Monday, September 15, 2014

The September 2014 Report


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Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report: September 2014. This month we have three recently released new series for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons
Series: Chocolate Covered #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Best friends Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell are celebrating the sweet rewards of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop by hosting the Great Fudge Cook-off during the town’s Memorial Day weekend Arts Festival. But success turns bittersweet when Main Street’s portrait photographer is found dead in their store, poisoned by Michelle’s signature truffles.

As suspicion mounts against Michelle, her sales begin to crumble and her career seems whipped. With Erica by her side, Michelle must pick through an assortment of suspects before the future of their dream store melts away…
I enjoyed this tantalizing sweet whodunit that whetted my appetite for chocolate and murder. With a scattered list of suspects, it was easy to succumb to the early clues but once the story moved forward, the killer’s identity inch closer as suspect after suspect were alibied. The author did a good job in presenting a well-fermented drama that was easy to follow with the perfect backdrop of a bookstore and chocolates. There’s a backstory between Erica and Bobby that I can’t wait to read more about and the possibility of a romance blooms for our heroine. Boasting a lovable cast of characters and engaging dialogue, this delectable treat is a welcomed addition to the cozy genre. Bonus chocolaty recipes are included.

Visit Kathy at www.kathyaarons.com


Fat Cat At Large by Janet Cantrell
Series: Fat Cat #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.
This was a fun read that kept my interest from beginning to end. The mystery was teasingly adventurous from the suspects, to the interaction between the cast and to the frequent surprise mentions of fictional characters from cozy series that I read. I love the way the story flowed and the comfortable tone that created a lovely atmosphere as the story moved forward. Chase is great character and I would like to know more about her and Anna and Julie. Quincy adds a dash of excitement with his escapes and discoveries in this debut novel. I look forward to more good times and murder with the next book in this delightfully appealing series. Recipes for both human and furry friends are included.

Visit Janet at www.janetcantrell.com


Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry
Series: Witch City #1
Publisher: Kensington
Most folks associate the city of Salem, Massachusetts with witches, but for Lee Barrett, it's home. This October she's returned to her hometown--where her beloved Aunt Ibby still lives--to interview for a job as a reporter at WICH-TV. But the only opening is for a call-in psychic to host the late night horror movies. It seems the previous host, Ariel Constellation, never saw her own murder coming.

Lee reluctantly takes the job, but when she starts seeing real events in the obsidian ball she's using as a prop, she wonders if she might really have psychic abilities. To make things even spookier, it's starting to look like Ariel may have been an actual practicing witch--especially when O'Ryan, the cat Lee and Aunt Ibby inherited from her, exhibits some strange powers of his own. With Halloween fast approaching, Lee must focus on unmasking a killer--or her career as a psychic may be very short lived. . .
This was a fun book to read that was filled with suspense and intrigue. Is she or is she not? That’s the question I had as I followed the actions set forth by Lee as well as the clues in drama that was hard to put down. The author did a great job in the presentation of this novel, where nothing is as it seems and until you got closer to the end, did I suspect what I thought I knew. I Lee is a great heroine as is her aunt Ibby. The addition of O’Ryan and Pete rounded out the cast that supported them. Boasting engaging dialogue and the perfect background setting of Salem, MA and Halloween, this was a very enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully crafted series.

Visit Carol at www.caroljperry.com

HOW IS YOUR NOSE?


By Kate Collins

Seriously, I’m not being rude. This is actually the customary greeting for the Ongee tribe of the Andaman Islands. For them, the universe and everything in it is defined by smell.  I find this amusing. You might surmise I’m easily amused. You would be correct.

But smells are important to me, too. For instance, a strong garlic odor is delightful if I’m in an Italian restaurant, not so delightful when I’m seated next to someone on a train. A heavy floral perfume will give me a headache in ten minutes. Same with cigarette smoke. Also some potpourri mixes.

When you think of Thanksgiving, can’t you just smell the turkey roasting? The pumpkin pies baking? Christmas – the pine scent of the trees?  When you think of summer, do you smell the freshly mown grass?

For the cattle-raising Dassanetch of Ethiopia, no bouquet is more beautiful than a herd of cows. The men wash their hands in cattle urine and smear their bodies with manure to make themselves more attractive to the ladies. The Dogon of Mali rub fried onions all over their bodies. I think I’ve sat next to one of them on the train, too.

