Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Truth and Consequences

By Evelyn Phillips, Editor, Cabot Cove Gazette

(This is the 25th Anniversay of "Murder, She Wrote" in print. The books started in 1989 with "Gin & Daggers" which introduced the popular character of George Sutherland into Jessica Fletcher's life. Evelyn Phillips made her debut in The Maine Mutiny, book 23 in the "Murder, She Wrote" series and has been a fixture in Cabot Cove ever since. There are now 41 books in print with two more waiting in the wings.)

As one of Jessica Fletcher's friends and favorite foils, I have had the privilege of working with Cabot Cove's most esteemed citizen many times (although sometimes I do have to chase her down for a comment). At our first encounter, she agreed to write an article for the newspaper about our local lobster industry to add color to an issue devoted to Cabot Cove's Lobsterfest, a big event celebrating the delicious crustacean that provides income for residents and draws tourists, the major contributor to our local economy. 

I was a newbie to Cabot Cove although I came from Bangor, which is hardly the other side of the country. Still, in Maine, if you haven't lived in town your entire life, you are considered "from away." I think a lot of small towns are like that. Nevertheless, I buckled down to take publisher Matilda Watson's gossip rag and transform it into a real newspaper. My early efforts at giving folks news instead of pablum raised some hackles--"We only want happy stories"--as well as charges of "yellow journalism." Well, I'm not one to buckle under criticism, so I embraced the phrase and knitted myself a yellow scarf to announce my presence, and set about learning all I could about my new home.
Jessica eventually wrote that article for me, but she had quite an adventure before she was able to sit down at her desk. Someone conked her on the head and towed her out to sea, leaving her on a sinking boat--with a dead body. But intrepid lady that she is, she managed to save the corpse and herself.

That's why I love covering stories in Cabot Cove. There's always something exciting going on when Jessica Fletcher is around. And when there is, you'll find my write-up about it in the Gazette.

We have a special drawing for the last time this summer. It's part of Killer Characters' Cozy Days of Summer giveaway. One lucky commenter can win a certificate naming you or someone you designate an Honorary Citizen of Cabot Cove. Wish I could have gotten one of those when I arrived in town. Might have smoothed my path some. But I seem to be fitting in these days. Good luck!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Pickin’ Peaches—and Wallets

By: Annie Chamovitz

From: The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book 3 Title: Death of an Irish Diva

Summer is here! During June and July, we're celebrating the Cozy Days of Summer by giving away a book every day. Today, you can win a copy of Death of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan. Just leave a comment before midnight — with your email address so Mollie can reach you — to be entered in today's drawing! Also and EXTRA bonus, Mollie is giving away THREE copies of her next book, A CRAFTY CHRISTMAS on Goodreads. Click here to enter.

Summer has been great so far—well, after the pie competition incident (which you can read about in  SCRAPPY SUMMER).

One of the best things about living in Virginia is the produce in the summer. Fresh tomatoes from the garden.  Just picked corn on the cob. And so many kinds of berries and fruit. My favorite part of the season is now‑peaches are here and ohmigoodness I love peaches and all of the delicious things you can make from them, pies, cobblers, jams and my favorite—milkshakes. But for growing boys the best way is to eat them off the tree. Peaches are plenty sweet without the extra sugar

We live near a  pick-your-own peaches orchard. So one day the boys and I decided to pick some peaches. It was a beautiful morning when we set out. The sky was blue and it was not too hot, as Virginia’s summers can be. the drive away from the town of Cumberland Creek toward the mountains was spectacular. The view gave way to open fields and rolling hills.

The scent of peaches in a huge orchard grabs you immediately as you walk out into the orchard.

“The smell tickles my nose,” Sam said.

“I like it,” Ben said, as we strolled down a long row of low peach trees .

The boys and I filled up a few baskets of peaches and placed them into our wagon and then we pulled it to the check out line, where we were shocked to see how much our peaches cost. (And I had thought this would be cheaper than buying them at the local farmer’s market.) Evidently, you pay more for the peaches because you get to “experience” picking them. After I got over the hit to my wallet, I thought it quite ingenious. Imagine you own a peach orchard. Instead of hiring folks to pick peaches, or picking them yourself, you get peach-lovin’ people to pick them on their own—and make them pay for that “privilege.”

