Friday, September 20, 2019

Overwhelmed!

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

I will admit it -- I'M OVERWHELMED.

Why?

Work. Work. WORK!

I'm currently juggling wayyyyyy too many projects.  They are:

Booktown #14: A Manuscript for Murder|
Victoria Square #7 (not yet titled)
A women's Fiction book (resurrecting it. I started it before I sold Booktown #1)
A WWII story I write long before I was published, but reads pretty good today
Promo for Tea'd Off -- coming out October 4th
Still promoting A Killer Edition,

So, I'm working on projects for all three of my author names.


And -- and -- I'm contemplating finally finishing the 3rd book in the Tales of Telenia trilogy, which has been on hold for the past 3-4 years. (Why? Lack of sales. But it's BUGGING me to finish it, anyway.)

Instead of feeling elated, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I want to work on all of these projects, but I also worry I'm never going to be able to finish all of them before the end of the year. I have a firm deadline on one: A Manuscript for Murder, but I'm already behind because I should have submitted a synopsis long before now. (And because I didn't--I'm not getting paid.)

And still, while I'm overwhelmed, I'm also excited. There was a time, after I'd finished my fifth novel, I went through a period of writers block where I had no ideas. That was 27 books and and 38 short stories ago.

Mr. L often marvels...all this stuff came out of my imagination.  Yeah, it amazes me, too.

Which of my series (or stories) is your favorite?




Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Golden Memory

by Karen Rose Smith


I can remember as a child, one of the perks of going to the grocery store with my parents was to choose a Golden Book from the revolving rack near the front of the store.  I had quite a collection of them...from children's stories to classic fairy tales to career oriented topics.  There were over 200 titles in the Little Golden Library to choose from and many of them are still in my personal library.  In my recent cleaning out our cluttered closets frenzy, I came across the box and had to sit for a while to reflect on the childhood memories they brought back to life.  Our son also enjoyed the books, although they were already somewhat dated by that time.

I also remember watching Roy Rogers, Sky King and Flipper every Saturday morning.  Broadcast in black and white, they were great alternate viewing to Saturday morning cartoons.  I also loved the Roy Rogers Tell-a-Tale books.  He was one of my early heroes.


It was a special treat when I received a pop-up book as a gift.  They were the equivalent of animation in today's ebooks for kids.  Many of my pop-up books were holiday stories.


Since my mom was a third grade teacher, she kept me supplied in The First Book series that was also popular with her students.  Our son enjoyed them too.  These books were the way children learned facts out of their realm of experience before they went to encyclopedias.  Recently I asked which books my son wanted me to keep and this series was among those he chose.


He also chose to keep the Hardy Boys series.  I grew up with the Hardy Boys, as well as Nancy Drew.  There is no doubt that these sleuths were the early inspiration for my cozy mystery sleuths--Caprice De Luca (Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mysteries) and Daisy Swanson (Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries).


These books brought back many "golden" memories.  Did you read them too?


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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What took you so long

If your pet could talk…
In my Consignment Shop series I have a dog, Bruce Willis, named after the obvious. The rescue pup got this name because of his mangled ear and scruffy appearance. Bruce Willis just fit.  
In real life have two cats Dr. Watson and Spooky and the other night I had a dream were Dr. Watson could talk. See, this is what happens when you OD on spice cookies. The thing is, my reaction in my dream wasn’t surprise like Holy cow you can talks much as What took you so long?I think his reply was Well up until now everything’s been okay. 

So this got me thinking, what if your pet could talk? What would his story be? What would he say?
Watson is a big gray long-hair cat. The jury is still out on the big part being genetic or from the fact that I give him too many treats because he is so darn cute. He is adorable, totally friendly to one and all.
When someone comes into the house he goes to greet them. He purrs and blinks his big green eyes. He is not a watch-cat so much as the welcoming committee. He loves ham…I think that’s because he is one.
If he could talk this is probably what he would say…
Dr. Watson here with my staff, that would be Duffy Brown. I have her so wrapped around my little paw. All I do is look cute and she coughs up the treats. But life wasn’t always this great, I got dumped in a DQ parking lot. I  made pitiful kitten sounds and looked pathetic and Duffy came along and  gave me her cookie-dough ice cream cone. Talk about an easy touch. She named me Dr. Watson. Her license plate is Sherlock. Personally I think the girl needs therapy.  
Next week you’ll hear from Spooky,
Have a wonderful September
Hugs, Duffy 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Are Your Pets Getting Older?

by Maggie Sefton


Katy and Maggie

Now that I'm back in Fort Collins, Colorado, I'll let Tammie at the Doggie Ranch  know that I'll be picking up my sweet Katy dog, Black Border Collie/Black Lab mix.   Katy is totally content staying with Tammie at the Doggie Ranch.  She has her own room space with a comfy soft bed, just perfect for "older" doggie bones and doggie arthritis.  And a doggie "heater."

