Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Birthday Escape

by Maggie Sefton



My birthday was last Saturday, August 27, so I celebrated by escaping up into Estes Park, which is adjacent to our gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park and only an hour away from Fort Collins.  The weather was marvelous---sunny with temps in the low 80s---and I stayed at one of my favorite hotels.



No---not the beautiful and stately Stanley Hotel,

the family favorite of  horror writer Stephen King.   I've stayed at the Stanley several times and even posted about it with photos on the Cozy Chicks Blog a couple of years ago.  This was the hotel Stephen King used as the inspiration for his classic horror tale  "The Shining."  The Stanley Hotel actually has its own history of residents and visitors seeing ghostly apparitions.




This birthday weekend I wasn't interested in ghostly apparitions at all.  I wanted to enjoy
the gorgeous scenery while relaxing on a balcony at the Estes Park Resort.  This lovely hotel is located right beside Lake Estes, so relaxing on the balcony there I could treat myself to a stunning 180 degree view of Lake Estes and the Rocky Mountains behind.  So I did exactly that.  Relaxed and peacefully enjoyed the gorgeous views.  De-stressed, if you will.  We all live such busy often hectic lives, we really need regular escapes to allow ourselves to relax.  Really relax.

Of course, pictures cannot capture the beauty, but at least they give you a small glimpse.  Meanwhile, I'm curious if any of you have had a chance to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.  It's the #2 most visited national park in the United States.  Share with us.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

SPOTLIGHT ON ALI BLAKE

by Mary Kennedy                                      





Ali Blake here, from the Dream Club Mysteries. Things are moving along here in Savannah, the Dream Club is in full swing, and our vintage candy store, Oldies But Goodies, is more popular than ever. Here's an inside look at the candy shop: we went for an "old-fashioned" vibe with glass jars, bins of penny candy and of course, all your favorite sweets from years ago.
                                                                           

If you've been following us, you know that we added a little cafe to the candy shop a while ago, and we serve up gallons of sweet tea, gourmet coffee, light lunches and of course delicious pastries.

Now I've come up with a new marketing plan and I've added picnic lunches to the menu. We're trying to keep it simple...                                                     
                                                                                   

And healthy....                     
                                                                                  

Using lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. One of our most popular picnic lunches starts with a nice baguette....


with some gruyere cheese...
       
   And a couple of side salads; maybe a tomato-chickpea salad loaded with fresh veggies...
                                             
                                                                           

.a fresh green salad, with dried cranberries, tomatoes, chick peas and pine nuts. You can toss in a little feta cheese if you like.                  


..                                                                      
 ...and a nice pasta salad. We don't use mayo because of the Savannah heat, and we use a home-made vinaigrette dressing.
                                                                             
                                                                                     
   For dessert, we always include cookies  (because everyone loves cookies!)  One of our most popular items is sugar cookies and we use some cool stamps to make pretty designs.

                                                                               


Our peach slab pie is also one of our most requested items for a picnic lunch. It's peach pie, but it's portable!
                                                                                     

If you'd like the recipe for peach slab pie, you can find it on this link from an earlier Cozy Chicks blog. Everyone loves it and it's a nice "on-the-go" treat.
 http://www.cozychicksblog.com/2016/05/peach-slab-pie-recipe-from-ali-taylor.html

Our famous sweet tea is available in gallon jugs as well as fresh lemonade (made from real lemons, not bottled juice.)

Where to eat your picnic lunch?  You can choose from dozens of beautiful parks and squares in Savannah. Forsythe Park  is one of my favorites. 
                                                                           
   
 What are some must-have items on your favorite picnic lunches? I'm always looking for new menu ideas. Thanks for stopping by!!

Mary Kennedy (writing for Ali Blake from the Dream Club Mysteries.)


                                                                   

Friday, August 26, 2016

Are you a Bookbub Subscriber?

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

By now I'm sure many of you know about Bookbub and other brook promotions websites and newsletters.  By far, Bookbub is the BEST of them and for good reason. They work very hard trying to figure out what their customers want, and how best to deliver it.

What you may not know is that you can follow your favorite authors via Bookbub.  Not only that -- but when they have a new book out, Boobkbub will jog your memory and send you an email telling you ABOUT said book.

