Thursday, April 28, 2016

Making Merry in the Month of May

By: Annie Chamovitz

From: The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book 5 Title: Scrapbook of the Dead

One of my favorite seasonal holidays is May Day. I'm not certain if anybody else celebrates, but I do. 

When I was a girl, sometimes people left baskets of flowers on doorsteps to celebrate May Day. I’ve done that from time to time. It’s just fun to leave flowers mysteriously for someone isn’t it? It brightens up their day, for sure. 

Have you ever participated in or seen a May Pole dance? It’s loads of fun to dance around the Maypole, but once I saw a group of barefoot ballerinas dancing in the grass around a beautifully decorated Maypole. I’ll never forget it. 
I wonder if most people don’t even really take the time to reflect on the changing seasons anymore. One of the reasons my husband I stayed on the East coast was we really love the seasons here. I love it when the season changes and I try to celebrate in my own way. It was more fun when the boys were little, of course. Now they are like little men and don’t want to run barefoot through the dewy grass on May morning. (It was said that the dew of May Day grass had magical qualities and if women washed their face with the dew, the very next man they saw would be their future husband.)

One  of my favorite ways to celebrate May Day is by making and drinking may wine.  I’ve quite fallen in live with the little Sweet Woodruff plant and flowers that is sometimes used in  homemade May wine. It’s so unassuming, but beautiful—it’s fragrance reminds me of vanilla. (One of my favorites.) Here’s my favorite recipe for making may wine.
May Wine
Ingredients:
1 bottle white wine
1 bottle sparkling wine or champagne
½ cup dried organic Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
½ cup organic strawberries, sliced or whole
Combine dried Sweet Woodruff with the bottle of white wine, cover tightly, and place in a refrigerator.  Allow to steep overnight. The fresh herb may be used, but dried is preferable because the flavor and aroma increase in the drying process.  Before serving, strain out the Sweet Woodruff and pour the infused wine into a punch bowl, carafe, or other glass or ceramic serving vessel. Add the bottle of chilled sparkling wine or champagne and garnish with strawberries.  Serve in wine glasses or champagne flutes. Ice may be added if desired.

A warning about Sweet Woodruff: it may produce headaches and other toxic effects if high doses are consumed or if it is used long-term.

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/molliecoxbryan/boards/

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Born to Cook


by Tamara Langston, from GUILTY AS CINNAMON, Book Two in the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

All I want is a life I make for myself. Where my talents matter, where my passions take me places I want to go. I’m not willing to be ruled by anyone else.

Does that make me sound selfish, or a witch? It shouldn’t. It’s all any of us want, isn’t it?

Listen, I’ve loved to cook since before I could reach the stove. My mother put a stepstool in the kitchen so I could watch her cook. No Easy-Bake Ovens for me—I could stare for hours in the window of the real thing, watching bread rise, pies turn golden, mushrooms brown and become soft, juicy morsels of taste and perfection. Other kids wouldn’t shut up about learning to ride their bikes. I bragged about learning to braise. No boring summer vacation essays about trips to the pool or the waterslide for me. I went to Kids’ Cooking Camp and learned how to make coq au vin and quiche Lorraine and handmade pasta.

Trips to grandma’s house? I disappeared the moment we got there, to go see Mr. Chan, next door. He served me dumplings and tea, and taught me how to make perfect noodles and preserve fish.

I’m still not sure how I veered off track. But I’ve got a chance now. And when Tamarack opens in a few weeks, you come by and have an appetizer on me. I promise, it will be the best thing you ever ate. Because I was born to cook.

What’s the best thing you ever ate?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Tourists Are Coming & #GIVEAWAY

By Monica Albertson
From Peg Cochran’s Cranberry Cove Series


Tourist season is almost upon us.  I can tell by the different mix of cars going down Beach Hollow Road, the main shopping street in Cranberry Cove.  Mixed in with the pickup trucks and early model American cars are cars with fancy European lineages like BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.

Tourists tend to dress down here—Cranberry Cove is right on Lake Michigan and the perfect place to relax so you’ll find them garbed in shorts and T-shirts like the rest of us only their clothes will have well-known logos on them like Ralph Lauren and probably don’t come from Sears.  And their flip-flops are from Coach and not the corner drugstore and they carry totes by Kate Spade instead of hauling their stuff around in a recyclable grocery bag.

And they’ll be dining at the Cranberry Cove Inn or sipping drinks at the Cranberry Cove Yacht Club when they’re not out on their boat.

We locals don’t mind (and I know I’m being awfully brash calling myself a local when I’ve been here less than a year).  It means money in the town coffers so we deal with the extra traffic, the crowded sidewalks and the noise.


But come November we’ll be breathing a sigh of relief at having Cranberry Cove all to ourselves again.

GIVEAWAY!

I'm celebrating the upcoming release of Berry the Hatchet, #2 in my Cranberry Cove series by giving away a copy to someone who comments below!