Back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, physicians like Hippocrates promoted the therapeutic use of scents, which we now call aromatherapy.  Then in the early nineteenth century scientists tried to discredit the medicinal use of aromatics in favor of drugs. (Hint: It’s about the money.) And then the pharmaceutical companies sprang up in the 1950s, and they’ve been doing their best ever since to discredit EVERYTHING that isn’t made in one of their laboratories.  Again, money.

Fortunately, aromatherapy is now making a strong comeback. You’ll find a host of essential oils available at your local health food store, each one good for many uses. Just put a dab on your wrist or under your nose, or put some on a cotton ball and set it in a bowl in the room. Then breath. Ahh. All better.

Here are a few that I thought were helpful:

Depressed mood: Peppermint, chamomile, lavender, and jasmine.

Stress: Lavender, lemon, bergamot, peppermint, vetiver, pine, and ylang ylang.

Insomnia: Lavender, chamomile, jasmine, benzoin, neroli, rose, sandalwood, sweet marjoram, and ylang ylang. (But not lemon oil. It can wake you up.)

I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is ylang ylang? It’s the yellow-flowered tree native to the Malay peninsula and the Philippines from which this oil is obtained.




I would add a few of my favorite scents to the mix. For relaxation, the smell of coffee brewing, or a cup of hot chocolate. To ease a cold, the smell of Vicks Vaporub.  For a sense of coziness, any kind of cookie baking.

What would you add to the list? Have you ever tried aromatherapy?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Favorite Season

by Leann


There are many reasons I love autumn and it probably goes back to my
childhood. I loved school and returning to the comfort of learning and friends and even awful school lunches.

The weather suits me well, the new TV season begins and all the cliffhangers I have completely forgotten about will be resolved--and I will have trouble remembering how the characters got into their predicaments. There's college sports
again. I love college football and basketball and have been eagerly following my favorite teams--who are all off to a great start.

The leaves here in South Carolina turn and in NY I always enjoyed the richness of the fall landscape. In South Texas we didn't have the pleasure, but now I feel lucky I can look forward to vibrant golds and reds along the rural roads. Peaches at the roadside stands are replaced by apples. Right now honey crisps are in but next? I'm not sure.

But most of all it's the food. Pumpkin comes to mind first, perhaps because I had
my first (and it won't be my last) Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard. Absolutely the best blizzard ever. I could eat pumpkin-something every day and never get tired of it. I've been pinning all sorts of recipes on Pinterest now that I actually have a decent oven and stove. Cooking has become a joy again rather than a terrible challenge. I have counter space and working appliances!

The first cold snap will have me pulling out the chili
powder and cumin to make chili. And the bread machine will get get some action and ... okay. I'm hungry now. A few of my favorite recipes are in the Cozy Chicks Kitchen. Do you have your copy? But I will digging through boxes looking for my other cookbooks, too. I am a collector and I have missed those books these last two years.

What do you love best about fall? Or is there another season you prefer?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR LIFE ON HOLD?

by Mary Kennedy 


I call it the "When-Then" syndrome and it affects people from all walks of life. How do I know this? I see it in my clients (I'm a clinical psychologist), I see it in my friends and worst of all, I see it in myself!

Here's how the When-Then syndrome works. Think of a goal, something you really want to accomplish. But instead of setting a reasonable deadline (a goal without a deadline is just a fantasy, by the way. Something nice to dream about, but it will never happen.)

Now, you're all excited about accomplishing this goal. But...instead of getting to work on it right away, you pick another event (way off in the hazy future) and you decide that you can't get started on your goal until the other event takes place. It's completely irrational, but you cling to the idea anway.

For example, are you guilty of using any of the When-Then's listed below?
                                                     
When I lose ten pounds, then I'll buy a bathing suit. Reality check. You may never lose those ten pounds or at least not in the forseeable future. What are you going to do, avoid the beach altogether? You don't have to have a body like a Victoria's Secret model to have a good time at the shore.
                                                       
 
When things slow down at work, then 'll get started on an exercise program. Trust me, things may never slow down at work, in fact, they may get even more busy. Reality check. Time is ticking by, you are more out of shape than ever with no realistic plans to do anything about it.
                                                     

When the kids are back to school, then I'll have some time to myself and I can organize the closets. When the kids are back to school and the house is quiet, you may have no desire to clean the closets! You may relish the time to yourself and prefer to enjoy a good book. (preferably a cozy mystery). Reality check. There is never an ideal time to clean closets. Just pencil it in on the calendar and do it!                

