Friday, November 21, 2014

Warm up with the Cozy Chicks!

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

I feel like I dodged a VERY big bullet this week.  Why?  Because when my parents came to this country, they chose Rochester, NY instead of Buffalo.  Have you seen some of the pictures of that horrific snowstorm?



But the people of Buffalo are made of strong stuff ... and also have a sense of humor.



and my favorite ...

 


The Cozy Chicks have a way for you to escape from winter's worst ... our books!  So settle down with a cozy mystery, a warm throw, a cup of cocoa (or a glass of wine) and a cat or dog by your side.

 
Click this link for the list of titles!  Happy reading!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

My new-found reasons not to whine about winter




 



Many years ago, I was a young teacher and very excited about the first snow fall of the year. I was thoroughly squashed by one of the older teachers.  Winter, apparently, was not something to be celebrated or enjoyed.  Silly me, I kept on having fun.  But over the years, winter has started to bother me.  Probably because of endless long commutes in minus thirty weather. Perhaps because of freezing rain and the resulting fender benders. Maybe it’s too many years of salt-stained boots, missing single gloves, fogged up car windows. Maybe it’s once too often at the self-serve gas station when it’s minus twenty-seven and there’s only two drops of gas left in the tank. Lots of reasons, but never mind. This year, I said to myself, either get a grip or move somewhere warm.  Of course, this is where the family is and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t like hurricane season any more than winter.  Don’t like being too hot either, but that’s another post.


So here are some of my reasons to not whine about winter (and as the season wears on for five months, let’s see if I can manage it!)
It can be beautiful!  




There’s something magical about a bright blue sky,  brilliant white snow swirling around.
You never know what you’ll find when you look out your window. Last year it was men in trees. Here are some shots of what the tree removal guys who were endlessly entertaining, although I wouldn't want that job. Still,it was part of winter fun for us. They claimed to love their jobs.



You don't see these guys griping about the weather, although I could sympathize if they did!





There’s something so wonderful about curling up with a book, and a cozy throw, perhaps by a fireplace, when it’s cold and dreary outside.  It’s great to read and snooze in the sun in a lounger on the deck in summer, but honestly, this is better. 


You get to wear sweaters!  I love sweaters – but for half the year, they’re too darn hot. On that list we can add knee-high lined boots and puffy coats.  All good.   And there's some great warm clothing for certain short-legged pets too! 



And then there’s knitting: it’s less of a warm-weather activity. Lots of fun with baby hats, sweaters and scarves around here.  

 

Then there’s all that great winter food: soups and stews and lovely aromatic meals cooking for hours. Noit to mention hot chocolate!  


In the night, of course, you can snuggle under the blankets.  Okay, skip over this if you have hot flashes. You can just stand outside for a bit in the winter. That sure has helped me!

The geese will be gone somewhere else.  Ho ho ho.   The snow tires are on the car, the winter clothing has been unpacked!  The boots have had their waterproof spray. Now we just need to find a better supply of the seeds that the cardinals love and the squirrels don't.

Of course, being a writer, I can just stay home and enjoy it.  Maybe that gives me an unfair advantage. I might never have written this in the years I ventured out to the day job in the dark winter mornings. 

Now, it’s your turn. Winter fun? Or winter none?  What do you love and what do you hate? All tips gratefully received. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Love Where You Land

When guests come to town there’s always the question of what do we do that’s truly and unique Cincy, something that we have here that they don’t have in their neck of the woods. 

First off there’s goetta for breakfast. Goetta is German ‘cause Cincy is oh so German. It’s a combo of pork and oatmeal and spices and sound gross and everyone loves it. My husband used to make it and with a name like Kruetzkamp it was part of his genetic makeup.

Cincy also has great barbecue. I know, I know, everyone has barbecue but there’s this place called Montgomery Inn that has fantabulous BBQ so we always take guests there for dinner.
Cincy also has Skyline Chili not to be confused with Texas chili. This is spaghetti topped with chili sauce (special secret chili sauce to be sure) and topped with shredded cheese. This is affectionately called a three-way and an acquired taste. It is a Cincy tradition to take your offspring to Skyline for his or her first three-way and get a pic of the occasion for the family album.

We also have the Cincy Reds for baseball so we catch a baseball game at the Great American Ballpark that is really just that...a bit of new and a taste of the old. And we have King’s Island an amusement park that is a ton of fun and there’s a Purple People Bridge that connects downtown Cincy to Northern Kentucky and only for pedestrians.

Cincy and Northern Kentucky are like a city in itself. Heck the Cincinnati Airport is in Northern Kentucky...try explaining that to people. They get off the plane and it says Kentucky and here they thought they were flying into Cincinnati!

We also have a place called OTR...Over the Rhine that is now the hip trendy place of micro breweries, eateries, art galleries, and a city market called Findlay Market that’s been around for about a hundred and fifty years or so.

