Sunday, February 17, 2019


By: Gaynell Bourgeois
Series: Cajun Country Mystery #4

Hey, y’all, it’s Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie Crozat’s friend! I’m super excited because it’s almost Mardi Gras and I get to be a capitaine at the Pelican Courir de Mardi Gras.

Okay, that’s a whole lotta words you probably don’t understand. Here in Cajun Country, we don’t celebrate Mardi Gras with big, fancy balls like they do in New Orleans. Instead we have a Mardi Gras Run. People dress in wild, handmade costumes and masks, and go from house to house trying to make the homeowners give us the ingredients for a communal gumbo.

Photos courtesy of Jan Gilbert

They walk, ride horses, ride flatbed trucks. The Mardi Gras – yup, here in Cajun Country, Mardi Gras is also a proper noun – beg, sing, and play pranks to try and get chickens and veggies and all the good stuff that goes into a gumbo. There’s a lot of drinking and carousing, and somebody’s got to keep these Mardi Gras in line. This year, that’s me, the capitaine! At least for the woman’s Courir. The Courirs used to be all men, but we gals didn’t take to that, so we started our own run. But we all meet up and become one giant group when it’s time for that yummy vat of gumbo.

Masks, booze, and partying – not much that can go wrong there, huh? Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Wait… what happened to Maggie? And why is that horse with two people on it galloping so fast – in the opposite direction from the Courir?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Hello from Amy

by Amy Flowers from The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson

I did it! Today I marched into Lou Lou Holman's office and handed that bully my resignation. And I told her I'm opening my own cafe. You can probably imagine how well that went over.

Let me back up a little. I've been working at Lou's Joint for over a year now. My cousin Jackie has been working for Lou Lou even longer than that. (In case you're wondering, Lou Lou was named after her dad, Lou, who originally built the cafe.) Anyway, Lou Lou doesn't pay her waitresses minimum wage--which is common--but she makes us give her half our tips--which is certainly not common and not right. Plus, the woman will bawl us out over the least little thing.

I've been begging for a shift in the kitchen for ages, but Lou Lou simply won't hear of it. The only people who are allowed cook at Lou's Joint are Lou Lou and her son Pete. Does it matter to her that I've been to culinary school and have some really good ideas for making the cafe more profitable? No, it does not. To her, I'm "getting above my raising."

My sweet nana died last year, and she left me some money. I'm using that money to open my own cafe. I was hoping that Lou Lou would sell her cafe to me so I wouldn't have to build. Remodeling would be so much faster than building my own cafe--which I'm calling the Down South Cafe--from the ground up. But I can do it. Roger--a childhood friend who's a contractor--has already promised to help me. And I have other friends, in addition to my mom and Aunt Bess, who I can count on.

I’m really excited about opening my own café. I learned the basics about cooking at my nana’s right arm. I was always right by her side while she was making breakfast and dinner—and holiday meals were the best. We’d start—or, she’d start, but when I got older I was allowed to help—and prepare the pies and cakes a day in advance. One of my favorite pies she made was her oatmeal pie. I still love to make it because it always reminds me of her. I want to add a display case to my café so I can offer patrons baked goods to take home with them.

And while I want to continue to serve the foods that the café patrons expect and are accustomed to, I also want to give them some more exciting choices as well. Winter Garden residents like the tried-and- true and will be reluctant to pay for something they might not like, so I’ll have to allow patrons to sample new dishes before I add them to the menu. I feel that most of the patrons will love corn fritters made with cheddar cheese, but they might be reluctant to try fried plantain chips. Of course, they could surprise me.

This is going to be fun! Right? What's the biggest adventure you've ever set out on? Did you regret it? Or was it the best decision you ever made?

Friday, February 15, 2019

What’s an astrologer to do?

Hi everyone ~ remember me?

I’m Julia Bonatti from the Zodiac Mysteries.  And here I am once again working on my newspaper column Ask Zodia.  Some days it's hard.  You would not believe the letters I get!  Some of them are so weird, I just have to send them back to the Chronicle.  I do have my standards after all. 

I won’t respond to anyone who claims astrology is the work of the devil.  I won’t respond to crank letters or threatening letters and my most annoying pet peeve – people who send their birth information and don’t have a question!

