Thursday, October 2, 2014

After the party's over ...




Well, this week I am resting up after the fun and excitement of the book launch party for The Wolfe Widow, the third in the book collector mysteries that I write with my daughter.  I really wished that you all could have been there.  Some of you California and Ohio and Indiana folks did mention how the odd thousand miles or so journey might not work out this week.  I’m sure I shouted back, “But there will be chocolates!  And nachos! And chicken wings … And Peachy the Pug (aka Walter)  in her tutu!”   





  Never mind! It was great to welcome to our new book alongside Book Fair and Foul, my very good friend(and former business partner)  Erika Chase’s fourth book. Here's the poster that Victoria did up:


 I often wonder if we should keep on having launch parties. It’s a lot of work with the planning, finding a venue, deciding on refreshments and making invitations and posters.

But after all, it was my sixteenth book. Or maybe that is only book 14 ½ as I am only half of Victoria Abbott.  Math might not be my best thing.  But never mind that, I was also celebrating the fact that fifteen years ago, my first book, Speak Ill of the Dead: a Camilla MacPhee mystery, was released and I thought I would die from excitement.

              

 Now I had to ask myself, once again, if there might not be a limited number of times you could drag your friends out to buy your latest book.  In the end, I always go with it.  A book takes close to a year to write, involves many ideas, takes much staring at the computer screen, plus pacing in the office and possibly a bit of nail-biting.  A new book has to be celebrated!  That’s why I always attend the launches for my friends’ books too. 

 Victoria,  Erika and I had a great time.  We were glad to see familiar faces and new ones.  Writing can be such a solitary experience, even when you write together as Victoria and I do.  Or even if you spend quite a bit of time together as Erika and I do.  Looking around the room we saw many friends who are involved in the book business: librarians, booksellers, publishers’ representatives and other writers, published and not published, but mostly we saw readers. It is always a thrill for us to connect and reconnect with readers. It is very gratifying and even emotional to see people who love books and think they are worth leaving the house for. That’s why we do this: to tell the best stories we can in the best way we can to people who love to read them.  Our readers are very important to us.

Let me also say, a book launch party is also a great reason to get out of the slouchy writing gear (too often involves pajamas and slippers) and put our best foot forward. 

We were lucky to have our friend Cathy (a bookseller) as emcee.  She kept things moving and ensured the mood stayed high. Those rowdies in the back of the room (many of them librarians) behaved! That's Cathy on the left, Erika with the mic, me and Victoria next. Our friend Terri T. is in the background.


Now the party’s over and it’s time to buckle down and finish up the fourth Book Collector mystery, The Marsh Madness.  As many of you know that involves reading the fabulous stack of Ngaio Marsh books that my friend Nancy Reid (a regular reader here too!) gave me.  
    
 So here are some questions for you: do you ever go to book events: Launch parties? Readings? Conferences?  Bookstore events? Library happenings? If so, what do you like about them?

 And here’s the most important question: if you had been at ours, would there have been any chocolate left?  Tell the truth! 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ellery's Mystery Cozy Contest

Hosted By Ellery Adams

It's the first of the month! Time for me to give away a $10 card to the bookstore of your choice.

This is how it works: I post a few lines from a cozy mystery. You post the title and author in the comment section. Then, I'll draw a random name from the winning guesses and post that person's name on this page and on Facebook by 10 p.m. on October 2nd.


Okay, here we go! Here are the lines from this month's mystery cozy:

"People in Pecan Springs just plain don't like witches. Especially these days, what with the grand jury investigatin' the old Ellis case and diggin' up poor old Leota."


Ellery's helpful hint - This mystery was published around 20 years ago, but it's still a perfect Halloween read!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Football, Volleyball, and Waiting For the Zamboni

by Maggie Sefton


Granddaughter AnaSofia standing with other attendees at a friend's birthday party celebration at an area ice skating facility. Waiting for the Zamboni to finish preparing the ice.  


Well. . .after reading the reader and fan comments about what you folks like best about our Cozy Chicks Blog, I figured I'd post a bunch of photos which give a taste of what I've been up to since I arrived back in Northern Virginia last Friday evening to join my oldest daughter's family for a whole bunch of activities, a.k.a.  Family Fun.  :)





Granddaughters 16-year old Natale and 
7-year-old AnaSofia.  Those stamped paw 
prints are for the Penn State University mascot, the Nittany Lion.  












Granddaughter Natale at last night's volleyball game against their equally unbeaten opponent in Northern Virgina.  It was a hard fought contest because both teams were SO good.  Natale's team from James Madison H.S. vs. Southridge H.S.  Boy. . .it was like watching two gladiators in the arena---brandishing swords and shields (indulge me, I'm a historical writer too).  They were so evenly matched, it went to four out of five games, with the score going back and forth.  Games went to 25 and the winner had to win by two points.  Madison won finally, 3 games to 1.  What a contest!  Natale is the tall one closest to the camera in this warm-up shot.








