Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pearls and Poisonand Mamma’s running for city council!


Hi, Duffy Brown here.

As you can tell from the title all does not go well. Somebody’s poisoned that Kip-the-scumbucket Seymour and Mamma’s the prime suspect.
I know she didn’t do and you know she didn’t do it. So now we got to figure out how. 
With a gun you pull the trigger and bam it’s over. With a knife it’s slash and dash, but with poison the possibilities are endless. Where do you get it? You just don’t walk into Walgreens and ask which aisle has the cyanide. How much do you need? Which ones work the best? What do you mix it in?
So, like I always do when I have a question, I hit the Google and there it was…plants! With Pearls and Poison set in Savannah there are lots and lots of plants year round. All I had to do was pick one…decisions, decisions.
Everyone knows Poinsettia berries are a big no-no but I bet you didn’t know those lovely spring daffodils you adore can cause big problems. You may not die; you’ll just be so sick you wish you were dead.
I have a whole hedge of oleander in my back yard and one plant could probably wipe out my neighborhood.  Good thing we never used the sticks to roast marshmallows! 
Rhododendron, jasmine azaleas and wisteria, foxglove is so beautiful, they are the focal point of spring and toxic to extreme. The victim gets deathly ill then a coma and then he kisses his butt goodbye. ( I used one of these in Pearls and Poison)
Yew is fatal and has no symptoms you just keel right over. Up minute dead the next.
And then there’s Lantana, buttercups, foxglove, periwinkle Vinci rose. These are in every summer garden and pot and totally lethal. How can thing be so lovely and so deadly?
I can never fee Bruce Willis onions and chokecherries are pure death for horses.
I did a ton of research for Pearls and Poison to get the right poison and figure out how to get the victim…who deserves to die…to drink it.
When doing this research I was invited to a dinner party and asked to bring ice cream instead of the salad. Wonder why?
My customers at the Prissy Fox saw my poisonous plant books out there on the counter and went screaming from the shop.
I wonder who did in Scummy and I wonder how? Did they use one of these plants and how did they do it. Hugs,
Reagan Summerside
Pearls and Poison                                                                                               

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

PASSING DAYS

by Maggie Sefton


    




If you missed this Autumn story featuring the Kelly Flynn characters, check it out on Amazo.  It was a lot of fun to write.    

Monday, November 11, 2019

BOOKS ON THE BATTLEFIELD

By Mary Kennedy                                           

(I wrote this article for Publisher's Weekly in 2012 but I thought readers might like to see it again.)
 
I'd never met Lt. Col Lisa Schieferstein, yet I was intrigued by her story. I knew Lisa was half a world away, doing a tough job in a gritty, remote location. As the garrison commander of the 389th "Renegades" division in Iraq, she was stationed at a desert outpost, with ninety soldiers under her command. The heat was appalling, the conditions were rugged and danger was ever-present. (When I sent them instant "cups of soup," the desert heat was so brutal, they could add water to the Styrofoam cups and cook the soup right on the hood of their jeeps.)
 
Even though my life is incredibly cushy by comparison (a nice psychology practice, a second career as a mystery novelist) when I saw a photo of Lisa--in full body armor--visiting a one-room Iraqi schoolhouse to bring presents to the children, I knew right away we had something in common; a love of books. We began to e-mail each other and I was offered a glimpse into her day-to-day life. 
 
When I learned that the 389th was a "sustainment division," offering food and snacks to American convoys passing through, I decided to send boxes of books and homemade goodies to the Renegades every two weeks. Over the course of the summer, I mailed over 200 pounds of boxes stuffed with brownies, "sweet" Chex mix snacks made with pecans and corn syrup, individual packages of Crystal Light, coffee, creamer and sugar.  Tuna fish and individual packets of mayo. (They loved to make tuna salad sandwiches). Plus plenty of gum and hard candy (good for staying alert during night patrols, they told me.) And I included paperback books. They loved mysteries! My writer pals joined in with copies of their new releases and Carolyn Hart made regular donations of her best-selling books along with delicious gourmet coffees.
 