As I've mentioned on the Cozy Chicks Blog earlier this year, Katy was celebrating her 16th Birthday. She moves a little slower but not much.  Whenever she steps outside in her Fort Collins backyard here, the feisty little neighbor dog starts barking and yapping.  I've never figured out if he's in a good mood or not.  Katy doesn't seem to care and pays him scant attention.

While he was alive, my beloved Hound Dog Max loved to race across the yard and bark at Little Yappy Dog, so I figure he thought it was fun.  Katy also has two very sociable doggies on  either side of her yard-----Boxer mix Ginger on one side and Mastiff/Lab Boss on the other side.    Ginger is a lot quieter because she  doesn't get out into the yard as often.


I'm a big believer in allowing our animals, especially doggies, outside play time.  Sunshine and fresh air keeps them healthy.  I actually remember a Vet, head of a university Small Animal clinic in another state, tell me that a dog's coat will change with the amount of fresh air and sunshine the dog is exposed to.  The more sunshine and fresh air, the healthier and shinier the dog's coat.  I always thought that fascinating.  I think we all benefit from fresh air and sunshine.

Daughter Serena and Jeff's  Mastiff mix Boss, begging.  :)

Of course, I'm very much aware that these next few years will probably bring even more life changes to my dear Katy dog.  But, at least I never have to worry about traveling back to see Family so frequently.   Tammie has always spoiled Katy thoroughly with special treats and her own little "doggie heater" in her room along with the comfy soft bed.  :)   So Katy is treated very well indeed.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A SHINING CITY ON A HILL

by Mary Kennedy                                               

                                                                             

"A shining city on a hill" is how Ronald Reagan described Washington and I've always loved that quote. I've been visiting Washington for the past few days and will continue with my blog next Monday. Stay tuned to read about Route 66 next time!

Have a wonderful week, everyone.


Mary

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Spotlight Saturday

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!

Coming October 4th ... Tea's Off.

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) Killer Ink.




Friday, September 13, 2019

What about all that plastic?

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

As a society, we use a lot of plastic. I just have to look at my the desk in front of my keyboard and at least 75% of the stuff on it is plastic. For example, pens, the microphone I need for Google Hangouts with writer friends, ChapStick, glue stick, tape dispenser (not to mention the tape in it). Hand cream container, spray bottle (for when the cats chew my cords), notebook covers (I like to use yellow legal pads for a number of things and have at least two on my desk at all times). My phone charging cord, my mouse, the remotes for my stereo and little TV (which I hardly ever use).My checkbook cover. The modem and the router shells are all plastic. And that's just on my desktop. 

If you've seen the heartbreaking photos of sea life entangled and killed by plastic that's floating around in our oceans, then you know we've got a very big problem. Fish and other sea life end up eating plastic and when we eat them, we end up with plastic inside us, too. (Ick!)

What's the answer to our plastic problem is a video produced by Greenpeace and it brings up the complexities of ridding ourselves of plastic. "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world and is located between Hawaii and California. The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France." That's a lot of plastic in the ocean--and in one specific spot. It's a big world, and that's not the only place where plastic has accumulated,

What can I, as a person, do to end my consumption of plastic? Well, for one--I'm not buying any more plastic wrap. Sorry, Saran Wrap, yer done. In it's place, I'm trying to (and not always succeeding) use all those plastic containers I already have, and I'm using waxed paper (in bags and in rolls). Also, when I get food (say cookies), I'm keeping them fresh by keeping them in their original (usually plastic) wrap, and using rubber bands to keep the air out and freshness in.

The Dollar Tree is a great store for all kinds of stuff ... but most of it's plastic. I have curtained my visits to the Dollar Tree so I won't be dazzled by cheap stuff that I don't need.

No more buying home decor items at retail. Nope. I'm a thrifter. I've bought most of my faux flowers at yard sales and have decided that there are too many items I can buy used so that I don't contribute to buying "new" plastic household stuff. Need replacement jewel cases for my CDs? (Yes, I still listen to CDs--and HORRORS! Books on (actual) tape!) I buy yard sale replacements.

One of the worst plastic offenders is the "carrier" bags we get at the grocery store. Mr. L and I both have small totes in our cars that (neatly) contain our reusable bags. I even take them to Walmart and Dollar General where I buy my cat food (Nine Lives and Friskies.)

