Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mysteries Remembered

by Olivia Greyson and her mom, Ellie Greyson-Meyers, from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES by Virginia Lowell

“What’s this?” Olivia asked as her mother plunked a small cardboard box on the work table in the Gingerbread House kitchen.

“A little something to help you while away the hours when you aren’t working,” Ellie said with her benign, yoga-induced smile.

“Right, because I have so many of those.” Olivia opened the lid and looked inside. “Old, yellowed, paperback books? Just what I’ve been dreaming of. I suppose you’ve cleaned out your attic again. What makes you think my little apartment is a dumping ground for the stuff you want to get rid of, but you can’t quite bid them adieu?”

“Do you remember Great Aunt Agatha, dear?” Ellie helped herself to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. “She died when you were little, maybe three or four, I lose track of time.”

“That’s because you over-indulge in yoga. It empties your mind.” Olivia removed a handful of books from the box and scanned the covers. “These author names look vaguely familiar: Mignon G. Eberhart, Emma Lathen… Skinny little books, aren’t they?” She opened one book to a random page. “Well, no wonder. The print is teeny tiny.”

“You are looking at a slice of paperback mystery history,” Ellie said. “Inexpensive paperbacks became readily available by the 1960s, which made these wonderful mysteries more accessible to the reading public. Many of these authors were women.” She reached into the box and pulled out one slim paperback, By the Watchman’s Clock, by Leslie Ford. “The copyright date for this book is 1932,” Ellie said, “but this copy was printed in the 1960s.”

“1932? Wow, Mom, that story is even older than you are. Okay, that was snarky. Only why did you bring these books to me? Why not sell them online or donate them?”

“Because they are, in my humble opinion, priceless,” Ellie said. “Besides, I don’t want to get rid of them. I want to keep them in the family, give them to my daughter, and you can pass them on to your own… not that I’m pushing. Anyway, here’s a list of the books in this box, which is a mere sample of the treasures Great Aunt Agatha bestowed upon us. Let me know when you’ve finished reading these, and I’ll bring more. Many of these authors were astonishingly prolific.” Ellie glanced up at the kitchen clock over the sink. “Time for yoga. Happy reading, dear.” On her way out, she handed Olivia the following list of authors, book titles, and original publication dates:

Charity Blackstock: Dewey Death (1958), The Foggy, Foggy Dew (1958)
Mignon G. Eberhart:  Another Man’s Murder (1957), Jury of One (1960)
Leslie Ford: By the Watchman’s Clock (1932), Ill Met by Moonlight (1937)
Emma Lathan: A Stitch in Time (1968)
Helen Reilly: Murder in the Mews (1931), All Concerned Notified (1939), Murder in Shinbone Alley (1940)
Mabel Seeley: The Listening House (1938), Eleven Came Back (1943)
Dorothy Stockbridge Tillett: The Man Who Killed Fortescue (1928)
Patricia Wentworth: The Chinese Shawl (1943)

Do you have any favorite mysteries from a earlier era?

The fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, COOKIES AND SCREAM, will be released July 1, 2014. Meanwhile, visit Virginia Lowell at

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Going Home to Blue Plum or Things I’d like to Avoid

by Kath Rutledge from the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries by Molly MacRae

How does it feel to be back in Blue Plum? You know you’re not the first person to ask that, don’t you? But that’s okay. Nobody means any harm. It’s a throw-away question, pleasant small talk. Maybe a way of avoiding less pleasant talk, like the whole reason I am back, but that’s okay. I’m happy avoiding unpleasant. For instance the Spivey twins If they were to show up right now you’d find nothing but a void right here where I’ve been sitting. That was probably mean, though. I’ll add “mean” to my list of things to avoid, right under “Spiveys.” 

But back to being back in Blue Plum. Do you know where in Tennessee it is? About as far north and east as you can get without being in either North Carolina or Virginia. It’s tucked up in the corner, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The landscape reminds me of an appliquéd quilt with ridge behind ridge behind ridge and each layer of hills is a deeper color, shading from jade to emerald to cyan to amethyst, and the last disappearing into an indigo so black you can imagine infinity.

And the town itself? It’s small, it’s old, the buildings are quaint. It’s laid out along a creek valley and the creek runs behind the courthouse. The sidewalks downtown are brick. The curbs are limestone. There’s Mel’s on Main, the best café your nose will ever lead you to. And there’s the Weaver’s Cat, Granny’s yarn shop that’s so much more. And Ardis who runs it now that Granny is gone. And that’s why I’ve been avoiding really answering your question. You noticed that, did you?