Kim Adams, SOS Military Liaison and an Air Force spouse said, "As a veteran of the first Gulf War, I know firsthand what difference mail makes to deployed personnel. But that war was short-term and our troops came home. Today, our military personnel are facing longer and more repeated deployments. I wish everyone reading this piece could adopt a soldier and send books, candy, snack and sure, home-made cookies or brownies. It's easy to do and it really means the world to our brave men and women in the armed forces."                                 
                                            
As Janet Evanovich told me, "If Stephanie Plum could meet the Renegades, she'd give them a high-five and say, "Well done!"
                                                      

Epilogue: all of the Renegades are now safely home in the States. I know you join me in thanking them for their service.
 
Mary Kennedy
                                                        

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Your Guide to Victoria Square


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

You know about Victoria Square thanks to the Victoria Square Mysteries. Artisans Alley takes center stage in those books, but the merchants--and their businesses--are just as intriguing. They all have stories to tell ... and that's what the Life on Victoria Square companion series is all about.
 
So settle back and really get to know the merchants. Learn about their lives, and how life on Victoria Square affects them. It might just make a profound impression on you, too!

Contains
Carving Out A Path: A shoplifter learns a lesson about life and integrity.
A Basket Full of Bargains: Iris Drake is a strange duck with a secret.
The Broken Teacup: Katie Bonner receives a broken teacup in the mail--but it's a mystery who sent it.
It's Tutu Much: Bullies come in all sizes and ages. Can a dance class teach kids--and adults--how to get along?
The Reluctant Bride: Does a bride-to-be really want to get married?
Tea'd Off: The Square's new tea shop is about to open, but not without problems.

PRINT:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

E-BOOK
Kindle US  |  Kindle Worldwide  |  Nook  |  Kobo  | Apple Books  |  Google Play



Friday, November 8, 2019

Rock-a-Bye Poppy

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

For a while now, I've been having a problem with my baby girl, Poppy. She's the sweetest little girl in the world. Unlike her sister, who pays attention to everything and comes when she's called, and does everything she's told, Poppy is a rebellious girl. She doesn't listen all that well. Like her sister, she's a flipper and a flopperShe loves to roll on the rug--back and forth and forth and back. She's a good lap cat at the end of the day and will sit quietly, but during the day? Not so much.

She also likes to bite -- everything. Not just me, but paper, boxes, desks, you name it, she bites it. She's not teething. She has passed her first birthday, but she still likes to BITE.

Recently I realized that there was a way to calm her. She will settle in my arms and I rock her like a baby. She purrs and purrs and then falls asleep. This is all very nice and loving ... until my arms and feet fall asleep. Then I have to put her down and she almost immediately jumps back on my lap. This makes it very hard to get any work done.

The girls chill under Mr. L's lamp.
Luckily, Mr. L has a 200 watt light bulb in his office. Under the light we've placed three cat beds. (We used to have more cats.) The girls often sleep under the warmth of that incandescent bulb. (We aren't going green with that lamp any time soon.) I also have a small oil-filled radiant space heater in my office and I keep a cushion next to it that's big enough to accommodate both girls. Now that the weather has turned, I'm hoping they will use it more and let me work.

It's not a terrible problem to have cats who love me and want to be with me. I just need to convince them that they need to change their timing.

What's your biggest pet problem?










Thursday, November 7, 2019

Tea On A Friday Night

by Karen Rose Smith



Since my next cozy mystery, MURDER WITH CHERRY TARTS will be released at the end of November, I was honored to be asked to return to the TranquilaTEA Room in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania for their Friday night Book Lovers Tea Party.  In a quaint refurbished house in the downtown area, the tea room offered an intimate setting for me to meet with tea lovers and readers of my cozy mysteries.  The nighttime service allowed for candlelit teapot warmers to create a soothing accent to the beautiful tea service table settings.


Each tea lover was treated to a full tea service including sausage and cheddar quiche, creamy butternut squash bisque, cinnamon scones with lemon curd and almond cream, chicken Caesar salad triangles, pumpkin nut tea sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches wrapped as tiny presents.  Dessert selections included pear custard bars and tiny chocolate cupcakes with salted-caramel frosting.  And, of course, a full selection of teas, including herbal, black, green and specialty blends were offered throughout the meal. 

Between each course, I circulated around the tea room to visit and chat with each table of guests. This gave everyone a chance to ask questions or share what they enjoy about reading cozy mysteries.  After dessert was finished, I did a short reading from my second Daisy's Tea Garden Cozy Mystery, MURDER WITH CINNAMON SCONES as the guests finished sipping their tea samplings.  Then I moved into the gift shop area to sign the books that were part of each guest's fare for the evening.

