Thursday, April 17, 2014

When everyday objects attack: beware the Easter bunny





Just so you know, I'm not kidding about the Easter bunny.



Seriously, I’ve had my problems with ordinary objects in the past couple of years.  From time to time, it’s like things around me become possessed.  

For example, there was the toe I injured by dropping my hairbrush on it.  Spectacular bruises too. Or that morning I wrecked my rotator cuff airing out the duvet.  I don’t want to forget when I sprained my ankle doing the dishes. That’s right. 

Last summer my chair – without warning – flipped backwards off the deck, depositing me (still in the chair) on my back in a freshly dug garden bed.  Usually I’m alone in the garden. This time there were five witnesses. 

Not too long ago, I banged up my knee crashing into a seemingly innocent pile of books at the foot of a staircase. Just so you know, a baby gate was also involved. 

And I haven’t even mentioned the drink coaster.

Try getting sympathy for a duvet injury. Or a hairbrush trauma. Or a coaster incision.   I can’t even use them in my fiction because fiction has to make sense. 


But then yesterday’s incident takes the cake. Well, takes the candy.  While trimming the ears of an Easter bunny – they were way too long, trust me – I broke a tooth. Yes, really.  The bunny was made of milk chocolate, soft enough to snap.  What’s the world coming to when you can’t trust the Easter bunny?

At any rate, while everyone else is getting ready for Easter egg hunts and a long weekend, I’ll be sitting in the dentist’s chair hoping my checkbook doesn’t catch fire when I get the bill.  Around here, stranger things have happened. 

Maybe I should have stopped sooner?



 Now I don't trust any of this Easter bunny stuff. I mean, don't these little guys look like they're hatching a plot?







I hope you all have a lovely few days ahead with chocolate and bonnets and all your teeth right where they should be. May the sun shine on all of you and not in a dangerous way.

But why don’t you make me feel better?  Tell me your stories: do you get attacked by ordinary objects too?  How much sympathy do you get? I promise to understand! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Writing on the Wall: Focusing on Distractions

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

Distractions are easy. They come in all kinds of shapes and forms, large and small. Most of the time,
we don’t even realize we’ve been distracted until it’s over, until its sucked away time we could be spending on more important things.

I learned that lesson in church last Sunday. This week is Holy Week. Christians celebrate the events leading up to and including the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My pastor asked us to focus on the real meaning of Holy Week by putting aside the things that distraction us. We were encouraged to come up to the front of the church where glass panels had been erected, pick up a magic marker, and write one distraction that we might work on resisting for a few days so that we could focus more on the true meaning of Holy Week. Parishioners began rising and making their way up.

Well, you know me. Ms. Introvert. I sit way in a corner in the back. I’m an observer, not a participator, so I decided I wasn’t doing it.

Besides, I wasn’t sure what I would write on the wall. But geez, a lot of people were going up. I started to wonder what they were writing, what their distractions were. Hunh. The snoop in me was becoming more powerful than the introvert.

The line at the wall was thinning out. If I didn’t go up and check out the wall now, I’d lose my chance. (It didn’t cross my mind that I could do it after church).

I found myself rising, walking down the aisle, without a clue what I might write, but strangely, I wasn’t concerned. I approached the wall, bent and picked up a marker, scanned the wall. Many had written job, family drama, texting, television, facebook.

None seemed to be my main distraction, although I really love facebook. Plagiarism wasn't going to work, since no way was I about to lie in church.

I raised the marker. And wrote a word.

Internet

Then I hustled back to my corner, thinking, 'Did I really mean the whole Internet?' That one word I'd written sort of surprised me! Back home, the first thing I did was trot straight over to my computer. Where I paused and reconsidered. Why was I logging on? I’d checked my email, favorite websites, etc. before church. I decided not to.

Granted, I’ve been on the Internet in the days since, but for much less time and with much more awareness. 

So I encourage you to do the same. Write your biggest, baddest distraction on a wall. Or better yet, save your wall, and write it in the comment section. By focusing on that distraction for the time it takes to write it down, you might just set yourself free for the things that really count.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The April 2014 Report


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



Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen
Series: Bridal Bouquet Shop #1
Publisher: Berkely Prime Crime
A designer of eye-catching bridal bouquets—many of them based on the Victorian meanings behind each flower — Audrey Bloom is used to celebrations that end with happily ever after. In fact, every couple she’s worked with is still together, living in wedded bliss. But her perfect record is about to be broken.

