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 attic...be 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. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

THE WRITE WAY by Sabrina Tate of The Black Cat Knocks on Wood

As a mystery writer, I spend a lot of time thinking "WHAT IF?" What if a woman served on a jury and the defendant she helped to acquit started sending her flowers with love notes? What if a woman finds a photo of a person she never saw before standing in her own home? What if a man attends the funeral of a friend only to run into the friend - very much alive - the following week? What if a woman quits her safe and well-paid job as a paralegal in the city and moves to the country to write full-time? I'm living out that "what if" as we speak.

A little over a year ago I made the big move to Lavender, Texas. I love living near my Aunt Rowe and my best friend Tyanne, and I have a nice nest egg so I don't have to worry too much about the lack of a paycheck. I'm away from the noise and horrid city traffic. I have the most wonderful pet imaginable - Hitchcock, a black cat who found me rather than the other way around. What could be better?

For one thing, I could be better at focusing. I want to make fast progress on my novel, I really do. I set daily word count goals. I set a time to work on my book every day. I write in the same place (well, except for when I'm writing at Hot Stuff Coffee Shop), I give myself weekly deadlines. Sometimes it simply doesn't matter how hard I try. I mean, who can stay seated in front of a computer when the cat's calling to me about a dead body nearby? Or when Aunt Rowe goes off to perform dangerous stunts in a rodeo, for crying out loud. Some things can't be ignored. So I get up and follow clues and lend a hand to solve a murder. Anyone would do the same, but my writing has suffered. There are some who refer to my writing as a hobby, and that really annoys me. I'm committed to proving them wrong. 

I have an agent now, and my friend Tyanne believes publication of my first novel is right around the corner. A real book deal would make all the difference in the way I handle my time. I would buckle down and start grinding those books out one after another. I would absolutely start doing things The Write Way - right?

What tricks do you use to keep yourself on task when you're working on a project?

Kay Finch is the National Best-Selling author of the Bad Luck Cat Mysteries by Berkley Prime Crime. Though her character, Sabrina Tate, has left the paralegal profession behind to move to the Texas Hill Country, Kay still works as a paralegal at a Houston, Texas law firm. She resides in a Houston suburb with her husband and pets. Visit her at www.kayfinch.com.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Meet Bunny Bowowski, A Recipe Plus Giveaway

Hi-do! Welcome to The Bean Hive. I'm Bunny Bowowski. You can grab a regular coffee from the coffee bar or a tea. But you look like you want one of them fancy drinks like a latte, or one of them caramel macchiato. You know, they are filled with sugar. Don't take my word for it. I'm just a customer. The real owner is Roxanne Bloom, Roxy if you know her. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but she's asked me to look after the coffee house while she headed down to the police station.

Mmmhmmm. Now Roxy finding Alexis Roarke murdered is just hearsay because I haven't really talked to her, but I heard it from  Crissy down at the Honey Comb Salon. She'd know because she and Roxy were friends twelve years ago.

It seems so long ago, but it ain't. Roxy hasn't been back to Honey Springs in twelve years, but the two of them, Crissy and Roxy, they picked up like no time had passed. You know, we do that in small towns.

Oh, yeah. The police station. Here, have a honey doughnut with that coffee. Lips smackin' good I'm telling you. You'll be back for more.

Anyways, Roxy's Aunt Maxi and Alexis Roarke really don't get along too well. Didn't get along, that is. In fact, they'd just had a public spat yesterday. Roxy went down to The Crooked Cat Book Store, Alexis's store, to offer what I'd call a peace offering in the form of a cup of coffee and doughnut. This is where is gets good.

Alexis. Dead. Murdered. Not only that, but BANNED was stamped on her forehead. You know, Alexis used that stamp on the banned books in The Crooked Cats' banned book section. Mmmhhhhmmm.

Now that's just hearsay. Though I do know that Roxy is down at the police station trying to get her Aunt Maxi out of some kind of hot water. After all, just a few months ago before Roxy moved back to Honey Springs, she was one of them fancy lawyers.

Mmmhmmmm. Nothin' like this has happened in Honey Springs. . .ever.
Now, you come on back. Remember that around these parts, the gossip is just as hot as the coffee. Toodles!

Readers: Do you like recipes in your cozies? Do you ever make the recipes? Leave a comment for a chance to win one of the IT'S A SOUTHERN MYSTERY, Y'ALL measuring spoon and Kappes mini-tote. Winner will be announced on January 19th.

Be sure to grab your prerelease sale at $2.99 copy of SCENE OF THE GRIND before the price is raised on release day. Buy it now! Don't forget to add it to your Southern Mystery Shelf on Goodreads. I'd greatly appreciate it.

If you were to come by The Bean Hive, you could eat one of these amazing gluten free mini-cheese cakes. Or grab the recipe and many more southern recipes at Tonyakappes.com.

Do you want to be in a book club? Be sure to join Death Becomes Us Cozy Mystery only book club on Facebook. We have so much fun! Be sure to follow the link HERE!

There are so many ways to be involved and connect with Tonya!

Facebook at Tonya Kappes Author:

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Email: Tonyak11@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Beginnings

by Marcy Singer from Better Off Thread by Amanda Lee

Most of us see the beginning of the year as a fresh start. Of course, there are many other "do-overs" throughout the year: the start of summer, the end of summer, back to school. There are also those new beginnings where the choices are made for us: a medical diagnosis that prompts lifestyle changes, our company downsizing so that we're forced to look for a new job, a promotion that forces us to work in a new town.

I've had my fair share of new beginnings. One of the best moves I've ever made was when I left my accounting job in San Francisco to open the Seven-Year Stitch, my embroidery shop on the Oregon coast.

Some of my other "best beginnings" have been finding a new book series. Seriously! Haven't you ever found a book series you simply fell in love with?

Since my author friends Amanda Lee, Gayle Trent, and Gayle Leeson want to help you discover a new series, they're offering one reader a digital only copy of one of the following books: The Quick and The Thread, Murder Takes the Cake, or The Calamity Cafe. To enter, simply comment below with the book you'd like to read and your email address. Good luck, and Happy 2017!!!

Don't forget to enter today's giveaway! Comments will be collected through January 13, and a winner will be randomly chosen and posted in the comments on January 14. The winner will receive his/her choice of book in either Kindle or Nook format.Good luck! Marcy and I wish each and every one of you a blessed 2017. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Living Boldly

by Mel Langston, from Sparkle Abbey's Pampered Pet Mysteries 

Hey ya’ll, it’s me Mel! We’re eleven days into 2017. Have you already forgotten your New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to make the typical New Year’s resolutions. Why make an outlandish promise that I know will just fade away after a few months because I've gotten distracted? Trust me. I will get distracted, especially when there’s a local murder to solve.

Besides, anyone who knows me would laugh if I declared I was going to eat better, meet more people, spend less money, reduce my stress levels, et cetera. Those who can make those promises and follow through with them, well, they have my utmost respect.

Instead, I’d rather keep reminding myself to be the best me possible in other ways. Did I treat my customers with respect? Did I show my beloved bulldog Missy how important she is to me? Am I living in the moment or worrying about what I need to cross off my to-do list? Am I grateful for what I have? Have I spent time with my BFF Darby? Was I fearless today?

Cousin Caro would call it “personal growth” or “mindfulness.” God love her, she can’t help but speak in her professional therapist lingo. I just call it, focusing on being a better me throughout the year.

Although, I would like to rebuild my relationship with Grey, my former fiancĂ©. Maybe I’ll add that to my “personal growth” goals for 2017.

What about you? Are you going to live boldly in 2017?

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