Because I can talk around it. I can get out the maps and the snapshots and give you a copy of the Blue Plum Bugle. Buy you lunch at Mel’s. Take you in the Cat and introduce you to Ardis with her honeysuckle ways. But that isn’t really telling you how it feels to be back in Blue Plum. And that’s because, with Granny so suddenly gone, I really can’t feel. Because to me, Granny was Blue Plum.

Well, now see, ending on a low note is another thing I need to add to my list of things to avoid. Granny had a good long life. She was a spry old thing. I spent most of my childhood summers with her and loved every minute. So let me try again.
Being back in Blue Plum is like being handed a glass of sweet tea and a piece of homemade pie and sitting with one of Granny's cats in my lap. Is that better? Of course, if the Spiveys made the tea it’s too sweet. And if the pie didn’t come from Mel’s it isn’t worth eating. And if it’s too late in the afternoon they’ll both spoil supper and the cat will scratch me. But that’s what it’s like being back in Blue Plum. The good, the bad, and the avoidable. 

What’s on your list of things you’d like to avoid?

Kath Rutledge’s latest adventure is the national bestselling SPINNING IN HER GRAVE, third book in the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, which are available in mass market, e-book, and audio wherever books are sold.
Visit Molly MacRae on Facebook and Pinterest, or find her the first Monday of each month at Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Going Greene on Earth Day

By:Dani Greene
Book: Drizzled with Death
Author: Jessie Crockett
Series: The Sugar Grove Mysteries, Book 1

Today is Earth Day and here at Greener Pastures Tree Farm we are celebrating by visiting the Sugar Grove Elementary School to share some green living activities with the students. It is one of my favorite days of the year because I get to share my passion for land stewardship with a whole new generation of New Hampshire kids.

As sugar makers my family depends on the climate being what it is at present to ensure our ability to make maple syrup. The balance of warm days and cold nights is what makes it possible to tap the trees. Because of this we take global warming very seriously.

My family and I show up in the morning and spend the day volunteering in classrooms and helping teachers with a variety of Earth Day activities from educating kids about composting to talking about buying local foods whenever possible. We bring in soil-blockers to help create environmentally friendly plant pots which the kids to use to plant maple trees for their own yards. We let them know about land trusts in our area that provide recreation areas for families and which help reconnect people with nature in fun ways.

By the end of the day everyone has had a great time and hopefully has picked up a few tips for going green. Happy Earth Day from the Greene Family to you!

Jessie loves to connect with readers at her website or on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fresh Beginnings

Bran New Death

By: Merry Wynter
From: Merry Muffin Mystery Series
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Book 1 Title: Bran New Death
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2013

Fresh Beginnings

Life is not a do-over; isn't that what we're told all the time? And it's true. We don't get to correct our mistakes most of the time. You can't un-hurt somebody. You can't un-call someone a bad name, or un-gossip about someone. You can't un-have an accident.

Someone you love will never un-die. How well I know that. I miss Miguel, the husband of my heart and body for two short years; I miss him so very badly, but he's gone and I have a hopefully long life to live ahead of me.

How do I do that? Well, though we often can't undo events that have made us unhappy, or correct what we have done when it results in rotten consequences, we can always make a  fresh start. And that is what Wynter Castle in Autumn Vale, upstate New York, is for me, a fresh start. I left behind the demise of my stylist career. I left behind the big city. I left behind a lifestyle that I was beginning to tire of. 

And now I'm living in a castle in the middle of the woods, like some superannuated fairy tale princess. 

Whether I keep it (Love to, but how to afford to live here?) or sell it and leave, my life is my own to restart. Miguel would tell me that a happy woman is a woman in love, but I'm not sure I can ever love again. Won't any man feel like hamburger after the sirloin that was Miguel Paradiso? 

However... I'm beginning to think that steak comes in different forms: sirloin, filet mignon, New York strip and a really thick, juicy T-bone. Just because Miguel was sirloin, maybe I'd still like a big old hunk of beef in another form, like a certain handsome sheriff named Virgil Grace.  

A fresh start; falling love would be the ultimate fresh start for a heartbroken widow, wouldn't it? I'll have to think about that some more.            

Have you ever had to make a fresh start? Do you have any advice?