Monday, April 25, 2016

When History Gets Personal

Coming June 2016
by Marty Terwilliger, from Sheila Connolly's Museum Mysteries

Nell Pratt has really put her foot in it this time. Okay, it’s not her fault. She was doing her job. She found out that through some clerk’s stupid mistake years ago, the Society (that’s the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, where I’ve been on the board forever) still owns a piece of property in a part of Philadelphia where you wouldn’t want to send your worst enemy. Of course she had to go see it, and that’s when bullets started flying and somebody ended up dead. Not Nell, thank goodness—the Society needs her.

Almost getting killed on the job would kind of shake anybody up, right? But Nell doesn’t give up easily, and instead of crawling into her office and hiding, she’s trying to do something about the problems that she saw up close and personal.

Independence Hall
I love Philadelphia. My family’s been part of this city since seventeen-whatever, and I live here now, not far from the house where my father grew up. It’s got a lot of history, and some great museums and other sites that the tourists eat up. But you’d have to be blind not to see the changes that have happened even during my lifetime. Yes, there are slums—bad ones. Some parts of town have been nicknamed “Killadelphia.” To someone like me, that hurts.



It hurts Nell, too, and now it’s personal. So she’s looking for a way to make things better. It’s a good thing she has ways to do it, starting with documents for every era of the city, and photographs since cameras were invented. It can make you sad to look at them now, because sometimes they show how far downhill the city has gone. But it should also show what a city neighborhood could and should be. The problem is, it takes money and time and energy to make good changes happen, but Nell’s got some of those. And she’s got me to help. 

The Masonic Temple--most people
don't recognize it
Cities these days face a lot of problems. I think Nell and I have some good ideas for Philadelphia, but we’ll have to wait and see if we can make them work. I really hope we can.

What's your favorite city? What would you like to see improved there?


Dead End Street (Museum Mystery #7) will be released on June 7th. It's available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

www.sheilaconnolly.com


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Florida Festival News and a #Giveaway

By: Savannah Webb
Title: Shards of Murder
Series: Webb's Glass Shop Mysteries
Author: Cheryl Hollon



The peak tourist season is nearly over down here in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Spring Break frenzy has gone and the students are back in class. The mad Canadians who swim in the Gulf of Mexico at bone-chilling temperatures have returned to shovel snow. The last big event of the season is the Spinnaker Art Festival. 

In the past, I wasn’t much concerned with the internal workings of the festival. Then, I inherited the family-owned Webb’s Glass Shop. This year, I’m going to judge the glass category. That changes everything. No strolling through the aisles admiring the artist’s wares and creative display booths. No sampling from the beer truck for me. I need to have all my wits at full strength. I’m going to choose the winner of the glass category.

You bet I’m nervous. I’ve only been back in St. Pete for a few months and most of that time has been spent in getting used to being a small business owner. It was a shock and great honor to be appointed to take my late father’s role as judge. Dad was a pillar of strength in the art community and everyone trusted his judgement for choosing the best of the best emerging artist in the festival. I’m not so confident.

Anyway, come on downtown to the waterfront and enjoy the last major event of the season. Wave hello if you see me. I’ll be the one with the clipboard in my hand and a worried look on my face. I hope I choose the right artist.

############

Savannah’s adventures began in Pane and Suffering, the first book in the “Webb’s Glass Shop” mystery series, published by Kensington Books. The second book is Shards of Murder

When a glass-making competition turns deadly, glass shop owner Savannah Webb must search for a window into a criminal’s mind. . .

As the new proprietor of Webb's Glass Shop, Savannah has been appointed to fill her late father's shoes as a judge for the Spinnaker Arts Festival, held in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With her innovative glass works, the clear winner is Megan Loyola, a student of Savannah's former mentor. 
But when Megan doesn't show up to accept her $25,000 award, rumors start flying. And when Savannah discovers the woman's dead body on festival grounds, the police immediately suspect her of murder. To keep from appearing before a judge herself Savannah sorts through the broken pieces of glass scattered around the victim for clues as to who took this killer competition too far. . .
You may pre-order book #3, Cracked to Death, due for publication on June 28, 2016.

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment for the chance to win a pair of fused glass earrings created by Cheryl and her husband George in their small studio behind the house. 

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, etched glass and painted glass artworks.

You can visit Cheryl and her books at her WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Welcome to Inversgail!

by Janet Marsh from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries by Molly MacRae

Hello again! Last month I told you how I ended up on the west coast of Scotland owning a bookshop with three other women (my best friend, my daughter, and her best friend). I also promised to tell you about the name of our town. But why don’t I let the experts tell you - here’s the text from the Inversgail Tourist Board’s Welcome to Inversgail brochure:

"Welcome to Inversgail—story capital of the Scottish Highlands! When you arrive, lift your hat to our statue of Scotland’s most famous storyteller—Robert Louis Stevenson.