When I move, then I can really get started on my novel. Reality check. This is called "the geographical solution" in psych circles. Some people have the mistaken notion that their lives will instantly get better if they move to a different city. Reality check. Life doesn't work that way. Remember that line in the Billy Joel song, "Piano Man." The narrator says, "I know I could be a movie star if I just could get out of this place." If years go by and you are still clinging to the belief that everything will be different if you move, trust me, it won't. People are like turtles, we bring our shells with us.
                                                       
When I find the right person to make me happy, then my sadness and crying spells will disappear. This is probably the most insidious "When- Then" of all because it is always a mistake to entrust your happiness to another person. Happiness has to come from within, and if you feel hopelessly sad or depressed, please talk to a trusted friend or a licensed mental health professional. Reality check. You can learn to be happy on your own. It's not only advisable, it's essential. Seven out of ten women over the age of 65 live alone, and yes, most of them are happy!

                                                         
 
Watch out for the "When-then's" in your conversation and in your self-talk. Nip them in the bud. Life is to be lived, right now, right here!! As Doris Day said in her famous song, "The future's not ours to see, que cera, que cera."
 
Mary Kennedy

Friday, September 12, 2014

End of summer recipe

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

According to the calendar, there's still just over a week of summer left. According to the weather, fall is here.

So are the tomatoes--FINALLY.  We planted them earlier this year in hopes of being able to eat them earlier.  The only one who got to do that was Mr. Groundhog.  Apparently he didn't like the pickings on the farm behind us and has been dining on not only our tomatoes, but on our neighbor's tomatoes, too!  And the tomatoes aren't that good this year, no doubt due to the wet summer.  They seem to start to rot before they're thoroughly ripe.  So ... we're cutting out the bad bits and eating them anyway.

And why is it they all ripen at the same time? Now we have a glut. We've been eating a lot of them with seasoned rice vinegar, or just with salt and pepper, but here's a recipe that uses a lot of tomatoes at one time: Panzanella (otherwise known as Italian Bread Salad).



Ingredients
1 pound two-day old country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 cubes
1 cup red onion, diced
12 fresh basil leaves, shredded
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
fresh basil sprigs
salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, toss bread, tomatoes, onion and shredded basil leaves until well mixed. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Decorate sprigs of fresh basil.

Instead of plain olive oil, I used Wegmans basting oil (which has garlic and other herbs--that mostly seem to be parsley; it's de-lish!).  Haven't got a red onion?  A sweet onion will do.  We had a basil calamity earlier this summer (drown by a rainstorm and then I didn't know the planter where I was growing it was full so it didn't get emptied for almost a week), but it bounced back.  I love basil so I added about 20 basil leaves.  Didn't hurt the salad one bit.

Have you got any recipes to use up tomatoes?  


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chocolate soufflé anyone?






Yesterday our friend, Frank, came by for lunch. Frank lives about a thousand miles away in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and so this doesn’t happen every day.  Both my hubby and I value his friendship. We’ve both known him for forty years, although he claims that forty years ago it couldn’t have been him, must have been his father.

Frank loves to talk about mysteries and crime shows and mysterious movies. We always get great recommendations and the conversation flows.  There’s enthusiasm and lots of laughs when Frank’s in the room.

My husband said, “Frank, I think she likes you more than me.”
Frank said, “Who can blame her?”

We all love to laugh, although I am keeping my cute little husband. 

So because it was an unusual visit from a special friend with a sweet tooth, I decided to make a chocolate soufflé  for dessert. My hubby said it was very kind of me to make Frank a chocolate soufflé when I was on a diet. Ahem. I said I was doing it because it was easy.

Soufflés get a bad rap, but they are very straightforward (unless of course, something goes wrong).  I figured if anything went wrong, I would call it a chocolate pancake. It would taste the same.
Here’s the recipe – I thought I’d share it with you, my friends, as most of you won’t be dropping by! Of course, you would be very welcome if you were anywhere near Manotick, Ontario.  I’d make something for your sweet tooth, too.  Even if I was on a diet (which I am) because after all, that’s what friends are for. 

At any rate, I added some Kahlua to this one to give it a little special flavor.  