As it happens, ALL the Cozy Chicks are registered with Bookbub and we would ABSOLUTELY LOVE it if you would follow us. The thing is -- you can ALSO follow us on Amazon, who will do the same thing (send you a note when a new book comes out). It's a win-win situation for both authors and readers.

To make it easy for you to follow us, I've collected all our links. Please, pretty please, follow us on Bookbub and if you're a Kindle user, on Amazon!

And since today is my post day, I'm going to start with me.

Lorraine Bartlett:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon
L.L. Bartlett:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon
Lorna Barrett:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon

Mary Kennedy:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon

Mary Jane Maffini:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon
Victoria Abbott:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon

Maggie Sefton:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon

Duffy Brown:  Bookbub   ~~~   Amazon



Now, back to writing my next book so that when it's finished Bookbub and Amazon will send you a note.

Do you rely on these book promo services to find out what's new?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A hero in the garden





We’re having a very hot summer and very little rain.  Some of the more delicate flowers will have trouble surviving. We may have lost some coral bells when they just shriveled up.  Fingers crossed that we can bring them back.  But, there’s one plant you can always count on:  the hardy and happy day lily!  They are the best part of our garden this year (please ignore the weeds - it's too darn hot!).  I think they are quite heroic.


My friend Molly Westin actually has a day lily farm (which I got to see it firsthand as a lucky author on one of Molly’s mystery tours in North Carolina).  I am so jealous!  Of course, there’s not much in common between the climate of NC and Ontario, but that doesn’t matter.  Our day lilies are also doing just fine, from the cheerful and resilient tiger lilies that grow wild in the ditches and on abandoned properties to the snootiest of hydrids, they’re all terrific.  To my knowledge we’ve never lost one.  

  
We do love this hybrid though!

True story: Years back, a day lily was forgotten in an open plastic bag with a bit of soil on the back steps (sorry about that) and spent the better part of a year there trying valiantly to grow on the concrete.   It didn’t do too well, but it lived and once planted in the soil with enough sun and water, it flourished again.  

I am grateful to the day lilies that are starting to fill out around our property.  Both the front and back yard were completely neglected when we bought four years ago.  The day lilies have helped to fill in many of the bald spots. 


I did take some from our previous home, just as I took  a few from the home before that. I think that flowers give continuity.  One of my new neighbors gave me a lovely peach and purple hydrid that her friend had developed.   It meant a lot to her and that meant a lot to me.  A nice welcome, don’t you think?  

I’m happy to say that by next year, we’ll be dividing the first plants.  We’ll pass some on to people who will appreciate them.

So do you love day lilies?  If not, what does make you happy in your garden or someone else’s?   Do some of your flowers have special meaning. There is no one right answer!   But as you know, we love to hear!











Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy Eating...until it’s gone!!!

I just read this in the news...

Chick-fil-A is under fire for killing a beloved menu item: the spicy chicken biscuit. 
The company's Facebook page is littered with thousands of complaints about the biscuit's demise, with many customers threatening to boycott Chick-fil-A unless it resurrects the breakfast sandwich. 

Seems kind of extreme but then I know how these people feel ‘cause I felt that when Friches here in Cincy stopped selling vanilla Coke. Coke refused to cut them a deal so now it’s vanilla Pepsi! Really? Pepsi! This is a huge deal for me. When I needed a little pick-me-up and to spoil myself a bit I’d pull into the drive-up window and order a cheese burger and vanilla Coke, sit alone in the car and pig out. I loved every bite and sip!

My husband had the same thing for White Castles. He’d pull in, order 4 plus onion chips and a Coke. Sometimes he’d even take me with him.

We have Graeters ice cream here Cincy and on I’ve been known to stop in...leave my diet in the car...and order on dip of raspberry chocolate chip and for ten minutes of licking and slurping I was in heaven!!

And then there is my candy fetish of Snickers. I love ‘em. Put them in my books all the time. I will...on occasion...stop by a CVS and buy one an indulge and not look once at the calorie content or grams of sugar and fat.

So what about you? Do you have a guilty pleasure you indulge in and would be pissed as all get out if they suddenly stopped serving it?

