Friday, December 19, 2014

It might be winter outside, but I'm stuck in summer!

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

The first day of winter hasn't yet hit, but it'll be upon us in just a couple of days.  Meanwhile, my head is firmly rooted in early summer.

Writers usually have an inspiration before they start work on a new project. Here's one of mine.

Not the two boats in the foreground, but the buildings smack-dab in the middle.  Yup, that's what I call (in my new Lotus Square Mysteries) Cannon's compound.  There's a bait shop; a boat house, a regular house, and, in my made-up compound, a little 7-unit motel.

The stories feature two best friends forever.

During the course of their first big adventure, Tori and Kathy make a new friend, Anissa Jackson.  She's a construction worker whose father was murdered and found in one of the Cannon's motel units.

And in the course of their dealings, they meet someone else who's destined to be a good friend.

These women have one thing in common.  They all want to own their own businesses.  And where do they choose to do so?  On Lotus Bay.

Haven't yet met Tori and Kathy?  Their first mini mystery was Panty Raid.

Tori Cannon and her BFF, Kathy Grant, get together for a girl’s weekend of wine, cookies, and laughter, but there’s also the specter of a panty pincher hanging around the laundry room of the complex where Tori lives. Kathy thinks they can catch the culprit red-handed in a panty raid!

Kindle | Kobo | Nook | iBooks | Smashwords

Tori and Kathy's (and Anissa's and Noreen's) first full-length adventure begins in With Baited Breath, which debuts on January 6th and is now available for pre-order.

Tori Cannon and her grandfather return from her grandma’s funeral to find a body jammed in one of their derelict motel units. The victim had no enemies except for maybe the rich woman who wants to level his eyesore of a home, a resentful daughter, and friends who were anything but. Tori’s BFF, Kathy, arrives to help spruce up the place and they are soon mixed up in the deadly consequences that murder entails. Can they save the business and find a murderer or will they, too, sleep with the fishes?

Amazon (Trade Paperback)
Kindle | Kindle Worldwide | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Will you head back to summer on January 6th?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

By Mary Jane Maffini who is sometimes Victoria Abbott

Time flies when you're having fun!  And tomorrow I'm celebrating a special anniversary.

I made it through one year in my book club.  One of my my early posts in Cozy Chicks last year was my my first visit to book club and I thought you might like to know that I've apparently made it through my 'probationary period'.   I hope you were rooting for me not to get tossed out for literary misbehavior.

I'll be staying on with this amazing group of fun woman who love reading and talking and each other.  It's possible that they love chocolate and wine more, but I would never say that out loud.

Only one rule: there must be chocolate!

It's been a great year. I've learned the rules. Not that you have to read the book.  No. Sometimes hardly anyone reads the book, claiming it was too long and too boring or too something.   But everyone always samples the chocolates and finds out everyone's news, happy or sad. This group has been together for many years and they have been though many important life changes together, showing love and support.

Have I mentioned that at the December meeting our friend Ulla, who is the hostes,s celebrates by having a wonderful sit-down dinner that she does herself?  She loves to decorate for Christmas and she's a great cook.  Our job is just to show up, looking respectable, if we can pull that off!

Here's last year's dinner table at Ulla's.

We are blessed indeed!

But whether there's a fancy dinner or not, I believe there's something very special about women who love books - I think all of us who are part of the Cozy Chicks family -- authors and readers alike -- feel that in our hearts.

If you have a special group of women readers in your life, I'd love to hear about it.  Is chocolate part of the equation? Wine?  If not, what is?   Make my day and let me know.

And if I don't hear from you until after Christmas, may your days be merry and bright, full of love, great food and  wonderful books.

Much love from MJ and Victoria, Daisy and Lily.  Peachtree refuses to wear the Santa hat claiming this is more dignified.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

‘cause grandma did it…that’s why

We are all pretty much mutts here in the US meaning we are a combination of many nationalities. This time of year brings that out in the way of food and recipes passed down from when Grandma and Grandpa or Great-Grandma and Grandpa when they came here from another part of the world.

I am part Italian. With a maiden name like Castelluccio I’m sure the Italian part is right. I married a Kruetzkamp so we now have the German influence.

As an Italian we always made our own pasta. My grandma brought her very own ravioli rolling pin over from Italy and for years we used it to make ravioli. For desert we made Amaretti cookies. They have an almond taste and are amazing with wine and really capture that warm essence perfect for the holiday season.

