Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

by Shelby McDonald 
from Peg Cochran's Farmer's Daughter Series

It’s Memorial Day weekend!  What are you doing? We’re having a barbecue here at Love Blossom Farm.  Kelly and Seth have come over to join Matt and me.  You know Matt—he owns the general store here in Lovett, Kelly’s our local vet and Seth is our family doctor.

I’ve got some ribs cooking on the grill and I’m making French potato salad (Julia Child’s recipe where it’s dressed with white wine and oil instead of mayo), some cole slaw (grated cabbage plus mayo plus sour cream plus cider vinegar plus salt and a dash of sugar make for great cole slaw.) And for an appetizer I’ve made a big bowl of cowboy caviar to serve with tortilla chips.

Have you ever made cowboy caviar?  It’s delicious and so easy!  It can also be served as a side dish.

Cowboy Caviar

½ green pepper
½ red pepper
1 small red onion
3 plum tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
1 bunch cilantro
1 can black-eyed peas
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can shoepeg corn
½ tsp salt or to taste

Dice all veggies and chop herbs.  Drain and rinse beans.  Drain corn. 

Combine veggies, beans and corn.  Mix in spices and chopped herbs.

Boil oil and sugar and vinegar for one minute.  Pour over mixture and chill.

Coming June 5! 

“The clever ‘Dear Reader’ asides serve up just the right amount of dry wit, and the occasional blog post snippet provides readers with some helpful tips alongside their mystery. The case is always well plotted, and the fictitious Michigan small-town setting provides an intriguing supporting cast with a bevy of interesting personalities. Readers will root for Shelby to solve the case and stay on the edge of their seats until she does.”

– RT Reviews


Friday, May 25, 2018

Can You Go Home Again?

by Katherine Hamilton, from Sheila Connolly's Murder at the Mansion (Victorian Village #1), coming out June 26th from Minotaur Books

The author Thomas Wolfe once wrote a book called You Can’t Go Home Again. Maybe I should have paid attention. But then, in that book he said, “Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going.” I think I remembered that part.

I’m Katherine Hamilton, usually called Kate, and for a lot of reasons—like losing my job, and because my high school best buddy Lisbeth begged me—I came home again, to the small town of Asheboro in western Maryland. But this wasn’t just a visit to my old hometown: for some reason the town council decided I was the right person to rescue the town from a long economic slump and make it a tourist attraction.

What I really wanted was to get out of my Baltimore condo for a while and clear my head while I tried to figure out what to do next with my life. Unfortunately Asheboro wasn’t exactly what I needed. First of all, Cordelia Walker, the girl who had made my life miserable in high school, was still trying to throw her weight around in the town fifteen years later, and she had her own ideas about saving the town (although the town council disagreed with her). To make things worse, she’d married my one-time high school boyfriend Ryan, although at least he’d had the good sense to divorce her. And then she ended up dead, and I was the person who found her. I was off to a great start.

I guess it was the things I hadn’t noticed when I was growing up in town that kept me there, when I could easily have turned and run. I didn’t want to see the town get swallowed up by a bigger town and disappear just because there was no industry and no jobs and no reason to move to Asheboro, much less stay there. All my memories weren’t bad ones. But the thing that really sold me was the Victorian mansion outside of town, built by the man who also built the only factory in town—more than a hundred years ago. When I saw the house again, it was like walking into a time warp. Even though it had been empty for a century, it was perfectly preserved (thanks to a long line of caretakers). I could see so clearly how to bring it back to life, and bring the town along with it, to make it a restored gem worth the visit. 

Except there was the problem of the late Cordelia and why she’d been dumped on the steps of the mansion. I made a pretty good suspect, but luckily for me the State Police didn’t think so.

Is Asheboro still my home? I haven’t decided yet, but I love a challenge, and I had the time to see what I could do with the place. All I have to do is get the whole town to support my plan to take the town back in time to the way it was in 1900—and find the money to do it. It’ll be a lot of work, but I hope it will be worth it.

Coming June 26th! You can pre-order it now at 
Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Glassblowing on a Cruise Ship? #Bookgiveaway!