New York State, where I live, is banning them as of March 1st, 2020. It's a good thing, but I will miss them for certain things. (Like picking out the large lumps from the cat box.) When we do end up with carrier bags, they always get double duty. It's rare that a bag will come home from the store and get thrown away. And when we are ready to throw them away, they go into a bigger bag and taken to the grocery store and their recycle bins.

We can all make little changes to how we live that will make us less dependent on plastic. I'd love to hear how you are doing it. Please share in the comment section below.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Finding Neverland

by Karen Rose Smith



Last weekend my husband and I traveled to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater for dinner and a show.  The theater, now in its 33rd year, is located in the heart of Amish country in southeastern Pennsylvania...the setting of my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mysteries.  The theater seats over 300 and features a full buffet and table seating for the show.

I wasn't familiar with the play, but knew I could expect a masterful performance after having visited the theater earlier in the summer for their production of Camelot.  Having seen Camelot many times before, I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh perspective the company provided for the classic story.

I was aware that Finding Neverland was about Peter Pan, but as a writer, I was particularly able to identify with the writer's block that threatened J. M. Barrie's career.  Now on tour across the U.S., the play is about the famous playwright and his relationship with a widow and her three children who inspired him to create Peter Pan.  It is filled with joy, sorrow, pathos, laughter, wonder and hope.  It is well worth experiencing and difficult to explain the impact it can leave on your psyche.  Parents, children and artists will be able to identify.  

And the dog, who was totally adorable, stole the show more than once!


It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening--good food, a wonderful setting and a great performance.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

JUST DO IT!

Duffy Brown here talking about learning new stuff and one of the ways to do that is learn something new so I took up Mahjongg. I like it but I don’t think it likes me. In case you’re wondering what the heck is Mahjongg is, it’s that game with the tiles. I think I like it because I like the clink of the tiles. It really makes you think that’s for sure. It’s not Bridge thinking....I have no idea how people play Bride. I used to play party Bridge but that was mostly talking about gardens, kids and have you tried that new lipstick that stays on for all eternity. 



Then there was that time I took Italian classes. It wasn’t that the class was so bad but that I was so bad at it. I just stink at languages. I think some people have a language brain and can pick up languages way better than others. I quit the class half way through as I got soooo far behind. When they started conjugating verbs I knew I was way over my head.
I just finished taking two cooking classes. One was terrific the other horrid. Hard to believe that a cooking class can be that bad but it was and I didn’t even bother to bring home the recipes.
Then there was the good cooking class!! It was one of those classes where the chef did the cooking as a demo while we all watched. Usually I like the hands-on cooking classes where we in the class cook the food but this was good in that we got to see how the pros do it. I learned a lot just watching him.
Here is the slowcooker pork shoulder recipe: 4# bone in pork shoulder with s&p browned on all sides. Add coarse chopped onion, celery, carrots, 2 cups red wine, 3 bay leaves and cook for 6 hrs. Yummmmmm!!
I’ve taken Zumba for years and that’s kind of a class as I show up and the instructor take us though the routines to the music, and I’ve gone to makeup parties where you learn your colors and learn how to put on makeup. Let me tell you a makeup brush is the key to good makeup.
I went to CPR class that was really good and scared the heck out of me. I passed put said a prayer when I left of Oh dear Lord, please do not let anyone’s life depend on my ability to perform CPR! I would do it but would be scared spitless.
So what about you? Attend any classes? A good one? One that sucked? Maybe you taught a class? What did you teach?
Here’s to learning new stuff.
Hugs, Duffy 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Looking Back

by Maggie Sefton






I realized I had not mentioned my suspense mystery DEADLY POLITICS in a while.
It's the first in a trilogy.  And our Cozy Chicks Blog attracts new readers and visitors regularly.  So----here's a brief glimpse.


Welcome to Molly Malone’s world----

Politics is a blood sport in Washington, DC, and only the strongest survive.    Like the politicians she’s rubbed shoulders with for a lifetime, Molly Malone is smart and tough and savvy enough to stay out of trouble---most of the time.  However, trouble has a way of finding Molly.

Years ago, Molly Malone was driven from Washington, DC by political back-stabbing, scandals, and personal heartbreak.  But now, circumstances have forced her to start a new life in the one place she swore she’d never return to—the city that broke her heart---and face the ghosts and the enemies from her past.

