?


There’s something about forty-four dachshunds all in costumes that makes you forget everything else. Think chaos.  Dachshunds might be short but they’re very fast and lively.  Hey! Is that the real Superman.  I think it might be. 

They were all moving so fast, it was almost impossible to get pix of all of them.  A ‘class shot’ is out of the question. But we did get some of a very shortlegged Dracula. Did you know that Dracula barks?   

Aside from the banana  ...

.... there was a very speedy bride (that dress had quite a workout) and her groom (too fast to capture). They did get first prize.  

Here's our beautiful friend Coco making a very fetching and convincing pink rabbit.

And tiny ten-pound Gogo made a great vet, although her hat did fall off.

My own little jesters had fun and wagged tails, but every now and then they took refuge under a chair. Until someone offered them a treat, which was quite often.  So much for the dachshund diet (not going well at all).

Does this jester costume make my butt look fat?

Never mind. The event was great fun and I won a prize!  Thanks to the organizers. I'm excited about the next one.  I am often lucky that way.  But the luckiest part was being able to join other people who are also besotted by their dogs.
Lots of people don’t put clothes on dogs. Our dogs love outfits. Hats, not so much. Cameras? Not at all. But there’s often a treat if you look at the camera, sooooo ….
The pooches are ready for Halloween:

So are the granddogs:  Peachy (aka Walter) and Big Money, a two-pound Yorkie (or a Very Big Bee)  All ready for the big day.


The only thing I don’t like is that this day only rolls around once a year. And yes, I know we couldn’t do this with cats. 

What about you? Halloween? Or no? Costumes? Send pix! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remember Your First Bike!

 Geared for the Grave is about Evie Bloomfield talking over running a bike shop on Mackinac Island. I love bikes. For me it was the first taste of real freedom 

To say my parents were frugal is the understatement of the century. They kept things forever, till it wore out and then they found a use for it as something else. This explains the baby changing-table turned into a TV stand, the stained Christmas tablecloth as a tree skirt and that my brother rode a girl’s bike so when he got too big for it, it got passed down to me.

Before you start feeling all teary-eyes for brother dear when he got the next size bike it was boy’s bike and that got passed down to me! We were definitely a no-frills kind of family.
My cousin had a new red bike...a girl’s bike with a basket that had flowers on it! And I had brother’s blue bike with the ugly bar across the middle. I hated that bar! This was also my fist encounter of bike envy.

The thing is...boy’s bike or girls...I still remember the day I had wheels! I could go places on my very own. This was my first taste of real freedom. I had control over something without having an adult peering over my shoulder.
I remember well that first bike trip to the little town where I could get a forbidden Coke and candy bar and pass it off as a trip to the library. Not that it was a lie I did go to library I just stopped for the treats before!

And the thing is this feeling of freedom still comes when I ride a bike. Okay, I have a car but there’s something about the openness of a bike, the no need for gas and that the way you get somewhere is under your own steam. I now have a girl’s old one I got thirty-years ago but the basket is new. Fact is, I got the basket when I went biking on Mackinac Island with my daughter.

Mackinac Island is made for biking! With no cars it’s the best biking ever. You are king...or queen...on a bike on Mackinac because you are the fastest thing around. There are no cars and no matter how show you are, you’re faster than the horses!

In Geared for the Grave Evie Bloomfield takes over the failing bicycle shop though she’s from Chicago and never ridden a bike. She also tries to find a killer though she can’t find her keys in her purse.

So what about you? Did you have a bike growing up? What kind was it? Fond memories? Do you ride a bike now? Let me know about you and your bike and I’ll give away three Geared for the Grave totes.

Happy peddling.
Hugs, Duffy

Geared for the Grave
First book in Cycle Path mysteries
December 2
Berkley Prime Crime

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Halloween Treat

by Maggie Sefton

I've got news!  Since this is the week leading up to Halloween, I have a new E-Short
Short Story which will be available in E-book format on Amazon,, and Smashwords (which offers Ebooks for Apple iBooks as well as Sony and Kobo E-readers).