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

Hi, Savannah here. One of the lovely things about living in Florida is that we are close to many cruise ports. The closest one is in Tampa. Cruise ships also leave out of Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

While I was an apprentice in Seattle, WA, I was sent for training in Corning, NY, to be a glass blower on a class of cruise ships that had a hot shop on the top deck. The training was necessary because cruise ships are not permitted to have an open flame for the creation of their pieces. Instead, electric powered ovens are used for heating the molten glass and curing the finished pieces.

After finishing my training, I was waiting on an invitation to demonstrate glass blowing on one of the cruise ships. But, life interfered and I had to withdraw my name from the list of qualified glass blowers who were willing to live aboard a cruise ship for months at a time. It was a lost chance, but running Webb's Glass Shop has completely overtaken my fascination with the sea. It would be nice though...

Do you like to cruise?


There's a #GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment and your email address in the form of yourname(AT)server(DOT)com to avoid the SPAM bots. Do this by midnight on May 25 for the chance to win a signed Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of Shattered at Sea. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes.

Etched in Tears releases on August 28, 2018 but is already available for pre-order on AmazonNookKobo, and in your favorite bookstores. It is published by Kensington Books You can also ask your library to order it for you.

About Shattered at Sea 

A Mediterranean cruise gives glass shop owner Savannah Webb a chance to demonstrate her expertise--and fire up her skills when it comes to foul play.

When Savannah signs on to perform glass blowing on a cruise ship, part of the appeal is that she'll get to meet her boyfriend Edward's family in England. As an added bonus, Edward's cousin, Ian, will be joining them on board. But when Ian disappears at the beginning of the cruise, the ship's authorities initially consider it suicide.

Savannah tries to balance her growing suspicions with work on her shows, but her relationship with the other glass artists begins to crack. And she can't let love color her judgment when Edward suddenly jumps to the top of the suspect list. His fate is in Savannah's hands, and she'll do everything she can -- on land and sea -- to clear his name.

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 writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the 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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pear and Ginger Scones - To Die For?

by Summer Jacobs
from the Highland Bookshop Mysteries

Summer Jacobs, here, in a hurry because business is going well in our bookshop and the tearoom. The weather here, on the west coast of Scotland, is perfect, and tourists are pouring into town. Janet meant to tell you about the Glen Sgail restoration project, this month. With all the fuss over the visiting author she's behind, though, and she asked if I'd contribute a recipe to the blog, instead. So here's my recipe for pear and ginger scones. Read this and tell me you aren't drooling. 😃

Pear and Ginger Scones

Makes 6 or 8 scones, depending on how big you want them. 

2 or 3 firmish pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch chunks
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar 
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger

¼ cup heavy cream
1 large egg 

Heat oven to 375°F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast (no need to stir) until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes.

Slide parchment with pear chunks onto a cooling rack and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt together in a large bowl. Add butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender until the cubes are about the size of baby green peas.

Stir in cooled pear chunks. Give the mixture three or four quick mashes with the pastry blender (to break a few of the pear chunks, but leaving most intact). Stir in crystallized ginger.

In a small bowl, beat cream and egg. Stir into flour mixture with a fork, just until you can bring the dough together in a ball. Don’t overmix.

On a well-floured board, pat dough into a 6-inch circle.

Cut either into 6 or 8 wedges. Arrange wedges, two inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes if you’re making 6, about 22 minutes if you’re making 8. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve warm. 

Unbaked scones freeze beautifully and you can put them straight into the oven from the freezer. They’ll only take a few minutes longer to bake.

MMMmmmmmmmmmmmm. They're smashing! We serve them daily at Cakes and Tales. Stop in, if you find yourself in Inversgail.

Molly MacRae writes the Highland Bookshop Mystery series and the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. She lives in Champaign, Illinois, where she’s been connecting children with books at the public library for the past fifteen years. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, or connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gardens in the Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth

Hello there - my name is Althea Twyst, and I'm the Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth. I'm so pleased to have the chance to talk to you again, and I'm going to use the opportunity to speak about a subject close to my heart - gardens. 

May is a wonderful month to visit a beautiful garden, and here in Wales we're blessed with more than a few worth visiting. 

Aberglasney Garden
 Aberglasney is a delightful example. It's in Carmarthen, in South West Wales, which is where a good friend of mine was raised; Carol Hill is one of the four women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency in a converted barn on the Chellingworth Estate, and she - along with her three private investigator colleagues - have solved some puzzling cases hereabouts. 

