Sunday, January 21, 2018

Who Reads Romance Novels?

By: Jaymie Leighton Muller
Title: Leave it to Cleaver
Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Publisher: Beyond the Page
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

Did you know there are people out there, book readers even, who sneer at what others choose to read? Impossible, you say? Just try reading a historical romance in public, a nice thick one with one of those glossy, clinch-pose covers of a man with his shirt falling off in a gale wind and a woman similarly clad.

These are things I have actually heard while I am reading a historical romance novel in doctor's waiting rooms or at the coffee shop:

"Aren't you embarrassed by that cover?" This was asked by a woman wearing an 'I'm with stupid' t-shirt, though she was alone.

One guy smirked and winked when he saw the cover. I've never been winked at in my life.

My best friend Valetta's brother, Brock Nibley, said, "You'll rot your brain with that crap!" This while he read the umpteenth book in an ongoing western novel series. Don't get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with reading westerns, but that's my point, there's nothing wrong with reading ANY book, even 50 Shades of Grey, if that's your jam.

But more often - and this may surprise you - folks are interested in what I'm reading, or blase about it, or actually have recommendations. I've had women stop at my table in a coffee shop to recommend a book they love, or ask whether the book I'm reading is good.

So... I read specifically historical romances, especially Regency romances by Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney. Do you read romance novels?

Victoria Hamilton, author of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, is also Donna Simpson/Donna Lea Simpson. She started her writing career as a Regency romance novelist, and has also written paranormal historical romances, and historical romantic mysteries! Check out some of her titles at: Donna Lea Simpson dot com!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Water and Lights Don't Mix

By Sully Sullivan, from the Theater Cop series by J. A. Hennrikus

You know, back when I was on the police force, I appreciated theater. I thought I knew what went into it--after all my mother had volunteered at the Cliffside the entire time I was growing up, and I'd painted my share of flats. Handed out my share of programs. But now that I'm running the theater? I had no idea how what it takes to put on a show. Or the hard work that it takes to make magic.
This afternoon I was in a production meeting for a show they want to do next year. They're talking about a pool of water, rain, and crashing waves during the show. Pools of blood spurting during the fight scene. An actor flying in the final scene.
Now, it's times like this I can't help but recall my days on the beat. I never saw someone fly, but I did see more than my fair share of blood. I'd also learned that water and electricity don't go together. That's a story for another day. I've got to admit, when they talked about waves and rain onstage, all I could think about is the lights.
"Isn't that dangerous?" I asked.
"We'll make it safe," the technical director said. Then she started going on about where the cables go, and grounding, and actor safety being the top priority.
I looked at her, carefully. Until that moment, I hadn't realized that trust, always an elusive emotion for me, was necessary every day in theater. Trust was as essential here as it had been in the police station. Trust in both physical and emotional safety.
Thanks to the Cliffside, I was getting it back.

BIO: J.A. Hennrikus writes the Theater Cop series. Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop series. They both tweet as @JHAuthors, and are on Instagram as @JAHenn

Friday, January 19, 2018

Who Says I Can't Cook?

By Sassy Cabot from the Read ’Em and Eat Mysteries by Terrie Farley Moran

Hi everyone, I’m so glad the one week of winter that hit south Florida is over and I am back wearing jeans and tee shirts without sweaters or jackets. Today is sunny with a high of 72 degrees. 