Well, my boys and I have a happy memory of the day. Of course I took photos and will be scrapbooking about the day. And I suppose those memories are worth whatever I paid for those peaches. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/molliecoxbryan/boards/

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Feasting on Summer

We're celebrating the Cozy Days of Summer with a daily giveaway through July! Today's winner will get a copy of Crime Rib by Leslie Budewitz. Leave a comment by midnight today -- with your email address, so Leslie can reach you -- for a chance to win!

“Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder…”

Feasting on Summer
by Christine Vandeberg, from The Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

Gad, I love summer. Yes, it’s stunning. From early June to late September, the skies are clear blue most days. Occasionally, a fluffy white cloud — empties from Seattle – drifts on by, high and dry. Eagle Lake beckons boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, even para-sailors. The mountains, carved by the glacial hand of God, reach for the sky and the stars. And oh, the stars. Millions and squillions of them every night.

But best of all, summer is Festival Season. And for a working artist, trying to make a living off paint and canvas, summer is IT. You can travel the state and hit a different festival every weekend. More than one, though I’m rarely crazy enough to do that. And nearly every one features an art fair, with painters, potters, jewelers, basket makers, and more. The Festival of Nations. Mule Days. Homesteader Days. Buzzard Days—honoring ‘nature’s cleaners’. The Strawberry Festival. Rendezvous Days. Pow Wows. Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts. Dog and Grog, celebrating hot dogs and cold beer. Lewis & Clark Reenactments. Music festivals: jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, guitar, Mozart, and more. And on and on—not to mention Huckleberry Days in half a dozen towns, celebrating the tart, purple jewels Montanans fight the bears for every August.

The very best is right here in my hometown. This year, we’re celebrating the 35th Annual Summer Art and Food Festival. I’m sharing a booth with Iggy Ring, my dear friend and mentor. Her abstract oils and my bright acrylics will be a big hit. Our booth is smack dab in front of the Merc, the super-cool local foods market run by my friend Erin Murphy. (Her brother Nick and I were engaged once, but that’s another story.) The crew of the TV show Food Preneurs is in town to film the Fair and the Saturday night steak Grill-off, a friendly competition to see which village chef serves up the best steak.

Come on by. I promise you, it will be killer.

(Paintings by the real Christine Vandeberg. See more at her Etsy shop.)

Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Crime Rib, the second in the series, was published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. Her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. 

For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter. www.LeslieBudewitz.com  Find her on Facebook: LeslieBudewitzAuthor

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting to Know You

by Monica Albertson from
Peg Cochran's Cranberry Cove series

You haven’t met me yet, but you will soon.  I’m going to be the star of the Cranberry Cove series which debuts in August 2015.  I ran a small cafĂ© in Chicago for a couple of years, but when a big chain coffee bar moved in across the street, I went out of business.  My stepbrother Jeff needed help on his cranberry farm in Michigan so I packed up my bags and headed to the mitten state.

Cranberries are a lot of work year round—sanding the bogs in the winter, fertilizing in the spring, keeping the weeds down in the summer and finally harvesting in the fall.  Seeing all the cranberries float to the top of the bog after it’s flooded is a beautiful sight—the colors are so rich.  The berries appear red, but if you look closely, you will see all shades from light pink to almost black.

Cranberry Cove is a charming town right on Lake Michigan with a horseshoe-shaped harbor and lovely beach.  Pastel colored shops line Beach Hollow Road—most of them are for the tourists who flood the town in the summer.  The locals hang out at the Cranberry Cove Diner, and I love Book ‘Em, a bookstore devoted to mysteries. 

You wouldn’t think an idyllic town like this would give rise to murder, would you? 