Check out Victoria Hamilton online:
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries -
Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

If you want to be the first to hear about Victoria Hamilton release dates and news, just drop a line to victoria at victoriahamiltonmysteries dot com with the subject line 'Subscribe' to be added to the newsletter list!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Christmas Newsletters, Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

Gwen Babineaux

blogs for

The Domestic Diva Mysteries

by Krista Davis

Christmas is coming soon. It's my favorite time of year. Surprises and secrets and Santa! What fun. I'm just writing our Christmas letter. There are five of us, and do we have a lot of news. We moved into a historic house in Old Town Alexandria and renovated it. Just between us, it's gorgeous. We gutted the kitchen and started fresh. We even installed a movie room with a popcorn machine!

Even though we had so many exciting things happen, Christmas letters can be a bit of a drag sometimes. So we took a hint from our friend Peg Cochran, and we're adding one lie about each of us. Isn't that fun? Of course, we're telling our friends there are untruths in the letter but we're letting them guess which ones are the lies! I think we'll have the most popular newsletter of all our friends.

One or two people in our circle don't like Christmas newsletters. Can you imagine? They think they're too pompous. Well, I say bah humbug to that. We're all so busy that we can't get together as much as we'd like, not to mention all our old friends whom we never see anymore. I love to hear what's going on in their lives. And if they send a picture, I swoon! I swear I wouldn't recognize some of my old friends anymore. Some people age better than others. (We can just keep that between us, okay?)

So how do you feel about Christmas newsletters? Are they wonderful? Horrible? Or just a snore? Do you send them?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Authors are Crazy!

 Kari Lee Townsend

Hi there, it's me, Kalli Ballis. I'm back again. If you remember from when I was here last time, I told you that I work at my best friend Jazyln's, boutique Full Disclosure, and I design lingerie called Kalli's Originals.

Now, I  know ,many people have jobs that they are passionate about. Jaz is very dedicated to her store, and I am obsessed with getting my designs just right.

Well, let me tell you, my author Kari Lee Townsend is crazy!

At least when the average person is obsessed, it affects just them. Try being a main character in an author's book!

Authors are NOT average people, folks!

They are always working, even when they are not working, and their poor characters are dragged along, kicking and screaming, wherever these crazy authors take them.

They work all the time. At home, in their cars, even at their children's extracurricular activities, whatever they may be. I've listened to music, watched recitals, cheered on lacrosse teams...all while she made me do crazy things on the page.

Normally I don't mind, but freezing my butt off at the end of April while it's supposed to be spring is just crazy! There was snow on the field. SNOW! I've decided to take over my author's pen and write an epilogue because winter must die after what it put us through this year.

So tell me, what crazy thing has your author put you through lately?

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Opinion of People

by Lauren Vancouver, pet rescuer, whose adventures are memorialized in the Pet Rescue Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

I've been in pet rescue for quite a while, and at times I really feel I love pets but dislike people.  Some people come to HotRescues, the no-kill shelter I run in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, and bring their dog or cat along just to dump with me.  I can legally take in owner relinquishments and usually do because I feel so sorry for those pets whose people simply don't want them any more. 

Oh, sure, there are sometimes good reasons, like the owner was a relative who passed away.  Or the family needs to move because of dire financial reasons and the apartment they're moving into won't allow pets (although why not keep looking for one that does allow pets?).  I understand that circumstances can change, and at times people need to find new homes for their pets. 

But sometimes the people I see simply don't understand that their pets are family, too, and not just disposable objects that happen to be living with them.  It's much too sad to dump a dog at a shelter just because he's getting old.  I want to shake some sense into people like that.  Even more, I want to do all I can to make their pets' lives turn wonderful--even if there's only a short time left in their lives.

So, yes, at times I consider myself nearly a misanthrope--a hater of people.

And then there are those other times, when I see people going out of their way to save pets from horrible circumstances.   Like last-minute rescues from high-kill shelters to keep dogs or cats from being put down.  Or going into burning buildings to save not only people but their pets, too.  I even saw a viral video online of a bunch of people going out of their way, endangering themselves to  save the members of a pod of dolphins that had beached themselves. 

When I see something like that, I remind myself that I'm a person.  Not all people are sweet and kind and appreciate animals. 

But some do.  And those are the people I love. 



TEACUP TURBULENCE, the fifth Pet Rescue Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, was a January 2014 release from Berkley Prime Crime.