Hot chocolate soufflé with Kahlua

½ cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Kahlua liqueur
½ tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, separated
½ tsp cream of tartar

Butter a 2 quart soufflé  dish (or slightly smaller).  Sprinkle with a little sugar.
Combine ¼ cup sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in med saucepan. Stir in milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and is smooth and thickened. Stir in vanilla and Kahlua. Set aside.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy.  Add remaining sugar, two tbsp at a time beating constantly until sugar is disolved and white form soft peaks.
Thoroughly blend egg yolks into reserved sauce.  Gently fold yolk mixture into whites. Carefully pour into soufflé dish. 

Bake at 350 F until puffy.  Soufflé should shake slightly when oven rack is moved back and forth. 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve immediately because once it cools, it falls!  Some people add whipping cream and fruit, but really, it's wonderful as it.




By the way, if you’re looking for recipes for family, friends or just to treat yourself, don’t forget the fabulous Cozy Chicks Kitchen, 2nd edition.  All the chicks love to cook and we know our way around a kitchen!



So this seems like a good time to chat about friendship. Last week I thanked my Cozy Chicks friends for all their help with the release of The Wolfe Widow.  Today, I’m talking about friends too. So what about you?  Are there friends whose visits make your day? People you wish could visit but can’t? 
And as for those with a sweet tooth, what do you make/buy/serve/whip out of the freezer? I’d love to know.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Festival Time!


It’s fall and it’s festival time...at least it is here in Cincy. Around here when the temperatures drop, humidity subsides...finally...folks leave the comforts of home and AC and venture into the wilds of Fall Festival Time.

I love fall festivals! Time to pick apples, watch the local farmers press apple cider, buy homemade crafts, spruce up the house with mums you get at the roadside stand and maybe corn stalks.
Some of my fav Fall Festivals here in Cincy are…

The Country Pumpkins Farm festival. I live in the burbs so going out to the farms in the fall is always a special treat. Lord have mercy there really is such a thing as a pumpkin patch, and popcorn does actually grow on a cob and
apples grow on trees and if I’m lucky I’ll get to bottle-feed the new calf and ride on the hay wagon. Once I even got to drive a tractor!!

Then there’s the Cincinnati Chocolate Festival where we can taste all things chocolate and learn to make all things chocolate. It’s my chocolate fix for the year. Yummm.

Of course there’s the traditional October Fest with all things beer. We have Pumpking beer...yeah it really is called pumpking. Pumpkin spice ale, apple spice ale, apple beer...you get the picture. And they have those incredible big pretzels and brats and Mets smoking on the grill. The smells of America, nothing better.

And there’s the Old Timers Day Festival with lots of banjo and guitar playing and you can even taste White Lightning...that’s

booze right from the backyard still. But you gotta know who to ask and they call it white lightning for a reason. Holy cow!


There’s even Skunkfest for Skunk owners...I usually give that one a pass...and Strut Your Mutt...where you dress up your pup for Halloween...and The Buttercream Festival...hard to top that one.

But my absolutely fav festival is the Sauerkraut Festival where everything is sauerkraut and I’m not just talking on a hotdog. There’s sauerkraut fudge, ice cream, cookies, cake, candy, coffee, tea...you name it. And it’s good. This festival is packed. They block off the town of Waynesville and all us sauerkraut loves descend for a day of delish.  

These are some of our regional festivals here in Cincy, so what are some of your festivals in your neck of the woods? Got a fav? I wanna hear all about it.

I’ll give away two Geared for the Grave totes from the answers. Check back to see if you are a winner.

Have fun!
Hugs, Duffy Brown



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wi-Fi Tales

by Maggie Sefton


My apologies for the lateness of this post, Friends and Readers.  My internet Wi-Fi connection went dark late last night as I was trying to submit my post to the Cozy Chicks Blog.  And early this morning, it was still dark.  No problem, I thought.  I'll just drive over to one of my friendly coffee shops where I can post there.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at 6:30am, their Wi-Fi wasn't working either.

Oh, brother, I wondered.  Did a new version of "War of the Worlds" start while I was asleep----a la "Tech Wars---Revenge of the Laptops?"  Or, did hackers finally succeed in shutting us all down.
Oh, no!!  Not that!!  Aiyeeeee!!!!  