Author’s note:  We are still working on a title for the first book, and I will keep you posted!  The Cranberry Cove series debuts in August of 2015.  Meanwhile, if you enjoy culinary mysteries, I write the Gourmet De-Lite series set in Connecticut, and under my pen name of Meg London, the Sweet Nothings Lingerie series set in Tennessee. My e-book series “The Lucille Series” is available for all platforms and features middle-aged Jersey housewife Lucille Mazzarella.  I am giving away the second book in the series Unholy Matrimony to one lucky winner!  Just leave a comment below to be entered!  And be sure to check back on Sunday to see if you've won! 

Leave a comment to win!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Picking a Date

by Seth Chapin, from Sheila Connolly's Orchard Mysteries

Coming October 2014
Fall is always a busy time in Granford, Massachusetts, and I’m not talking about the leaf-peepers who clog up the highway through town. At least some of them stop at our still-new restaurant Gran’s (yes, that’s a shameless plug for the place, but the food really is good).

For one thing, it’s harvest season, and that means that Meg Corey, who I plan to marry as soon as she gets around to setting a date, is in the thick of picking the apples in her orchard. Usually she has enough pickers lined up ahead of time, but this year one of them bowed out, through no fault of hers—she’s a good employer and pays a fair wage. Since they’re Jamaican, they need special visas to come and work, so it’s not easy to just drop someone else into the job. All that meant that Meg had to step up and do her share of the picking too.  At least the crop is pretty good this year, considering the recent drought.

Who would have thought that working side by side with the pickers would get her involved in solving a murder?

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m just as busy as Meg, because everybody in town looks at the calendar in September and decides they really have to do all those home renovations they’ve been talking about all year, but now they’ve only got a couple of months before winter. And that’s when they call me. Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to get the work, and I love working on the older (that is, two-hundred-year-old) buildings in Granford, but it would be really nice if I could spread it out over the rest of the year. It was a treat to be asked to help expand the historical society in town (before winter, of course), but even that led to some surprises.

No wonder Meg and I are having a problem making any plans: we don’t have time to think. I can’t wait for winter, when everything will quiet down—I hope.

And the contest goes on! Leave a comment by midnight on 7/25/14 for a chance to win not only a signed copy of Golden Malicious (Orchard Mystery #7) but also this apple-themed wind chime. Be sure to include your email address in the comment so we can get in touch with you if you win.

This picture makes it look huge,
but it's really only a few inches high

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cookies and Scream - Cozy Days of Summer Giveaway

by Maddie Briggs, co-owner of The Gingerbread House

Lately some folks around here have been suggesting I might be obsessively fascinated by murder. I find that notion so irritating I’m beginning to obsess about it. Chatterley Heights may be a small town, but it is close to DC and Baltimore, so there ought to be more interesting topics to discuss. Besides, Livie gets every bit as involved in local mysteries as I do. (That’s Olivia Greyson—she and I run The Gingerbread House.)

What really irks me is when someone accuses me of pining for someone to get murdered! I do not pine. I do adore creating decorated cutout cookies and have been known to stay up most of the night happily baking. Baking makes me happy, but murder definitely does not, no matter what a certain small-town newspaper/blogger might say. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Binnie Sloan.)

Binnie is right about one thing, though—I do adore a mystery. Murder isn’t right. It makes me sad, even if the murdered person wasn’t the most admirable of human beings. But mystery… ah, the thrill of it!

This newest mystery, for instance… It’s all about antique cookie cutters. How could I not be over-the-top thrilled by that?! Yes, a person was murdered, and both Livie and I are determined to see the culprit brought to justice. Wouldn’t you feel the same way?

At the same time, I’m so excited because this mystery is an opportunity to learn all sorts of interesting things about antique cutters, like how to tell early German cutters from American ones. And did you know that some antique cutters are signed or initialed by their creators? That makes them more valuable, of course. To learn more, I borrowed a huge stack of my Aunt Sadie’s Cookie Cutter Collector’s Club newsletters, which are full of wonderful photos and interesting tidbits about antique and vintage cutters. Figuring out the origin of an antique cookie cutter (or if it’s a fake), now that’s mystery! And it doesn’t have to include a murder… although sometimes it does.

Why do you like mysteries?