Grandson Matthew, wide receiver for Penn State,  with granddaughters Natale and AnaSofia plus some fellow Penn State students.  You haven't lived until you've been in Beaver Stadium listening to the students, alumni, and fans roar:  "We Are Penn State!"  You don't have to believe me.  Ask fellow Chick Jennifer Stanley/Ellery Adams.  She's a Penn State alum.  :)  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Will You Take My Poll?

by Kate Collins

I and my friends, the rest of the Cozy Chicks, are always interested in what our friends and fans like to see on our pages.  So today's post is going to be short and sweet like that cupcake -- and all about you!

What do you most enjoy seeing on our pages?

Some suggestions:  News about our books; troubles with our writing; things to make you laugh; personal photos; vacation stories; congratulations to our friends for getting a great book review; shout outs about our book releases; our contest information; other writers' contests;  (your ideas)

What don't you enjoy on our pages?

See suggestions above.

I'm sure there are things I haven't thought of. I'm hoping you will share your feelings and ideas with us. We value your friendship and input.

Have a wonderful, happy week.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anyone Else Get Excited About a Grocery Store?

by Leann

For most of my adult life I have lived in a suburban area close to a large city. The second largest mall in the area was only fifteen minutes away. Shopping was not a problem. I had many choices and took advantage of them all.

When we moved to South Carolina, the nearest interstate is probably forty-five minutes away. We wanted it that way and I am grateful for the peace and beauty here. The air is clean and when the sky is blue, it is crystal clean blue. No pollution here.

That being said, I was missing a "nice" grocery store nearby that sells organic
food and great produce. This small city has fast food galore and K-mart and Walmart and a few local grocery chains. To buy the kind of food I need for my health, I had to drive to Greenville, more than an hour away. But a 2 hour round trip takes its toll on me. I get pretty fatigued.

Imagine my excitement when a brand new, BIG Publix opened in our town this
past week. I've already been there twice. I went  to get my hair cut this week and one of the stylists was talking about how the new store would be her "go to" place from now on. I'll be right there with her. Grocery shopping is something I enjoy, probably because I love cooking so much.

There is plenty to explore that I haven't yet seen--it's a big place and the crowds were a little much for me to handle. Both times I shopped, I left without an item on my list because I needed to get out. I am not a fan of crowds. But there's a lovely
wine section (even though I don't drink, it's still pretty), a bakery with pastries and fresh-baked bread, a salad bar, an Asian food bar, sushi galore (not for me), a deli and every kind of yogurt you can imagine. And of course they have organic chicken and grass fed beef. Now, that's what I'm talking about.

What about you? Do you enjoy a trip to store? I know plenty of people who don't like buying groceries--it's a chore worse than ironing for them. Oh wait. Some folks like ironing. I'm not on that list. But I'd head to Publix every day if my pocket book could handle it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

THE KENNEDY CATS

by Mary Kennedy                               
 
Did you know October was National Cat month? Here at the Cozy Chicks, we're gearing up for a fun celebration of cats (both real and fictional) and a giveaway for both you and your cat! I can't say any more right now because I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I can guarantee that one lucky reader (and one lucky cat) will receive a great gift.
 
I thought I'd tell you a bit about why cats are so important to me. When I tell people I'm a mystery writer, they picture my life as glamorous and exciting, filled with an endless round of power lunches and research trips to exotic locales. What they forget is that 90% of my time is spent hunched in front of the computer, wrestling my characters and plots into submission. A writer's life is a surprisingly solitary one.
                                                        
 
And that's where my cat comes in. I have eight rescued cats and they bring enormous joy to my life. The spend much of the day with me (when they're not snoozing or just chilling on the glassed-in sun porch) and their quiet presence is comforting.
                                                       
 
You're never alone when you have a houseful of cats, there's always someone who needs a pat on the head, a belly rub or a quick snuggle. My cats have very different personalities and I enjoy them all. All are rescues, by the way, and I feel very lucky that they have crossed my path. I never planned on having 8 cats (who would?) but now that I have them, I can't imagine a life without them.
                                                         
 
I included two fictional cats in NIGHTMARES CAN BE MURDER, the first of the Dream Club Mysteries. The fictional cats are named Barney and Scout and like my own cats, they have no magical powers, don't solve crimes and are just lovable house cats. You can see them on the cover. Barney may have just destroyed the dreamcatcher, look closely on the bottom right of the cover. Oh no!
                                                       
 
Because of my cats, I never have to spend a lonely hour at the computer, I have plenty of fur-babies to offer me companionship.  Only 4 cats were featured in today's blog (and let me tell you, the other Kennedy cats are furious!) so I'll have to include the other 4 in next week's blog, which will kick off National Cat Month and a fun celebration.                          
 
