Monday, October 14, 2019

DOGS IN TUXEDOS, CATS IN TUTUS

By Mary Kennedy                                         

Here's Zoey, all dolled up as Cleopatra in a hurriedly put together Halloween costume. Zoey, as you may remember is one of Yogi's (my grand-dog) girlfriends.

                                                                         

Not to be outdone, here's Tilley, Zoey's housemate, trying on her Wonder Woman costume from last year. Thank heavens it still fits!  We just need to find the little crown that goes with it.
       

I'm not sure if most people have snacks on hand for dogs and cats that are out trick or treating. And I don't know if there will be any in my neighborhood, but maybe I'll lay in a selection of dog and cat treats just in case. 

No, my own fur-babies won't be dressing up for Halloween. I asked Damian what he thought about the idea and he gave me a "You've-got-to-be-kidding" look.
                                                                            


Some pets really take to the idea and seem to enjoy the attention. Dogs more than cats, I'd guess.
                                                                                     




How about you? Do you have any thoughts of dressing dogs and cats up in costumes to celebrate Halloween? 

By Mary Kennedy
                                                                            

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Stepping out of my comfort zone


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

Before I'd sold any of my cozy mysteries, I was trying out different genres. I'd done sweet romance short stories, written four Jeff Resnick books (but hadn't yet sold them) and written two cozy mysteries (Victoria Square) and hadn't sold them, either. So I decided to try women's fiction. But then Booktown came along and I abandoned that book, of which I'd already had a substantial amount written.

Back in early September, I was in my basement to empty my dehumidifier, and I saw a box that had been sitting in our storeroom for years. Every time I went down there, I was that box. But I hadn't opened it for years. I don't know what made me look into it, but--I did, and there was a printout of the women's fiction book I'd started years ago.

I didn't know where I was going with the book, and it turns out I had given myself two options. Write it as women's fiction or take the character and write it as a cozy. I had much more written on the women's fiction than the cozy. In fact, I only had a chapter written because I entered (or was going to enter) it in a writing contest. But...like I said, then the opportunity to write the Booktown series came along and I abandoned it.

As I write this, I don't know if there will be a 15th Booktown mystery. My contract is up and because the cozy genre is saturated (with 20 to up 70 cozies being offered to the cozy reading audience every month), traditional series are being canceled right and left.

So I thought it might be fun to resurrect my character, Sabina Reigns. I was flipping through a magazine one day and a pencil drawing in the back caught my eye. Mr. L told me it was a family piece of art, but it just looked like how I imagined Sabina to look like. The drawing was my inspiration.

Who is Sabina Reigns? A mom, a wife, and an interior designer. Except ... she isn't a wife by the time the story begins. Her husband has announced he wants a divorce, and that sends Sabina down a rabbit hole in a quest to find out who she is and what she's capable of doing. And the book explores what motherhood means to three other women who touch Sabina's life in some way.

I found another story in that box I intend to rewrite. It's a "guy" story, so that will go out under my L.L. Bartlett name (when I get around to it). The problem with writing so many series is that there's only so many hours in a day. Sabina will be a stand along book.  A number of cozy authors have taken the leap into women's fiction. Will I be one of the successful ones? Who knows.  Will I write more of them? Who knows.

Are you open to reading women's fiction?

Friday, October 11, 2019

What's the time?

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

I'm a watch person. A few years ago, friend of mine asked me why I was still wearing a watch. My answer was, "because I like to know the time at a moment's notice." She scoffed at me and said, "I just look at my phone."

I noticed that. I mean, during every one of our conversations, she was looking down at her phone to see if there was something (or someone) more interesting than talking to me.  Did I mention we're no longer close?

The last time I stayed at our cottage, I left my watch behind. OMG--I noticed it as soon as I got home and was distraught. What the heck was I do to without my watch??? I went the rest of the day constantly looking at my wrist and -- ACK! No watch! Then I did what I had to do. I dug into my jewelry box to find an old wind-up watch. I hadn't worn any of them in at least a decade and I know I have at least two of them, but where were they? Not in my jewelry box, that's for sure. But there was a watch in there--one that belonged to my late father.  He passed away ten years ago next week, and I know the last few years of his life he wore a battery watch (I know because I bought it for him). But I wound the watch and it's been ticking ever since.