I’ll give away 2 copies of Hot Southern Nights, one of the romances I wrote a few years ago. Please check back to this post tomorrow for the winners.


Happy eating. Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Love, Love These Flowers

by Maggie Sefton


I was transferring some photos to my laptop from my iPhone yesterday, and I noticed some of the many  photos of beautiful flowers I'd taken on my trip to San Diego for a recent conference in July.  Those bright red blossoms pictured above were on a plant that was sitting right next to the hotel entrance which was  glass and always wide open and inviting.



Naturally I spotted other beautiful flower photos I'd taken on previous trips---some for writing related conferences and others taken on pleasure trips.  So I thought I'd share some of these photos I've taken over the past few years in a variety of locales.





I admired these gorgeous azaleas at one of the homes on the Garden Tour of Homes last springs in Falls Church and Arlington, Virginia.  My friend from childhood, Diane, and I have made it a point to attend that wonderful tour every spring.  There are several homes on display each year and they're all been re-decorated by the top interior designers in the area.









I saw these cheerful bright hibiscus blossoms in a private garden in Antigua when I took a wonderful cruise through several Caribbean countries last February.














These stunning hanging garden displays were at a nursery garden center in Juneau, Alaska












Flowers were everywhere in Mexico a few years ago, even in February.  Mild temperatures and sunny skies.  The house that fellow mystery



We'll wrap up today with a photo of spring azalea blossoms at the River house in Virginia's Northern Neck, just a block from the Potomac River.





Monday, August 22, 2016

SWEET WATERMELON AND SALTY FETA--YES!

By Mary Kennedy                      
                                                                           
 Sometimes simple really is better! I was trying to figure out what to do with a LOT of leftover watermelon and came across this fun recipe. I had feta cheese on hand, along with black olives and voila--watermelon and feta salad!

It couldn't be easier.

Ingredients:    

4 cups chopped watermelon
one small red onion, sliced thin
fresh mint
1/2 cup black olives, roughly chopped
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled.

Directions:

Add all ingredients and arrange with a few springs of fresh mint on top. It's wonderfully tangy and refreshing.

Bon appetit!



                                                                                                

Saturday, August 20, 2016

SPOTLIGHT ON JORDAN KELLY BINGHAM



Meet Jordan Bingham the key figure in Victoria Abbott's  book collector mysteries. We hope that after you get to know her, you’ll understand why we think she was the perfect person to do the sleuthing in our series.  Jordan made her first appearance in The Christie Curse, the first book collector mystery.  




Here’s a peek into Jordan’s story before the first book.  At the start of the series, Jordan has just come limping back to her home town of Harrison Falls, New York,  after the man in her life maxed out her credit card  and cleared out her college  fund.  So much for grad school!  Fortunately her lovable and loyal uncles, Mick and Lucky, were happy to help her pick up the pieces as they have been there for her  all her life.  Too bad the same lovable uncles were as crooked as the day is long.   The problem was that Jordan was the first person in her large, Irish family to go straight, a grave disappointment to the all the relatives.  After all, didn’t Jordan get a set of lockpicks for her Sweet Sixteen?  Wasn’t she taught as a schoolchild how to deal with  nosy cops and their questions? Doesn’t she know how to get around town under cover of darkness without being observed?   Despite her skills and heritage, she’s chosen her own path. Not that she doesn’t adore Uncle Mick and Uncle Lucky, the scamps who brought her up: she does and she loves all the other uncles who pop up from time to time (Hey Kev – stay out of trouble!) It’s just that she sees herself having a life that revolves around books and getting back to graduate school to study Victorian literature.  

Jordan was thrilled to get a dream job as the research assistant to the eccentric book collector, Vera Van Alst, the most hated woman in Harrison Falls.  She figured that this would be the ticket to respectability and continuing her education. Vera may be cantankerous and nearly impossible to please, but the job is in a fascinating (if slightly crumbling) Victorian mansion, comes with three excellent meals a day thanks to Signora Panetone, the live-in cook, and a charming attic apartment, complete with faded cabbage rose wallpaper, a four-poster bed and lots of great hiding places. The climate-controlled rosewood lined library is a place of joy for Jordan.  All to say, most of what she makes will go straight to the bank except for a the occasional trip to local  second hand shops. Lucky she loves all the vintage stuff, because the new stuff is out of her reach.  Might we add, when she brought in a rambunctious pug needing a home, there was not a ripple of objection.  There would be serious objections to being late for breakfast eight am in the conservatory) or dinner (eight pm in the formal dining room), but those didn’t present a problem for Jordan, who likes being dressed for the occasion.