Okay, by then I realized I was over-reacting----Heck, it was early in the morning and I hadn't had a full cup of black tea yet.   Just relax, I told myself.   The next coffee shop will have it.   But, I got there, and their Wi-Fi wasn't working either.   Old movie sound tracks of impending Doom played in my head---dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, do-do-do-Doooooo!  Visions of a large shark mouth opening. . .   Yes, I have seen a lot of movies in my day, but that's beside the point.  :)   Uhhhhh, what was my point?   (You can tell this is a Stream of Consciousness post, can't you?)

Oh, yeah----Impending Doom from Unknown Planetary Higher Power Tech Assault on all things Wi-Fi and Web connected.  I was about to drive over to yet another coffee shop (library wasn't open yet) when I remembered that our grocery chains (both Kroger and Safeway) here in Colorado have coffee cafes with Wi-Fi.  Hooray!  Then----I remembered something else.  I had an appointment in twenty minutes at Columbine West Healthcare, the skilled nursing facility where my mom resides.  They have regularly scheduled every three month appointments with family concerning every aspect of their elderly one's health.  Since I travel so much, I am often out of town for these appointments, so I try to never miss one when I'm here.

So-----to make a short post long ,  I had to wait until the appointment was over, then I could drive to my fave Kroger (King Soopers) grocery store's cafe, grab a latte and a table, and finally submit my Tuesday post.   Again, I apologize for the lateness, but I hope this real life account of my mis-adventures gave you a smile.   Ohhhh----what about the original post?   That will appear next week.   

Please share some of your "Wi-Fi Misadventures" with the rest of us.  :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

INSIDE A WACKY WOMAN’S MIND



By Kate Collins

As a writer, I have to be able to slip inside the minds of many different characters to see what they’re seeing, think what they’re thinking, hear what they’re saying. Sometimes it’s easy. Abby Knight is easy. She’s my bolder self. Okay, and younger. Marco isn’t as easy.  He’s a tough guy, a man of few but important words. If I get stuck, I will channel my husband or ask my son (aka my virtual assistant) for the right words.

Jillian is another story. And I mean that literally. She’s Abby’s younger cousin, her thorn-in-the-side sister of sorts, who is narcissistic, snobbish, and hilarious. I can always count on Jillian to steal a scene. If I need a comedic break, enter Jillian stage right. You can’t hate her. She loves Abby to the depth of her being, which is why she feels perfectly safe saying or doing anything in her presence. Don’t we all wish we had someone like that?

Last week I ran seven days of diary entries written by Jillian, entitled A KNIGHT IN SHINING GARMENTS: JILLIAN’S MOMMYNISTA DIARIES (Still available on my website).  Let me just say that it was a labor of love because being in Jillian’s head for any length of time is exhausting! Oh, that woman can talk.  All I had to do was put my fingertips on the keypad and let her loose.

I can’t tell you where it comes from. Maybe there is a Jillian in spirit who feeds me these hysterical lines. At any rate, although it wasn’t easy to write a whole week’s worth of Jillianisms, I found it a challenge. Just try thinking every self-absorbed thought you can and build a story around it.  I’m not certain I could take her for the seven or eight months needed to write a novel, however.

What writing from different points of view does is that it forces you to acknowledge that everyone sees things differently, even your closest companions.  Your truth is not always their truth.  Does that make them wrong?

I use this technique in my daily life, too. When someone is being difficult, argumentative, or just downright rude, before I charge into the fray, I ask myself, what’s going on in that little brain? What’s behind that emotion?  Most of the time, anger hides fear. So my challenge is to figure out what that person is really afraid of. Maybe it’s just being proved wrong. Usually it’s about self-esteem.

It gives me a softer focus on life, and I’m happy with that. I don’t stress out over issues I can’t control anymore.  As my dear husband used to say, either do something or shut up about it. His language was a little more colorful, but the point is the same.

Try thinking like a writer the next time you’re in a situation with a difficult person.  See if you can look at the issue from her/his eyes and figure out what’s behind it. You might not like the answer (as in greed/money/hatred) but it will give you something to do besides getting your blood pressure up.

Have a soft, sunny week.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cats DO Like to Be Home


By Clyde the Vagabond Cat (with help from Leann)

I am Clyde, a cat with a mission. I don't speak on the pages of Leann Sweeney's latest Cats in Trouble Mystery, but I thought I would make an exception today.

One day, I set out on a long journey from Hilton Head Island to Mercy, South Carolina because I am one determined feline. I missed my best friend and besides, he was a very sick man when I was sent to live with his relatives. Why I was sent away is spelled out in the book, so I won't spoil that part for you.