And we have a terrific symphony and playhouse in the park and we have the Cincinnati Bengals that are always fun to watch…usually.

To give guests a taste of all this I take them on a Segway tour of the downtown area of city where you buzz around on your Segway and you can see all that I talked about here in about ninety minutes. I looooove riding a Segway! It is so much fun!

Next week I’ll take you on a tour of Mackinac Island complete with map. You can see where Evie Bloomfield has landed after she leaves Chicago and winds up on the island of no cars, no malls, not much wifi, cell service and lots of bikes, horses and fudge and dead bodies.

So here’s the thing, if I came to your neck of the woods where would you take me? Where would we go so that I got a true appreciation for where you live, the heritage of your city?

Love where you land!
Have a good day.
Hugs, Duffy

Geared for the Grave
December 2, 2014 release
Berkley Prime Crime
First book in Cycle Path Mystery series




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Movie Time

by Maggie Sefton



I've seen lots of movies lately, and I figured I'd do an update now before we get lost in all the holiday themes and travel.  Yes, I will be traveling again this coming Friday, but I'll tell you folks about that next Tuesday.  Here are the best ones I've seen lately----


FURY-----This is an excellent World War II movie, very well done, and focuses on a U.S. Army tank crew as the Allied forces are moving into Germany.  Very authentic details and extremely well-acted.  Brad Pitt is wonderful as the sergeant heading the tank crew.  All the supporting actors are excellent as well.

THE JUDGE----This is a wonderful movie and if you only see one movie in the next few weeks, check this one out.  Robert Duvall is one of my favorite actors ever since I saw him as the "adopted son" in the first Godfather movie.  Over the years, Robert Duvall has acted some outstanding roles.  One of the lesser known but remarkable movie roles is a few years old called "The Apostle."  It's about a gifted but all-too-human evangelist preacher.  Wow, what a perfomance.  But. . .back to present business----Robert Duvall is beyond good in this role of a retired judge in the Midwest who's accused of murder.  Actor Robert Downey, Jr. plays his super-talented, mega successful, and totally hyper attorney son who defends his cantankerous father.  Frankly, I don't know of any other actors who could have played these roles as convincingly and as well.  Both actors create an energy together on the screen that is riveting when they're together in a scene.

NIGHTCRAWLER----Jake Gyllenhaal gives the best performance I've ever seen from him, and he's a talented actor.  This role is riveting.  The character is a VERY complex and complicated person.  And the story covers an aspect of television journalism and TV news that's never been discussed before:  accident and crime on-scene reporting and resulting film footage.  Fascinating.  Rene Russo and Bill Paxton do excellent jobs with their multi-layered roles.

JOHN WICK----This is a smart and sophisticated take on the "assassin" movie.  Kenau Reeves does an excellent and understated job portraying this super assassin who has gotten "out of the business."  But after the death of his wife, he's drawn back in.  Villains are the Russian Mafia bad guys, and there are lots of them.  If you like non-stop action with a wry sense of humor thrown in, you might enjoy this one.  Check it out.

GONE GIRL----Fascinating character studies with affable Ben Affleck as the hero-husband of wife Amy, who had her "childhood" recorded and sold to huge audiences as Amazing Amy adventures.  Amy turned into a very, very complex young woman.     I won't give away more.  Movie was based on the big bestseller of the same name.        

You'll notice there are no "Chick flic" movies listed.  I confess I'm not much of a fan.  Usually, they're either weepy (someone is dying onscreen), or dumb (kiss of death for a movie), or just plain boring.  To me, at least.  :)   Exception was BRIDESMAIDS, but then, that was not a Chick flic.  It was a "buddy movie."     

Monday, November 17, 2014

LESSONS FROM OUR PETS

by Kate Collins
 
I’ve always believed that having a pet teaches children so much about life, lessons they carry forth into their adult world that help make them better people. Here’s my list. Tell me if you agree.

1.     Compassion:  Is there any better way to teach compassion for all animals than to rescue a cat or dog or other pet from certain death or suffering? Seeing an animal who is ill or in pain stirs a deep sympathy inside us and a desire to make it all better.


What great training for parenthood, too.

2.     Grief:  I learned the pain of watching beloved cats die several times during my childhood. They taught me that grief does fade and life moves on but that loved ones are never forgotten. 

3.     Friendship: Pets are the best kind of friend. They don’t judge or criticize or belittle, qualities we always seek in others, and they’re always nearby to lend an ear when we need to blow off steam or just have a good cry.

4.     Responsibility: Being in charge of walking the dog or changing the litter box or putting food in the pet dish should be a part of every child’s day. It teache
s the child to think of others.

