Friday, October 28, 2016

A Magical Autumnal Snow Globe: Indigo Gap

By: Cora Chevalier
From: Cora Crafts Mysteries
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
           Book 1 Title: Death Among the Doilies
The autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Not only does the weather start to cool off, but it's one of the most beautiful time of the year. I always enjoyed it when I lived in Pittsburgh. It's such a gorgeous city, with plenty of green spaces. But now that I'm living in Indigo Gap, North Carolina, I feel as if I've stepped in to a magical Autumnal snow globe, with leaves instead of snow, of course.  Every direction I look, I see different colors, sweeping over the mountains. And the way, sometimes, the cloud shadows and sun plays against the mountains, the colors will change before my eyes.
Of course the fall splendor isn't all about the natural beauty all around us. As if it wasn't enough, there's my favorite  holidays coming right up.

  • Halloween (Dressing up and free candy, what's not to like?)
  • Thanksgiving (Gratitude and food. Two of my favorite things!)
  • Christmas (Gifts and goodies!)

Of course, I love crafting things for the Holidays. And I'm sort of known for my up-cycled projects. I love the challenge of taking one thing and turning it into something else especially those items that are piled in garages and attics. We don't know quite what to do with them, but as the same time we don't want to let them go. During my first retreat, a group of women took a box of old doilies I purchased at a yard sale, and fashioned a shirt from them. A gorgeous skirt, I might add.
It can be as complicated as making a doily skirt, or as simple as collecting spent soap pieces, or candle pieces, until you have enough to make your own. Here's my recipe for making your own soap this way.

Making Easy Soap Balls

Making soap balls is great way to use up some of those leftover soap bits that we all seem to have lying around. You can have a jar where you collect the bits of soap instead of throwing them away. When you get a jar full, try making soap balls. You can get creative with this, if you want. Consider adding in flower petals or herbs or try layering colors.

· Collect up all of your soap scraps and divide them up into similar or complementary colors. You can mix your colors and make soaps that look like river rocks or speckled eggs.

· Using a cheese grater, shred up your soap bits into containers. If the soap has been around awhile, you may want to add a very small amount of water, essential oil, or carrier oil to moisten the mix slightly.

· Grab a small handful of the soap shreds, squeezing and rolling them into a small ball. Be sure to press until the soap ball is really hard and no longer squishy. Add another layer and continue squeezing and rolling. Keep going until the soap is the size you want it.

· If you want to cut the ball in half, you will need to use a large smooth knife or, better yet, a pastry scraper with its thin blade. Gently push the blade through the ball. You may need to do a little damage control around the edges, smoothing them back down.

· Let the balls sit for a week or two so the added moisture can evaporate and the balls can harden up.

Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries and a bestselling Kindle-World romance novella THE BEEKEEPER'S BRIDE, A ST. HELENA VINEYARD KINDLE WORLD NOVELLA. She just released a new series: "Cora Crafts Mysteries." The first book is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES. She's also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG. 

Stay in touch with Mollie Cox Bryan

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Market News, by Pepper Reece #giveaway

Market News
by Pepper Reece, from the Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

One lucky reader will win an Assault & Pepper mug and a gingerbread man tea infuser! Leave a comment below to enter.  

Vinny Delgado, the Market wine merchant, and Hal Hitchcock, Seattle’s foremost Ghost Scholar, will once again conduct Spirit Tours of the Market, visiting with spectral beings and toasting them with their favorite beverages. Tours run October 23-30. No tours will be conducted on October 31, as the vaporous entities are expected to be otherwise occupied. See Vinny for ticket info.

Run, don't walk, to Mary Jean’s Chocolates, Down Under! Her new salted hibiscus blossom truffles reach Space Needle-like heights in deliciosity! Mary Jean has also joined the faculty of Changing Courses, Seattle’s intensive culinary training program for those in need of a second, or third, chance. And she’s sourcing the cocoa for the Seattle Spice Shop’s yummy new line of spicy cocoa rubs for steaks and other foods.

The Market Craft committee will interview candidates for vendor openings on November 15. Applications are available in the Market Master’s office. Submit the application and five samples of your work, along with a price list and photos of your display and additional work by November 1.

The Seattle Spice Shop welcomes Cayenne Cooper and Matt Kemp to the staff! Bring your fresh finds and cooking challenges to Cayenne, a trained chef, or Matt, an experienced eater, for a dash of spicery genius!

Discovered a new taste treat lately? Dish, dish in the comments!

Leave a comment, with your email address, for a chance to win an Assault & Pepper mug and a gingerbread man tea infuser! (US addresses only) Contest closes at midnight, Friday, October 28.   