The Kruetzkamp half of our family meant we had pfeffernusse cookies covered in powdered sugar. They are delish cookies full of a mix of warm spices that taste sort of like gingerbread cookies. I learned to make little fruitcakes for my husband. No, he didn’t use them as hockey pucks but loved them. They are great with coffee and hot chocolate and mulled wine. We always serve mulled wine at our house. 

Another tradition with my husband’s family was to put the Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve. His parents did that for as long as I can remember.
Our next door neighbor was second generation Greek and always made Baklava. Their whole family got into the act at Christmas and our family always ended up with a tin of this delish gooey, honey flakey pastry.  

Our other neighbor was French and made Yule log of chocolate cake rolled around a rich vanilla cream filling.

Are there any traditional foods in your house this time of year? Do you use Grandma’s candy recipe, the one she
brought over from Ireland? Maybe your great aunt’s recipe? Do you have an heirloom star for the top of your tree? Stockings by the fireplace that were yours when a kid?

Thanks for sharing. I love family traditions and at this time of year there are a ton.

Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Recipes---Yummy Nut Bread

by Maggie Sefton

I don't know about all of you folks, but I'm still up to my neck in holiday preparations---including making some of my family's favorite recipes.  During previous Holiday Seasons on the Cozy Chicks Blog, I've posted Maggie's  Chocolate Mint Fudge and Aunt Helen's Gingersnaps.  And last week, I shared a lethal Holiday Eggnog recipe.  :)  I've decided to use the remaining Tuesdays in this "holiday" month to share more of my favorite holiday treats.  Today, I'm posting a positively yummy Cranberry Orange Nut Bread.  Let me know if you give it a try.  :)

This nut bread is good all year round, not just during the Holiday Season.  I  kept tinkering with recipes until I came up with the flavors that I especially like.  I simply love the flavor of orange in this rich quick bread, just like I love the cinnamon/cloves/allspice flavors in the pumpkin bread and the extra lemony flavor in my Gingersnaps.  This bread is quick to make and cranberries can be found year round.  Give it a try and enjoy! 


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 cup orange juice
¼ melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup fresh cranberries (not frozen)
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease one regular size bread loaf pan (or two small loaf pans).  Dust pan lightly with flour, dumping excess.  Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in large mixing bowl.  Combine the sugar, orange juice, melted butter, and eggs in another bowl, mixing well.  Stir into flour mixture along with cranberries, walnuts, and orange rind.  Mix well, blending all ingredients.  Pour into prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes or into knife inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean.  Remove pan to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then run knife around edges of pan and turn out onto rack to cool completely.  


Monday, December 15, 2014

The December 2014 Report

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

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Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown
Series: Cycle Path #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Mackinac Island is a peaceful summer resort town where everyone coasts through the streets on bicycles. But after someone sends a prominent local on her final ride, it’s up to one resourceful visitor to get things running again.

Hoping to shift her chances of a promotion in her favor, Evie Bloomfield heads to Mackinac Island to assist her boss’s father. Rudy Randolph has broken his leg and operating his bike shop, Rudy’s Rides, is too much to handle by himself. But Evie’s good turn only leads to more trouble.

After Evie’s arrival, wealthy resident Bunny Harrington dies in what looks like a freak bike accident. Upon closer inspection, Bunny’s brakes were tampered with, and now the prime suspect in her murder is also Bunny’s number one enemy: Rudy. So if Evie hopes to stay on her boss’s good side, she’ll need to steer Rudy clear of jail. Now she must quickly solve this mystery so she can put the brakes on the real killer’s plan.
What a delicious read that tickled my funny bone. This evenly-paced drama was a refreshing mystery executed in a style that pulled me in immediately for a nice ride that I did not want to get off. I laughed and laughed at the antics that Evie and Irma got involved in, all to clear a friend's name. And adding Mother, what a perfect touch. I know whenever I read a Duffy Brown mystery, she is going to delight my senses with a quirky cast of characters that includes the heroine of this light mystery and an unexpected sidekick that is so lovable, I wish the best for her. The witty banter, the small-town atmosphere and again this likable cast will keep me coming back to Mackinac Island for years to come. A great read and I can't wait to see what's coming next for Evie and her friends.