Her childhood friend Jenny Whitney has reeled in the most eligible bachelor in Ramble, Virginia, and she’s hired Audrey to design the bouquet. But before Jenny can walk down the aisle clutching her blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow (a floral disaster in Audrey’s mind), the groom is found dead — sprinkled with bits of a bouquet. This is bad for business — not to mention for Jenny, who has become the prime suspect. So Audrey decides to do a little digging herself, hoping she won’t be the next Ramble resident pushing up daisies.
We are introduced to Audrey and Liv, cousins and co-owners of The Rose in Bloom, a florist shop in small town America. All is good until a broken engagement ends up in murder. When her friend is jailed for the murder, Audrey believing in her innocence, starts looking into who else had a stronger motive and wanted him dead. This was a good read with a comfortable tone and an easy flow. The plot was well-defined and presented plenty of suspects to choose from with plenty of red herrings to keep me turning the pages to see if I honed in on the killer when their identity was revealed. One of the things I enjoyed in reading this light whodunit was how Audrey created bouquets for her customers. This is a great read and I look forward to the next book in this wonderfully charming series.

Visit Beverly Allen at www.barbaraearly.com

Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon
Series: Tourist Trap #1
Publisher: Kensington
In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store--Coffee, Books, and More--open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.
This was a good read and I love the author’s style, which was warm and friendly. The background setting also gave me a sense of calmness. The tone was comfortable and the pace had a steady flow to it, making it easy to follow the storyline and clues. The author did a great job in tantalizing me with suspects and scenarios that led me to believe I knew who was behind it all, and I was surprised at the revelation. Jill is a great character and I like her determination to find the killer, even when threatened. With a likable supporting cast, that includes her aunt Jackie and hunky Detective King and with engaging conversations, this was very enjoyable and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully appealing series.

Visit Lynn Cahoon at lynncahoon.wordpress.com

Death on Eat Street by J. J. Cook
Series: Biscuit Bowl Food Truck #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
When she’s once again passed over for a promotion at work, Zoe decides to take the big leap and go for her dream. She quits, gives up her fancy digs, and buys a fixer-upper diner in a shady part of town. To keep above water during the renovation, she buys a used food truck to serve the downtown and waterfront of Mobile, Alabama.

Zoe starts to dish out classic Southern food—but her specialty is her deep-fried biscuit bowls that blow traditional bread bowls away.

After a promising start, things start to go downhill faster than a food truck without brakes. First, someone tries to rob the cash register. Next, Zoe is threatened by the owner of a competing food truck for taking their spot. And when the owner ends up dead inside Zoe’s rolling restaurant, Zoe and her sole employee, Ollie, find themselves hopping out of the frying pan into the fryer. They need to find the real killer, before both of them get burned.
This was a very enjoyable read that introduces Zoe Chase, our spunky heroine, who left her job to start out on her own with her food truck business and along the way, becomes entangle in a murder investigation when she finds a body in her truck. I loved how the author presented this story in a style that was easy to follow. The mystery was good as it quickly became a page-turner for me. Zoe is a lovable character with a heart of gold that cares for her friends and is surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters that includes Ollie, Miguel, Delia and her parents. I look forward to more adventures with Zoe and the gang in this wonderfully terrific new series.

Visit J. J. Cook at www.joyceandjimlavene.com

The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan
Series: Second Chance Cat #1
Publisher: Obsidian
Sarah Grayson is the happy proprietor of Second Chance, a charming shop in the oceanfront town of North Harbor, Maine. At the shop, she sells used items that she has lovingly refurbished and repurposed. But her favorite pet project so far has been adopting a stray cat she names Elvis.

Elvis has seen nine lives—and then some. The big black cat with a scar across his nose turned up at a local bar when the band was playing the King of Rock and Roll’s music and hopped in Sarah’s truck. Since then, he’s been her constant companion and the furry favorite of everyone who comes into the store.

But when Sarah’s elderly friend Maddie is found with the body of a dead man in her garden, the kindly old lady becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Even Sarah’s old high school flame, investigator Nick Elliot, seems convinced that Maddie was up to no good. So it’s up to Sarah and Elvis to clear her friend’s name and make sure the real murderer doesn’t get a second chance.
I love the comfortable tone in this light-hearted whodunit that flowed easily from chapter to chapter, quickly becoming a page-turner that I did not want to put down. This mystery had a few twists and turns where I thought I had it figured out until that “aha” moment when I knew exactly who the killer was and it was fun watching it all play out. The author did a great job in the presentation of this story pulling me in so that I’m rooting for Sarah and her merry band of sleuths whose age range from teens to the 70s. I like the camaraderie and the dialogue between this group and their interaction amongst the people of North Harbor. This was a wonderful read and I can’t wait for more adventures with Sarah and her friends in the next book in this delightfully charming new series.

Visit Sofie Ryan at www.sofieryan.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

WHEN A NEIGHBOR STEALS


 By Kate Collins

I witnessed something Sunday and now I’m debating what to do about it.  I’d love your input.

There are two new homes under construction near my house, and in front of the homes are stacks of pre-stained lumber and trim. One of these stacks is sitting beside a huge Dumpster, which takes up most of what will be the front yard.