And, of course, before leaving, I had to do some shopping.  Tea rooms have the neatest gifts for stocking stuffers and beautiful teacups and teapots.  I had to take home a few bags of the menu teas that were available on the tea rack.  My favorite tea of the evening and that I brought home was Rooibos Caramel!






I love meeting with readers in a tea room setting.  It is personal, satisfying and gratifying to share my love of tea, writing and cats with my readers.


     *************

Coming in December!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER



In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson has a tea shop to run, a daughter to marry off—and a murder to solve . . .

Daisy’s worried one of her employees at Daisy’s Tea Garden may be in a spot of trouble. Lately Karina’s been loading up on soup and second-day baked goods at the end of her shift—and while the shop’s scrumptious treats may be hard to resist, Daisy suspects there’s more going on, especially since Karina has been seen hanging out in a rundown part of Willow Creek.

Planning her own daughter’s wedding is enough to keep her busy, but Daisy can’t help feeling a protective maternal instinct—and an instinct to investigate. It turns out Karina has been helping a down-on-his luck single dad who’s been making ends meet—barely—by selling antiques at a place called Pirated Treasures.

But when an employee at the antiques store is bludgeoned to death with a marble rolling pin, Karina’s new friend is suspect number one. Though the motives are muddy and steeped in intrigue, Daisy is more than determined to flush the real killer out.




 






Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A true Southern Home

Auntie KiKi here and now that it’s fall here in Savannah everyone is getting ready for the holidays and doing a bit of redecorating to gussy the place .
One of my dearest friends is redecorating her house, top to bottom and that’s always a scary thing to be doing in my opinion especially if you go and turn it over to one of those snooty decorators who think they know it all. I mean a house...especially a Savannah house has got to have certain things to make it right. 
There better be a big old table in the kitchen. Not one of those bar things with stools. I mean a fullout table that sits all the family at once. A family that eats together stays together especially if there’s fried chicken on that table.


And while we’re talking kitchen’s there better be a big one. This is cooking country and we need room to move around. Everyone has a job to do like stirring the gravy, and setting the table proper.
And there better be room enough in that house for grandma’s pie safe and auntie’s sewing chest and that there rocker your mamma rocked the babies in. A house can be new but we take our past with us for sure.
When picking out new furniture be thinking something that a swaying. Don’t be forgetting that swing on the porch and the rocker by the hearth. Things that stay put get downright boring if you ask me.
These are some of the must-haves in a Southern home. What’s a must have in your home? A big porch to sit a spell? A fireplace to gather round? A garden for growing tomatoes and okra?   

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Changing Seasons

by Maggie Sefton


                                                               My favorite Fall pie:  Pecan




I really love the Fall. Maybe because the changes that occur in Nature are so dramatic.  And, I'm a novelist after all, so I love "dramatic" events/things/occasions.  All of it.  Here in Northern Colorado, lastt week  brought the lower temps necessary to to start those dramatic changes in the weather and in  Nature surrounding us.

Thanksgiving Turkey will be coming into grocery stores now.



Temps started going down the day after Halloween, sparing Trick or Treaters from getting too cold.    This week has started the shedding of leaves from the trees.  The tall Maple tree in my front yard is almost bare.  And the Maple and Cottonwood trees in the back yard are starting to shed their leaves, too.  I hope all of you are ready, because Fall is here   :)   .    


Some of my grandchildren roasting marshmallows in the fireplace at the River House.  We were making S'mores.       

 







Monday, November 4, 2019

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?

By Mary Kennedy                                               
                                                                         
                                   

This is probably the most frequent question writers face--at conferences, in classes or during interviews. And of course, there is no right answer. Most of us don't really know where we get our ideas. And some of us, I'm ashamed to say, give flippant replies. One of my friends always says breezily, "Oh, you know, I buy them at the idea store." She follows this with a big smile, but I bet people find her answer irritating.

Another friend (who shall be nameless, I don't want to embarrass her) says, "Oh that's easy. I steal them. It sure beats trying to think them up myself!" And then she gives a merry laugh. Not condoning her silly response. I think she's just fed up with answering the same question so many times.   