Visit Duffy at

Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
Series: Sarah Winston Garage Sale #1
Publisher: Kensington
Starting your life over at age thirty-eight isn't easy, but that's what Sarah Winston finds herself facing when her husband CJ runs off with a 19-year-old temptress named Tiffany. Sarah's self-prescribed therapy happily involves hitting all the garage and tag sales in and around her small town of Ellington, Massachusetts. If only she could turn her love for bargain hunting into a full-time career.

One man's junk is another man's treasure
But after returning from a particularly successful day searching for yard sale treasures, Sarah finds a grisly surprise in one of her bags: a freshly bloodied shirt…that undoubtedly belongs to her ex, CJ, who now happens to be Ellington's chief of police. If that's not bad enough, it seems Tiffany has gone missing. Now it's up to Sarah to prove that her cold-hearted ex is not a cold-blooded killer…

But finding that treasure can be murder.
This was a fun read that was both energetic and entertaining at the same time. I loved the plot setting and getting to know the main characters a bit better as the story moved forward. The author did a great job in keeping me tuned to the pages, especially that surprising twist that had me going “whoa” because I never saw that one coming. Well-played Sherry, well-played. With a friendly cast of characters, good conversations and a good story, this whodunit is a welcome addition to the cozy mystery genre and I look forward to reading The Longest Yard Sale, the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.

Visit Sherry at

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene
Series: Retired Witches #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Once upon a time in Wilmington, North Carolina, three witches ran a curio shop named Smuggler’s Arcane. But as the years passed, their magical powers started to fade—leaving them no choice but to conjure up a retirement package.

Before they could blink their eyes or twitch their noses, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia somehow became eligible for AARP. But they can’t fly off to Boca Raton just yet. First they must give up their magic, recruit and train three new witches, and pass on their cherished spellbook.

They’ve barely begun to consider potential practitioners when Olivia winds up dead and their spellbook is stolen. To honor their friend and reclaim their spells, Molly and Elsie are about to go wand-to-wand with a dangerous young witch more powerful than the trio was in their prime. And this time they’re going to need more than magic up their sleeves.
I like it. This was a fun read with a great cast of characters that includes Elsie, Molly and Olivia to name a few. The pacing and flow of this story made it easy to follow the mystery which had some twists that enhanced the storytelling. I enjoyed the interactions between the three witches, and at times a few of their capers had me chuckling a bit. I enjoyed this story that boasted great conversations, a small town magical feel and a supporting cast that envelopes our main protagonists.

Visit Joyce and Jim at

Meow If It's Murder by T. C. LoTempio
Series: Nick and Nora #1
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them.

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.
I’m a fan of Nick and Nora from the Thin Man, so when I heard about this series, I was eager to read it and I totally loved this light-hearted and engagingly entertaining whodunit featuring new amateur sleuth Nora and Nick her feline companion. The premise of the mystery sparked a memory and I liked how the author took care to bring this story to a satisfying ending, despite another mystery lurking in the winds which I suspect will be a continuum subplot. I enjoyed the interactions Nora has with her BFF Chantel and the tall, dark and handsome detective, as well as Ollie who I hope we get to see more of in future stories. This was a great read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this wonderfully terrific series.

Visit Toni at

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Even Virtual Parties Can Be Fun

by Leann

This past week the Cozy Chicks hosted a virtual Christmas party online and I have to say, it was one of best parties I've ever attended! Thanks to everyone who came. No one got drunk, it was quiet and happy, not crowded at all, and we got to know each other a lot better. It won't be the last time we do this now that we know how many people showed up. You guys came out in droves!

We did talk about favorite Christmas books, but most of it was just exchanging stories about the holidays--the ornaments, the food, the memories. There were pictures exchanged, a lot of fun was had. It was a celebration of each other with a much sharing and caring. Wouldn't it be great if every "live" party or gathering could be that way?

We did give things away, but I don't think that's why folks showed up to chat. I believe you, our readers and cyber friends, have come to know us as human beings who care, not just names on a book cover. That is something I am very grateful for. You have supported our books and for some of us, especially me, you have supported us through some tough times. My losing Marlowe was so hard, but the community of readers and authors on Facebook and here on the blog, made it easier to bear.

It's nice to know people care. It's good to know genuinely nice people. I can also say that I will be writing more cat books and that they will also ALL be on audio. (If they ever get the paperwork done!)