From the cover of KILLING THYME, Spice Shop Mystery #3 (October 2016): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. After Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


By Shelby McDonald

From Peg Cochran’s Farmer’s Daughter series

 I love this time of year, don’t you?  The air is crisp and clear and smells of wood smoke.  The colors of the changing leaves always make me marvel at Mother Nature.

 Love Blossom Farm is winding down for the year—we’re putting in our cover crops and harvesting the last vegetables for canning.  The shelves in the cellar are filling up with colorful jars of pickles, beets, tomatoes and other produce to sustain us during the long winter.

Bitsy and Jenkins are still spending their days outside roaming the farm and keeping small critters at bay although as the nights get chillier, they are coming in earlier and earlier to curl up by the fire.

The children are excited about Halloween, of course.  We’ve grown a nice crop of pumpkins to share with our neighbors and carve for ourselves.  They are still trying to decide on their costumes—Billy is torn between Ironman and Superman, and  Amelia wants to be something glamorous like a rock star (she is a teenager after all.)

What do you plan to be for Halloween?
You can follow Shelby McDonald's adventures on Love Blossom farm in the first book in the series--No Farm, No Foul.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Happy Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Abigail Kimball
from Sheila Connolly’s Relatively Dead series

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I stopped by here—it was right around this time last year, right before Halloween. I’d just moved into Ned Newhall’s house, when my house-sit ran out and I didn’t have the money for a place of my own. Please don’t think it’s about pity—Ned and I have a wonderful relationship, made even more special by the kind of unusual link we share: we both see our dead ancestors.

I know, that sounds weird. We don’t talk to them, and they don’t see us, but they keep showing up unexpectedly. I’ve been working on filling in my family tree for a while now, but I know I have a long way to go—and sometimes those ancestors show up before I even identify them!

I love living with Ned, in his classic Victorian house, but to tell the truth, I need more to keep me busy than replacing peeling wallpaper. I’m not sure I can find a job (because of some complications with leaving my last one), so Ned and I are trying to figure out how to do learn more about our shared “paranormal phenomenon.” I’m doing the research side, in books and online, and he’s doing the science side, more or less.

You’d be surprised how popular the whole Spiritualism thing has been in Massachusetts, for almost two centuries. It kind of comes in waves, going underground for a while then coming into the open again. Like now:jJust this month I’ve been to a psychic fair, with a whole batch of mediums, and a haunted house tour (just to see if I could find a ghost who was not related to me, but I didn’t). But along the way Ned and I have found a couple of people who have some sort of psychic connections to us that we didn’t expect. Last but not least, Ned set up some kind of super brain scan through a friend of his, with some rather unexpected results—but you’ll hear more about that later.

Now Halloween is coming, and this is the first year I’ve really been truly aware of all the spirits around us. It’s been a major holiday for a very long time in certain cultures, with a lot of myths attached. The ancient Celts believed that the day marked the beginning of winter and the start of a new year. They also thought that it was the time when spirits of the dead moved on to their next life—the point where the world of the living and the spirit world were closest, and the spirits returned—briefly—to our world.

It should be interesting to see who comes trick-or-treating this year!

Book news: There will be a new book in the Relatively Dead series any minute now. We (my editor and I) think the title is Searching for the Dead. This may or may not be the cover. But it does take place at Halloween! You’ll be the first to know when I have a date for it.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chihuly Collection Reopens in St. Petersburg, Florida

Character:        Savannah Webb
Series:             Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries
Author:            Cheryl Hollon

Hi there, I’m Savannah Webb, owner of Webb’s Glass Shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida. I'm so excited that the Chihuly Collection has completed their move to a location that is seven blocks closer to my shop.

The public is invited to join the celebration at the Chihuly Collection's new location at 720 Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete. The festivities will kick-off with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at the front of the building with the doors opening to the collection immediately after. Additionally, all are invited to join the fun at the neighborhood Block Party happening between the new building and the Morean Arts Center on the 700 Block of Central Avenue.

I'm planning to let the hoopla die down before I visit the new space next week. I'm anxious to see how those magnificent pieces are displayed in their new home. When you get a chance, come to St. Petersburg to see the new Chihuly Collection.


You can read more about Savannah in Cracked to Death, the third book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries, published by Kensington Books. Available at your favorite book vendor.

About Cracked to Death:

When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer . . .

It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat--a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane . . .

Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through uncharted territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death . . .


Yay! There's a GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment and your email address in the form of name(AT)server(DOT)com to avoid the SPAM bots. Do this by midnight on October 26 for the chance to win a signed Cracked to Death along with a recycled beer bottle turned into a cheese tray created by Cheryl and her husband George. It's reasonably small -- actually it is exactly the size of a beer bottle. The illustration on the right is one example -- we use all sorts of brands. Include your name and email in the comments. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected.