HALLOWEEN SCARE is a short short story (a little over 7000 words) and features the characters from the Kelly Flynn Knitting Mysteries.  The characters sent me this "E-short" a while ago, and I knew it didn't fit into an upcoming Kelly Flynn mystery.  Instead, it's a short episode in the lives of the characters.  Of course, this short scene takes place around Halloween, so it's only fitting that I release it this week.

I have a feeling the characters are going to keep sending me these short scenes which take place in between the individual Kelly Flynn Mysteries which come out in June of each year.  Now that E-books and Independent or "indie" publishing is available, there's a perfect spot for these "E-Shorts" as I call them.   That's why I released WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? a couple of weeks ago.   It's a closer look at the cast of characters in the Kelly Flynn mystery novels.  New readers are always discovering "Kelly World."  :)   I hope you enjoy the first of these short episodes---HALLOWEEN SCARE.

Meanwhile---an update:  I just returned from a great conference in St. Pete's Beach, Florida, called Novelists Inc.  It's a once a year opportunity for novelists to come together and discuss what we're each doing with our fiction.  Trying new way to reach readers like self-publishing, developing new fiction projects, and finding professionals like graphic designers to help us with our fiction projects.

Of course, the setting was wonderful and the weather perfect---sunny and 81 degrees.  However, most of us were inside the lovely TradeWinds Resort because our conference sessions started each day at 8:30am and went straight through the day.  We even had late night Night Owl sessions going until 11:00pm.  Believe me, folks----don't think for a moment that we novelists are cavorting around and enjoying those beautiful surroundings.  Nope, not us.  We're in chilly air conditioned rooms trying to absorb as much as possible from the experienced conference speakers.    I'm posting some photos on Facebook.  Here's a view from my balcony.    

Monday, October 27, 2014

8 Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens

by Kate Collins

If you didn't see my Facebook post, this bears repeating because it's a remarkable story about a heroic little calico cat and a heroic young man who is my son. What follows is his story with photos:

"This summer, I was feeding a very sweet, very malnourished stray cat for most of the summer. I named her Mabel.  She was skittish and refused to come inside, even when the temperature dropped. Then one day she stopped coming. Unfortunately, I'd made an appointment at the vet for the next day to see if I could get her adopted. Mabel had other plans. 

About a month later she showed up on my porch. I was outside enjoying the weather and there she was. But she looked different. I couldn’t tell how exactly, she had changed. Her shy disposition disappeared as she came into my apartment and had a look around. It was strange to see her again, but I was happy to know she was still alive. She ate herself silly, relaxed a bit, and took off again. These visits continued for about a week. Mabel would show up, come inside, investigate, eat and leave. 

Two months later I heard a loud cry from outside my window. It was six in the morning during a bad thunderstorm. I had decided to sleep with the windows open that night to hear the storm come in. When I heard the crying again I quickly dressed and went to the living room. I opened my sliding glass door and saw Mabel, soaking wet, meowing her heart out. 

Then behind her I saw the reason why. There was a very small kitten following her. She led the shivering kitten to my door and disappeared back into the storm. Thirty minutes later she came back, with another kitten. Every thirty minutes Mabel went back into the storm, until, one by one, she had led eight little four-week-old kittens to my door. 

So I sat there, drying off kittens, wondering what in the world I was going to do. In that moment when I stepped outside and I looked into that cat’s eyes, there was an exchange of information. She had successfully communicated to me that she needed help. And somehow, over the weeks and months that I had cared for her, she had come to know that I would. Mabel had struggled for hours to bring her kittens to safety, and I owed it to her to make sure they end up in a good loving home. 

All eight kittens are now healthy, dewormed, free of fleas and vet-approved. They immediately took to the litter box. At first they were shy, and could barely walk, but now they are all loving adorable kittens, climbing up my pant legs as I sit here typing. They are perfectly adoptable, and ready for a home. 

I would like to thank Kate Collins
 for allowing me the means and opportunity to take care of this little family of refugees. This is has been a great experience and there is no way I could have done it without her help. Thank you!"

