Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bridget Nolan

by Sheila Connolly


Fáilte, mo chairde. If you have no Irish, that’d be ‘welcome, my friends.’ I’m happy to welcome you into my home. Please, sit down and enjoy some tea and the brown bread there—I made it meself.




I’m Bridget Nolan, and I live in Knockskagh, a townland in West Cork. I won’t trouble you with explainin’ what a townland would be, but I can tell you that it’s small, no more than twenty houses now, as well as a few that no one’s lived in fer a long time. I came here when I married, some sixty years ago, and I’ve no wish to live anywhere else. How could I leave all my friends behind? My grandson Mick is after me to move in with his sister, but she has noisy children and little room to spare, so I’d rather be where I am. I have Mick lookin’ out fer me, makin’ sure I have food and the electric and phone are all right.

Mick’s been workin’ at Sullivan’s pub in the town (Leap, that’d be) fer years now, but it was this past spring that old Mick Sullivan (yes, there’d be a lot of Michaels around here, and across the country as well) passed away and left the pub to this young American, Maura Donovan. Left her his house as well, just up the lane from me. Poor girl—she didn’t know which way was up when she first arrived. But I knew her grandmother, years ago when she lived here, so I’ve been looking out fer Maura, and I told Mick to do the same, while Maura was learning about the runnin’ of the pub. She’s a good girl and works hard, and I think she’s gettin’ the hang of things.


She’s also found a good friend, or maybe more than a friend, in Sean Murphy, a young garda in Skibbereen. Oh, garda means he’s a policeman, I guess you’d say. She probably wouldn’t have met him were it not fer the murders that have happened lately. Most times it’s peaceful here—murder is a rare thing in Ireland, let me tell you—but people bein’ what they are, there’s the occasional crime, and Maura’s found herself in the middle of more than one. I’m hopin’ that won’t drive her back to Boston—I’d miss havin’ her around. 




You'll be seeing more of Bridget and Mick and Maura in An Early Wake, but you'll have to wait until February 2015.

But for those of you who need a taste of Ireland while you wait, I've written a short story called Under The Hill, set in Ireland, which will be available free for all e-platforms, starting this week. I'm still working out a few details, but it's already up on:

and will be up shortly on Amazon

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Gingerbread House Poltergeist, Part Two

by Maddie Briggs, pursuer of killers… and poltergeists.
From THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Visit Livie and me in Cookies and Scream, our latest sleuthing adventure
Read Part One

I think most folks who know me would agree that I—Maddie Briggs, Pursuer of Criminals and Baker Extraordinaire—am not easily spooked. I am normally at my baking best in the middle of the night, yet for the past month I’ve grown increasingly nervous. I jump at the whirring sound my stand mixer makes when I turn it on.

It’s two a.m., and it’s just you and me in the Gingerbread House kitchen. So let me say this right up front. I am practically positive we have a poltergeist hanging out here. Okay, not actually in the kitchen, but there’s definitely something going on in the wall. Just noises so far… no bags of flour flying through the air. I haven’t seen the stand mixer levitate, although I don’t know what happens when I’m not here.

Let me give you some background. One month ago today, five cookie cutters disappeared from our extraordinarily fabulous gingerbread house display. The shapes were: cat, eight-petal flower, skull, pumpkin, and haunted house.

The next day, the missing cookie cutters reappeared among the tombstones behind the gingerbread house. The cutters looked pristine. We put them back where they belonged. They haven’t moved since, although someone bought the cat-shaped cutter.

Three customers were in the store when the cutters disappeared and again when they reappeared. I can’t think of a good reason for any one of them to play such a trick on us, and I am a champion imaginer!

•    Binnie Sloan, editor of the local newspaper, who might play a trick on us out of spite, but nothing so subtle and inexplicable.
•    Lenora Dove habitually steals food off plates that don’t belong to her, but cookie cutters aren’t actually edible.
•    Heather Irwin, our local librarian, once returned a dime to us because she said we had undercharged her. Besides, she is too shy and sensitive to play a trick on us.

So I’ve been reading a book from the library about poltergeists, and I’m convinced we’ve got one. You know, a ghost that likes to play tricks. Livie would roll her eyes if I told her, so I haven’t. I did report the bumping sounds to Lucas, my otherwise adoring and worshipful husband, but now he’s worried about my sanity. So I didn’t mention the crying and screeching.

There, did you hear that? It was sort of a moan, like a tortured soul lamenting the evil it perpetrated in life. Okay, that’s it. I’m getting to the bottom of this. I’ve already checked every inch of the storage room, which is on the other side of the wall. I don’t care if it is two a.m., I’m going out to the alley to look for clues like… I don’t know, ectoplasm?

I’m armed with a flashlight plus a brand new confectioner’s knife hidden under my jacket. You never know when I might need to cut through some really thick crust.