"Why not start your visit with a story about our name—Inversgail? The story begins with the small river that flows from green sheep- and heather-covered hills and spills into the sea at Inversgail. There’s no question about the “inver” part of our name. Inver means both “river mouth” and “confluence of waters.” The river’s name, though, is the source of some debate. On modern maps it’s the Sgail. But once upon a time, and since maps of the area have existed, the name has been spelled Sgail, Skail, and Sgeul. Which is correct?


"Some folk say that Sgail is an Anglicization of sgeul, a Gaelic word for story. Legend has it that a family of noted storytellers and bards lived in the area and the “Sgeul” folk believe the river was named to honor them. And because stories, storytelling, and mouths all go together, they find the name Inversgail particularly apt. Other folk say Sgail is a misspelling of skail, a Scots word meaning to spill. Rivers naturally spill their waters at their mouths, and thus the name Inversgail. A third group believes that inver—meaning both mouth and confluence—holds the key. The name Inversgail, they say, results from a confluence of meanings. The storytellers lived and told their stories beside the river, and the stories spilled from their mouths, just as the river spills into the sea at Inversgail. Which origin story should you believe? We leave that to you, our visitors, to decide.

"Inversgail is a west Highland gem. We’re a resort town within easy distance of Oban, Fort William, and Dornie, located in the Argyll and Bute council area. Our natural harbor and white sand beaches are protected from the open sea by the western isles. Our summer waters are warmed by the Gulf Stream, inviting bathers and boaters. Hills rise behind our charming houses and shops creating a picturesque backdrop and fulfilling the dreams of photographers and hillwalkers. Fishing and crofting are the traditional ways of life in and around Inversgail. Tourism and our tradition of good stories allow our lovely area to thrive.

"A friendly word of caution—once you’ve visited Inversgail, you’ll want to call it home. And we’ll be here to welcome you!"

Plaid and Plagiarism, book 1 in the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, comes out December 6, 2016, and is available for pre-order now.

Molly MacRae is also the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae, or find her the first Monday of each month at Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts




Friday, April 22, 2016

The Joys of Traveling by Cait Morgan (aided and abetted by Cathy Ace)




Hello again - I know we're still getting to know each other, so I thought I'd tell you a bit more about me. I certainly like my food and drink, but I also like to travel. I’ve been lucky to travel a good deal over the past few years, and – generally speaking – I’ve enjoyed it. All except the dead bodies, that is. Or maybe I should say in spite of them? 


Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though Death stalks me. It doesn’t. My life is a not a life of crime. Well, hang on, maybe that last bit’s not quite true.  As a professor of criminal psychology I expect my academic life to focus on criminal matters, and criminals themselves – even though my main interest is in profiling victims rather than perpetrators. That’s not what I mean – what I mean is…well, let me give you some examples.



I suppose you could say it all started in Nice – the Cote d’Azur. All I did was have my arm twisted to attend a dinner party an old boss of mine was giving for his trophy wife, then I ended up being poisoned and suspected of murder! Not my fault. I have to admit it was a pretty tricky situation, and it didn’t turn out too well for...well, that would be telling, right?



Then Bud asked me to go to our local wine-producing region, surrounding beautiful Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, to look into the suicide of a gifted vintner that had taken place a year earlier…and I have to admit, yes, that didn’t go too well for some of the weird folks we met among the wineries and the restaurants. But again, not my fault. Nor Bud’s either.



Of course, when Bud was arrested on suspicion of murder during our supposed vacation at a resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast I knew he hadn’t done it – but I had to work out who did just to be able to get him out of jail. I wasn’t meddling, I was rescuing him. I didn't imagine for one minute they'd suspect me of being mixed up in...well, best I don't say, really.



Then there was the horrific accumulation of corpses when we were subjected to a security lock-down at a private restaurant in Vegas. It only lasted twelve hours, but it felt like a lifetime. Those poor, poor people. And poor Bud too - it was supposed to be a swanky night out to celebrate his birthday. Given the circumstances it's not surprising he's off birthday cake now! I suppose it could have been worse, but, frankly, not much!



Thinking through my recent trips, probably the most significant was when we went to the magical clifftop castle in Wales last year – it was good to spend some time with my sister, who joined us there from her home in Australia, however tragic the start of our visit there might have been. In spite of the dreadful time we had there, there was a silver lining, and it was good to visit my Homeland again after having been away for so long.



And, of course, I’ll never forget our cruise around the Hawai’ian Islands…despite the puzzling death of that poor man on the ship as we sailed for home. Before that, Bud and I had enjoyed our time together a great deal. Indeed, I wouldn't mind another cruise right about now! All those restaurants...yum!



All those trips have been for me, or for us. Now we’re just about to head off to Amsterdam on behalf of someone else - Bud's uncle...the one he never knew he had, and who died recently. I wonder how it’ll all turn out. We’ll see…

You can find out more about Cait Morgan's Mysteries, and Cathy Ace, at http://cathyace.com/ where you'll also find easy links to Cathy's Facebook and Twitter connections.

Cathy Ace is also the author of the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring four female private investigators (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English - hence the acronym) who work on cases based around a Welsh stately home.