Meet the author:

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 and painted glass artworks.

Visit Cheryl and her books at her WebsiteFacebook or Twitter

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Peeping Janet (and #Goodreadsgiveaway)

by Christine Robertson from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries by Molly MacRae

Christine Robertson, here. You’ve heard, a few times, from my dear friend Janet Marsh. She’s told you about our new business venture, Yon Bonnie Books, here in Inversgail on the west coast of Scotland, and I’m sure she’s made it sound completely lovely. Because that’s Janet. Bright side and best foot forward and all that. But she hasn’t told you about the problem she’s having getting the renters out of her house and herself into it, has she? I didn’t think so. She didn’t tell me, either, until I pressed the issue.

Apparently the renters have asked for another few days. And did Janet ask why? No. Again, that’s Janet. But it’s not me, and so I practically dragged her over there this morning to at least walk past the house. We might not be able to figure out what’s going on, but if you ask me, something doesn’t smell right.

Janet and her husband bought the house years ago when they first fell in love with Inversgail. It’s a traditional stone detached cottage with four rooms down and two up, and not such a long walk from the bookshop, over there on Argyll Terrace. Janet didn’t want to appear pushy and didn’t want to intrude on the renters.

“It looks empty,” Janet said. “No curtains at the windows.

“That’s because it is empty,” I said. “But if the renters have moved out, why can’t you move in? You’ve got your keys, haven’t you? Let’s go in.”

“Not until I know they’re truly gone,” Janet said.
“Then let’s look in the windows.”

“At the back,” Janet said, and she led the way around the house.

The back garden slopes down toward the house below on Ross Street. The renters had terraced the slope with three raised beds. We saw Curtis’s garden shed still standing in a corner at the bottom of the garden.

“Do you know,” Janet said, “when Curtis told me he’d bought a shed, I pictured something charming. Something that looked like it could be turned into a little writing cabin. Like something Alexander McCall Smith might step out of and ask for a cup of tea. Instead Curtis brought this ugly thing home. I’ve never liked it.”

I nudged her. “The lettuce is bolting.”

Janet nodded. “Maybe the renters did, too?”

“Why do I have the sudden urge to slink low to the ground?”  
“Because you have good instincts,” she whispered in my ear. “We won’t slink, in case neighbors are watching, but let’s go carefully. Let’s stay off the deck, for now, to avoid creaky boards. Head for the kitchen window on the corner.”

We walked to the mullioned window, appearing about as cool and casual as a pair of amateur peeping Toms. And then we lost that little bit of cool when we looked through the window.

“There are no words,” Janet said faintly.

Click here to enter a Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of three advance reading copies of Plaid and Plagiarism! 


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

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New Release GIVEAWAY from Cathy Ace

Hi there - Cait Morgan here...a bit out of breath, because my luggage is heavy, but I've arrived. Yes, I’ve finally made it to Budapest. I’m terribly sad that Bud couldn’t come with me, but we both know he’s done the right thing staying in Canada to help his mother with her recuperation from hip surgery. I’m not sure how I’ll cope without my husband’s steadying influence. I’m guessing I’ll over-eat a fair bit, and I might give in to the odd beer or two. Or, maybe grab a bottle of gin for the fridge to reward myself for a good day’s work.

The Hungarian University of Budapest is putting me up at an apartment they keep for visiting professors. I’ve just arrived at the university’s admin building to collect the keys, and a Professor Patrik Matyas greeted me. He reminds me of a llama. I don’t like llamas – they spit while they’re smiling at you. And Patrik grins a lot. I hope I don’t have to spend too much time with him. I know Bud’s always telling me I’m quick to judge – which, given my training and skills in reading body language is, I think, a good thing to do.

My initial reaction to Patrik is that he makes me want to take a bath, and scrub myself all over. Ah well, he’s being gratingly polite and helpful, so I’ll put up with it for now. I’m here for a whole month before Bud arrives, so we will at least have a week here together. But until then? Other than teaching and working on a research paper, I’m sure I’ll manage to find time to see some of the sights and – who knows – I might find something interesting to keep my brain ticking over, other than delivering courses on criminal psychology to Hungarian students. We’ll see.

Cait Morgan Mystery #8, THE CORPSE WITH THE RUBY LIPS, was published in Canada on October 18th, and will be available in the USA from November 1st. It's available to order RIGHT NOW! Leave a comment below with your email address BEFORE MIDNIGHT EASTERN ON SUNDAY OCTOBER 23RD to have a chance to win a signed copy!

Cathy Ace writes the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (book #2 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER was published in trade paperback on August 31st in the UK, and will be available on November 1st in the US/Canada), and the Cait Morgan Mysteries. Find out more about Cathy and her work, and sign up for her newsletter at