Geez, it’s getting cold out here.

Uh oh. I’m not alone.

“Maddie? Is that you? You scared me. It’s me… Heather. I’m just… um.” She was holding a board.

“Heather, why on earth are you slinking around the alley holding that board? Is that a nail sticking out of one end? Should I be terrified?”

Heather giggled, presumably a hopeful sign. “I can explain,” she said. “Honestly, I’m not breaking in or anything. This board came loose. I was just putting it back, so the cold air stays outside where it belongs.”

I heard a screeching sound, followed by a… meow? “Was that a cat?” Then I noticed a small container behind Heather, close to the wall. I lowered my knife. “Please tell me there isn’t a colony of feral cats inside that wall.”

“Well, technically, not entirely feral. The mom was once a pet, I think. I’m sorry, Maddie, I should have told you. I found the mom and her newborn kittens in the bushes, and it was getting cold, so I sort of loosened this board to let them find shelter. And they aren’t really in the wall. They’re, um, in your cellar, at the foot of some earthen steps. I’m guessing there used to be a cellar door here. I knew Livie never went down there, so I didn’t think it would matter. Pretty soon I can take the kitties to Chatterley Paws, so they can be adopted. I’ve been slipping food inside. See?”

I peeked through a small opening and saw a black and white mom with three kittens. My heart went all gooey. “I promised Aunt Sadie a kitten when she moves to our mother-in-law addition,” I said. “So dibs on the little tortie.”

Heather grinned. “Done.” She pointed toward the mother cat. “I’ve been bringing them food, so the mom wouldn’t need to go out hunting.”

I saw a very familiar shape near the mom. “Heather, is that food in the shape of a cat? Is that why you bought the cookie cutter?”

“Yes! I had so much fun shaping the food. I promise to clean up all the half eaten ones as soon as the kitties are gone.”

I aimed my flashlight at some half-eaten, dried-up chunks of cat food. “That looks like the top of a skull. And over there… that’s part of an eight-petal flower. Those are two shapes that disappeared from our gingerbread house display. They reappeared the next morning. Heather, did you…?” I let the question hang.

Heather grimaced. “I’m really sorry, Maddie. I never do things like that, but I didn’t have any cutters, and I so wanted the kitties to feel pampered, and… I felt so guilty. I cleaned and returned the cutters right away. I bought the cat shape because I really liked it. I’ll call the sheriff and turn myself in, I promise, just as soon as the kittens are safely at the shelter.”

“Totally unnecessary,” I said. “You’ve resolved a mystery and cured my poltergeist paranoia. Put that board back in place and come inside. I feel like celebrating with warm cider and Halloween cookies.”

SUBMITTED BY VIRGINIA LOWELL

Virginia Lowell is the author of COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, ONE DEAD COOKIE, and COOKIES AND SCREAM.
Visit Virginia at: www.virginialowell.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Put Your Party Hats and Dancing Shoes On!

 
Hi, it’s Kath Rutledge - greetings from Blue Plum, Tennessee. Ardis Buchanan, Mel Gresham, Ernestine O’Dell, Joe Dunbar, and Thea Green are here, too. (And Geneva the ghost!) Everybody wave! Okay, that’s great.

We’re all excited because our next book – our fourth book – Plagued by Quilt – comes out in a little more than a week, and when you read it, you are in for some fun. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Thea, our town librarian gets Library Journal and she found a review of the book. Here are our favorite lines from the review: “The fourth entry (after Spinning in Her Grave) in MacRae’s series is full of loving crafting details and quirky, sassy characters. If you like mysteries about life in a small town, this is the series for you.” Isn’t that the nicest thing to hear?

Now, it’s possible the Spivey twins will show up any minute, so before they do, we wanted to let you all know about two Facebook parties coming up where you can meet our author and some of her friends (including Diane Vallere, author of Suede to Rest, the first book in the new Material Witness Mysteries), play games, listen to music, exchange recipes, and win prizes.

Both parties are the evening of Tuesday, November 4th. One is celebrating the release of our book, Plagued by Quilt, and Diane Vallere’s Suede to Rest. It’s from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time. The second party is a holiday recipe exchange from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. eastern time, and features authors Amy Alessio, Mel Jolly, Sarah M. Anderson, Anne Ylvisaker, Susan Miura, and our author Molly MacRae. Molly’s going to be a little busy that night, so you might want to stop by just to see if she maintains her sanity! How do you get to the parties? Click the party invitations and you'll be whisked over to the Facebook pages like magic.


We hope to see you the night of the 4th, and we hope to see you soon in the pages of Plagued by Quilt!

https://www.facebook.com/events/615312048591154/
https://www.facebook.com/events/283709165172501/


The award-winning, national-bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries are available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio wherever books are sold.