Cats can be as loyal as dogs, they can travel miles and miles on end to get back to where they belong. I am no exception. You've heard the stories in the news, so you know it's true. You'll learn how I ended up with heroine Jillian Hart if you read the book, so instead I will offer a little background about me--Clyde. I am a big, handsome orange tabby and was rescued by Shawn Cuddahee as a kitten. You know Shawn. He runs a no-kill shelter in Mercy South Carolina. I was then adopted by a wonderful man. We became best friends. He needed a friend like me because his family was—what do you humans call it?--dysfunctional. I prefer crazy, but then cats always tell it like it is.

My 200 mile trip wasn't as difficult as it might have been. I know how to make friends and influence people who have cat food readily available. I'd stay for a bit at a nice home and then be off again. See, cats have the equivalent of GPS in their brains. That's why you hear those stories about long return trips to beloved owners. It may be amazing to the public, but it's what cats do when people mistakenly believe they're lost—that is if certain cats are so inclined to return home.

What I found when I returned to Mercy wasn't what I expected. But you'll have to read the book to find all that out. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that Leann Sweeney told my story--and there were plenty of twists and turns--including a rather inconvenient contraption I don't want to talk about. Not that I

don't appreciate Leann's help in bringing me to life. And I don't even require fictional treats as a thank you. Okay ... maybe I do. And so does my friend Marlowe, Leann's new publicist and a not-so-fictional cat.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

With a Little Help from My Friends

by Mary Kennedy
 
 
I've always appreciated the Cozy Chicks, but never more than this week! What was special about this week? Well, besides the usual end-of-summer craziness (all the things we said we were going to do before September and somehow never accomplished), Tuesday was release day for Nightmares Can Be Murder, the first of the Dream Club Mysteries. My pal and fellow Cozy Chick, Mary Jane Maffini had her own release this week, too, The Wolfe Widow, writing as Victoria Abbott.                              
 
Launching a book is a little like sending a child out into the world. We've done our best, we hope everyone will love our little one but it's all out of our hands. The book has been carefully edited, the cover art has been chosen, and the final product wings its way into bookstores across the country and into the offerings of online vendors.
 
 My cats watched me as I carefully arranged my author copies into what I hoped was an attractive pyramid on the sun porch. (And I'm sure they were only trying to be helpful when they knocked it over and I had to start all over!)
                                                    
It was wonderful to have Mary Jane, and all of the Cozy Chicks to worry with me, laugh with me, commiserate with me and to know that they had their fingers crossed for me. Always!
 
And it certainly helped to hear from our dear reader friends who wrote encouraging notes, told me they loved the adventures of Taylor and Ali, that they wished they could find a dream club (or even form one of their own.)
 
I made a few promises this week. I promised that there would be two more books (at least!) in the series and that I would always be on hand to answer "dream questions." I have to admit, some of the questions stumped me, but I enjoyed tackling them and will continue to do so. So, please, feel free to keep 'em coming!
 
Thanks for making this a great launch and happy reading and sweet dreams to everyone.
 
Mary Kennedy


Friday, September 5, 2014

Not so photogenic ...

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

I love being behind the camera, but I hate having my picture taken. I like seeing pictures of myself when I was a lot thinner. (Well, except for wedding pictures.  Then I was TOO thin.  We're talking skull head.)  Still ...


There were times when I should have had my picture taken and didn't.  Like with my Dad at the nursing home.  I remember his last good day.  The physical therapist was taking pictures of him and my mom and I said, "No!  I'm too fat."  So now I don't have a picture of me and my Dad on his last happy day.

I had an epiphany earlier this year when I realized there are virtually no casual pictures of me from the last ten or more years.  (There aren't any professionally taken pictures, either.)  I'm not thin enough. I'm having a bad hair day.  I LOOK MY AGE. (That's the killer right there.)  But then ... I realized that, well, pictures are part of life.  Hey, back in the Victorian age, pictures were also a part of death.  Is there anything sadder than the family scraping together their pennies so they can have a picture of their only (and deceased) child?

So ... I've let Mr. L take some pictures of me.

Like on our anniversary.



Like me and my Mum at his mother's 100th birthday.



I don't think I'll ever be comfortable in front of a camera, but at least I'm giving it a try.

Do you avoid the camera, too?