The fact is, ideas are elusive, mercurial. If you look at them too closely, they fade like frost on a window pane. Some ideas are "book worthy," some are just passing fancies.  Kind of like people you meet at a cocktail party. They drift across the edges of our consciousness, never to return.

Ideas can come from so many places, including snippets of conversation. I was riding a cross town bus in Manhattan when I overheard a conversation between two women sitting behind me. One woman said, "So how are Howard and Sylvia doing? I haven't heard from them in awhile." Her friend replied, "Not so good. You know, things have never been the same since he threw her through that plate glass window."

 It was hard not to gasp. They both got off at the next stop so I never heard the rest of Howard and Sylvia's story. That idea stayed with me for a long time, though. What kind of woman would stay with a man who threw her through a plate glass window? Would any of my characters ever do that? If Howard was murdered, would Sylvia be the prime suspect? Would Sylvia play the forgiveness card and then secretly plan his demise?

Sometimes aspiring writers ask me if they should save their "good" ideas for a future book. No, I tell them, use them right now! Ideas are limitless, infinite. By next week you'll have dozens more.

More about writers and ideas in next week's blog!


Happy reading, Mary Kennedy








                                        

Friday, November 1, 2019

Changing with the season

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

A few years back, I didn't decorate for any holiday other than Christmas. Then I discovered YouTube videos and all the decorating challenges and collaborations. It's a whole network of women (and a few men) who decorate their homes with thrift-store finds and Dollar Tree hauls.

Truthfully, I've lost my taste for Dollar Tree hauls. Most of the stuff is cheap (hey, it only costs a buck) and the expectation is that it will be tossed in short time. That doesn't sit right with me. I whole-heartedly believe in recycling, which is why I have decided to cut back my visits to the Dollar Tree and heartily embrace thrifting.

And I've done it! If I want to buy an item to decorate my home, I will try to get it secondhand, either through yard, rummage, or thrift store sales. I even apply that to clothing. The items I buy new are socks, underwear, and jeans. I might buy a new T-shirt if I go to a tourist site, but for the most part, I buy secondhand. And it's not because I can't afford to buy new. But in my soul I'm a picker. (Did I mention I had a booth in an antiques/collectibles arcade for 12 years?) As a child, I wore my "cousin"  Barbara's hand-me-downs. I never bothered me because those dresses were new to me.
I've tried to stop using so much plastic, but it's hard.

When Mr. L and I go out to lunch, often we only eat half of what we order. We have a fiber-mesh bag (originally from a winery and meant to hold 4 bottles of wine that I got free at a yard sale) that I cut out the segments, and now perfectly holds two reusable plastic containers. Now we don't have to use plastic or Styrofoam containers.

Back to my decorating finds...95% of my fall decor was previously enjoyed by someone else. I have no plans to buy anymore Christmas stuff. I already have a full storage closest full of it. But thanks to yard and rummage sales, I can now decorate my home (and for dirt cheap) for every season.
"Oh, but you're an author. You must be rich!"

Ha! Did you know that publishers only pay authors twice a year? In April and October we can shoot the wad, but for the rest of the year we're watching our pennies. (Try telling the utility company you only get paid twice a year. Can you say "Collection Agency?")

But I digress.

So, Halloween is over and now it's time to decorate for Thanksgiving. I don't have much for that holiday, but the colorful pumpkins and faux autumn leaves can hang out until the fourth week of the month. I have two carved Pilgrims my Dad made, a beauty of a  brown transferware turkey platter, and a couple of 1950s turkey candles (never burned). I'll haul them out this weekend and enjoy them for the month and then it will be full-out CHRISTMAS 24/7. I love it! Mr. L...not so much.

So, what are your decorating plans for the next month?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Wood" You Shop Here?

by Karen Rose Smith



Recently my husband and I went for a drive through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Since my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series is set in PA Amish country, I like to take an occasional drive though the area to soak in the Amish way of life which was immediately evident as we veered off the Old Philadelphia Pike onto several side roads that wound through Amish homesteads and farms.  It was a beautiful fall day and the horse-drawn farm equipment was active preparing the fields for winter and next spring's crops. Amish scooter cycles were being maneuvered along the country roads and wash was strung on pulley lines from the houses to the barn roofs.


The Amish operate many of the business establishments along the main route.  I always enjoy shopping in these stores and appreciating the hand crafted quilts, wall hangings, garden ornaments and furniture.