As I was getting ready to leave Sunday around noon, I saw a man from the neighborhood drive a utility cart to the construction site and load up at least a dozen long pieces of lumber and several pieces of trim. He saw me watching him. Then he drove the lumber up the street and around the bend to his house, where he unloaded it in his garage. I was stunned. 

I saw a neighbor friend standing in front of her house across the street from this man, so I pulled in and told her what was happening. She, too, was shocked and suggested I take a photo, so I did.

Dumpster diving is not uncommon in a new development, and I’ve heard that this man has done that several times in the past. But to take something obviously brand new outside the Dumpster? To me, that’s theft.

However, I don’t want to assume. Perhaps he had permission. It’s just difficult to believe that while a house is being constructed, the builder would let someone take new materials for his own use.

Now I’m debating what to do. If I just forget about the situation, that’s complacency. Would I drop it if I saw someone taking things from a neighbor’s garage? No. Do I report him to the builder and be the neighborhood snitch? Do I ask the builder if anyone has permission to take lumber, and if not, then rat the thief out?

What would you do?


p.s. I can see a great mystery plot from this. Body in the Dumpster. Nosy neighbor. Oh yeah, it has all the makings of a new book.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bunnies, Bonnets and Baskets--There's A Lot Going On!

by Leann

Growing up, Easter was probably the most strictly religious holiday at our house. We attended services starting the Thursday before Easter and went to church all four days. The resurrection, to me, was one the most interesting stories in the Bible. It is a great mystery, after all. And who doesn't enjoy a happy ending?

So as I contemplated the other things that go on at Easter time, I was surprised at how much stuff happens for kids alongside the many religious celebrations. There are bunnies, egg-coloring, candy, bonnets, Easter baskets, lilies, the special meal--always ham for us--and even chicks. What the heck is it all this about?

I know one thing. Merchandisers love Easter and have since before I was born! We used to get a new outfit at that time every year. I so looked
forward to those new patent leather shoes and a pretty hat and coat, not to mention the dress. (The shoes ALWAYS hurt, by the way, but they sure were pretty.) The candy was way down at the bottom of the list for me.

Coloring eggs was a special treat, but I at times contemplated the connection between a basket
full of colored eggs and an Easter bunny. Bunnies don't lay eggs, after all. And what do they have to do with chocolate? I once did a little research when I realized not much of this mish-mash of traditions made sense to me. I am of German decent and once
again, it seems, that the Easter "hare" was another ploy by my ancestors--like Santa Claus--to get children to behave. The better you behave, the more candy you got. (Some things are universal, right?)

Besides the German Lutherans, the Catholics contributed their part. It seems at one time, eggs were not allowed during lent, so there was an abundance of eggs at Easter (and probably an abundance of chicks, too). Eggs colored red represented the blood of Christ. Of course now we have decals and plastic but at least I have a little understanding of how things started. It is now over-commercialized, like every other holiday, but there is a peace about the days leading up to Easter. For me, it is the holiday that celebrates hope and beauty.


What about you? Any special traditions? Memories? I'd love to hear them!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Digital Detox, Pros and Cons

by Mary Kennedy

Do you remember when I posted some photos of Ft. Lauderdale a few weeks ago? The post was all about enjoying the sun, the sea, the sky. What I didn't mention was that I went digital-free (well, almost). It happened quite by accident, I didn't realize that Wi-Fi reception at the condo would be so iffy.

What did I learn in two weeks without any handheld electronic devices?
 
First, the cons. I'll list them for you.
 
1) How would I stay in touch with my wonderful Facebook friends? How would they manage without my scintillating humor, my sage advice? (It turns out they did just fine on their own.)
 
2) Who would post kitty photos? I have dozens of animal-loving friends, and how would they manage without my adorable animal photos?  (newsflash: they posted their own adorable kitty photos.)  
 
3) How would I keep up with "the loops"--those wonderful groups that discuss writing, the book biz, our own personal trials and tribulations and successes? I would be going home to 14 days of e-mails and digests. How would I cope? (actually, it worked out fine. I enjoyed skimming through the e-mails, celebrating my friends' successes, and commiserating on their disappointments. It is never too late to chime in with a "congrats" or "rotten luck!")
 
And now the "Pro." It was a totally liberating experience!! I did have books to read, thanks to my trusty Kindle which I tossed in my purse at the last minute. I felt lighter, more care-free somehow, without the obsessive need to check e-mail several times a day.
 
How about you? Did you ever attempt a digital detox? How did it go?
 
Mary Kennedy
 
 
 
 





Friday, April 11, 2014

A Photoshopping I Will Go

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

I love Photoshop. It has to be one of the most wonderful programs on the face of any computer. Too bad I don't know how to use it.  I've had the program for several years now, and the most I've done with it is crop photos and fix the exposure, but now I want to learn more.