This is just a little thank you. I treasure the friendships I've made through my writing and through being one of the 8 Cozy Chicks.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


by Mary Kennedy                             
What gift would you like to give this Christmas? What could you offer that would be truly memorable and might make things a little better for another creature?
Here are a few things that I do every holiday season. These are truly gifts that warm your heart and will truly change lives. Let's start with Oxfam.
OXFAM has some terrific projects that help hungry families by training them to sustainably grow food, helping women to start a savings group, and helping to create a community garden.
PETA has a "Be an Angel for a cold, lonely dog this winter" program  and provides doghouses to dogs that are desperately in need of shelter. These poor dogs are forced to live outside in all kinds of freezing weather, 365 days a year.  The happy dog above has just received his doghouse.
The volunteers not only build the doghouses and deliver them to families, but they replace heavy chains with light leads, so the dogs have a little room to roam. And they transport the dogs for veterinary care to get needed shots, flea medicine, etc. Most important of all, they check back on these neglected dogs to see how they are doing. In many cases, the owners eventually relinquish these "outdoor" dogs who have never known affection (except at the hands of a PETA Volunteer.)
  For those who want to make a difference close to home, did you know that animal shelters are in desperate need of freshly laundered, sheets, towels and throws?  I save them all year round and I also buy "fleeces" when they're on sale and drop them off at a local animal shelter. Anything you donate means one less thing for the shelter to buy.                            
Another wonderful gift is to bring a couple of hot casseroles to a local soup kitchen. (call first to see if this is permitted.) It's also helpful to bring a couple dozen Styrofoam cups, plastic spoons and napkins. Many people at the soup kitchen prefer to take their meal home with them. Mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna are favorites.                 
Toys for Tots is another wonderful holiday idea. Tonight I'm going to an annual Christmas party hosted by Governor Tom Carper and Mrs. Carper--  each guest brings a gift for a child. What a wonderful idea!                                                         
These are just a few of the things I do every holiday and I try to incorporate them into my gift giving during the year. After all, gift-giving shouldn't be limited to the holidays. Look around in your own community and you will see many opportunities to give and to make a difference.
Have a happy Holiday, everyone!
Mary Kennedy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Out to Lunch?

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

Earlier this year, when my mother-in-law went into the nursing home, Mr. L and I decided we needed to spend some quality time together away from worries and the hustle and bustle (and Internet) of daily life.  And since we like to go out to lunch, we thought we might like to do it once a week.  Since we often paired our lunch dates with a visit to his mother at the home, we went out a lot during the week.  Sadly, we lost her in August.

At Coleman's -- toasting Jeff.
Over the summer we also took little day trips on the weekend to places like Coleman's Irish Pub in Syracuse and The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, and a bunch of other wonderful restaurants outside of Rochester and had wonderful meals. I should also add that we don't go to franchise places. Nope, we like to go to locally owned restaurants where the food is freshly made--not microwaved and served by kids who don't know a spice from an herb.  (Sorry, kids.)

But now it's WINTER and we're not driving very far to get a bite to eat. And we aren't doing it on weekends, either. Why?  Because it seems there's some kind of conspiracy among the locally owned restaurants NOT to open for lunch on Saturday.  What's with that?

We checked (online menus from) restaurants in Syracuse and Buffalo and lots and lots of them are open for lunch on weekends, but not here in Rochester.  The only exception appears to be Keenan's. Okay, we like Keenan's. They make good martinis, have wonderful food, and they have a popcorn machine where you can help yourself, but we don't want to go there every week.

So .. I guess we're stuck going out to lunch on weekdays.  Today we're heading to one of my favorite restaurants, Bernard's Grove, where they have a wonderful beer-battered fish fry and lovely martinis.

Do you like to go out to lunch, and if so -- what kind of restaurant do you frequent?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Merry Book Time to Children Everywhere!

Christmas for us is all about books, no matter what your age.  As a gift buyer, picking out special books for little ones is a big part of the seasonal fun.  I still treasure the moments reading to my own kids and 'grands'.   Yesterday I had a wonderful morning in a children's bookstore in Ottawa.  The staff were very knowledgeable and helpful. How great is that? Before Christmas, I'll  also hit other bookstores and online.  We're very fortunate to have so many options. 

Kaleidoscope Kids' Books

Here's what I've found so far for gifts for some special children.  I know the kids will love Scaredy Kate, by Jacob Grant, Off We Go, a Bear and Mole Story, by Will Hillenbrand,   Julia Donaldson's The Paper Dolls, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb and A Visitor for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.  I am still on the hunt!