As the daughter of a respected United States Senator and once the wife of a rising star young Congressman, Molly has seen it all in Washington politics
---the cynics, the sincere, and the schemers. But the brutal murder of her Congressional staffer niece brings Molly up close with Washington’s darker side. “The beautiful monuments and parks are deceiving.  Washington can be ugly.”  How ugly, Molly’s about to find out.  There are other schemers out there who may not have won elections, but are more powerful than the politicians they ensnare.   

Monday, September 9, 2019

THERE REALLY IS AN ENCHANTED LAND

By Mary Kennedy                                                 

When I visited New Mexico last week, I was struck by the picture postcard scenery. Majestic mountains, wide open spaces, skies painted with the whole palette of southwestern colors,  ranging from scarlet and gold to deep violet. And sunsets to rival those in Key West.  Pine trees, desert shrubs and dramatic rock formations have inspired New Mexico artists for centuries.                                                           
                                                                                 
                                                                         

The architecture was so interesting and so different from the styles popular here on the east coast. I loved the adobe houses in sandy colors with their exposed beams and rustic charm.
                                                                                 
                                                                                     



People think of the desert as flat and devoid of plants, but desert plants have their own charm and I love the idea that they are drought resistant. Home owners are encouraged to plant desert type plants in their yards, they are not only beautiful but you rarely have to water them.
                                                                             

                                                                                 


And if you thought the desert landscape was devoid of flowers, think again!

 


A road trip is always an adventure in the southwest, because you'll find an exciting vista around every curve in the road. 

Snow capped mountains were a surprise and reminded me of Switzerland. 

Next week, I'll feature Route 66, a bucket list road trip that has always enticed me!

By Mary Kennedy, happy travels!
                                                                                  
                      

Friday, September 6, 2019

The weather has already turned

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

Here in Western NY, the weather has already turned. The days might be lovely and warm, but when I sit in my enclosed porch in the evening, I can't stay there longer than 6 or 6:30. Why? Because once the sun sinks below the arborvitae that flanks the west side of my yard, the air begins to feel cool and clammy. It used to be this happened in August. With global warming, it's happening 3-4 weeks later, which is okay for personal comfort, but another example that things on this planet are changing. And fast.

I spend a good part of the day in my enclosed porch writing. On Wednesday, I not only had my big sweater on, but I also considered going inside and snagging a lap robe because the temps were in the mid-60s. Yesterday they were in the low 70s, but by 6 I could already feel the cool envelop me and say, "It might be warm inside, but it's also dry."

Another sign of encroaching fall?  It's dark when I get up. Okay, I'm liable to get up anywhere between 4 and 6 am, but the other day it was gloomy (and we had a thunderstorm) and it didn't get really bright until almost 8.  I'll start using my SAD light any day now.

I love my porch. Like I said, I get a lot of writing done out there. But this summer was hot. REALLY HOT, and it was more than a little uncomfortable to sit out there and write. Therefore, I really only had the last four or five weeks to really enjoy the "room." For some reason, I find it really hard to write in my home office, so I will probably end up in our family room that overlooks the pool (which will be closed in just another week). It's just not the same.

How does the end of summer effect your life?


Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Rare Find

by Karen Rose Smith


I was cleaning out drawers this week and found an old copy of Woman's Day magazine which was dated August 1947.  I enjoyed leafing through the magazine.  It brought back memories of products that my parents used as I was growing up.  I also noticed that some things have not changed through the years.  Women have always been interested in fashion, home decorating and food.  The table of contents featured articles and short stories.  Other categories included Needlework, Home Decoration, Fashion and Beauty, Food and other departments such as News and Gossip and the HOW TO section.

I snapped some photos of  some of the articles and ads in this issue.  Do you remember these products?






The needlework section featured an article on Pineapple Crochet.  My grandmother created crocheted items similar to these.



The article in the Home Decoration and Workshop section was titled "Where No One Ever Lived Before."  It showed photos of the upper level of a small barn in Pennsylvania which was transformed into living quarters for three.  It reminded me of the barn that my sleuth, Daisy Swanson, in the Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mystery series, transformed into her house when she moved back to Willow Creek Pennsylvania to start her tea garden business.  She also remodeled the upper floor of her garage into a small living quarters for her daughter Vi, her son-in-law Foster and their son, little Sammy.


The Fashion section featured clothes for the grade-school girl.  The article showed clothes that could be made from patterns and included a coat and a choice of four outfits to be worn with it.  These are clothes that are similar to some of the outfits I wore as a young student.


It's always fun to find reminders of our past and the products and clothes we grew up with.  Do you remember any of the items I found in my vintage issue of Woman's Day?


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