Saturday, January 21, 2017

Libraries: Repositories of Hope

By: Hannah Moore
From: Much Ado About Muffin
Series: Merry Muffin Mysteries
By: Victoria Hamilton
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

I am a librarian.

And I am in a wheelchair.

Those two things don't have a lot to do with each other. I'd like to think I'd be a librarian even if I was born with legs that worked and a body that does all I want. I've always loved to read, but maybe if things had been a little easier I would have become a teacher instead, because I love to engage with people, too. However... I'm fortunate that being a librarian is really about teaching anyway. It's about reaching out and imparting the love of reading and learning. As a librarian I visit classrooms and senior's homes with books and it gives me an outlet for that 'teacher' side of me.

I know a lot about books and I have a degree in library science to prove it. 😉 But working in my library every day, talking to and watching people, running the Autumn Vale library has giving me a degree in people watching. And what I've learned is, what a person reads will tell you more about their heart than the words that come out of their mouths. In our town I can point out the cynic who reads Chicken Soup for the Soul books; the old curmudgeon who likes tales of kids and baseball and the endless golden days of youth; the broken-hearted widow who reads tales of romance and dreams of love again. I see a different side of them through their book choices.

And then there is Isadore Openshaw. I know what people see when they look at her. She's difficult, moody, and sullen. She shuns contact with people. She doesn't want 'charity' and she doesn't take kindly to pitying looks. She reads voraciously, everything I have and in no particular order. It took me a while, but I got to understand why. Isadore is one of those who doesn't 'get' people. Reading is a way, for her, of trying to understand and interpret the world around her. I hope I help, because I make sure she has a safe place to come where she can feel accepted - every human needs acceptance - and useful. Every human needs that too, to be useful, or at least all the best ones do. Isadore does a lot of tasks for me and helps me shelve the heavier books and the top shelf books.

What I guess I'm saying is, in a cold and often cruel world, the library is a safe haven. Do you go to the library, and if so, is it mostly for the books, or do you use the other programs they offer?


A Note From Victoria...

Today, I'm giving away a copy of Much Ado About Muffin. If you wish to enter and already have the book, I'm open to replacing it with another of my books, if I happen to have a copy available!

Just follow these guidelines please:
Canadian and US entries only, please!

Enter by Midnight, Monday, January 23rd.

Include your first name in your comment/entry.

Give me a valid email address is whatever form you wish eg: yourname (at) yourserver (dot) com

Coming soon...
Book 6 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Leave It To Cleaver, late spring 2017!
Book 5 of the Merry Muffin Mysteries, Muffin To Fear, summer of 2017!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Time To Dream of Clocks

By Ruth Clagan of the Clock Shop Mysteries by Julianne Holmes

Time is so interesting. I'd think that, even if it wasn't my business. My business, in case we haven't met yet, is horology. In layman's terms, I'm a clockmaker. The passion for time, and time pieces, has been passed down from generation to generation. The proclivity toward clockmaker has been part of me for as long as I remember. Visiting my grandparents every summer just fueled the passion. Inheriting their shop, the Cog & Sprocket, has been both an honor and a privilege.
But back to my ruminations on time. These dark days of winter slow down time a bit, at least for me. Since I live and work in my shop, I don't get out much. If I run out of food, I go down the road to the Corner Market to stock up. More likely, I go by the Sleeping Latte and get a meal. I always try and pay, but the Moira Reed won't let me. And then she always puts an extra cookie in my bag for later.
One great thing about these long days? Plenty of time to work. Fixing clocks, or rebuilding them, takes a lot of concentration. You can do everything right, and they don't keep time perfectly. So you have to go in, add weight, tighten this, replace that, until it works. The work for me is about precision. Precision requires patience. And time.
I think about time, and the idea of tracking it, a lot. When I was a little girl I remember my grandfather struggling with a beautiful old longcase clock that hadn't worked in years.
"Close enough is good enough," his friend Grover Winters has said when he brought it in. "I just want to see her running again. I'll happily adjust the hands a minute or two on winding day."
No matter what he did, my grandfather couldn't get the clock to keep perfect time. He finally admitted defeat one Saturday when Grover came in for a visit.
"Maybe she's keeping the time of another place, or planet?" Grover said. The two men laughed, but I've never forgotten the surge in imagination that fueled.
Maybe a slow clock is just perfect somewhere else? And that the clock is a glimpse into that other place?
That's the kind of thinking I do on these long, cold, New England winter days. How about you?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Snowbird Season and an ARC Giveaway!