Here’s a good example: 
Dear Zodia ~
I was born May 13, 1989 at 2:15 p.m. in San Francisco.  I live in Daly City now and I just love your column!  What does my chart show? 
~ Darlene

What???  Darlene, this is a newspaper column!  I can’t delineate a whole chart in a couple of paragraphs.  For free?
Give me a break.  I think I’ll ask my editor to post a preface to my astrological column.  It should say:  If you can’t formulate a specific question for Zodia, please don’t bother writing to her! 

Or how about this one? 
Dear Zodia ~
I wrote to you last year and you said I’d be meeting the love of my life in a few months.  Well, it didn’t happen!  The only thing that did happen was I started a new career and have been making a lot of money.  But I still haven’t met my soul mate.  What kind of an astrologer are you anyway? 

~ Disgruntled
Dear Disgruntled ~
I remember your letter and I’m very sorry you haven’t met the love of your life yet.  But, I have to remind you, that wasn’t my prediction.  I said that you would be doing a lot of traveling during that time period and could have an adventurous time.  I predicted that new worlds would open up for you.  It certainly sounds as if that has happened. 
~ Zodia
PS:  I think I’m a very good astrologer! 
Groan . . . what’s an astrologer to do?  Does anyone actually listen? 
What do you think? 
Okay . . . I know what you'll say.  You'll tell me to bite my tongue and be nice.
And you're right.  That's good advice! 

You can read more about the Zodiac Mysteries and my author, Connie di Marco, at her website and at Facebook and Twitter @AskZodia. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

You Had Me At Mrreow! PLUS a Valentine's #Giveaway

FROM: Sabrina Tate

OF: The Bad Luck Cat Mysteries

BY:  Kay Finch

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! My name is Sabrina Tate, and I'm celebrating this Valentine's Day with not one, but two, special guys.

If you're a reader of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries, you probably expect me to name Luke Griffin, the local game warden in Lavender, Texas, as my main squeeze. The truth is, Luke shares the spotlight with the other guy in my life - and that would be Hitchcock, my cat. I met Hitchcock first. He was sitting on my car when I first saw him. He looked at me and said "Mrreow" - I was hooked.

Hitchcock is the guy who lives with me. He's there when I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning he's right there beside me.  Or sitting on my head. Or kneading my tummy.  The point is, he's there. And yes, one day I might choose to have Luke Griffin right there with me day and night - that remains to be seen.

So, here's the question of the week. What do I give these very special guys in my life for Valentine's Day?  I'd love a bright red collar with a bell for Hitchcock - maybe I could keep better track of him.
 The heart-shaped bowl is super cute, too. Would Hitchcock care if his bowl was heart-shaped? Probably not. He'd rather have some fresh catnip. 

Or, one of these nifty pet hair-grabbing gloves for me to wear when I pet him.

Choosing something special for Luke isn't quite so easy. Maybe some candy hearts. A box of chocolates. Or those chocolate cupcakes he loves.

As for me? I don't want anything in return - only the chance to spend time with my special guys.

I hope you have a special Valentine's Day - and to add some fun, here's my Valentine's GIVEAWAY.

For a chance to win this cute black cat/Valentine's mug, leave a comment below and tell me if you have any special plans for the evening of February 14th. If they include a pound of chocolate and a bottle of wine, I won't judge.

I will choose a random winner at ten p.m. on February 15th.

Kay Finch is the National Best-Selling author of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries by Berkley Prime Crime.  Though her character, Sabrina Tate, has left the paralegal profession behind to move to the Texas Hill Country, Kay still works as a paralegal at a Houston, Texas law firm. She resides in a Houston suburb with her husband and pets where she is working on Bad Luck Cat Mystery #4 – The Black Cat Steps On a Crack. Visit her at

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Camp Wildcat Reenactment...this isn't your Sweet Home Alabama reenactment!


Hi there! I'm so glad you're visiting our little town of Normal. Right over there is where the Camp Wildcat happened between the north and the south on the morning of October 21, 1861.
I'm Queenie French the Foundation of Camp Wildcat president. We've been doing the reenactment for years and this year is going to be the best yet. 

If you take a gander at the map, you'll see you're standing where the red star is located. 
I know the battle was in the fall, but Colonel Theophilous Garrard had started to form his unit in the spring of 1861. 