Till then, stay tuned, hug your cat, and be sure to tell him or her that a fun surprise might be arriving next month!  
 
Mary Kennedy



Friday, September 26, 2014

Who doesn't love a wedding?

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

The Cozy Chicks often talk among ourselves, and yesterday the subject came up about weddings.  Wow -- it turns out we're kind of fascinated by them. A bunch of us have written about them in our books, too.

Of course, all of us have been married at one time or another.


This picture is from MY wedding.  At left, our best man Danny, my maid of honor Anne, my dad, me, and Mr. L.  (Honestly, Mr. L and I are the same height, but that day I wore heels -- and probably for the last time, too.)  Um...we kind of have a tradition in my family of wearing crazy nose-and-glasses for special occasions.  (Doesn't everyone?)

And so for the next few days the Chicks going to talk about weddings ... mostly on social medial.  So look for us on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.

First up is ... me! (Hey, I'm introducing this conversation, right?)



Look forward to some wedding fun with Ellery's upcoming Books By The Bay Mystery, Lethal Letters, too (with contests)!

And please, we'd love to hear about YOUR wedding.  Leave a comment, and please -- have a piece of this virtual cake!





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Welcome to the junk drawer.



 Tell the truth: does your  junk drawer look like this? 


Okay, this is not my junk drawer  (I’m not showing mine!), but it’s a good example of what the inside of  a junk drawer can look like.  Mine has a lot more elastic bands.

Yes, I am letting down my guard, but I haven’t completely lost my mind. Revealing the junk drawer at its worst? As if. 

Some items currently residing: 

The Princess dachshunds’ toothbrushes and toothpaste. We seem to be out of beef and chicken flavor

Two measuring tapes

2 packs of sparklers because you never know when a birthday party will break out














Bag of red candy of mysterious origin

Dozens of elastic bands from the newspaper

Collection of false noses and glasses - for visiting children or silly adults














Car keys

Sunglasses

Canadian Tire money (10 cents)

Small gardening scissors















Binoculars to follow antics of squirrels
















You get the point.

I’ve been trying for years to solve the junk drawer problem. Finding a place for everything and everything in its place.  If you try to live by that principle, why would you need one? 

Then this week I read an article about Daniel Levitin, neuro-scientist and author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information,  Included in the brainy article:  The Junk Drawer.

I immediately ordered the book so it could sit in the pile of other non-fiction books urgently awaiting my attention. 

But I digress. Apparently, we have to adopt organizational tactics to help reduce the brain’s workload.  Come on, friends, try to stay awake:  I’m getting to the point, which is of course, the junk drawer. This holding tank for 'stuff'  allows us to cut down on time and mental energy wasted on trivial decisions, such as where to put three pair of false noses and glasses.  Face it, they didn’t merit a lot of thought.  The dogs’ toothbrushes? Right.  I’m sure I’ll find them mentioned in the book when it shows up. 

That’s all I needed! 

Now I have this advice from an expert, I can really relax—about this one silly thing anyway.  We don't need to worry about that junk drawer!

Maybe twice a year I’ll throw out the stuff I can’t identify. Exactly where did that red candy come from, anyway?  I’ll use the mental energy saved to catch some bad guys on the page.  Or read a book!

Okay now, your turn. Junk drawer confessions? Triumphs?  I can’t wait. And if anyone wants to share what’s the weirdest thing they’d found in their junk drawer, well, I’d sure like to know what that is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I do declare...


I live in Cincy  but sort of moved to the South when I started to write the Consignment Shop Mysteries. I had to suddenly start thinking and living like my characters. I guess I’m a bit of a method writer like there are method actors where they live the part to get into the part.

I had to acquire the taste for sweet tea, I do love fried okra so that was already in place but I no longer carry Chapstick in the back pocket of my jeans but have instead learned to wear lipstick every-single-day-of-my-life-no-matter-what-and-no-matter-where-I'm-going.

My thick wool sweaters have been relegated to the back of my closet and I’ve  made room for light cottony cardigans. I have a front porch so I put a rocking chair on it and as far as my speech goes my family thinks I’m crazy as a June bug.

Some of the Southern sayings I’ve tired out with limited
success here in Ohio are…

Oh! Bless your heart..." My kids think this is sort of adorable but actually this expression is commonly used when Southerners need an excuse for speaking ill of someone. Example- "She's as ugly as a mud fence, bless her heart." Even though the line was an insult it is made better by showing that you, in a way, feel sorry for the person.