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

Well here we are—it is January and Fort Myers Beach is welcoming snowbirds with open arms. Apart from a bit of rain and wind that may drop the temperature down to the low 70s on Monday, we are expecting sunshine and a high of about 83 degrees every day for the next week. Not at all unusual for this time of year. Plenty of beach time for all.

Naturally the Read ’Em and Eat Café and Bookstore is jumping. There is a line out the door every morning for breakfast— Hammett ham’n eggs over hard as well as Agatha Christie soft boiled eggs over Catcher in the Rye toast are best-selling favorites. Snackers stop in all day for sweet tea with the Robert Frost apple and blueberry tartlets and the Miss Marple Orange Iced Scones. Lunch brings out the folks who love Old Man and the Sea Chowder or the Swiss Family Robinson cheeseburger.

Then, there are the book club meetings. What better way for folks to meet new friends and neighbors than to share a book and talk about it?

And if you have never come to Fort Myers Beach to hang out in the Read ’Em and Eat, sit in on a book club meeting or feast on sweet tea and a piece of buttermilk pie, well today might be your lucky day. Our author, Terrie Farley Moran, has some Advanced Reader Copies of Well Read, Then Dead, and Caught Read-Handed. Now these books are uncorrected proofs and don’t have pretty picture covers but I guarantee you will love the stories inside. Comment on this post to let us know which book you would like to win.  Please include your email in this format: your name (at) your server (dot) com--so the spambots can't pick it up.

There will be two winners.  Each winner will receive an ARC of the book he or she mentions in the comments. Giveaway closes at midnight on Sunday January 22nd.

And now here is a note from our author:

Hi, it’s Terrie here: On Amazon the price of READ TO DEATH is reduced to $5.84, and WELL READ, THEN DEAD is reduced to $7.43. I am fascinated that Amazon has finally decided to reduce the price of CAUGHT READ-HANDED by a whooping nine cents. You can snatch in now for $7.90. Again, I repeat, I have no idea how the pricing is decided, but the nine cent reduction has me hysterical.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More Rory

by Rory Chasen, superstition agnostic and pet store manager, whose adventures are memorialized in the Superstition Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

Hello again.  I'm Rory Chasen.  I blogged here before not long ago, but I figured I would take this opportunity to do it again so I could post something during the first month of this year.

Yes, I am a superstition agnostic, and I can't swear this is a particularly lucky post--but having lived in Destiny, California, for some time now and being inundated with superstitions constantly, I figure it doesn't hurt to do things that, if superstitions are real, could bring good luck.

I've now been featured in three Superstition Mysteries: Lost Under A Ladder, Knock on Wood and Unlucky Charms.  With the help of my lucky black and white dog Pluckie I run the Lucky Dog Boutique in Destiny, and that's my actual career now--but I seem to have an avocation of solving murders.  For the first two books, I wound up helping friends, but I was actually the main suspect in Unlucky Charms.

I've had to figure out who committed murders in each of them, and in the most recent one, Unlucky Charms, I was the main suspect.  Ugh.

So now... what applies?  I'm actually not sure.  There are oodles of superstitions regarding New Year's, but that's now eighteen days ago.  And there was actually a Friday the 13th this month, but that was now five days ago.  I understand there may be a new horror movie out about superstitions this year but I'm not sure about that.

What do I know?  Well, as I always do, I wish nearly everyone I know good luck.  This time it's for this almost new year.  And it does include you... as well as the new man in my life, Destiny's Police Chief Justin Halbertson. 

Hope you're having a wonderful 2017.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Cold Place To Sleep - And Giveaway!

by Chloe Ellefson, Historic Sites Curator

The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

Maybe it's my Scandinavian blood, but for the most part, I enjoy winter. Still, when the temps dip below zero, I like nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire.

I hope I never take such pleasures for granted. An experience I had last winter taught me a lot about simple blessings.

The Minnesota Historical Society was developing plans to turn an abandoned industrial flour mill in Minneapolis into a museum. A college friend, Ariel, asked me to help out.

The mill has enormous potential as a museum. During my visit, though, it was a frigid, spooky place.

The Washburn A Mill was the largest flour mill in the world when completed in 1874.