Everyone knows that when it comes to the division of labor for the Read ’Em and Eat CafĂ© and Bookstore, I am in charge of all things book related, while my BFF Bridgy oversees the kitchen, and our fabulous chef, Miguel Guerra runs a tight ship food wise. I am great at waiting tables and doing kitchen clean-up, but as to cooking...I generally leave that to the experts.
Still, things have a way of changing. The other day I stopped in the PUBLIX supermarket further down Estero Boulevard and wound up tasting a sample of a very pretty dish that included scallops and tortellini at the PUBLIX Aprons station.  After one bite I was hooked and the nice Aprons lady encouraged me to take the recipe home.
I studied it for a bit and decided it was a dish I could definitely manage. I hustled back to PUBLIX to stock up on ingredients. When I invited Bridgy, Miguel and Aunt Ophie  to dinner, they were amazed that I was able to cook such a mega-delicious meal.  I didn’t tell them that my secret to success is a recipe from PUBLIX Aprons, but I am delighted to share the recipe with all of you.
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic-herb butter, divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I used broth)
2 cups cheese-filled pasta (tortellini or mini ravioli)
12 oz scallops (I used sea scallops)
1 cup four-cheese rosa pasta sauce
1.     Chop shallots, garlic, and basil. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in sautĂ© pan on medium heat. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs and cook 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until crumbs are toasted. Transfer crumbs to plate and return pan to heat.
2.     Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, shallots, garlic, and red pepper to pan; cook 1–2 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until garlic is golden. Stir in basil, wine or broth, and pasta; simmer 5–6 minutes or until pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.
3.     Add scallops and sauce; stir to blend and coat. Cook 5–6 minutes and until sauce is bubbling and scallops are opaque. Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs; serve.
4.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Veterinary Medicine and More in Knobcone Heights, California

by Dr. Arvus Kline, head veterinarian at the Knobcone Heights Veterinary Clinic, featured in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

Hello.  I'm back, after quite a while of staying silent.  My name is Dr. Arvus Kline--Arvie to my friends.  Those friends include Carrie Kennersly, whose adventures are now being memorialized in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.

And that's what I want to talk about.

I'm a doctor of veterinary medicine, head vet at the Knobcone Heights Veterinary Clinic and Carrie's boss for her part-time job here as a veterinary technician.  I really like Carrie and encouraged her to open her bakeries here in town: Icing on the Cake, which sells delicious baked treats for people, and, delightfully, Barkery and Biscuits, the bakery next door where Carrie sells healthy treats for dogs that she mostly developed while working for our clinic.

It's Carrie's unofficial avocation that worries me.  There have been quite a few murders here lately in Knobcone Heights, and Carrie has been much  too involved in solving them.

Oh, I understood it the first time, since she was the major suspect.  But since then there have been several more, and since some of her friends had become suspects then she had to step in and solve those, too.

And I have to say, I'm glad she did so the last time since the suspects included me--and the main suspect was Dr. Reed Storme, one of the best vets here at my clinic, as well as a close friend, and more, of Carrie's.  What happened then was memorialized in Bad to the Bone.

But it's a new year now.  That should be enough... and yet I hear rumors that there are more to come...  Well, as long as Carrie can continue to do her jobs--all of them--and stay safe herself, I'm not going to complain.  But I will worry.

BAD TO THE BONE, the third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, was a May 2017 release from Midnight Ink.  And watch for PICK AND CHEWS, coming in May 2018.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cabin Fever

By Mary Pascoe, Cornish immigrant, 1835

From the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

I heard a miner talking about "cabin fever" the other day. Now that winter's pressed down, do you have it too? If so, I must admit to some envy.

It took every cent my brothers and I had to travel from Cornwall to what soon became the Wisconsin Territory in America. We settled near the spot where the very first lead was discovered in Mineral Point.

Our first "home" was a little dug-out shelter with brush for a roof. This winter we got lucky, and moved into a tiny cave somebody had carved out from a hillside. We've even got stone around the entrance to help keep the rain out. Since there's no door, I get to watch the snow fall.

Source:  PIxabay

The boys go down in the mine every day. It warms them up and keeps them busy. I don't have much to do this time of year except huddle under my blankets, feed the fire, and dream of spring.

And when a blizzard roars down, or the temperature plunges...well, let's just say that a cabin sounds pretty good.

Don't worry about me, though. I've adopted a little girl to raise, and she gives me hope. I'll rise above all this one day, and own a real home. You'll see.