Of course, Carol was raised on a local farm, not in a mansion like Aberglasney, and now she's settled in a rather pleasant Georgian house in overlooking the village green in nearby Anwen-by-Wye.  Her infant son, Albert, is quite a cuddly little chap. 
The Mansion House, at Aberglasney

 There are some lovely places in South East Wales too, and I think my favorite there is Dyffryn Gardens.
The formal garden, at Dyffryn Gardens
The whole thing belongs to the National Trust nowadays, so I'm sure a lot of people visit.
The Pompeian garden at Dyffryn Gardens
Powis Castle is in mid-Wales; they have some lovely vistas, and it's a wonderful place to plan for a good walk.

Powis Castle and Gardens

 So, have I inspired you? Why not find out more about the wonderful gardens of Wales...maybe you'll even consider visiting Chellingworth Hall one day.

To find out more about these gardens, here are some links: 

Aberglasney Gardens:
Dyffryn Gardens:
Powis Castle and Gardens: 

Cathy Ace writes the Cait Morgan Mysteries and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. THE CASE OF THE UNSUITABLE SUITOR, the fourth in the WISE Enquiries Agency series is shortlisted for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award for Best Light Mystery by a Canadian!

  Find out more about Cathy and her work here:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tea with the Queen? Yes, Please!

By: Jaymie Leighton
Title: Leave It to Cleaver & No Grater Danger
Series: Vintage Kitchen Mysteries
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

Hi! Welcome to Queensville, Michigan's annual Tea with the Queen event, held every year on the weekend of the Canadian Victoria Day weekend. Look at all your wonderful hats... are you wearing them in honor of the royal wedding? Aha, I thought so! How many in your party? Five? I've got a table for you right over here near the lilacs on the lawn of our beautiful Stowe House... the last time we'll be holding it here! Next year the event will be moving to the lawn of Queensville Heritage Manor. What's that you say? Oh, yes, wasn't the royal wedding wonderful? Meghan Markle... I mean, Her Grace, the Duchess of Sussex... was so lovely; her dress was really simple, but it made her the star, and I liked that. Harry was so happy and handsome! I did wonder if he'd keep the beard, and he did! Loved the gospel choir, and the American touches. But still so British!

Right... tea! We serve tea in individual pots with a variety of real bone china cups that you can buy after tea, if you like, and you have the option of a full on tea for the whole table, with macrons, cookies, finger sandwiches, lovely Tansy Tarts butter tarts - you Canadians know all about butter tarts! - and my own cranberry lemon scones with... pardon me? Oh, yes, well... we don't have clotted cream, exactly, but a lovely creme fraiche. No, I agree, not the same thing, but we have to make do. No one was willing to make the clotted cream; too much trouble. You can also just have the tea and scones, if you like.

Yes, that's Mrs. Trelawney Bellwood playing the part of Queen Victoria today; yesterday was Imogene Frump's turn. They've started trading off now. The little tiny girl with her, dressed in the frothy white dress, who is playing one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, is my daughter Jocie! Isn't she the most adorable little girl? Yes, I'm very lucky. Let me leave you to read over the menu and decide.

Wow... we're so busy! I have a moment to speak with you, but just briefly... we've got more people coming by buses, and the ferry from Canada is due any minute! More thirsty Canadians... those folks sure drink a lot of tea!

This royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, has created quite the fervor for our Tea with the Queen event, and we've had national coverage from the media, even! Don't get Mrs. Bellwood... I mean, Queen Victoria, started on the wedding, or she'll talk all day. It's actually one of our two biggest fundraising events of the year for the Queensville Historic Society.

We also have Dickens Days in December, when Victorian garbed carolers stroll the village; we have a cider booth, and treats for everyone! Every town has history, and it's all important, the good and the bad. Did you know that the founding father of Queensville, Jonas Perry, was a spice magnate? He imported nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coriander... all kinds of spices.

I'd better get back to my customers... Hello again! Okay... complete tea for the whole table, wonderful. It'll be coming in just a few minutes. By the way... after you enjoy your tea, head on out to the Queensville Heritage Manor for a tour; I designed the kitchen, and sourced all the vintage kitchen implements. Directions are on your complimentary menu, and entry is included in the price of your tea!

You're done? Thank you so much for coming to Tea with the Queen, and we hope we'll see you back in December for Dickens Days in downtown Queensville!

BTW... did you enjoy your tea and treats?