5.     Respect: How do  you learn that your actions hurt others? Pull a dog’s tail or rub a cat’s belly too hard.  You find out quickly that you have to respect their boundaries. Great training for marriage!

6.     Natural instincts: Is there a better way to learn what basic instincts are all about? Watch a mother dog or cat take care of their young or protect their food. Observing animals at play is also a great lesson.

That’s my list. I’m sure there are more benefits. Maybe you can think of some to add. Please feel free.
What kind of pet or breed of dog do you think is perfect for a child?


            

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cat-astrophe!

by Leann

I am the catsitter for my two grandkitties while my daughter and son-in-law vacation in Ireland. Ireland sounds pretty good to me right now! Maybe I could join them and leave my husband here to manage. And there's a lot to manange.

Their cats are seniors and one of them, Simone, was rescued from a
neighborhood where my critique group met in Texas. He has some BIG health issues. He was rescued, by the way, because he had been declawed, neutered and was infested with fleas--and probably abandoned. My friend found him, I took him and my daughter and son-in-law fell in love with him. They adore him and he has quite the personality. Definitely a top cat.

Their other cat, Minou, is a pretty gray shorthair domestic and though Wexford is shy, she puts him to shame. She hid for almost an entire day the second day she was here. We were afraid she'd somehow gotten outside, though we didn't know how. But, we found her sleeping in a closet, well camouflaged by hanging clothes. She now appears to eat every now and then, but that's all we see of her.

My Marlowe and Simone are both
special needs cats. Simone, who has a heart condition, takes 3 meds, and Marlowe takes his seizure medicine twice a day. They both need to be watched for symptoms throughout the day. Minou has had allergy problems, so she is on medicine and ear ointment. Every one of them except my Wexford is on a special and
DIFFERENT diet. I love cats and it's a good thing I do!

And then there's my husband, who insists no cat will be on the kitchen counters. (Really? Does he KNOW what a challenge that is with 4 cats???) And of course Rosie, the dog, will eat anything that halfway smells like food, so it takes plenty of my time to make sure all the kitties get what they need to eat before she scarfs it up. So far, I have done okay except for Allergic Cat. It's hard to give her medicine when I CAN'T FIND HER!

But I must say, it is a joy to be surrounded by cats and to hear Marlowe growl and hiss--this, the cat who NEVER makes any noise. (Sorry, little guy. They all know you're a paper tiger.) I will be happy to be off medicine and special diet duty next week but when they go home, I'm sure gonna miss them. Okay, maybe not the one I can never find.

So that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. Ever done any cat-sitting before? If not, after hearing all this, would you risk it?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The November 2014 Report


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

By Cook or by Crook by Maya Corrigan
Series: Five-Ingredient #1
Publisher: Kensington
Take one burned-out city girl. Add a crusty codger, a pinch of gossip, and a dash of romance. Stir in a generous helping of murder and you've got the ingredients for one truly delicious mystery.

Haunted by the car accident that ended her career as a cookbook publicist, Val Deniston has traded in the chaos of New York City for a quieter life near the Chesapeake Bay. Living with her curmudgeonly grandfather in the tourist town of Bayport is hardly glamorous, but she enjoys working at the Cool Down Café at the local fitness club, and she finally has time to work on her long-planned cookbook. But when one of the club's patrons is found dead, she'll have to cook up a scheme to find the killer. As the number of suspects rises like crabs in a bucket, it's out of the pan and into the fire for Val. If she can't find the culprit soon, she might as well be chum in the water.

Includes Five Delicious Recipes from Val's Cookbook!
This was a very enjoyable read that began when Val set out to clear her cousin’s name and reputation and from there came twists and turns amid a cluster of suspects who had a stronger motive. A well-designed plot that kept me glued to the pages was easy to follow and I especially enjoyed the five-ingredient dishes that were part of the scripted dialogue. The cast in this friendly whodunit is likable with a sense of comfort from living in a small town. With new beginnings for the heroine, I look forward to the next book in this pleasantly charming series.

Visit Maya at www.mayacorrigan.com


A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle
Series: Fixer-Upper #1
Publisher: Obsidian
In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed.

Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure.
This was a good read that was delightfully entertaining. The author did a great job in presenting this drama where everyone could be a suspect but only one is the killer. The clues were there to decipher and as the story progressed, the suspense heighten as the killer upped the ante in her pursuit of not being exposed. A lovable cast, engaging conversations and a small town setting adds to the allure of this charming new series and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Lighthouse Cove.

Visit Maya at www.mayacorrigan.com


Suede to Rest by Diane Vallere
Series: Material Witness #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
With her career as a dress designer in shreds, Polyester Monroe is looking forward to a fresh start. But as it all unfolds, the pattern to a new beginning looks a lot like murder.