* * *
A note from Chloe:

The Cornish mining families that settled in southwest Wisconsin endured rugged living conditions. Fair-weather miners might simply dig out a shallow pit and stretch a tarp or some brush over it. The hillside across from Pendarvis, the historic site where I'm working as guest curator, is riddled with evidence.
Note the trees growing from the depression once dug by miners.
People who wintered over did what they could. This so-called Badger Hole was dug near Mineral Point, WI.

Here's another photograph, this one on display at the Badger Mine & Museum in Shullsburg.

Can you imagine spending a Wisconsin winter in one of these shelters? The tenacity of these immigrants, who sacrificed so much to make a better life for themselves, inspires me every day.

* * *
To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series---including the latest, Mining for Justice, see Kathleen's website  or follow her on her Facebook Author Page.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Through Thick and Thin

Nothing better than friends and families and there are no families or friends closer than Southern families and friends. That’s especially true in my Consignment Shop Series. Book 5, Lethal In Old Lace, out March 13. Here’s a few examples from the series.

Mamma and KiKi were sisters. At birth the muses tangoed over auntie’s crib turning her into Savannah’s dance diva and they wrapped mamma in a blanket with little elephants resulting in this campaign and me getting the name Reagan.

Friendship means being there for each other when the chips are down, like when Walker Boone is wanted for murder.

            I looked at my ’57 red Chevy convertible parked at the curb. “Might as well put a target on my back trying to get away from the cops in this thing.”
           Reagan shoved her helmet at me. “Take Princess.”
          “A scooter? You want me to ride a pink scooter named Princess?”
            “Better than that being your nickname in the big house.”
And there are all kinds of friendships…friendships between guys…

                      Dawg,” Big Joey said to me as I slip onto a stool next to his, everyone in the place giving Joey space. “Know you’d show.”
          Big Joey was built like a Mac truck, muscles buffed to jet black, gold tooth, ponytail and main man of the Seventeenth Street former home and forever family. He was my brother in every sense of the word except parental commonality.

Friendships between girls…

                        Footsteps skittered across the floor over our heads and I tore up the steps, with Auntie KiKi right behind me. We turned the corner at the top and faced a big guy with alcohol-infused breath and wild-looking bloodshot eyes that I could make out even in the dark. The guy took a swing at me and missed. KiKi threw the rest of her martini in his face and I added an added a cocktail shaker uppercut to his jaw.
                       “I give up! I give up!” The guy stumbled back against the wall and slithered down to the floor as I switched on the hall lights.

So who’s always there for you? Who always has your back come hell or high water?

Hugs, Duffy Brown


Monday, January 15, 2018

Nikolai here ~

Yes, you know me already.  How could you forget me?  You know me from all da Zodiac Mysteries.  And I'm famous in the city now!  Dere’s my TV show and all my hypnosis vork.  And now, I’ll be doing a very special event at The Mystic Eye.   I not telling anybody vhat it vill be.  Is surprise!  Da ladies at the Eye are very worried about dis  -- Julia and Gale and Cheryl.  Vell, not vorried exactly, ha ha, dey just nervous, not sure vhat to do vit me most of da time.  

But I von't be disappointing them.  No vay! 
You see, my favorite ting to do is explore past lives.  Through hypnotizing.  Ve can't remember vhat ve doing before, before dis life, but I help.  I hypnotize da person and den dey remember.  It all comes flooding back.  And sometimes is real surprise. 
I tink dis party vill be lots of fun.  You von't get to learn about it till dis summer vhen you can read all about me in da Tail of da Dragon.  You are gonna really like my surprise!  Can you guess vhat it vill be? 

You can read all about my author, Connie di Marco, da lady who invented me, at her website and at that ting dey call Facebook.  I don' understand dat.  It's got faces, but I don' see any book, do you?  And den dere's Tvitter.  She's at @AskZodia.  Dat's the name of Julia's newspaper column.  Da one vhere she gives astrological advice.  You'll learn lots of tings dere.  You'll enjoy your visit I know and den come see me at da Mystic Eye too!