 First... an announcement! No Grater Danger, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #7, will be out June 19th, 2018! (See below for blurb!) Also, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #8, Breaking the Mould, will be released later this year in October/November!

Comment here to win one of three EBOOK editions of Leave It to Cleaver.

1 - Leave your first name and an email address: yourname (at) yourserver (dot) com
2 - Enter by Midnight, May 23rd - Please note... if you comment after midnight May 21st your comment won't show up immediately, but will go into moderation. I'll approve it bright and early the next day!

And that's all there is to it!

No Grater Danger - Coming June 19th!

In the brand-new Vintage Kitchen Mystery from the author of Leave It to Cleaver, someone out to spice up their life means to crush a helpless victim . . .
“Delightfully entertaining, well-written, and an interesting and exciting plot. Literally keeps you guessing right to the end.” —Goodreads on Leave It to Cleaver

Vintage cookware enthusiast Jaymie Leighton is thrilled at the prospect of meeting an elderly descendant of her town’s founding father, not least because she’s known to possess an enviably large collection of antique spice graters. But the curmudgeonly woman also has substantial real estate holdings, and at the moment she’s engaged in a fierce battle with a property developer who wants her to sell off her old buildings in the name of progress. When Jaymie goes to visit the woman and discovers that there’s been an attempt on her life, she polishes up her sleuthing skills to find out who was behind the foul deed.

Her first instinct is to suspect the developer, but as she digs deeper into the case she learns that her older new friend has purportedly been the victim of numerous criminal acts—all of which point to different suspects. Unsure if the stories are true or simply the confused ramblings of a senior citizen, Jaymie sifts through the clues hoping to expose the culprit, but she knows that if she keeps stirring up trouble, she’ll be next on the would-be killer’s list.

Includes a vintage recipe!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Spring Better Spring

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

Running a summer theater is hard enough.
Running a summer theater when a week before the season opens you're forced to turn the heat back on in the house is a whole other level of difficult. Once the internal temperature of my carriage house fell to 55 my cat, Max, let me know that he wasn't having it, and I had to face facts. Spring hasn't sprung in Trevortown.
It's amazing, really. 55 three months ago meant opening your coat and leaving your gloves in your bag. But that was February, and this is May. May calls for light coats, gloves finally being put away, and sandals. That is, unless you live here in New England, especially on the coast. Even with all caveats, though, this has been a chilly spring overall. Even the green is muted so far.
What does that mean for a summer theater? Well, first of all, we need to get in touch with the high school and come up with a plan B (moving into their theater) in case it gets worse. After last year's A Christmas Carol debacle none of us want to go back there too quickly, but a general manager has to plan.
Next up, we send out emails to our intrepid audience members, and suggest they dress warmly and bring layers. That always gets a great response. The first two weeks of the summer season are previews, and mostly a core group of locals come to see us all shake out the winter webs before the summer season kicks in.
As a matter of fact, a few of our longtime subscribers, and donors, hatched a plan after looking at the almanac. They've been making fleece throws. You know the type, where you get two pieces of fleece, cut the edges into fringe, and tie the fringe together in knots. They suggested making them available for rent. I laughed at the idea, but now am grateful that the cranky Yankees who help keep us running ignore me when it comes to matters of the concession stand.
Speaking of the concession stand. We've got three different cocoa recipes that can be made in large batches. It depends on who gets to the kitchen first as to which one will be served on a particular evening. For audience members in the know, the first question to ask is "who made the cocoa?" Looks like we'll need lots of that this season.
All I can say is this--I'm glad that the first show has costumes that can be layered. That year we did the Shakespeare set on a Grecian beach in July? All I can say is that teeth chattering does not good Shakespeare make.
Now, I'm off again to read the weather report. After all, this is New England. If you don't like the report, wait five minutes.

J.A. Hennrikus writes under several names. As Julia Henry, she writes the Garden Squad series for Kensington. The first in the series, Pruning the Dead, will come out in February 2019. As Julianne Holmes she writes the Agatha nominated Clock Shop Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. As J.A. Hennrikus she writes the Theater Cop Mystery Series for Midnight Ink, and has published three short stories with Level Best Books. She is an arts administrator and teacher in the Boston area. She a member of MWA and Sisters in Crime New England. She blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Killer Characters. T:@JHAuthors I: @JHAuthors