Never heard of it?  Well, this mill gave us Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker. It changed the way flour was produced, and played a big role in the economic development of Minneapolis and beyond.
The mill in its heyday.  The original building burned and was replaced with a more modern complex.
The mill was abruptly abandoned in 1965. Everything was left behind, which is kind of eerie.

It didn't stay empty, though.  It's a favorite place for kids to party.
Graffiti left by visitors.
And sadly, many people who are homeless also shelter there. The conflict between advocates for the homeless and city planners has no easy answers.

It's a difficult place to spend time, especially during the winter.  It's huge. The abandoned industrial equipment poses all kinds of danger.

It didn't help that during my orientation tour, a body was found stuffed into a piece of machinery.  Believe it or not, things just got worse from there.
Yep, right in one of those chutes where grain once flowed.
I still shiver when I think of the people with no better place to shelter during a Minnesota winter than that old mill. . . and when I think of how close I came to losing my own life there.

Want to know more?  You can read all about it.

GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment below, and you'll be entered to win a copy of Tradition of Deceit, the 5th Chloe Ellefson Mystery. The Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, January 18th. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 19th. Please include your email.

Note:  The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries are set in the 1980s.  That abandoned flour mill is now the fabulous Mill City Museum.  It's well worth a visit!

Monday, January 16, 2017

The afraid, very afraid

Hi, Reagan Summerside here from the Consignment Shop series set in Savannah. 

With my latest roomie I’m finding Cherry House, my money pit Victorian, too small. That I have the Prissy Fox Consignment shop on the first floor may have something to do with it.

I need the Fox to make money so I can’t give it up meaning the only way to expand it up into the attic. Cherry House was built when cotton was king and steamboats lined the docks down on River Street. So who knows what’s up in that attic? Lots of stuff must have been stored there over the years.

During the time of the unfortunate Northern Aggression, the good citizens of Savannah took to hiding their valuables. It’s not uncommon for homeowners renovating to find coins, the long-lost family jewels, forgotten sterling silverware and even a diary telling want was going on.

Who know what’s up in the attic of Cherry House but all I know is since I started this renovation project things have been going bump in the night and even the day? Ghosts of the old South? The new South? Is there a secret in Cherry House that someone does not want me to find out?

Stay tuned to see how my renovations go and what’s in the attic. Have you ever gone into an old attic? What did you find? Should I be afraid, very afraid?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Happy 2017!

I’m thrilled to be the first person, um, I mean character, to appear in the new year from the Zodiac Mysteries.  Maybe you remember me from The Madness of Mercury?
I’m Gale Hymson and I’m the owner of The Mystic Eye in North Beach.  I’ve always wanted to start my own business, I guess I’m just an entrepreneurial sort of woman, and I was positive an occult bookstore and shop would be a big hit in San Francisco.
And was I right!  The Mystic Eye is the best occult shop in Northern California, maybe even in the entire west.  Oh, I know there are others, but certainly not in San Francisco.  We have everything!  Books on every occult subject and religion you can imagine, gargoyles and masks to decorate your home, handmade jewelry by local artists, Tarot cards, incense, herbs for magical purposes, candle-burning supplies, you name it.  You can spend hours perusing our goodies at the Eye. 

And readers!  Do we have readers!  Past life, Tarot, psychics galore and last, but not least, astrologers, including my dear friend Julia Bonatti.  Of course, she’s rather famous now and has a very busy schedule, but she still turns up to help out at our psychic fairs. 

And if it weren’t for Julia, the Eye could have very well closed down when those dreadful people from the Army of the Prophet started picketing our shop.  It became such a nuisance.  I had to call my lawyer to see what I could do about getting a restraining order.  And it wasn’t just me, it was virtually every practitioner of the occult arts in and around the city who was being harrassed and threatened. 
It was thanks to Julia that a very evil man – the Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle – was finally put out of business – him and all his crazy followers. 

So there’s nothing to fear any longer.  You can stop in and browse to your heart’s content.  I certainly hope you do and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletters, so you won’t miss any of our exciting events at the Eye. 

You can find me in every Zodiac Mystery.  I try to stay in the background, but my shop is ground zero for lots of stories.  The next one will be out in August 2017.  All Signs Point to Murder is available now, and my friend Julia is at it again, solving crimes and putting murderers out of business with her astrological skills.  
Hope to see you soon!

And don't forget to visit our author, Connie di Marco, at her website, at Facebook and Twitter @askzodia to learn more about the Zodiac Mysteries.