 I love the idea that many of the classics: Good Night Moon,  Are You My Mother and The Very Hungry Caterpillar have gone from generation to generation in our family and are still out there.

We're starting Baby Ella young with some books with texture and of course, she already has the Sandra Boyton books that are good in the bathtub.

You may not be able to see the baby books for Baby Ella in the photo above, but they are Baby Animals  from " bright baby touch and feel"

and Fluffy Chick and Friends, a cloth book from  "priddy books".  


I forgot to get a new copy of The Night Before Christmas.  I think this version looks lovely, but am happy to take advice. All are on amazon as well as in stores. 

We are always looking for new authors and titles.  So how about a gift from you to us: tell us your favorites or even let us know how you feel about books for kids!  Let us know where you find your books.  If you have a special story about reading, please share!

Remember, to us Merry and Happy means reading.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas in my neck of the woods

I would just love it if you came to visit me for Christmas. We’d cook in my new kitchen, play with Dr. Watson and Spooky and we’d see Cincinnati at Christmas.
First off we could enjoy the horse-drawn carriage rides around town and go see Santa is at Macy’s! They still  have great displays in the windows and if you bring the kids we can take pictures of the kids with Santa (free).
Don’t miss the downtown hotel Christmas decor! The Cincinnatian Hotel  always has elaborate Christmas decor in their lobby and is well worth the block or two you might have to walk to see it. There’s a HUGE Christmas tree in the lobby of the Westin Hotel  and they also have characters from “A Christmas Carol” upstairs. From the Westin Hotel, take the skywalk over to The Hilton Netherland Hotel to see their Cincinnati city-scape made out of gingerbread.
The Fountain Square Ice Rink returns for some frosty fun. Bring your own skates or rent them there. Santa skates on Saturdays and Sundays and you can’t miss the GIGANTIC Christmas tree on Fountain Square – right by the Ice Rink!  It’s especially beautiful at night when it’s snowing.
Santa rappels down the 525 Vine Building to the Macy’s rooftop to kick off a spectacular fireworks display Mrs. Claus will have story time inside Macy’s along with hot chocolate and cookies.
We can hop aboard the trimmed “Holly Jolly Downtown Trolley” to the Taft Museum of Art to check out a Victorian Christmas there with the old ornaments and toys and catch the huge train display at the Museum Center.
Washington Park is getting into the Christmas spirit with Santa’s Workshop  and strolling carolers and St. Francis Seraph Church has a wonderful live nativity scene.  Yep, there’s actually a live nativity scene set up downtown!  
Then it’s back to my house to make Christmas cookies. This is what a Christmas in Cincy looks like so what Christmas things are going on in your neighborhood? What would you take me to see if I suddenly showed up on your doorstep and yelled…surprise, guess whose come to visit!
Wishing you an amazing Christmas Season.
Hugs, Duffy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jingling in the Holidays

by Maggie Sefton

Okay. . .I took a few liberties with the phrase "Ringing in the Holidays."  But,
I couldn't help it.  I'm a novelist, and that's what we do----take liberties with words.  And I wasn't about to miss this chance to remind all of you that tomorrow, Wednesday, December 10th, is the day the Cozy Chicks are hosting our "Jingle Bell Bash" on Facebook.  That's our 2-hour online gab fest from 12 noon to 2:00pm Eastern Time with all seven of the Cozy Chicks present and ready to chat and answer any questions you folks and other fans and readers may have.

We'll also have all sorts of Party Favors to give away during that two-hour period.  Lots of great Cozy Chicks items from the online Zazzle store:  Cozy Chicks tote bags, mugs, and mouse pads.  Plus, goodie bags.

If you're already a Facebook member but have not friended us, you can.  Simply go to 

If you're already a friend, you can join our Cozy Chicks public group.  That's where we're having the party:  

Meanwhile, here's a super easy, super delicious recipe for you to enjoy and share with family and friends this holiday season.  A warning is in order:  This is not a recipe for Tee-totalers.  A-hem.


3 one-quart containers of the richest eggnog you can buy.  Find a large pitcher and pour all three containers into it.  Next, add  1/2 cup to 2/3 cup (to taste) each of good quality whiskey and rum.  And, yes, you read that right.  that's 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup EACH of whiskey and rum.   Stir and serve. . .and Enjoy!    Believe me, this eggnog is a big hit with guests and goes fast.  :)