Visit Molly MacRae on Facebook and Pinterest, or find her the first Monday of each month at Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts.





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saving the Best for Last

By:Loden Greene
Book: Maple Mayhem
Author:Jessie Crockett
Series:The Sugar Grove Mysteries

Autumn is my favorite season but not for the same reason the rest of my family loves it. Of course, the foliage in Sugar Grove is spectacular and the cool weather brings on a bout of baking enthusiasm in my grandmother that gladdens the heart. But the reason I love autumn is that is the perfect time to work in my train room.

Way back in the 1920s, during the Egyptology craze, one of my forefathers built a pyramid shaped addition onto the house. Unfortunately, he neglected to install a cooling system or even any windows. During the summer, the climate in the train room is absolutely sweltering and I can't bring myself to work in there much past sun-up. That doesn't leave much time to work on my Sugar Grove model village.

It has taken me several years but I've almost completed the entire town in miniature.The only two buildings that need completing are the opera house and the Stack Shack. As long as nothing unusual crops up, like another murder in our sleepy little town, I may just get the entire project finished before the last leaf blows of the trees. The opera house just needs a few last touches and then I can begin on the Stack Shack. Don't tell my sister, Dani, that I've saved the best for last. She keeps trying to get me to make my interest in the Stack's owner, Piper Wynwood, more obvious but every time I try I just get tongue-tied. Piper loves her restaurant at least as much as I love my trains and model village. Maybe, just maybe, if I invite her to the train room to see the completed miniature she'll finally really see me too.

Readers, what are your favorite things about fall? Any seasonal plans you are looking froward to?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No Mallets Intended Blog Party & Giveaway!

Who: Jaymie Leighton
From: No Mallets Intended
Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Released: November 4th, 2014

There's a strange wind blowing through Queensville, and I don't like it. Folks are bickering and arguing about the oddest things, especially at heritage society meetings! We're supposed to be planning the refurbishing of the former Dumpe House, now the Queensville Historic Manor, in time for the December festival we call Dickens Days.

I've always loved Dickens Days, and was excited a few years ago when I started to participate after I joined the heritage society. During the annual December festival we make much of Queensville's Victorian feel and connection to all things Victorian. This year should be even cooler, with the new historic home opening!

Or it would be if we could get moving on it! We can't even get people to agree on the right color to paint a parlor wall, much less what to do about the leaky plumbing.

It doesn't help that I don't like the writer they hired to whip up a pamphlet on the house, though I like the other guy who tried out for the job even less.

But... I wouldn't give up this task for anything, no matter what! I get to work on the kitchen all on my own, and you know what that means: more antique sales and junk shops and auctions! A Hoosier cabinet to hunt for, antique kitchen implements to catalog, including the largest collection of kitchen mallets I've ever seen!

It is kind of eerie to be out at the house alone late at night, though, even with Hoppy for company. The whole house creaks and moans, especially at his time of year, with a chill wind blowing up in the attic and outside, sending gusts of dead leaves scuttering around the property. I keep hearing noises, like somebody walking along the second floor hall. A more timid gal would have cut and run, but not me. There is nothing going on of a spectral nature, that I can guarantee you. I always look for the logical explanation, like the house is settling, or the furnace is kicking in. Or... is there actually someone up there, moving around? I hope not. What would they want in an old house anyway?

As long as no one gets murdered, I'll be good.

I'm trying to convince myself I'm not nervous, anyway. Are you susceptible to fits of the nerves when you hear strange sounds?




About No Mallets Intended

Jaymie Leighton is excited and a little nervous about her current big venture, completely redoing the kitchen at Dumpe House—now the Queensville Historic Manor—in time for the opening in late November. But the house is mired in controversy, a challenge to the heritage society’s right to own it, and questions about the author hired to write a pamphlet detailing the Dumpe family history and that of the house.

None of Jaymie’s business, so she keeps her head down and her focus on the exact color right for the kitchen, and assembling all the accouterments, including a Hoosier cabinet! She’s also got lots to think about in her personal life with Daniel acting a little odd, and her friend Heidi dragging her in to the trouble between her and her fiancé, Jaymie’s former boyfriend Joel.

But a late night whack on the head with one of the antique mallets Jaymie has been cataloging for the society and a dreadful murder right on the house’s doorstep draws her once again into murder and mayhem. Jaymie faces her most cunning and dangerous opponent yet, but with Hoppy and Valetta by her side and the police chief’s approval, she knows she will figure out whodunit before they do it again!





No Mallets Intended 
Release Party Giveaway!

I'm choosing among ALL who comment on this blog entry and giving away two great packages! 

Package 1 will have one set of audio CDs of the first three books of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, as well as a paperback copy of No Mallets Intended, a cozy mystery tote and pen. 