Kate here. If you know anyone in the Indianapolis vicinity, please spread the word or post on your FB page. My son is determined not to  turn them over to a shelter but instead find homes for them and their brave little mother. 

Isn't this a remarkable story? I'm so proud of my son for taking 9 cats into his small apartment (and he has a rescue cat of his own.) 

Have you ever rescued an animal?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Brain Emptied--Mission Accomplished

by Leann

This blog must be short and sweet because, well, I'm tired. I finished book #7 in the Cats in Trouble series yesterday and I followed it up by going to my first college football game in years. I am a little tired. No, I am a lot tired.

As usual, I read through the manuscript and was amazed that it actually makes sense. It's kind of an out of body experience to read something that's taken about a year to think out, outline and then actually get it on the page and in the end say, "How did this happen?" All I can say is the subconscious is a powerful thing. Writers pull a lot of stuff out of that part of our brain and it's a bigger mystery to me than what's in the manuscript.

As for the football game? Our Syracuse Orange lost but I had my first tailgating experience, subjected my poor fibromyalgia body to way much noise, crowd, walking and just plain over stimulation. But I was with friends and it was worth the pain I was feeling by 10 PM last night.

Enjoy your Sunday! But mine won't compare to a fantastic Saturday spent at Clemson cheering on the hapless Syracuse Orange with friends we've had for 35 years!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why Mystery Writers Love Cats

by Mary Kennedy
In honor of National Cat Month, I decided to run a piece I wrote for USA Today a couple of years ago. Many of you will remember these charming mysteries with cats and you'll be happy to know that these same authors continue to feature cats in their current novels.
So here goes, a look back at some delightful cat mysteries from 2012.
Jugs, a chubby feline based on the author's adored cat, Boomerang.
 Miss Marple, a savvy cat who enjoys napping in the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore.                                                          
Merlot, Chablis and Syrah, three delightful felines who star in the Cats in Trouble series.                                 
Cats featured prominently in the 2012 crop of cozies. Clever, alert and intuitive, they often provided assistance in solving crimes and always offered a serene, comforting presence to their owners. 
In WHAT THE CAT SAW, by Carolyn Hart, Nela Farley makes an interesting discovery when she agrees to care for a highly intelligent cat named Jugs. Whenever she look into the cat's beautiful eyes, she "moves into his mind," and immediately receives messages about a murder he witnessed.                                                       
In THE CAT, THE WIFE and THE WEAPON by Leann Sweeny, heroine Jillian Hart creates cat quilts. She has three constant companions, Merlot, a red Maine coon cat, Chablis, a seal point Himalayan, and Syrah, an Amber Abyssinian. She refers to as her cats as her "four-legged assistants," and she's convinced that they sense her feelings. She's adept at reading their body language and she trusts their intuitions about people.
In Murder on the Half Shelf, Lorna Barrett delivers another exciting release in the Booktown Mysteries. Tricia Miles, the owner of the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore in Stoneham, N.H., owns a lovely feline named Miss Marple. Miss Marple can nudge Tricia's attention to a clue by merely gazing steadily at it and her interest in a cocktail napkin proves to be relevant to the case.
In Murder of the Cat's Meow, Denise Swanson based the feline character, Bingo, on her lovely real-life cat, Boomerang. In the 15th release in the popular Scumble River series, Skye Denison, school psychologist, investigates the murder of a judge at a cat show. The behind-the-scenes details about cat shows and cat fanciers are exciting and will appeal to anyone who loves felines. And the murder method is unique--death by catnip mouse!
Why are cats so popular in mysteries? Why do people rely on their intuitive responses? As Carolyn Hart says, "No one can fool a cat. A cat always knows exactly what someone thinks and feels."
In my own Dream Club series, I feature two cats, Barney and Scout, but I have to admit that they have no magical powers, no amazing insights and no detective skills. They are just lovable lap cats, the kind that Gallagher describes as "pillows that eat." I hope you'll share some of your own favorite mysteries featuring cats. I know a lot of you know and love cats and I always enjoy hearing about your delightful fur babies.
Mary Kennedy

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cats ... ya gotta love 'em

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

October is (among other things) National Cat Month.  It's a time for all us cat lovers to celebrate what we love about our cats.