Every day in June and July the Killer Characters are giving away books for your stack of summer reading! Leave a comment by midnight for a chance to win a copy of COOKIES AND SCREAM, the newest book in Virginia Lowell’s Cookie Cutter Shop Series.

Because COOKIES AND SCREAM just hit the shelves on July 1, Virginia is celebrating by giving away a second copy of Olivia and Maddie’s newest sleuthing adventure. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Remember to check KillerCharacters.com again soon to see if you are listed as a winner of a giveaway copy of COOKIES AND SCREAM. If you are a winner, contact Virginia at www.virginialowell.com and let her know where to send your free copy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Calling All Dear Abbys - Advice Needed!

by Kath Rutledge from the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries

(Read on for a chance to win in the Killer Characters Cozy Days of Summer giveaway!) 

If you’ve met my friend Geneva, then you know that she’s . . . unusual. To say the least. Because she’s a ghost.  Beyond that fact, I don’t know much about her. She claims she doesn’t remember much about her life and she gets upset if I press her to try. From her reaction to the deaths of a young couple earlier this year, there was clearly something traumatic in her own background that she’s blocking out. Her memory, otherwise, especially for dialogue and plot lines from fifty-year-old television shows, is unbeatable. But I’m always looking for historical details she knew firsthand that might help pinpoint when she lived. Here’s a conversation I had with her recently about the reenactment J. Scott Prescott is planning for next weekend.

“So, have you ever heard of this feud Mr. Prescott was talking about?” I asked. “He’s calling it the ‘The Blue Plum Piglet War.’ It happened sometime in the 1820s or 1830s during a boundary dispute that escalated when one guy let his pigs get into another guy’s crops.”

“What was he growing?” Geneva asked.

“Something tasty to pigs. I don’t know. Potatoes?”

“Potatoes, pigs, and pandemonium,” she said with relish.

“Do you remember it?” I asked.

“I’m not that old.”

“Well, no, I didn’t think you were, but people have always told stories about it. My grandmother told them to me. Maybe your grandmother told them to you. Maybe she was there. Anyway, you might be interested in watching the reenactment next weekend.”

“I’m more interested in your reenactment. You do the same thing every time.”

“And what are we talking about now?”

“The way you rebuff every gentleman caller who shows the least bit of interest in you. Mr. J. Snot Big Shot. He was full of himself, but I saw the way he took your hand.”

“That is absolute baloney.”

“It’s not. He’s sweet on you and you spurned his advance.” Her voice throbbed with pathos for J. Scott.

“I spurned his attempt to put good old boys with guns in our upstairs window and his advance on the building. He’s a slick salesman. He doesn’t give a flying fig about me.”

“No one would with that attitude.”

“My attitude is fine.”

“For a nun.”

My outer thirty-nine-year-old was willing to pick up a dust rag and move away from that jab. But that went against everything my inner seven-year-old stands for. “Joe,” I snapped. “For your information, I don’t rebuff Joe. We’re having dinner tomorrow night at Mel’s.”

“We are?”

“Not you. Joe and I.”

“And there you go.” She threw her wispy hands in the air. “Rebuffing again. But never mind. Loneliness is my lot in death. I’ll never understand your need to exclude a lost soul from the warmth and gaiety of a simple dinner out. But I’ll survive.”

Sigh. I think I could use a few tips for getting along with a melodramatic, histrionic, finicky, persnickety creature, don't you? (And doesn’t it seem like I just described a cat or a teenager?) If you have any suggestions for me, leave them in a comment. I’ll be so grateful!

Leave your advice or a comment by midnight 7/23/14 for a chance to win an audiobook of a Haunted Yarn Shop  Mystery – your choice of LAST WOOL AND TESTAMENT, DYEING WISHES, or SPINNING IN HER GRAVE. Be sure to leave your email address in the comment to be notified in case you are the winner.

Kath Rutledge’s latest adventure is the national bestselling SPINNING IN HER GRAVE, third book in the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, which are available in mass market, e-book, large print, and audio wherever books are sold.  Watch for Kath in PLAGUED BY QUILT, coming in November 2014, and available now for pre-order.

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