Okay, I did teach myself one other thing: how to add text.  I noticed that when I put pictures of my teacups up on Pinterest that they were showing up all over the web. (Even on a Google search.) So I learned to add a copyright (big wow), not that I was ever going to go after someone for using them--I just wanted people to know where it/they came from.

Back in December, I was a part of a Don't Text And Drive ... Listen to an Audiobook! campaign. Not only do I feel strongly about not texting while driving (talk about Russian Roulette), but having a bunch of audiobooks out there and not knowing how to promote them, I figured it couldn't hurt to try to get the word out. (We gave away over 30 audiobooks, including mine).  The graphics were done by my friend Evelyn David (and if you don't know her work, she writes (of all things) mysteries!).

Evelyn (well, half of her--it's actually a writing team) makes all kinds of graphics all the time to promote her two series, be they ebooks or audiobooks.  That bulldog wears many hats (literally), goes everywhere, says pithy things.  I thought it would be great fun to do something like that for my own books.  But where does one start?

It turns out, Miss Marple has a lot to say.  I knew I could crop, and thanks to a program called Paint, I knew I could add a thought balloon (after much trial and error) and text. 

But I want to be able to do more.  I've been watching tutorials on my computer, but even the ones for dummies take a lot of short cuts.  Excuse me, I'm trying to learn the basics and in it the guy says "just do a control D deselect" at 60 mph. You blink and whatever he just did is gone and you have to go back and listen/watch two more times before you know what just happened. So it's been slow.  Too bad Evelyn doesn't live down the road (I believe she's in Oklahoma) to give me a few lessons.  So, I'm on my own.

I figure I'll eventually learn enough to do stuff like this, which Mr. L did for me (although not in Photoshop. He's an Adobe Illustrator wiz--there are seven elements in the graphic below) and I'd probably be pretty happy.



Anybody got any good (EASY) Photoshop tips?  Do you like to see these types of graphics?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Showers Bring …




 Ta Da!   CONTEST WINNER! 

The winner of the Walter the Pug tote from last week’s blog is: KELLY!   Kelly, please send your mailing address to detect@rogers.com and Walter will wing his way to you.  Thanks everyone, for comments! 





And now onto those April showers!

April showers bring so many things: muddy boots,  wet feet, gray days, for sure.  Then there is flooding: what they call nuisance flooding (blocked roads and driveways, unusable parks) and more serious water problems.  I hope you are all avoiding those things this year and every year in fact.

It's not easy being a crocus!
What I like about April showers is that the messy, black snow starts to disappear and bright, brave little flowers start to appear.  The bravest in this part of Ontario with its brutal winter and hot humid summers are the little crocuses.





Yesterday, I noticed two people had stopped while walking by our house and were pointing. The patch of crocus we planted last year was emerging to bring a little joy and the promise of better days ahead – Spring and Summer.   They're not beautiful yet, but they give me hope!

The other gift of the showers is that my nearly legless dogs can at last for a W-A-L-K.  Being princess dachshunds they’re not crazy about being wet and cold.

No one can see me hiding under this blanket!


But they like the reaction their raincoats get from the world.  Of course, I have to talk them out from the porch first.

Let's wait until May!
As for me, I love my old yellow rain boots. 



 I feel like I’m five years old in them and I can’t resist splashing in the first puddle I find.  This one might have been a bit too much.
Very cold and very wet!


What can I say? Dignity is overrated.
How about you?  Do April showers fill you with joy or dread?  Let’s hear it. Spill!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring is in the Air and the Chicks are Hatching New Stories!

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

Yesterday, Maggie shared her exciting news - a brand new historical mystery. Today, I have my own 'breaking' news. Off Kilter, which is the first in the Scottish Highlands series, is available for pre-order. You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, or order it from your favorite indie store.


This is very exciting for me, because my very own Scottish ancestors were seventeenth century rabble-rousers who were eventually shipped to the new world, where they settled in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. I have happily traveled back to my homeland, and in keeping with family tradition, enjoyed causing mayhem in the Highlands.

Here's a little bit about the story:
 
After the recent death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, thirty-something Eden Elliott is seriously in need of a fresh start. At the urging of her best friend, bestselling author Ami Pederson, Eden decides to embark on an open-ended trip to the picturesque village of Glenkillen in the Scottish Highlands, to do some hands-on research for a book of her own.

But almost as soon as Eden arrives in the quaint town, she gets caught up in a very real drama… The town’s sheep shearer is found murdered—clipped with his own shears—and the locals suspect Vicki MacBride, an outsider whose father’s recent death left her the surprise heir to his lucrative sheep farm. Eden refuses to believe the affable heiress is a murderer, but can she prove that someone is out to frame her new friend before she finds herself on the receiving end of more shear terror?

-------------------------
So, what do you think?