These are my guys, sleeping under the 200 watt light bulb in Mr. L.'s office.  They love it there.  They don't, however, love each other.  It's only because they're asleep that there's no hissing or growling.  I think (secretly) they all wish they were only cats.

Yes, having cats isn't all fun.  Take what happened to me last week as an example.  There I was, sound asleep at 12:09 am. But at 12:10,  I was jolted awake by the sound of a cat retching in my ear.  I quickly turned on light just as Mr. L's cat, Chester, projectile vomited ALLLLLL over the bed and on other our other cat Betsy, who'd also been sound asleep.

I quickly grabbed Chester in time for second of three barfs. (Yes, in our house barfing comes in threes.)  I leapt out of bed and deposited Chester on the hardwood floor (not bedside rug).  While he finished his next two rounds of vomiting, I grabbed a large wad of tissues from the bedside box and started to mop up.  Betsy was still sitting on the bed looking bewildered. Mr. L was foggy, like he didn't know what the heck was going on.

Like dealing with the Borg, I realized clean-up was futile, so I started unbuttoning the duvet cover, only to realize the duvet is also soaked.  I toss them both in guest bedroom to deal with in the morning, then go get a spare duvet and cover. That's when I discovered that vomit is also all over bottom sheet.  I tossed Mr. L of bed, who then just stood there and WATCHED but didn't offer to help me remake bed,which took FOREVER. (Damn all those duvet buttons at 12:15 am.)

Once the bed is made, Mr. L gets back in and promptly goes back to sleep. But my work is not done.  Oh, no.  First I must empty the wastebasket full of vomity tissues.  Next, I hunt down Betsy, who still has vomit all over her tail.  I capture her and commence to wash her off.  Betsy does not appreciate this and screams bloody murder, then runs away in fear and anger.

Finally, at about 25 after, I get to go back to bed.  Chester is already back in bed, cuddled next to his sleeping dad, and looking happy and satisfied, while I must resist the urge to scream at him for fear of waking up the neighbors.

I had to read for almost an hour before Betsy forgot the tail-washing incident and came back to bed.

Meanwhile in the back of my mind was the mantra I've repeated many, many times.

I love cats.  I love cats.  I love cats.

Surely, I'm not the only one with a story like this to share.  I hope you'll leave YOUR story in the comments and we can all commiserate.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Baking to the rescue

It’s a dreary day here, cold, blustery and raining.  Trees becoming bare, streets slick.  It’s one of those days that I’m glad I’m a writer. Because it means I work at home wearing cozy clothes. When I say work, sometimes, I might get the tiniest bit distracted, especially on a miserable cold and dark day when the universe says:  


That could rescue the mood, for sure. Surely our hard-done-by sleuth can hold off the bad guy a bit longer while I whip up something sweet and satisfying in the kitchen.
But what to bake?  Our favorite chocolate mousse cake?   We like to save that for birthdays. No birthdays here this month.

Sponge cake?  Not sure I have enough eggs.  And it is just the two of us ...

Sweet and spicy cornmeal muffins? That could work. Unless ...

Pumpkin swirl cheesecake!!!     Oops, Better wait, That's a tradition for Thanksgiving. 

Chocolate cinnamon loaves would do the trick: easy and fragrant! But we like to keep those for Christmas.  We make them for gifts, unless we can't resist them ourselves.


Cupcakes again?  Been there. Done that.

Whatever it is I end up baking, am I so wrong to want to pilfer Lorraine's chocolate pot to go with it? 

What to do?

Maybe I’ll take peek at The Cozy Chicks Kitchen, Second Edition, and find just the right recipe. I love the cozy mysteries from all the chicks and I love their recipes too.  I was thrilled to be part of the revised edition this year and I have my own copy, but if you don’t, you could download one right now!  It’s easier than pie.  

What about you? Do your thoughts turn to baking on a dark and dreary day?  Do you have a favorite recipe that cheers you up?  Have you tried our cookbook?