Of course, the band is way to big for my tiny wrist (the only puny part of me), and when I look at the face, it reminds me of my Dad. Mostly about how time has flown. How could it possibly be almost ten years since that terrible October morning when we got a call from the nursing home (where he'd gone for rehab) telling us if we wanted to say good-bye, we had better do it then.  Of course, he'd already passed away. I was really angry. "Why did you tell us to hurry to say good-bye when he'd was already gone." The answer: "Well, we weren't going to tell you he was dead."

That still burns me up.

I think about my Mum and Dad every day. I still want to pick up the phone to call them. I look out my front door and can see the house they lived in for 15 years.

One of my readers suggested I get the band shortened so that I could wear the watch more comfortably. I'm seriously thinking about it.

In the meantime, I'll wear it. It just feels right.

Are you a watch person?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Teddy Bears Hold Memories

by Karen Rose Smith



Do you still have your favorite childhood stuffed animal?  As I looked around the house, I focused on the numerous teddy bears I have accumulated through the years.  Each bear brings back specific memories of times past, whether it be from my son's younger years or from other life events.

I consulted Wikipedia to learn more on the history of the Teddy Bear.  First developed in the early 1900s, this favorite children's toy was named after President Teddy RooseveltStories, songs and films have focused on "teddies" which today greatly vary in form, style, color, and material.  Steiff bears, Boyd's Bears and Ty Beanie Bears, to name a few, have become collector's items.  Teddy bears are popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to convey love or other sentiments.

The white bear pictured above was made to commemorate the publication of one of my romances--A PRECIOUS GIFT.  We visited the Boyd's Bear Barn in nearby Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and had the opportunity to choose a bear and his sweater which would be embroidered with a special name or phrase.  I choose my book's title and the little fellow still sits on a special miniature chair in my bedroom.  And, of course, when I look at his sweater, I appreciate all the precious gifts I've been given through the years. 
   
I found this rather large specimen in my son's room.  He received him as a gift when he was young.  One day, he decided his fur needed oiled so he promptly applied Vaseline to his head.  To this day, the fur is matted on the bear's head.  But whenever I ask if we can dispose of the dilapidated fellow, my son always wants to keep him.  Obviously the childhood memories he evokes are more important to my son than some crusty matted fur on the bear's head.  


When my husband's father passed away, I heard of a local artist who created stuffed bears from the clothing of deceased loved ones.  So I selected one of my father-in-law's flannel shirts and had it made into a stuffed bear which holds precious memories.    



One of my favorite Ty Beanie Babies was the Peace Bear.  It was created in three sizes and in two different pastel variations.  It brought back memories of my teen years, tie-dyed clothes and hippies.




Two weeks ago, I participated in the Pennsylvania Tea Festival in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.  The literary corner at the festival featured authors of cozy mysteries.  After my presentation and chat with readers, I signed copies of my cozy mysteries.  But I couldn't leave the festival without enjoying tea service on the outdoor patio.  I also roamed around the inside of the tea room and spotted an adorable bear couple enjoying tea in a basket on the dining room wall. 


Teddy bears are adorable.  Teddy bears are expressions of our emotions.  Teddy bears hold precious memories.  All of the new technologically innovative toys for children stimulate their senses and help with physical development.  But hugging a special cuddly teddy bear offers comfort, companionship and security.  Nothing can beat the image of a child snuggling with his/her favorite childhood stuffed animal while in a deep peaceful sleep.

What was your favorite childhood stuffed animal?  Do you still have it today?

*************

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 9, 2019

National Take your Teddy to work day.


Hi all, Duffy Brown here.
I attended a Murder Mystery Weekend in Marietta Ohio. What a blast. For me the best part of writing is meeting the readers. To celebrate I brought along Sherlock Bear and just had to share a few of the pics.




Sherlock was a total hit. I mean how man times do you see a bear dressed as Sherlock on the bow of a paddlewheeler going down the river?!
Nothing more fun than chatting with readers about cozy mysteries and SB had everyone chatting. Talk about a conversation starter.
Everyone wanted to know where I got SB. Well, since I work at the Snooty Fox here in Cicy...a consignment shop... it came into the store and I felt as if it were destiny. I had to have him.
Getting SB home was something else. I had help getting him into the car and he bearly fit...couldn’t resist. But hauling him around is something else. So I bought a cart and can now propel him along.
He looks a bit like in bondage but if I don’t tie him down he’ll fall over. We sure do get the looks!
Hope you get to see Sherlock Bear in person. We are at bookfairs and of course the annual Mystery Weekend. Next year we’re in Bardstown Ky. I’ll post more on that later.
Have a Beary Happy Day.
Hugs, Duffy






Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Halloween Scare

by Maggie Sefton






For those of you who are new readers of our Cozy Chicks Blog or have just started checking out all the types of murder mysteries we Chicks love to write, I thought I'd post a short, short story that I wrote a while ago featuring the Kelly Flynn characters.  I



t's what I call an "E-Short" because it's only available on Amazon under "Maggie Sefton Books."  It's called  "Halloween Scare."  I hope you enjoy it.  Please let me know.  :)

Monday, October 7, 2019

SUMMER'S NOT SUMMER WITHOUT A TRIP TO THE SHORE

By Mary Kennedy                                             

I don't know about you, but during my childhood a trip to the shore was always one of the highlights of my summers.  Notice I said, "to the shore." I have to admit I never heard that expression until I moved to Delaware. Growing up in New York, we always talked about going to "the ocean," "the beach" or "Rockaway." (Sometimes Jones Beach but the traffic was usually more of a hassle going there.)

The beach pictured above is in Ft. Lauderdale, a winter getaway. Florida was for winter getaways (and sometimes spring and fall) and Rockaway was reserved for the summer.
                                                                                   

Here's a vintage postcard of Rockaway, I love to collect retro postcards of places I've been.



There's something so calming about the ocean. When we lived in North Carolina, the ocean was just a 45 minute drive away. Perfect for last minute Friday night picnics on the beach or Saturday morning dips in the ocean. We went to Emerald Isle which is amazingly built up now and not at all like I remembered. Still appealing, though.
                                                                          

Miles and miles of sandy beaches...
                                                                             

beautiful in all sorts of weather...and a lot of sea grass (which is protected and helps to hold the dunes in place.)

                                                                           

Here's an older photo of Emerald Isle, still a favorite. A nice sandy path leading down to the sea. 


And here's the boardwalk, perfect for strolling and fishing...if you're so inclined.


Maui has fabulous beaches too, another fave winter getaway. Bring lots of snacks and load up your Kindle for the 9 hour flight from the east coast, though.




And Bermuda beaches are lovely. I particular like the St. George's part of the island and we used to swim at a deserted Club Med Beach. 
                                                                                 

Here are a couple of photos I took from the deck of the villa we rented. The path goes right down to the harbor and I used to buy fresh fish for dinner from the fishing boats as they came into port.
                                                                               

                                                                                    

How about you? Do you have a favorite beach getaway? Winter is coming and a beach getaway would be fun! 

Happy travels! Mary Kennedy

Friday, October 4, 2019

Autumn Pleasures

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

I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of fall. The days get shorter and c older and I’m not a fan of cold weather (especially snow and ice) but we don’t get too much of that until January, thank goodness.

I know many people look forward to autumn for pumpkin spice anything. The only pumpkin spice I enjoy is pumpkin bread. I’ve tried literally scores of different varieties of this quick bread, but I’ve never tasted one as good as the recipe I’ve been making since I was 12. To this day, I have never shared it. It makes a crispy crust (which some people don’t enjoy—and I feel sorry for them because it’s even better when toasted) and a moist inside. Back in the day, our local power company used to send out little “cookbooklets.” That’s where I got the recipe. When I became a thrifter, I started collecting them (mostly at estate sales because the people who were lucky enough to get them from RG&E knew they were tried-and true (well-tested) recipes.

But maybe my favorite thing about fall is reacquainting myself with the various afghans that live on the back of my chairs and couches. They aren’t for looks. If I sit down for any length of time, I usually get cold (even in summer because of the air conditioning), so they become my lap robes. I have four granny square afghans in my open-concept living-family room alone. I have several of them at our summer cottage, and you’d be surprised how many chilly days there are when you’re “on the water.”

I have a number of BIG HEAVY afghans my mother crocheted (big enough for a single bed) but Mum did not choose colors that attract me. However, when I was a teen and my grandmother was dying, my mother made her a short lap robe.  After she died, my grandfather gave it back to my Mum. I think she was a little hurt about that, but maybe that was just my impression.

Several years later, I started working at Kodak. When summer came around (I started in January), they really cranked up the air conditioning and I found myself wearing winter clothes to work—and still froze. That’s when Mum hauled out the yellow-green-and-white (and incredibly soft) afghan she’d made for grandma. I too it to work and have been using it ever since. It has traveled with me on winter trips, even to Florida where we did the snowbird thing for a season back in 2017, and lives in our downstairs pub. I’ve had that afghan for more than 30 years and it’s still soft and warm and every time I use it, I think of Mum.