We stopped at a small coffee shop in the town of Intercourse for a quiet lunch.  I enjoyed watching the horse and buggies clopping along the street and the multitude of tourists who were enjoying the shops and outdoor entertainment at Kettle Village, directly across the street.

Sharing the same building as the coffee shop was a furniture store with locally-crafted pieces, many from reclaimed wood.  This shop immediately reminded me of WOODS, the business that is owned and operated by Jonas Groft in my tea garden mysteries.  Daisy often makes the short trek down the main street in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania, the fictional town I created based in historic Lancaster County, to visit Jonas.

Jonas makes many of the pieces featured in his shop, most made from reclaimed wood he often travels to purchase. Sometimes wood is found in old buildings that are being demolished or renovated.  Daisy often observes the chairs lined in cubicles along one wall of the shop, very similar to the display in the store we discovered in Intercourse.  They also featured tabletops which could be mounted on the pedestal bases of your choice, reclaimed wood mantles, and beautiful doors.



Some unusual items also caught my attention.  The shelf planter bicycle would be the perfect addition for a porch or sun room.  There were also many signs made from reclaimed wood, some with just a single word, others with more thought-provoking messages.

 I really enjoyed this visit to a shop that took me to a place that I had created in my imagination and shared on the written page.   I truly felt friendliness, warmth and peace knowing that such places truly do exist.



  *************

Coming in December!

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER



In Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson has a tea shop to run, a daughter to marry off—and a murder to solve . . .

Daisy’s worried one of her employees at Daisy’s Tea Garden may be in a spot of trouble. Lately Karina’s been loading up on soup and second-day baked goods at the end of her shift—and while the shop’s scrumptious treats may be hard to resist, Daisy suspects there’s more going on, especially since Karina has been seen hanging out in a rundown part of Willow Creek.

Planning her own daughter’s wedding is enough to keep her busy, but Daisy can’t help feeling a protective maternal instinct—and an instinct to investigate. It turns out Karina has been helping a down-on-his luck single dad who’s been making ends meet—barely—by selling antiques at a place called Pirated Treasures.

But when an employee at the antiques store is bludgeoned to death with a marble rolling pin, Karina’s new friend is suspect number one. Though the motives are muddy and steeped in intrigue, Daisy is more than determined to flush the real killer out.




   





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy Fall!!!!!!

Hi, Everyone! Duffy Brown here and I think fall is the best season of all. Maybe because the leaves change colors, temps drop, Halloween is just around the corner, it’s time to drag out the sweaters, time for kids to go back to school.
For me it’s the food! Then again for me it’s always the food. I love to eat. (I never did understand the protein drink thing. Where’s the crunch? But that’s another blog) Some people eat to live, and then there’s me who lives to eat!
Now that it’s October I’m already thinking apple pie. I love pie! Pumpkin and pecan are my favs. I even learned to make that lattice top crust so my pie looks cute. ‘course it looks a lot cuter with a scoop of ice cream on top.
And then there’s the pot roast. Fall is so pot roast season. A chunk of beef surrounded by gravy and carrots and potatoes and peas and did I mention the gravy? And what is pot roast without popovers! I finally bought a non-stick popover pan. Nothing better than bread that is all crusty on the outside and warm and hollow in the inside. Yummmm. And of course it has no calories because of the hollow part.
And then there’re root veggies. I gotta tell you I’m not a veggie person but roasted turnips, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, fennel are the best.
But the very best autumn food is doughnuts. Okay, I know you can eat doughnuts anytime but a doughnut with hot apple cider is amazing. A just out of the fryer doughnut and sitting around an open fire on a chilly night with hot cider and the stars overhead is what autumn is all about.
So what about you? Now that September is here what part of autumn are you looking forward to the most?
Happy Autumn!
Hugs, Duffy


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Halloween Soon

by Maggie Sefton







Halloween

by Maggie Sefton

Enjoy Trick or Treating!



Halloween Time

by Maggie Sefton





by Maggie Sefton




I love these photos of my Halloween decorations from last year, so I'm sharing them again.  I'll be putting out these decorations.










Halloween Fun

by Maggie Sefton




I love these photos of my Halloween decorations from last year, so I'm sharing them again.  I'll be putting out these decorations.