And of course there’s Well Butter my butt and call me a biscuit. The fam thought I’d hit the vodka when I tried this one.


She looked like she’d been ridden hard and put away wet. I’ve used this one a lot all my life. That’s what I get from living so close to the Kentucky border.

He could sell a Popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves. Meaning the individual is so good at persuasion that he or she could talk his or her way into anything. The sales lady at Macy’s ran when I tried this one.

You can't get blood from a turnip. Meaning you can't get something from someone who doesn't have it. My accountant got this one right off the bat.

Madder than a wet hen and  He's like a bull in a china shop and Cute as a bug’s ear. I’ve used these for years too so the fam didn’t blink an eye when I started working them into the conversation.

We were just sittin' around chewin' the fat. The kids told me I needed more veggies and fruit and forget the fat

Don't count your chickens before they hatch. I used this one on my next door neighbor and she was tickled pink she’d be
getting fresh eggs

She was all over him like white on rice. I used this one on my other next door neighbor and  she smacked her husband upside the head. Guess it hit a little too close to home.

You can't see the forest for the trees. Is another one I’ve used tons but my new favorite is Easy as sliding off a greasy log backwards.


So, next time you find yourself sittin' around chewin' the fat and sippin' on some sweet tea think about your favorite sayings Southern or otherwise and let me know here what it is and I’ll work it into Demise in Denim, book four of the Consignment Shop mysteries.
Go whole hog today and have yourself a mighty fine time.

Hugs, Duffy  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sheep People

by Maggie Sefton


The weekend of October 18-19, I'll be signing books at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.  about 80 miles north of Manhattan.  I'll be at the Merritt Bookstore booth.  More about this later.  That's Shirley below weaving on the Mother Loom.


One of the fun things about hanging around a popular yarn and fiber shop like Lambspun in  Fort Collins, Colorado, is you get to meet sheep and alpaca owners, llama lovers, and their animals.


Some owners are also breeders and they pay a fair price for the various bloodlines of their breeding stock, particularly sheep and alpaca.  Those are the fuzzy creatures that provide those wonderful fibers that people all over the world spin, weave, knit, and crochet into all sorts of garments, pillows and socks, sweaters, hats----heck,
even tea cozies.





Recently, Shirley, the owner of Lambspun of Colorado where I based my Kelly Flynn Knitting Mysteries, had one of the regular attendees of the Tuesday night get-together around the knitting table bring several sheep and one of her alpaca to visit with customers outside in an informal petting zoo.




People loved it.  Kids had the chance to come and pat the sheep and stare at the alpaca.  Saturdays are really busy at Lambspun and the Backporch Cafe at the rear of the shop, so there were lots of people wandering about enjoying August summer weather.

Do you have a favorite shop in your area that has special items or events?  Please share with us.

Monday, September 22, 2014

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 21, 2014

It's Time!

by Leann

Many of you may know I am a TV junkie. Crime dramas, of course. Always crime shows or singing competitions. Throw in So You Think You Can Dance and I am in heaven. The new season is upon us and tonight I am looking forward to The
Good Wife. I have watched every episode since the beginning and think the acting and writing is superb. I wasn't too thrilled with the "surprise" last year since Josh Charles is one of my favorite actors, but that's the way it goes in show business. They come and they go--and they don't ask us whether it's okay!

I did catch the pilot for the new show The Mysteries of Laura and found it entertaining but this past summer the best "funny" cop show for me was Taxi Brooklyn. Just a great show that I hope will return since it ended with a ginormous cliff hanger.

What I am looking forward to in the next couple weeks? Castle of course! What happened to him? Will they get married? I rarely remember the ending from a show last season and appreciate the "recaps," but I remember that ending very clearly. It's been a long summer, Mr. Castle, and you better be okay or they'll have to rename the show.
weeks?

The Blacklist (adore James Spader) is another favorite and right before it, The
Voice. For me, there isn't a competition show besides the aforementioned SYTYCD that even comes close to being so much fun. Funny, intelligent and filled with talent. Love it!

Elementary, Person of Interest, all the NCIS's, Criminal Minds, Bones ... as you can tell if there's even a hint of mystery I'll watch it. I am also looking forward to a couple new shows: How to Get Away With Murder and Scorpion. Some of you may remember a very intelligent crime show a few years back called Numbers. I'm hoping Scorpion is along those lines.

I've missed a few, I know. I've been madly setting up my DVR to record many of these since I am on deadline and television is a huge way for me to procrastinate. But I try to use it now as a reward. "Leann, if you write this many pages, you can watch this show." Yes, I do bargain with myself! I just like to be told stories as well as write them. That seems normal for a book lover, right?

What about you? Any shows you're looking forward to this season? And how do you think the whole Castle thing will work out?