When we got our girls back in February, little Poppy got used to sitting on the afghan on my lap. If I don’t use one, she takes a while to consider whether she want so sit on my lap. But since the cooler weather hit, I’ve been using my afghans and she’s been glued to my lap.

Yup, the return to using my afghans is my favorite part of this time of year.

What’s yours?

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

Happy Book Day to me!  Today, TEA'D OFF, the 6th installment in the Life On Victoria Square series is out.

With the grand relaunch of Victoria Square’s tea shop, Tealicious, just days away, Nona Fiske decides it’s time to sabotage it and its owner, Katie Bonner. With gossip, innuendo, and outright lies, Nona tries to turn the other merchants on the Square against Katie. But Katie has learned how to deal with people like Nona. Can she kill with kindness?

This story takes place between the Victoria Square mystery novels Yule Be Dead and (the upcoming) Murder Ink.

Get your copy today!

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Celebrating Tea and Books

by Karen Rose Smith


I was honored to be asked to participate in this year's Pennsylvania Tea Festival sponsored by The Rosemary House and Gardens and The Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop.  The event was held in the gardens of The Rosemary House.  It featured entertainment, lectures, vendors and, of course, a full-service tea luncheon.


The literary corner hosted six cozy mystery authors who were scheduled over the two day event to give a short presentation followed by a chat session with readers where the authors could answer questions and sign copies of their books.

Each ticket holder received a tea cup when he/she arrived.  The cup was then used throughout their stay at the festival to taste the tea samples that were offered by the vendors.

The mood of the day was light and cheerful and everybody seemed to enjoy the beautiful weather, browse the tea products and learn more about tea. The chef at Rosemary House even created a pimento spread/cucumber sandwich like the recipe in my recent release, Murder With Cucumber Sandwiches!

I enjoyed the camaraderie with my readers.  Chatting with them reaffirms what I hope to accomplish in my novels and they always give me new perspectives on what my readers like...whether it be shorter chapters, more than one murder or my sleuths' romantic relationships.














My Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries have opened a whole new venue for promoting my books.  It is so enjoyable to sit with my readers, enjoy tea and tasty treats and interact on a much more intimate level than across a table at a bookstore.  I always feel refreshed and renewed after sharing tea 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, October 2, 2019

You hid it where?

Evie Bloomfield here and it’s been a great summer on Mackinac Island...if you don’t mind a dead body or two. None of us including me were that fond of this particular dead person so that’s not the problem. What is a big issue is what to do with the body so that it doesn’t scare off the tourists. 
If there’s one thing all of here on the island do not want to happen is that! Our little chunk of land out that’s a time warp back to the 1800s really relies on the tourists who we affectionately...or maybe not so much... call fudgies.
So our problem is where can I get rid of that pesky old body so the tourists don’t know there’s a murderer afoot? I have a few suggestions and you can tell me which one appeals to you. Keep in mind all of these suggestions require strapping the body to a bike or renting a horse and buggy as Mackinac is without cars!
My first suggestion is to hide the body in Arch Rock. There’re enough bushes there to conceal the corpse and if anyone goes snooping they’ll have to snoop really hard.
Or I could shove the body back in Skull Cave. That place sounds a lot scarier then it is and the cave is actually too small for much stuffing. And there’s the likelihood that the fudgies will think it’s an island attraction, they think everything around here’s an attraction.
Then there’s Fort Mackinac. I saw a pit up at the fort where they put the bad soldier guys back in the day when such things were done. Maybe I should dump the body in there...till it started to stink and I don’t think that will take long.
Saint Ann’s Cemetery is a good choice for body dumping. Another body just fits right in. What’s one dead guy more or less?
The Grand Hotel might work as a place to stash a body. I can just prop it up in one of those rocking chairs on that really looooong front porch they have. I can put a drink in his hand and he’ll look like a guy fallen asleep.
Or maybe I should just push the body off the East Bluff and into Lake Huron. I can weight it down with some rocks. Glug, glug, glug.
Or maybe I can push the body off Shepler’s dock or off the ferry on the ride back to the mainland?
Where should I get rid of the body? Mackinac Island is a great place for more than eating fudge. Some people have a drop-dead good time here and wait till you see where I actually do hid the body. You’ll loooove it!
Hugs, Duffy Brown

Geared For the Grave
First book in Cycle Path mysteries
Berkley Prime Crime
December 2, 2014