Package 2 will hold the tote, pen, a copy of No Mallets Intended, AND a hardback book entitled Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, a fascinating look at the way dinner preparation and serving changed in that decade. Both packages will have as a bonus a copy of Muffin But Murder, Book 2 of my Merry Muffin Mysteries!

So... comment to enter to win WITH some version of your email address! I will choose a first place to win Package 1, and second place to win Package 2




Follow Victoria!

Website: (soon to be updated) http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com

Vintage Kitchen Mysteries on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VintageKitchenMysteries

Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

Monday, October 20, 2014

Howloween and Ghosts




Holly Miller blogs

for the Paws & Claws Mysteries

by Krista Davis









There's a legend in Wagtail about Becca Wraith, whose raven locks tumbled down her back, and whose eyes were said to be bluer than the twilight sky of the harvest moon. In the 1800s, Becca had two suitors, and it didn't end well for either of them. They're said to haunt the abandoned Wagtail Springs Hotel. Loads of people in Wagtail claim to have seen their ghosts.

When my cousin Josh and I visited our grandmother, Oma, at the Sugar Maple Inn as kids, Josh was always spooked by the legend. He refused to sleep by himself! But I never believed in ghosts. I'm not sure why. I guess you could call me a "show me" type of person.

Wagtail goes all out for Howloween. Skeletons, vampires, mummies, spiders, and witches are just everywhere. There's a hayride through haunted woods, a bonfire, apple bobbing for dogs and people, canine and feline trick-or-treating, ghostly feather agility games for cats, a celebration in the creepy old cemetery, and a costume ball! It's all in good fun, but I can barely keep up with the events.

This week, the Sugar Maple Inn is hosting the Apparition Apprehenders, who are here to see Becca's ghost for themselves. They brought along a ghost debunker, whom I like a lot. She's very sensible and grounded.

I'm trying not to poo-poo the ghost hunters. We have to be respectful of our guests. Besides, this is the time of year when it's fun to pretend that ghosts and goblins exist. Right?

But the ghost hunters are some pretty well-educated guys. I'm surprised that they think ghosts are real. My grandmother and her best friend believe in ghosts, too. They're sharp ladies, which makes me wonder if I'm overlooking something.

What do you think? Are ghosts real? Have you seen one?


 

The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer won't be in stores until December 2nd, but I have one advance review copy with an ugly orange cover to give away today. To enter, leave a comment here by midnight October 21st with your email address so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!



Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Lucky Dog Speaks


by Pluckie, Rory Chasen's dog in the Superstition Mysteries memorialized by Linda O. Johnston

Rrrrrf.  Er, excuse me.  I'm new at this.

My name is Pluckie, and I hope I'm doing this in a way that's understandable to people.  I'm a dog, you see.  I'm told that I'm a spaniel-terrier mix.  My coloration is mostly black, but my paws and tails are white.  And that's one of the reasons for what happens in the first Superstition Mystery, Lost Under A Ladder.

Why does my coloration matter?  Well, I wouldn't have known it, but for humans to see a black and white dog when they're on the way to a business meeting is supposed to be good luck for them.

All I did know was that, when I was with my human Rory Chasen when she was trying to visit a bookstore in the town of Destiny, California, I smelled and heard something wrong next door, in the Lucky Dog Boutique.

No, it wasn't rotten dog food or anything like that.  It was a person, and my senses said there was something wrong.

I dragged Rory to that shop, and we found a sick human, Martha, lying in the back room.  She was conscious enough to get all excited to see me.  Martha soon told Rory she was going to be just fine, since seeing a black and white dog on the way to a business meeting is good luck.

What is luck--good or bad?  I don't exactly know, but I gathered from listening to Rory that the whole town of Destiny revolves around something called superstitions.  That's supposed to be things humans can do to try to control their fates, like if they knock on wood or cross their fingers and stuff like that.

Me?  Well, I can't cross my toes on my paws easily.  I don't knock on wood, either.  I see and smell a lot of things they call heads-up pennies on the sidewalks of Destiny, but I'm afraid I'd accidentally swallow one if I tried to pick it up in my mouth.  I've licked a couple, and they don't taste good--not like good meat or even tasty kibble.

Anyway, I didn't mind when Rory decided to stay in Destiny for a while, and I liked all the attention I get from people when they learn I'm good luck and helped to save Martha's life.  She's a nice lady.

The thing is, I also sensed something wrong in the back room of another shop, the Broken Mirror Bookstore next to the Lucky Dog Boutique.  The person lying there didn't wake up and thank me and call me good luck.

He never woke up again.  And what I'd smelled was his blood.

Time for me to go outside for a romp, and more.  If you want to know more about what happened, Rory says you'll need to read Lost Under a Ladder.  She also says it may be good luck to read it--especially when that strange human holiday called Halloween is soon.

  

LOST UNDER A LADDER, the first Superstition Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, is available now!