When Poly Monroe was little, she loved playing in her family’s textile store. But after a fatal family tragedy, Land of A Thousand Fabrics was boarded up and Poly never expected to see the inside again. Now, as inheritor of the long-shuttered shop, she’s ready to restore the family business. However her two new kittens, Pins and Needles, aren’t the ones causing a snag in her plans.

Not everyone wants Poly back in San Ladrón, especially a powerful local developer pressuring her to sell—and leave town fast. But even when the threats turn deadly, she’s not ready to bolt. Because Poly is beginning to suspect that the murder behind the shop is tied to a mystery in her family’s unsettled past that she’s determined to solve…before her own life is left hanging by a thread.
I love it. This wonderfully crafted whodunit was a great read that I devoured from beginning to end. The author did a great job in setting up this action-filled drama where the pattern of deceit began to unravel the more the protagonist delved into a case too close to her heart. Who is behind all these incidents? Who’s the stranger lurking in the wind? With a who’s who of suspects, it was fun watching how it all played out with a surprising twist I didn’t see coming. Boasting a friendly cast, engaging dialogue and a place to call home, this was a delightfully pleasant read and I can’t wait to see where the story takes us in the next book.

Visit Diane at www.dianevallere.com

Friday, November 14, 2014

An unexpected use for Holiday Catalogs

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

I don't know about you, but I'm being inundated with holiday catalogs.  Yeah, yeah, this happens every year, but this year it's even MORE ridiculous.  One company, Signals.com, was smart.  Right on the cover it says, "SAVE THIS CATALOG! It's the last you'll receive this season."

That kinda makes me want to buy something from them, just to reward them.

But the fun thing I've discovered is that these catalogs are giving me LOADS of ideas for the graphics I can make that could directly apply to my various series.  Take this one, for Tricia and Angelica Miles and the Booktown Mysteries.





Or this one for Victoria Square.


And this one for my Jeff Resnick Mystery series.  (Jeff is a part-time bartender.)


I'm in the process of coming up with some for my new Lotus Bay Mysteries ... which is now available for pre-order ... but it's a little too soon to share one of those.  I'll be doing that on Facebook and Twitter.  If you want to follow along, you can find me by clicking any of the links below:

Facebook Booktown Mysteries Page  |  Victoria Square Mysteries Page

Jeff Resnick Mysteries Page  |  Lotus Bay Mysteries Page

My profiles:  Lorraine  |  Lorna  |  L.L. BartlettCozy Chicks

My author pages:  Lorraine  |  Lorna  |  L.L. Bartlett

Other fun pages:  The Cozy Chicks Need A Great Read

Incredible Indie Authors   |    Storytellers Unlimited


Twitter:  Lorraine  |  Lorna  |  L.L.Bartlett  | The Cozy Chicks

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bringing the outside in







It’s 41 degrees (Fahrenheit) here in Manotick, Ontario as I write this and the temperature is dropping. It will be well below freezing tonight and not for the first time this fall.  I don’t mind the weather as it’s high energy with the sun shining at least part of the time and a bright blue sky.  But I miss my summer flowers!  

The house has a two-foot roof overhang by almost all the windows. That keeps us cool in the summer, but it seems dark and unfriendly without a peek of brightness through the windows. Even our hysterical and hyperactive squirrels weren’t able to lift the mood. 



This year I couldn’t bear to part with the beautiful coral geranium that brightened the deck all summer.  We usually let the begonias and geraniums go, but now in our bungalow we actually have a bit of room. What harm could it do to cart some inside and hope for the best?


We’ve salvaged two geraniums, a small begonia and most of the herbs.  The parsley, thyme, rosemary and chives were not looking their best in their newfound window, that doubles as the orchid rest home. They declined to be photographed as did the naked orchids. 




I also made a mad dash with the garden scissors before the driving wind, rain and the odd (gasp!) swirling snowflake destroyed the blooms on the hydrangeas.  They have repaid me by staying perky for two weeks in various little vignettes and I think they’ll last longer.  




And in the middle of typing this, I remembered the lavender.  Although the blooms are long gone and I wasn’t sharp enough to harvest them at the time, too busy promoting The Wolfe Widow and working to meet our deadline for The Marsh Madness, the next book collector mystery.  But never mind, the little stalks smell nice enough and are cheering up the place too.  




I noticed that a lonely clematis bloom was resting bravely on the deck.  Where were you all summer, I wondered?   




The good news is that the house looks much more cheerful and the transplants from the garden will keep me happy until the amaryllis and Christmas cactus bloom.   

The bad news is that they seem to have brought a couple of hardy mosquitoes with them!  So smile, slap. Smile, slap.  

I’ll let you know how long they all keep.  And in the meantime, how about sharing your own secrets for saving plants and keeping things bright in gloomy November. 

Tips, tales and all that good stuff gratefully received, my friends.