Besides, the weather in Kentucky in the fall is so wonky and unpredictable, I asked the committee to change the reenactment to the spring. Plus, look at this weather. Gorgeous!

Granted, the outcome of the reenactment is the same year after year, but I have to say that the actors I've picked this year will be fantastic and on their mark. It takes a lot of skill to drop dead and lay there for an hour or two until the reenactment is over. 

I know of few of my actors are a little. . .um . . .nervous since Greaser Gadie has escaped prison and they were on the jury. I'd be nervous too if I was a juror and he turned to me and say, "I'm taking a minute to remember your face so when I get out of here I'm going to find you and kill you."
But I'm sure he's long gone by now.

Right? I mean, if I escaped from prison, I wouldn't hang around to make good on a silly promise. . .would you???

A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mysteries are bestselling
camp mysteries set in the Daniel Boone National Park,
 and each of the books includes the 
added bonus of recipes and camping hacks.



4 small bananas
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows


1. Leaving skin on, cut the banana down the middle without cutting through the bottom of the skin.

2. Open the banana like a taco and add some chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows.

3. Wrap the stuffed banana in foil.

4. Sit the foiled banana on a grate over the open campfire.

5. Check the banana in five minutes and continue to check until the marshmallows and chocolate chips have melted to desired taste.

Click here to download the recipe!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

You Might Say I'm Living-Impaired

by Maxine "Max" Englebright from Designs on Murder - Gayle Leeson

You know that old adage, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"? Well, there's a flip side to that coin, darlings, and guess what? Falling down the stairs and breaking my neck sure didn't make me stronger.

Adding insult to injury, you should've seen that monstrosity of a dress Mother buried me in. On second thought, no, you shouldn't have. No one should have. The words, "I wouldn't want to be caught dead in that outfit" had never been truer.

But, as with life, death is what you make of it. And my death is looking up these days. Imagine my surprise when Amanda came right into Shops on Main and started talking with me as if she didn't have a clue I'm a ghost. Of course, she didn't...but even after she found out, she wasn't put off by me. I'm delighted she and her grandfather--a silver fox named Dave--aren't prejudiced. After all, I can't help my condition.

As you might in a similar situation, Amanda had a lot of questions for me...some of which I could answer and some I could not. Then she decided to help me. For instance, I told her I love to read but that I hadn't been able to finish a book in decades. Do you know how hard it is to read everything over someone else's shoulder? Especially when that someone doesn't know you exist?

Anyway, Amanda showed me how to work an electronic library device. You choose a book, the book pops up on the screen, and you swipe the pages back and forth to read them. And I can do it on my own! Isn't that marvelous? I'm now most likely the best read ghost in Abingdon.

How about you--how has technology improved your life?

Giveaway: Comment below (don't forget to include your email address!) to be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card on Valentine's Day! Winner will be chosen at or around 5 p.m. I'm not going to tell you what to do with the gift card if you win, but I'd get a new book or two for my electronic library device! 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Your Perfect Gift

By Caro Lamont, from Sparkle Abbey's Pampered Pet Mysteries

With Valentine's Day coming up this week, it got me thinking about gifts. I usually do Valentine gifts for the people I love, but they vary widely because I think the perfect gift is all about really knowing those we care about.

Last Valentine's Day, Sam, my...well, I'm not sure exactly what we are, but let's save that discussion for another time.  Anyway, Sam got me one of the greatest gifts ever. He gave a big donation in my name to my favorite animal rescue group. Does he know me or what? He also threw in self-defense classes for my best friend, Diana, and me. Oh, and gorgeous emerald earrings. Like I said, does he know me or what?

See that's the thing. It doesn't have to be the traditional chocolate and flowers. Although those are great, too. It just needs to be something that is perfect for the person receiving the gift. I've already picked out the perfect gift for Diana. She loves to cook for her menagerie of pets and foster pets and I found the perfect cookbook, from Carrie Kennersky's Barkery & Biscuits Bakery. I've ordered my mama flowers. Mama Kat is a classic American Beauty roses kind of lady so that was easy. I'm still debating about what to give Sam, but I have a couple of ideas in mind.

So, let me ask you this. If someone who really knew you wanted to pick out the perfect Valentine's Day gift for you, what would it be?

Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Woods aka Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are pictured below with the real Sparkle and the real Abbey - their two rescue pets. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don't tell their other neighbors.)

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