Things (if you don’t count Good Cat and Bad Cat, Vera’s identical and unpredictable Siamese, who seem to be able to walk through walls) were ideal.    All Jordan had to do is find a manuscript for a previously unknown play that Agatha Christie may have written during her mysterious eleven-day disappearance in 1926.   What a perfect situation.  Until, Jordan discovered that her predecessor died trying to find the elusive manuscript.   And someone’s been snooping in her room.  Worse, the local cop,  Tyler Dekker, seems smitten with her.  That can’t end well.   It’s one thing to go straight, it’s another thing altogether to consort with the enemy.  Too bad  Jordan felt the same attraction.  Of course, the relationship was doomed, until fate put them in a position that they had to work together. 

All Jordan has to cope with this unnerving situation is the collection of skills she owes to her uncles, her problem-solving nature, and the fact she knows how to use hiding places, the dark of night and masking tape to avoid getting cut on broken windows.   


 

We have found that was enough.  Through four books, she’s delivered with guts and humor and never lost her love of the mysteries of the Golden Age of Detection that she is paid to find. 

We love that girl!

Now in book five, we’re giving her a break: sending her off to San Francisco on a holiday with "Smiley" to repair their relationship in the city where Dashell Hammett taught us that you can’t trust anyone.
Uh oh!


Why don’t you join Jordan on this big adventure? She can use a friendly face and some support and we know you will enjoy the trip. Why not pre-order The Hammett Hex  here?
 

We'd love it if you popped in and told how you feel about Jordan or about amateur sleuths in general!  Do they have to be perfect?





Friday, August 19, 2016

In the news -- it's enough to make you cry!

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

I'm swamped working on Booktown #11 -- so my character Jeff Resnick has written today's blog. Take it away, Jeff!
~ ~ ~
Damn alarm clock! Not what you need when you've slept like crap for days. Okay, it could be worse. Having Herschel attached to me like a leach all night doesn’t help either.

Time for the news.

Nothing like sitting in your underwear catching up on the latest news because it’s easier than waiting for the stinking computer to get to your news feed's home page.

Elections: Okay. ISIS: Okay. But what about any big local thing? Here we go; latest from good old Channel 4.

Oh, no!

No more Ralph Wilson Stadium!

Maybe I shouldn’t wake up Rich too soon for this one!

I’ve known about the New Era Cap Company for years, but never realized how big they are. They are changing the name of the Ralph Wilson Stadium to the New Era Field! And here they are a local company willing to bail out the Bills for years. Then there’s my brother, the consummate Bills fan. Poor schmuck.

Okay, Richard you might as well hear the news and see what you think.

But, this may not be bad after all if it works. God only knows the team has tried just about everything to get back into a winning position.

If we finally have a winning season in Buffalo, I will happily share my brother's season tickets! Training camp in Rochester looked very promising these past couple of weeks. This might be the year we can have fun watching the Bills on Sunday, even if we’re staying warm and away from the drunks watching it on the tube!

But, back to Buffalo. I see things are still happening down at the waterfront. Do you want to see those lit-up grain elevators that look like Labatts cans one night or not? I think we need a night out. And if we're lucky, Brenda might even approve.

Cheers!

--------------------------------------------------------

Join Jeff and Richard on their latest adventure in SHATTERED SPIRITS.

While riding his new racing bike, Jeff is hit by an SUV, an accident which has a cascade effect on his life. He loses his job to a replacement, his girlfriend pressures him to move in, his bank accounts are hacked, and a restless spirit begs for his help—all in less than a week. But it’s soon apparent that his so-called random accident is anything but, and the murder of a close friend has a hobbled Jeff on the run. Can he discover who’s out to destroy his life—and threaten those he loves most?